|Surveys of the United Kingdom||40,000|
|Harbours, &c. under Board of Trade, and Lighthouses abroad||4,000|
|Rates on Government Property (Great Britain and Ireland)||10,000|
|Public Works and Buildings, Ireland||40,000|
|Secretary for Scotland||2,000|
|Registrar General's Office||5,000|
|Board of Supervision||1,600|
|Lord Lieutenant's Household||1,000|
|Chief Secretary and Subordinate Departments||7,000|
|Charitable Donations and Bequests Office||300|
|Local Government Board||15,000|
|Public Works Office||2,000|
|Registrar General's Office||10,000|
|Valuation and Boundary Survey||5,500|
|Post Office Packet Service||160,000|
|Post Office Telegraphs||400,000|
|Total for Revenue Departments||£1,360,000|
§ (4.15.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I think that before we take this Vote on Account we ought to have some more clear and definite explanation from the Government as to the course of Public Business. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that he is unable to say when the Education Bill will be brought in.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I will explain the line I am about to take. I object to the Vote entirely, and I propose to conclude with a Motion to report Progress on the ground that the House has not received a sufficient explanation as to the course of Public Business. The House met in November, and it is now the 25th of May, which is practically, to all intents and purposes, equivalent to the 25th of June in an ordinary Session. I do not 982 think the Government have any right to complain of the action of any Member of the Opposition during the present Session, either in regard to the Tithes Bill or the Land Purchase Bill. When we met in November there was no Debate on the Address, and in that month both the Tithes Bill and the Land Purchase Bill were read a second time. When we came back at a somewhat early period in January we went into Committee on the Tithes Bill, and the Land Bill, which was the most important measure in the Government programme, was only taken in Committee on the 12th of April. I do not think that any complaint can be made of the action of the Opposition in regard to the Land Bill. When the Irish Land Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian was brought in, 24 days were occupied in discussing it in Committee; and if the Government look at their own attitude in regard to that Bill, I am sure they cannot complain of the discussion which has taken place upon the present measure. But there is another Bill which we are told is to be brought in this Session—the measure respecting free or assisted education—for sometimes the Government call it by the one name and sometimes by the other. We do not even yet know whether it is to be for free or for assisted education, and the Bill, which was promised some weeks ago, has not been laid on the Table of the House. The country and the House will certainly want some time in which to consider it. We certainly ought to be told at once whether the Bill is really going to be brought in, and if it is, when it will be laid on the Table. The right hon. Gentleman says that we must wait for the advent of the First Lord of the Treasury. I am sure that we have all very great respect for that right hon. Gentleman, that we regret the cause of his absence, and are glad that he is able to take a holiday; but, at the same time we must look at these matters from a practical standpoint, and before we vote this large sum on account we ought to have some distinct pledge from the Government as to when it is intended to bring in the Bill for free or assisted education. I beg to move, Mr. Courtney, that you do now report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ (4.20.) MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)
The hon. Gentleman opposite has extended his observations beyond the purely financial point we have to consider. I have no wish to put any question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the introduction of any new measure. On the contrary, I think it is desirable to take a survey of the state of public business generally before we undertake any further business, and I certainly should not urge the Government to be beguiled into promising to introduce any fresh legislative measures. As to the immediate question before us, I think it would be well to consider seriously the state of public business generally before determining to add to the bulk of that business. But my object in rising is to inquire whether we shall really be following precedent closely if we pass this Vote on Account, or whether we should not rather be establishing what may be an extremely dangerous precedent. It is, no doubt, true that Votes on Account have been very prevalent in recent years, but I think it deplorable that they should have been. Such votes used at one time to be regarded with very great jealousy. We have been told that two months is the normal period for which these Votes on Account are granted. Possibly-recent precedents justify that statement, but some years ago two months would undoubtedly have been considered a very long period. Supply is now in an unusually backward state, and what the Committee are asked to do is to grant the Government money enough to last beyond the period at which we have been repeatedly assured the labours of the Session will terminate. Whereas the main function of the House of Commons, from a constitutional point of view, is the consideration of the Estimates and the control of Supply, we are now asked practically to give up the time that remains for the discharge of that function, in order that measures which are not financial and not nearly as important as Supply may be proceeded with. I hold that unless a pledge is given that operative Supply will be 984 taken in the near future the Committee will not be justified in passing this Vote. I trust, therefore, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will name a date when Supply will be put down and a bonâ fide effort made to forward it in a legitimate way.
