§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 2.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 5, to leave out sub-section (i.).—(Mr. Hunter.)
§ Question again proposed, "That subsection (i.) stand part of the Clause."
§ (7.10.) MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
Sir, when the discussion of this Bill was postponed on Friday night, there was an expression of regret that the Scotch Superannuation Bill had not been produced. The First Lord of the Treasury stated that it would be circulated on Saturday morning or this morning. Unfortunately, the First Lord did not know that the Bill had to be read a first time, and the result is that we only got it an hour and a half ago, and until then we had not the smallest inkling of the proposal of the Government. What makes this conduct very much worse is, that when I look into the Scotch Bill, it seems to be an exact imitation of the English Bill. There was no reason in the world why this miserable copy of a miserable system of superannuation should not have been in our hands, at all events, 10 days ago. It seems to me that the action of the Government in this matter has been illiberal, and that their object has been to obtain the sanction of the Committee to a proposal without giving us the slightest notion of what that proposal is. A worse scheme of superannuation for Scotland, under the circumstances, could not have been brought forward. The English scheme is bad enough, and it has given rise to the greatest possible discontent. But in Scotland such a Bill is absurd. It divides the country among 81 Police Authorities, under some of which there are only four or five constables. It would be out of order in a discussion on a clause of the Bill before the House to enter into a criticism of the measure just introduced. But what is the position in which we are placed? We are asked to vote a sum of money 1691 towards a scheme of superannuation, which is a bad scheme. What I suggest to the Government is, that they should not press this Bill during the present Session, but should refer the question to a Select Committee. If the Government press the Bill they may lay their account that it will not pass in a short space of time. I believe it will not be satisfactory to the police or to the public of Scotland. To save time, the Government should state now and at once that they will not press this Bill, which is wrong in principle, and would be most exasperating and objectionable in practice. If the Government would refer the matter to a Select Committee, then, so far as I am concerned, I would agree to this sub-section of the Local Taxation Bill. I do not believe that by postponing the Bill the police will suffer any injury. Superannuation is a very serious matter. You have not, unfortunately, got a free hand with regard to it in England. You are bound by vested interests. We have no vested interests in Scotland; and in that country, in considering a scheme of superannuation, I think we ought to take advantage of the experience and mistakes which have been made in England, and consider the example set in that country as a precedent to be avoided. If the Government are anxious to facilitate their business, I think the best course they can pursue is to hang this Bill up and refer the matter to a Select Committee. But if they insist on proceeding with the Bill now before the Committee, without giving us an opportunity of considering the Scotch Superannuation Bill, I shall be compelled to move that you report Progress.
§ (7.20.) SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
On the last occasion when this Bill was before the House, the Debate was postponed in order that we might have the Superannuation Bill before us, and the Lord Advocate here. We have not had time to study the Bill, and I must say that I was very much astonished to find the Lord Advocate introduce it without vouchsafing so much as a word of explanation. But, on reflection, I am really not surprised that he did not say anything, because the Bill is nothing but a slavish copy of the English Bill, word for word. But the circumstances are not the same. In England you have got superannuation already in existence. In Scotland, we pay an officer a lump 1692 sum on his retiring. Under the circumstances, I do hope that we shall have some explanation from the Lord Advocate of the system which the Government propose to introduce. It does seem to me most regrettable that a Bill should be forced upon this House with a view to giving effect to a sub-section of the Local Taxation Bill without hon. Members having the smallest opportunity of discussing it. It is said we should not look a gift horse in the mouth, and that £40,000 is given to us. How far will that amount go, and how heavy a demand will be involved upon the rates? A very much larger sum than £40,000 may have to be taken out of the rates. Scotland is only to have £40,000, with its larger area, while London is to have £150,000 a year. The representatives of the Scotch constituencies are bound to watch this matter very closely. I do not agree with my hon. Friend. I do wish to see a scheme of superannuation.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL
I am very glad to hear it. At the same time I repeat what I said the other day, that while a system of superannuation of public servants is necessary you may carry it too far by laying down regulations which would permit of your best men retiring with pensions in the prime of life, and ready to take up other pursuits, while you would be left with only the scum and the dregs to carry on the Public Service. I am very much alarmed by the extent to which the Home Secretary yields to agitation in this matter with regard to the Metropolitan Police. I was very much astonished to hear him say that he was not going to put any check on the age at which a policeman might take his pension and retire. I think that a very dangerous thing. I want to know whether that may be done with regard to Scotland or not, with the effect that choice men, at the age of 45 or 46, may, to the injury of the Public Service, retire on their pensions, and take up other pursuits. I hope the Lord Advocate will give us a complete and satisfactory explanation of the scheme, and of the method of working the scheme.
§ (7.25.) THE SOLICITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. M. T. STORMONTH DARLING,) Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities
It is not easy to satisfy the 1693 hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. The other night he objected that the Bill to be introduced might not be similar to the English Bill. And now he objects, after he has seen it, that it is very similar. I do not know that that is a ground of objection, unless it is shown that the English Bill is not satisfactory. I hope, in a few words, to show that this Bill proceeds on reasonable and just grounds. The hon. Member for Aberdeen said that the Bill was open to a number of objections, but he did not show what they were.
§ MR. M. T. STORMONTH DARLING
Therefore, I must be excused if I confine myself to a very general outline of the proposals of the Bill. The hon. Member for Aberdeen specified one objection. He said the Bill creates 81 Police Authorities. That is not so. We are creating no Police Authorities. We are taking the Police Authorities in counties and boroughs just as we find them. Obviously it would be exceedingly inconvenient that a scheme of this kind should be administered by any but Police Authorities, who are masters of the police, and have the right to appoint and dismiss them. Therefore, I think the answer is complete, that the Police Authorities should have this subvention.
§ MR. HUNTER
The objection I make is this, that you are creating separate funds in counties where there are only five constables altogether, instead of having one Superannuation Fund for the whole of Scotland. To have 81 separate Superannuation Funds would involve innumerable difficulties.
§ MR. M. T. STORMONTH DARLING
Would you have the whole of the police of Scotland managed by one authority?
§ MR M. T. STORMONTH DARLING
The proposals are these: Every constable in Scotland will, after he has completed 25 years' service, if he is of the age specified in the pension scale, be entitled to retire on his pension. If he has not completed 25 years, but 15 years, he will be entitled to his pension, provided he is permanently incapacitated. If he has not completed the full period of 15 years, and it can be shown that he is permanently incapacitated, he will be entitled, not to a pen- 1694 sion, but to a gratuity. In the case of a man who is killed or injured, there is special provision for compensation to his family. For these purposes there is to be a Pension Fund, which will be made up, in the first place, by a stoppage out of the men's wages, the appropriation of certain fines, and the money to be voted under the Local Taxation Bill. If there is still a deficiency it must be made up from local sources. The money will be distributed in the first year according to the number of efficient members of the Police Force in each locality. In future years a system will be adopted very nearly corresponding to the actual requirements of the Force, and the distribution will be according to the amount of contribution, that is to say, every 6d. obtained from the men's pay will be met by a proportionate amount from the £40,000, and the residue will be in accordance with the actual necessities of each Police Authority, that is to say, in proportion to the actual demands made upon them. That, I should say, is a perfectly equitable system of distribution. Of course the Government have not made these proposals without inquiring as to the probable demands on the funds, and the result of this inquiry has been to show that the sum here proposed will be more than sufficient for the first few years; and the Committee must remember that, year by year, the funds will be largely increased from the other sources I have mentioned, and in particular from the contributions from the men themselves. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy seemed to draw a contrast between the sum to be allocated to Scotland and the sum to be allocated to the Metropolis, and the hon. Member urged that, as the populations are about the same, the sums to be allocated to the two places ought to be about the same. But the hon. Member forgets that there are 15,000 police in the Metropolis, and only a little over 4,000 in Scotland, and that if the amounts paid were in proportion to the number of police, whilst Scotland received £40,000 the Metropolis would receive £150,000. While it is impossible for the Government to foresee whether or not there will ultimately be a demand on local resources, we have taken every means to provide such a sum as will, in the first instance, entirely meet the charge, and as it will constitute 1695 a growing fund that will very largely meet any possible claim in the future. I trust the Committee will adopt the view I ventured to urge on the last occasion when the subject was under discussion, that all we are doing is laying down the principle that Superannuation Funds are to be established, and that £40,000 is a proper sum to devote to them. These are the only two propositions to which the Committee will be committed by adopting the subsection. I have not heard from the other side any rooted objection in principle to the creation of a Superannuation Fund. All the Committee have to do now is to say whether they are, or are not, in favour of such a plan, and whether they are, or are not, in favour of the allocation of this money to this particular purpose. There were expressions of opinion on the Front Opposition Bench, on Thursday night, very strongly in favour of the creation of a pension; therefore, I apprehend that all we have to say now is whether or not we favour such a fund. I hope the answer to the whole of this question will be in the affirmative.
