HC Deb 31 July 1891 vol 356 cc1015-27

10. £14,809, to complete the sum for Temporary Commissions.

*(12.52.) MR. MORTON

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board a question as to the Royal Commission on Vaccination. I suppose that on this Vote the only question I should be entitled to ask on this subject is when we are likely to get the Report. When I brought forward the matter a few weeks back the right hon. Gentleman replied that the subject was before the Royal Commission, and that until they reported he could not see his way to do anything in the matter, no matter what might happen. What I want to know is whether he can give us any information as to the Commission which, I believe, has now been sitting for some years. There is a good deal depending on it as to the vaccine matter or lymph which is used for vaccination.


I can assure the hon. Member that no one is more anxious than I am to receive the Report of the Commission. A great deal of evidence has been taken, and there is still much more to receive. The matter is a very large one, embracing points of great difficulty, and I can give no information as to when the Report will be made. That is a matter entirely in the hands of the Commission themselves.


Is it not possible, pending the receipt of the Report, to relax the prosecutions? The Government could advise those who have to deal with these cases to be as gentle as possible in their methods.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE&c.) (Carnarvon,

I wish to ask whether the Historical Manuscripts Commission cannot investigate Welsh manuscripts as well as Irish and Scotch. The right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to promise that if some of these MS. were brought to his notice he would lay the matter before the Commission. I understand that he gave the same promise to the hon. Member for Merioneth some years ago, I would press him to say whether he will not take steps to have these important Welsh MS. published?

(12.57.) MR. JACKSON

I cannot call to mind the particular promise to which the hon. Member refers. I would point out, however, that I have no power to dictate or initiate any proceedings with regard to particular manuscripts. The matter rests entirely with the Commission, and not with the Treasury. All I can do is to convey to the Secretary to the Commission any questions the hon. Gentleman may desire to refer to them. And even that is quite within the competency of the hon. Member to do for himself.


I desire to ask the Minister for Agriculture a question in reference to the Tuberculosis Commission, which has been appointed for an unlimited period. At the time the Commission was appointed I pointed out that, although Ireland was supposed to be interested in the question of tuberculosis, there was no gentleman connected with Ireland on the Commission. The Minister for Agriculture at that time suggested to me that I should make inquiries as to what gentleman should be put on the Commission in the interest of Ireland. I referred the matter to competent persons in Dublin, and submitted the name of a gentleman who had distinguished himself in investigations on this subject.

*(1.0.) MR. RITCHIE

It is quite true that I did suggest to the hon. Member that in the course of the inquiry it would be necessary that Sub-Commissioners should be appointed, and that the name of the gentleman mentioned by the hon. Member should be submitted. Having found that that gentleman was, as the hon. Member has stated, a man of great ability, and well fitted to take a post such as that which was the subject of discussion, this gentleman's name was submitted, but I understand that no Sub-Commissioner has yet been appointed; and as far as the appointment of Sub-Commissioners is concerned, that is a matter which rests entirely with the Royal Commission, by whom the initiative has to be taken. I am afraid I cannot say more than this. What I did say at the time referred to was said in perfectly good faith, and anything I could do in the way of seeing that the name of the gentleman alluded to should be favourably put forward has been done, but the Government have no power whatever over the Commission in regard to this matter.

(1.4.) MR. T. M. HEALY

The point urged by my hon. Friend is that we as an agricultural community are deeply interested in obtaining fitting representation on the Commission, and it is no answer to say that it rests with the Commissioners to appoint the Sub-Commissioners. We are told that we cannot have the Commission enlarged because it has already been appointed by the Queen, and its constitution cannot, therefore, be interfered with. But I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was positively and absolutely stated that it was intended to appoint Sub-Commissioners, and, that being so, we asked the right hon. Gentleman to submit the name already mentioned. The suggestion that there were to be Sub-Commissioners did not come from us but from the Government, and I see that the right hon. Gentleman assents to that proposition. Nothing could be more invidious than for a Member of Parliament to suggest the name of this or that individual, because such a course generally leads to all sorts of jealousies; but my hon. Friend consulted a number of people, with the result that the name of Dr. Quin was mentioned. That gentleman's name got into the newspapers; and when a man finds himself mentioned in that way as about to receive a particular appointment, it is somewhat a slur upon him if the appointment is withheld. It can easily be understood that a young' man at the commencement of his professional career, finding himself treated in this way, must have felt that he had not been well treated. So much with regard to the personal grievance; but the grievance to our country still remains, because this Commission is proceeding, and the interests of Ireland are, as we allege, being neglected.