§ (4.25.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
I wish to say a word or two by way of protest against the course proposed by the Government, as I believe it to be a grave constitutional abuse. The principal functions of the House of Commons are to guard the public purse and to control the public burdens, and the machinery provided for the discharge of those functions is such as gives the House a complete hold upon the whole administration of the country. For that purpose the Estimates are divided into a large number of classes and heads, in order that each particular branch of the Administration may be passed in review by the Representatives of the people. But if all the funds that are necessary for carrying on the work of Government are to be granted by a series of Votes on Account, the control of the House of Commons will be reduced to a nullity. This view has been emphasised by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian, who, some years ago, denounced the system of Votes on Account as a grievous constitutional abuse, and said that he believed that if a Minister were deliberately to set himself to undermine the Parliamentary constitution of this country one of the most effective means which he could adopt would be the means afforded by this system. What the right hon. Gentleman then said was very true. This Vote on Account is now proposed for a period which, according to the information before us, will see the termination of the Session. Where then, is the effectual check upon the Government? In recent years promises have been made more than once that Supply shall be taken early in the Session, but those promises have not been kept. A late period of the Session has now been reached, and if this Vote is passed, what assurance shall we have that there will be any effective review by the House of Commons of the general administration of the country? The Government having obtained this money will be able to postpone the consideration of the Votes in 985 Supply until the end of July or later, when the weariness of Members will prevent them from devoting adequate attention to this important work. The abuse has been growing by degrees during the last 15 or 20 years. One reason why Supply is not disposed of earlier in the Session is that Governments always think it necessary to bring forward an ambitious programme of measures, with the result that whilst the programme itself is never fulfilled the ordinary normal duty of the House is almost completely neglected. I do not say that the present Government is more responsible or more to blame than Liberal Governments have been, but the result is that Government after Government have seemed to regard Parliament simply as a legislative machine for grinding out a number of Acts of Parliament. I shall certainly divide against the Vote on the ground of principle, for I believe that our primary functions are being lost sight of, and that there is great danger of the proceedings of the House in respect of Supply degenerating into a farce.
§ (4.32.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)
I wish also to add a word of protest. I fully concur with what has already been said. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) says we ought to be a month ahead of the usual work of the Session. The hon. Gentleman has very much understated the case. Let me point out that not only did the House originally meet in November, but that it met again after Christmas, early in January instead of February. Consequently, this period of the Session corresponds to a period two months later in a normal Session. When Members were asked to meet in November, after a short Autumn Recess, and to meet again in January, they did so, but now they are asked to give a Vote on Account for two months. That is not carrying out the engagement which the Government entered into with the House. What we are alarmed at is this: A Vote on Account for two months will bring us up to the beginning of August, and points to a Session which will last until September.
§ (4.34.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
It ought not to be forgotten that we have only had four days' holiday, whereas the First Lord of the Treasury 986 will have had a fortnight. When the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. J. Lowther) put a question in regard to this Vote, I asked myself if he had any motive in directing attention to the subject, and whether he had been put up by some Member of the Treasury Bench. We are accustomed, of course, to this annual grumbling, and I was wondering whether the objection really was to the backwardness of Supply or to the possibility of an early vacation. Constitutional procedure has long been forgotten, and I thought there must be some motive for this sudden outburst in favour of a return to the customs of the old Constitution. We now understand exactly where we are, and I should like to ask some questions with respect to the remaining Irish business. It is quite true that Members were brought to this House in November; I will say nothing about that, there is no help for spilt milk; but are we to be brought here again nest November? It is all very well for Members who live on this side of the Channel, for right hon. Gentlemen who represent the Strand and other parts of London, who can jump into a hansom and visit their constituents for 1s., and for right hon. Gentlemen who can take longer holidays when they choose; but Irish Members have to cross the Channel at considerable expense to themselves, and to travel long journeys. The only chance I see of doing away with November Sessions is to sit on until August. Therefore, I would express the strong hope that the Government will go on with Supply and the Vote on Account, and proceed also with the Land Department Bill, and the promised Education Bill, so as to keep the House sitting, if possible, till the month of September, because I feel that such a course will prove the only safeguard the Members of this House can have against the wearisome Winter Sessions to which they all object.
