(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £153,315, 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 such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Supreme Court of Judicature as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund.
§ MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)
, in rising to move the reduction of the Vote by £500, said, this was altogether one of the most remarkable of 1039 the Civil Service Estimates. It had been specially investigated frequently; certain parts of it had been condemned, and yet they still remained, and would probably continue to remain. It must be remembered that the most highly-paid Offices of the Supreme Court of Justice were filled by nomination and not by competition. It was said that the only door by which the Public Service could now be entered was open competition; but, as a matter of fact, if a person of influence and high authority wished to obtain a good place for a private secretary or a friend, there was no difficulty in arranging the matter. The Estimates in the past were full of cases of that kind; and those submitted now were no exception. It would be observed that the total Vote amounted to £480,315. But there was a good deal to be added to this Vote, for there were charges on other Votes amounting to £129,000, on the Consolidated Fund of £150,000, and for pensions and compensations £78,323, making a grand total of considerably more than £750,000. The first item was the salary of the Permanent Secretary of the Lord Chancellor, whose name was down for a sum of £1,500 a-year. This was a case of progress in the wrong direction. In 1873, before the Select Committee on the subject, Mr. Law, C.B., was questioned upon thivery matter by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt), who was then an ardent economist. Mr. Law was asked if there was any reason why the Permanent Secretary should have £1,200 a-year—for the sum was only £1,200 then. The right bon. Gentleman the Member for Derby described the Vote as the most exorbitant on the face of the Estimates, and Mr. Law admitted that £1,200 a-year was a large salary. But he was very cautious, and would not say anything more than was absolutely necessary; nevertheless it was quite clear that he thought £1,200 a-year was much too large a salary for the office. In 1874, another Committee was appointed to inquire into the Administrative Departments of the Courts of Justice, and they reported that, in their opinion, a competent person could be found to discharge the duties of the office for £900 a-year. There could be no question, in point 1040 of fact, that a competent man could be found for much less than that. How was it, then, that the Committee of Supply were now called upon to vote £300 morn than Mr. Law and others thought necessary, and £600 more than the Committee of 1874 thought adequate? This was one illustration of the fact that Commissions and Committees on the subject had laboured in vain; that seems to be the common result of all similar labours. Committees spent days and weeks upstairs, inquiring into the Votes, and, in the end, sent in Reports that were not read and evidence that was not considered. The Government considered it the most convenient course to let the whole thing blow over and take no action upon it. The third lucky man on this Vote was the Secretary of Presentations, who was put down for £400 a-year; but, in addition to this, he had a salary as a clerk in the office of the Clerk of the Parliaments, a salary rising to £600. He was paid at least twice what he was worth. The Committee of 1874 reported that it would be a matter for consideration whether a change should not be made on the first opportunity that presented itself, and whether the office might not be filled by a competent person at a reduced salary. That was 14 years ago. The matter was still under consideration, and it was likely to remain under consideration till the year 2000, unless the Government, or those who were responsible, were stimulated to act by a vote of the House. Then there was a Pursebearer and Clerk of the Chamber at £400 a-year. No explanation was given of that item, and there was reason to believe that it was a sinecure. This view was confirmed by the fact that Lord Selborne's Committee reported in 1873 that this ancient Office had lost a great deal of its ancient importance through "the continuous decrease of ceremonial." It had then lost much of its occupation; no doubt since then it had lost the rest. But it appeared that the official now known as the Pursebearer used to do all the duties of the "Chaff-wax" and "Deputy Chaff-wax," but what those duties were, nobody living could now explain. "Chaff-wax" was in the receipt of £650 a-year down to 1886, by way of compensation for other sinecures taken away from him, and that was the only part of the great 1041 "Chaff-wax" business that anybody was able to understand. The Gentleman who took charge of the Great Seal got £334. It was not often the Great Seal was taken out, and when it was, it might be carried very much more cheaply. The high official who held up the Lord Chancellor's train was paid £200 a-year. He might be relieved of his functions by mechanism, and the Lord Chancellor saved all further trouble concerning his train. Everything appeared to be done on the same lavish scale. The Judges of the Queen's Bench required 22 clerks, who absorbed £8,700 a-year. There were 16 Masters at from £1,500 to £2,000 a-year. These Offices were among the pleasantest things that patronage had still to bestow on the undeserving. No doubt the opinion of a layman would be regarded as utterly worthless, and would be rapidly disposed of by the occupants of the Treasury Bench; but fortunately he was fortified by the opinion of a far higher authority. The Committee of 1874 reported that the number of Masters might be reduced; and Lord Selborne's Committee made a similar Report in 1887. There were then 18 Masters. There were now 16, and still the number was excessive; and, to show that the duties of a Master might be performed by an ordinary Clerk, he would quote the evidence which, on this point, was much stronger than the Report itself. He therefore begged attention to it. Sir Frederick Pollock, the Queen's Remembrancer and Senior Master, was asked whether a competent Clerk would not do the work as well as a Master, and his answer was that he could. Some of the Masters are said to be very little in their office; others are irregular in their attendance. It would be found that there were attached to these Offices 85 Clerks, receiving salaries of from £250 to £700 a-year. Under the new rules the salaries were rather less than they used to be; but they were still much too high. Even some of the highly-paid Clerks were admitted to be doing the work of mere copyists. If any hon. Member wished to know the nature of the work done by the Clerks who received these large salaries, he need only turn to the evidence given before a Committee in 1886. A Clerk named Vizard was examined in reference to the number of 1042 men employed, the nature of the work done, and the salaries paid. On being asked how much the clerks got for doing the commonest work, he said "about £400." Further asked whether the work done was not the work of the merest set of copyists, the witness answered in the affirmative. A little further down, on the same page, he found that there were five clerks who were redundant, but who drew £3,000 a-year, and they had been redundant since 1881, receiving from £500 to £700 a-year each. They were not even asked to write a letter; as a matter of fact, not one of them had been asked to cross the threshold of his Office for the last seven years. In addition, there were seven other clerks, who were practically redundant, and whose duties were a sinecure. The redundant clerks were in receipt of full pay for doing nothing. He wanted to know why the country should pay people £600 or £700 a-year to walk about the streets doing nothing, at a time when there were thousands of men who were obliged to walk those same streets in despair because they could find nothing to do. No doubt, he would be told that without such a system as this—without a system of redundant clerks—it would be impossible to carry on the business of the country at all. But did anyone ever hear of such a system in connection with the great commercial concerns of the country, which had hither to been carried on with very great success. He would give an instance. In the Railway Clearing House, with 1,500 clerks, if a man was found to be redundant, and there was nothing for him to do; or if he were idle or worthless, what was done was this—he had his contributions to the pension fund returned to him, and was sent away, and that was the end of the matter as far as he was concerned. Why should not the State be served on similar terms? It was said that they could not get the Business of the country done on the same terms as that of private firms. He wanted to know why not? Because it has suited the purpose of an interested class to keep up the idea that the State must pay fancy prices for everything it requires. No attempt had been made to conduct the Business of the country on ordinary business and rational principles. The effect of the present system 1043 was to place a large premium upon sheer incompetency. The more worthless a man was, and the less he did, the greater seemed to be his reward. Was it conceivable that the five redundant clerks, who were down on the Estimates for £3,000, and who were paid for doing nothing, were such bad bargains, and of so little use to the nation, that they could not be transferred to any other Department? If that were true, was it right to call on the nation to pay them a handsome annuity? In point of fact, the whole system had been condemned over and over again. In his evidence before the Royal Commission on Civil Service Pensions, Sir Thomas Farrer said—I should be very glad to see a much larger transfer of men from one Office to another than has hitherto taken place.Such transfer would do away with the system of paying clerks £600 or £700 a-year for doing nothing. Some kind of employment should be found for them, and it would be exactly in accordance with the Resolution passed by the House on the 3rd of June last. At any rate, the plan was not regarded in some respectable quarters as highly revolutionary, and Sir Thomas Farrer admitted that the payment of redundant clerks for doing nothing was a great abuse. The Select Committee of 1873 had reported very strongly in favour of the transfer of redundants to other departments, and the Royal Commission had adopted the same view, and condemned the system as the outcome of the old order of things, which some persons continued to regard as the Palladium of British liberty. In spite of these Reports, however, the redundants still made their appearance on the Estimates, and the Committee were now asked to Vote them £3,000. As a matter of fact, the whole of the clerks in this Department were extravagantly overpaid and absurdly underworked. The office hours were nominally from 11 to 5, or from 10 to 4 o'clock. Mr. Vizard, one of the clerks examined before Lord Selborne's Committee, had stated that most of the clerks really left at 4, and not at 5. The ennui of the place was so great that few of them could stand it after 4 o'clock. While most of the clerks went away, one was left behind to mount guard and keep up a show of business. Asked if the clerks 1044 were punctual in the morning, the witness hesitated; but on being pressed, the truth appeared to have been squeezed out of him, and he said that when they had any private work to do, they were not always at the office by 11 o'clock—that was to say, that they attended to their private business first, and then, if they had any spare time, they gave a few scraps and remnants of it to the country. Some eminent persons, apparently of sound mind and judgment, thought that the system was destined to last for ever; he believed that it was destined to drag down with it everyone who tried to support it. It was suggested by the Lord Chief Justice to Mr. Aldridge, another clerk examined before the Committee, that an entry of the times of arrival and departure of the various clerks should be kept. It was a most unfeeling question, and naturally gave a great shock to the witness. "Why," said Mr. Aldridge, with dismay, "I am sure there would be a very strong feeling against it among the clerks." The witness was again asked whether such a course would be objectionable, and he seemed to regard the pressing of the question as an intolerable liberty. He replied again that there would be a strong feeling against it on the part of the clerks. He (Mr. Jennings) regretted to say that Lord Coleridge, in spite of the pathetic remonstrance of the witness, suggested that as the clerks were paid for a certain number of hours' attendance, it would be no great insult to keep a proper record of those hours. Mr. Aldridge fell back on the statement that it would hurt their feelings, and Lord Coleridge refrained from pressing him further. Another clerk admitted that the hours were beautifully elastic, and this gentleman was also most unreasonably tormented by Lord Coleridge. Indeed, he regretted to say that Lord Coleridge, on this Committee, made himself as disagreeable as he could to gentlemen who were not accustomed to be questioned in that manner, but who deemed it quite sufficient to receive a large salary and to render as little service for it as possible. A clerk in the Taxing Department, a Mr. Lovell, said, there was one man who did attend regularly. He was supposed to be in the Office punctually at 10 o'clock, and Mr. Lovell evidently regarded him with pride. But the Lord 1045 Chief Justice asked at what hour this man left, and the answer was that he generally left at 3 o'clock. It was like the old story told of Charles Lamb, who, on being reproached for coming so late to his office, said he always made up for it by going away early. That was the principle which seemed to be adopted in this Office. These clerks who attended the Office between 11 and 3, to read the newspapers and exchange anecdotes, received salaries of £600 a-year and were allowed six weeks' holiday in the summer. Six hundred a-year, six hours' work a-day, and six weeks' holiday. The "three sixes" would, he thought, be an appropriate motto to write over the door of the Office. He would now ask the Committee to look at the imposing array of clerks who figured on pages 224–25. It was a sight to inspire any Englishman with pride in the riches and prosperity of his native land. In the Chancery Division there were 12 Chief Clerks, costing £17,400, 24 with nearly £600 a-year, 18 with £300 or £400 a-year, a First Registrar with £2,000, three other Registrars with £5,400 between them, four others with £6,000 between them, and a host more; the whole forming a gorgeous procession not unworthy the study of Augustus Harris, of Drury Lane. They were led to infer from the Estimates that the Clerk to the Petty Bag was abolished; but past experience warranted the suspicion that the Petty Bag and the £800 a-year which went with it would one day be quietly transferred to another holder. At page 226 of the Estimates, they would find a list of the Officers of the Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty Division—another haven of peace and plenty. The Senior Registrar of the Probate Registry received £1,600 a-year, with £8 16s. 9d. a-year as late Proctor, and a compensation allowance of £1,863 8s. 6d., charged on the Consolidated Fund, making a grand total of £3,472 5s. 3d. a-year. He thought the Nation ought to be extremely proud of such an individual—and no doubt it was. But he thought it was desirable to have one or two points in connection with this Officer cleared up. When this gentleman had been provided with a snug post worth £1,600 a-year, why had he not been called upon to give up the compensation allowance for the sinecure Office 1046 which he had formerly held? Why was he to be paid twice over for his, no doubt, very valuable services? It would probably be said that such things must exist, on account of vested interests, but for his own part, he would make short work of them. He could not see that a gross "job" perpetrated years ago improved by age. Then there was the Registrar of the Admiralty Registry, who drew £1,500 a-year as salary, and £608 12s. from the Consolidated Fund. It would be found, too, on the Estimates, that the man who looked after the ushers in the Courts of Justice received £600 a-year, that the person who gave out the pens and ink received £300 a-year, and it was on the same prodigal scale that all the charges in the Estimates seemed to be based. In conclusion he would urge that as the power of Commissions and Committees had been expended on the Vote in vain, it must now be perfectly clear that the only hope of dealing with it was by a direct Vote of the House of Commons. There certainly were a number of persons who obtained extravagant salaries for practically doing nothing, and the time had come when some decided protest ought to be entered. No doubt it would be said that inconvenience would be caused by reducing the Vote, but the only way in which the Committee could show its opinion on this subject was by adopting a Motion for a small reduction of the Vote such as he had proposed, and he therefore hoped his proposal would be accepted, and a blow struck at a system which he believed was regarded with disgust in the country and with shame by that House. He begged to move that the Vote be reduced by £500 under Sub-head A.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by the sum of £500."—(Mr. Jennings.)
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, he only wished to add one or two words to the very effective speech the Committee had just listened to from the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings). He desired to refer to the Queen's Remembrancer's Office. He had had some trifling opportunities of judging of the value of that Office during the last few years, having been frequently invited by the Attorney General to go there; he had, therefore, had an op- 1047 portunity of estimating the work done there. What the Queen's Remembrancer's Office owed its survival to could not be accounted for on any principle of utility, yet, speaking roughly, it cost £3,400 a-year and did nothing. He remembered a case in which it was necessary to institute a search in the Queen's Remembrancer's Office, in order to ascertain whether the special Rules of the Office had affected a certain class of proceedings. The Queen's Remembrancer did not know; the Queen's Remembrancer's Chief Clerk did not know; none of the officials at first knew. Then a set of Rules was found which turned out to be wrong ones; another set of Rules of the Attorney General were then produced, and they turned out to be imperfect. He was not relating romance, but a matter of fact, which became a matter of observation before the High Court of Justice itself. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) was Attorney General at the time; and he (Mr. Bradlaugh) would ask whether it was endurable that an Office should be continued in which the work, or certainly a portion of it, was so slight that from the head official to the lowest not one understood the Rules that governed their business. The class of proceedings there were very few. The only proceedings the Queen's Remembrancer's Office took cognizance of were so few that they might well be dealt with in the ordinary Central Office by one of the Masters without any special staff. Therefore, as the amount for which the reduction of the Vote was moved was much less than ought to be economized, he should certainly support the hon. Member for Stockport, and he would call on the Members around him to support him also.
§ ME. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, he must express a hope that when the Attorney General rose to give an answer to the definite points which had been raised in the debate, he would state whether certain officers who had been transferred to other duties on the abolition of their former Offices were allowed to receive their full compensation for abolition, in addition to the salaries of their present Offices, or, as was supposed to be the case under the Rules of the Public Service, they only received a small part. 1048 He could only see that this principle had been carried out in one case—namely, that of the Assistant Paymaster General of the Supreme Court. Why had not the same rule been observed elsewhere?
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddington)
said, he must complain of the present system of appointing clerks in the Chief Clerks' Department in the Chancery Division. He had been asked to bring the matter before the Committee by gentlemen practising in that Division. Extreme inconvenience arose from recent changes which had been made in the mode of appointment. He did not know whether the old practice was good; but he did know that the present system which had been substituted for it was not only an extravagant one, but a bad one. Instead of the appointments being made as they used to be, from within the Office, by people who had a knowledge of the circumstances and the persons, they were now made from without under the direction of the Lord Chancellor. The change had been productive of anything but satisfaction. The Chief Clerks' duties in Chancery were most important. They decided about two-thirds or three-fourths of the matters brought before Chancery, and they handled enormous sums of money in connection with the administration of estates—millions every now and then. In a case that occurred last year it was found that £3,000 of somebody's money had disappeared through carelessness; but the Solicitor General was acquainted with the facts of the case even better than he (Mr. Haldane) was. In such a state of things it was important that the officials who did the work under the Chief Clerks should be appointed with some due regard to their capacity, and that they should be appointed with great care by people who had direct knowledge of the nature of the work they had to do. It would be invidious on his part to refer to particular instances which had occurred during the last 18 months; but he was in possession of the facts relating to them, and had before him certain details. He had inquired, as far as he could, into the allegations made to him, and he believed that in arriving at the conclusion he did about them he was supported by the opinion not only of private persons but of the Chief Clerks them- 1049 selves. If the Government would appoint a small Committee to inquire into the subject, he would undertake to bring full details of the different cases before such Committee. Unless he received some assurance of that kind he should feel compelled to support the Motion for the reduction of the Vote.
§ MR. COZENS-HARDY (Norfolk, N.)
said, there was an item in the Vote which provided four Official Referees with salaries of £1,500 a-year and £200 a-year for their clerks. Official Referees were first appointed under the Act of 1873. The number was not defined by the Act, because it was contemplated that there might be circumstances which might render it desirable to alter the number. It was provided that the number of these officers should be determined by the Lord Chancellor and the Judges with the sanction of the Treasury, there being a right of control as to the appointments on the part of the Government. The appointment of Official Referees was an experiment from the first, and it was an experiment which had not been a success. Indeed, it was rapidly getting worse. He held in his hand a Return, laid on the Table in July last, from which it was perfectly plain that the business done by the Official Referees had been gradually and steadily going down, until the year 1885–6. According to the Return, the Referees were not doing two-thirds of the amount of business that was transacted in 1879–80. That being the nature of the falling off of the business, it was remarkable that while the present Government had been in office, two vacancies had occurred, one of which was filled by the appointment of Mr. Ridley, in January, 1887, and the other by the appointment of Mr. Hemming, in November, last year. The point he wished to draw attention to was that each of these appointments was unnecessary and unjustifiable, and entailed on the Treasury a very heavy charge. Even that was not the worst of the case. It was recently arranged that the public should know what business the Official Referees did. The daily cause list showed every instance in which the Official Referees sat, either in London, or in the Country. He had taken advantage of that circumstance to examine the list, in order to ascertain what work had been done during the last 18 working days. He 1050 found that there was not a single day on which all the Referees sat, nor one day on which three of them had anything to do. There were seven days when no one of them had anything to do, and only four days when two of them sat. This term Mr. Ridley had had one sitting and one case; Mr. Hemming, four sittings and four cases; Mr. Dowdeswell, four sittings and three cases; and Mr. Verey, six sittings and two cases. That was the work done for which Parliament was asked to vote £6,000, and it was plain that not only was there not work enough for four, but not enough for one. He did not wish to say a word against these gentlemen personally. He had no doubt that Mr. Ridley was an able and competent man, and he knew that Mr. Hemming was. The appointments were originally made by way of experiment, and the experiment had not answered; and he thought the Committee were entitled to some explanation of the reason why, under the circumstances, the Treasury had sanctioned the appointment of a third and fourth Referee. Unless a satisfactory explanation was given, it would be his duty to take a Division upon the subject.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
read a letter he had received, and for which he said he would make himself responsible, to the effect that the Registrars' Clerks in the Court of Chancery had a Statutory rise in salary, no matter how incompetent or over-manned the staff might be. There was no instance recorded of absence, on account of sickness or pleasure, of the Masters, the Clerks, or the Registrars; therefore the Masters and Clerks were able to absent themselves and did absent themselves without sufficient check.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL (Paddington, S.)