§ (7.35.) MR. HUNTER
The hon. and learned Gentleman has not answered any of the questions which I put to him, and on the answer he gives will depend whether I move to report Progress or not.
§ MR. CHILDERS
This is not a question which ought to be disposed of lightly. Police superannuation is quite a different matter from superannuation in most Departments of the Public Service. For instance, there are large bodies of men connected with the dockyards and arsenals, and connected with the Revenue Department and the Customs in England, in whose benefit a system of superannuation has been established, whereby the men, when falling ill or reaching the age of 60, receive a proportion of their salary, calculated on the number of years of service. Here we have a very simple system, which has gained ground ever since it has been established, and which now applies to the mass of the public servants of this country. But the police are avowedly a very different body to those I have enumerated. You cannot apply the same rules to the superannuation of the police that you can apply to ordinary public servants. The conditions of their service are far more exhausting, and you cannot post- 1696 pone their superannuation until they reach the age of 60 years. You cannot superannuate the police on the same terms as you superannuate the soldiers and sailors, who have a comparatively short service. The whole question of the superannuation of the police is, therefore, extremely difficult, and I must say I entirely disagree with the hon. and learned Gentleman when he asks the Committee in a light and airy way, to vote the money first and to decide how it is to be applied afterwards. The Committee ought first to know on what principle we are going to carry out the system, and then it will be time to decide how much shall be contributed from public funds, and how much from other funds—that is to say, from the contribution of the men themselves. The hon. and learned Gentleman is beginning at the wrong end. He ought to have laid down a system before saying in an airy way that £40,000 or £50,000, or any other sum, should be allocated for this purpose. This question is of great importance. I am not one of those who think it a light matter, and I differ from the hon. and learned Gentleman, because I think it is desirable to lay down something like a common system for the superannuation of the police of the whole of Scotland before deciding as to the amount to be allocated to the purpose. In England we have already systems of superannuation in above 100 counties and boroughs. Excepting in Greenock, there are no Superannuation Funds existing in Scotland other than of the most imperfect character; therefore, in dealing with Scotland, an opportunity arises for laying down a sound system ab initio. It is also, I think, very questionable whether every Local Authority should have its own independent Superannuation Fund; it would be best to follow the system of superannuation in the Civil Service, whore the fund is administered by one Central Authority for the Service in all its Departments. If the Scotch Police Fund were administered by some representative police authority it would, I think, be found not only more economical, but more advantageous to the men themselves. The men would feel that they were all treated alike, and not according to the arbitrary view of a petty Local Authority having control over 10 or a dozen men, and con- 1697 sequently influenced often too much by the circumstances of every man. It would be agreeable to the men themselves to know that they had a thoroughly impartial authority to administer the superannuation. To my mind, it would be well not to carry the Debate on these words further, but to let the whole matter be considered by a Select Committee. Such an inquiry would not occupy more than 10 days or a fortnight, and after it we should be able to approach the question much more satisfactorily.
§ (7.45.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman expects that the Government could put the cart before the horse in the manner he suggests. What the Government now propose to do with regard to Scotland is what we have already done with regard to England. We have voted the money for England, and the Bill proposes to put Scotland in the same position as England. I should not care for the reproaches that would be levelled at the Government by the Scotch people if, the money having been voted for England, we refused to vote the money for Scotland. I presume there is some object in wishing to put off the Bill. Presumably, the right hon. Gentleman thinks that if the superannuation we propose is not satisfactory, it would be well to drop it and not use the money for that purpose at all.
§ MR. CHILDERS
My view is exactly the reverse. I think it is most important that this superannuation question should be dealt with this Session, and it is for that reason that I make the proposal.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Then I would advise the right hon. Gentleman to secure the money. But I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should wish to postpone voting the money for the present, unless it is that he considers it possible that the money may not be wanted at all. For my own part, I scout the suggestion of such a possibility. Scotland must need the money, whatever differences there may be amongst Scotch Members as to the form of superannuation to be adopted. One word with regard to the extraordinary plan propounded by my right hon. Friend. My right hon. Friend proposes a superannuation scheme for the whole of Scotland—a superan- 1698 nuation scheme subsidised by this money which we are proposing to give, but which must, ultimately, depend upon the rates. He suggests that in Scotland we should have a Superannuation Fund managed by the State, and that the localities should have no control over it, and that any deficiencies there might be should be made up out of the local rates. Well, I think when my right hon. Friend considers the tendency of Local Bodies in Scotland, like Local Bodies elsewhere, to have a very decisive voice as regards local finance, he will see that to propose such a scheme for Scotland would be to insure its rejection at once. Any scheme for Scotland placing the fund for the superannuation of the police in the hands of the State, while the local rates are to make good deficiencies, will not be acceptable to the Local Authorities in Scotland. Such a scheme, moreover, would, necessarily, be of a cast-iron nature, whereas it is obvious that a different scale of pensions ought to apply to the rural districts than to the large towns, where the police are worked very much harder, and where, therefore, they are entitled to higher pensions. Are the Local Authorities to determine the rates, of pensions, or are they to be left to the decision of an Imperial Authority? That, is the question I put in the best spirit before hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I am quite certain that whatever scheme of superannuation may be adopted, that which the right hon. Gentleman has proposed would not be just, and would not commend itself to the people of Scotland. You could not impose a new burden on the rates without giving the localities control over the scale of pensions. I would urge that against the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, but the main point is whether this money should be given to Scotland. I would advise the Scotch Members to take the money, and, then, whatever form of superannuation is established, they will find it an advantage to have this endowment from the State.
(7.50.) DR. CAMERON
I would point out that much time would have been saved if Scotch Members had had the information on Thursday night which is vouchsafed now. It is said that the principle of the proposal is to base superannuation in Scotland on precisely the same principle as that in England, and when last the subject was under discus- 1699 sion I rose to point out that it was quite impossible for the scheme proposed in England to be workable in the case of Scotland. On referring to the English Bill I find it is proposed to give a grant from the Imperial Exchequer, proportionate to the amount of the deductions made from the pay of the police, for superannuation allowances. I now find that it is proposed to distribute the grant in Scotland in proportion to the number of men maintained. I should like to know whether the wish of the Scotch police has ever been ascertained on the subject? Do they know it is proposed to impose upon them a fine of 2½ per cent., to be deducted from their pay, for the purpose of superannuation? I do not think they do. Do the Government intend, after having started a system of superannuation in Scotland on the principle of distribution according to the number of men maintained, to adopt subsequently the English proposal——
It is out of order to enter into a discussion of the proposals of the Police Bill. The simple question is whether £40,000 shall be allocated.