§ (4.40.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
There was one observation which fell from the hon. Member who has just spoken as to which I must say a word. I am quite sure that the immense majority of the House will be perfectly satisfied that if my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury is not now in 987 his place, it is not because he desired a longer holiday than other Members, but because he is acting upon medical advice. There are other Members in a similar condition who are not able to give that constant attendance in the House which my right hon. Friend always gives when he is able. There is a great deal which has fallen from hon. Members with which I am prepared to agree. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Thanet (Mr. J. Lowther) that I ought not to make any premature declarations as to the course which the Government may take. The Government are reproached with the state of business at the present moment. One hon. Member after another has got up to protest against the condition to which the Business of the House has been brought. But, I ask, how far does the blame for that lie at the door of Her Majesty's Government? What has brought the House into its present position? I am not going to make any charge against hon. Gentlemen of having wilfully obstructed Public Business. Hon. Members say that the Government are too ambitious, that they put too many measures into the Queen's Speech, and bring before the House too large a programme. This time the Government, guided by the experience of the past, put fewer measures into the Queen's Speech than in previous Sessions. There were two measures put in the forefront. We were bound to pass the Tithe Bill and the Land Bill
§ MR. GOSCHEN
We might have done that if the hon. Member and others had not taken up so much of the time of the House. Was not that programme of the Government one which has met with the approval of the House?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
If we did not, it was because hon. Members considered it more important to discuss sometimes one line, sometimes a few words, in the Tithe Bill or the Land Bill at such length that it was impossible for us to make such progress with those Bills as we should desire. The Tithe Bill passed through Committee after ample discussion, but with that minute and prolonged examination which, if continued, would render the 988 House of Commons helpless for performing what my right hon. Friend says is its chief function. If Supply is its chief function, that should make hon. Members more moderate in the length of time they take up, or else large and important measures cannot be introduced; or, if they are, Supply cannot be taken at the proper time. The Tithe Bill, on Report, occupied the time of the House night after night. I am not complaining, but I must say that there was no sense of proportion in the length of time devoted to the various parts of the Bill. I say the same with regard to the Land Bill. I admit the extraordinary ability and intelligence shown by hon. Members in discussing that Bill, but there were several parts of the measure which did not require such minute criticism and such prolonged discussion. It is those hon. Members who insist upon prolonged discussion who are depriving the House of the time which might be devoted to the business of Supply. Do hon. Members think that we could stop the Land Bill in the middle to take Supply? What does the hon. Member for North Longford say to that?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
But other hon. Members from Ireland would complain of being put to the expense of going to and fro, and that was a complaint which we did not desire to occasion. We have curtailed the holidays of this House in order that we might bring on the Business of the House at an early date, and we have done all we can to expedite business. There has been no loss of time on the part of the Government. During the whole Session we have gone straight forward with the Bills in the Queen's Speech. We have dealt with the Tithe Bill and with the Land Bill; and with regard to Supply, if there is anything to regret, it is that we are not in a position to redeem our promise to proceed with it as early as possible. The Government are perfectly aware of the desire of the House to proceed with Supply; but we should deal better with Supply if on other matters too much time were not spent in minute and prolonged discussion. But there are Members of this House who, I think, have given utterance to the view that sometimes they have the desire to obstruct measures; and I think there has 989 been exhibited a disposition to prolong discussion for the purpose of putting off measures. Therefore, if we had put down Supply at an earlier day, it is possible that Supply would have been used for delaying further progress with the Bills. If this was a measure that the bulk of the House objected to our introducing, then I could understand what has been said; but we know now that the Bill is one which is accepted in all quarters of the House. ["No, no."] Those who were present during the discussions on the Bill are well aware of that, if the right hon. Gentleman is not. The Bill received support from all who were present at the discussion. At all events, we were bound to push on, and I cannot at all accept the theory that the time of the House has been wasted by the arrangements which the Government have made. It is not too late yet. If hon. Members will co-operate with the Government in shortening discussion within legitimate limits, we have still plenty of time to rise at an early date after having passed the measures we desire to pass, and thus relieve the House from those discussions to which the hon. Member for North Longford has called attention.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The only answer I can make to that question is that all necessity for meeting in November would be obviated if the House would only resume its old habits of discussing the business before it, and cease to discuss matters at that interminable length of which the hon. Member is well aware, he having frequently contributed with great ability to the enlargement of our discussions. With regard to this particular Motion for a Vote on Account for two months, we are following precedent, and I can assure my right hon. Friend the Member for Thanet that there is not the slightest desire on our part not to go forward with Supply. I hope we shall give as much time to Supply as the House will think that Supply should require.
