HC Deb 21 August 1889 vol 340 cc66-88

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £50,709, 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, 1890, for Salaries of the Law Officers; and Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Solicitor for the Affairs of Her Majesty's Treasury, Queen's Proctor, and Director of Public Prosecutions; the Costs of Prosecutions and of other Legal Proceedings conducted by that Department; and various other Legal Expenses, including Parliamentary Agency.


I think it is regrettable that a Vote like this should be proposed immediately after the Vote just taken. This is a Vote which contains the salary of the learned Attorney General for England, an officer whom we all respect and admire very greatly, but under all the circumstances I did anticipate the Vote would not be brought on at this hour (6.10). I thought that non-contentious Votes, or Votes as little contentious as possible would be put forward after half-past five. Naturally we might all have been disposed to go away after half-past 5, as the subsequent proceedings interested us no more. But the moment one important Irish Vote has been disposed of we have proposed another Vote, Irish in everything but name. In view of the Pigott frauds it is impossible we can allow the Attorney General's salary to pass without discussion.


If there is any objection to proceeding with the Vote I will not hesitate in withdrawing it.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

2. £29,850 (including a Supplementary sum of £18,000), to complete the sum for Criminal Prosecutions and Miscellaneous Legal Expenses.


Last year I brought the fact under the notice of the Attorney General that the clerks to the Crown cannot, under the law, have any direct or indirect interest in prosecutions, whereas clerks to Magistrates, in country places especially, have an indirect pecuniary interest in prosecutions. The hon. and learned Gentleman admitted that blot upon the administration of the law and, if I remember Tightly, he promised to inquire into the matter and see what could be done. I desire to ask him what has been the result of his inquiries.


The matter has by no means escaped the attention of the Government. I caused a Bill to be drafted in the early part of the Session, and was in hope it would be passed. But a difficulty has arisen which makes it impossible to deal with the matter in a short measure. Representations were made to me, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, that difficulties would arise in places where there was a small population in making the prohibition absolute. My original intention was to absolutely prohibit the clerk to the Magistrates having any pecuniary interest in cases coming before the Bench, and I will not say I do not think now that that is perhaps the best solution, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton suggested that that would not work well in some small districts. The sole reason why the Bill was not brought forward was that I saw no reasonable probability of passing it this Session.


The very spots where the difficulties the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to are the very spots where the most scandals occur.

Vote agreed to.

3. £262,812, to complete the sum for the Supreme Court of Judicature.

MR. L. J. JENNINGS (Stockport)