Exactly, Sir; and I think it will be most germane to that question to inquire how far the £40,000 will go. As far as the principle of police superannuation is concerned, I am in favour of it, but we should know the feeling of the Police Authorities, and the ratepayers who are to be called upon to make good deficiencies should know what amount of deficiency they are likely to be called upon to make good. We have no information on these two most important points. It is proposed that we should have a Committee on the subject. I do not think that is asking too much. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the amount proposed to be allocated is more than sufficient to carry out the scheme. I do not think it will be at all adequate. The heaviest demands will be made at the commencement. Every constable of 25 years' service when the Bill becomes law, will be entitled to his pension. I doubt very much whether the police throughout Scotland know it is proposed to take their pay in order to provide them with superannuation allowances, and I doubt whether they are prepared to submit to the deductions without at once demanding an equiva- 1700 lent increase of pay. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said we had better take the money when we can get it. I quite agree with him on that point, and I agree with him all the more when I remember that the right hon. Gentleman got the money for the English superannuation scheme, to a large extent, by a perfectly unjust and unprecedented taxation of the national drink in Scotland. The Government might logically hang up this £40,000 by adding words to the effect that the money should be appliedFor such purposes of police superannuation in Scotland as shall be provided for in any Act that may be subsequently passed by Parliament.This proposal would enable the question to be considered without unduly rushing a Bill of this magnitude through the House. I trust, at any rate, the Government will be able to give us some assurance as to the adequacy of the sum proposed to be given to Scotland, and that they will further assure us they have explained to the rank and file of the police that they will have to provide the most substantial contribution to the fund.
§ (8.1.) MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)
The argument used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that money ought to be voted for England, and therefore ought to be voted for Scotland, and that we had better take the money now that we have the chance, ought not to be passed by without notice. This is a question which has been frequently under consideration during the last seven or eight years. I earnestly press on the Government to give an answer to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow, namely, whether any steps have been taken to ascertain whether their proposals will be acceptable to the great body of the police, and also to the large Municipalities in Scotland. Personally, I do not think their proposals can be very widely known, and that is certainly a reason why we should not come to a hasty decision. It is important we should know how the Local Authorities, particularly the County Councils, will look at this scheme. During the last seven or eight years there has been a considerable alteration in the view entertained by 1701 Local Bodies as to police superannuation, and therefore the Government must not consider, that because they are practically re-introducing an old Bill, they have the full support of the majority of the inhabitants of Scotland. The Local Authorities will not be in possession of the Government's proposals until Wednesday morning, and it is hardly likely they will be able to come to a decision with regard to them forthwith. I trust that ample time will be allowed for the consideration of this matter by those chiefly interested.
§ (8.10.) MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)
I can hardly think hon. Gentlemen opposite are serious in their opposition to this section, nor can I understand that the people of Scotland will not be thoroughly satisfied with this Bill. If the hon. Gentlemen who are raising obstacles to the passing of this measure feel that they require more time, no doubt they will have ample opportunity of considering the question in all its bearings when the Police Bill is before the House. But to suppose that the Scotch Police are not as anxious to be put in the same favourable position as the police in England is a great mistake. I am satisfied the Local Authorities will think this measure a very good one, and, therefore, I hope hon. Gentlemen will not any longer resist the passing of the clause.
§ (8.15.) MR. DUFF (Banffshire)
I approve of superannuation, but I certainly think that the sum proposed, which is to go on accumulating, is very large, especially when there are various other objects in Scotland to which the money could be applied. At the same time, while desiring further information, I am far from being opposed or antagonistic in any way to a proper and well-considered scheme of police superannuation.
§ (8.16.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
It seems to me that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us we had better take this money when we could get it, he forgot we have got it already. We have got it under the Inland Revenue Bill, and now we are considering how it is to be distributed. I think the superannuation of the police is a desirable object; but the question is, whether £40,000 which is proposed to be given, is a right sum to give for that object. In regard to that question, I have not heard a word 1702 from hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Lord Advocate seems determined by his silence to justify the suggestion that he was not wanted here and that we have brought him up from Scotland for nothing. I have no doubt that the Solicitor General for Scotland gave us the best answer he could under the instruction he had, but he did not say why the Government fixed upon this particular sum. I did think we should have had some actuarial calculation, but we have had nothing of the kind. The Solicitor General believes that for some years there will be a great deal more money than is required. Is it desirable to bottle up this money for purposes which, perhaps, may never arise, when there are extremely pressing necessities in Scotland for more money? We are just short of getting free education; we want something added to what we have not got to complete the matter. Indeed, there are many subjects to which this money could be applied, and, therefore, I think we ought to be told what are the reasons under which they ask the House to give this particular sum for this particular purpose.
§ (8.20.) MR. LYELL (Orkney and Shetland)
As representing Orkney and Shetland, I object entirely to this proposal. My constituency will not receive a single penny of this money, and I am not aware that the Government are going to refuse the increased duty from spirits and beer which my constituents will have to pay. The superannuation grant is only to be given on the certificate of the Secretary for Scotland, and only when the Secretary for Scotland obtains a certificate from an Inspector of police as to the efficiency of the local force. The Police Force of Orkney and Shetland have remained entirely independent of the Central Authority, and receive no portion of the grant for the pay and clothing of the police. They have maintained their independence, and I think it very unfair that the people of Orkney and Shetland should be forced to contribute towards this large sum of money, and obtain nothing in return for it, in the way of grant for police superannuation, that I can see.
§ (8.23.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. P. B. ROBERTSON,) Bute
The question as to how much money will be required is one which, owing to the nature of the condition, requires to be answered guardedly, because, if we take the question of how 1703 much money will be required at once, it is obvious that that is a partial and one-sided view. We have to deal with a case where the number of pensioners will continue to increase for a number of years to come.
§ MR. HUNTER
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to put the matter a little clearer. I asked whether the Bill is intended to apply to those now in the Force and eligible, but who have contributed nothing, or only to those who may come into the Force.
§ MR. J. P. B. ROBERTSON
It is proposed to let the men who are now superannuated receive benefit at once. It has been asked whether the assent of the police has been obtained for this scheme. If that means whether a plébiscite has been taken, certainly not. Bat there is one reason why there can be no objection to the passing of the scheme so far as individual interests are concerned, and that is that there is a clause expressly providing that if anyone dislikes the terms, he may remain outside the scheme, and that without prejudice to his position. As to whether £40,000 will be required at once, I will point out that, assuming 300 men were to retire at once, and that each was allowed £50, the amount required at once would be £15,000. We have looked into this matter very carefully, and we have found that as we go on the amount demanded will rise up to so large a sum that it will exceed immensely the sum of £40,000; and, therefore, it will be fallacious to treat this question as one which can be answered absolutely. We must deal with it in a sensible way, and there is every reason to believe that a grant of £40,000 will not entail an inordinate claim on the ratepayers, because we shall have the 2½ per cent., which will amount to £7,500 a year, and other contributions will amount to a considerable sum. The residue necessary to be found will, of course, fall upon the ratepayers. This scheme is, as every superannuation scheme must be, one in which it is desirable that the Imperial contribution shall be but a contribution, and not a sum which will carry the whole burden. Further, it is desirable that there shall be some stimulus to the savings of the men, and that they shall have an interest in the fund to which they are contributories. I have frankly stated the financial aspect of the question, and all I 1704 can say is that this is a reasonable and adequate contribution in order to put the scheme upon a fair footing. I do not wish to throw at hon. Gentlemen the taunt or suggestion that they are opposed to the superannuation of the police, but they c an best get rid of any doubt on that point by proceeding to accept this clause, which does not go into any of the details. The Government do not propose a Select Committee to deal with this matter, but it may be sent to a Grand Committee, where it can have a businesslike discussion. (8.30.)