§ (4.53.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I am sure that both sides of the House will sympathise with the Leader of the House that the state of his health does not allow him to return to his accustomed place, and we shall all regret that the con- 990 sequence of that is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not in a position to tell us what business is to be done. What is the answer of the right hon. Gentleman to every question put to him with regard to the Business of the House? The right hon. Gentleman says he has no authority to answer the questions put to him until the return of the First Lord of the Treasury. If that is the condition of affairs, we might just as well have had our holidays extended to next Thursday. Every one knows that time is wasted if the House does not understand what is to be the order of business. This is not a situation that the House of Commons ought to be placed in—to be called upon to give a Vote on Account for two months, and the responsible Minister of the Crown saying he has no authority to tell us what business is to be taken in these two months. The Chancellor of the Exchequer tried to throw all the fault on the House and off the shoulders of the Government. He said there was a great deal of discussion on small points, and that there was not a sufficient regard to the proportionate importance of the questions discussed. Let me apply that criticism to the conduct of business by the Government. What was the first great measure of the Session? The Tithe Bill. Was there ever such an example of waste of time on small subjects? Why was not the Land Bill put as the first measure? Why was the Tithe Bill made the first horse of the Government, and why was so much time wasted over the Tithe Bill? Why was the Education Bill kept back? That Bill was mentioned in the Queen's Speech in November, and it is not to be introduced until June. No such example of delay can be found anywhere. I may say, with reference to the Education Bill, that that matter necessarily forms part of the general subject of the finances of the country, and if it were not that so much money is to be devoted to the purposes of free education, we should have a surplus of £2,000,000 to dispose of in the relief of general taxation. It therefore forms a part of our expenditure. The right hon. Gentleman is going to bring in his Budget Bill to-morrow, but we are not to know what is to be the character of the Bill to which the money is to be devoted. Such an extraordinary 991 state of things I cannot recollect as that which is brought about by the confusion now existing between measures and finance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer smiles. Let him give me an in stance to the contrary. Well, Sir, that is the position in which we are placed. What we want before giving this Vote on Account is some assurance that Supply shall be properly discussed. The plan of the Government is to get Supply as much out of the way as possible. It is not a mere question of money Votes; it is a question of the control of the ad ministration of the country, and, there fore, the object of the Government is to postpone or compress Supply into the smallest space possible. The most effective course, in my opinion, would be to diminish the Vote on Account by one- half—that is, make it for one month. I quite agree with what has been said about the Winter Session. I do hope that the mess and muddle made by the Government this Session will warn them against attempting a November Session again. I think that a more unsuccessful experiment has never been made by any Government. Pledges have been held out that we are within two months of the end of the Session, and yet we have made very little progress with Supply, and the Government are not in a position even to introduce what ought to be one of the most important measures of the Session. That is an utter condemnation of the November Session, and I hope we shall learn a lesson not to repeat the experiment. The Government not only want to drive Supply into a corner, but to spring the education scheme on the country by surprise. They will say, "We have only got two or three weeks left. Take it or leave it." There would be no time for the country to consider it, or for the House of Commons to discuss it. I should be glad if an opportunity were afforded to protest by my vote against such a method of disposing of Public Business. The Chancellor of the Exchequer might have authority to speak with regard to Supply, if with regard to nothing else, and might tell us when it is to be taken, how it is to be conducted, and how long a time we are to have to consider it. We might then form some opinion as to the prospects of the future; but that we should be called on to give a Vote on Account which will cover the whole of 992 the residue of the Session, while the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot tell us till the First Lord of the Treasury comes back what business is to be done, is a state of things which, I say, is without example or precedent. I should be glad if an opportunity were afforded to protest by my vote against such a method of disposing of Public Business.
§ (5.0.) MR. GOSCHEN
There are one or two points in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to which I must reply. He suggests that time has been lost by the course taken by the Government. The right hon. Gentleman has not been in the House to see what capital progress we made on Thursday and Friday.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman says he did not obstruct, but he did not lend the advantage of his presence in order to exercise his influence for the shortening of debate—an influence which I am sure would have been all powerful. In point of fact, the Government have gained time by the course taken, and they are making progress by taking a Vote on Account. To-morrow we take the Budget Bill, and I have announced the business for Thursday, so that in view of the announcements I have made it is untrue to say that the Government have blinded the House of Commons by not letting them know the course of business. I challenge the right hon. Gentleman to say whether there is an instance on record, whether he was in office or not, when at this date a declaration was made as to when Supply should be taken, how many days should be devoted to it, and the exact progress that should be made with it. It is never possible to make these anticipations. The right hon. Gentleman further said it was unprecedented to put measures into the Queen's Speech which were not produced till before May or June. Why, during the administration of the right hon. Gentleman himself, the Local Government Bill was announced in two, if not in three, Queen's Speeches, and never produced at all. The right hon. Gentleman says the Government have brought Public Business into a state of mess and muddle; on the contrary, I doubt whether it is possible to name any previous Session in 993 recent times when two great contested measures, such as the Tithe Bill and the Land Purchase Bill, have been disposed of more satisfactorily, looking to the magnitude of those measures. I deny that the experiment of calling Parliament together in November has not succeeded. The Government regret that so much time has been taken over the Bills mentioned, but the very fact that those Bills have required so much time justified us in calling Parliament together, and we have no reason whatever to regret the course taken.