It may be in the recollection of the Committee that when this Vote was last submitted, it encountered considerable opposition. The discussion was closed on that occasion by a specific assurance from the First Lord of the Treasury that the Vote should be thoroughly examined before it was brought forward again; and that such changes should be made in it as were found practicable. A comparison of the present Estimate with last year's will prove that this promise has been most fully and most honourably kept. Not only is there an immediate saving of £15,628, but a still greater saving must be effected by the reforms which are indicated on almost every page. The "Secretary of Presentations," with his £400 a year, is to disappear on the occurrence of a vacancy; two out of the three "principal clerks" to the Judges, receiving£600 a year each, are also to go, and the remaining clerk is to receive £400 a year; three junior clerks will be abolished, effecting another saving of £600 a year. One official referee at £ 1,600 a year is to be sent the same road; the salary of the Official Solicitor to the Supreme Court, now £1,100 a year, will be reduced on a vacancy; the first-class clerks in the Central Office of the Supreme Court will be reduced from 14 to 10, and the second-class clerks from 35 to 28. Similar changes are to be made as opportunity occurs throughout the Vote, and the total saving to the country will not fall short of £30,000 per annum. This is a most satisfactory sequel to the discussion last year, and due credit should be given for it to the Lord Chancellor, who was attacked rather severely in connection with this Vote, though not by me. It is quite evident that as soon as his attention was called to the existence of abuses in this Department, he made a very vigorous and earnest effort to reform them, and he is thoroughly well entitled to the gratitude of the public for his work. But these reforms also afford an ample reply to the charge which is so constantly made against us, that these discussions in Supply never do any good. I maintain that when they are carried on in a proper spirit, they not only serve to check the increase of expenditure, but very often result in a direct saving to the country, although that saving is not always show n at the time. The reduction cannot be effected on the instant, but it is carried out in subsequent years, and thus the statement that no saving is effected here is a complete fallacy, although it has received the sanction of the respectable authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton. I now call attention briefly to several matters in the Vote which require explanation. First, with regard to the Masters of the Supreme Court, a reduction of four is shown in the Vote, but I have seen notices in the newspapers of the appointment of two others since the Estimates were issued—Mr. George Macdonnell (Times, February 12, 1889), and Mr. E. Wilberforce (Times, March 11). On what terms were the Masters retired? Some of them did scarcely any duties. They were remarkable only for their skill in hiring themselves out as directors of companies. They made use of an important official position in order that they might acquire posts of emolu[...] outside. There was Mr. Hailburt[...] Campbell, Director if the Law Life Assurance Society, of the Law Fire Assurance Rail[...]ny, Bahia and San Francisco Railway Company, Trust and Agency Company of Australasia, Trust and Loan Company of Canada. The fact of his being a Master of the Supreme Court no doubt enabled him to obtain these appointments, which we must assume he did not fill without some adequate recompense. In calculating his pension, the fact ought to have been taken into consideration that he had by no means given the public the whole of his time, and, therefore, he ought not to have been put on the same level as an official who had endeavoured to make an adequate return for his salary. Lower down on the same page (220) we come to those prize specimens of a system—which I hope is now on its death-bed—the five redundant clerks. I proved last year that they had never been near their offices since 1881. I should now like to know on what terms their retirement has been arranged? Having received an average of £600 a year each since 1881 for doing nothing, are they now to be paid that sum, under the disguise of pensions, for going on doing it all the rest of their lives? If so, how can that be reconciled with the sound principle laid down by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury in an answer given on the 8th of April last:— I need only say that, except in special cases, such as injury, no retired allowance is granted unless, in the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, the holder of the office has given his whole time to the public service. It is no encouragement to men who do their duty faithfully to know that others who never do anything receive precisely the same treatment. In the interests of the public service, the good and the bad should not receive the same reward. On page 221 the Registrar's Office of the Chancery Division is dealt with. There are 42 persons in this office, among whom £29,712 is distributed. It will be observed that the senior Registrar gets £2,000 a year, three other Registrars get £1,800, four £1,500, and four £1,200 each—very high salaries all of them. Their lines have fallen in pleasant places, for they have little to do, and it may be doubted whether that little is well done. The office was originally established by Lord Eldon, and its present condition is worthy of that enlightened patri[...]