§ (9.0.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I desire, Mr. Speaker, to call attention to the services rendered by the late Sir W. Palliser to the country and to the 1166 economies and increased efficiency which have resulted to the nation from the use of his inventions. There is some difficulty in introducing questions of this kind, but after all, the House of Commons is a most satisfactory tribunal to deal with them. If one brings a case like this before a Court of Law he will be asked for documentary proof, and if you bring it before the Government officials they will only be too glad not to give justice. If you bring it before Ministers it is better, but they are afraid of exceeding their powers. But the House of Commons is a fair tribunal. I admit that the representatives of Sir W. Palliser have no legal claim, but I think they have a strong moral claim upon the consideration of the country. Although by his inventions Sir W. Palliser has already saved the country something like £6,500,000, his family are now destitute. The history of Sir W. Palliser's inventions commenced with the first introduction of the armour plating of ships. The first incident in that naval revolution was when a French gunboat received the fire of the batteries at Sebastopol unscathed. Peace was signed almost immediately afterwards, but the French had learnt a lesson which resulted in the building of La Gloire. The exploits of the Merrimac and the Monitor, ironclads, in the American Civil War, also attracted attention to this subject. About this time the Warrior was built, and the Times published an article in which the Warrior was referred to as the one efficient vessel in our Fleet. Her armour could only be penetrated by steel shot, which would do little execution when they got inside. Sir W. Palliser invented a method of cooling cast-iron shot, which enabled him to send those projectiles through a target made in imitation of the side of the Warrior. This was quite a revolution, and his particular claim upon the country in respect of that invention is the saving in money which it effected. Steel shot cost about £100 a ton, while cast-iron shot cost only about £14 10s. The shot and shell of Sir W. Palliser were a great benefit to the country, as the first Naval Power of the world—England—could not afford to have an impenetrable hostile iron-clad going about; and this invention saved her from that calamity. I consider that in respect of that invention alone Sir W. Palliser 1167 has already saved the country £5,500,000. But his claims are not based on that alone. At that time the country was changing from cast-iron guns to wrought-iron guns on the Armstrong principle. There was an immense stock of guns in the country which seemed to be absolutely useless. Sir W. Palliser invented a plan of converting these guns by putting a wrought-iron tube into them. This tube was rifled, and a 32-pounder smooth bore gun was then converted into a rifled 64-pounder, which was altogether much more formidable weapon. That was done to 1,982 guns. These weapons are well-known to the Volunteers, and I believed that more firing goes on from Palliser guns in this country at the present time than from any other. The Palliser gun up to the present day has always proved to be a good and efficient gun, and is now very largely used, and a great economy has thus resulted to the nation. Another of Sir W. Palliser's inventions was a screw shank. The First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord G. Hamilton), in answer to a question I put to him in this House, stated that the invention was not valuable without some improvement. I hold a letter in my hand signed by Mr. Charles Abel, of the eminent firm of engineers, and stating that he considers the bolts now used in the Navy are strictly in accordance with Sir W. Palliser's patent, that some change has been made in them, but that they are essentially his invention. Another point is with regard to the Palliser bolt. We all know that the armour question is one of the very greatest importance at the present moment. Nearly every fighting ship must have armour of some kind; it may be differently applied in different ships; in Some cases the armour covers the vitals of the ship, while in other oases there is a belt, but it is used in practically every fighting ship. But what is the use of armour if it falls off? The Americans formerly did not attempt to pierce armour-plates, but their idea was to deliver a heavy blow at a low velocity, and so rack the armour-plates that they would be disturbed and possibly break up. Now, what prevents armour-plates from falling off is the use of a great number of bolts. Sir W. Palliser made a remarkably simple invention with regard to these bolts. Every bolt is 1168 screwed more or less into the armour, and Sir W. Palliser's invention was in connection with the screw, thereby increasing the strength of the bolt, which formerly had been weakened by the screw being cut into it. The bolts which are now used to hold on the armour-plates of ships are practically the bolts invented by Sir W. Palliser, though some changes may have been made in the arrangement of armour. I believe that instead of being driven the whole way through the bolts are only driven half-way, but that does not mean that they are not the same bolts. The Government have in no way whatever paid for the bolt. They contend that they have paid something for the shot and shell, and my contention is that the sum is inadequate. They acknowledge that they have taken possession of the bolt, and it is hardly contended that they have paid anything for the gun. Sir W. Palliser was not a very business-like man, and, being extraordinarily patriotic, he did not attempt to launch his inventions in foreign countries. With regard to the financial part of the question, I have some memoranda which were prepared by Sir W. Palliser himself. He states the price of steel shot at £100 a ton. Three years ago the Secretary of State for War said the price of forged steel shot was £150 a ton. One of the managers of the manufactory where the shells are made, in his evidence before the Committee, gave the price of cast steel shells at from £58 to £75 a ton. On the whole, I do not think I shall be guilty of any exaggeration at putting the price of forged shells at £100 a ton. The price of Sir W. Palliser's is about £15 a ton. The figures given before Lord Morley's Committee were £16 a ton for small shell and about £11 for large shell. Making as careful an estimate as I can of the amount of Palliser shot manufactured, the invention must have saved the country an expenditure of £5,600,000, and I do not think that it is possible to vary that calculation by more than a few hundreds. I do not contend that the Palliser shot and shell are equal to forged steel, but there is no proof that the cast steel shell is better than the Palliser shell. I know we are making Palliser shells quite equal to the partially forged steel shells. All steel shells are, of 1169 course, partially-forged; there is that distinction between cast-iron and cast steel. But, allowing that the Palliser shells are not quite so good as forged steel shells, there are second-class places in first-class fortifications, and there are second-class fortifications for which the Palliser shells are quite good enough. In breech-loading guns the saving effected by Sir W. Palliser's invention has not been so large, according to War Office Returns. Sir W. Palliser only converted the smaller guns; but it is no exaggeration to say that his work saved an expenditure of £500,000. As to the bolts, there is no question that Sir W. Palliser received nothing for this invention, and there is no question but they have been largely used. This much we gather from actual knowledge, and from questions asked and answered in the House. Ministers have, to a certain extent, accepted these claims; but they always say that the House of Commons would not pass a Vote of this kind; but it is my belief that the House of Commons will be quite ready to do justice in a matter of this kind if only the Government will vouch for the reasonableness of the claim. On good authority I understand that Sir W. Palliser spent several thousands on his own experiments. It has been represented to me that his losses on this account may be put in the two items of £8,259 and £369. Of the latter amount I know nothing; but some 20yearsago I happened to meet Sir W. Palliser coming from Woolwich, and in conversation, in answer to my question, he said he had spent £8,259. But, of course, the figures