§ (5.6.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
It was distinctly understood when the Government called us together in November last, that it was to give us the opportunity of considering the Estimates in good time. I do not think they have kept their pledge at all; on the contrary, it appears to me that they have done all they could to put off the discussion of the Estimates. I can under stand that it may be necessary to have one Vote on Account, during the financial year, for the purpose of facilitating the carrying on of the business of the country, but I strongly object to having a second Vote on Account. With these constant Votes on Account it is impossible to satisfactorily criticise the Estimates, for the reason that when they come before us the money is, to a large extent, already voted; moreover, Supply is in this way thrown back to a late period of the Session, when it is difficult to get Members to attend, and when they have to sit up all night if they want to discuss the Estimates. These Votes on Account prevent the proper discussion of the Estimates. I do not know whether it is the deliberate intention of the Government by this means to rush the Estimates through, but it certainly looks like it. It may be that we ought to have Finance Committees to consider these matters previous to their coming before the full House; but it is quite certain that if we do not have a system of that kind, at least one day in the week should be set aside for the consideration of Supply, no matter what business is before the House. There is no reason 994 why this should not be done from the commencement of the Session, so as to enable the business of Supply to go on in a regular and proper way. It has always been said to be the chief duty of the House of Commons to consider the question of the expenditure of public money. At present we have no adequate opportunity of doing so. Some of the objects for which we are now asked to vote money we should object to if we had an opportunity of discussing them, and our objections might prove successful. There is the Secret Service money, for instance. If this were properly discussed, in all probability we should get rid of this altogether. If we are to be told that the Government mean to push through all these items, and to use their majority for the purpose, we understand the position. It is all nonsense to say that a day cannot be devoted to Supply during the Committee stage of such a measure as the Land Purchase Bill. It is quite possible to stop the progress of a Bill and take up another subject—why, even the Leader of the House proposed such a course the other day in favour of the Women's Suffrage Bill. To allow an interval of a day during the progress of a Bill in Committee will often tend to facilitate matters by enabling Members to understand and formulate Amendments. The Government, by their policy of introducing obnoxious Bills at the beginning of the Session—such a Bill as the Land Purchase Bill, against the principle of which they were all pledged at the General Election—throw over the discussion of the real business of the House. The Government will not tell us what they intend to do in regard to education—although there is an item in the Vote in regard to that subject. I am not surprised that they do not know what they are going to do. They talk about free education, but that is only for election purposes, for on other occasions they only call it "assisted education." They have thrown out the idea with the view of seeing what their Church friends in the country have to say about it. I shall be pleased to vote for as much free education as the Government will give us, and I shall be glad to know the difference between "free education" and "assisted education."
§ (5.13.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
There is one obvious way in which the Government can facilitate matters, and that is by consulting public opinion in regard to the subjects on which they legislate. In the Queen's Speech reference was made to the Tithe Bill, the Irish Land Purchase Bill, and free education. Well, what would common sense suggest as to the order of these measures? The country, from one end to the other, is in favour of free education, whereas the Tithe Bill and Land Purchase Bill have excited the most intense division of opinion. The Opposition cannot be blamed therefore if they have discussed those measures at fair length. Had the Government put in the fore-front free education, they might have carried it through in a very few weeks and have had all the prestige of that measure to fill their sails in carrying the other Bills. I believe that, after all, the complaint about obstruction is, merely to disguise the feeling the Government have that they are rowing against the stream of public opinion. As to the inconvenience of Votes on Account, it is not only what may be called domestic affairs that have to be considered, but there are great interests of this country in various quarters of the world—such as the troubles in Mashonaland, the little war in Witu, where a great deal of cruelty was practised, and the disturbances in Manipur—and it is only in Supply that these important questions can be discussed, and those opportunities we are deprived of by the system of Votes on Account. The whole of the traditions of Parliament in regard to Supply seem to have changed of late years. In former times there were continual conflicts— which, happily, have passed away— between the House of Commons and the Supreme Executive Authority, and in those days the Whole House united in keeping its hold upon the public purse. All Members were agreed that the consideration of grievances should precede the granting of Supply. But those days have passed away. The Supreme Executive Government practically rests with the majority for the time being, and the majority, being omnipotent, is quite satisfied to shovel out 996 public money lavishly in pursuit of its own ends. I think the majority should have a little more patriotism than this. They ought to remember the traditions of this House; at any rate it is essentially the duty of the minority in the House to protect the public purse, and to see that the money of the nation is justly applied to its proper uses. I protest, under the circumstances, against the House being called upon to vote another sum on account, and, I think the Government ought to be content with one month's Supply.
§ (5.18.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not answer one question put to him, but managed adroitly to steer clear of it—namely, at what period does he expect the Session to end? We are not challenging the Vote on any general principle against Votes on Account, nor any statement that Votes for two months have not been granted before, but rather that there is no record of a Vote on Account being granted for a period co-terminous with the Session. The Government having induced the House to meet in November last, on the understanding that the Session would end in the following July, it will certainly be a breach of faith if the understanding is not carried out. With regard to free education, I am a little surprised that the hon. Member for Leicester does not, with his usual discernment, quite apprehend what the Chancellor of the Exchequer says on that point. The hon. Member complains that the right hon. Gentleman gave him no information on the subject; but, on the contrary, he gave him a great deal. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told him that the Free Education Bill is not to be brought in until the Report on the Irish Land Purchase Bill is disposed of. That, however, is inconsistent with the statement made some time ago by the First Lord of the Treasury, that the Bill would be brought in directly after the Committee stage of the Land Purchase Bill.