. There is no doubt that £10,000 a year would be a liberal sum to pay for the Work while is done in it. I call attention to the [...] clerks to the Registrars at £600 each, and five at £400 each (page 221). By an Order of the Treasury made under the Officers (Chancery) Act of 1869, the salary of clerks to Registrars was fixed at £300 per annum. I cannot find that this Order has been rescinded. Consequently the salaries of these nine clerks should amount to £2,700 a year, instead of to £4,400, as now charged. On page 222 we find the allowances for the Principal Probate Registry. The senior Registrar is down for £1,600 a year, a very high salary, and a foot note states that he receives in addition two annual payments of £1,863 9s. 4d. and £8 16s. 9d. by way of compensation for loss of his office as Proctor. I presume he fulfils duties very similar to those he discharged before. One good salary was given to him in exchange for another. Why should not that have been enough? He is asked to leave one office and to take another. He does so, but the whole of the salary of the first office is given in addition to that of the second, so that if he could get his offices abolished on the same terms every five minutes, he would be the happiest man alive. He now draws £3,472 a year from the nation. Let us compare this amount with the salaries paid to some of the most distinguished men in the Civil Service of the country. Sir Algernon West gets only £2,000 a year, Sir Reginald Welby £2,000, Mr. Knox, the Accountant General of the Army, £1,500. Each of these gentlemen has most heavy and responsible duties to perform. The Registrar of this comparatively obscure office actually gets within a few pounds as much as Sir Reginald Welby and Mr. Knox put together. When his office was abolished, and be was put into a similiar office, that should have been deemed quite sufficient in the way of compensation. I invite the Committee to look at the salaries of these officials. The Registrar gets £1,500 a year, his Assistant £1,200, the Chief Clerk £700, three first-class clerks £600 each, and three second-class clerks nearly £400 each. They talk of the golden age, but there is nothing on record in connection with the golden age equal to this. Even the Admiralty itself, though a most [...]htful place, has nothing better to other. I would, however, respectfully suggest that it is high time the occupants of this comfortable little nest were shaken up a little. The Registrar here is one of the luckiest men in the public service. He is down in this Estimate for £1,500 a year, and in the "Finance Accounts" (page 53), his name appears for another £608 12s., as compensation for abolition of office, so that altogether he pockets £2,108 12s. a year, and so far as I am able to understand, he would be abundantly .recompensed for all the work he does if he received one quarter the money. I venture to express the hope that in the further changes which the Lord Chancellor proposes to make in this Vote, he will not go upon the old plans of reorganisation which have been so grossly abused in connection with the Law Courts. In May, last year, a gentleman aged 36, in the Central Office of the Supreme Court, received a pension of £185 a year for life, another got £266 13s. 4d. at the age of 46, and another £61 6s. 8d. at the age of 33. Innumerable cases of this kind might easily be cited, but we may perhaps take it for granted that no further additions will be made to the list. I now call the attention of the Committee to a curious and interesting circumstance in connection with this Department. In many, or most, of the offices, the office hours are from 11 to 4, and at this period of the year they dwindle away to a mere nothing. The dwellers in this happy land luxuriate in a long and glorious holiday from August 10th to October 24th, that is to say, throughout the Long Vacation. This is enough to make an unfortunate Member of Parliament turn green with envy. Some of the officials—such as the Masters and others—do absolutely nothing throughout the whole of this period. But even this is not all, for attendance on Saturdays throughout the-year is purely nominal, even when the offices are opened at all. At Christmas there are ten days holiday, at Easter three, at Whitsuntide three, on the Queen's Birthday one. We find, the [...] that in August there are 20 days' holiday, in September 30 [...] other October 24 days, and during the [...] seasons 17 days, to which must be added Saturdays for, say, half the year—or, altogether, nearly 16 weeks' holiday in the course of the 12 months. All these things must serve to impress upon the mind the great advantage of establishing any kind of connection with the noble profession of the law. If a man cannot be a barrister, he should become a solicitor; and if he cannot be even a solicitor he should endeavour to capture one of these berths in the Law Courts. From that time forth an affectionate country will make a liberal provision for him, and he will at once come into possession of all those advantages which, in other callings, flow from a long course of industrious and honest work. It is evident, however, that an era of reform has begun even in the Law Courts, and that the days of jobbery there are numbered. It is perfectly clear that the Lord Chancellor at least is determined that no more scandals shall arise in connection with this Vote, and I think the Committee have every reason to be satisfied with the pledges given that no future opportunities for reform shall be lost sight of; and I, for my part, beg to express my sense of the most thorough and conscientious way in which the First Lord of the Treasury, the Lord Chancellor, and the authorities have carried out the promises they gave to the Committee last year.