are capable of proof, and there has been correspondence on the subject. I asked the head of the gun factory at Woolwich as to the truth of the statement, and he admitted it, the only excuse he could make being that Sir W. Palliser had pushed his experiments too far. Well, of course an inventor must make blunders; it is in the nature of things; there would be an end of invention if all an inventor's plans could be mathematically demonstrated. He received some £10,000 or £12,000, and I do not hesitate to say that not only was the amount inadequate to compensate him for his labours or reward him for his inventions, but he suffered a pecuniary loss. Sir W. Palliser gave up his whole life to these experi- 1170 ments; to these he sacrificed his prospects in a military career. He made a little money through Sir W. Armstrong, who adopted some of his inventions and made use of them in trade with China and South American States. Had Sir W, Palliser gone abroad and pushed his inventions, he might have made his fortune, but he did not do so. Perhaps, in not so doing, he showed he was not a business man; but it was repugnant to his feelings, and though he was wrong, from his own financial point of view, his patriotism has been a great gain to this country, for the Palliser shot and shell have been confined to England. I think the fact that he did not push his inventions abroad ought to strongly support the claim now made on behalf of his family. I am not going to hold up Sir W. Palliser as an all-round paragon; I allow he was not a business man; but he had a great inventive genius, and certainly in his case it was connected with plenty of painstaking. The little money he made he invested in house property, but his speculation turned out a failure shortly before his death, and he whose inventions have been the cause of saving £5,500,000 to his country left absolutely nothing for his family. I want to be very clear and distinct. I have a letter here; it is not a letter I would like to read to the House, but I will place it at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It is written by the brother on behalf of the rest of the family, in reference to the resources of the family. I know so late as last night, a gentleman of considerable position in this House, accepted the statement that the son of Sir W. Palliser inherited a considerable sum; but I say it can be shown that he has inherited nothing but his father's name and a share in the legacy which his father has left the country. The combination of business faculties with inventive genius, such as we can associate with the names of Armstrong, Whitworth, and Krupp, is rare. Sir W. Palliser was a great inventor only. I move my Resolution, and support it on these grounds. I say here is the case of a man who devoted himself to developing the defensive resources of the country, and undoubtedly added immensely to the strength of our Fleet and our coast defences. His inventions have stood the test of 25 years, 1171 You allotted him a sum of £12,000, and it was inadequate for the services rendered. We still profit by his services, and his family are nearly destitute. I know that a compassionate allowance is made, and I have not said a word against Ministers, who I know are bound by precedent. But the House of Commons is not fettered, it is capable of generous instincts. Unofficially I understand that it is proposed to continue the allowance of £300 a year to the family after the death of Lady Palliser, but that is nothing like sufficient, and my Resolution proposes that the country should make provision for the daughters. There is a son, who I hope inherits part of his father's genius, and who will fight his own way. There is something near a precedent, though I say we are entitled to set a precedent, and I do not think we shall regret setting up an inducement if it results in men bringing about savings of £5,500,000 in national expenditure. But, for a precedent, I may remind the House that 10 years ago Sir James Anstruther succeeded in inducing the House of Commons to acknowledge the inadequacy of the compensation to Lord Cochrane, and to assent to the payment of a salary due 50 years ago. I now leave the case in the hands of the House to say if they are content that the country should continue to benefit by the father's services and leave the family destitute.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "This House recommends that some provision should be made for the daughters of Sir William Palliser,"—[Colonel Nolan,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed be left out stand part of the Question."
§ (9.50.) COLONEL BLUNDELL (Lancashire, S.W., Ince)
In rising to second the Motion I may say that I had a long personal acquaintance with Sir William Palliser from the time he joined the Service in 1855. I was with him when he carried out his first experiment with a gun. A general officer and staff were on the ground to witness the experiment, but at the last moment the gun capsized, and, fortunately or unfortunately, the general officer was not able to stay 1172 until the gun was righted. When the gun was actually fired it burst. Sir W. Palliser came to his knowledge of the subjects he had to do with by hard work and the exercise of great intelligence. I know that he devoted his whole life to his work, and was perfectly absorbed in his inventions. The invention of "chilled" shot effected an enormous, economy in the national expenditure. It is often said in such cases as these that if one man had not made the invention another man would; but to this I reply by anticipation nothing is more simple than the invention of yesterday, nothing more difficult than the invention of tomorrow. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Galway has explained the financial value of Sir W. Palliser's inventions in guns and projectiles. The invention in respect to guns had a special value in point of time—it came when we did not know what to do and were waiting for something better. I know the great attention Sir W. Palliser gave to the subject. I happened to meet him once as he was returning from the Staff College, where he had been consulting the mathematical professor in reference to the internal lining for guns which, substituted for the external coating—which was the system at the time—has been of great advantage to the nation. Sir W. Palliser's inventions have stood the test of long experience, but they were not rewarded. In a letter dated January 27, 1869, Sir W. Palliser said—Nothing but absolute necessity would induce me to accept so small a reward, founded, as I believe it to be, on a misapprehension of the facts.So far as I have been able to gather, Sir W. Palliser never received anything for his invention of armour bolts. Financial speculations in which he engaged, with the object, I believe, of reviving an ancient baronetcy in his family, turned out unsuccessful. He was deriving considerable sums from royalties on raw material supplied to Foreign Governments by Sir William Armstrong, but the Government opposed the renewal of his patents, and this affected him very seriously, though I may say it in no way affected the State, and did not come within those considerations which induce the objections to prolongations of patents generally. It, however, had a serious 1173 effect upon Sir W. Palliser's income. The net amount he received from the Government was £10,378; against that total of £10,378 an amount of £13,622 was expended for experiments, and this is established by the vouchers in existence and admitted by the Government in 1869. The inventions of Sir W. Palliser have stood the test of time, they have effected great economies, or they have prevented increased expenditure: they are still being used, and no other military inventions have effected anything approaching the economies these inventions have secured. The whole country gains large sums annually through these inventions; but the family of the inventor is absolutely unprovided for, expect as regards the compassionate allowance from Her Majesty, made on the recommendation of the First Lord. But the life of Lady Palliser is, I am sorry to say, precarious, and with her loss the family will be left absolutely unprovided for. Contrast the amount of reward received by Sir W. Palliser for the inventions of a lifetime with the large sum paid for the invention of a "range Under," which depends on the clearness of the atmosphere. It will be a disgrace if we allow the country to profit largely through the genius of this officer and do not do something to provide for his daughters.