§ (9.2.) Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present.
§ (9.5.) MR. HUNTER
There was one statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on which I should like to say a word. The right hon. Gentleman objected that if this scheme is rejected the ultimate liability will be cast on the ratepayers. It is true that the Bill provides for an ultimate liability, but I doubt very much whether that proposal can be sustained. It certainly will receive a most vigorous opposition from this side of the House in the absence of the exact calculations with which the Government ought to furnish the Committee. I would compare the use of that argument with the assertion sometimes made in support of the solvency of a Friendly Society in the words, "If we cannot pay our way, we can make a levy." I regret very much that the Lord Advocate indicated the opinion on the part of the Government that the Superannuation Bill should be referred to the Grand Committee on Law. The question of superannuation ought not to be referred to the Grand Committee, because that Committee cannot hear witnesses. The matter should go to a Select Committee, because the Committee will require the evidence of actuarial experts, for it is evident that at the present moment the Government are entirely in the dark as to the financial position of their scheme. How utterly erroneous their view is, the Government have shown in one part of their Bill. One clause says the contribution from the £40,000 should be equal to the weekly payments of the men, but as the deductions from the men are to be at the rate of 2½ per cent., which would yield only £7,300, the £40,000 would be 5½ times the contribution from the Force, 1705 equivalent to an increase in wages of 2s. 9d. in the £1, which would be an enormous increase in the amount available for the Police Force. I mention that, not because I object to the increase, large as it would be, but because I think that, if the Government were really to go into the question, they would find that sum would enable them to give far larger benefits to the police than they have under the Superannuation Bill. Take, for example, the total amount required to superannuate the existing officers. The proposal to give two thirds of the actual pay a constable is enjoying would require a certain sum of money. The Lord Advocate did not tell us how much the superannuation of the police would cost, but I have made a calculation based on the minimum figure in regard to age. Patting down pensions for officers at £60 and men at £50, I estimate that the sum required is £18,840. The other proposals in the Bill are quite insufficient to bring the sum up to £30,000. Yet it is obvious that the grant supplemented by the contribution of the men and by money derived from other sources must be considerably in excess of £50,000. The total cost of the police in Scotland is only £292,000, and a sixth part of that sum would make a very heavy Pension List. These are points on which I think we should have some information. I do not bring this forward for the purpose of pressing the Lord Advocate for an answer, but I do it for the purpose of impressing on him the importance of referring the matter to a Select Committee in order to obtain some actuarial evidence. According to the Rules of Debate, I may not discuss the provisions of the Bill, but I believe I shall be in order in saying what would be the kind of superannuation for which I would gladly vote. I should desire that a superannuation should be based on the idea of an Insurance and Provident Fund, and on which the contributions of the men themselves should form a most material circumstance, both in determining the time at which they should receive the pensions and the amount they should be paid. I would say, not only that a certain age should entitle a man to a pension, but that he ought to be entitled to a pension if he is permanently disabled from any cause, whether previous to that age or not, and provision should be made 1706 for the children of any man who is killed until the youngest is 15 years of age. Provisions of that kind may be found in the Bill, but I would make the measure more extensive. If we take this Bill before an ordinary Select Committee, it may be that we shall hear enough to satisfy us that a larger object would be obtained by this sum of money. The Lord Advocate may take a different view, and, therefore, it is most important that we should have this Committee before which evidence can be given decisively one way or the other. I believe that with this £40,000 a great deal more than is proposed by the Government ought to be accomplished in the way of police superannuation. And before I sit down I should like to say that whatever pension is paid ought to be paid as a right and not as a favour. Is it to be paid as a favour? ["No, no!"] I infer from the right hon. Gentleman's denial that he will be willing to strike out that portion of the Bill, and I will put down Amendments for that purpose. Then, the pension should be absolutely irrevocable. To say that a certain amount of money is due to a man as a legal debt, and then to say that if he does something or other it will be taken away, is inconsistent with the theory of insurance and thoroughly objectionable. I think a considerable part of the fund should be found from the contributions of the men. As matters now stand, the contributions of the men cannot be more than one-seventh of the whole—that is to say, six-sevenths are to be contributed by the State and one-seventh by the men. I am not sure that a larger sum should not be contributed by the men. It would be a most satisfactory way of dealing with the question for the Government to give us some information as to the persons they have consulted and the information they have received ns the basis of their calculation, or for them to put before us in the form of a Paper the practical scheme they intend to work out. When I rose at an earlier portion of the evening to ask the Lord Advocate to appoint a Select Committee, and said if his answer was not satisfactory I should move to report Progress, I was actuated entirely by a desire to enable the Government to get through with this question. We heard nothing about that question until the very last moment, when the 1707 Lord Advocate interposed. I am sure hon. Members will agree with me that the details of this question can be better discussed in a Select Committee than in Committee of the whole House. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this question. We have now an opportunity of starting a system financially sound from the beginning and bound to be sound all through. I am sure that the proceedings before a Select Committee will be at least as short as proceedings before this House would be, and I believe the results obtained would be much more satisfactory. Personally, I am favourable to a scheme of superannuation, and I am only anxious to render the Government every assistance in my power in obtaining as good a scheme as possible.
I must point out that the Motion before the Committee refers to the allocation of £40,000 to the Superannuation Fund, and any question as to the desirability of referring the Bill to a Select Committee or a Grand Committee, except in strict connection with that, is quite irrelevant.
§ (9.23.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)
I anticipate with some degree of certainty that it may be imputed to my hon. Friends that they are spinning out the Debate for some ulterior reason, but I can assure the Government that they had no such idea. If they had such an idea it would be a very foolish one, because the next subsection provides ample opportunity for Debate. The question before the Committee is a serious one, and my hon. Friends have treated it with considerable forbearance. My hon. Friend would have been justified in moving to report Progress, because we have, until this afternoon, received no information as to the mode in which the money is to be expended, and the Bill introduced this evening reached the hands of hon. Members too late to be studied before discussing the sub-section before the Committee. The question of police superannuation is entirely new in Scotland. We have a blank sheet of paper on which to write, and it is, therefore, all the more necessary that Scottish opinion should be thoroughly informed on the subject. I am not sure 1708 that in every part of Scotland there is a burning desire to have any system of superannuation. Scotch Members, however, wish to know upon what data the Government arrive at the sum of £40,000. I will tell the Committee why I think they ask for £40,000. When, the Government made up their minds to impose the tax on spirits, they had an object to serve in England; but when they came to Scotland, they found themselves with the money in hand, and had to look about for some object to which they might apply it. That is the cart before the horse with a vengeance. My idea of finance is that you should, first of all, find the object for which you wish to expend the money, and then lay on the taxes to meet the expenditure. If my supposition is not correct, let us have from the President of the Local Government Board some little information as to the data on which this sum is based. The figures quoted to-night on this side of the House would seem to imply that this is a grossly exaggerated sum. I have already said that I do not look with much favour on the policy of Police Superannuation. That is my personal, academic, and pious opinion. But if this thing is to be done at all, we, at least, do not want to vote a larger sum of money than is necessary. We further want to know what reason there is to suppose that this money is needed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer adopted a tone on this subject which I, as a Scotchman, do not much admire. He looked rather knowingly, and he said to us, "Surely Scotch Members won't refuse this money when it is offered to them; they will take it, and then, afterwards, they will see how it is to be applied under the Police Bill." That is the old Cockney view of the Scotchman—that he is a greedy fellow, anxious to take money from whatever source he can get it. I do not accept that character of my countrymen. They are a frugal people, who do not wish to see their own money mis-spent, and who do not wish to seethe money of other people mis-spent. We are entitled to ask for more information than we have yet received. We were told the other night 'that we had no reason to complain, because this was the way in which the English Bill was dealt with—that the sum of money was voted before the Bill was introduced. If that bad example was set and protested 1709 against at the time, there was all the more reason for avoiding it on this occasion. Then we were told that the Bill was a very simple matter, because it followed the English precedent. If that were so, it was the more easy to produce the Scotch Bill earlier. On every ground we have reason to complain that we have received so little accurate information on the subject from Her Majesty's Government. So far from making any unreasonable demand upon the Government, the Scotch Members have been most forbearing in not interposing a Motion for the Adjournment on the ground that we have not in our possession that which I feel perfectly certain—if there is a real foundation for this scheme—the Government will give us in a moment, namely, the positive data upon which this sum of £40,000 has been arrived at, and in what proportion the sum which is to superannuate the police is to be derived from its different sources.