said, the subject under the consideration of the Committee illustrated, in a manner most useful to the public, the advantages and disadvantages of the Committee of Supply, and the defect which their mode of proceeding possessed with regard to any effective control over the public expenditure. He would first call attention to the ease which had been laid before the Committee by his hon. Friend, the Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings). His hon. Friend, though he had not been many years in the House, had distinguished himself by having 1051 already forcibly arrested the attention of the House by the disclosures which he had made in regard to the Public Expenditure; and those disclosures could not have been made so forcibly, ii he had not devoted the greatest possible time, labour, and care to the investigation of the subject. But although his hon. Friend had arrested the attention of the House before now by his remark able disclosures, he thought his hon. Friend had outdone himself on the present occasion. Never, perhaps, since the Committee of Supply began to sit, in modern times, had such a state of things been revealed with regard to the expenditure of public money, with so much brevity and conciseness. Scarcely would a parallel be found in the pages of Dickens or Thackeray, when those eminent satirists were dealing with the state of things under the Government of their day. What was the state of things now? A state of things amounting to more than a public scandal—amounting to a national disgrace—had been laid before the Committee. Some 80 or 100 Members, out of the 670 which composed the House of Commons, were present listening to this account of the absolute malversation of the public money on a large scale. If the Committee of Supply divided at the present moment, they would not assent to this Vote; after the statement which had been made, they could not possibly do so. But what would occur? To the 80 or 100 Members who had followed the discussion, would be added 150 or 200 Members who did not know what had been going on, and who would have no idea of the arguments which had been addressed to the Committee; and this Vote, amounting to £750,000, would be carried on a Division, in spite of the disgraceful disclosures laid before the Committee of Supply by his hon. Friend. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) thought that was a thing which the Committee of Supply might usefully reflect upon, and he ventured to bring it to the notice of the public. There was another point, also, in connection with Vote, and that was the tactics of Her Majesty's Government. He did not blame Her Majesty's Government personally for the tactics pursued, any more than he blamed any other Government. They were what he night call the hereditary tactics of that Bench with regard to getting Votes 1052 from the House. It was nothing more nor less than deluding, or humbugging and baffling the House of Commons in these matters; and his hon. Friend had drawn attention to specific cases which, if true—and he presumed his hon. Friend was prepared to substantiate these—amounted to an outrage on the taxpayer. So far the Government had abstained from replying to the specific facts adduced. Pursuing the hereditary tactics of the Treasury Bench, which he had no doubt had been pursued by the right hon. Member for Mid-Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), and the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), they allowed other Members to get up, on the chance that by some of them, specific statements would be made which Ministers would be able to overthrow, and in overthrowing them conceal the effective attack made by his hon. Friend, and contrive to pass the Vote. He hoped the House of Commons would not be prepared to submit to such treatment in future. His advice to the Committee of Supply, was, that when ever an hon. Member, after great care and labour, had produced a really sound indictment against expenditure, no other Member should rise to address the Committee until a Representative of the Government had answered the indictment. By that means they would obtain a much more useful and business-like discussion than they got now. It was quite impossible to imagine what, in this instance, the answer of the Government would be. But, no matter what answer the Government might give, it would be impossible for them to pass this Vote without the aid of Members who were lying in ambush in various parts of the House. The responsibility would not rest with the Committee of Supply, because the Committee of Supply was present at that moment, and was not prepared to pass the Vote in its present form. The Government could not with decency ask the Committee of Supply to assent to the principle of paying the Private Secretary of the Lord Chancellor £1,500 a-year; they could hardly do it on the merits of the case; and they could only do so in the face of the fact that either a House of Commons or a Departmental Committee had reported that £900 a-year would be ample remuneration for that official, and that 1053 Report had been neglected by the Government for the last 14 years. He did not see how the Committee of Supply could vote a salary of £ 1,000 a year to the Secretary of Presentations, after the statement of the hon. Member for Stockport. Even on the merits of the case, the Secretary of Presentations would be a dear luxury at that price; but here, again, they were confronted with the fact that 14 years ago, a Committee reported against the continuation of the Office. The same observation would apply to the Purse Bearer of the Lord Chancellor who received £400 a year, and whose Office was reported upon adversely in 1887. Then there was the Carrier of the Great Seal, who was paid £500 a year, and the Train Bearer £250. Is was not that those officials were of themselves worth the attention of the Committee of Supply, but it was that the existence of officials who had nothing to do was an illustration of our whole system. If Members were to examine other Votes as his hon. Friend had examined this, they would find the existence of the same scandals. Last night they had a debate, and the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton was indignant because it was said that there was a superabundance of lawyers in the House. He (Lord Randolph Churchill) remembered having himself asked a Private Secretary of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid-Lothian whether he did not think great reductions could be made in the Civil Service Estimates, and the Gentleman in question said he did not know about that nor was he sure that a large reduction could be effected; he was unable to speak from actual knowledge, but he was sure that immense reductions might be made in Class III., which related to the legal expenditure of the coumtry. The right hon. Member for Mid Lothian had before now talked of the manner in which the landed interest had influenced the legislation of this country. He would ask the Committee to mark how the lawyers had affected our legislation. Their numbers and the extravagance of their salaries amounted to absolute brigandage on the taxpayers of the country. That state of things could not be too strongly characterized, and last night they saw the cloven hoof, when they heard it gravely put forward by an hon. Member opposite that a great 1054 Department should be created consisting only of lawyers. What was the use of appointing Committees and Commissions to examine into the Expenditure of the country if Government after Government paid not the smallest attention either to the evidence they extracted or the recommendations they made? He would ask his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, who had been long in the Public Service, and was actuated by a great desire for economy, whether the reports of these Committees and Commissions bad been ever brought to his notice. He had had made these general remarks rather than deal with the Vote. It was very seldom they got the opportunity of drawing the attention of the country in a manner which would excite the imagination to the scandal connected with the Expenditure on the Public Service. By the most fortunate chance in the world this Vote was prevented from coming on last night. If it had come on last night there would have been no report of the debate upon it; but there would have been a scrambling report, which would have conveyed no idea of what had occurred. Fortunately, the Vote had been brought on now at a convenient hour, when there was an average attendance and every possibility of securing that attention should be paid to the matter. What he wanted to impress on the Committee was, that if, as he assumed, the Government were unable to upset the facts stated by his hon. Friend, they should refuse the Vote. He did not say they could refuse to pay people what must be paid them in justice and fair play. The Committee of Supply must find the money, and what they should do was to refuse to vote the money until the Government pledged themselves to introduce, before next year, such reforms as would obviate these scandals. Her Majesty's Government were always saying that they were economists. Here was a splendid opportunity afforded them which they ought to accept with gratitude and welcome of putting their zeal for economy in active operation. Let them realize fully what the impression upon the public would be, and let them say—"We will defer to the wishes of the Committee of Supply. We will not vote this sum to-day, and we pledge ourselves to give the matters which have been brought 1055 before the Committee the most careful attention."
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
said, he could assure the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill) and the Committee that it was from no hereditary guile that he had abstained from rising at an earlier moment to reply to the statements of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) before he heard the speech of the noble Lord. He had been very much interested and also amused by the exceedingly able speech which had been delivered by the hon. Member—nay, more, he thought that lawyers themselves might learn a great deal from the hon. Member's criticisms. He should be probably able to show that the hon. Member ought to have made a little more careful inquiry into some of the facts of the case than he appeared to have made. He did not, however, intend to criticize in any unfriendly spirit the important question that had been raised, and which undoubtedly required the careful consideration of the Committee before any action could be taken in regard to the Vote. Before replying to the remarks of the hon. Member for Stockport, he desired to notice one or two of the observations of the noble Lord. The noble Lord had spoken of exciting the imagination of the country on this subject. If the noble Lord used the language with which he had that evening embellished his remarks, he might excite the imagination of the country, but could hardly appeal to its calm judgment. The noble Lord had spoken, for instance, of the malversation of public money, of the brigandage practised on the taxpayers, and of officials doing nothing but deluding and humbugging with regard to the public expenditure of the public money. Now, no one was more competent to deal with the details of such questions than the noble Lord; and if the noble Lord had followed the example of the hon. Member for Stockport, and examined the question for himself; no doubt he might have pointed out, as the hon. Member for Stockport had done, parts of the system in respect of which reforms were urgently called for, and he would have endeavoured to abstain from seeking to excite the imagination or the prejudices of the country by the use of what cer- 1056 tainly appeared to be clap-trap phrases. The noble Lord had attacked the Government for not wishing to reply to the hon. Member for Stockport. He could assure the noble Lord that that was an entire mistake. His (Sir Richard Webster's) sole object in not rising at once to reply was to ascertain whether there were any other details on which hon. Members desired information, so that he might, as far as fell to his lot, or his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, so far as fell to his, give an answer to all the questions put to the Government at the same time, instead of answering each point separately. Now, no one could read the Report of the Committee of 1887 without being of opinion at once that there were a number of the details of the Offices referred to that required overhauling and examination; but no Government could all at once make a reduction of any particular amount, and very little consideration of the Report would show that to be absolutely impossible. Perhaps the Committee would allow him to take some of the instances which had been referred to by the hon. Member for Stockport; and if, by inadvertence, he did not notice all of them, and the hon. Member would remind him of any omission, he would be prepared to give an explanation of the facts. The hon. Member was very severe on the Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor. The Permanent Secretary was the first officer attacked by the hon. Member, who stated that a Committee which sat 14 years ago had reported that a clerk or officer could be found who would perform the duties then performed by the then Private or Principal Secretary to the Lord Chancellor at a salary of £900 a-year. He (Sir Richard Webster) accepted that as being the substantial statement of the Report of the Committee. He did not know that it was verbally correct; but he would take it to be substantially correct. But what happened afterwards? He would remind the Committee that all those matters were carefully considered by the Government of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) was Chief and of which Lord Selborne was Lord Chancellor, and the whole state of things was placed on an entirely different basis. It was no part of his (Sir Richard Webster's) duty to 1057 say whether that basis was right or wrong; but when it was said that successive Governments had refused to adopt the recommendations of the Committee to reduce the salary of the Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor to £900, they were shutting their eyes to the fact. The fact was that the salary was fixed at £900 a-year in 1887; but it was in that year raised to £1,000 in consideration of the duties. Subsequently, when the whole Office was re-organized, a Permanent Secretary was appointed, and to the Office were attached a number of fresh duties. In 1881, under the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, on the Principal Secretary being appointed, the salary was fixed at £1,500, but was to be reduced to £1,200 until certain duties were transferred. In February, 1885, also under the Government of the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, the Office of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery became vacant and was abolished, its duties being transferred to the Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor, there thus being a saving to the country, and the salary was raised from £1,200 a-year to a maximum of £1,500 on the taking over of those fresh duties. He would ask the noble Lord and the hon. Member for Stockport, in fairness to Her Majesty's Government, not to condemn them for the arrangement which took place in 1885. There was a distinct bargain made by a previous Government by which this gentleman, now a Queen's Counsel, was first given the Office at a salary of £1,200; then further duties were added on another Office being abolished, and the salary was raised to £1,500, to which sum that officer was entitled by the sliding scale existing at the time of his appointment. It might be well to say, without any knowledge of what the duties were, that a man could be got to discharge them for £900 a-year, though he (Sir Richard Webster) could speak from personal knowledge of what the duties were that were fulfilled by this officer; and it would be absurd to say that they were not very confidential, onerous, and responsible duties, requiring the employment of a man of great ability and considerable position. The hon. Member for Stockport said it was ridiculous to pay £1,500 a-year when 14 years ago a salary of £900 was considered sufficient. 1058 The noble Lord said that for 14 years the recommendation of the Committee had been neglected. Perhaps the hon. Member for Stockport and the noble Lord would pardon him when he said that neither of those statements were correct.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that among them were attending Committees in reference to the Rules of the Courts of Justice, communicating constantly with Judges as to alterations of the Circuits, and as to any reforms that were necessary for re-arrangement of the practice of the Courts. In addition to that, he had to discharge duties which must be undertaken by a person in a confidential position under the Lord Chancellor relating to questions of law reforms, questions which were introduced in Parliament itself, or by the Judges. The gravamen of the complaint of the hon. Member for Stockport was that, although the salary was fixed at £900 in 1877, the whole of the Resolution of the Committee had been since disregarded. The hon. Member maintained that there was no justification for paying a salary of £1,500 when 14 years ago it was considered that for £900 a-year they could provide a fit and proper person to act as Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor. The holder of the Office must be a barrister of 10 years' standing, and he was required to devote the whole of his time to the duties of the Office. He had further to carry on correspondence with all the Public Departments; to attend to all lunacy business under the Lord Chancellor; to conduct all correspondence relating to Justices of the Peace; to draft and revise all orders relating to the Supreme or the County Courts; to examine all Parliamentary Rules of a legal character; and to call attention to all matters connected with the administration of the law which required the consideration of the Lord Chancellor. He (Sir Richard Webster) had no wish to occupy the time of the Committee by dealing with any one of those questions at very great length; but he might point out that very recently it had been found necessary in Parliament to deal with two legal questions—namely, the County Courts and the Mortmain Law. In connection with both the Bills 1059 that were introduced upon those subjects the Lord Chancellor had repeatedly to be in confidential communication with the Permanent Secretary. He thought that if hon. Members really understood what the duties were which had to be performed by this gentleman, nobody would suggest that a salary of £1,500 a-year was an excessive salary. He was aware that many Members of that House felt it quite sufficient to say that a man was a lawyer in order to place him under a slur either as to his character or position. Personally, he did not fool degraded because he was a lawyer; on the contrary, he was proud of the position he held. He had now summarized the duties of the Office of Permanent Secretary. The next attack was one that was made by the hon. Member for Stockport upon the Secretary of Presentations—an Office now hold by Mr. Thesiger, who had filled it for a great many years. The same gentleman, it was quite true, held the position of a Clerk in the House of Lords, for which he received a rising salary of £600, and in addition he received £400 as Secretary of Presentations. He (Sir Richard Webster) did not suppose that the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington, or any other hon. Member, would suggest that they should at once proceed to cut down the salary of Mr. Thesiger. He would, however, read to the Committee a statement of the duties performed by Mr. Thesiger. As Secretary of Presentations Mr. Thesiger conducted all the Lord Chancellor's correspondence on ecclesiastical matters; and he could assure hon. Members that the work connected with that Office was of a very responsible character, and it was now performed by a gentleman who had had very great experience in connection with the delicate duties of the Office. There were continuous applications in reference to Government livings, as hon. Members well knew from the representations which were constantly being made to them. [Mr. LABOUCHERE made a remark which did not reach the Gallery.] The hon. Member for Northampton said that he did not take much interest in Church livings. He (Sir Richard Webster) did not think the hon. Member did take much interest in them, and, therefore, he would exclude the hon. Member from any observations he might 1060 make in reference to that part of the matter. All he desired to say was, that he knew from personal knowledge that there was an immense amount of work to be done, and he doubted whether that work could be competently performed by a gentleman who had not had very great experience, and some years' service in connection with it. There was a great deal of work to do in reference to the amalgamation and exchange of livings and business of that kind. The noble Lord the Member for South Paddington said that the salary of £1,000 a-year was too much.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
No; I did not. My point is this—that salaries are paid for duties performed by lawyers five or six times in excess of salaries paid to laymen for performing precisely the same duties.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he was not aware that Mr. Thesiger was a lawyer. It would, however, be convenient to keep to the argument immediately before the Committee. He was dealing with the attack that had been made upon the Secretary of Presentations. It was impossible that he could deal with everything at the same moment. He understood the hon. Member for Stockport to object to the salary which was paid to the Secretary of Presentations. If that were not so, he would not trouble the Committee with any further observations, but he had felt it his duty to point out that the work performed by the Secretary of Presentations was of a very confidential and important character, and that it was performed by a gentleman who had held the Office for a great many years, who was still holding it, and who they hoped would continue to hold it. Were the Government to reduce the salary of Mr. Thesiger below the figure at which it now stood?
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that Mr. Thesiger held no other Office except that of an ordinary Clerk on the Establishment of the House of Lords, for which he received £600 a-year. His only other Office was that of Secretary of Presentations, for which he got £400 a-year.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that the hon. Member for Northampton was wrong for once in his life—the salary was £400. No doubt there were a number of questions which might be discussed in Committee of Supply or elsewhere, when they were dealing with gentlemen who had a great deal more work to do than they could properly perform. In this case Mr. Thesiger was one of the Clerks on the Establishment of the House of Lords, and for that and the work he did as Secretary of Presentations he received £1,000 a-year. The proper way to deal with these matters was to attack the system rather than to attack the salary of a particular individual who received the salary, because he had to work a great deal more than the ordinary Clerks of the Establishment. He would now refer to the case of the Purse Bearer and the Train Bearer.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he had no wish to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman; but he would direct his attention to two sums of £50 which the Secretary of Presentations apparently received in addition to the salary of £400 a-year.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he might inform the hon. Member that there were expenses in addition, and those sums represented those expenses, and did not form any part of the remuneration of the Office. He was desirous of dealing fairly with the charges which had been made by the hon. Member for Stockport. Certain allegations had been made which he was endeavouring to meet; those allegations, however, did not affect the question of expenses; but the question was, What were fair considerations which ought to affect the minds of hon. Members in giving an honest vote upon this occasion? He would now refer to the Purse Bearer and the Train Bearer. Of course, it was quite easy to say that there should be no official of that kind in connection with the semi-State occasions, or any other occasions, when the Lord Chancellor appeared in State. He was not aware whether the hon. Member for Stockport objected altogether to the Lord Chancellor or the Speaker of the House of Commons having a Train Bearer. He quite agreed that those officials were, perhaps, more ornamental than useful, and that a great part of 1062 their time was not occupied in the performance of very heavy duties. The exact position of the Purse Bearer was that he was a confidential clerk of the Lord Chancellor, and conducted that part of his correspondence which did not require to pass through the hands of a superior Secretary. He also discharged, on ceremonial occasions, the duty of Purse Bearer, and he had to attend on the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords, in the Courts of Chancery, and on all public occasions. It was true that they might abolish the Office of Purse Bearer, but it did not advance the discussion much simply to refer to an official because he performed certain duties. All he could do, in replying to the suggestions that had been made, was to point out as briefly as possible what the duties were that had to be performed; and, so far as the Purse Bearer was concerned, he simply stated that he was one of the officials connected with the Lord Chancellor, and that he held an Office in connection with which he had duties to perform. Surely it was not maintained that the Lord Chancellor should pay such officers out of his own salary. It was impossible, therefore, in dealing with the matter, to do otherwise than point out that there were certain duties to perform; and when such statements were made as those of the noble Lord that those charges amounted to brigandage upon the taxpayers, and that those people had no work to do, his (Sir Richard Webster's) reply was that they had work to do for which remuneration must be paid.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, with regard to the Carrier of the Great Seal, that that official was a Messenger in connection with the Office of the Lord Chancellor. Formerly he had a much larger salary, and it had been reduced. The official now employed performed all the duties that were previously performed by the Purse Bearer, and acted, in addition, as Messenger to the Lord Chancellor. If hon. Members said that the Lord Chancellor could do without a Messenger, well and good; but he would point out that this official had certain duties to perform as a Messenger, whenever the Lord Chancellor was out of town, and on other occasions, and no one would say that there were not 1063 very important documents which it was necessary to send to the Lord Chancellor when he was away from London. He had no desire to go into lengthy details in reference to those offices, but he felt bound to point out what the real merits of the attack which had been made by the hon. Member for Stockport were. This Messenger received a salary of £324 a-year, and if they thought that sum was a larger salary than an officer of that kind ought to receive, the matter must be considered when a fresh appointment was made; but they could not say to an official—"We paid you £324 last year, and this year we will not pay you more than £250." He had been very sorry to hear the observations made by the hon. Member for Stockport with regard to the Masters. If the hon. Member knew as much about the Masters as he did, he would not have made those observations.
§ MR. JENNINGS
said, they were not his observations. He had simply quoted the words of the two important Committees, and of Sir Frederick Pollock.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he had understood the hon. Member to say that two of the Masters scarcely ever went to their Office at all. He was well acquainted with the passage to which the hon. Member referred, and he probably knew a little more about the question of the Masters' duties than the hon. Member himself, or than any mere perusal of a few answers to questions put by a Committee could possibly convey to the mind of anybody. He was not now dealing with the question whether the Masters attended from 10 to 4 or from 11 to 5. That was altogether another question. Many of the Masters were appointed at a time when they were required to attend only from 11 to 4. That, however, was quite another matter. He understood the hon. Member for Stockport to say that, practically speaking, many of the Masters neglected their duties, and the hon. Member also said that one Master scarcely ever attended at all. He (Sir Richard Webster) had examined the passage from the Evidence before the Committee referred to by the hon. Member, and it certainly did not bear the construction which had been put upon it. Indeed, an injustice was done to the Masters by the hon. Member in the con- 1064 struction he had put upon some of the answers of the witnesses. The hon. Member had said that many of the Masters were appointed at the time when they were only required to attend from 11 to 4, and many of them only attended during those hours. That was a statement of fact which could be made without implying that in the future they might not be called upon to attend from 10 to 4 or 10 to 6. The fact as to the past affected the manner in which the Government could be called upon to deal with the question. If the officials who had control over the Masters chose to say to them—"You ought to come earlier, or to stay later," by all means let that principle be laid down. But the Government could not say to the Masters—"We will reduce your salaries unless you will attend for an extra time." What were the duties of the Masters and the salaries paid to them? Here, again, the hon. Member for Stockport had over-stated the matter. As a matter of fact, the salaries of the Masters averaged from £1,200 to £1,500 a-year. They were gentlemen who had to hear arbitrations upon matters referred to them which required a considerable knowledge of law; they had to tax costs which required great experience and considerable knowledge of practice; they had to hear summonses on interlocutory applications; they had to inquire into the conduct of solicitors and others against whom charges were made; and the lightest part of their duty was to attend Court in banc. The statement of Sir Frederick Pollock's as to their duties being discharged by Clerks referred only to a small and particular part of their duties—namely, their attendance in the Court of Appeal—and had no reference generally to their duties as Masters. He (Sir Richard Webster) was speaking from professional knowledge of the matter. When he was a junior at the Bar some of the Masters were earning large professional incomes; and, therefore, they might now be regarded as men of experience who were doing judicial work of a responsible character, and doing it well. He did not believe that any common lawyer would get up in that House and say that any real attack could be made upon the Masters with reference to the way in which they discharged their duties. Of course, nobody would pretend that they were all equally efficient, 1065 or that when they had 16 or 18 men the whole of them would be equally competent to perform their duties. It was quite possible that the number might be reduced as vacancies occurred; but still they could not obtain men to do the work without paying them substantial salaries, and they could not suddenly reduce the salaries of men who had been doing the work for 15 or 20 years. They could not say that they would not employ them next year except they would consent to take a lower salary. What they could do was, as vacancies occurred from time to time, to refrain from filling up those vacancies, or, if it were possible, get a person to perform the duties at a less salary. The hon. Member stated that some of the Masters were seldom in their Offices, and the hon. Member added that there were two of them who never went to the Office at all. He (Sir Richard Webster) believed that the hon. Member had been entirely misinformed. Some of the Masters who had been in communication with him had expressed their willingness to give the hours of their attendance, and if he had known that the question was going to be raised that night he would have been prepared to answer every statement. It had, however, been brought on without the slightest notice.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that what he had not been acquainted with was the nature of the points which the hon. Member intended to raise. The Vote before the Committee had more than 100 items on it, upon each of which some question might be asked. The hon. Member might have the full benefit of his interruption, and might take it for what it was worth. If he (Sir Richard Webster) had known that this point was intended to be raised, he would have been prepared to show what the actual number of attendances were, one of the Masters having volunteered to give him the information if it were required. If the hon. Member would inquire into the facts of the case, he would find that except in the case of illness there was no foundation whatever for the suggestion that the Masters of the Queen's Bench were not to be found in their Offices, or that they 1066 neglected their duties. As to the Office of "Petty Bag," it was one in which some interest had been taken by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). The hon. Member for Stockport said that although the fees had been abolished, it would be the duty of the Committee to keep a careful eye on the matter to see that the expense of this Office did not increase. Probably the hon. Member had not taken the same interest in the "Petty Bag" as the junior Member for Northampton, who year after year had asked Questions about it. Unfortunately for the suggestion of the hon. Member for Stockport, the Office was not filled up—it had been abolished, and the duties were now performed by other clerks; whether sooner or later the Office of "Petty Bag" would appear again in the Estimates it was impossible for him to say. All he could say was that there was no intention on the part of Her Majesty's Government at present of restoring the Office, or in any way re-establishing it, and the hon. Member ought to have congratulated them upon its disappearance. The hon. Member was under a singular misapprehension as to the Registrars of the Court of Probate and the Admiralty Divisions. A long time ago there was not by any means a sinecure, but a monopoly enjoyed by the Proctors of the old Doctors' Commons. The hon. Member for Stockport complained that one of the Civil servants was in the receipt of £1,800 a-year in the shape of compensation for some sinecure he had given up. The facts of the case were these. In 1854–5 the then Government of the day forced the Proctors to give up their monopoly. Previously to that date there were Proctors in Doctors' Commons who were qualified to discharge probate work, and entitled to do ordinary work as well, which work in connection with probate an ordinary solicitor could not do. The Government of the day threw all that work open, and made a very valuable reform among the Proctors. It was, however, arranged, by way of compensation, that every Proctor who had to give up what might be called the good-will of his business should receive a yearly payment of one-half the amount he had derived from the last year of his practice. That amount was to be paid to him for his life. Some of the Proctors 1067 were in the receipt of large earnings—for instance, the late Queen's Proctor received for many years as much as £4,500 as the price of the good-will of his business. The bargain was one of an ordinary commercial character, and it was made, he thought, in the year 1855, and the effect of it was to deprive the existing Proctors of the good-will of their business, and to throw the practice over to the general body of legal practitioners. The reason why they received only half the amount of the profit they derived from the last year of their practice was that they might still continue to practise as solicitors; therefore what was taken away from them was only the good-will of their Office.