§ (10.1.) SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)
I rise to support this Motion, not because it is an ordinary case in which an inventor has rendered service to his country, but because it is a very exceptional and remarkable case. I do not think that the value of Sir William Palliser's inventions can be properly or fully estimated by reference to the public savings that he has effected; and if we went simply on that principle the House might some day be asked to vote a good deal of money for my family for inventions for which I have received no consideration. But what should be borne in mind is that every one of these inventions was not the mere accidental expedient of the moment, but the result of a highly-cultivated and mathematically-trained mind and a sound scientific judgment being brought to bear upon the requirements of the nation, and the application of these exceptional gifts supplied a great public want at a critical time, when the want was most felt. That is true of 1174 every one of Sir William Palliser's inventions. I remember very well with what anxiety every one associated with the Army and Navy viewed the change in the nature of ordnance and saw cast-iron ordnance brought into disrepute. It is a common thing to value highly only that which is new; but I think that that is a great talent which devises means for turning stores of existing material, which threaten to become obsolete, into instruments fit for the necessities of the time; and this Sir William Palliser did in utilising the condemned cast-iron ordnance of the country. This invention could not have been produced by any one of the uninstructed or untrained men who were eager to perform services in respect of that ordnance; it could only have been produced by a man with special knowledge and ability for dealing with the problem. Then there is the interesting invention in connection with projectiles. Owing to the long-continued contest between ordnance and armour, there has been no period within the last 25 years when the country could afford to neglect any improvement, either in guns or armour. For my part, I have always attached equal value to Sir William Palliser's inventions, whether they related to guns or projectiles, to matters having reference to the purposes of offence, or to those having reference to defensive armaments. I hardly think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Resolution has done justice to the third and greatest invention of Sir William Palliser, namely, that of the armour bolts. At the time that invention was produced we were almost in a state of panic with regard to the means of keeping the armour in an efficient condition under an attack of hostile ordnance. Then it was that Sir William Palliser came to our relief with an invention which provided a security against the armour-plates positively falling off the sides of a ship under the stress of action. It is only fair to say that there was a very high money value in this invention, and it came particularly under my notice. There were at the time of its completion many Admiralty officials and powerful Committees, composed of eminent men, dealing with the armour-plate question. Great activity was shown, but none suggested the invention, which it was left 1175 to Sir William Palliser to bring forward as the result of years of scientific investigation and the most elaborate mathematical calculation. When the invention came to be tried it was found to be of great value; and, without wishing to reproach anybody, I wish to say I entirely sympathise with the moderate language used by my hon. and gallant Friend as to the action of the Government. I must say that, for a man not employed by the Government for the purpose of producing such an invention with regard to the armour-plates, for it to be adopted by the country at once, and continually up to the present time, and for neither the inventor nor his relatives to receive the slightest public advantage from the invention, is a state of things which the House would not willingly agree to. I do not think I should have said anything about this case if it had been one of any ordinary inventor. It is often true the invention of yesterday is easy, while that of tomorrow is difficult. But there is another consideration which must be taken into account ordinarily in dealing with the claims of inventors, and that is that, to a very large extent, inventions are in the air, that they are produced by several persons at about the same time, and that it often happens that the inventor who sets "up enormous claims only happens to be the man who thought of it yesterday, while 50 thought of it today. Perhaps the House would hardly be prepared to go as far as I should in that respect. But it has been my lot to witness the production of an invention in several different quarters at almost identically the same time. But this is not a case of that kind. This is not a case that can be depreciated, because everyone of Sir William Palliser's inventions was the result of the application of his talent and labours to the needs of the time, and not the result of accident. For these reasons, I think the House might favourably consider the very moderate proposal laid before it without setting up any bad precedent for the future.
(10.15.) ADMIRAL MAYNE (Pembroke and Haverfordwest)
I wish to say a few words as a naval officer. The benefit of Sir William Palliser's inventions has, undoubtedly, been far greater to the Navy than to the Army. No one 1176 who knows anything of shipbuilding can deny what has just fallen from the hon. Member for Cardiff with regard to the invention of armour bolts. That invention has rendered it possible that the ironclads which are now being built could be undertaken; without the invention no one can say that we could have gone on building these vessels. As to the Palliser shot and gun, which are so largely used, only to-day a Naval gunnery officer of ! great experience told me that he considered the country must have saved millions by that invention, and that the Palliser shot and gun were still the most economical as well as among the most effective weapons in use. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway occupied half his speech in trying to show that Sir William Palliser had made ho considerable sum of money by his inventions. But I think the House has a right to take it for granted that Sir W. Palliser did not make any money out of his inventions, from the simple fact that the Government have given his widow £300 a year. I presume that before granting that allowance they satisfied themselves that Sir William had not died a rich man, and had not been able to make adequate provision for his family. What is it the House is now asked to do? The custodians of the Public Purse are asked to do what, I feel sure, the House and the whole country always wish them to do, namely, to reward those who have done great and signal service to their country. I feel equally sure that' the British taxpayer would be the last person in the world to wish the reproach to be truthfully used of this country, that she is in the habit of forgetting those who, by the use of-their ability, their bravery, their time, and their talents, have conferred upon her benefits by which millions are saved, and the greatest possible advantage gained to the nation.
§ (10.19.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I should like to say a word or two in support of this Motion, and to explain the reasons why I intend to support it, because I am not anxious on ordinary Occasions to vote money byway of pensions, or in any way to place further burdens on the taxpayers of this country. I think this is a case particularly deserving the attention and favour of the House. I do not propose 1177 to deal with it from a technical point of view, or to approach the merely personal aspects of the question; but I shall take my stand on the broad and general principle that it has been too much the habit of the Government in this country to neglect and, in some cases, to treat with extrem unfairness those who make these great I. entions. I need not stay now to call attention to any particular case, but I hope we may be said to be turning over a new leaf in this respect. No doubt a Session or two ago a large sum—£100,000—was voted to the in ventor of some new engine of war—I think it was the case of the Brennan torpedo—but I believe that was an exceptional case. In the course of my reading I have constantly come across cases in which men who have given this country the benefit of great inventions have received no adequate payment for the services rendered. I am not bringing this charge against any Government in particular; it has, unfortunately, been a characteristic of English Governments that they have been stingy in this respect. I hope we shall put an end to that state of things, because the effect is to discourage inventors and compel them to take service under Foreign Governments. That, surely, is not the best policy to pursue. It is neither the most economical, the wisest, or the most patriotic. Now, we know that Sir William Palliser was so patriotic as not to take his great inventions to foreign countries; he gave this country the benefit of all of them. I, therefore, consider that the House is bound to recognise the services of Sir W. Palliser, and to see that his family are not left in the condition the House is now led to believe they are in. We know that the ancient Greeks had a special system of providing for those who rendered great services to their country. But we, unfortunately, do nothing of the kind, and now we hear of men in humble life who wear the Victoria Cross, and men who are survivors of the Balaclava Charge, spending their last days on earth in a workhouse. That surely is not the way to treat those who have bravely and nobly served the country. Before I sit down I should like to fortify the position I have taken up by pointing out that in the past the Government have made 1178 special provision for the families of men who have rendered notable service to the country. In 1854 the three Misses Tucker were granted a pension in consideration of their late father's services as Surveyor to the Navy for 18 years; two years later the three daughters of Mr. Bayly, of the War Office, were awarded a pension in consideration of their father's long and meritorious services; grants have also since been made to Miss Ford in 1861; to Miss Lizzie Vincent; to the daughters of Sir John Burgoyne (who occupied the position of Constable of the Tower); and to General Chesney for his exploration in the Euphrates Valley. We have pensions granted to ladies, the living descendants of men of long ago. It can hardly be suggested that the daughters of Sir William Palliser are not entitled to consideration at our hands. A pension is granted to Prince Lucien Buonaparte for his literary services, but those services were done to the world, not to Englishmen. I believe in Cornwall he put up a memorial to Peggy somebody or other, the last woman who spoke in the Cornish dialect. I am not aware that his explorations in the field of philology have given him any real claim upon the English Civil List, but rather on his own people. Then I find a notable pension to Mr. K. Thompson for his services to the Royal Family, but it seems to mo that personal services might well entitle him to a pension out of the Privy Purse, and not the Civil List. But if a man is entitled to a pension on such grounds, then aà fortiori, Sir William Palliser is entitled to consideration at our hands. I can only hope we shall hear no discordant note from those Benches opposite, though I do not think we need fear it, because there is so much support from both sides of the House, and the onus and burden of the responsibility of granting a pension will rest, not upon a part, but the whole House.