MR. GEDGE (Stockport)

My hon. Friend and Colleague is usually very correct, but he will excuse me if I point out that he fell into slight error in one particular. The Registrar did not hold office at a salary before his appointment to his present position; he was one of a small body of proctors who had the monopoly of practice in the old Ecclesiastical and Divorce Court; and when the Court was abolished under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, all the proctors were allowed retiring pensions according to the incomes they made from their practice as proctors. They were not given fresh employment; they retired, and were allowed to practice as solicitors or to do what they pleased One of them, an exceedingly able man, was selected to be Registrar of the new Court to tide over the difficulties of the change of system, and remarkably well he did his work. It is, therefore, incorrect to speak of the transaction as if he were allowed to keep the salary of an office which was abolished, and to accept another office and salary. There was no salary under the old position, but simply the income from practice as proctor, and an allowance of half this was made when that source of income was abolished.


I am sure the Committee will agree with me that the Government have no reason to complain of the tone of the remarks of the hon. Member for Stockport. I should have been glad, under other circumstances than those in which we find ourselves to-day, to have gone at length into this Vote to have shown that the reforms have effected considerable saving in expenditure. I think I may say, speaking generally, that the recommendations of the Committee over which Lord Justice Bowen presided, have all been given effect to. I may take the opportunity of saying how much we are indebted to the labours of Lord Justice Bowen and the Committee. My hon. Friend has asked me about the Masters. He has correctly stated that six have retired, and there have been two appointments to vacancies arising from retirement without abolition terms at a salary of £1,200, and although in three cases small additions of years have been allowed, I thoroughly endorse the remark that easy berths ought not to be paid more highly than those which are laborious and responsible. At the same time the Treasury are governed not only by rules, but bylaw; and, on the whole, I am distinctly of opinion that in this matter the Government have succeeded in making an exceedingly good bargain for the State. With regard to the redundant clerks, they have all retired, and, therefore, so far as their salaries are concerned, they will not again appear on the Estimates. The result is that four of them have been pensioned on ordinary terms, and one has been given four additional years on abolition terms. With regard to the particular officer alluded to, there were circumstances in his case which certainly entitled him to consideration. A good many years ago he held a position which entitled him to promotion, and at that time the Treasury made a distinct bargain with him that in consideration of his giving up his right to promotion he should continue to fill the office he then filled, and should not be called upon to discharge any other duties than those he was then discharging. It was a bargain which, whether good or bad, was made years ago, and, however desirous we may be to effect reductions, it is equally desirable to keep faith with public servants. I think, under the circumstances, it will be generally admitted that the arrangements with regard to the London clerks are, on the whole, satisfactory, and it is particularly so to see them wiped off the salary list.


I join with my hon. Friend in acknowledging the manner in which the hon. Member for Stockport has offered his criticisms. As to the Registrars, I do not think their salaries are too high for the duties they have to perform; and in speaking of the scale allowance has not been made for the annual rise. The compensation received by the Probate and Admiralty Court Registrars was paid under an Act of Parliament in respect of the abolition of the monopoly which they had enjoyed as proctors, the compensation being fixed at half the incomes they had made by their practice; and if they had not been made Registrars others would have been appointed at the present salaries. The offices are not entirely closed during the vacation, and a good deal of work is done; but it may be worth while considering whether the vacation could not be somewhat curtailed. I do not think the Registrars have more leisure than others whose duties depend upon the sittings of the Courts.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)

I recognise the success that has attended the efforts of the hon. Member for Stockport. The reductions made indicate what an amount of jobbery has long been going on, and how the abolition ought to have been made long ago. We are not, however, informed how far the saving has been counterbalanced by additions to the pension list and by compensation for abolition of office. I hope, before the Vote is passed another year, we shall have full information on this point. It appears that six Masters have been retired and two new ones have been appointed. Is it possible that two new appointments were made at the time we were making retirements on abolition terms?


No; that is not so.


Six retired in the ordinary course. Two vacancies had to be filled up.


But we were told the number of years upon which one Master retired on abolition terms. Surely I am not mistaken?


I said one of them had been so retired.


One is enough for my argument. It is a most extraordinary thing to retire a Master on abolition terms while you are making two new' appointments.


I endeavoured to point out that we did not appoint anyone to fill the place of this particular Master. The two appointments made were to fill vacancies; they were not the result of retirement or abolition terms.


But I do not see how you can distinguish between the Masters, and it seems to me a mere evasion of the term, and that the country is saddled with unnecessary expense for compensation. As to the Registrars being taken from the Proctors, I believe that is a gross abuse, and I do not think it ought to be continued.

MR. MOLLOT (King's County, Birr)

I am afraid we are not just now in a sufficiently judicial frame of mind to do our duty, that is to take up this Vote and examine it item by item. But I admit much has been done in redemption of the promise made by the First Lord of the Treasury last year; and I hope the hon. Member, who is mainly to be thanked for a saving of nearly £15,000 a year, will continue his examination, in the hope that the House may have more time to attend to the subject next year. It is a curious fact that whenever we attack those institutions that are exclusively legal, we find more fraud in their administration than in that of any other Department.

Vote agreed to.

4. £3,990, to complete the sum for the Railway and Canal Commission.