§ MR GOSCHEN
That is not my recollection; but if my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury said that, his undertaking will be carried out. I 997 do not desire to modify by one inch the declaration made by my right hon. Friend.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
I merely state what is my impression. If the Bill is not to be brought in for another week or fortnight, not until after the Report stage of the Land Bill, we shall then be within measurable distance of the end of the Session, and to bring in such a Bill — one of the most important measures of the past 20 years, and in regard to which very strong feeling exists throughout the country—at so late a period would be monstrous. The bringing in of a first-class measure of this sort in the middle of June is practically an announcement by the Government that they do not intend to proceed with the Bill, and that the whole thing is blank firing. As far as this side of the House is concerned, I do not think there is any desire to repeat the disputes and discussions of last year with reference to the Compensation Bill. We spent a long time last year in discussing the appropriation of the surplus, which was in the end not appropriated in the way proposed. The Government must not complain if, when the Committee stage of the Budget Bill is reached, objection is taken to proceeding with it until we know what the intentions of the Government are. Part of the proceeds of the Income Tax and Tea Duty we are to be asked to impose are intended to be applied in relief of the fees which a certain portion of the community have to pay for their education, and I think we are entitled to be told what the intentions of the Government are before we proceed with the Committee stage of the Budget Bill. With reference to Supply, I have a very vivid recollection of very strong protests being made last year on this side of the House against the rapid mode in which Votes were disposed of at the end of the Session without any adequate discussion, and of the uniform answer we got from the Treasury Bench that next year we should have the most ample time for the discussion of Supply. An important Debate is to take place with reference to the emoluments of Law Officers of the Crown, and their undertaking private 998 practice, and that has now been put off for two years. We have this year been refused information with reference to certain Departments of the State, and that means prolonged discussion in Committee of Supply when the Votes for those Departments are reached. I should like to call the attention of the House to the very pertinent remarks made by an hon. Gentleman opposite last August with reference to the then condition of Supply. After calling attention to the fact that on the 9th of August £7,000,000 was voted, and on the 13th of August 48 Votes were got through in a single Sitting, he pointed out that if the system of rushing through Supply at the end of the Session continued, the traditions of the House would have received another heavy blow, levelled not by obstructionists, but by those who ought to protect them from attack. The House will, therefore, see that the dissatisfaction with the mode in which the work of Supply is carried on is not confined to this side of the House, and I think we are justified in protesting by our votes this evening against a two months' Vote on Account being asked for when a Vote for one month would be sufficient, and would be more likely to ensure some supervision by the House over the Estimates.
§ (5.26.) MR. GOSCHEN
I always feel pleasure in replying to any question put by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, for I can fairly say that the right hon. Gentleman is one of those Members of the House who are always anxious to see progress made with Public Business irrespective of any political advantage. The view of the Government with regard to the termination of the Session is clear and distinct. We are anxious that the Session should terminate at the time originally suggested—the end of July. Of course, we cannot pledge ourselves to a particular week, but, as regards our policy in conducting business, it is based on the understanding that the Session shall end at the time originally suggested when the House was invited to meet last November. I would remind the Committee that the suggestion that the House should meet in November did not originate with the Government. It was 999 in consequence of a Resolution that was passed at the instance of the right hon. Member for the Bridgeton Division (Sir G. Trevelyan).
§ MR. GOSCHEN
True, it was rejected, but by so small a majority that the Government acted upon it, believing that the feeling of the House was in its favour. However, I have explained the views of the Government, and I hope hon. Members will support us in bringing the Session to a close at the time intended, though, of course, it is impossible for the Government to say that at any hazard the Session shall end at a particular date. That must depend on the exigencies of the Public Service. With respect to Supply, I entirely acknowledge the importance of adequate discussion, and it is—if it is not too strong an expression—nonsense to say that the Government wish to keep off Supply to avoid discussion. I can assure hon. Members that the Government regret—deeply regret—that they have not been able to make progress with Supply, for they by no means fear discussion on the matters to which allusion has been made. As to the Education Bill, my recollection is that my right hon. Friend did not say that it would be introduced when the Committee stage of the Land Bill was through; but if he did say so, I need not assure hon. Members that the engagement will be adhered to.
§ (5.29.) SIR W. HARCOURT
It would be a great satisfaction to the Committee if the right hon. Gentleman would simply say when the Education Bill will be introduced and read a first time. We are not asking the Government when they will take the important stage of the Second Reading, but simply when the Bill will be introduced, so that the House and the country may know what the character of the measure is. To that question we want a definite answer, and I see no reason why the Government should not give it. There can be no possible reason why the Bill should not be read a first time. Everybody knows that there would he no opposition to the First Reading, which 1000 would be taken practically as if the Bill were unopposed. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us now when the Education Bill will be introduced and the Motion made that it be read a first time?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I regret I cannot comply with the request of the right hon. Gentleman. It is the only point I have reserved for the return of my right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Treasury, and until he does come back we shall not be in a position to make a definite statement on the subject.