§ (10.33.) MR. JENNINGS (Stockport)
Sir, I thought this case of Sir William Pallisser was a very hard one, and that it was, in point of fact, the case of an officer who had rendered distinguished services to his country, and whose services had not been recognised: But I must confess, since I have listened'to the discussion, that opinion has been 1179 very considerably shaken. The hon. Member (Mr. Conybeare) has gone extensively into the Civil List with a view to find cases? which would show that the services of Sir William Palliser had been overlooked. I shall not go into the cases which he quoted, but he may rest assured that they all come strictly within the Act under which Civil Service Pensions are granted. In that Act services to the Sovereign are distinctly mentioned. The hon. Member seems not to be aware that on this very Civil List there are two pensions to the family of Sir William Palliser ["How much?"] £300 a year—as large a pension as there is on the Civil List, with three or four exceptions. There are pensions on the Civil List which I am not going to defend. I think the distribution of the Civil List has often been open to grave and grievous criticism—in fact, I would go so far as to say that it is not properly distributed. But under the present Government there has not been the misapplication of a single shilling on the Civil List, on which the family of Sir W. Palliser are fairly represented. There appear two pensions granted to the family of Sir W. Palliser, amounting together to £300. Very few pensions on the Civil List are for larger sums. Then Sir W. Palliser has received himself £24,000 from the Government, and a sum of £20,000 was paid to him by Sir W. Armstrong for his inventions. These are not mean sums. If the descendants of the inventor of the spinning jenny had been brought into the Lobby to appeal to hon. Members' sympathies, would they have been given anything? Has the inventor of the spinning jenny, or of any other wonderful invention benefiting commerce, ever received a single shilling from the country? No, those inventors have been left to languish in poverty and neglect. Their names will not be found in the Civil List. Had the Government been niggardly in its recognition of Sir W. Palliser's services, something might have been said for this additional demand, but it has not been niggardly. £24,000 is a large sum to give for the improvements which Sir W. Palliser introduced. We are asked to provide some indefinite sum out of some unnamed fund for the benefit of a family that is undoubtedly deserving of sympathy and respect, 1180 but not more so than many another family now in the direst depths of poverty and misery. Out of what fund does the hon. and gallant Member propose that this money should come? We have all heard lately distressing stories about the gallant men who fought at Balaclava, and the Secretary of State for War has stated that he has no fund at his disposal for their relief. It is evident that if once the State were to relieve these gallant fellows the matter could not end there, for how are we to draw a line between the men who fought, at Balaclava and those who fought and bled at Lucknow and Delhi and throughout the Indian Mutiny? But if the Secretary of State for War has not the means of relieving the grevious necessities of these heroic men, how can it be expected that he should provide a large sum of money for the family of Sir W. Palliser? The hon. and gallant Member has calculated the debt which, he said, the country owes to the family by the saving on the shot and shell introduced by Sir W. Palliser. But when is the calculation to end? I presume that the saving will go on, and if the application be granted I suppose that in ten years' time another application will be made to the country on behalf of the family. The hon. Member for Cardiff has fairly enough represented that an application in progress of time would come from his family, but I hope it will be many years before that application is made. Is there to be no limit? Is this House the proper tribunal to decide upon those inventions, or to vote away public money in ignorance to a large extent of their value and of the extent to which future applications will be made? I am quite aware that, surrounded as we are by representatives of the Services, the voice of a civilian will be "as the voice of one crying in the wilderness." But I do not think the country will approve, with a pension list which already exceeds £7,000,000, of our voting another pension of considerable amount. Coming down to the House this evening I read a paragraph in an evening paper to the effect that considerable influence had been brought to bear on us here. I read that it was an unique incident. I have seen a good deal of lobbying in other countries. [Cheers from below the Gangway.]
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I must appeal to hon. Members not to continue these constant interruptions of the hon. Member.
§ MR. JENNINGS
The fact that Sir William Palliser was an Irishman may account for these constant interruptions. Hon. Gentlemen opposite really do carry their patriotism a little too far, if that is the explanation. However, there is this paragraph in the evening paper. It says that a considerable amount of Lobbying went on, and that the names of Members who promised to vote for the Motion were put down in a book. I say that is a very improper way of bringing influence to bear, and when money is to be voted away, although I hope it will not be permitted to damage the case which has been presented, still, I sincerely trust it will not help it. I am perfectly convinced that the country would not approve an extension of the pension list, or our voting blindly and recklessly another grant of money. Sir, I shall vote against the Amendment.
§ (10. 45.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down is a journalist, yet actually being a journalist, he asks this House to believe everything that appears in an evening paper. The hon. Gentleman says that there was a considerable amount of Lobbying, and it seems to me that he is anxious to pose as a species of Scipio Africanus. Now, about this Lobbying by my hon, and gallant Friend who had this Motion before the House this evening. Everybody knows that when an hon. Member has a private Motion on at 9 o'clock on a Friday night, it is not always easy to get a House. My hon. Friend went about asking his friends, apparently with some success, to be good enough to come here and to make a House, and to hear the arguments which he was prepared to advance in regard to this matter. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jennings) asks where the money is to come from. Where? If it does not come from the Civil Pension List, it will come from the Supplementary Estimates. Instead of a pension, you will give a lump sum, the amount of which my hon. and gallant Friend left to the Government. This is a mere question of pounds, shillings, and pence. I do not think we ought to import any 1182 specious sentiment into the matter. To say that because there are other families living in misery, we ought not, therefore, to give the daughters of this inventor some adequate recognition of their father's services to the country, is very poor logic. The hon. Gentleman also said that Sir William Palliser received adequate reward for his inventions, and he says that if we are to consider the amount of saving which those inventions have effected the country, we shall have some one else, ten year a hence, asking for more. There would be some point in this if we based our calculation of what should be granted on the amount saved. But we do not. We only ask that a reasonable amount should be given to the children of Sir W. Palliser. The saving may have been £3,000,000 or £12,000,000, or £1,000,000, I will not discuss the point. I will assume, for the purpose of my argument, it is £1,000,000. What has he roceived? He has received the sum of £24,000, but of that he expended in these inventions £13,171, so that he only received £10,378. Considering the disparity between the saving effected, the grant made, and the pension given, I do not think Sir W. Palliser's services have been adequately rewarded. It is said that Radicals are niggardly in the matter of public expenditure. I have always protested against this. We do not want money to be illegitimately or improperly spent. When a fair case is made out, we are as ready to take a generous view of the matter as any Member in any part of the House. We do not trouble ourselves about Lobbying. We are asked to come down and hear the case, and we are not, of course, actuated by anything but a fair and honest belief, on our part that the country has benefited very largely by these inventions. If this gentleman had sold them to some private firm, he would have been able to have left his family much more money than he did, but he preferred to deal with the Government, and the Government ought to deal fairly and generously by his family.