§ (9.5.) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
I regret I was not here during the earlier part of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, but I think I can give a general answer to his question. I believe the tendency of his remarks and those of other hon. Members from Scotland is that £40,000 is too much. I would point out that actuarial calculations are the most difficult and impossible to present with accuracy; but from the information have, I believe myself that the sum of £40,000 in a few years will not represent much more than one-third of the police superannuation.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
Yes; I can only give the right hon. Gentleman general figures on the subject. And I take the Police Force of London, in which the police superannuation is less excessive and liberal than is provided for in this Bill. It was in 1862 that the extravagant and excessive scale of superannuation was brought under notice by Sir George Grey, and it was then reduced to the present scale. The present expenditure on the 15,000 members of the Metropolitan Police is £202,591 a year, and I am told by actuaries that we are likely to have that amount doubled, and that, ultimately, the charge will be more than £400,000. I agree that the analogy I have given 1710 is rather a rough one, but it is almost impossible to give a correct actuarial result. If the right hon. Gentleman will take the trouble to turn to the proceedings of the Committee in 1877, he will find that they waited for two years until Dr. Farr got out of the police books the data on which were based certain Resolutions laid before the Committee. I am sorry to say, after all the elaborate research, the greater part of Dr. Farr's conclusions were mistaken. The number of pensioners in the Metropolitan Force turned out to be double what he estimated.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Can the right hon. Gentleman give any reason why the actuarial calculations of the amount of pensions should be so much more difficult in the case of the Police Force than in the case of the Army and Navy and the Civil Service?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I will not enter upon the question of the Army and Navy. I have not considered these two Forces. I have told the right hon. Gentleman of the difficulty in the case of the Police Force. Observe that from 15 years to 25 years, if a man is disabled from duty, he is entitled to a pension. That disablement depends on a thousand and one contingencies. I daresay, if you took 300,000 policemen, you might be able to get an average which would afford a basis for probable calculations. But you cannot get anything like that number to enable you to estimate the number of pensioners. Dr. Farr calculated the number of pensioners at 14 to the 100; but the result has shown that 38, instead of 14, is the actual number taken out. We have consulted the best opinion we could get, and the Actuary (Mr. Finlaison), who was consulted also by my right hon. Friend (the Lord Advocate), informs me that the a mount of superannuation m ay be expected to go up from £202,591 to £550,000. Seeing that we are giving to Scotland with 4,000 police £40,000, the right hon. Gentleman will see that, approximately, the proportion is the same as £150,000 for the Metropolis. I really have not the information with regard to Scotland. We want to know, for instance, how many of the Scotch Police have taken service for 25 years, and would come out under the Bill at once.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have not been able to obtain that figure, and I have very grave doubts as to its accuracy. However, it really does not matter for the purpose of my argument. You have to ascertain the number who have served 15 years, and the number likely to be disabled by sickness or accident. Possibly, for the first three or four years the £40,000 will be too much, though I do not think that will be found to be the case. But should it turn out so, then Clause 22 of the Police Bill provides that part of the accumulations may be devoted to other local purposes. But I own, myself, that I do not think that £40,000 in Scotland will be too much, even if the funds are allowed to accumulate.
§ (9.45.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
The speech just made by the right hon. Gentleman is the most important speech that has yet been made during the Debates on this Bill, because it alters the whole situation of the case both as regards England and Scotland, for the right hon. Gentleman has told us, but without producing the Papers on which his calculation rests—Papers which the House ought to have if they are in existence—that which must be appalling both to County and Borough Members, and which will necessitate a re-consideration of the whole position. The entire amount now paid in pensions is £371,000, and the Home Secretary has told us we must count upon that sum being at least doubled, so that it will amount to between £700,000 and £800,000. The result will be that, instead of the counties and boroughs deriving an expected advantage from the £150,000 a year, which is to be given under the Bill, they will have to pay an enormous amount in addition to what they already contribute. I think the Government will find that the boroughs and counties of England will have a good deal to say before they sanction a system of police superannuation which will involve such a vast increase of expenditure. We have some figures—not the right hon. Gentleman's actuarial calculations, which are hidden somewhere among the archives of the Home Office—on which we can go. I allude to the Returns furnished by the Under Secretary. From these the House can form some opinion as to how the Police Fund is working, and how this proposal will affect the Scotch people. There are 1712 4,100 policemen in Scotland. Now, let me take one or two typical cases in England, where I know in one case, and I believe in the other, the Superannuation Fund is administered efficiently, liberally, and well. In Liverpool the Police Force is as nearly as possible one-third that of Scotland, namely, Liverpool has 1,346 policemen, against 4,100 in Scotland: the entire amount paid in pensions in Liverpool is £1,700 a year, upon which basis the amount required for Scotland would be £23,000 a year. Then I take the County of Staffordshire. The Police Fund there is divided among three counties, rated by three separate rates, there being a town police, a patrol police, and a rural police. Staffordshire has a large accumulated fund, which is not only in a position of perfect solvency, but out of which the men are most liberally dealt with. There are nearly 600 policemen in Staffordshire, the number being 581, and the sum paid in pensions is £3,500 a year. On that basis, the amount required for Scotland would be £24,000 a year. If you go between those two figures, namely, £24,000 and £33,000, it would seem impossible to spend anything like £50,000 a year in police pensions in Scotland.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. RITCHIE,) Tower Hamlets, St. George's
£40,000 a year.
The contribution of the Government is to be £40,000 a year; but, taking the deductions from the men's pay at 2½ per cent. there will be an extra amount of £10,000, which will make the total £50,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has indignantly denounced the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) that he should make a common fund; in which case, I believe, there would be no burden on the Scotch rates at all; but whether this be so or not, it is evident that £40,000 a year would be enormously in excess of the requirements of Scotland. Such an expenditure is unknown either in the Civil Service or in the Army and Navy, and would be an intolerable burden upon the country. This proposal very strongly confirms my determination to resist this measure.