§ (5.31.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
I think the right hon. Gentleman would have dealt more fairly and more candidly with the Committee if he had announced that the Education Bill would not be brought forward this Session. How can he possibly suggest there is any chance of bringing it forward this Session? It will very much facilitate the business of the House if the First Lord of the Treasury will make that announcement immediately on his return, and the sooner he does return the better it will be for the Business of the House. As to the general state of business, I may point out that the House has been sitting practically since last November, that the Government have obtained the whole time of the House at an unprecedentedly early period of the Session, and that no Government has ever been treated by the Opposition with greater consideration than has been extended to the present Ministry; yet Government business is in almost as backward a state as last Session. This the head of the Government has been frank and honest enough to publicly acknowledge — I think that even the Chancellor of the Exchequer will acknowledge—that the Ministerial measures have been treated fairly, and not criticised at anything like undue length. And yet there is a block in the business. There are 168 Votes in Supply still to be taken. It is scandalous that these Votes should be taken in August, when debate upon them is a farce. The Report stage of the Land Bill will be treated by the Irish Members with the same consideration as all the previous stages, still it 1001 must take two nights. The 168 Votes must take some nights, and, therefore, no man in his senses can expect a measure of the importance of the Free Education Bill to be passed during the present Session. I assume it will receive favourable consideration from the Opposition, but it must be long and complicated, and will raise some important questions of principle. If the Bill is not introduced before the beginning of July, I do not see how it can be passed before the end of August or the beginning of September. If the House sits till then the Government will have broken something like an honourable understanding come to when the House was asked to sit in November. If the Government keep their pledge to curtail the Session, it is clear that they cannot this year introduce their Education Bill with any hope of passing it into law.
§ (5.37.) MR. LABOUCHERE
Although the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he cannot say when the Education Bill will be introduced until the return of the First Lord of the Treasury is extraordinary, it is, I think, capable of explanation. Probably that explanation is to be found in the fact that this is a coalition Government, and certain Members of the coalition who form the majority in the House are in the Government, while other eminent men direct its proceedings without holding office. Even if the Bill has been drawn, there has doubtless been some discussion upon it between the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is sternly opposed to free education, and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who is in favour of it. No doubt they both say, "Let's wait till the First Lord of the Treasury comes back, and let him make peace between us. He will arrange a compromise." The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted the accuracy of that account by his smile. I have, therefore, no doubt I have hit the right two nails on the head. I have long given up hope of the Estimates being fairly discussed while this Government is in Office. Every year, at the beginning of the Session, the House is promised the Estimates will be fairly discussed, 1002 and every year that promise is broken. Last year we ran through 40 Votes in one day. I have moved to report Progress in order that if we do agree to the Vote on Account for two months we shall have some quid pro quo—we shall have some declaration on the part of the Government that, come what may, their Education Bill will be brought in and passed through all its stages in this House. We have not had that assurance. I shall be ready to sit until October or November in order that the Education Bill may be passed, and the great Radical principle of free education be granted to the country. Hon. Members opposite at first thought free education would be a great bribe to the constituencies, but Stowmarket and Market Harborough have opened their eyes to the fact that the sacrifice of their principles has brought them no votes, and now they are anxious to shilly-shally and put the matter off. That, I think, is the position of the Government; they have not stated it themselves, so I have done it for them. I hope that they will excuse the liberty I have taken. For these reasons I shall press my Motion to a Division, in order to protest against the humbugging nonsense of the Government.
§ (5.41.) MR. J. LOWTHER
I think that a Motion to report Progress is an inconvenient form in which to raise the question which hon. Gentlemen opposite desire to discuss. The question, I understand, is whether the House of Commons is to have time to discuss the Estimates, and it is said that if a Vote on Account for two months were granted, that would carry the Government over July, and so the necessity for Supply would be thrown too late. I take it the Government do not intend to prevent the House going into the Estimates, and I think that probably the opposition might be removed if my right hon. Friend were to reduce the Vote on Account to a sum sufficient for one month instead of two.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer has evidently been in communication with the absent First 1003 Lord on that point. Perhaps for that reason, and also because the right hon. Member for Thanet is an old Member of the Party of which the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a very new Member, the acting Leader of the House will take the advice which has just been given him by my right hon. Friend.