§ *(10. 55.) THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. BRODRICK,) Surrey, Guildford
Sir, the hon. Member who has just sat down 1183 terminated his speech with an appeal which every Member of the House must have regarded with great satisfaction. Nobody can doubt that in matters of this kind, where the power of the State is on one side, and the weakness of the individual on the other, it is extremely necessary that the House should see that justice is done. This is not a case in which we need fear the House of Commons will not do justice. Sir W. Palliser wasenormously respected, and untilalmost recently one of our Colleagues in this House, well-known to many of us, and his inventions have achieved an almost world-wide reputation. A great deal of public sympathy has been evoked in the matter, and the subjecthasbeen constantly brought before the Departments. Successive Secretaries of State, First Lords of the Admiralty, and Chancellors of the Exchequer have been involved in the decision of it. The contention of the Government is that it is necessary to shut out our personal sympathies, which are naturally on the side of a man who has done good service to his country, in order that we may do justice between him and others who may have equally well-founded claims. Looking at it from that point of view, it is very difficult to see the great injustice which it is suggested has been done to Sir W. Palliser. Hon. Members seem to forget when they speak of Sir W. Palliser as a man who has given his lifetime to inventions, and who might have dealt with foreign Governments and private firms, that he was an officer in the Army, holding Her Majesty's commission, from the beginning to the end of the inventions. Lieutenant Palliser, as he was then, joined the Army in 1855. He went on half-pay in 1864 at his own desire, and remained on half-pay up till 1871. In June, 1867, having perfected his inventions of chilled projectiles, he received £15,000. In February, 1869, he received £7,500 for his plans for converting cast-iron guns. In 1871, and before he left the Army, he received £1,500 for improvements in artillery, and those payments were treated, not merely' by the Department but by Sir W. Palliser himself, as a final settlement of his claim. In subsequent' communications, Sir W. Palliser acknowledged frankly that although he had not had the intrinsic value of bis inventions given. him, still the 1184 account was finally closed between him and the War Department. The hon. and gallant Member for Galway said that out of these sums Sir W. Palliser only received £12,000 altogether. For my own part, I am not in a position, and I do not think that any Member of the House is in a position, to establish exactly what sum Sir W. Palliser spent on his inventions. Those are always difficult questions, but one thing we do know is, that those hon. Members who have spoken and have assumed that the Government had a monopoly of the inventions, are in error. There are two fallacies underlying this. In the first place, it is not germane to the case of 1890to compare the sums which would be given now by foreign Governments with those which would have been given 23 years ago. But there is another fallacy in this, because the Government did not buy from Sir W. Palliser a monopoly. He received from Sir W. Armstrong alone over £20,000 during the same period, and, therefore, even taking the computation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman who brought forward this case with so much moderation, Sir W. Palliser received for his inventions in the course of four or five years between £30,000 and £40,000. It has been urged that this is not a large sum as compared with what has been received by some inventors. I am not going to trouble the House with a comparison which would probably be inaccurate, and would certainly be unconvincing, but I should like to say that it is an error to sup pose that the War Office are responsible for the check which occurred to Sir W. Palliser's profits, when the question of the patents being renewed was brought before the Privy Council. The War Office made no objection to the prolongation of the patents in 1876, but stipulated that, as they had paid £15,000 for their share in that particular invention, the Government rights should be reserved, and that they should not be forced to pay a royalty. The Privy Council considered the case in all its bearings, and came to the conclusion that the profits made by Sir W. Palliser, amounting, as they knew, to some £20,000 from private sources alone, represented a fair consideration for the patent, and they refused the application altogether But I put it most strongly to the House that we—the present War 1185 Office—are not responsible for that decision. The Government were anxious to protect themselves, of course, but would have welcomed any concession made to Sir W. Palliser. The hon. and gallant Member also called attention to the treatment of Sir W. Palliser by the Admiralty with reference to the bolts for armour plates. I will leave it to the First Lord of the Admiralty to explain to the House the exact difference in these armour bolts, which prevents the patent being as valuable now as it was in the first instance, but I should like to refer the House to the fact that in 1874 Sir W. Pallissr wrote to the Admiralty and asked for an acknowledgment of his services with respect to these armour bolts, his method of testing material by tension, and chilled projectiles. In his letter he said—I beg respectfully to state that, should ray request be granted. Ishould not raise any claim of a pecuniary nature for the use of my patent bolts nor on any other account.I maintain that these words should be taken by the House, as they were taken by the Government, to be a formal renunciation on the part of Sir W. Palliser to any further royalties, subject to the condition that the Government should acknowledge the benefit of his invention, which was patented, and which he was at liberty to offer to any Foreign Power. Now, I am not here to contend that the sums paid to Sir W. Palliser are to be taken as a full equivalent of the whole gain which the Government may have obtained; but I do contend that the Government made their bargain at the time, and that that bargain was accepted by Sir W. Palliser for his services as an inventor alone.
MR. MAC WEILL (Donegal, S.)
I would ask if there is not a letter of Sir W. Palliser's extant in which he says—[Cries of "Order:!"].
§ *MR. BRODRICK
The hon. Member will have an opportunity of correcting me later on if I say anything which does not accord with his view of the facts. But I would put it to the House that the Government have not been niggardly in endeavouring to show their recognition of Sir W. Palliser's services to the Em- 1186 pire. Hon. Members will not expect me to put any pecuniary value upon the honours which were conferred upon Sir W. Palliser; but we all know that he received the Cross of the Bath, and in 1872 was raised to the honour of knighthood. Those honours will be admitted by every one to be a token of the value of his inventions and a recognition of his public services. Hon. Members have somewhat disregarded what has been done since the death of Sir W. Palliser. When the hon. Member for Stockport spoke there was a laugh among hon. Members opposite at the mention of the sum of £300 a year having been granted to Lady Palliser and her children. We must all regret that after considerable sums passed through the hands of Sir W. Palliser he was not in a position to make provision for his family. I believe that Sir William Palliser invested a considerable amount of money in freehold securities, which, as he died intestate, passed to his only son.