§ MR. JENNINGS
said, that his main point was that in a particular instance the official to whom he referred had three different allowances made to him.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, the hon. Member put the matter as if compensation were being paid for the abolition of a sinecure Office; it was, however, nothing of the kind. It was the sum paid for the good-will of the Proctor's business, relinquished by the officer in 1855 on the re-arrangement of the Probate Court. That was all done with Parliamentary sanction, and he did not think the right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) would say that in this matter the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) had laid himself open to the accusation of a gross job. It was no question of a job, but simply payment for the relinquishment of a privilege, which was recognized to be in existence at the time the Office was abolished. It had nothing whatever to do with the services rendered by this gentleman to the State as Registrar to the Admiralty; for that Office he received £1,000 a year, and a further sum of £608 as an allowance fur the loss of his Office of Proctor. It was all very well for the hon. Member for Stockport to say that all those compensations ought to be swept away at once; but when the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington spoke of those payments as brigandage, and as a system by which the Government of the day lent itself to the perpetration of a gross job, even so humble a Member as himself (Sir Richard Webster) was desirous of saying a word on behalf of the right hon. 1068 Member for Mid Lothian, in whose time the change was made. He could not think that the right hon. Member could be accused of having lent himself to a gross job. The right hon. Member for East Wolverhampton knew perfectly well the purposes for which the privileges of the Proctors were abolished, and would be aware that he (Sir Richard Webster) had only stated the facts of the case. He had now examined four out of the six cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Stockport. He would now say a word or two on that part of the hon. Member's argument with which he was in entire accord; no one more recognized the need for a thorough reform. They ought to insist upon getting as much time as they possibly could out of their clerks, who were paid good salaries. In a small way he had had something to do in seeing that the work of clerks was satisfactorily performed. That, however, was a matter which would not be lost sight of, nor had it been. Already a considerable number of clerks had been required to retire, and a considerable number of transfers had been made. The Report of the Committee was only issued in the month of March, 1887, so that, practically, nothing could have been done in the interval which could have any effect on the present Estimates. He could assure the Committee that Her Majesty's Government fully recognized their duty in the matter, and the necessity of carrying out those changes, so far as they could be carried out; but there were many changes that could not be carried out without Parliamentary sanction, and so far there had been no time since the publication of the Report to obtain such sanction. Hon. Members were perfectly aware that it was not a particularly easy matter nowadays to get any Bill passed through that involved anything like considerable or detailed discussion. But, be that as it might, so far as the principle of getting an adequate amount of work out of their officers was concerned, they were getting rid of redundant clerks and transferring others in order to remove any excess which had hitherto existed. Any fair-minded person who addressed himself to this subject, not with a view to excite the public imagination, but to guide the public judgment, must admit that. The hon. Member had finished his observations by an 1069 assertion that if the Estimates were examined many instances of gross favouritism would be discovered. What did the hon. Member mean by that? He did not think it was fair that allegations of that kind should be made unless the hon. Member who made them was prepared to get up in his place and say what he meant. The hon. Member was a man of great ability, and his writings and speeches were always amusing, but in justice to the Civil servants, when the hon. Member said that gross jobs had been perpetrated and favouritism displayed, he ought to refer to that part of the Estimates to show where he found the proof of his assertion. So far as he (Sir Richard Webster) was entitled to speak, he felt bound to say that there was not the slightest foundation in that suggestion, either in regard to the present Government or the Government of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. The hon. Member said there were any number of instances to be found of the existence of gross sinecures. Where were they? They were not now dealing with what took place in years gone by. If the hon. Member meant that clerks only working from 10 to 4 were cases of sinecures, then, of course, there were a great many sinecures; but if he meant cases of real sinecures, he ought to specify what they were. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the salary paid to the person charged with looking after the stationery; but in the absence of intimate knowledge of what the duties were he (Sir Richard Webster) was not prepared to say that £300 a-year was too large a salary, as to fill the Office a thoroughly reliable man was required. When hon. Members in that Committee talked of favouritism and jobs, they ought in common fairness to stand up and say to what they referred in reference to this particular part of the case. He would now deal with the categorical statements made by the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), The hon. Member stated that he had received information as to unauthorized absences of clerks in the Masters' Department, and he had asserted that they had been absent either for pleasure or other purposes when they ought to have been discharging their duties.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he was speaking now of the charge that was made against the Masters of absenting themselves from their business for purposes of pleasure.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, he was referring to the statement which had been made by the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). He would remind the hon. Member who had interrupted him (Mr. Labouchere) that there were two Members for Northampton, and he (Sir Richard Webster) was alluding to the categorical statement which the junior Member for Northampton was good enough to say he would take upon himself the responsibility of substantiating. Now, the charges made by the hon. Member were serious. If those practices existed—although the hon. Member had not given the name of his informant, and he (Sir Richard Webster) did not like the evidence of anonymous informants—if there were jobs, they ought, undoubtedly, to be dealt with; and if the hon. Member would give him specific instances he would cause an inquiry to be made. He would, at any rate, be no party to the employment of persons who spent their time in pleasure or in the performance of other duties when they ought to be doing public work. He would apologize to the Committee for having detained them so long.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had not answered the question which had been put in regard to the Queen's Remembrancer.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, that as to the Queen's Remembrancer it was not accurate to say that there were no duties attached to the Office; but such duties as did exist were now discharged by the Senior Master, who received £300 a-year in respect of them. Considerable changes had taken place in the Office within the last few years; but there were duties in connection with the Sheriffs and some other matters which were still performed. He thought he had now dealt with all the matters which had been raised by the hon. Member for Stockport and the junior Member for Northampton. The question of compensation allowances he would ask his 1071 hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) to deal with, as it did not fall within his province. With regard to the observations which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire (Mr. Haldane), as to the appointments to the Chief Clerk's Office, it was a matter which really did not arise upon those Estimates. He (Sir Richard Webster) knew that of late there had been some feeling aroused on the subject by a recent appointment; but he was led to believe that it was rather a personal question than one for which the Government could be responsible. He therefore hoped that the hon. and learned Member for Haddingtonshire would not persevere with his intention of dividing the Committee upon a matter of that kind. The matter had been one which rested with particular Judges rather than with the system for which the Government were responsible. Another point had been referred to by the hon. and learned Member for North Norfolk (Mr. Cozens-Hardy) respecting the Official Referees. Now, the life of the Official Referees, from a Parliamentary point of view, had not been a particularly happy one. They had always been made a butt on both sides of the House as to the performance of their duties. He was bound to admit that he did not think the particular appointments made in the first instance to this Office had been very fortunate. It was only honest to say that at once, and he would never shrink in that House from stating his opinion fully and frankly whenever he was called upon to state it. The matter was one which was very carefully considered by the Lord Chancellor at the time the two vacancies occurred; and as the Lord Chancellor found that the business of the Official Referees' Office was increasing considerably he decided to fill up the vacancies. He thought the hon. and learned Member for North Norfolk would find that the Return he had referred to did not really give the whole of the work done by the Official Referees. No doubt there bad been a lack of confidence in that tribunal; but still, with the present occupants, he hoped that full confidence would return, and that there would be more work for them to do. His own opinion was that they might be made much more available in the interests of the suitors than they were at present. 1072 There were many cases tried out before a Judge which, dealing with figures and details, would be much better tried before an Official Referee; and in such cases it was far cheaper for the litigants to go before an Official Referee than before arbitrators whom the parties themselves had to pay. With regard to the last two appointments, he thought that the hon. and learned Member for North Norfolk was not quite accurate in stating that at the time of those appointments there was a falling-off in the business before Official Referees. He was informed that the Lord Chancellor on each occasion carefully considered the subject, and after inquiry as to the increase of work that had been done, and the further increase that was expected, came to the conclusion that it was desirable to fill up both the vacancies. But, however that might be, what were the Government to do? Those gentlemen had been appointed, and they could not be turned out; and it was the duty of the Government, therefore, to provide their salaries. He feared he might not have answered all the points that had been raised to the entire satisfaction of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington—[Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: No.]—or the hon. Member for Stockport; but he could assure the Committee that Her Majesty's Government were thoroughly desirous of making such re-arrangements as would, while doing no injustice to present holders of Offices, lead to economy and efficiency.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, he thought the Committee ought to be much obliged to the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) for the statement he had made. The hon. Member had put before the Committee a strong case for inquiry, and for an expression of the opinion of the Committee. The Committee would also feel obliged for the remarks which had fallen from the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). For the first time since 1873 the question of the general expenditure of the Administrative Departments of the Courts of Justice had been fully brought up in Parliament. In 1873 a very important debate took place on the subject; and the result of that debate was the appointment of a Committee over which he had 1073 presided, and which had sat during the whole Session. The Committee went in much detail into the matter, and found that the Courts of Justice cost the public a large sum beyond the fees, and that many of the charges were extravagant. As the result of their examination the Committee recommended that a Royal Commission should be appointed, with two objects—first, to look minutely into the expenditure, much of which involved technical considerations, and which no Committee of the House of Commons could efficiently scrutinize; and, secondly—and this was by far the most important point to consider—by whom this expenditure of over £800,000 a-year was to be controlled, assuming, as the Committee did, that the present control was insufficient. He wished the Committee to bear this in mind. He had before him the Report of the Royal Commission, and also the Report of the Committee. In 1874 there was a change of Government, and power passed to the Party now sitting on the Treasury Benches; his right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) having ceased to be First Lord of the Treasury. Therefore, if the recommendations of the Committee and Royal Commission had not been carried out they on that side were not responsible. But both the Committee and the Royal Commission pointed out very great extravagances with regard to this expenditure, very great want of system, a large number of unnecessary Offices, and a very great imperfection of classification. No doubt, some of the defects of the system were cured by the Acts that were passed in 1877, and subsequently to that date. But the Royal Commission—and it was this fact to which he wished to call attention—by a majority of 4 to 2, declared that the control of the Treasury over this Department was not effective, and that it would be proper to trust some Department of the Government, directly responsible to Parliament, with power to administer and organize these Offices, so as to secure the greatest amount of efficiency as well as of economy. The Royal Commission discussed how this could best be done, and came to the conclusion that although the Lord Chancellor, in theory, was responsible for the administration of the Courts of Justice, 1074 and should have control over them, yet, in practice, he had little actual control over the Legal Offices. Of course, he had some control over the officers of the Court of Chancery; but his control over the Common Law Courts was nominal, and not real. After discussing different Departments upon whom the responsibility might be thrown, the Committee reported that they saw no difficulty in placing all questions having relation to the numbers, duties, administration, organization, cost, and responsibility for estimates of the Legal Offices in the hands of a Member of the Government, reference being made to the Judges in question where they were personally concerned. The unreformed position, so far as the control and responsibility was concerned, remained to the present day. The Lord Chancellor could not possibly spare the time to act as a Minister of Justice, and he did not sit in the house of Commons therefore, he could not be brought under Parliamentary control. It was practically out of the question that the Offices could be well administered if the Minister responsible for them to Parliament was the Lord Chancellor sitting in the other House. On the other hand, speaking with the greatest respect for the ability of the Attorney General, he ventured to assert that the hon. and learned Gentleman could not by any possibility, with his ordinary duties, be responsible for the administration of the Offices; and, therefore, it was absolutely necessary, if they were to have a vigilant eye kept upon the Establishments—which, without such vigilant eye, would grow from year to year—it was absolutely necessary to give the control into the hands of some Member of the Government responsible to Parliament. The Committee found that the Treasury could not carry out the duty, because it was their business to stand behind the Public Departments, and not to act in an Executive character; nor could the Lord Chancellor, nor the Attorney General. It was impossible that they could exercise the functions of a Minister of Justice in this matter; and if they wanted to keep down the expenditure, and criticize the work of the Department, not every five or ten years, they must appoint someone whose duty it should be to criticize it constantly, and to be responsible to Parliament for it, it 1075 was absolutely necessary that complete responsibility should be reposed in some Minister, probably the Home Secretary, if many of his duties were transferred, as they might be, to the Local Government Department. He ventured to appeal to the Committee that that was the real point to consider. Whether this officer or that was unnecessary or excessively paid—and he had no doubt there were many such cases—what they wanted was a general control over this very large expenditure, which could not be exercised by the Lord Chancellor or the Attorney General, but must be in the hands of some one Minister, who would be absolutely responsible for the whole of the expenditure. That was the principle laid down by the Royal Commission of 1874; and until it was carried out, although good service would be done in calling attention to particular mistakes and extravagances, no permanent good would be effected.
§ MR. JENNINGS
said, he thought that any hon. Member who had heard his statements, and also that of the hon. and learned Attorney General, would be surprised at the very small extent they had been fairly met in the reply of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He would give one instance—that of the Registrar of the Court of Admiralty. The Attorney General began by saying that he had made a most serious mistake in regard to that officer, and that the gentleman in question got only one salary instead of three. Yet it appeared that the Registrar did, as a matter of fact, get three salaries. [Sir RICHARD WEBSTER: No.] Well, then, an allowance, for technically it was not a salary, but an allowance. All he could say was, that if anyone would pay him £2,000 a-year, he should not care whether it was described as salary or allowance. In this case the Registrar received £608 12s. a-year as a compensation allowance for abolition of Office; £26 6s. 9d. a-year as a second allowance, and £1,500 salary as Registrar; and what he (Mr. Jennings) characterized as a "job" was that any man should be allowed to receive separate "salaries" or "allowances" in that way. The Attorney General had attacked him as if he were a witness in the box, to be withered at a glance. He had denounced him for speaking of "jobs," without specifying what the 1076 "jobs" were. His reply was that everything he had described that evening was a job; some things gross and infamous jobs. He declined to be brow-beaten by the hectoring tone of the Attorney General; and he was quite ready to state what he meant when he spoke of jobs. Would any hon. Member be prepared to go before his constituents and defend the case of the five clerks who were at this moment walking about the streets with nothing to do except to draw £700 a-year, and who had never crossed the threshold of their office since 1881? The hon. and learned Gentleman had not considered it necessary in his reply to notice that scandal at all, athough he took credit for having answered all the allegations which had been brought forward. The hon. and learned Gentleman had lectured him as if he had invented these cases, whereas he had simply quoted them from the Reports of two important Commissions, and had given the evidence of Sir Frederick Pollock, that the duties of the Masters could be performed by any competent clerk. With regard to the duties of Masters, he knew nothing about them, but Sir Frederick Pollock had stated that there was nothing in the work of the Office which could not be done as well by a clerk as by a Master.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, the hon. Member would pardon him for saying that Sir Frederick Pollock had not said this with regard to the duties of the Masters, but only with regard to one particular duty. The question was as to the Masters attending the Court of Appeal, and the duties they had to perform; and the answer was, "There is nothing which a competent clerk could not do as well as a Master."
§ MR. JENNINGS
said, that it was also stated that the number of Masters was excessive, and that certain duties now performed by the Masters might be performed by mere clerks. That was the material part of his case which had been brushed aside by the forensic art of the hon. and learned Attorney General. As far as he could see, not one of the points which he had placed before the Committee had in any way been disposed of by the hon. and learned Attorney General. He contended that it was unjust to the taxpayers to pay enormous 1077 salaries which were not earned, and that it was a gross injustice that new clerks should be taken into the Department while redundant clerks were walking about doing nothing. The hon. and learned Attorney General said they could not dispose of excessive salaries at the present moment, but the Committee could pronounce judgment on the system on which the Estimate was based, and lay down the principle that the system of redundant clerks and of over-payments should not be allowed to continue. That was his position and of many of his hon. Friends around him, who were as anxious for reform in Public Departments as himself. He earnestly hoped that his hon. Friends, who were anxious for economy, and who had addressed their constituencies on the subject, would refuse to sanction a system under which there were five clerks with £700 a-year who had never crossed the threshold of the Office.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, that he was afraid the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) would not meet with very much support from hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, although they were very fond of making general speeches about economy, when the necessity for economy was proved by one of their own Friends, would not follow him into the Lobby. He had listened with great pleasure to the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General. They had heard a good deal about Tory Democracy of late years, but here was a fine old crusted Tory speech which would have pleased Lord Eldon himself. An abuse and a job had been pointed out, and they were told that if it were done away with the integrity of the Empire would disappear. The hon. and learned Attorney General had appealed, in the first place, ad misericordiam, and said that lawyers were not fairly treated in that House. He did not think that lawyers were worse than other people, but it so happened that there were more places which lawyers could get, and that was why they were always in favour of places being retained. The hon. and learned Gentleman had asked whether they were going to reduce this Vote for Train Bearers and Purse Bearers and what not who had received salaries of £500 and £800 for several years? These men, like locusts, had established their right 1078 to eat into the Public Exchequer, and it was monstrous, said the hon. and learned Gentleman, not to allow them to do so for the remainder of their lives. He (Mr. Labouchere) did not see why men should go on receiving salaries of £500 and £800 a-year merely because they had done so for a number of years. The hon. and learned Attorney General had said the Government were to be congratulated upon having done away with the Petty Bag, but he thought that the hon. and learned Gentleman ought to have congratulated himself (Mr. Labouchere), because year after year he had protested against this sinecurist, and year after year the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) and his Predecessors had got up and explained that if this Petty Bagman were done away with most important functions would not be fulfilled. But the Petty Bagman was done away with, and yet the Empire was not destroyed. Hon. Gentlemen on those Benches had got rid of him, and they would take care that he was not put back. The complaint as to the Permanent Secretary to the Lord Chancellor was that he was now receiving £1,500 per annum, whereas he formerly received but £900. The hon. and learned Attorney General said that this gentleman had extra functions to fulfil, but he did not think he had told the Committee what those extra functions were. [Sir RICHARD WEBSTER: I did.] But surely the Committee had a right to got from our officials seven hours work per diem, and if this official could do the extra work within the seven hours he ought not to receive an extra salary. The hon. and learned Gentleman had gone on to explain about the Secretary of Presentations. That gentleman was a clerk in the House of Lords and received £600 per annum for doing his work there, and £400 in addition for being Secretary of Presentations to the Lord Chancellor. These, said the hon. and learned Attorney General, were most important functions, and well worth £400 per annum. What were these important functions? To reply to Members of Parliament who asked the Lord Chancellor to give some of their friends a Lord Chancellor's living. He had never asked the Lord Chancellor to give him a living.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to correct him. I said nothing of the kind, or any- 1079 thing approaching to it. I said that the Secretary of Presentations had to conduct a correspondence with reference to about 685 livings.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would ask how many Members of the House of Commons were in the habit of applying to the Lord Chancellor for Lord Chancellor's livings—not that he believed that they would get anything unless they were relations of the Lord Chancellor? In effect, the country had to pay an official £400 a-year for refusing livings to private individuals. Then, the Lord Chancellor had three Private Secretaries, who each had two clerks to do their business. Then there was the Purse Bearer and the Train Bearer, and with respect to these the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the Lord Chancellor had to appear in State on some occasions, and it was on these occasions that he was accompanied by his Purse Bearer and Train Bearer and that he went with them to attend the Court of Chancery. Now, he saw the right hon. and learned Member for Bury (Sir Henry James) sitting close to him, and he would ask him how many times the Lord Chancellor had been in the Court of Chancery during the last three years? Not half-a-dozen times—and yet that was the case put forward by the hon. and learned Attorney General. But the hon. and learned Gentleman went further, and said that sometimes all three Secretaries were away and that the Purse Bearer and Train Bearer had occasionally a little secretarial work to do. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman had justified the salary of the Messenger of the Great Seal on the ground that he once had a higher salary. He did not see why they should not cut down the salaries of others. This was a case of one man tumbling over another; there was only work for one clerk, and these gentlemen were in their position because the Lord Chancellor had the patronage, and he was not likely to recommend that the Office should be done away with. They might be quite certain that unless the Committee gave a strong opinion on this matter Lord Halsbury would, as soon as a vacancy occurred, proceed to fill it up. The Committee did not want any general promise that the matter should be looked into, but a distinct and specific pledge that some of these offices, at all events, would be done away with. The hon. and learned 1080 Gentleman had defended these offices on the ground that they were necessary for the State of the Lord Chancellor, and he had not held out the slightest hope that they would not be filled up when vacancies occurred. The hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to the Masters in Chancery. [Sir RICHARD WEBSTER: The Masters of the Queen's Bench.] He would simply call them Masters, and he asked whether the hon. and learned Gentleman would lay upon the Table a Return of the public Companies of which any particular Masters were Directors, and show the House whether they attended meetings during the period in which they ought to be performing their official duties? He knew, as a fact, that a considerable number of these gentlemen, when they ought to be performing their official duties, acted as Directors of Companies and received fees as Directors. He hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would look into the matter himself. He made these observations well knowing what he was saying, and trusted the hon. and learned Gentleman would assure the Committee that he would investigate the matter and communicate the result to the Committee.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER
said, the subject to which the hon. Gentleman referred had never been mentioned before. The Masters in Chancery were not referred to. If the hon. Member would bring to his knowledge the fact that any of the officials in the Chancery or the Queen's Bench Division were in the habit of attending Directors' meetings, and being paid for it, he would, of course, look into the matter.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that the outcome of the hon. and learned Attorney General's speech was, that he considered that there ought to he some reform in the manner in which the duties were distributed. That was the reform proposed; and that they knew meant nothing unless they had a distinct understanding that the offices should not be filled up when they became vacant. The hon. and learned Gentleman had said—"Tell me of a case of gross favouritism," but would he put on the Table a list of the relatives of the Lord Chancellor who had been appointed? There never was such a jobber since the time of Lord——, well, he would not mention any particular Lord 1081 Chancellor. The hon. and learned Attorney General said the duties were to be distributed, and suggested that the salaries of the redundant clerks were to be cut off. But that was precisely what was complained of. When the Government wanted to parade their economy before the country they cut off the salaries of the little men and left the larger salaries where they were. For instance, there was the hon. Gentleman opposite, who was Civil Lord of the Admiralty. What did he do for his salary of £1,500 a-year? He went about the country and made Tory speeches. The amount he received was a great deal too much for what he did. But that was the sort of thing done by a Conservative Government; they would not put down any Office by which a particular class benefited, but when an Office by which poor people benefited was in question they were willing to scrimp and reduce. The hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) demanded that these sort of perquisites to Judges and others, which they distributed to their relations, friends, and toadies, should be done away with.