5. £6,880, to complete the sum for the Wreck Commission.

6. £388,401, to complete the sum for the County Courts.


I quite agree that the Committee is not in a judicial frame of mind, and I will not go at length into this Vote. But I might suggest to the hon. Member for Stockport that here is a promising field for him to extend his inquiries. From a Return which has been laid before the House I find that, while the Supreme Courts sat 226 days a year, there are two County Court Judges who sat under 100 days each, 10 who sat under 126 days, 25 who sat 125 and under, 19 who sat under 200, and only one who sat 222 days. But I do not wish to embark upon a discussion. I am sure the matter will receive the attention of the Government, now that we have brought it under their notice. I wish only to ask for an assurance that this waste of judicial power will be carefully considered.


If the districts are to be re-cast, and additional work is to be thrown on the Judges, there will inevitably, and not unreasonably, be a claim for increased salary on the part of these Judges, who are by no means overpaid. I cannot agree with the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton that the County Court Judges are overpaid, having regard to the amount and the varied character of the work they have to perform.


I do not suggest that the County Court Judges are overpaid, or that their salary of £1,500 a year ought to be reduced by one farthing.

MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)

In regard to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, I would point out that though the Judges in some districts may not sit very many days in the year, still others have even more work than they can get through. This is especially the case in the Metropolitan County Courts, where the work has been very greatly increased, owing to the increasing number of actions which are remitted by the High Court for trial in the County Courts. At least twice as many cases have been remitted during a certain period of the present year to the number remitted in a corresponding period of last year. I am told that the County Courts have tried no less than one-third of the actions that were initiated in the Queen's Bench Division. During the past few weeks complaints have been made of some of the County Court Judges; but while the High Court Judges are too often inclined to speak with little consideration of the County Court Judges, there is a growing tendency among the High Court Judges to send cases to the County Courts for trial. With regard to the increased jurisdiction which was given by the Act of last year to the Registrar, it should be borne in mind that the County Court is the poor man's Court, and that it is rather hard that he should not have the right to have his case, however small, tried by the Judge. At present, although the poor man has quite as much right as the rich man to have his case tried by the Judge, there is a tendency to put him off with the services of a judicial officer who is, presumably, of inferior calibre. With regard to an Amendment which appears on the Paper in my name, I had intended to move the reduction of the Vote for the purpose of calling attention to the increasing number of persons annually committed to prison by the County Court Judges for non-payment of debts. In 1887 the number of persons actually committed was 5,293, and in 1888 the number rose to 6,429—that is to say, during last year there were 20 per cont more poor debtors committed to prison by the County Courts than there were in the previous year. That I regard as a serious fact which calls for the attention, and the serious attention, of Her Majesty's Government. When we remember that the persons who are most anxious to press for payment of debts are, as a rule, money lenders, who have, in the first place, urged the debtors to borrow, it seems to me that imprisonment for debt is an anachronism. I do not propose to move a reduction of the Vote now; but, certainly, if the same cause of complaint exists in a future year I shall bring the matter more formally under the notice of the House.


No doubt in some districts the County Court Judges do not sit very constantly, but it ought to be borne in mind that in the rural districts they have a great deal of travelling from Court to Court, and in the figures quoted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton that fact has not been allowed for. Still, I admit that some re-arrangement of the districts is desirable. The Lord Chancellor is quite alive to this, and the matter will not be overlooked. I do not think that the County Court Judges are at all overpaid. It is, indeed, likely that in the future, when the districts have been re-arranged, and they are required to sit more frequently, it may be necessary to increase their salaries. The working of the new Act with regard to the jurisdiction given to Registrars is being considered by the Lord Chancellor. With respect to remitted actions, I think these ought not to be allowed to interfere with the ordinary business of the Court, and to that end I believe certain of the County Court Judges set apart special days for such cases. The hon. Member for Bethnal Green has referred to the number of committals; but it ought to be borne in mind that no person is committed until the Judge is satisfied that lie has had the means to pay, and has not done so. I can assure hon. Members that the Government are not likely to lose sight of the necessity for making such arrangements as to give the country the best value for its expenditure.