§ *MR. BRODRICK
At all events, whatever its value, the freehold property of Sir W. Palliser descended to his eldest son, to the exclusion of the widow and her daughters. I should like the House to consider the relative value of the pensions which it is in the power of the Government to give. No doubt £300 may seem to many to be a low sum. In the case of the £250 pension awarded to Prince Lucien Bounaparte there were exceptional circumstances, which were explained to the apparent satisfaction of the House by the leader of the Opposition. A pension of £300 is higher than that which can be awarded to the widow of any General Officer, whatever his distinction, even if he happens to have fallen on the field of battle and in the service of his country. No higher pension could be given to the widow of, say, Lord Napier of Magdala, and therefore it cannot be said that the widow of Sir W. Palliser suffers by comparison with other cases. Great stress has been laid on the sums said to have been saved by Sir W. Palliser's inventions; but the estimate of over £5,500,000 is based upon an assumption of the present cost of steel projectiles, which cannot be admitted. It must also 1187 be said, on the other hand, that if we had not had the benefit of Sir W. Palliser's inventions, we should have saved some of the money that has been expended in availing ourselves of them, and which in the absence of such inventions we should not have been called upon to spend. ["Oh, oh !"and laughter,.] Well, you cannot calculate it both ways at the same time. We have benefited by steam and railways, and in estimating that benefit we do not usually take account of the alternative expenditure that would have been incurred in attempting to carry on our traffic at the same speed as by train by means of horses. You cannot take the comparison both ways. While Sir W. Palliser's inventions were of public service at the time, still we should simply have had to content ourselves with a less perfect service, not have had to spend so much money in their absence as the hon. and gallant Member estimates. I will only put one other consideration before the House. No subject has occupied the serious attention of the Government more than this, even during the present Session. It has been brought forward in the most influential manner from time to time. I will not allude to the points raised by the hon. Member for Stockport, an attempt to destroy which was made by the hon. Member for Northampton by a relation of circumstances which, I venture to say, was altogether incomplete. I venture to say that the statement of the hon. Member might with truth have been extended. Nothing that sentiment could do has been wanting. If instead of Sir W. Palliser being an officer of distinction he had been a private soldier, or if instead of being a Member of Parliament he had been a mechanic, no one would say that the case has not been sufficiently recognised by what has been done by the Government, supplemented as it has been by sums paid by private firms. I do not for a moment suggest that the hon. Member for Galway would have done less for a man of low estate; but, still, the social position of a distinguished officer and Member of Parliament does make an appeal to sympathies which might not have been touched in other cases. The 1188 Government desire to do full justice in the matter, and in the event of the death of the widow will be glad to consider the position and claims of the daughters; but they consider that everything has been done which they are justified in doing up to the present time; and they therefore hope that the Motion will not be pressed to a Division, but that it will be recognised that the Government have acted with justice and liberality, but also with that equality which they are bound to observe in dealing with claims upon the public purse.
§ (11.20.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
I have considerable sympathy with the attitude adopted by the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings), and deprecate any attempt to put undue pressure on the House. I must say, however, that my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Nolan) would have been the last man to have taken part in any such attempt. The only request made to me was that I should come down and help to make a House. I declined in any way to engage to support his Motion. I came down in order to assist in getting the matter legitimately discussed. Having heard it discussed I will venture to say a few words on it. Every Member must in the course of his experience have had brought under his attention the claims of neglected individuals. As an Irishman I shall never forget the action taken by the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord G. Hamilton) on a private petition I presented to him with regard to an unfortunate coast-guardsman who had exhausted himself in the service of the State, and whose children were in a destitute condition. The First Lord of the Admiralty, having no public funds on which he could draw to meet the case, was so good as to send me a cheque on his private account. I could not help feeling that the noble Lord was an Irishman, and that I was another. Now, Sir, I have heard the statement of my hon. and gallant Friend, and the statement made on behalf of the Government. I may mention that Sir W. Palliser was an Irish landlord, who could not in any way claim sympathy from those who speak on behalf of the tenants, being separated from us by gulfs as far as social relations are concerned. But when a case is made we cannot shut our eyes or ears to it. 1189 My hon, and gallant Friend says the inventions of Sir W. Palliser have saved the State some £5,000,000 of money. ["No."] Well, the Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Brodrick) did not dispute that. I am willing to take the saving at £1,000,000. If he saved the State that amount his family have claims upon our consideration. The claims of individuals do not, as a rule, fare well in this House, not because the House is unwilling to do justice, but for various reasons. I remember when Frank Power was killed with Gordon in Khartoum we had to keep the House sitting till 4 o'clock in the morning to get his sisters £150 a year. They had no claim on us. On the contrary, Frank Power's brother is at this moment helping the hon. Member for Hunts (Mr. Smith-Barry) to exterminate the tenants in the South of Ireland. It is very much of a lottery whether these private claims are well treated in this House or not. It may be difficult, in the first place, to get someone to understand the case, and then there is the difficulty of getting someone to take it up, and the further difficulty of obtaining a day for its discussion. The present Pension List is ridiculous. I believe that £50 a year is paid to one gentleman, whom I knew myself to be the chief Fenian poet in the days of insurrection in Ireland. I am sure I hope he enjoys his £50. I quite agree that there may be hundreds of deserving cases that have not been dealt with, but that is no reason why we should not deal properly with any case that is brought before us. The hon. Gentleman opposite says Sir W. Palliser was loaded with honours. What were the loads? He got a knighthood. Well, you get a knighthood for winning a borough. [An hon. MEMBER: Or losing one like Lewis.] I do not desire to introduce anything of a controversial character into this Debate. It is clear that Sir W. Palliser saved the State a large amount. He has left a considerable family. I am glad to hear that the Treasury have promised a certain amount. I think the Treasury should act handsomely in such a matter. I entirely repudiate the idea that anyone on this side of the House is supporting the claims of these ladies because they are Irish ladies, and I think that Irish 1190 Members are as lit and competent to deal with a question of this kind as any gentleman born within sound of Bow Bells. I think that something more ought to be done for Sir W. Palliser's family than is now being done or intended to be done.