§ (9.52.) MR. RITCHIE
The Home Secretary has pointed out that the actuarial calculations on this matter are not 1713 altogether reliable, while some of them have been shown to be incorrect. As I understand, however, there seems to be a general opinion in the House that the matter requires further investigation. [An hon. MEMBER: A Select Committee.] There can be no doubt, after the various statements that have been made, that there is considerable room for difference of opinion on the question, and I understand that the desire for a Select Committee is not accompanied by any wish to delay the application of the principle of superannuation or to throw any difficulty in the way of settling the question. Under those circumstances, the Government, anxious to meet the wishes of the House that the subject shall be fully investigated, and believing that this course will; be generally approved, will consent to the suggestion as to the appointment of a Committee.
§ (9.54.) MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
If this wore a purely Scotch quarrel I should not have entered into it; but as several English Members have taken part in the Debate, perhaps I, as representing a constituency near the Scottish border, may be allowed to offer a few remarks. Although what I am about to say may be regarded as a voice crying in the wilderness, I cannot but think that the whole system under which the Government propose to superannuate the police is utterly wrong. I cannot see why the police should be treated better in Scotland than the soldiers who fight for their country, and I entirely object to an arrangement under which the servants of one Department of the State are allowed the benefit of this superannuation process. I warn the Government to look to this matter. The Socialistic claim is that all men should be pensioned by the State at a certain age, and this will receive strong support from this attempt to superannuate the Scotch Police. At the present moment we are paying a sum amounting altogether to between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000 for what I may call dead men; that is, men who are dead so far as the service of the State is concerned; and now it is proposed that this system shall be extended to the police throughout the country. I am astonished to find that the President of the Local Government Board should, of all men, be the Minister to propose a measure like this, because two years ago, when he brought forward his Local 1714 Government Bill, many on those Benches applauded his statement that the ancient rotten system of subvention by the Central Authority to the Local Authority was to be done away with; that the ancient system of centralisation was to be put an end to; and that in future not only the old Local Authorities, but the new Authorities, who are his own children, should have to deal only with their own burdens.
I must point out to the hon. Member that he is travelling somewhat wide of the question.
§ MR. STOREY
I am only arguing that it is wrong to spend this £40,000 for police superannuation in Scotland, and was illustrating my argument by the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is re-introducing the very system he professed to destroy two years ago. Who is to arrange it? Are the Municipalities in Scotland to do as they please; are the County Authorities to make what arrangement they choose? Not so. The Home Secretary comes here and resuscitates that old-fashioned and condemned method of using the central power to control the local power. The Government propose the form in which the Local Authority should give this superannuation, but they go a step further in the very bad system. Under the old system we in Berwickshire could get rid of the control of the right hon. Gentleman at any time by refusing the half grant. But what is the case now? The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board gives us the money, and, at the same time, introduces a Bill which will become an Act, which will be binding on all the Local Authorities in Scotland. Therefore, in this system of police superannuation, the right hon. Gentleman is re-introducing in a baser form the very vice of control by the Central Authority which he put an end to two years ago. I, in common with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, have been concerned to hear what cost all this is to involve the Municipalities in. In our own borough the County Council will, I believe, reject the Bill; but the police have already done so, and they have done so because they decline utterly to have this cast-iron rule laid down for them by the Central Authority in London—to have it arranged 1715 by a Government which does not understand at all the circumstances of the various localities. I dare say the Home Secretary is quite right. He says he has done his best to understand the Police Superannuation Bill for London, but, to judge from his attitude to-night, I do not think he understands it. But even if he did understand the necessities of London, that would not justify the House in believing that he understands very much about the northern counties. Local circumstances differ, and local needs differ, and for the House of Commons to permit the Government to lay down a cast-iron rule without regard to special circumstances seems not only to return to an evil state of things, but is also a very bad thing in itself. Therefore, I shall oppose the proposal. I do not believe the Committee will be doing wisely in face of the important social questions that are being raised, and will be raised, throughout this and other countries, to carry this system of superannuation, not merely to military persons and servants serving in our public offices, but still further to persons serving under our Local Authorities. The view of the people of the North, at any rate, is that you should pay a man—whether he be a Cabinet Minister, or an officer of the Army, or a Civil servant, or a policeman—as all workmen are paid: give him good wages, so as to enable him to provide for old ago by contributing to some Benefit Society. That I claim to be the manly plan, and I object to the principle by which we apply this system of superannuation to one set of public servants after another. I object to it unless the Government will go the whole length of their principles, like the Emperor of Germany, and bring in a Bill to provide for the superannuation of all people in every rank and grade of society when they are no longer able to support themselves. I warn the Government that, even after the Bill has passed the ordeal of a Select Committee, there will still remain men in the House compelled to resist the measure because it restores the evil principle of centralisation, and because it applies a principle to policemen which ought not to be so applied unless the Government are prepared to extend its operations very much further.
§ *(10.8.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.) rose to continue the discussion.1716
§ (10.8.) Mr. MARK STEWART rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but the CHAIRMAN withheld his assent, and declined then to put that question.
§ (10.9.) MR. ESSLEMONT
I think the prohibitory Motion which the hon. Member (Mr. Mark Stewart) has put, will not do much to further the interests of police superannuation in Scotland. As a Scotch Member who has believed for many years that a primâ facie case has been made out for superannuation, I think the proposal of the President of the Local Government Board, to refer the Police Superannuation (Scotland) Bill to a Select Committee, is, in many respects, satisfactory. We have only late this afternoon received the Bill, which contains a great many intricate clauses and startling proposals, and it is but reasonable that time should be given to fully consider the nature of these proposals. I can assure the Government that the proposal that a policeman earning 24s. a week should, at the age of 46, receive for the remainder of his life 16s. a week, is one which it will be very difficult to induce men who at no period of their lives can earn more than 16s. a week to agree to. Although I think there is a strong case made out on behalf of those who have been hurt in the execution of their duties as policemen, and the families of those who may be killed while discharging their duties as policemen, I think it is most desirable that the Police Bill should not be in any way rushed through Committee, but that ample time should be given to consider the measure, both in the interest of the police and the ratepayers.
§ (10.12.) MR. HUNTER
I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment, the Government having so handsomely made the concession that I asked for at seven o'clock. I would merely point out that, if the Government had conceded the point when I raised the question, we should have been saved this three hours' discussion. The right hon. Gentleman did not appear to be aware that £40,000 is 15.7 per cent. of the whole sum spent on the police in Scotland.
§ (10.13.) SIR G. CAMPBELL
As to the alarming statement of the Home Secretary, I think it would have been better if the Government had made arrangements to reconcile the statements of its several 1717 Members. The Solicitor General for Scotland tells us that this money is more than enough, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite says it is three times as much as will be wanted. I think the Home Secretary is entering on a mad career of excessive and extravagant superannuation which will do more harm than good.
§ (10.14.) SIR G. TREVELYAN (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Am I correct in thinking that we have now done Sub section 1? ["No, no."]
§ MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)
I have no objection to the superannuation of the police, but I should like to know who asks for this scheme of superannuation for Scotland. I have frequently in this House pressed the claims of a part of Scotland in which I am particularly interested, but the Government have persistently refused to do anything for it. Yet they introduce this huge scheme for the superannuation of the police without having, so far as I am aware, having ever been asked for it.
§ (10.16.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
Let us understand where we are before we divide. I understand the Bill is to come before a Select Committee, and that before the Select Committee reports we are to decide whether we are going to spend £40,000, or £20,000, or £5,000, or perhaps nothing for this purpose. We will not allow the Amendment to be withdrawn, as we are some of us altogether opposed to the clause. This is an attempt to thrust English ideas upon Scotland. Until now we have been able to prevent that. We have no system of pensions in Scotland, not even in our Poor Law, and those of us who are opposed to such a system intend to vote against it now.
§ Question put, "That Sub-section (1) stand part of the Clause."
§ (10.20.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 237; Noes 170.—(Div. List, No. 151.)