The subject of the abolition of imprisonment for debt is one of those large questions which cannot be dealt with at this period of the year. I would point this out, however, that it is becoming more and mo re apparent that imprisonment for debt is abolished in the case of big speculators who fail in business, but is more and more put in force in the case of small debtors. It is a manifest injustice that a big speculator who may be ever so fraudulent, and who may have made over large sums to his wife, should escape punishment for debt, whilst the poor man is imprisoned for it.

Vote agreed to.

7. £2,000, to complete the sum for Land Registry.


It is satisfactory to know that this office is largely improving from a financial point of view. Whilst the receipts last year were only about £800, that amount this year has been received in one quarter. It seems reasonable to expect that in the near future this office, which has been a charge upon the public for so many years, will be able to pay its own expenses.


If the hon. Member desires these Votes to pass quickly he had better abandon the policy of congratulating the Government on the worst offices in the Estimates. As I wish to keep an eye on this office, I would ask whether there has not been a dead loss on the Vote during the past 12 months?


I certainly cannot say that there has not been a loss up to the present time; but certain changes have been made, and I think that next year I shall be able to announce that there has been no loss during the 12 months.


As a matter of fact, up to now there has been a loss?


Oh, yes.


I am perfectly well aware of the fact myself, but I wished it to go forth to the public on the authority of the Government.


In regard to this office which is receiving new fees it is to be remembered that you have in connection with it a new clerk and two or three new surveyors. These gentlemen's salaries have to be provided out of the fees, and a very practical question arises on that point. We know that for years this office has been practically a sinecure, that the work brought into it is merely nominal, and that the staff which existed before these new appointments were made had little or nothing to do. Could not the work now done by this new clerk and surveyors be done by one of the old clerks whose hands are comparatively, speaking empty? What is the justification for these new appointments?


My estimate of the expenditure for the present year is £3,400, and in that is included the salaries of these new officials. From all accounts I have received, the office is not now overmanned, although I am not prepared to say that, in the event of certain vacancies occurring in the future, further reforms may not have to be made.

Vote agreed to.

8. £25,662, for Revising Barristers, England.

MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury E.)

I see that last year we had a Supplementary Estimate of £5,236. Is that now a permanent annual increase?


I do not think so. After the repayments by the Local Authorities in respect of the extra work in connection with the Local Government Bills there will not be any extra charge on this Vote beyond, perhaps, a sum of £100.

Vote agreed to.

9. £12,242, to complete the sum for Police Courts, Loudon and Sheerness.


Is it contemplated to make a substantial alteration in regard to the Metropolitan Police Courts, especially as to that at Hammersmith?


A year and a half ago Hammersmith Police Court was converted from a half-day Court into a whole day Court, and that has been followed by a complete re-construction of the building, in order to make it suitable to the altered conditions. The new arrangements have been greatly to the convenience of the public. The School Board summonses which formerly had to be taken from Hammersmith to Westminster can now be heard at Hammersmith.


Is it not now the West London Court, with a new district?


No new district has been created; but the old Hammersmith Court has been re-named the West London Court, on the ground that the Vestry of Hammersmith objected to labelling the Court with the name of their parish, which did not include the Court. There has been a re-arrangement of the duties of the Magistrates, which will make available the services of 22 Magistrates in all the 12 Courts throughout London.

Vote agreed to.

10. £46,586, to complete the sum for Police (England and Wales).


I wish to ask one question of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary with regard to pensions and retiring allowances. I would ask if he is prepared to make any statement which would lead us to believe that he has a scheme in preparation for the pensions of the Police Force throughout the country? Since the County Councils have been formed, and we have had the Joint Committee of Magistrates and County Councillors, this question has been raised and discussed.


The subject the hon. Baronet is now dealing with has nothing whatever to do with the Vote under consideration.


At the same time, this is the only opportunity we shall have of dealing with the question of the pensions and retiring allowances of th9 police force. I would ask my right hon. friend, the Home Secretary, if he is prepared to bring in a Bill which will guide the Local Authorities in the future with regard to the pensions of the police?