I have a perfect recollection of the circumstances referred to by the hon. Member opposite, and I remember the recommendation given to the name of the gentleman to whom reference has been made; but as far as my recollection goes, the Commission had at that time already been appointed. It was, I think, believed, both by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board and my self, that the appointment of Sub-Commissioners lay with us, but we found that the appointment was really in the hands of the Commissioners. Since that time they have discovered that they do not require the services of extra Sub-Commissioners. That being so, it would be impossible for the Government to give directions to the Commissioners as to the mode in which they are to carry on their duties; and as the Commissioners are now far advanced in their inquiries, I regret to say that it is almost impossible for us to carry out the wishes expressed by hon. Members opposite.


The Commissioners have only been acting for one year, it having been appointed in July, 1890, and I say there is abundance of time for the appointment of other Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman can issue a Supplementary Warrant if he chooses, and I hope that that is what he intends to do.


All I can say, in answer to the hon. Member, is that I shall be glad to inquire of the Commissioners whether, and, if so, when, it is likely they will appoint Sub-Commissioners, and in that case I will take care that the name of the gentleman referred to shall be again submitted to them.

(1.14.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I wish to ask a question with regard to the Educational Schools Commission in Ireland. That Commission is doing its work very slowly; and although the expense of the Commission is not very large, being about £4,000, it is nevertheless a matter which is deserving of consideration. That Commission has been re-appointed year after year by an Act included in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and it was not intended that that body should sit in perpetuity. Having regard to the work the Commission has to do, it seems to me that it is very desirable it should be wound up as speedily as possible, and that the Government ought to put some pressure on those gentlemen in order to bring their work to a conclusion. They ought to take notice of the number of days the Commission has sat, and the exact amount of work it has done, and to treat the whole matter from a Treasury point of view. The fact that it is appointed year after year shows that the Government thought they would be able to bring its labours to a conclusion within a period of four or five years. If the Government were to notify their intention of taking this sum of £4,000 a year off the Estimates the next year, they would find that these gentlemen would bring their labours to a conclusion with much more rapidity than they seem inclined to do at present.


I entirely agree with what the hon. Member has said, and I have already drawn attention to the matter in the earlier part of the year, when I was assured that the work was being wound up. I believe that this will be the last year for which the money will have to be provided.

Vote agreed to.

11. Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum, not exceeding £103, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1892, for certain Miscellaneous Expenses.

*(1.19.) MR. MORTON

I should like to know what is the meaning of the Subhead D. As far as I can understand it, it relates to money for the provision of Queen's Plates to be run for in Ireland. Turning to Sub-head M, I find that, as far as England is concerned, an alteration has been made in the allocation of the money which used to be given for this purpose, and that it is now given not for the encouragement of horse racing or that sort of villainy, as I am almost tempted to call it, but for the improvement of the breed of horses in Great Britain. I should like to know whether the time has not arrived when we can make a similar change with regard to the gift of this money to Ireland, so that, instead of encouraging horse racing there, which, as everyone knows, is one of the worst evils we can foster, it may be given for improving the breed of horses. I am told that this subsidy is no use in Ireland except to the officers of the Army of Occupation, for whose amusement it seems to be continued.


I can assure the hon. Member that there is a very moderate amount of racing in Ireland, and that there is a very small amount of betting, although almost everyone takes an interest in the amusement which racing affords. So far as the officers of the English garrison are concerned, I doubt very much whether any of them are the owners of racehorses; they may own steeplechasers, but the Queen's Plates are not given for steeplechasing. The amount given is a very moderate one, namely, £1,800; and if it were withdrawn it might have the effect of destroying the best class of racing which takes place in Ireland, and thus tend to deteriorate the breed of horses.