§ MR. RADCLIFFE COOKE (Newington, W.)
said, he hoped hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, who were very much interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings), would support the appeal that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith), or some other Minister of the Crown, would give an assurance somewhat less vague than that of the hon. and learned Attorney General that these matters would be looked into by the Government. He did not think that the arguments of the hon. Member for Stockport had been impugned, although he had fallen into some slight errors. It seemed to him to be admitted by hon. Members on both sides of the House that some of the salaries received by members of the Civil Service were perfectly indefensible; and it seemed to him that when it was proved that a man in the Public Service was over-paid he ought not to continue to receive the same salary. He trusted the hon. and learned Attorney General would give the Committee an assurance that decisive action would be taken in regard to some of the cases which had been specified, which would so satisfy the supporters of the Govern- 1082 ment that they would consider themselves bound to follow the Government into the Lobby without at the same time breaking the pledges of economy which they had given to their constituents.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he would not dwell on the method by which the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken endeavoured to reconcile his loyalty to his Party with his professions of economy. It would be a great pity if the Committee were diverted from the judicial consideration of this Vote by the few isolated cases of extravagance which had been brought forward that evening. He agreed with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) that the Government possessed in the hon. and learned Attorney General a consummate advocate. The hon. and learned Gentleman had certainly conducted the defence of the Department with marvellous ability, and certainly avoided what were the strong points of the case of the hon. Member for Stockport, which he had not answered, still less that of the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington (Lord Randolph Churchill). He did not think it fair to say that those Members of the House who belonged to the Legal Profession, the enormous majority of whom were barristers, were in the habit of voting money in order to promote their own professional advantage. Last night he had listened to a debate which promised to lead to a saving in one branch of Government Business. That was the result of the labours of a Committee presided over by his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bury (Sir Henry James), in which he was associated with another lawyer on that side of the House, and had also the assistance of Lord Justice Bowen.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, he had not imputed motives to any lawyer in regard to a Vote in that House, but had merely referred to the stamp which lawyers of former days had impressed on the administration, greatly to the advantage of the lawyers of the present day.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
said, he thought the spirit of the debate, and that of last night, had shown that those Members who were most familiar with this branch of the Public Service were not those who were least disposed to 1083 advocate economy. The Vote involved an amount of £760,000 simply for the Courts of Judicature, and this did not cover all the branches of judicial administration. He appealed to the Government as to whether the scale of the Vote was not constructed on the most liberal basis? It was not only that there were more officers than there ought to be, but that those officers were paid on the highest scale of remuneration, and that, according to the Report of the Commissioners, they did not render the amount of service to the country which ought to be rendered by them as servants of the Government. With reference to the Masters, the Committee, on which sat Lord Coleridge, Lord Justice Bowen, Mr. Justice Mellor, the present Mr. Justice A. L. Smith, and Sir Horace Davey, had reported that the Masters were not obliged, like the Judges, to attend from 10 to 4, or from 10.30 to 4 o'clock, but that absence was of almost uniform recurrence; that the seven Masters appointed under the Act of 1879 had not been called upon to undertake the general duties of Masters, and that it was the opinion of the Commissioners that each Master should be called upon to participate to the best of his ability in the duties and work appertaining to his rank and office, and that any Master who was now unwilling to accept the position should retire with the pension to which his services entitled him. They also said that the Masters should distribute their work over the whole office hours; and then they went on to give a very strong opinion as to the number of Masters being excessive. The evidence on which these recommendations were founded conclusively bore out the statement of the Commissioners. He would ask the Government whether they were prepared, in the first place, to take the Report as a whole, and whether they were prepared to embody its recommendations in the future administration of the Legal Department. With reference to vested interests, he was not prepared to way that he agreed with the hon. Member for Stockport as to completely disregarding the vested interest of all gentlemen who had forsaken, for the service of the country, their other paths in life. But when the Government paid a man for the whole of his time they ought to get what they paid for. Then there was the question 1084 of the hours which these gentlemen should give to the Public Service, and these matters the hon. and learned Attorney General had said could not be dealt with in a rapid manner. He would give him an illustration to the contrary. The Royal Commission presided over by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Blackpool Division of Lancashire (Sir Matthew White Ridley) a few days before the Recess reported upon the whole of the Civil Service, and expressed a hope that steps would be taken to carry out the recommendations of their first Report, among which was that the hours of service should be fixed at seven. It was within the power of the Treasury Department to do this by a Treasury Minute. He did not know what the Treasury had done, or was going to do, but he knew that the Inland Revenue Department, under the guidance of Sir Algernon West, had already carried out this rule, that every clerk in the Department should serve seven hours a day. There appeared to prevail an opinion in certain Government Offices that there should be no record kept of the number of hours of service, but he hoped that this would be done in every Department, as was the case in the Bank of England and other large establishments, where it was the rule that the hours of coming and going of the highest and lowest in the service should be recorded. The Commissioners on this point said—The subject to which we would call attention is the desirability of making attendance books compulsory on members of the Civil Service. We are in favour of making the rule general throughout the Service.The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stockport asked the Committee to vote for a nominal reduction of £500 in order to express to the Government and the country that the House of Commons was dissatisfied with the Vote as a whole; that the Vote should be grappled with in its entirety; and it was in order to strengthen the hands of the Government, and from no Party motives, that he hoped the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman would be carried.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he desired to say a few words in answer to one or two of the points which had fallen from the hon. Member behind him. The hon. Member for Stockport 1085 (Mr. Jennings) was apparently still under the impression that the payment which was made to the Registrar of the Admiralty on the abolition of certain rights which he possessed was in the nature of a salary. A sum had been placed on the Consolidated Fund, and he (Mr. Jackson) held that the payment to him sanctioned by Parliament, and made in virtue of something taken from him by the State, was a payment of the same character as if his house had been taken from him and a certain sum paid in compensation. What was the position of this gentleman when that transaction took place? He no longer possessed the monopoly of practising in this Court, but he was free to go into the world and earn his living in any other way, and the Government of the day appointed him to this position because they considered him to be the best man available for their purpose. He thought the hon. Member for Stockport would see that the two questions stood entirely apart, and that one was no more connected with the other than it would be if one amount were paid for salary and the other for compensation. The hon. Member for Stockport had referred to the five redundant clerks, with reference to whom he used the term "job." Now, a job had been defined to be the corrupt use of patronage; but surely the retention of these gentlemen in the position which they held under statutable authority—namely, the Act of 1879, was one which it was not in the power of the Government to over-ride. Parliament at the time, in its wisdom, preserved to those gentlemen who were then in Office all the salaries and rights which they possessed, and it was absolutely beyond the power of Government to dispossess them. He would remind the hon. Member that some time ago he had succeeded in inducing the House to express the opinion that retirement on abolition terms ought not to be granted to individuals under a certain age. The Government considered that on that occasion the House of Commons expressed its deliberate and separate opinion, and that they had, therefore, acted on the principle of avoiding in every case in which it was possible the retirement of comparatively young men on compulsory retirement terms. He need go no further into the question of the clauses of 1086 the Bill dealing with this matter; but he might point out that the hands of the Government were tied by the Act of 1879, which preserved to these officers all the remunerations to which they were entitled, the right of compensation for the loss of chances of promotion, and the right of payment of fees which they were entitled to receive. Therefore, he ventured to say that when his hon. Friend spoke of these transactions as jobs, the most that could be said of them was, that the Government had allowed men to continue in office who had a statutable right to the salaries paid them, and had not called upon them or compelled them to retire on abolition terms. So far as he was personally concerned—and he believed he spoke the opinion of every Member of the Government—as time permitted and opportunity offered, it was their bounden duty to get rid of all useless offices. With reference to the five redundant clerks, they had been called upon to retire. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: Compelled.] The Government had no power to compel them; but they had been called upon to retire. The Committee, in concluding their Report, stated that it remained for them to submit that the re-organization of the Department and the retirement of unnecessary officers should be effected as soon as practicable, and that officers incapacitated by age or infirmity or other cause should resign on pension. The Committee did not recommend that any violent course should be taken to add to the Pension List, but that, as vacancies occurred, the Government should avoid filling them up, and he was entitled to say that this course would be pursued. He thought he might give the Committee an instance of what had occurred last week in the Chancery Pay Office, where the office of Deputy Assistant Paymaster became vacant by the death of the gentleman who held the position. That position had been filled up and sanctioned by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury (Mr. W. H. Smith) only on the condition of the permanent abolition of a principal clerkship, which would result in a saving of £800 a-year. This, then, was an individual case of the practice and intention of the Government to make these successive appointments dependent, first, on the 1087 fact that the office itself was necessary to be continued, and that the work of the office could not be done in any other way. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had spoken, he thought, in very reasonable terms, and with a great deal of what he said he entirely agreed. The right hon. Gentleman had alluded to the question of making the seven hours' rule with regard to all Government Offices, and he had pointed out that this had been done in the Inland Revenue Department. He must, however, remind the right hon. Gentleman that a change of this kind could not be effected without some cost. He entirely agreed with the view that all Government Offices ought to be made into seven-hour offices, and he believed that would be carried out in every case where it was practicable; but it had been the custom hitherto in changing from six to seven hours to compensate the officials by additions to their salaries. [Cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Why?"] He was very glad indeed to obtain from the House of Commons an expression of its view that the Government would be justified in adding one-sixth more labour without any addition to salaries. [Cries of "Oh, oh!"] If the House considered that right it would strengthen the hands of the Government considerably, but the Government had been under the impression that a contract made with a man—[Cries of "Where, where?" and "Their whole time."] An hon. Member said they ought to give their whole time; did he mean the whole 24 hours? [Mr. HENRY H. FOWLER: No; certainly not.] Yes; but that was decided at the time they took the Office. He mentioned the fact that compensation had been paid when the hours had been changed to show that the question was not so easy of settlement as the right hon. Gentleman thought, and that where the office hours had been changed the practice had been to make an increase in the salaries.
§ MR. JACKSON
Yes; it was. He did not think it necessary to touch on other points which had been replied upon by the hon. and learned Attorney General, and would only repeat that, so far as the Government were concerned—and he 1088 believed that this was the wish of the Committee—they would continue, as vacancies arose, to abolish all offices which could be abolished, and not fill up vacancies unless the work demanded it. This had been for some time, and was now, the practice which the Government were pursuing whenever an office became vacant.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
said, with reference to the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury that the Government were doing all in their power to reduce offices, he quite agreed that they exerted their powers to the uttermost, but there were cases in which the Government were absolutely powerless to abolish an Office which was useless, because of the opposition of the Lord Chancellor. This was the case with the office of Official Referee. His hon. Friend who represented the Treasury held a strong opinion, and he himself was strongly of opinion at the time, that the office was unnecessary, and it was proposed to give effect to this view, but they were over-ridden by the Lord Chancellor, who filled up the office in the teeth of the Treasury. That showed how important it was for the House of Commons to strengthen the hands of the Government, and how beneficial it would be for the Government, if the House did what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) had recommended—namely, express its dissatisfaction by voting a merely nominal sum. That was the course which he hoped the Committee would take, and it was one which, so far as he could gather, the Government seemed to invite, while, at the same time, he was certain it was the only course which would have the smallest effect in checking needless expenditure.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER
said, he wished to point out that the difference between six-hour and seven-hour offices was the initial difference between £80 and £95. That was the only difference which the Treasury had recognized. He would read the evidence of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury's own Colleague, Sir Reginald Welby, who, with reference to the Higher Division clerks, said, in answer to a question put by himself (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), that there was no document in existence which constituted a contract with the clerks for 1089 six hours' work. There was no contract in the matter further than the statement of the customary hours to a clerk on entering the office.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I have listened to this debate with very great interest, and perhaps I shall receive the credence of some hon. Members when I say that I have uniformly welcomed, and the Government have uniformly welcomed, the assistance of the House of Commons in dealing with, or attempting to deal with, extravagance or abuse of any kind whatever. I recognize the position of the Government as one of great difficulty, undoubtedly; but I look upon them as responsible for conducting the affairs of the country with efficiency and economy, and I therefore welcome cordially the assistance of the House of Commons in obtaining efficiency and economy. But the Government have to consider also the responsibility which rests not only upon them, but upon every Government in relation to maintaining good faith and respecting statutable rights and statutable claims. Now, so far as this Estimate is concerned, a vast proportion of it is based on the statutable rights which have been deliberately confirmed by comparatively recent Acts of Parliament. I do not understand that hon. Members desire that we should arbitrarily deprive any man in the Public Service, at the present time, of any right he possesses under any Statute or under any ordinance, contract, or the like. My hon. Friend's desire, and the desire of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, is this—that this very large expenditure should be brought under review upon the responsibility of the Government, so that an office which is not actually necessary, in the judgment of the Government, when it becomes vacant, shall not, in the interests of the Public Service, be filled up again. It is desired that there should be no vested right recognized at present in an office of emolument, unless it should be shown to the satisfaction of the Government that the ditties to be discharged are necessary, and that the pay which should be allotted to those duties is reasonable and just under all the circumstances of the case. Well, we recognize that it is our duty to see that these principles are carried out. I may 1090 claim, I think, for myself that during the last two years that I have had the honour to hold my present position, I have not filled up one single office when it became vacant, without having first satisfied myself that that office was necessary in the Public Service; and I have abolished many offices and reduced the salaries of others—not of inferior clerks, but of positions of high importance. That is the principle which we propose to follow, so far as we have power to do so, in reference to this matter. But I will go further, and undertake, on the part of the Government, that the whole question of this Report shall be examined into. We have already proceeded to make some progress in dealing with the principles they recommended. Offices which have become vacant, and which they recommend should not be filled up, have not been filled up. More than that, if it appears necessary that we should obtain further legislative authority from Parliament, we will ask for that authority and obtain the necessary power. I do not propose to go into the particular cases which have been quoted by my hon. Friend behind me, or by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) asked that some Minister should become responsible for these matters, apart from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary to the Treasury, and apart, I suppose, also, from the First Lord of the Treasury.
§ MR. CHILDERS
The Treasury have confessed that they cannot alone exercise the control necessary over these establishments, and that there should be some Minister responsible.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I am not prepared to say that it would be well to relieve the Treasury from its present responsibility.
§ MR. CHILDERS
The Treasury, it must be remembered, stands behind every Minister in respect to his establishment. Of course, it would be unwise to diminish the responsibility of the Treasury as to any establishments.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I will not pursue the argument further; but will merely say, on behalf of the Government, that I recognize it to be their duty to find an Officer, a Minister who shall be responsible for seeing that none of the appointments, now the subject of debate, shall 1091 be filled up unless he is satisfied that the duties to be discharged are necessary in the public interest, and that the pay to be allotted to those duties is not more than adequate and reasonable. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton asks us if we are prepared to take the Report as a whole, and carry it out. We are prepared to give effect to the Report as a whole, and to carry it out. Of course, it must be understood that we hold ourselves bound, in regard to any specific recommendation in the Report, to satisfy ourselves before carrying it out that it is one in itself desirable. We may go even beyond the Report in certain cases; but the principle of the Report and the general tenure of the recommendations—its objects and aims—were cordially and entirely agreed with; we accept it, and we intend and desire to carry it out. I do not think I can say more than that, except to add that we regard the Motion for the reduction of the Vote as one which rather hampers than strengthens our hands. The debate undoubtedly has strengthened our hands and assisted us, and we give the most unqualified assurance to the House that we cordially agree with the spirit and object of the right hon. Gentleman opposite and my noble Friend behind me, and other Members, in seeking to reduce salaries which are too high and useless expenditure, and to remedy all abuses. We take the full responsibility upon ourselves, and we trust that the Committee will accept that assurance.
§ MR. JACKSON
May I be allowed to give a personal explanation? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton appeared rather to challenge a statement I made in reference to the increase to pay given on the change of an Office from a six-hours to a seven-hours Office. I think his explanation, and his quotation from the evidence before the Commission, related only to the Higher Division, and I did not understand him to challenge in any way the statement I made as regards the Lower Division. I understood the arrangement made with these officials was a contract, and I venture to repeat that now. I believe it is a contract, based upon and defined by an Order in Council, which separates the two classes—the six-hours Offices and the seven-hours Offices, with initial 1092 salaries in each Office, having a difference of £15 a-year, so far as my memory serves me. When a change is made from a six-hours to a seven-hours Office, the men who are engaged in the Lower Office make a step from the one grade to the other, and in that sense has an increase of £15 a-year made to his salary. I apologize to the Committee for intervening in this way; but it is only for the purpose of making clear that there is really no difference between the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton and myself.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said, that before the Committee was called upon to vote he should like to point out how diametrically opposite were the speeches of the hon. and learned Attorney General, the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, from the practice of the Government. He held in his hand a Return asked for by the hon. Member for North Norfolk as to the Referees. There were four Referees, receiving each £1,500 a-year, and each having a clerk receiving £200 a-year. The duties of these gentlemen, however, were insignificant. One of them had on an average only 18 cases a-year brought before him; another had 27 cases, another 25, and another 23. In spite of the fact that these gentlemen had so little to do, when two vacancies occurred not long ago, the Lord Chancellor did not hesitate in filling them up, and the country was now saddled with that unnecessary expense. The hon. and learned Attorney General had said that he was full of hopes and trusts that these Referees would be referred to very frequently indeed; but somehow or other suitors did not seem to appreciate their services. The beginning of Term after the Long Vacation was generally the most busy time amongst legal officials. Well, 18 working days had passed since the beginning of the present Term, and during those 18 days, ending this day, the four Referees had only had nine cases before them; while on seven out of the 18 days not one of the four Referees had anything whatever to do. He wished it to be understood that he was not attacking the Referees personally, but merely the policy of the Government. The Referees had nothing to do with it, and the Com- 1093 mittee could not deduct anything from anybody's salary this year. But they had been assured over and over again, from the Front Ministerial Bench, that the policy of the Government was to refrain from filling up vacancies in these cases. The real policy of the Government, however, was clearly shown by the Return to which he alluded. If the Lord Chancellor insisted upon making such appointments as this, in direct opposition to the wishes of Her Majesty's Government, he thought that the Government should call upon the Lord Chancellor to vacate his Office.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General had complained of the word "job" being used, and had challenged him to mention a single case of jobbery. Well, he should endeavour to give the hon. and learned Gentleman a case; but, in the first place, he must say that the statement they had just heard from the hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, so far as it went, was highly satisfactory, and was in very strong contrast to the speech of the hon. and learned Attorney General, who, he was bound to say, so far as reform went, gave very little indication of his being personally in favour of it. He (Mr. Molloy) utterly disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler) in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that the lawyers were not opposed to economy; but that was against his (Mr. Molloy's) experience in that House. He bad always found lawyers, himself, opposed to economy, and this experience had been confirmed by debates during the present Session. The hon. and learned Gentleman wanted him to give a case of jobbery, and here was a strong one. The Official Referees had been referred to. Well, two appointments had been made, both in 1878, that was to say after the Lord Chancellor and those concerned had had this Report before them.
§ MR. JACKSON
May I point out that the Report in question does not recommend the abolition of the Referees?