§ (10.34.) MR. RITCHIE
Looking at the time we have now arrived at, I propose to move to report Progress, so that the Committee may see the Government Amendments on the Paper. I hope tomorrow we may commence the discussion of Sub-section 2, dealing with licences 1718 in Scotland, and that we may have some hopes of going on to a rapid conclusion of the Bill.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ (10.35.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government propose to take Wednesday?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
The Amendment of which notice has been given by the First Lord of the Treasury bears a little resemblance to an Amendment of mine moved a week ago and rejected.
That is not relevant to the Motion before the Committee. I have no doubt the Committee will allow the right hon. Gentleman to state the difference, but he must not argue the question.
MR. SHAW LEEEVRE
My Amendment proposed that this Bill should be hung up, and that the money should accumulate until Parliament had dealt with two principles, namely, the power of the Magistrates to refuse to renew licences, and the increase of the Licence Duties in respect of the improvement in the value of public houses, caused by the extinction of other houses.
The right hon. Gentleman's statement is not pertinent to the Motion to report Progress.
(10.42.) SIR W.HARCOURT (Derby)
I am very glad the right hon. Gentleman has moved to report Progress until the House has had time to examine and consider the proposals of the Government. As far as we understand them on this side of the House, they do not seem to remove the fundamental objections we entertain. The right hon. Gentleman expressed the hope that the Bill would have a rapid progress. Some weeks ago we stated the terms on which this Bill should have a rapid progress. I have only to re-state those terms. This Bill will have a rapid progress as soon as the principle of paying for annual licences is removed from it. As long as that principle remains in the Bill, whether in presento or in futoro, we shall feel it necessary to oppose it as being unsound and mischievous.
§ (10.39.) MR. R. T. REID (Dumfries, &c.)
Does the right hon. Gentleman 1719 propose to proceed with this Committee to-morrow? As the Government propose to omit some of the clauses, it may be necessary to make some of the Amendments on the paper applicable to other clauses.
§ MR. RITCHIE
No, Sir; we must adhere to the proposals we have made. It seems to me that the Amendments on the clauses to be withdrawn would hardly be applicable to the other proposals of the Bill.
§ MR. R. T. REID
I referred to the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage), providing that no alteration should be made in the existing law.
§ MR. RITCHIE
Of course the Government have assented to that, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby would be able to bring it forward.
§ (10.41.) SIR L. PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)
It might facilitate the consideration of the Amendment if the First Lord of the Treasury would tell us what the precedents are for taking an annual sum and accumulating it for this purpose.
§ (10.42.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
We want to know exactly how we stand, and I venture to make a suggestion to the Government in the interest of the dispatch of business. They have moved to report Progress on the ground that it is desired that the House should see what is proposed. I think that we should see that for ourselves to-morrow. I cannot help thinking the Government must have some other little matter up their sleeve. They ask us, against the interest of their own Bill, to assent to this Motion to report Progress. I suggest that the proper course to adopt is to re-commit the Bill. This is a wholly different measure to that we assented to on the Second Reading. Three of the most important clauses are to be struck out. In the famous words of an Irish Judge, that is enough to capsize the intellect. The House in its corporate capacity assented to the Bill on the ground that it was a Bill to compensate the publican. ["Oh, oh!"] We now understand the three compensatory clauses are to be omitted. I said "we." Of course, if you are we, I am satisfied. Not only are the three clauses to be dropped out of 1720 the Bill, but in addition some cute Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Heneage) is to be adopted. It is well we should know what is the last mind of the Cabinet on this question. Of course, if Cabinet Councils are called so frequently as at present it is rather difficult for us to know how we stand, but I suggest that we should be told what the mind of the Cabinet was on Saturday.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I am resisting the Motion to report Progress. I object to the Motion unless we get from the Government some distinct announcement as to the reason why Progress should be reported, as I understand Government intend to bring in a number of new Amendments. We have assented to the Second Reading of the Bill on one ground, and they are going to ask the Committee to pass it on another.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. and learned Gentleman asks why we have made the Motion to report Progress. We have done so in answer to an appeal, made at 5 o'clock, from the opposite Benches, that the Government should report Progress when the first sub-section was disposed of. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will find it is not in accordance with the practice of the House to re-commit a Bill under such circumstances as exist in the present case.
§ (10.48.) MR. T. M. HEALY
Five o'clock and 11 o'clock are different things. The Government are responding at 11 o'clock to what they were asked at 5 o'clock.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. and learned Gentleman is quite mistaken. We were asked to report Progress when the first sub-section was disposed of, and we have agreed to that suggestion.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The Government were asked at 5 o'clock to report Progress. [Cries of "No."] My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen appealed to the Government at 5 o'clock not to go on with the Bill at all to-day; but they insisted upon the Scotch Members considering the Bill. Now, at 11 o'clock, they consent to report Progress. I say that is not a fair way in which to treat the House. I will make another suggestion to the Government. They 1721 profess to be anxious to make progress with the Bill. I suppose that to-morrow we shall reach the Irish clauses of the Bill. If so, would it not be reasonable that the Government should accept the proposition made by the hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell), who in this matter is stronger than the licensed victualling party of the Government, that the Irish Members should be allowed to deal with this matter themselves.
§ (10.55.) SIR G. TREVELYAN
I was about to rise to move to report Progress when the right hon. Gentleman opposite did so, and on precisely the same grounds. New Amendments of great importance are to be proposed, and it will require time for hon. Gentlemen to see whether their Amendments to Clauses 5, 6, and 7, that are going to be struck out, could be attached to any of the clauses of the Bill, in order that if the Bill was forced through the House we shall not be committed to the principle of compensation without any of the safeguards which some of the Amendments on the Paper will provide.
§ (10.56.) MR. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
I quite agree it was understood that Progress was to be reported to-night when it was convenient, but I did not understand Progress was to be reported for the express purpose of beginning afresh to-morrow. I understood Progress was to be reported to give the Scotch Members time to arrive at a comprehension of the various bearings of the changes which have been made and——
§ Mr. RITCHIE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ (11.0.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 248; Noes 215.—(Div. List, No. 152.)
§ Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will, To-morrow, again resolve itself into the Committee on the Bill."—(Mr. Ritchie.)
§ (11.20.) MR. WALLACE
I beg to move that the Bill be set down for Thursday. I do so on the general ground that some little time is required to ascertain exactly how we 1722 stand in this matter in the light of the new attitude which, I think in your presence, Sir, was described by the right hon. Gentleman. I think the Government are taking far too light a view of the difficulties that surround the process, of completely apprehending and understanding, in all its bearings, the new situation in which they have placed their business in this, as well as in other matters. It is not simply a comprehension of the proposition put before us, but the surveying of it in that historical light in which all their proceedings now require to be set. There are such a variety and number of complications that invite the attention of the contemplative mind in considering the proceedings of the Government in respect to any of their measures, large or small, that the cautious understanding is at once awakened to the necessity for a proper interval for research and consideration. I do not know, Sir, that I should be in order if I endeavoured to convey to your mind an understanding of what has been done, or was attempted to be done, in Committee, but, perhaps, you will allow me to say that while in connection with a matter purely relevant to the Scottish side of the question, I was promptly closured by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Ritchie), who, if he does not take care, will rapidly realise a description once given of him by a prominent and distinguished leader of the Party to which he belongs—I was closured while yet in the incipient stage of a very short speech, intended to be an endeavour to show special reasons why Scotch Members should be considered in this matter. It has come with entire novelty upon us, and, speaking for myself, and I think I may speak for some of my Colleagues, we do not at once grasp the full significance of the proposal before us. I have a certain dim sense of the ridiculous in the situation the right hon. Gentleman has put before us to-night, necessarily dim in view of the circumstances and the appreciation of Members from the country from which I hail. I feel faintly and indefinitely convinced that there is something approximating to the farcical in the position in which we are placed towards the Scottish nation, and I and my Colleagues may require to consult our doctors before we can get a proper sense of the situation into our heads, and as 1723 many of us have important engagements to-morrow, and require a certain time to recover from the operation our not sufficiently discerning compatriot has imposed on men of his own blood, it is necessary, in the serious and very important aspects of the case—though I may say the more serious aspect naturally impresses me more profoundly—it is necessary that we should have a longer interval than the right hon. Gentleman seems disposed to allow us. I quite suppose that when the Government proposed to report Progress they thought they had kept their word to the letter, but they proposed to report Progress with the object that the House, not to speak of the Scotch contingent of the House, should have time sufficient to understand the altered situation, and adapt their necessary Amendments to the new position of affairs. I venture to say this is quite impossible if we only see the exact nature of the Government Amendment, and have time to study its effect to-morrow morning. I must, therefore, seriously propose that the Committee shall not be resumed until Thursday.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "To-morrow," and insert the word "Thursday,"—(Mr. Wallace,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'To-morrow' stand part of the Question."