There is a strong feeling in this country that this sort of thing should be done away with. I do not desire to put the Committee to the trouble of dividing if I can only obtain a satisfactory answer from the Secretary to the Treasury.


I should have risen to answer the hon. Member before had not the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who knows much more about the subject than I do, come to my relief. I would point out that this matter has been considered on several previous occasions, and I do not know any question on which it would be more difficult to make an alteration that would give general satisfaction. Several attempts have been made to alter the appropriation of the money which is given in this way, and I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Peterborough that these Queen's Plates have done nothing to improve the breed of horses. I think it is certainly undesirable to take any step that would tend to discourage the production of a good breed of horses either in Ireland or in England.

*(1.25.) MR. MORTON

Very well, I will leave this matter for the consideration of the Home Rule Parliament, which will probably be established about this time 12 months. I should like now to call attention to the question of the fees paid for the creation of Bishops and Archbishops. I raised this question on the Home Office Vote, and I was told that it had reference to this Vote, consequently I gave notice that I would call attention to the matter when this Vote was taken. I think I have a special right to raise this point as a representative of an ancient Cathedral City. I find that the cost of inaugurating the Bishop of Manchester was about £460, and I should like to know whether all these fees were promptly accounted for? A statement has been laid on the Table with regard to the Attorney General's fees, but I want to know if the Government are willing to do away with these exorbitant charges. A Bishop who gets a See is very much in the position of the man who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. Will the Government grant a Return showing what the exact fees are, and will they be willing to reduce them?


I believe the fees paid to the Exchequer by Archbishops and Bishops on their appointment will appear from a Return which will be presented before the end of the Session. I think that Return will show that the fees paid by a Bishop are something like £40, and not £400, and we do not get complaints of the excess from those gentlemen who have to pay them on account of receiving certain honours and dignities.


But the First Lord of the Treasury told us that the fees paid into the Exchequer by an Archbishop were £330, and by a Bishop £220.


I am speaking only of the fees which are payable to the Exchequer. If the hon. Member will wait for the Return he will get an authoritative statement.

(1.36.) MR. E. ROBERTSON

I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now agree to report Progress?


I believe there is a general desire on the part of the House that Supply shall be closed. There is an opportunity upon Report of asking questions; and if the hon. Member for Peterborough will consult ray right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds or myself upon the points he has raised, with which hon. Members are generally familiar, we shall be glad to go through the Estimates with him privately, so that we may save the time of the Committee.


I see there are 13 or 14 Government Orders down after Report of Supply. Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake, if Supply is closed, not to press those Orders?


I will look through the list in the course of the next four or five minutes, and see how far I can assent to that arrangement. We do not want to keep hon. Members and officers of the House here one minute longer than is necessary.


There is one important Vote—the Post Office Vote—to be taken. For my part, I shall be content to defer my remarks upon it until the Report stage. I hope next Session we shall have an opportunity of thoroughly discussing it, even if it be necessary to bring it on out of its order.


I will lay the right hon. Gentleman's views before the First Lord of the Treasury.

MR. MARJORIBANKS (Berwickshire)

I think the Business of the House would be facilitated if it were arranged that those Votes which are to be discussed on Report were taken first to-morrow.

*(1.40.) MR. MORTON

The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made an appeal to me, but I give him fair notice that on the Army Vote I intend to raise a question as to gambling. In looking after the economical administration of public money I am only acting on the advice he gave me in 1889. Does he intend to force all the Votes through tonight?


I hope Supply will be closed.


I have a Motion on the Paper affecting the Army Vote on which I shall have to raise a discussion, and it will have to be taken in Committee in order to get it properly discussed.


I am in the same position. I do not think that at twenty minutes to 2 in the morning we ought to be forced to discuss the remaining Estimates.