§ MR. MOLLOY
said, the hon. Gentleman was perfectly right. What he (Mr. Molloy) had meant had been the Return and not the Report. The Lord Chancellor and the Treasury had had the Return in their bands, and the facts 1094 were, therefore, perfectly known to them. He would only take two cases in the Return, showing the amount of pay and attendance of the Official Referees. Here was the first: In seven years one Referee had put in 750 days' work. Each day, however, was not a whole day. If the Referee came down to the Office, and merely read his letters, spending half-an-hour there, the attendance was shown in the Return as one day's work. The heading was—"Number of days during any portion of which sittings were held." Assuming, therefore, that the 750 days only represented half-day's work, they found that this Referee did in the year only 50 days' work, for which he received £1,500 a-year and the assistance of a clerk at £200 a-year. The fees obtained by this Referee amounted, in the whole seven years, to £1,000, whilst the salaries amounted to £11,900. Now, here it was put before the Lord Chancellor that the Referees had so little to do that they did not put in more than 50 days' work out of the 365, and that the whole receipts amounted to little over £120, although these gigantic salaries were being paid. With that fact staring him in the face, and in spite of the representations which had been made to the Government and the House, the Lord Chancellor had appointed fresh Referees when vacancies had occurred, and, in so doing, he (Mr. Molloy) maintained the noble and learned Lord was guilty of an absolute job. He mentioned these cases in reply to the challenge of the Attorney General.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 129; Noes 148: Majority 19.—(Div. List, No. 286.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, that before moving to reduce Sub-head G by £1,000, he should like to make a personal explanation, which he was sure the hon. Gentleman the Attorney General would accept in the spirit in which he offered it. The hon. and learned Gentleman used the words "anonymous informant," in relation to something he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had put to the House and as naturally in much of the matter he again had to put before the House, he should give no name the same phrase would probably be used against him again. 1095 So far as the previous matter was concerned, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) would say that the gentleman who had written to him was one of the gentlemen examined before the Committee, and that he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had applied to him for information about 12 months ago. Information had come to him (Mr. Bradlaugh) suddenly and unexpectedly, and he did not believe that the gentleman who gave it would have the slightest objection to his name being mentioned, but not having his permission to mention the name, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had thought it necessary to withhold it. On this Sub-head G he wished to submit a grievance of the public, as suitors. It was true that some alteration had been made in the system to which he was about to draw attention, and although other alterations were being contemplated in the circuit arrangements, he did not believe it would affect the case he intended to present to the Committee; and he was strengthened in this view by Resolutions passed by the Bar Committee itself, notably in the South Eastern Circuit, which Resolutions seemed to show that the grievances, which he had examined into carefully with a view to raising the question on this Vote last Session, remained up to the present time precisely in the same state as they were in last year. Now he submitted that great inconvenience was occasioned to suitors, and especially to the Metropolitan public, by the continued absence of the Judges from London, through their being occupied, as he should presently show, with a class of work which they need not perform, and through their performing the work which they might perform otherwise, in a manner that did not tend to the public advantage. In saying this he did not want to make a personal attack on any one of Her Majesty's Judges. He desired to speak of the Judges in this Committee with the same respect as he should speak of them if he were addressing them themselves. In the first place, he submitted to the Committee, as an evidence of great delay in public litigation, that there was one case in regard to which he had put a question to the hon. and learned Attorney General very early this Session, in which it was shown that, after argument before Mr. Justice North, the case had actually taken one year and five months 1096 before judgment was delivered. Though he admitted that that was a very exceptional case, and one which might arise from matters not connected with the cause to which he was going to refer, yet it also might be one of the results of that complaint. He submitted that the Judges only sat in London in full strength for rather less than five months of each year, and that principally arose from the Circuit arrangements, which had been prevalent for a considerable time. The legal year began about the 24th of November, when they were all back in London, leaving somewhat more than a month for work, for on Christmas they rose. After Christmas, all the Judges of the Queen's Bench Division went on Circuit, leaving only Judges sufficient to form a Divisional Court, and it was nearly the middle of February before they returned. It then sat for about six weeks until Easter, and after the Easter Vacation there was another Circuit, leaving at best one month's full strength to Whitsuntide. After the Whitsuntide Vacation there was full strength for about one month, and then the Judges went on the Summer Assizes, and did not sit again in London until after the Long Vacation, making practically a total of about four-and-a-half months' full-strength Sittings in London in the ordinary year; and even those four-and a-half months were not devoted solely to Metropolitan cases. Gentlemen around him belonging to the Legal Profession were probably better informed upon this point than he was; but he believed that there were a large number of cases, which, under the old practice, used always to be carried to Assizes, which were now tried in London, and which cost enormous expense to suitors. The solicitors and witnesses were brought to London, and a great deal of expense was incurred, because of the impossibility of trying the cases at the Assize, in consequence of the Judges augmenting their criminal business with the trial of Quarter Sessions cases, in the hearing of which Judges should not be employed at all. In a letter which appeared in The Times of to-day, signed by Mr. Lofthouse, honorary Secretary to the Bar Committee, it was said that—The average number of Quarter Sessions cases dealt with at the Assize, when 1097 Easter falls neither early nor late, is about 1700, but that this year, by reason of the Autumn Assizes being retarded by a month, the number of cases will be about 2,000.Now, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) submitted to the Committe that it was a waste of the valuable time of the Judges—a waste of the time which ought to be devoted to civil suitors—to occupy them with the trial of cases which could well be tried, and in fact could be better tried, under the superintendence of the Chairman of Quarter Sessions, and which should not occupy the time of a Queen's Bench Division Judge. The Judicature Committee expressed themselves very strongly on this point. He would not occupy the time of the Committee by going into that; but there was a serious matter connected with it upon which he desired to say rather more than the Judicature Committee said. In every Assize there were a number of eminent Queen's Council—he was not sure that all of the Queen's Counsel, but a number of them—put on the Commission. If the whole of the Queen's Counsel going on Assize were not put on the Commission, there were, at any rate, always a number of these Gentlemen put upon the Assize, and he knew, of his own knowledge, that these Gentlemen were often put upon the Commission so soon after they had taken Silk, that one might assume that a very large number of Queen's Counsel were so put on. Then he alleged that there had been a departure in modern times from the ancient practice, or the practice of 25 or 30 years ago, by which, whenever there was a heavy criminal calendar, one, two, or oven three Queen's Counsel, if there were conveniences for them, sat in separate Courts, trying what he might call Quarter Sessions cases. This, he believed, cost the country nothing. He thought he was correct in saying that Queen's Counsel had to do that work, or were expected to do it by the etiquette of the Bar and the practice of the Bar, for nothing. Not only did this practice cost the country nothing, but it was not a bad training for the Judicial Bench which most of these eminent gentlemen aspired to, and which, in turn, most of them occupied. He did not know that there had ever been a serious complaint of the Commissioners so acting. He thought he should be correct in saying that if there was a case of extraordinary 1098 seriousness or difficulty known beforehand, that that case was generally removed from the Commissioners' list and taken by the Judge himself, or if any unexpected difficulty arose in the trial itself, the learned Commissioner always had the Judge close at hand to consult on the subject. There was no doubt whatever, from the evidence given before the Judicature Committee, that this practice had been almost completely departed from in modern times. There was a suggestion which might not be correct, that an allowance of £7 10s. per day, which was made to the Judges whilst they were on Circuit, was an inducement to them to prolong the Assizes. He would not make that suggestion himself, but it might be said that this allowance allayed the desire of the Judge to get through the business by other help than his own, and it seemed to him (Mr. Bradlaugh) a disadvantage that this practice had arisen. There were instances in which Judges had stayed three weeks, or even a month, in one Assize town, with only a few serious cases to try, and an enormous bulk of cases which ought only to be dealt with at Quarter Sessions. What was the consequence? Why, that the solicitors who were aware of these things naturally did not enter the cases for trial at those Assizes. The clients suffered on the one side and on the other, because the only tendency then was to take the cases to London, where a trial could be secured. There was a great cry raised from time to time that the delay to suitors arose from the need of more Judges. He would respectfully submit to the Committee, however, that there was no such need, but that what was wanted was a better distribution of the power of the Judges. The Judges of the Supreme Court should not be employed at all in trying these petty cases. These cases should be taken away from them, and the Judges should be, he was going to say compelled, but he did not know that that would be a good word to use, but, at any rate, the Judges should be induced to resort to the old practice—a practice which he submitted was attended with great advantage to the country—of obtaining the assistance of the Queen's Counsel whose names were on the Commission, and who were often sitting in Court and were compelled to remain in the Assize town doing nothing 1099 whatever, because it was seldom that their services were required in these paltry Quarter Sessions cases. He would not trespass further than to make this very bald statement to the Committee. This statement, he felt, would have been very much better made by some member of the Legal Profession, but he could well conceive that every member of the Legal Profession might, going his circuit or his Assize, feel difficulties by way of challenging what was supposed to be the practice of any particular Judge. He (Mr. Bradlaugh) himself desired that it should not be thought that he was making this commotion to-night in any way as a personal attack on any one of the Judges. What he wished to attack was the system which had grown up during the past 20 years or so. He would suggest that the Assize Judges should not be employed in this petty kind of work, because the suitors in a Court of Justice were entitled to the earliest services of the Judges in order to determine the expenses they would be put to in litigation; and in moving this reduction, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) moved it hoping that the Law Officers of the Crown might be able to give the Committee some assurance that the Government had paid some attention to these matters. He trusted that he had not used any words of aggravation or unfairness, and that he had stated the complaint as moderately as he could, but he alleged that it cost scores of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pounds to the public every year, not only in the delay in the settlement of matters in litigation, important alike to plaintiff and defendant, but in the piling up of costs to an extent which was never dreamed of 25 or 30 years ago. He moved to reduce Item G, Circuit Allowances and Expenses, by the sum of £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item G, Circuit Allowances and Expenses, be reduced by £1,000."—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)
§ MR. ADDISON (Ashton-under-Lyne)
said, that the hon. Gentleman the junior Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had been mistaken in only one observation he had made, and that was when he said that some legal Member of the House could have taken this question in hand better than he had done himself, for in reality, in all the 1100 details the hon. Member had given of this serious grievance, both in the facts he had stated and the deductions he had drawn, he had been as accurate as anyone could be, and had represented the strong feeling of the Profession for some years past most faithfully. He (Mr. Addison) trusted that the hon. and learned Solicitor General (Sir Edward Clarke), whom he saw in his place, would take the speech which the hon. Member (Mr. Bradlaugh) had made as a speech which was really re-echoed by nearly all the lawyers in the House on that (the Ministerial) side, and he had no doubt on the other Benches. The Judges were undoubtedly doing their very hest to accommodate and to arrange the Circuit business. They had a great deal of business to attend to, and no doubt it would be difficult for them to make arrangements out of those now in operation without an increase of Judges, which the hon. Member (Mr. Bradlaugh) declared he did not believe to be necessary. But whether necessary or not, such an increase was held to be impracticable. They had, therefore, to consider the best means of carrying out the system under arrangements which should not detain other Judges too long on Circuit without increasing their number. The various duties they had to perform had been pointed out by the hon. Member. They had to attend in the High Court and at the Old Bailey, and three of them, at any rate, had to attend to another inquiry, about which he would say nothing at present, but which, so far as he could see, would occupy the attention of these three Judges for a considerable time. The grievance which had been brought before the Committee was ore which had really risen, so far as his (Mr. Addison's) recollection went, more lately than the hon. Gentleman opposite supposed. Years passed so quickly, and, as we got older, our notions of time got more vague, but his (Mr. Addison's) impression was, that it was not more than 10 years ago since the change they were discussing was introduced. Up to that time the Magistrates committeed to the Sessions prisoners ordinarily triable at the Sessions and committed to the Assizes prisoners ordinarily triable at the Assizes. It seemed to have occurred to some Judges about 10 years ago that it was their duty to clear the gaols, and in 1101 Lancashire they actually altered the form of the Commission for the purpose of trying Quarter Sessions prisoners, and the effect was that 10 or 12 serious cases and 60 or 70 Session cases came before them for trial. Now the Judges tried these cases without advantage to the public, because, he made bold to say, that there were no tribunals in England that tried these cases better than the Courts of Quarter Sessions, whose sentences were more regular and more just, and who understood better the manners and customs of the people with whom they dealt in the degree of guilt of the prisoners who came before them than anyone else could do. His (Mr. Addison's) experience was confined chiefly to Lancashire, but he thought he might say that there were no tribunals in the world which did their work better than the four Courts of Quarter Sessions of Lancashire. That being so, the work of these Quarter Sessions had been to a large extent actually taken away from them for no purpose that any member of the Legal Profession was able to conceive, unless it were to waste the time of Her Majesty's Judges and lake them away from London, This was a grievance which he had pointed out more than once. In a Bill before the House in the last Parliament, he had made the suggestion that prisoners triable, at Quarter Sessions should be tried there and nowhere else, except under an order of a Judge in Chambers. When they were discussing so many impracticable law reforms before the House—so many which it would be impossible to carry, and certainly which it would be impossible to persuade the Front Bench the importance of—a simple reform, such as this he proposed, might well be adopted. He had called the attention of the Government to the matter, and the Government had made a reply which showed that they utterly failed to appreciate the gravity of the case which had been made out. That being so, he thought the hon. Member for Northampton, and those who acted with him, should support the Bill which he believed would come before the House next Session for carrying out this simple object. The next remark made by the hon. Member (Mr. Bradlaugh) was that he was unable to conceive why a practice, which was adopted by the 1102 Judges when he was a youth, of employing Queen's Counsel to hear certain cases, should not be departed from. Whether it was a useful thing for Queen's Counsel to try cases, it was not for him (Mr. Addison) to say, as one of that Body, but it certainly seemed to him that Assizes were drawn out to an inordinate length. He trusted the hon. Member for Northampton and his Friends would support the Bill to which he had referred next Session, and that that support would have an influence with the Government which their most faithful supporters had been unable to secure. He hoped that some day or other the reform which he advocated would be brought to the knowledge of and be appreciated by his hon. and learned Friends on the Front Ministerial Bench, whom he believed were anxious to do all they could to relieve the Assizes of the country.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CLARKE) (Plymouth)
said, that no doubt this was an interesting and important subject which had been most fittingly brought before the House by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) and the hon. and learned Member for Ashton-under-Lynn (Mr. Addison). It was very well known that one of the most difficult questions which had stood before the House for years past had been the arrangement of the Circuits; and public feeling had varied a good deal in regard to what these arrangements in the main should be. Not many years ago there was a feeling of having more frequent Circuits all over the country, and there was an expression of public opinion in favour of grouping the counties and holding Assizes in different centres for the trial of prisoners. No doubt there had been much that was experimental in the arrangement of the Circuits during the last few years. The experiment, for instance, of having four Circuits in the year had proved not to be satisfactory. It had not produced the results expected, and he was extremely glad to say that the experiment which was made of grouping counties, and having criminals from one county taken for trial to another county, had been practically abandoned. It was an experiment which he was very sorry ever to see made, for in the administration of criminal justice it seemed to him of importance that the trials should 1103 take place as close as possible to the spot where the offences were said to have been committed. It was certainly essential to the interest of the poorer prisoners—and most prisoners were poor—that their trial should come off near to the place where they and their friends lived. Therefore, as he had said, there had been much that had been experimental during the last few years; but he quite recognized the importance of the specific point to which attention had been directed that evening, and that was the extent to which the time of the Judges had been taken up by trying small cases which ought properly to be tried at Quarter Sessions. He had certainly a very high opinion of the way in which, at most Quarter Sessions, the Chairmen discharged their duties; but still, it was a good thing that, from time to time, these Bodies should see how those cases were dealt with by Her Majesty's Judges; and there was some—he did not say a very great, but some—counterbalancing advantage. But it did not at all atone for the mischief which had been spoken of, and it was much to be regretted that the time of the Judges should be so largely occupied in trying cases which should be tried at Quarter Sessions. But he was rather surprised that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne should speak of the Government in this matter as being insensible to his blandishments, but as being likely to capitulate to the assault of the hon. Member for Northampton. This was not a subject with which the Government, having made no preparation to deal with it, would propose to deal with in consequence of anything which had taken place that evening. He had before him a copy of a Bill passed through the other House, a Bill the Government would be extremely glad to pass into an Act during the present Session if there were any opportunities of their doing so. That was a Bill by which it would be possible to make arrangements for holding sittings of Quarter Sessions just before the days fixed for the holding of the Assizes. While there might be discussion as to which was the best way of carrying out the object in view, it would be admitted that the Bill was a substantial attempt to prevent the Judges, when they went into an Assize town, finding standing 1104 for consideration a number of Sessions cases. In the way suggested the difficulty might be met. He could not discuss the terms of the Bill now, but if it came before the House for consideration the whole matter would have to be discussed upon it. He desired to say a word with regard to Commissioners. His own experience did not go back very many years—in 1865 he joined what was then called the Home Circuit—but although the Home Circuit had a very great deal of business to be discharged at the different Assize towns, it was not a customary or a regular thing to have a Commissioner sitting for the trial of causes. Commissioners were from time to time called upon to sit, but only in cases, as a rule, where it was found that so much business existed, or that the cases had taken so long that the time the Judges had allotted for that particular place did not appear to be sufficient for the regular conduct of business. He should be very sorry to see Commissioners resorted to as a regular part of Assize work, although it was a great convenience that the Judge should have associated with him members of the Bar on whom he could call to assist him in cases of any considerable pressure of work. He (Sir Edward Clarke) was quite sensible of the spirit of the speech of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). The hon. Member desired not so much to make an attack upon the Judges as to recognize the difficulty they themselves were in in having to deal with a number of Sessions cases, and to point out the undoubted fact that the Public Service would be best served by Judges being relieved of these cases and left to deal with the larger and more important work. He hoped the hon. Member would see the view of the Government was that some remedy should be found for the mischief, and that he would give his assistance to any scheme which might commend itself to his judgment as being one likely to provide a remedy.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he should certainly support the Government in any scheme calculated to meet the mischief, but he did not quite understand whether the Solicitor General said that if any measure came for discussion the Government would try to secure some enactment which would prevent Quarter Ses- 1105 sions cases being tried at Assizes. The mere appointment of Quarter Sessions on a particular day might possibly entirely fail from a number of reasons. In that case, would the Government go so far as to prevent what he would describe as Quarter Sessions cases being tried except at Quarter Sessions, save on some order of the Court being made when the special circumstances of the case required it?
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, he could not now discuss the details of the Bill one way or the other, but what he wished to convey was, that the intention and desire of the Government was to cause the transfer to the Quarter Sessions of the trial of causes which were really Quarter Sessions cases, but which, under the present arrangements, were tried by Her Majesty's Judges. Whether that would be by forbidding trial at the Assizes, or facilitating the trial of the causes by Quarter Sessions by making arrangements which would provide sittings of the Quarter Sessions before the Assizes, was a matter of detail upon which, at this moment, he could not express an opinion. The object, however, was clear, and that was to transfer the trial of these causes to the Quarter Sessions.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said he was of opinion "facilitating" would not meet the view of those for whom he pleaded. What was really required was some hindrance to the possibility of Quarter Sessions cases being tried at Assizes.
§ MR. AMBROSE (Middlesex, Harrow)
said that this was really a most important matter. Instead of having, as formerly, two Judges to attend to the civil business of Assizes, almost the whole of the time of one of the Judges was occupied in taking criminal business because there had been thrown upon the Judges the trial of Sessions cases. He had no hesitation in saying that Chairmen of Quarter Sessions and Recorders were quite as capable, and in many instances more capable, of taking these cases than Her Majesty's Judges, because the business was more in their line. Many of the Judges had been engaged in civil business only, and they came to criminal business comparatively inexperienced, whilst Chairmen of Quarter Sessions and Recorders brought to the subject largo knowledge and experience. What was the result of the present state 1106 of things? Not only were the Judges longer out of London—not only was London deprived of the services of the Judges—but the country districts were deprived of the amount of service from Her Majesty's Judges in regard to civil business that they were accustomed to receive formerly. The whole difficulty arose through the view entertained by Mr. Justice Watkin Williams. Some prisoners used to be committable to Quarter Sessions and some to Assizes. According to the Statute, if the offence was triable at Quarter Sessions the Magistrate committed the prisoner to Quarter Sessions, and if the offence was triable at the Assizes he committed the prisoner to the Assizes. Those cases committed to the Assizes were tried by the Judges, and those committed to the Quarter Sessions were dealt with by the Chairman of Quarter Session or the Recorder, as the case might be. Mr. Justice Watkin Williams started the point that when the Judges were sent out by their Commission to deliver the gaols, it was not their duty to leave any prisoner in gaol. The point seemed to be accepted, and from that time to this the Judges had been labouring with the difficulty of having to deliver the gaol of Quarter Sessions prisoners. He knew that many of the Judges did not like it. In many instances it was competent for the Recorders so to arrange their own Sessions that they came immediately after the Assizes, and if they did the Judges were compelled to do the Recorders' work. There was no sort of necessity for this, and it was a great hindrance both to country civil business as well as London business, that the Judges should be occupied in trying cases which could be quite as well tried, if not better, by Chairmen of Quarter Sessions. There was another point which had been started in recent years, and which had tended to occupy the Judges very much. About the same time as the idea of delivering the gaol of all prisoners was accepted, it was started that there ought to be four gaol deliveries instead of three. It was said that prisoners ought not to be kept too long in prison, and it was right that at all events there ought to be a gaol delivery every quarter. He really could not see why, if they were to argue that three deliveries were too few, they ought not to go on to four, and from four to five, and from five to six, and so on. The fact 1107 was, there were a great many more Assizes than there was any real necessity for. He wanted to speak with reserve on the matter; but he did not think he would be betraying any confidence when he said that the Judges themselves were of opinion that there was no necessity for four Assizes. In arranging for four Assizes the Judges were rather yielding to what they believed to be the outside demand than to their own opinion that there was any necessity. He believed that the holding of four Assizes resulted in a great waste of judicial power. Personally he was obliged to the hon. member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) for having brought this question before the Committee.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said that after what had fallen from the Solicitor General, and from two hon. and learned Members of the Committee, he thought he would be acting wisely in asking leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said, he desired to direct attention to a matter which was discussed last year at some length by the Committee; he referred to the Pay Office of the Supreme Court, and the funds which were kept there—the unclaimed funds about which so much misapprehension prevailed in the public mind. Last year the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) was good enough to promise to give his attention during the then coming year to the point. On the part of many persons there was a belief that the funds standing in the name of the Paymaster General to the Court of Chancery were of almost untold magnitude. There used to be numberless advertisements in all kinds of newspapers implying that there was something like £100,000,000 sterling lying in the Court of Chancery and only awaiting claimants. The advertisements set forth that the Government would be only too glad if applicants would come forward. The number of advertisements which the professional agents of the Court of Chancery, as they called themselves, published, implied no doubt that there was an immense amount of credulity in the public mind on the subject. He believed, however, that the discussions which had taken place in the House of Commons, had to a certain extent removed the illusion. In 1108 the past year the number of advertisements of the character he had mentioned had been largely reduced in this country, and now, indeed, if such advertisements were found, it was only in the inferior class of newspapers. He could testify from very recent personal experience that this was not the case elsewhere. There was no part of the world to which the English people went—neither our Colonies nor the United States—in which these fraudulent agencies did not still prevail. Within the last 10 days he had seen in an American newspaper the same old lie about £90,000,000 sterling lying in the Court of Chancery, and about the desire of the British Government that claimants should come forward. They had already heard from the officers of the Government that there was nothing like that amount of money lying unclaimed in the Court of Chancery. He believed that one cause of the misapprehension in the public mind—for it was a gross misapprehension—was that next to nothing was known about these funds, and that the little that was made known was of a kind to stimulate the imagination. Once every three years was published a list containing thousands of names, and, so far as the outside ignoramus could tell, everyone of the names might mean fortunes of thousands of pounds. He believed the real fact was that there was hardly a fund in the list which exceeded £15,000, and that the entire funds did not amount to more than £1,000,000 sterling. The suggestion he made to the Secretary to the Treasury last year was that all the possible information on the subject should be given to the public, and that in particular the total amount of the fund should be made known, and that the amount of the individual fund should be published. He had the honour of knowing the Gentleman who recently filled the office of Deputy Paymaster to the Court, the late Mr. Skinner, and he thought it was no breach of confidence to say that that Gentleman thought something could be done in the direction indicated. In consequence of the favourable reception his suggestion met with last year, he had ventured again to bring the subject before the Secretary to the Treasury. He should be glad if the hon. Gentleman was able to announce that he had seen his way to do something in the matter.