§ (11.25.) MR. STOREY
In a sentence or two I must reinforce the suggestion of my hon. Friend. I do not intend to allude to the precise point raised that we shall not have time to put down our Amendments, but I venture to represent to you, Sir, as guardian of the business of the House, as well as to the Government which is supposed to direct us, that an Amendment is to be moved, of which you have no official cognisance; we have only heard it read out, we have not had it set down, and cannot measure its importance; but there is more in this matter than the mere question of putting down Amendments. The Amendment I may state in effect is this: the Government propose that the money shall be tied up in a purse and put away, not being appropriated during this Session of Parliament. Now, I venture to suggest to you, Sir, as Speaker of this House, that there is no precedent for such a proposal as the 1724 Government have now made; and so convinced am I on that point that I intend to raise the question before the Bill is taken in Committee again, and to ask you, Sir, whether, under the Standing Orders and practice of Parliament, such an Amendment is in order. The law of Parliament hitherto, and for 100 years, has been that the money granted and raised by taxation shall be appropriated during the year, either in the Bill providing the money or in future Bills passed in the same Session of Parliament, and I challenge right hon. Gentlemen, and I challenge the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as the highest Government authority in the absence of the First Lord of the Treasury, to produce a single precedent in this or any Parliament where a proposal was made and successfully carried, granting a sum of money to the Government, ostensibly for the service of the year, and then the Government came down, saying, "After all, we do not need it for the service of the year, so we will tie it up for future use." I say that would be getting money under false pretences from the people of the country, and, inasmuch as there are important questions of precedent to be raised, I submit it is unreasonable and unfair that we should be asked to discuss the matter to-morrow. It is now nearly midnight. We shall have this Amendment before us in our Parliamentary Papers, sent to us in the morning, and unless Members are far less indolent than myself, we shall have but a short morning in which to consider the Amendment as one it may be desirable to modify, as well as to search the history of Parliamentary finance, so as to be able to establish my contention, which I am sure I can establish. This goes to the root of the whole question. I submit that Parliament ought to have time allowed it to consider these matters, and I strongly support the Amendment, so that, instead of being forced unfairly—I may venture to say indecently—to take the matter tomorrow, some reasonable time should be afforded to the Opposition and its leaders to consider all the bearings of the question with full information. We are asking the Government only for what is just and reasonable. I submit, in the peculiar circumstances of the case, considering the great change which has taken place, and the important Constitutional 1725 point that may be raised, that we ought to take this question on Thursday.
§ (11.31.) MR. GOSCHEN
It is impossible for the Government to accept the suggestion. However plausible may be the suggestions which have come from the hon. Member who has just sat down, we have learned sufficient lessons to take them at their true worth. Let me remind the House of what has been the conduct of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We had assurances from the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian that we might hope to get the Committee on the proposed Standing Order without much discussion. It was shown at once, however, what command the right hon. Gentleman had over his own followers. ["Question."] It is all very well for Members opposite to allow their champions to call "Question" when we show reasons why we cannot assent. I am giving reasons why we consider the suggestion that we may get on with the business by accepting the Amendment as a mere sham. If we were to take other business to-morrow, it would be treated as the business to-night has been treated, with which we hope to make some progress. We were asked to report Progress, and when the hon. Member for Glasgow suggested what was entirely in accordance with the spirit of the agreement, he was thrown over by hon. Members below the Gangway, who endeavoured to speak one after the other. It is very astonishing how sensitive hon. Members are who attack the Government on every point. There is on the Paper the Bill dealing with the housing of the working classes. There is an hour and a half to get on with that Bill if hon. Members would give us the chance. The suggestion that we should postpone the question until Thursday would not advance business at all, for we know the manner in which hon. Members have acted. I am not dispossd to discuss the merits of the question. The merits of the question are to be argued, it seems, upon every Motion of adjournment, upon every Motion for Progress, upon every sub-section. The hon. Member who has just sat down, and the hon. Member who preceded him, say they have no time to consider their Amendments. If they devoted the time during which they have been speaking on this subject to considering their Amendments they might do something. Hon. Mem- 1726 bers know the bearing of the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. Hon. Members have had ample opportunity since the announcement of my right hon. Friend to consider what Amendments should be put down. According to all the traditions of the House the Government would be absolutely justified in proceeding with the Bill to-morrow.
(11.40.) MR. J. MORLEY
The genial and conciliatory tone in which the right hon. Gentleman has just addressed the House enables us to realise the horror with which Gentlemen behind him look forward to an Autumn Session, which might leave the right hon. Gentleman as Leader of the House. An Autumn Session, we have been told, would lead to the withdrawal of the First Lord of the Treasury. Bad as an Autumn Session might be, it would be still worse if for eight or nine weeks we were to have the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivering speeches couched in the tone of the speech he has just addressed to us. He has made-some remarks on our votes on the Closure Motion. Oar answer is very simple. I voted against the Closure because I considered the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board rose and interrupted the hon. Member for East Edinburgh was one of those performances which needed to be protested against. The right hon. Gentleman assures us that the Government have learnt their lesson. I do not think that they have even yet learnt it, if we are to judge by the idle concession that they have made with regard to the Local Taxation Bill. We have still some other lessons to teach right hon. Gentlemen on that Bench. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland made a reasonable point which the right hon. Gentleman could have shortly answered. He asked whether there was any precedent for this proposal to accumulate money for a stated object. That was a legitimate point, and ought to have been answered. If the right hon. Gentleman had answered it he would have shown some respect for his political opponents. With regard to the immediate Motion before the House, why should not the Western Australia Bill have been fixed for tomorrow, and this Bill resumed on Thursday? No reason whatever has 1727 been given for not adopting this apparently convenient course.
§ (11.45.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
We have not yet heard a reply to the appeal made to the right hon. Gentleman. I think we have a right to some answer on the part of the Government. Surely they should re-consider their position. They are not treating their opponents fairly, and I think they are placing themselves in a false position.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 241; Noes 198.)—Div. List, No. 153)
§ Main Question put.
§ MR. SEXTON
If this Motion, Sir, he adopted after 12 o'clock, will not the effect be that we will have to resume consideration in Committee on Wednesday?
§ MR. SEXTON
It is now past 12 o'clock, and the Motion says "to-morrow." I submit it is now Tuesday.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, That this House will, Tomorrow, again resolve into the Committee.