Metropolitan Members, I think, have reason to com- plain that this Vote, in which they are so vitally interested, has been postponed to this late period of the Session. It is clear we cannot, under the circumstances, discuss the Vote as it ought to be discussed. Very naturally inconvenience and friction arise on this question of the police owing to the Legislature having set up a Municipal body in London, whilst it continues to give the control of the police, not to a municipal body, but to the Home Secretary. If the present administration of the police is to be judged by its results, it would appear to be a most signal failure. Crime is increasing in the Metropolis. During the past year it has increased to an alarming degree. In 1887 the total number of felonies committed in the Metropolitan District was just over 20,000, whereas the number in 1888 rose to 25,590. The question with many of the ratepayers in the Metropolis is whether this increase of crime is not due to the fact that the police are being to a large extent diverted from their proper functions of preventing crime and arresting criminals to other purposes. I wish to ask the Home Secretary whether he has considered the desirability of providing police matrons at every station where women are taken during the night. We are much behind the people of the United States in this matter. In 1884 the State of New York passed a law which requires that in every town of 25,000 inhabitants and upwards, there shall be one or more station houses for the detention and confinement of all women who may be under arrest, and that in every station house to which women are taken those women shall be under the charge of a police matron. In Chicago I find that there are as many as 10 of these matrons, each of whom is in receipt of a salary of £130 a year. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will lose no time in following the example of the United States in this respect.


Although I shall follow the example of my hon. Friend and refrain from going into this question at length, I think I have a right to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and to urge upon him the desirability of his affording us an opportunity of discussing this question fully next year. I find, on referring to the Report of the Chief Commissioner of Police for this year, that there is a change in the construction of that Report, and that it does not contain, as in former years, the separate reports of the Superintendents and Chief Constables. Is there any reason for this? The fact is that these reports were always of great interest to hon. Members, who thereby ascertained the impressions of each Superintendent as to the condition of the neighbourhood over which he had control, and the way in which his men performed their duty. I also wish to ask whether there is any serious possibility next year of an increase of the rate of 9d. in the £1, which is allocated to the Metropolitan Police? It has been indicated by the Home Secretary that next year he may have to ask the House for some alteration of the law. I also wish to draw attention to the fact that in the Report of the Chief Commissioner we find a very peculiar bracketing of public events, for we are there told that "the agitation which centred in Trafalgar Square and the murders in Whitechapel necessitated concentration in particular localities." I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he cannot now see his way to come to some armistice with the people of London so that the men engaged at Trafalgar Square may be utilised for the prevention and detection of crime instead of preventing people from holding peaceful meetings on public matters. I should also like to know whether the duty of £2 charged on the owner of a single hackney carriage for police supervision cannot be* reduced. It is a much larger sum than is charged in provincial towns.

MR. H. J. WILSON (York, W.R., Holmfirth)

I hope the right hon. Gentleman who has, upon the whole, met us in a conciliatory spirit will give us all the information he can in. regard to the increase of the number of police stations at which women are appointed to look after female prisoners— a question in which so many hon. Members feel so deep an interest.


I desire to call attention to the danger arising to foot passengers in crossing crowded thoroughfares, owing to the reckless manner in which cabs and other vehicles are driven round the corners of streets. In putting the question to the Home Secretary I may emphasise it by a reference to the case in which the aged Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone) was knocked down by a cab under circumstances such as I have alluded to. This, at least, ought to entitle me to the sympathy of the Home Secretary. It is a fortunate thing not only that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was not killed, but that he escaped any serious injury; and was even able to get up and pursue the cabman. I think that some attention might be paid by the Home Secretary to the state of things of which I com plain. In every other country in Europe there are most stringent regulations to prevent the drivers of cabs and carriages going quickly round the corners, and, looking at the number of accidents that annually occur in London from the want of proper rules on this subject, I say it is a pressing and a serious matter. One cannot walk across a street without keeping an anxious eye on every passing vehicle, and I trust the Home Secretary will endeavour to establish some sort of regulation that will afford security to the lives of Her Majesty's subjects.