§ THE SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman the member for Dundee (Mr. B. Robertson) certainly did a public service in calling attention, as he did last year, to this subject. It was true he (Mr. Jackson) promised to take into consideration the suggestion he made, and see whether it was possible, without doing greater mischief, to give effect to it. He did examine into the matter, and he did consult with those whom he had a right to think knew more about the circumstances than he did. Having done this, he was forced to the conclusion that he could not make a recommendation which would give full effect to the hon. and learned Member's suggestion, without raising other and perhaps more serious difficulties. In the public interest it could not be too strongly emphasized that the fund was not at all that which advertising agents, who were simply misleading the public for the purpose of making profit for themselves, represented it to be. The total of the fund was not at all to be compared with the extravagant sums which were mentioned from time to time. Considerable benefit would result from the publicity which the hon. and learned Gentleman had given to the subject. He was glad to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman himself found that some good had resulted from his action. He hoped that the present notice which was taken of the matter in the House of Commons would be found to be of service in warning the public against the misleading statements which were being circulated. He should be very glad, either in answer to a Question from time to time, or in some ether way, to make known what were the real facts of the case, as far as they could with propriety be made known.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
asked, what particular difficulty the hon. Gentleman saw, in every instance, in making a change? Suppose there was an item in the list, "Jones against Smith." It was not stated how much money that item represented. Why should it not be stated in the margin that that fund amounted to £10, or £20, or whatever the amount might be, instead of leaving the matter to the imagination of the credulous, and, he was afraid, avaricious 1110 public. There were many people who, when they saw their names in the list, supposed it meant a fortune to them. He had received scores of letters front persons asking him to call at the Chancery Office and get sent to them £20,000 which stood in the list in a name corresponding with the writers'. Why should not the list, which was the stock-in-trade of certain so-called agents, show what was the amount of each fund?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he was afraid he was not able, off hand, to give the reason, because he could not call it to mind. But he thought it would partly meet the hon. and learned Gentleman's case if they did, in some form or other, show how comparatively small the amount of the fund was. He would see what could be done.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
said, that a statement did appear regularly every three years. What he wanted to do was to make the statement much more complete and less misleading. He thought it would be better not to publish the list at all than to publish it in its present form.
§ MR. COGHILL (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
said, that many complaints were made about the absence of the Judges from London. One of the chief causes of the complaints was that the Judges give themselves so many holidays. Why should the Judges have four vacations in the year? They had a long vacation of two-and-a-half months. They had three weeks' holiday at Christmas, and a fortnight's holiday at Easter and Whitsuntide. Why should not the Whitsuntide holiday be abolished altogether? No doubt there were certain persons who were very much overworked in the practice before the Judges, but it did not follow that the courts should rise altogether at Whitsuntide, as they did at present. The question of the allowance of £7 10s. per day to the Judges while on circuit had already been alluded to. The allowance arose in this way: A few years ago the Chancery Judges were sent on circuit in the same way as Common Law Judges were. The practice was discontinued, and the Common Law Judges complained that they were put to the expense of £500 each, in going circuit, while no such expense fell upon the Chancery Judges. To make all equal, the Common Law Judges were there- 1111 upon allowed £7 10s. a-day while on circuit. He put it to the Secretary to the Treasury whether this payment ought not to be abolished. The right course of procedure, at the time the allowance was agreed upon, was not to level up, but to level down. Chancery Judges could have been got for £4,500 a-year. There were plenty of men practising at the Chancery Bar who would have been perfectly willing to have taken a Judgeship at that figure, and the Secretary to the Treasury would admit it was a perfectly sound principle that they ought not to pay for services more than the market value of the services. If the Chancery Judges were paid £4,500 a-year, and the Common Law Judges expected to pay their own circuit expenses, all would be upon an equality. It seemed to him that the administration of justice might be very much more economically and more efficiently conducted than at present.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, the arrangements with regard to the allowance of £7 10s. per day arose from the fact that it was hard on the Judges who were called upon to go on circuit to have to pay expenses amounting to £500 a-year. The Chancery Judges had for a long time had £5,000 a-year, and it was well known that for some time after the Equity and Common Law Divisions were joined in the Supreme Court of Judicature, the Judges went circuit in turn. The experiment, however, was not a satisfactory one. The Chancery men had never had anything to do with criminal justice, and they often found themselves in a difficulty when they came to deal with criminal cases on circuit. If the burden of going circuit was to be thrown entirely on the Common Law Judges, it was only fair they should be relieved of the expenses attending going circuit. Besides, the arrangement made was a very economical one from the point of view of the public. The immediate increase to the public expenditure was about £3,000 a-year, but in consideration of the arrangement it was agreed that the Judges should, as vacancies occurred, not have the second clerk which they previously had. When the arrangement was fully effected, the result would be a saving to the public purse of about £2,000 a-year. He had not the smallest doubt the hon. Member (Mr. Coghill) was right when 1112 he said there were Chancery men who would accept Judgeships for a smaller rate of remuneration than was now paid, but there would be no more dangerous and mischievous thing than to take that as a test. It was important to the country to choose as Judges, not simply men who had practised at the bar, but the best men. With regard to the question of holidays, he was afraid it would be impossible to get Judges to sit from the 28th of October until the 8th of August without a break. Besides, the holidays which were enjoyed by the Judges at Christmas and Whit-suntide were holidays which were, so to speak, common and popular holidays.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he desired some information concerning the Clerks of Assize. He noticed that the bulk of these officials received £1,000 a-year. Had they any other work to do besides that at Assizes? Furthermore, he would like to know who appointed these gentlemen; whether they had to be a certain number of years at the Bar before they were eligible; and how many years Mr. Justice Stephen's son had been at the Bar?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
replied, that the Clerks of Assize had no other duties to perform, but they could not practise at the Bar. They were required to have certain qualifications, and he had no doubt Mr. Justice Stephen's son possessed the necessary qualifications. His recollection was that that gentleman had practised at the Bar a considerable time. The senior Judge made the appointment.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
said, he did not know how far the patronage of the Judges extended, but he asked lay Members of the Committee to take up a copy of the Law List; to look at the names of the minor and comparatively obscure judicial officers, and compare them with the names of the gentlemen on the Judicial Bench. They would find a most extraordinary and most significant repetition of the names of the Judges in the names of the minor officers. They would find Pollocks and Mellors and Denmans in one generation, and Pollocks and Mellors and Denmans in the next generation. It was not "Amurath to Amurath succeeds," but Mellor to Mellor and Pollock to Pollock. He was confident that if the 1113 public knew to what an enormous extent judicial patronage was exercised, apparently for the benefit of the families of the persons interested, there would be a great deal of indignation aroused.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2.) £4,680, to complete the sum for Wreck Commission.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, he desired to ascertain from the Government their intention with regard to the appointment of Wreck Commissioner. It was now four or five months since the death of Mr. Rothery, a gentleman who, for 10 or 12 years, had presided over the Court with great ability, and when, shortly before the Recess, he had asked the President of the Board of Trade what were the intentions of the Government on this matter, he was informed that they had not decided upon the course to be pursued in filling up the Office. The post was created in 1875 or 1876, in consequence of the agitation aroused by Mr. Plimsoll. He believed he was right in saying that the Commission had performed their work satisfactorily, and the Royal Commission, over which he himself had presided some years ago, expressed the opinion that the Wreck Commission had been productive of a great deal of good, and had thrown a great deal of light on cases leading to loss of ships and loss of life at sea. Under the circumstances, he asked what course the Government proposed to take with regard to filling up the Office?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, that no definite steps had been taken as regarded the filling up of the post vacant by the death of Mr. Rothery. The matter was being very carefully considered, and he might say that representations had been made to the Lord Chancellor to hold his hand with regard to the appointment for the time being, in order to enable very serious consideration to be given to the Report of the Commission on Saving Life at Sea. In the meantime, he was told that no inconvenience arose from not filling the appointment. He believed the Commissioners on Saving Life at Sea were rather leaning to the opinion that it was desirable to hold the inquiries by means of Inspectors. Apparently, legis- 1114 lation would be necessary to give effect to many of the recommendations of the Commission, and it seemed desirable to the Board of Trade that they should have a little more time seriously to consider how they could best shape their proposals and give effect to the largest number of the recommendations of the Commission.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, there must from time to time be a considerable number of serious cases of loss of life at sea which ought to be inquired into, and certainly the Royal Commission were of opinion that the Office should be continued for that purpose. He could not altogether consent to the saving of money by the suppression, either wholly or in part, of this important Office, and in view of the supreme importance of holding inquiries where serious loss of life and property occurred, he owned that he should be much opposed to the abolition of the Office.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, any ordinary Magistrate, assisted by trained assessors, could do the work without the country being put to the expense of £3,000 a-year.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £198,030, to complete the sum for County Courts.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
said, there had been no increase of salaries of any kind. The reason for the increased payment was that owing to the increase of business, increased fees were paid in certain cases.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
pointed out to the hon. member for Caithness that on his Motion a Return had been made which gave all the figures for Registrars.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £596, to complete the sum for Land Registry.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £370, 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 expense of Revising Barristers in England.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said, he thought the time had come when the whole question of the Revision Courts of Registration of Electors should be dealt with, and he rose to protest against this large expenditure, by moving to reduce the Vote by the sum of £210. The practice of the Revising Barristers was to strike off the register as many persons entitled to vote as he could be convinced he should strike off by any acute registration agent. If a Conservative Agent convinced him that 1,000 persons ought to be struck off, and a Liberal Agent showed that 1,200 ought to be removed, they would be struck off; but, on the other hand, if those two agents were to join to represent that a certain person had been left out of the list who was entitled to vote, the Revising Barrister had no power to put on the person in question. His protest was against the entire system. We were, under the present system, wasting £20,000 a-year, besides the amount of the Grant in Aid; and yet there was at present nothing in the nature of a perfect register of electors of the United Kingdom. The cost of the register which did exist was almost entirely borne by the candidates in the respective constituencies. This was a very heavy tax on those who became Members of the House, and he thought the subject ought to be taken into the consideration of Her Majesty's Government, so that if the present or a similar Vote was to be continued, the powers of the Revising Barristers should be made to extend not only to the striking off, but to the placing on the register of duly qualified persons.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the sum of £160 be granted for the said Services."—(Mr. Howell.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir RICHARD WEBSTER) (Isle of Wight)
said, he could understand with the hon. Gentleman that improvement was desirable, and he only wished to correct one misapprehension on his part—that it was the sole duty of the Revising Barrister to strike voters off the Register. As a matter of fact, the bulk of his work was dealing with new claims. He would be the last person to say that no improvement was possible, but on the other hand, he was able to say that the Revising Barristers had done their work 1116 very well, and in this particular year, the Government had effected an economy which would be of considerable advantage to the country.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he hoped that the present method of making up the Register would shortly come to an end. It was quite true that the Revising Barrister had among his functions that of putting voters on the Register, but if anyone were to visit the various Courts, he thought he would have great difficulty in understanding the different decisions given by Revising Barristers throughout the country. There appeared to be no standard to go upon, and his experience of the proceedings in the London Courts was that one Court would admit a claim to registration which another would refuse. He considered it wrong that the Revising Barrister should have power to add a new voter to the Register only when some voluntary society had taken the trouble to lodge the claim. He thought that the question of the entire revision of electoral registration must very soon come before Parliament. He did not think the Revising Barristers entirely met the conditions required from them, or that they acted upon any standard in the discharge of their duties; and he therefore differed from the Attorney General as to the manner in which the work was done. They had before them a number of lists which they had not seen before, and according as there were persons to argue the cases or not, so the work was carefully or hurriedly done. He hoped, even now, that the Government would be able to say that they did not think this was the best possible system for arriving at the result required.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE) (Tower Hamlets, St. George's)
said, the Government had already declared their views on this subject. Questions had been put to them this Session, and last Session also, with regard to registration. The Government said they were not satisfied with the present condition of the law, and that they had declared their intention of dealing, as soon as they conveniently could, with the whole question. They were of opi- 1117 nion that all those entitled to vote should be on the Register, and they would not themselves be satisfied with any revision of the law which did not meet that requirement. The hon. Gentleman might be sure that, as soon as the matter could be dealt with, it would be so in a manner which would be satisfactory to him.
§ MR. PAULTON (Durham, Bishop Auckland)
said, he did not quite gather whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to convey that the law was in a satisfactory condition or not. If the Government considered that the law was in a satisfactory condition, he should have something further to say on the Vote. He wished to call attention to a case, which, so far as the law stood, was perfectly clear, but with regard to which the decision of the Revising Barrister had been entirely wrong.
said, a legal error on the part of a Revising Barrister was a matter to be dealt with in a Court of Law; but the question of misconduct on the part of a Revising Barrister might properly be raised on this Vote.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £6,243, 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 Police Courts of London and Sheerness.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
said, he wished to draw the attention of the Committee to a circumstance which had caused great inconvenience and loss of time, and consequently money, to a number of persons who were constituents of his own. On the l3th September, about half-past 12, a message was sent to the magistrate at Dalston Police Court to say that there was no magistrate at Clerkenwell; the sitting magistrate accordingly had to go to the Clerkenwell Court, with the result that a large number of persons who were present at the Dalston Court on School Board summonses, were compelled to leave the court and return in the following week. This circumstance, which had resulted in the loss and injury he had described, he sincerely hoped would not occur again. He wished, also, to refer to the condition of the cells in 1118 which persons were detained at the Police Courts. He did not propose to speak at length on the subject of the over-crowding which frequently took place in these cells, and which frequently led to persons, either innocent or taken into custody for the first time, being put in the same cells with habitual criminals. On this subject he would simply remark, that if anyone desired to manufacture criminals, a more effectual course could not be taken than placing the innocent in compulsory association with the guilty. But he particularly desired to draw attention to the fact that there were no female attendants to take charge of female prisoners. In the first place, this was a cruel injustice to women who happened to be detained, and who might be perfectly innocent, and it seemed to him to be scarcely fair to the male gaolers that the duty of attendance should be imposed upon them. As soon as a woman was convicted she was placed under the exclusive care of female warders, so that they had this anomaly, that the treatment of women presumably innocent, was worse than that of the guilty. He admitted that if they were to provide female attendants, there would be a certain amount of additional expense; but there were certain cases in which expenditure was necessary in response to the claims of decency and humanity, and he thought that this was one of them. This question had been before the House last year, and some observations were made from the Treasury Bench sympathizing, to a certain extent, with the hon. Member who then took up the ground which he was taking up that evening; but he believed that nothing practicable had been done in the direction, and that it was but a Platonic sympathy which was then expressed. For this reason, unless he received a perfectly satisfactory assurance from the Treasury Bench, he proposed to divide the Committee on a Motion for the reduction of the Vote in order to raise what he considered to be a very important question.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £6,143, be granted for the said Services."—(Mr. Pickersgill.)
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPART- MENT (Mr. STUART WORTLEY) (Sheffield, Hallam)
said, since the Report of Mr. Justice Wills's Committee was made, the Government had been in communication with the Office of Works, the magistrates, and Mr. Edward Ducane, as well as a number of other persons who could render assistance in considering the questions raised by the Report of the Committee. References were made in the Report to various subjects, among others, the undue agregation or congestion of prisoners, sanitary arrangements, bad lighting, improper communication between the cells, and improper facilities for communication with the public, respectable people being associated with persons of filthy habits and language, bad attendance, the want of female attendance, and insufficient provision for keeping prisoners separate. The Committee would see that the remedy for all these evils at one swoop would be a task of some magnitude. It appeared that before anything could be done to provide comprehensive relief, it was necessary to ascertain to what extent it was possible to diminish the congestion of prisoners by improving the van service, under which they were brought to and removed from the Police Court, because it would have been obviously improper to rush into a large expenditure before ascertaining that there was no other means of diminishing overcrowding. Direction had been given that, whereas the van used to arrive with the remanded prisoners from Holloway at 10 in the morning, and the remanded prisoners discharged into the cells already filled with persons under night charges, and otherwise in custody, henceforward the remanded prisoners should be brought to the Police Court at some hour near to the time when they were likely to be wanted for the purpose of being tried. The hour of half-past 11 had been fixed, in the hope that the van would be able to take back prisoners whose cases had been disposed of. It was proposed to give a trial to this new system, and when that had been done the Government would be able to form some idea of what amount of alteration would have to be made. There where 14 police stations in the Metropolis, and it would be necessary to have a large number of cells to prevent over-crowding. In some cases 1120 the police stations and Courts were under the control of the Commissioners of Police; and in six cases there were police stations adjoining the Court, and the Committee recommended that in such cases it should be ascertained whether the cells, which were in good order, could be made available for the purposes of the Court. Accordingly, an arrangement had been made for additional cells in this way. They proposed to ask the Treasury to sanction the payment of a nominal rent by the Police Court, to meet possible damage to the cells and other necessary items. This arrangement would give a certain amount of temporary relief, but not all that which it was intended to provide by improvements. With regard to the question of female attendants, this was a matter of great importance, and the improvement of the present system had the warmest sympathy of his right hon. Friend. A place that was unfit for a male prisoner was à fortiori unfit for a respectable woman; but this question depended, to a certain extent, on structural improvements. In the meantime, he was engaged in inquiring whether the wives of gaolers or female searchers, who were near at hand, could not be made temporally available until more permanent arrangements could be carried out. The question of the food supply to prisoners had also received attention, as also what would be the probable additional cost, and he was not without hope of being able to meet the recommendation of the Committee in that respect. He hoped the Committee would see that the Department had not been insensible to the very valuable recommendations of the Committee, which, he believed, there was a prospect of being carried speedily into effect.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, the reply of the hon. Gentleman, although to a certain extent satisfactory, was not, he feared, sufficient to satisfy either the Committee or the public. The method of dealing with this question by the hon. Gentleman was one of delay—it was, he said, a question of bricks and mortar, and he seemed to argue that the matter must be delayed because the Department would have to ask for more money. The only immediate action which the Government proposed to take was the more frequent running of the police vans for the pur- 1121 pose of relieving the congestion at the Police Courts. That would have no effect at all, except as to the length of time during which the cells were overcrowded; the concourse of people in the cells and waiting rooms of the Courts would still continue, although they might come earlier and go away sooner. He did not think the Government had realized the gravity of the Report which had been made, and which was framed in the strongest possible language, and was to the effect that the present accommodation was extremely defective in almost every respect; that it was unworthy of a civilized country, and especially disgraceful to the Metropolis of this country; and that a large measure of improvement was immediately and urgently demanded. The Government met this urgent demand by saying that the police vans were to run backwards and forwards more often, and that in six months, perhaps, the question of a larger number of cells would be considered. No one who had read the Report could agree that any delay should take place in satisfying the demand. There were persons brought before the Courts who were not guilty, and others who were not only not guilty, but brought there through some spiteful action, and the bare idea of putting such persons for half-an-hour in such company as they met in the cells ought not to be tolerated, and the case called for the immediate attention of the Government. A case in point had been brought forward in which a decent and innocent woman, who was guilty of nothing but a technical breach of the law, was fined 2s., and locked up in a cell with a prostitute, who, the gaoler said, was the foulest-mouthed woman he had ever known, and whose utterances confirmed his report. There were portions of the Report which, for reasons that would be readily understood, he could not read to the Committee. Yet they were told that the question of cell accommodation was for future consideration. ["No, no!"] He had listened attentively to the hon. Gentleman's statement that in about six months something was going to be done with regard to structural alterations. But the statements which had been laid before them as to the mixing of the sexes, the contamination of innocent women and youths, and the horrible insanitary condition of 1122 the cells, ought to be sufficient to induce the Government not to delay for a single day the work of reconstruction; and in order to strengthen their hands he hoped his hon. Friend would carry his Motion to a Division.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
said, he spoke as a specialist in this matter, having passed a night and one day in the Bow Street police cells, and if other Members of the House bad had like facilities, this subject, he believed, would have been brought before the House before now. He did not happen to have the Report in his hand, or he should have read every word of it, because he believed it was only by bringing before the Committee the real facts of the case, and showing how women and men were herded together in the London police cells like slaves in the middle passage, that the sense of humanity which resided on both sides of the House could be fairly awakened, and then he was convinced that, cost what it might, the matter would be set right in two days. After the events which occurred that day year, which they called "Bloody Sunday," he was confined in a Bow Street police cell. On one side of him there were two drunken prostitutes, on the other three Whitechapel boys, whose language, to quote Bret Harte, was "painful, frequent, and free"; after this, a respectable man was brought in on suspicion of having assaulted a policeman, and they had to listen to this filth and obscenity the whole night long. What he pleaded for—it was an unusual thing for a Radical to ask—was the outlay of a little public money in order to remove this reproach from our London Police Courts, and place them on a level with those of Paris and other cities. He had taken the trouble, when in Paris, to inspect the police accommodation in the cells. He had gone there with a Member of the Paris Chamber of Deputies; and he must say that in the French capital they were 100 years in advance of us in respect to these matters. He had not observed in Paris that crowding together or absence of sanitary arrangements noticeable at Bow Street. He had seen men and women there, but order and cleanliness was preserved, and when men had commenced to sing indecent songs they were checked—which was not done in 1123 the case of some of the occupants of the cells, one of which he had been confined in a night and a day. He had appealed to the Home Secretary on this subject. He had made a charge as to the treatment of prisoners by the police, 12 months ago, to the very day. He had told the right hon. Gentleman how, himself confined in one of the cells, he had heard groaning and scuffling close to him, and had heard a prisoner use these words—"You need not give a fellow such a doing." He had been unable to see what took place on that occasion; but in the morning he had seen go past his cell men with bandaged heads, who, the night before, had had nothing the matter with them. Those were serious charges to make, and he certainly should not make them if he had not heard and witnessed what he described. He was prepared to make those statements on oath, if necessary. He appealed to the Home Secretary to let the country know if he was in possession of any special facts relating to these grievances, in order that the Committee might know how they stood with regard to them, and in order that a man who might be falsely accused might not be exposed to violence and abuse in the secrecy of the police cells, and then have no redress open to him, being unable to provide himself with witnesses. He asked any gentleman in that House, who prided himself on being an Englishman, to lay aside all paltry questions of economy, and to urge on Her Majesty's Government the desirability of spending a little money for the purpose of removing this reproach to our civilization.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
said, he was sorry to detain the Committee—["Oh, oh!"]—and he hoped that in saying that it would not be supposed that he did not take interest in the matter. On the contrary, it was because he felt such warm interest in the matter that he had appointed this Committee. He entirely agreed with what had fallen from more than one Member—namely, that economy was not to be thought of for an instant when there was an evil to be removed. When an evil was proved to exist, it must be removed, at whatever cost; and the Government, in this instance, had endea- 1124 voured to effect measures of proper reform in as reasonable a way as possible. They had taken the steps which, obviously, it was their first duty to take, by providing increased van accommodation for the removal of prisoners. This step was to prevent a congestion of prisoners in the Courts. The Committee had emphatically referred to this point, remarking that in some of the Courts much might be done to relieve the cells by some arrangement for removing the prisoners in batches, as soon as their cases were disposed of. They had suggested that, instead of putting different classes of prisoners together, the remanded prisoners should be brought up after the night charges had been disposed of, and arrangements were being made to carry out that suggestion, and prevent the detention of different classes of prisoners in the same cells at the same moment. This was a difficult matter to deal with, as the Committee foresaw, for they had stated that it was beyond their power to suggest details; but he thought that by the steps which had been taken he had arrived at a satisfactory result, and that without having been guided in the matter by an undue and shabby economy. The cost of constructing a new cell on the improved principle was £68—that was the estimate in the Report of the Committee. But before new cells were constructed land had to be acquired, so that some time must elapse before the accommodation could be augmented in this way. He could assure the Committee, however, that there was not the slightest intention of shelving the question. All the Government wished to do was to act as reasonable men would do under the circumstances; and when they had brought about a proper average distribution of prisoners—discriminating between remanded prisoners and night charges—and when they had minimized the accumulations to the utmost, they would inquire as to what fresh structural accommodation was necessary. It would not be fair to the taxpayers of the country to spend more than was absolutely necessary for the purposes they had in view. Many of those at the Home Office felt as warmly on this subject as did hon. Gentlemen opposite, though they did not hold anyone to blame. The existing accommodation at most of the Police 1125 Courts was provided when the population of London, and the number of charges to be dealt with, were enormously less than they were at present. The evils complained of had grown up by degrees; and difficult as it might be to provide the necessary accommodation, he must say that, having had time to see what new arrangements were necessary, measures would be at once adopted to carry those measures out.
§ MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary declared that he had under his consideration—and, no doubt, he had had for a very, long time—the question of improved cell accommodation. He (Mr. Stuart) wanted to give one fact in respect to that matter. That part of the Metropolis under the Metropolitan Police had increased during the past 10 years by 20 per cent; but the cost of the Metropolitan Police Force had, during that time, increased by 44 per cent, and the money laid out on assistance to destitute prisoners awaiting trial had increased 14½ per cent. These figures were taken from the Annual Police Returns for 1878 and 1887, and they showed conclusively the backward state of the provision such as the hon. Member (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) desired to see provided; and he (Mr. Stuart) certainly thought that when on many miner matters—which he should have occasion on a later Vote to call attention to—there had been such large increases connected with the administration of justice, it was desirable that proper accommodation for the poorer and more miserable class of the population should be provided with greater rapidity than that for any other class. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary would act with greater rapidity, perhaps, through his attention being drawn to these matters. He (Mr. Stuart) regretted that he was not in the House when this question was first raised. He, however, had heard one question raised by an hon. Gentleman—namely, the physical treatment of certain prisoners awaiting trial by police constables. He did not wish to prolong the discussion in any way; but he intended to read one piece of evidence which was in his hands at that moment. After the troubles which arose exactly a year ago in Trafalgar Square, he (Mr. Stuart) and some of his friends——
I did not interrupt the hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire (Mr. Cunninghame Graham) in his speech; but it appeared to me most of it would have been more relevant if delivered on the next part of the Estimate—namely, the Police Vote. His observations, in a great measure, had reference to the conduct of the police, and that statement, I think, would also apply to the observations of the hon. Member who is now speaking (Mr. Stuart).
§ MR. JAMES STUART
I think the time of the Committee would be saved if I were allowed to finish my observations on this matter.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
asked what time would be occupied by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in making the calculation as to the number of prisoners for whom accommodation would have to be provided? He did not understand the recommendations of the Committee with reference to structural changes to depend upon this inquiry. The right hon. Gentleman said that inquiries were being made; but it was right to point out that, whilst these inquiries were being made, the disgusting proceedings to which attention had been called were taking place. He (Mr. H. H. Fowler) happened, when at the Home Office, to have the alterations of the Police Courts under his consideration; and he had come to the conclusion that it was absurd to attempt a reconstruction of the various Metropolitan Police Courts in a piecemeal fashion, spreading the work over a number of years, and depending entirely on such annual grant as the Treasury might feel disposed to give. He would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman why the Metropolitan Courts should not be dealt with financially, just as Birmingham, Liverpool, or Manchester would deal with their police buildings? Those towns would not find the means for providing this accommodation out of the taxation of one year, but would raise a loan for the purpose. He heard the Home Secretary say—"He knew all about that." No doubt the right hon. Gentleman knew all about it. The right hon. Gentleman knew it was necessary to 1127 spend a large amount of money to put the police cells in a proper and decent condition; and no doubt, if the management of the police were handed over to the County Councils, the London Council would raise a large amount of money to get the necessary work properly done. The necessary outlay would probably be £200,000, which, at an annuity of 5 per cent, would entail an expenditure of £10,000 a-year; but for this the work could be carried out at once in a complete and satisfactory manner. Certainly, it was desirable that some immediate action should be taken. He commended the Home Secretary for his judgment and fairness in appointing a Committee to investigate the case. All sections of the House were desirous of supporting the right hon. Gentleman in carrying that thing out. There would be the financial difficulty to overcome; but he (Mr. H. H. Fowler) hoped the right hon. Gentleman would grasp that nettle at once, and insist on the Police Courts being put in a decent condition.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. STUART-WORTLEY) (Sheffield, Hallam)
complained of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down making reference to remarks uttered in an undertone. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would strongly object to him (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) making known what had been said between them in private conversation on this matter—a thing which he should not dream of doing. He (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) had very strong reasons for believing that the right hon. Gentleman had, in his general remarks, been referring to what was going on when he was in Office, with regard to making great improvements in the cells of the police stations in London, and effecting those improvements with borrowed money. Well, this policy had been carried out by two special Acts of Parliament, and the expenditure of a sum of £200,000 was authorized in 1886, the subject being treated as a matter of capital expenditure, and not as current expenditure. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee that the Home Office would not scruple to propose that structural changes, should they prove to be necessary, should be carried out, 1128 and carried out with borrowed money. He did not, however, anticipate that any very great structural changes would be found to be necessary.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
said, he did not think that in his answer to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Pickersgill) the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had made quite a satisfactory statement as to the necessary reforms in the London Police Courts, especially in the provision of female attendants to look after female prisoners. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have acknowledged the defect in the present system; but all he said as to the remedy was that he was trying to do something, and that probably gaolers' wives would undertake the duty in question. It could not be expected, however, that gaolers would marry wives in order that they might carry out duties of this kind. He was sure that no arrangement would be satisfactory, except the engagement of persons especially selected for this work, and paid for this work alone. Every now and then one heard a case of some poor wretched woman being intruded upon at night by the police officers in the cells, and the narration of such occurrences stirred up one's indignation. He was exceedingly sorry that no satisfactory answer had been given on this question; and unless a promise were obtained from the Government that women would be attended to by their own sex when in the cells of the London Police Courts, he should urge his hon. Friend who had moved the Amendment to press it to a Division.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, that not a word had fallen from the Treasury Bench other than to admit that the Report of the Committee, to which reference had been made, showed that the cell accommodation in the London Police Courts at the present time was in a horrible state; and yet they were told that the only attempt which was being made to alter this state of things was an experiment in the way of the improvement of van accommodation. If land were required for structural alterations, and the Government did not possess compulsory powers for obtaining it, they should bring in a Bill for the purpose. He regretted that the people of London were not permitted to manage these 1129 things for themselves, believing that if they were, they would be much better attended to than at present.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he would put hon. Members who represented London constituencies to the test as to whether they were really as earnest in these matters as they professed. He did not doubt that these police cells were now in a very bad state; but the question was, who was to pay for improving them? No one had ever been able to give a valid reason why the country, as a whole, should be called upon to pay for the London Police Courts. The cost of the police in Provincial towns was defrayed by the Municipalities.
The hon. Gentleman is, perhaps, not aware that a Motion has been made to reduce the Vote with reference to a special matter. The hon. Member is now speaking on the Vote as a whole.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he was in this difficulty; he desired to explain why he did not intend to vote for the reduction. He found himself unable to vote for the reduction, for the reason that if the Amendment were carried there would be something left, and he desired to oppose the Vote as a whole. Should he pursue his remarks now, or must he make them later on?
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 91; Noes 150: Majority 59.—(Div. List, No. 287.)
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £233,520, 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 contribution towards the Expenses of the Metropolitan Police, and of the Horse Patrol and Thames Police, and for the Salaries of the Commissioner, Assistant Commissioners, and Receiver.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, the announcement which had been made by the Government during the past few days took away from the Motion he was about to make in regard to the Chief Commissioner's salary some of the interest which would otherwise 1130 have attached to it; but the specific declaration made that day by the Home Secretary, that the resignation of Sir Charles Warren was only in consequence of the attempt to enforce against him the Order as to the publication of Departmental matters, and that the Government accepted the responsibility for all the other questions which had been challenged, rendered it necessary that he should make a full statement to the Committee. During the last 25 years, he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had had some opportunity of judging of the relations which existed between the people of the Metropolis and the Commissioners of Police; and the alteration in those relations was now so great that those who, like himself, wished for fair and reasonable agitation on the part of the people, regarded the state of things now existing with some alarm. The Commissioners of Police had had, over and over again, to deal with very vast assemblies in the Metropolis; and when it had been necessary for them to resort to physical force they had done that without revolting public opinion. The general disposition of the people had been to obey the law, and to regard those who had the control of the police with something like respect. That had now entirely changed, and it was due to the conduct of the Commissioner of Police who had recently resigned—conduct which, he understood, was endorsed and approved by the Home Secretary, who was now entering the House. Although the Motion was, in point of terms, obliged to be directed against the Chief Commissioner, he wished the Committee to understand that, in point of fact, it was directed against the Home Secretary, who accepted the responsibility, and was bound to accept the responsibility, for all the matters which he should challenge him upon that night. In the first place, he complained of the conduct of the police in the distribution of voting papers in connection with the Marylebone Free Library. In that case and in others the Commissioner had challenged him to make complaints, and they should be inquired into; but, whenever he had made complaints, conditions had at once been annexed which had prevented the investigation being of the slightest value. In the case of the Marylebone 1131 Library, the charge was that the police, with the knowledge of the Commissioner, had delivered voting papers as part of their duty, and, with the voting papers, other papers, asking persons to vote in a particular fashion. The evidence on that matter was overwhelming; and he submitted to the Home Secretary, in writing, at least a dozen instances, and was aware that, also in writing, at least 20 more instances could be given. He now wished to know what investigation was held; how it was held; who was permitted to be present; and what evidence, if any, was taken? It was absurd, when complaints were brought against the police, to hold hole-and-corner investigations, and then to taunt Members of that House who brought the charges by saying that they had no evidence whatever to support those charges. He now came to more serious matters. He made, some time ago, charges against the police of having assaulted persons after they were in custody; and the right hon. Gentleman thought it right to say that he had kept back the charges without disclosing their nature to the authorities, and that he had made those charges without the shadow of foundation. At that time the Commissioner of Police had sworn evidence of every one of the charges which he had made; and the Commissioner must have either wantonly and wickedly misled the Home Secretary, or the right hon. Gentleman could not have sufficiently inquired into the matter submitted to him. When he had brought these questions to the Home Secretary's knowledge, he found that the depositions had been filed. The right hon. Gentleman had himself laid on the Table a Return, showing that sworn informations were filed on December 3 last year. Those informations were in the hands of the Solicitor to the Treasury, and the Chief Commissioner of Police was, to his knowledge, himself present in Court when some of the depositions were made. It rendered the performance of a Member's duties in that House exceedingly difficult, if that Member was held up by a responsible Minister of the Crown as one who had "made charges without a shadow of foundation." The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary had undertaken to investigate any charges if he (Mr. Bradlaugh) would furnish a state- 1132 ment of them; but when he furnished that statement, outlining the evidence he proposed to give, the right hon. Gentleman made a stipulation that there should be no specific charges dealt with that had already been before a legal tribunal. The right hon. Gentleman knew very well that every one of the cases had been before a magistrate; and he offered him the barren privilege of not being able to prove any one of the allegations which he had made in the House, and which the right hon. Gentleman described as not having "a shadow of foundation." This was only as affecting the moral responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman for the conduct of the Chief Commissioner, which he (Mr. Bradlaugh) was about to attack. He contended that the conduct of the Chief Commissioner was to be measured, with reference to the conduct of the police, by the description given by the Home Secretary in that House of the statements which he had made. In that pathetic manner which had so much affected all of them, the right hon. Gentleman had spoken of the police getting "out of hand." He might speak of them getting out of hand when they were charged on oath—on sworn depositions—with striking prisoners in their custody in the police station. In one case, which had been adjudicated upon by a magistrate, Police Constable Harry Greenwood was charged with striking a prisoner twice in the face at Bow Street Police Station. The right hon. Gentleman had charged him (Mr. Bradlaugh) with making charges without a shadow of foundation, and had said that if any of these things had occurred they would have been investigated. Well, he desired to know who had investigated this case of Constable Greenwood, and what kind of investigation it was—whether it was a public or private investigation, for he had not much faith in police investigations? Then he had brought before the notice of the Home Secretary the case of the man Schumacher, who stated that before he was released he had to sign a statement. The right hon. Gentleman had said that Schumacher had signed some voluntary statement; but that it was not put to him as a condition of his release. Had the right hon. Gentleman the Minute before him of what took place at the investigation at Scotland 1133 Yard? He (Mr. Bradlaugh) could prove that the man was asked to sign the statement—he could prove before a Select Committee of the House that this question was put to the police officer—"Did you ask Schumacher to make this statement?" and that the answer was "Yes." It would not do after that to tell the Committee that charges without a shadow of foundation were made in that House for outside purposes. Whatever had been his relations with the authorities of this country, he had always kept them within the limits of law and order, which was more than could be said for the police, for whose proceedings the Home Secretary was so ready to accept responsibility. Then there were the charges against Frederick Goodwin, 105 "G," who was accused, on sworn depositions, of knocking a complainant off his seat in the police station with a violent blow, and of striking another complainant on the mouth with his clenched fist. Sworn depositions in those cases were filed on the 3rd of December, and were in the hands of the Treasury Solicitor on the 4th of December; and yet in that House, when the matter was under debate, the Home Secretary thought it due to his position to say that he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had made charges which were without foundation. He trusted that even at this, the eleventh hour, they would hear from the right hon. Gentleman some expression of regret for allowing so grave a charge to have been brought against him in the House of Commons, and to have remained without the slightest modification, although by speeches and questions he had directed the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the filing of these depositions. He told the right hon. Gentleman that he had there every one of the office copies of the depositions, except the four depositions which were referred to in the Return, and which, therefore, he was content to leave as it stood, the right hon. Gentleman having admitted that the depositions were in the hands of the Treasury. What kind of discipline must there be in the police force when it became the habit to assault persons when in custody? That was not the habit some years ago; in the Police Force of London there was good temper and good feeling shown on the side of the police. There was also great for- 1134 bearance exhibited by the police. He had often tried their tempers very sorely indeed. When he had brought large masses of the people together, he remembered that the task of the police was a very severe one. He did not mean to say that nothing was done on those occasions, either on the side of a portion of the people or of the police, to provoke bad feeling, but the general tendency was a good tendency. Until this last year or two, the Commissioners of Police had avoided doing anything to provoke a breach of the peace. As to the assaulting of persons in custody, let him say that if he could imagine—which he could not—that he was ever in a position of Ministerial responsibility, he should consider it his duty to exhaust all means of information before he allowed the possibility of such charges to be slurred over, or boasted that the summonses were dismissed without costs when one man was in criminal custody already and could give no evidence. What he wanted to refer to now was a graver matter still. He would not discuss whether the people who assembled in Trafalgar Square should, or should not, have assembled there; but he thought that every Member of the Committee would agree with him that, supposing them not to have had the right, it was the duty of the Chief Commissioner of Police to have exhausted every reasonable means of keeping the people within obedience to the law before he resorted to brute force against them. Could the right hon. Gentleman stand up and say he thought the Commissioner of Police did that? If the right hon. Gentleman ventured to say so, he would put this case to him. A number of clubs, from different parts of London, marched to the Square. He (Mr. Bradlaugh) had nothing to do with the assembly; he was against it. He opposed it, and such advice as he could give was given against it, so he spoke quite freely as far as this particular matter was concerned. But marching through the streets had been done over and over again. If the same law applied to political workmen's clubs as applied to the Salvation Army, they had a right to march through the streets, and those who used force against them were lawless and law breakers. That was the view of the highest Judges; he was not now dealing with the question of meeting in Trafalgar Square. Sir Charles 1135 Warren had his police—the police he did not blame, because they acts dunder Sir Charles Warren, and he did not blame him altogether, because he assumed Sir Charles Warren acted under the orders of the Home Secretary. [Mr. MATTHEWS assented.] He was glad he was right in that—glad for the sake of the discussion he was raising in the House. Because while they could only deal now on this Vote with the official who gave the orders to the police, everyone who voted in the Division Lobby for the proposed reduction would condemn the conduct of the Home Secretary, who allowed men to be ridden down in the public streets; allowed men to be bruised and beaten badly; allowed men to be so treated that some had died since. Such was a bill of indictment that had not had to be levelled against a Home Secretary in this country for 50 years past. A number of men were marching up Holborn playing music, or what they called music. The police charged them, broke their drums and instruments, and bludgeoned the men most unmercifully. That was not the way to deal with things in England; this, at any rate, was not Ireland. He never felt more tempted himself than when he had this to deal with, because he felt that his own conduct, previously in going to the Square, in holding meetings there, in claiming a right there, had given some colour to these poor folk that in their hour of trouble they might turn to him. But he felt that the disposition of the military and police was intended to be so brutally used, that he counselled the men to submit to the wrong for the moment; but he did not intend that they should submit to it entirely, nor did he intend to submit to it now. He never overstated facts knowingly, and he expected that even the highest officers of the Crown would deal with him on the same footing when he was presenting the grievances of the people to the House. A large number of mounted police were in different parts of London, and they were encouraged to disperse the people by riding among them, and on them, and over them. He had heard of this kind of thing being done in Russia, and in Germany, but not in England. How was it that such a complete change had come over the disposition of the people of the Metropolis? As long as his life had 1136 been, this City had been orderly. There had been ebullition of feeling; there had been meetings for many objects; there had been great demonstrations of every character; but there had never been the outrage on public liberty that had bean perpetrated while the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Matthews) had held Office, and he impeached the right hon. Gentleman before Parliament and before the people of England. Was it true that men in custody were assaulted? It could not be said it was not true, because the Government's own Return showed it. It might be said that the charges were made, but that they were not true. What steps did the Government take to investigate them? He had put several Questions in the vain hope that when the Home Secretary saw he had been misled by the Solicitor to the Treasury, or by the Chief Commissioner of Police, or by both, that feeling, which in other matters he had shown, of courtesy and kindliness—he (Mr. Bradlaugh) had had many instances of it—would have induced him to be reasonably fair in a matter of this kind; but he (Mr. Bradlaugh) stood with the absolute charge of falsehood made against him by the Home Secretary himself in the House. He was charged with keeping back facts which had never been brought before a magistrate. The Home Secretary knew, or ought to have known, what the facts were, because he had control of the very documents in the Home Office, which made out the opposite to all the right hon. Gentleman then said in the House.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he forgot the date. He remembered that he began his speech one night, and continued it the next. He had quoted from Hansard the reply of the Home Secretary—a reply which gave him great pain. He tried to challenge it in every fashion he could, but he had never had an opportunity of dealing with it in its completeness until now. It could not have been possible he could have been fairly charged with keeping back these matters. Charges were absolutely entered at the Bow Street Police Court among the summonses issued on sworn informations, whether true or false he did not care—informations which had never been inquired into, and which the right hon. Gentleman refused to allow to be 1137 inquired into, on the ground that they had been adjudicated upon by the dismissal of the summonses. If that was not what he meant, the right hon. Gentleman should not have allowed it to have been written to him (Mr. Bradlaugh) in the right hon. Gentleman's name. In moving the reduction of this Vote, he asked the Committee, without regard to politics, first to express their opinion that the irritated state of public feeling in the Metropolis had been aggravated by the conduct of Sir Charles Warren, who imagined himself to be a military commander in London, instead of a civil officer, who imagined himself to have the duty of suppressing the people, instead of protecting them; and, secondly, he asked the Committee to condemn the Home Secretary, as the endorser of that policy.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by the sum of £1,500, the Salary of the Chief Commissioner."—(Mr. Bradlaugh.)