§ *(11.29.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Lord G. HAMILTON, Middlesex, Faling)
I wish to state the nature of the transactions between Sir W. Palliser and the Admiralty. The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down made an allusion personal to myself, and I may, perhaps, be permitted to refer to it as showing that we sometimes oppose grants of public money not out of niggardliness of spirit, but because we feel, as guardians of the public purse, it is necessary for us to be less charitable in public than in private life. I happened to be a personal friend of the late Sir W. Palliser, and had the honour of belonging to the regiment to which he for some time belonged. Therefore, all my predilections and personal sympathies would be in favour of this claim. But upon consideration of the facts of the case I find myself unable to support it. It seems to be assumed that Sir W. Palliser was for the last 22 years of his life in the Public Service on full pay. This was not the fact. For nine years of that time he was on full pay as an officer, and while on full pay he took out two patents for inventions. When his regiment was ordered to India he made an application to be allowed, on special terms, to retire on half-pay, and from that period—it was in 1864—up to the time of his death he devoted his time to inventions, mainly on commercial lines. He did not give the whole of his time to the State. His transactions with the State were of two kinds. So far as his chilled projectiles were concerned the State gave him a lump sum in full discharge, and as regarded the bolts, he took out a patent, and during the whole time the patent was in existence the Government paid the royalties. The House will observe what an unfair position the Government are placed in with regard to the matter. On the one 1191 hand, if a lump sum is paid to an officer for the use of his invention, it is asserted that he is inadequately remunerated, and, on the other hand, if the commercial mode of transaction is adopted and a royalty is paid, it is stated that the State does not pay for the invention at all. The patent for the bolts, which were of great use, ran from 1862 to 1876, and two years before it terminated Sir W. Palliser wrote a letter to the Admiralty, stating that if they would give him a testimonial pointing out the value of his services—I will not raise any claim of a pecuniary nature for the use of my patent bolts, nor on any other account.A letter was written to him to that effect, and these are the facts of the case so far as the Admiralty are concerned. Sir W. Palliser was a man of most prepossessing manners; and I think must have been liked by all who knew him. He was a Member of this House. However, I hope the House will not, for these reasons, treat the case as an exceptional one. I would ask whether the House desires us to treat the inventions of any humble dockyard man on a different principle from that of Sir W. Palliser? Various inventions, some of them of a very ingenious character, are frequently brought to the notice of the Government, but I do not know of any inventor who has received greater consideration than Sir W. Palliser. I am certain that if any man in a lower position in the employment of the State were to die and his wife obtained a pension, no Department of the State would make provision for the children when the pension terminated. If what I say be in accordance with the invariable rule, ought we to make an exception in the case of an individual who happens to be a Member of this House? I venture very respectfully to say that it would not, in my opinion, be wise for the House to assent to the form of recommendation which has been placed before it, because the public will not fail to draw a contrast between the treatment of this case and that of inventors generally.
§ *(11.36.) SIR W. BARTTELOT (Sussex, N.W.)
This question has been very ably 1192 dealt with from both points of view; but I think justice has hardly been done to those who have advocated the claims of Sir William Palliser, because one or two points made by them have not been noticed. Looking at what Sir W. Palliser received, and the benefits his inventions conferred on the country, and, bearing in mind also the money he spent in perfecting his inventions, it can hardly be said that he was adequately remunerated. The expenses which he had necessarily to incur in order to carry out the inventions ought to be taken into account when the sums paid to him are mentioned. If, therefore, you deduct £13,621 for expenses, you find he absolutely received from the Government £10,328. The Financial Secretary to the War Department (Mr. Brodrick) made very little of the conversion of the old iron guns into rifled guns. I undertake to say that at that particular time there was nothing of greater importance to this country than the increase of the number of rifled guns, and, but for this invention, other guns would have cost the nation a very much larger sum of money. By means of the invention guns which were lying idle and useless in the dockyards were converted to very good purposes. As to a royalty having been paid by the Government for the bolts, I have just been shown a letter in which Sir W. Palliser denies that any royalty was given him for the bolts, and this can be confirmed by one who was nearly connected with him. I should, therefore, like to be informed of the amount of the royalties alleged to have been paid to the deceased officer. In my opinion, Sir W. Palliser, the value of whose inventions to the country is not disputed, was not adequately remunerated by the State for the services he rendered. It is nothing to the purpose to say that had he lived at the present time he would have received much larger sums; but if of any value it is an argument in favour of increasing the payment now. 1193 The position of the case is this: Sir W. Palliser received a certain sum of money from the Government, and he might have received large sums elsewhere. There is now nothing left for his children. They are very young, and there is no money to educate them with. My hon. Friend thinks there is something still due to him from the Government. Assuredly, if Sir W. Palliser is entitled to receive anything more, his family has a right to know that they will receive it; because it may be said by a future Treasury, "If anything ought to be done, it ought to have been done before." I appeal to the Government not to put the House to the trouble of a Division, but to say that they will give a fair and reasonable sum for the education of the children, and after the death of Lady Palliser will continue the grant to the children.
§ *(11. 43.) SIR J. GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)
I desire to say a few words in support of the appeal just made to the Government. I know how difficult it is for the House of Commons to decide how a variety of claims shall be dealt with, but I have had brought before me during the last three or four years circumstances connected with the work of Sir W. Palliser, and I venture to say that in regard to the good he has done the country he has not been sufficiently remunerated. If that is the general feeling the Government ought to meet the views of the House of Commons. I happen to know that Sir W. Palliser's daughters have been left in a very poor position, and that one of them shows signs of considerable ability, which might be developed if there were means to give her a suitable training. It is not for one invention, but for several, that Sir W. Palliser's family have claims on the country. Therefore, the case is one in which further generosity could fitly be exercised. If something is not done in this case no claim can he successfully made upon the House of Commons again. This is a good case. The feeling of the House is in favour of something being done, and I hope the Government will give effect to that feeling.
§ *(11.46.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand,
The Government feel a great deal of sympathy for the very generous aspirations of many of my hon. Friends and of Gentlemen opposite in this case. The hon. Gentleman opposite has appealed to the Government to show their sympathy. I think the Government have already done so. In 1877 the late Lord Iddesleigh obtained a grant for Lady Palliser of £150 a year, and I myself obtained a grant of £150 more, making altogether £300 a year. But the Government are now asked to propose to the House of Commons to give a grant of thousands in consideration of services which, in the language of the gallant officer himself, have been amply rewarded. A Memorandum has been alluded to. That Memorandum must not be held up to the House or the Government to reverse or to alter the character of the discharge which has been given. If the Government are not to regard transactions of this kind as final they will be exposed to all manner of claims. It is, of course, a very agreeable thing to be liberal, but to be liberal in the sense of giving away that which is expressly barred is a responsibility which I cannot undertake. In 1869 Sir W. Palliser wrote to the Under Secretary of State as follows:—I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th inst., enclosing an order for £7,500, which sum I accept in full discharge of ray claim upon the War Office for the system of converting cast iron guns.That letter is dated 21 years ago, and now a claim is set up, not only with respect to these guns, but for other transactions not with the Government of the present day, but with the Government which existed in 1868. Reference has been made to the Judgment of Sir Barnes Peacock. He decided that the invention was a meritorious one, and that it was impossible to say how much had been expended by Sir W. Palliser on his patents. He further went on to say that Sir W. Palliser had received £20,000 for his invention by the Government, and that he had also received large remuneration from Sir W. Armstrong in respect of royalties. It is to be deeply regretted that Sir W. Palliser should have made no provision for his family; but I ask the House whether it 1195 is a wise course, out of sympathy alone, to go behind transactions of 20 years ago and make a grant of money which has been held not to be due by the officers of successive Governments acting in the simple discharge of their duty. Moreover, the grants which have been made out of Her Majesty's bounty on the recommendation of the Government exceed the pension which the widow of a Flag Officer of the highest rank is entitled to receive under the Regulations of the Service. Under these circumstances, I trust the House will not agree to the Motion.