The matter referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend behind me has engaged the attention of the Government for a long time, but there is some difficulty in dealing with the subject. With regard to the increase of crime which has been mentioned, it is not at all startling when the increase in the population is taken into account. No doubt London would be better off with more police, and policemen stationed at corners to prevent the danger to foot passengers referred to by the hon. Member are especially needed. The Statute with regard to the police rate limits the charge to 9d., and there is no intention to increase that sum, except perhaps in connection with a general scheme dealing with Police Courts. There are now matrons in all Police Courts, but it has not been found possible to have them at all Police Stations. The Department meets the need, as far as it can, by sending matrons to search female prisoners; but to provide resident matrons is not either financially or physically practicable under the existing system. Referring to the remarks of the hon. Member for Finsbury, I would point out that the present Chief Commissioner has represented with great force that the Reports of Superintendents are only part of the material on which the Chief Commissioner bases his Report; and it is clearly on the Chief Commissioner's own responsibility that a Report ought to be made. The grievance with respect to Hackney Carriage Duties is a matter that rests with the Inland Revenue Department. I am sorry the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy hangs so much about the street corners, but the police have already ample power to check anything like dangerous driving, whether around corners or straight along the street. I have omitted to say with regard to female matrons that in all new stations I have required that arrangements should be made for the accommodation of matrons.

MR. G. BEUCE (Finsbury, Holborn)

I beg to ask the Home Secretary whether he will grant an inquiry into the circumstances connected with the dismissal of eight police constables from the E Division? Full particulars have been forwarded by me to the Home Office.


The Papers in the case have been forwarded to the Chief Commissioner for his observations, and they have not yet returned to my hands. When they do, they shall receive my best attention.

Vote agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £488,305, 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 1890, for the Expenses of the Prisons .in England, Wales, and the Colonies.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Pickersgill.)

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

11. £122,088, to complete the sum for Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Great Britain.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I desire to call attention very briefly to complaints made in certain parts of the country as to the want of variety in industrial training in reformatories. It is stated that the boys are not trained in such a way as is likely to produce any really useful result in their after life. I wish to ask whether a greater variety of training can be introduced? The other question I wish to put is with regard to the industrial schools. A Bill has been before the other House of Parliament which proposes very important changes in the position of the industrial schools. I wish to ask what are the intentions of the Government in regard to this Bill in the coming Session, and whether it is proposed to proceed on the lines already laid down? When it comes down to this House there will be considerable opposition to the proposal to withdraw the industrial schools from their relationship to the School Boards? It is important that the School Boards should retain their position in regard to these schools, so that they may carry out their work with respect to a class of children whose education and training present the greatest difficulties and with whom they have specially to deal. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give some intimation as to the intention of the Government with regard to legislation on this subject.


I must point out to the hon. Member that the Home Office has no direct control over the management of reformatory and industrial schools. The only control I can exercise is by the withdrawal of the certificates of the schools. In regard to other questions to which reference has been made I hope it may be possible to introduce some legislation next year, and I am sure the Government will be desirous to consult the opinion of School Boards and other bodies whose advice would have great weight.


Might not the right hon. Gentleman be a little more stringent with regard to granting certificates upon which grants are made to Industrial Schools? I remember visiting a certain school, and found one section of the boys engaged in wood chopping, and another lot in tailoring. The manager of the school, with a most innocent expression on his face, told me it was an extraordinary thing that when once the boys left the school they could never be induced to work as tailors. I asked what hours the boys were worked. He told me several in the morning (I forget the exact number), and then again after dinner for 4½ hours without a break. With such arrangements as these, who could expect the boys to do anything else than take a strong dislike to tailoring? Surely they ought to have some little variety in their day's proceedings. Their work ought not to be made as irksome as possible. I did not say anything to the manager, as he was so stupid, and it was not worth while arguing with him; but I do wish the right hon. Gentleman would instruct his Inspectors to look more closely into these details of industrial training.


If the hon. and learned Member will communicate with the Home Office with regard to any particular instance steps will be taken to inquire into the matter. I think his suggestion is a very valuable one.

Vote agreed to.

12. £19,609, to complete the sum for Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.

Resolutions to be reported to-morrow.

Committee to sit again to-morrow.


I wish to give notice that it is the intention of the Government to-morrow to move the suspension of the 12 o'clock Rule with respect to Supply, not being Irish Estimates, and to the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to two Bills.

Whereupon Mr. Speaker, in pursuance of the Order of the House, adjourned the House without Question put.

House adjourned at five minutes after Eight o'clock.