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, the hon. Member had made a personal complaint against him. He assured the hon. Gentleman that nothing was further from his wish than, even in the warmth of debate, to let drop the least expression which could give pain to any hon. Member of the House. In the report of his own words which he held in his hand, he could find nothing of the offensive character that the hon. Member complained of; but all he could say was that, if he did use words imputing to the hon. Member that he made charges which he knew to be unfounded, he begged, without the slightest qualification, to retract any language of that sort, and to apologize to the hon. Member. That was certainly not the purport of the charge which he intended to make against the hon. Member. What he did mean to say, and what he found he was reported to have said, was that the hon. Member mentioned the names of certain police constables, whom he held had been guilty of assaulting persons in their cells. Those names were new to him (Mr. Matthews) at the time of the debate; he had never heard of them before, and he protested against the police having such charges brought against them in the House suddenly and without Notice, when the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) had had 1138 weeks and months in which he might have brought them before a magistrate. Upon that occasion he pledged himself that even then, if the hon. Member would bring a primâ facie case of misconduct against the police, the matter should be thoroughly inquired into by the Director of Public Prosecutions. That was the language he found he had himself used. He did not know to what report the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bradlaugh) had referred, but if he was reported anywhere to have used language of the character the hon. Gentleman had quoted he sincerely regretted it, and hoped the hon. Gentleman would accept from him this apology as an atonement. As to the substance of the matter, he must adhere to what he had said before—namely, that the only reasonable way in which charges of this grave kind could possibly be investigated was before a magistrate. The hon. Member referred to a Return of a later period, from which it appeared, no doubt, that Coleman had not filed an information, had not lodged a sworn deposition, but had simply obtained a summons against a police constable named Greenwood.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman with reference to that point. The right hon. Gentleman would find it reported that he had asked him whether, on the 2nd or 3rd of December, four depositions were not filed in support of the charges of Coleman, White, Crawford, and another; and whether the office copies of those depositions were not taken by the Treasury on the following day? The names of Crawford, White, and Coleman, were all used by him in the debate in the House.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he had with him a list of the names used in the debate by the hon. Gentleman. Coleman, no doubt, was one of the names mentioned; the others were Ellis, Morris, Sullivan, and Cruikshank.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that the hon. Member would forgive him—he had the hon. Member's speech before him. The hon. Member cited those four persons as persons who had been assaulted by the police. He said, for instance, that—A man named Ellis would prove that he asked at Bow Street Police Court whether he 1139 could have bail. The idea of bail, he said, seemed to have exasperated the police, who thereupon cuffed and kicked him down the passage into his cell, using a foul expression about the bail. Surely these were sufficiently grave charges, and needed investigation? He would only trouble the House with three more cases. John Morris offered this statement:—'When I got to King Street Police Station, there was a line of men in uniform, and some in plain clothes, on each side. They all kicked and cuffed me cruelly as I passed down. My head and face were cut by them, and bled.' A man named Neil made a statement respecting another called Sullivan:—'I followed him to Vine Street Station, and whilst he was being taken I saw one of the police strike him on the back of the head with a stick. He was then taken inside the Station. I tried to make inquiries about him from the Inspector. There was a man in plain clothes inside the Station. I was punched on the jaw by him, and pushed down the Station steps.'"—(3 Hansard,  42.)These were three distinct charges never investigated before any magistrate, and never brought before a Court of Justice; and he said to the hon. Gentleman at the time that if he would bring before him anything like a primâ facie case in regard to any one of the three men, he would instruct the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute the constables who were charged with conduct of that kind. What other satisfactory inquiry could he offer? The hon. Gentleman himself had poured all the vials of his scorn upon inquiries conducted by the police, and he thought that the hon. Gentleman was right. He (Mr. Matthews) was continually obliged to address inquiries to the Chief Constables or to the Superintendents of Police, and of taking the best information he could get from them; but they were not satisfactory inquiries. They were hole-and-corner inquiries; they were inquiries conducted by men who, of course, were animated by a feeling of esprit de corps—he was not blaming them, or suggesting anything wrong—and who involuntarily wished to stand by their own subordinates. He would like to know whether it would not have been offering hon. Gentlemen a most unsatisfactory inquiry if he had limited the inquiry to a Departmental inquiry, an inquiry which was quite sufficient if the object was to punish a policeman by way of reducing his pay, or class, and so forth? For that purpose, no doubt, an inquiry before a man's superiors was satisfactory; but the hon. Member brought charges which involved very grave and 1140 despicable conduct on the part of the Police Force, if true. He (Mr. Matthews) was responsible. He accepted the responsibility most fully; he would never tolerate or allow such a state of things to continue if established; and in proportion to the gravity of the charge must be the satisfactoriness of the inquiry. The hon. Member made these charges in the House, and he submitted to the hon. Gentleman, perhaps in language of warmth—he regretted it if it was so—that that was not the way to make charges of the kind. What the hon. Member ought to have done was to have got the men to have gone before the magistrates, and not only to have obtained summonses, and then, as Mr. Coleman did, get them dismissed——
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, he was very sorry for Mr. Coleman; he did not know that his period of imprisonment was so long. But these all procured the summonses to which the hon. Member referred; but none of them appeared. A solicitor appeared, but called no evidence, and allowed the summonses to be dismissed. In the case at Bow Street—which was dismissed with heavy costs upon the parties not being there to adduce any evidence in support of their charges—the heavy costs were imposed by the magistrate to indicate his opinion of the conduct of those who brought charges such as these against the police, so as to raise a prejudice against them, but without any evidence or even intention to support them. That was what he complained of; and the hon. Member, who was always fair to his opponents, would not deny that there was just ground for complaint. The hon. Gentleman said truly that the right conduct of the police to the people was a matter of importance. He said truly that anything like brutality on the part of the police was a thing which anyone in his (Mr. Matthews') position ought to reprobate and put down most sternly. That was perfectly true, and in proportion to the gravity of the charges, in proportion to the obloquy cast on the police, was the necessity for a full, fair, and sworn inquiry before one 1141 of the magistrates of the land. It was not by telling captivating statements—the hon. Gentleman always interested the House when he spoke—that these charges ought to be sustained. He hoped that the hon. Member, who was a fair-minded man, would regard this as a satisfactory answer to the point he had raised. He did not propose to follow the hon. Gentleman into a discussion of the Trafalgar Square incidents of last year; they had already, he thought, been adequately discussed; he had nothing to retract from he then said, and nothing to regret. He fully accepted the responsibility of what was then done, and what then happened. No one regretted more than he did the incidents which took place in the course of those months. No one saw the growth of that agitation with greater concern than he did, seeing that it was absolutely necessary to put a stop to it. No one, too, was more rejoiced than he was at the admirable good sense that had been exhibited by the great majority of the inhabitants of the Metropolis in setting their faces against the proceedings which were then taking place, and becoming both a danger and a nuisance. He watched that good sense of the people of the Metropolis with extreme satisfaction. It was a gratifying fact that Trafalgar Square, which had hitherto been undisturbed for a great many years, had now been restored to the use of the peaceable and orderly inhabitants. He was unwilling to follow the hon. Member further into this topic, but he would follow him into some other of his observations. The hon. Gentleman complained a good deal of the use made of the police in regard to the distribution of voting papers under the Free Libraries Act. He had already given the hon. Gentleman all the information he had been able to obtain upon the subject. This was a small matter, and he did not think that any responsibility belonged to him. Although it was true the police distributed voting papers, it was no part of their police duties. It had, however, been a practice, since 1837, for the police to take charge of the distribution of parochial voting papers. In 1869, Sir Edmund Henderson proposed to discontinue the practice, but the Local Government Board raised considerable objection, and the practice had con- 1142 tinued from that day to this. The police, however, distributed the papers in their own time, and on their own responsibility; it was no police duty at all. The hon. Gentleman alleged that policemen went round distributing papers requesting voters to vote against the establishment of Free Libraries. He (Mr. Matthews) made inquiries, and the information he got from the Commissioner of Police was that, having demanded explanations, all the policemen denied having distributed such papers. But the matter did not rest there. He (Mr. Matthews) received a letter from a Mr. Edward White, who told him he was a member of a ratepayers' association, and that that association had engaged boy messengers in order to distribute the obnoxious papers asking the electors to vote "No." That exactly agreed with the information he got from the Commissioner of Police—namely, that there were boys who were engaged in distributing those papers; but, no doubt, they accompanied the police in a great many instances. He had a letter from the Commissioner of Police stating that the police had no instructions to distribute such papers, and he had the assurance of a member of the association of ratepayers that he and his fellow members had gone to the expense of engaging boys for the purpose of distributing the papers. Mr. White also informed him that the Free Libraries Association sent their election papers by post. That, no doubt, was the better plan. He hoped this explanation would commend itself to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member had said that a man named Schumacher was compelled by the police to sign a statement, and had asked why he (Mr. Matthews) had denied the fact? He had not got the papers before him, but his memory was sufficiently good to enable him to answer the question. He called for a Report from the local Inspector in whose presence the statement was signed, and it appeared that there was not the slightest ground for the supposition that the man was forced to sign the paper previously to his release. The man was released, not for having signed the statement, but because he had given an explanation of an apparently suspicious circumstance. The man made the expla- 1143 nation, and he was asked to put his statement in writing, and he did so, but quite of his own accord. What reason was there to distrust such an account as that?—it was in accordance with probability. The man had made a satisfactory explanation of what was apparently guilty conduct of a member of the Police Force. That explanation satisfied the police, but before allowing the man to go, he was asked if he objected to put his statement in writing. What was there in that at all improbable?
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
said, he would explain. After the charge was entered on the sheet, it should have gone before a Magistrate for adjudication in the proper way, and there should not have been the irregular transaction of releasing a man upon some statement being signed by him.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
said, that with what the hon. Gentleman said now he agreed entirely, and, as he told the hon. Gentleman yesterday, the Inspector had been severely reprimanded. It was quite irregular, after a charge was once entered on the sheet, to allow that charge to be disposed of other than by a Magistrate, but that was not what the hon. Member found fault with just now. He found fault with him (Mr. Matthews) for not instituting some further inquiry into his assertion that the man's statement had been extorted from him. He repeated that when the hon. Member made complaints, amounting to criminal charges, he must substantiate those charges in the only way the law of the country allowed—namely, by evidence in Court. That offer he had always made to the hon. Gentleman, to that offer he adhered, and he should never be able, he was afraid, to make any larger offer on a subject of this kind.
§ MR. MONTAGU (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
said, he would not occupy the time of the Committee more than a very few minutes in referring to the organization of the police in his constituency, and in mentioning what passed between the police authorities and himself about a couple of months ago. On the 9th of September he read the account of the fourth or fifth terrible murder which had taken place in his constituency, and he thought the time had arrived when a reward should be offered for the discovery of the criminal. On Monday the 10th of September he came 1144 to town, saw the Inspector of Police at the Leman Street Station, and asked him whether the Government intended to offer a reward? The Inspector replied that he did not know whether they did or not. He (Mr. Montagu) then said he believed the Home Secretary was absent from town at the time, and that some delay might arise in offering a reward. He, therefore, desired that the police should offer £100 reward at his own expense, but through the agency of the police. The Inspector promised to submit his proposal to the Commissioner of Police, and asked him to put the offer down in writing. On the 17th of September he received a letter from Whitehall Place, stating that the Commissioner of Police had laid the offer before the Secretary of State, who did not consider it advisable that any reward should be offered in the case. On the 18th of September, there having been some delay in his receiving the reply, he wrote to the Commissioner a letter, in which he said that the opinion of the Secretary of State that no reward should be offered for the discovery of the Whitechapel murderer was not in accord with the general feeling on the subject. He stated that the argument advanced by some that the possible increase in the amount of the reward might prevent prompt discovery did not apply in his case; but, nevertheless, had the decision of the Home Secretary been promptly obtained, he should not have interfered in the matter. He also stated in the letter that, under the circumstances, it was too late to withdraw his offer, and in case information was received which led to the conviction of the murderer he must pay the £100 to the person entitled to receive it, and that it remained for the police to decide whether notices of reward should be posted in Whitechapel by the police at his expense. He like wise stated in his communication that when he made his proposal, he was not aware that the Government had ceased to offer rewards in cases of murder. He particularly wished to call the attention of the Committee to two points. The first was that the Commissioner of Police did not evidently very much object to the reward being offered, otherwise he would have refused the offer at once, and so stopped his (Mr. Montagu's) action. Instead of doing 1145 that, however, he submitted the offer to the Home Secretary. It would be interesting to know whether the Commissioner was in favour of offering a reward, and differed from the Home Secretary on that question. The second point was that the police persistently refused to post up notices at his expense, although shortly before, in the case of a man who was shot, they did post up notices offering a reward of £100 which was privately offered. Now, although he did not agree with the policy of the Home Secretary in regard to offering rewards, had the refusal reached him promptly he certainly should not have intervened in the matter. He still held the opinion that in such a case of horrible crimes committed, so far, with impunity, some divergence from the general rule in regard to rewards should be made. If a Government reward, accompanied by the qualifying pardon which had been published, had been promptly offered, there might have been some information received which would have led to the detection of the criminal. There was no doubt that this wild beast had a lair, and that someone must see him go to and from it. Let him remind the Committee that since he had offered the reward his action had been justified by the offer of the Corporation of the City of London of a reward of £500, and also by the offer by two staunch supporters of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, gentlemen who represented Divisions of the Tower Hamlets, of rewards. That was his reply to the reflections upon him and others who had offered rewards which were conveyed in the answer of the Home Secretary yesterday. He certainly did not consider the strong remarks contained in the answer of the right hon. Gentleman were entirely justified. One word he had to say about the organization of the police in his district of Whitechapel. The residents of Whitechapel and Spitalfields felt that they had not sufficient police protection. They thought that in a district where poor people abounded in greater proportion, and in, perhaps, greater wretchedness than elsewhere in England, adequate provision should be made for police protection there. They recognized the fact that the poverty in that district did result in vice and crime, and that although the police in Whitechapel were said to do their 1146 work very well, their number was certainly limited. He had the best authority for stating that trade, owing to the scare which the recent murders had caused, had been terribly depressed. In some cases the receipts of prominent tradesmen in Whitechapel did not now roach one-half of the sum they reached at the same period last year, which was not a prosperous year. As a matter of fact, many people did not care now to go into the streets after dark. Some weeks ago he presented a Petition to the Home Secretary signed by the most respectable tradesmen of his constituency, asking for increased police protection for the district. He had received no definite reply as to what the Home Secretary intended to do; all he had received was a simple acknowledgment of the receipt of the Petition. East London very rarely appealed for outside help, but when it was a question of life and death, and also of the success of the trade of the district, he trusted that the appeal made by his constituents would not be made in vain.
§ MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)
said, it was not his intention to make any complaint against the Home Secretary, or to bring any charge against individual constables. The Home Secretary, in reply to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh), had dealt with some incidents of the past; what hon. Members wanted was some declaration as to the future, especially in view of the resignation of Sir Charles Warren. Londoners, and his constituents among them, earnestly desired that the Police Force should be a civilian force under a civilian head. They believed, rightly or wrongly, that during the last two years it had been systematically demoralized by its administration; they thought the military idea had been made the one dominant principle, much to the detriment of the force, and really to the danger of the whole social order of London. The Committee must recollect the people had every right to be apprehensive; they were denied during the debates on the Local Government Act any control over or any voice in the management of the Police Force. He did not intend to go into the question of popular control any more than he meant to deal with the question of cost, but he asserted that during the last few years, by the militarizing process which 1147 had been going on, by systematic attempts to separate the police from the people, a state of friction had been produced between the head of the police and the Local Authorities, such as, he thought, tended to produce very unsatisfactory relations between the different governing powers in London. Let him give a single instance of what occurred only last year, an instance very much illustrating the whole case. There was a funeral of some local celebrity who belonged to a friendly society. In the olden days a mere communication to the District Superintendent would have secured an adequate police force without application to headquarters; but such a system of red-tapeism had been established, that the application had to go up to Scotland Yard, and he believed no answer was returned until two days after the funeral had taken place. The Home Secretary must know that the militarizing process had been carried much further. He must know 1 that the police used to mix freely in their lodgings with the people outside, but that an attempt had been made to restrict them to barracks, and that definite rules had been formulated as to enlistment, which tended practically to make the ranks of the Police Force accessible mainly to old soldiers. The up-shot was very unsatisfactory. The result was foreseen some time ago, and this was not the first time that the Home Office had been warned against it. The right hon. Gentleman's Predecessor had been warned against trying to make the Police Force military in its character and tendency. As far back as 1869, an ex-police magistrate now living wrote an article in which he strongly condemned the attempt. The men were gradually transformed into a quasi-military force, drilled, distributed, and managed as soldiers. The body thus wanted alertness and mobility, and the individual members almost inevitably were defective in self-reliance. Instead of being a handy civic force, composed of intelligent units, each of whom was a local power on the side of society, they constituted a motley, cumbrous, and badly-organized army, which was never required as a whole, and was nearly useless in detail. In their policemen they did not want stiff, methodical, and dependent machines; they wanted a self-acting force, whose best drill was to be 1148 found in constant contact with their fellow-men and in the diligent pursuit of strictly police duty. He (Mr. Lawson) implored the Home Secretary, now that he was able to, to appoint a man in whom the population of London would have trust, to do his best to restore public confidence and public sympathy with the police. He suggested to him whether it might not be advisable to take as the new head of the Police Force one of the men who had won their spurs in the Provincial towns under municipal control? He was certain that if any soldier of the same type as Sir Charles Warren were appointed exactly the same results would again ensue. He did not wish to make a personal attack upon Sir Charles Warren, but immense importance attached to the appointment. What Londoners wanted was a civil head who would put a stop at once to the militarizing tendencies which had characterized the administration of the last few years.
§ MR. FIRTH (Dundee)
said, he desired to confirm very shortly the language which had been used by his hon. Friend the Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Lawson) as to the necessity for a change in the system of the administration of the London Police. He certainly felt compelled, as a protest against the state of things which had gone on for two or three years past, to vote with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh). He did not think that the present state of things had been appreciated and understood by the Home Secretary. He did not think that the right hon. Gentleman had completely understood how people in London had become divorced further and further from that sympathy with the Police Force, from that sympathy with the Civil Force, which ought to exist in a community. He had no reason whatever for making this statement, particularly now that Sir Charles Warren had gone, except from an absolute conviction of its truth. There could be no doubt whatever that the military dispositions of Sir Charles Warren, in connection with the Trafalgar Square meeting, were perfectly in character. Let him tell the Home Secretary what the gravamen of the charge was. There came from every part of London on that 1149 day representative, responsible men belonging to the industrial classes, and their report of what happened was taken down by members of the Bar. It was taken down by responsible men under circumstances which left no doubt of its truth. A more horrible record was not to be found than that which existed in the report. The depositions of 150 witnesses, most of them of the highest responsibility, were taken as to the conduct of the civilian force at the quarter of a mile points from Trafalgar Square, where there were no representatives of the Press. It was not too much to ask that there should be an inquiry into the evidence sworn as to the conduct of the police in the kicking of people, in the knocking down of old men and women and defenceless people without any sort of excuse.
§ MR. FIRTH
said, the right hon. Gentleman could have the depositions, as he might have had them months ago; a summary of them had already been printed. There was nothing in the world more interesting and remarkable than the absolute innocence of expression, and childlike and bland manner, which the Home Secretary put on when such observations were made. He assured the right hon. Gentleman that there was not a shadow of doubt in the minds of those of them who had nothing to gain or lose by a judgment in the matter of the truth of the statements which had been made. If the Home Secretary would undertake, in case he was satisfied that more than 100 responsible witnesses would give evidence of the gross misconduct on the part of the police, to have an inquiry, all the depositions should be laid before him. That was a fair proposition, which he (Mr. Firth) and his Friends were prepared to make. Sir Charles Warren had gone. He hoped he (Mr. Firth) should be among the last men to say anything with respect to a man who was gone, a man who was manifestly unfit for his position. He trusted that, in making the new appointment, the Home Secretary would choose a man who would possess the confidence of the people of London, and who would not deal with the people on the military lines which had characterized police administration of late.
§ 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.
House adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.