§ (11.55.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I am bound to say I feel it my duty to support the First Lord of the Treasury in the position he has taken up. Nothing is easier and more agreeable than to be sympathetic, generous, and liberal with other people's money, but it should be recollected that we are dealing with the money of the nation. We have to consider whether, in acceding to this Motion, we should be acting upon a rule which we can apply to others under all circumstances. Otherwise we should be properly condemned for having established a sort of privilege or favour in one particular case. Sir W. Palliser was a man of distinguished ability, but he received very large rewards from the State, with which he declared himself to be satisfied. It would be unsafe, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, for any Government to disregard that acquittance. Besides that, it appears that Sir W. Palliser has derived what everyone must consider a very considerable sum on his own private account. It is to be regretted that he has left his family unprovided for; but in dealing with other persons the absence of that provision cannot be taken as a ground for replacing it with public money. Moreover, it is not denied that the benevolence which has been granted to Lady Palliser is at least as great as has ever been accorded to anyone under similar circumstances. I think nothing could be more dangerous than to encourage Motions of this kind in favour of individual interests, and if a Division takes place I shall certainly vote against the Motion.
§ *(11. 59.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I wish to add one word. I ought to have said 1196 that, having regard to the circumstances under which the children of Lady Palliser are now placed, I shall deem it my duty to endeavour to secure that the pension of £300 a year which Lady Palliser now receives shall be continued to her children in the unfortunate event of her death.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
I think we are all thankful to the right hon. Gentleman for the concession he has made. I object to the manner in which this casa has been met. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby says it is wrong to be generous with other people's money; but I think we may ask the State to be honest and just in its dealings with its servants who have served the State well; it is no question of generosity. The First Lord of the Treasury says that £300 a year is more than would be received by the family of a General Officer who had passed his life in the Service; but has a General Officer ever saved the country £5,000,000? I have listened to the whole Debate, but no answer has been given to this part of the argument of my hon. and gallant Friend. It is said that present claims are at least five times too high, and still large claims on the State are left unrecognised. I was sorry the hon. Member for Stockport (Mr. Jennings) used the argument he did. I belong to the same profession as the hon. Gentleman, but I think it would be very unfair to hold reasonable claims urged in this House prejudiced by what may have appeared in the newspapers. Every case should be judged upon its own merits, and so we on this side support the claim. We have no feeling in the matter. Sir W. Palliser was politically an opponent of ours, and I suppose his family have inherited the political traditions. Comment has been made upon the fact that Sir William Palliser left no provision for his family, and the inference has been drawn that he was a man of extravagant habits. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reason why his family were left unprovided for was that he made speculations in house property which did not turn out successfully. A further reason was that his mind was so preoccupied in scientific pursuits that he was unable to pay sufficient attention to the material interests of himself and 1197 family, like many another man from whose services the country at large has benefited.
§ (12.2.) GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
As to what the First Lord of the Treasury said just now, I would observe that though Sir William Palliser is dead his inventions still live, and we are still deriving advantage from them. Quite recently the manufacture was being carried on at Woolwich. I feel very strongly the position in which Sir W. Palliser's family is placed. At this time money is particularly required for education, and year by year the country is saving immense sums of money beyond anything that was anticipated when the inventions were submitted to the Government. Strong supporter of the Government as I am when I think they are in the right, I must, if there is a Division, support this Motion.
§ *(12.3.) SIR E. WATKIN (Hythe)
I will only detain the House for a moment, but I cannot but protest against the mean and shabby character of the speeches with which the First Lord and the right hon. Member for Derby have opposed this Motion. I am quite sure the First Lord would never apply such principles to his transactions in the Strand. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that if an employer does not treat members of his staff with a generous measure of justice he cannot keep a good staff together. The lesson he teaches the House he would not apply to his own affairs. Here is a man who has done the State a noble service, and in his unselfish efforts his family have suffered, and is the justice of the case met by the miserable pittance the right hon. Gentleman offers? I am not an Irishman; I am an Englishman—perhaps I should be better if I were an Irishman and a little more generous; but I have 30,000 people engaged in industrial employment to deal with, and I tell the right hon. Gentleman that I would not demean myself, I would not injure the sentiment that should exist between 1198 employer and employed by dealing with a question of this kind in the manner of the right hon. Gentleman. I was attracted to this discussion because I knew the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Galway had, year after year, urged this House to adopt the system of breech-loading to our guns, and in vain. Yet, at last, that system has been adopted after enormous waste. I respect such a representative, and I felt sure he would urge the just claims of a man who did his best to arrest the miserable dry rot of the Service, and to give us improved defences; and though he may fail of success to-night, in my judgment he has done good service. If you are to have good employeÉs you must not talk about justice and generosity in the tone of official utterances we have heard from both sides to-night. Is it just to requite the services of a man who has saved you millions by inventions you are using to-day by giving £6 a week towards the expenses of his wife and family? Is there any hon. Member present who will say he thinks that is a just way of dealing with this matter? I will be no party to such a settlement. I will tell you what I will do. I make this offer to the right hon. Gentlemen the First Lord of the Treasury and the Member for Derby, if they will join with me I will add to this miserable £300 a year my share to make £300 a year more.
§ (12.9.) SIR J. PULESTON (Devonport)
I do not wish to prolong the discussion. I will only make a suggestion which may prevent a Division, which, I think, we are all desirous to avoid. There is not, I think, any great division of opinion on the merits of the case, for there is no question of the advantage the country has derived from the inventions. Will the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury allow me to make an appeal to him to carry his own suggestion a little further and to make at once an additional allowance of £150 a year to the children of Sir William Palliser, an additional income being more needed now to meet educational requirements than it will be hereafter. In the unfortunate event of the 1199 death of Lady Palliser, the sum of £300 might be reverted to. This is not inconsistent with the view of the right hon. Gentleman, and will meet the present necessities of the young ladies immediately concerned.
§ (12.10.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 85.—(Div. List, No. 90.)
§ Main question proposed, "That Mr-Speaker do now leave the chair."
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich),
who had a Notice on the Paper: "To call attention to the low wages paid to labourers in the Government Establishments; and to move, That a Committee of this House be appointed to inquire and report thereon, and the market rate of wages for similar labour in private firms,"rose—
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The Motion to which the hon. and gallant Member has given notice of Amendment has been withdrawn.
§ Committee upon Monday next.