The point is this: Unless we finish Supply to-night it will probably throw the Prorogation over to another week, and we all desire it should take place next week. Surely it does not much matter to hon. Members whether they make their protest to-night or to-morrow on Report. I trust they will bow to the views of the majority. If it is possible to give precedence tomorrow to the Votes which hon. Members desire particularly to discuss, it shall be done.


I, for one, cannot assent to that arrangement, and I shall divide the Committee. Surely it does not matter much if the Session is prolonged a day or two. We do not get the facilities for discussion on the Report stage which we have in Committee. I now move to report Progress.

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


I support that. I do not think it is possible to get through the Estimates to-night. It is no fault of ours that they have been brought on so late in the Session. The Government are responsible for that piece of bungling. There is one Vote which my colleagues for Wales desire to discuss thoroughly.

(1.47.) MR. E. ROBERTSON

I hope that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not resist the Motion. I am as much disappointed as he is that the Business of Supply cannot be closed tonight, but I protest against the Votes being discussed at this hour of the night, and hope he will not force a futile Debate on this Motion.


I must say there is something indecent in trying to force Supply through at this hour of the night. We are asked to vote millions of money without Debate, and if we do, then we shall not be doing our duty to our constituents. It cannot make much difference if we do prolong the Session 24 hours, and I hope, therefore, the Government will give way and let us go home to rest.

(1.50.) MR. CALDWELL

When we remember how every sitting of the House this week has been prolonged until 3 or 4 o'clock, and that we have to meet again at noon, I think it is most unreasonable on the part of the Government to resist this Vote. A good deal of business has been got through this evening, and there has been no obstruction. Every year the Estimates are postponed to the end of the Session, and then are taken practically without discussion. Now, the Government hope by reason of the sheer exhaustion of hon. Members to get all the remaining Votes through. I do not think it is fair. When the right hon. Gentleman moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, he said it was not intended to make oppressive use of the privilege; but yet he is so unreasonable as to make us sit till 4 or 5 o'clock. I shall support the Motion to report Progress.

(1.54.) MR. GOSCHEN

The Government have the cordial support of those who lead hon. Gentlemen opposite in their endeavours to close the Session. There will be to-morrow a full day for the discussion of the Report, and I believe we are following the wishes of the enormous majority of the House in endeavouring to close Supply to-night, and I shall certainly take the opinion of the House by dividing against the Motion.

*MR. MATHER (Lancashire, S.E., Gorton)

I think it is only fair that we on this side of the House should cooperate with the view of shortening the Debate on the Estimates. Inquiries have been made by hon. Members in their places which could have been satisfied by the application of ordinary intelligence, and I think speeches have been made at undue length. Some consideration should be shown for the House, and speeches might very well be limited to 10 or 15 minutes.


I appeal to my hon. Friends to allow the Votes to go through and to take any discussion on Report. The House is wearied out, and the Gallery is also wearied out.


There is nothing more out of place than the airs of superiority which some Members assume. We have hada pretty lecture from the hon. Member for Gorton, but I deny that we have been wasting the time of the Committee, or that we have asked frivolous questions.


I made no allusion to the hon. Member. I only said some speeches had been made which could well have been cut down considerably.


There is nothing I admire more than independence. With regard to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer says as to there being a tacit understanding with the hon. Gentlemen who lead the Opposition, I have to say I hold myself perfectly free of the whole lot of them. I shall persist in dividing the House on this matter, at the risk of making myself disagreeable to the Front Opposition Bench and to all those superior persons who are fond of lecturing the House of Commons on manners.


We are sent here to look after Supply, and it is a perfect farce to expect us to take Votes like these at this hour. We might just as well be asked to take them all. Surely such Votes ought to be postponed for a day.


I put it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it would not be well for him to consent to postpone such Army Votes as are contentious until to-morrow. If he does he will make much better progress with the Votes than he will otherwise. I am sure the refusal of the Government to report Progress will not facilitate matters.

(2.4.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 30; Noes 74.—(Div. List, No. 412.)

Original Question put, and agreed to.

12. £100,000, Pleuro-pneumonia.

13. £481, for Repayments to the Civil Contingencies Fund.