§ (5.45.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 67; Noes 122 —(Div. List, No. 245.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (5.59.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I desire without intending to move the reduction of the Vote, to call attention to one or two matters relating to Irish administration. One is that of prison control, for what has recently occurred in Tullamore Gaol is, I venture to say, entirely without precedent. I do not believe any case can be cited in which a prisoner has been allowed to fall into such a bad state of health and into such a miserably low condition a few days before the expiry of his sentence, as to render it impossible to release him at the end of his term of imprisonment. And yet that has been the fate of Mr. John Cullinane. I was at first inclined to take a rather strong view of the conduct of the prison doctor, because the Chief Secretary told us when I first brought this matter forward that Mr. Cullinane was suffering from influenza, and he left it to be understood by the House that that was the diagnosis of the prison doctor, whereas it was the outcome of an examination of the prisoner by a member of the Prisons Board, who overruled the decision of the prison doctor Now, I have two complaints to make. I say that typhoid fever is a specific disease, the symptoms of which may be easily detected. The prison doctor knew that Mr. Cullinane was suffering from typhoid fever; he had had him under observation for six months; he had seen him in good health and in bad health; yet his diagnosis is overruled, and a false statement made to this House on the authority of a member of the Prisons Board. Far be it from me to make a personal attack on Dr. O'Farrell; I do not wish to say he was guilty of inhumanity, but I do say it 1004 was extremely wrong on his part to make the Report he did in face of the prison doctor's Report. And as to the prison doctor, our reproach is, that seeing Mr. Cullinane fall ill just at the end of his sentence he did not at once get him discharged and sent back to his friends, but kept him until he fell into such a state that it became impossible to release him. I do not think the Government can be congratulated on having an official who acts in that way. I am not sure that a good action for false imprisonment would not lie against the prison officials. At whose charge is Mr. Cullinane to be maintained in the prison hospital? I think the Government ought to compensate him for his sufferings, as well as pay the expenses to which he is being put. I have no authority from Mr. Cullinane to make any suggestion; but, speaking as a Member of this House, I do say that when a man is allowed by the prison doctor to fall into such a condition as to prevent his release from gaol at the end of his sentence, he ought to receive compensation. Furthermore, I say that, having got the disease in consequence of the insanitary gaol accommodation, he ought to be compensated by the Government. If a man goes into a lodging house in Rams-gate or Margate, there is, according to recent decisions, an implied covenant that it is in a sanitary condition, and you can recover damages for breach of that implied covenant. Surely the case of a prisoner who is detained Compulsorily is of very much greater strength. Therefore, I say the very least the Government could do would be to give Mr. Cullinane a sufficient solatium to compensate him for the very great injury inflicted on him by immuring him in an infectious gaol. I am not at all certain that a good action for false imprisonment does not lie, as his detention was not due to any action or default of his own. It is, at all events, false imprisonment in the technical sense. I, therefore, make this demand that we should have an explanation from the Government as to why Mr. Cullinane was not discharged from prison in sufficient time. Hon. Members will remember the position taken up by the Home Secretary in the case of the dynamite prisoners—the Scotch prisoners—with the result that they were discharged from 1005 prison. The Government then laid down the principle that when a prisoner became so ill that his further detention would be at the risk of his life, he was entitled, as a matter of common humanity, to his discharge. Poor Mr. Cullinane has been brought to death's door, and it is supposed that it would kill him absolutely if he were discharged. The next point is why the Prisons Board overruled the decision of the prison doctor? I say, the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary did not convey to the House the fact that there was a conflict of diagnosis between the two doctors; and I think it would have been fairer to the prison doctor and fairer to the House if he had done so. If the right hon. Gentleman was in possession of that information, I complain that he concealed the true facts of the case. Then I want to know whether the expenses of Mr. Cullinane and the expenses incurred by his friends in consequence of his illness will be found. I recommend that a sufficient sum in the way of compensation should be made to this unfortunate gentleman. The other point I desire to raise is with regard to the action of Her Majesty's Government in estreating the sureties of Mr. Dillon and Mr. William O'Brien. It seems to me that on the point of technical law the Government were justified in the course they pursued. But I would point out that the object of bail bonds is to bring principals to take their trial or to take their sentence. When that object has been achieved, I do not think the Government ought to be allowed to insist upon taking into the Exchequer the amount of the bail. This is a matter which affects the Chancellor of the Exchequer quite as much as the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I think it would be a proper thing for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say, "I will advise the Crown to remit the amount." He has full power on that behalf; and I think he ought to exercise it, when we see the fines imposed on Orangemen, for offences of a much graver kind, so often remitted. Take the case of illicit distillation. How often does it happen that fines that have been imposed in the interests of preventive justice have been remitted by the Exchequer? The Chancellor of the Exchequer's only 1006 ground for insisting on the collection of the tax would be that the taxpayer generally would be eased. I must say for myself that I have always taken the view that the Bill of Rights was being infringed by the Irish Resident Magistrates imposing very heavy bails of this kind. The holding of a man to bail in £1,000 and two sureties in £500 for a case triable at Petty Sessions is a very different thing from insisting upon such bail in a case, not of misdemeanour but of felony. Though the Bill of Rights is not explicit on the point, I think the words are "excessive bail shall not be taken." If these gentlemen instead of being Members of Parliament had been crossing-sweepers who had committed, say, an aggravated assault, would not any lawyer say it would be a strong thing to hold them to bail in £1,000? I think the Government might say the bail in these cases was very heavy, and should be remitted wholly or in part. The people of Ireland do not understand, and certainly do not appreciate, the class of legislation which has recently been imposed upon them by the Chief Secretary. They do not look upon it as a portion of the permanent law of the country—they never can so regard it so long as they are told that a General Election may relieve them of it. The Government find themselves at an advantage. Having vindicated the law—for they have now two Members of the House of Commons in gaol, and another member of the alleged conspiracy has caught typhoid fever in Tullamore Prison—they might well take a generous view of their powers and position.
§ (6.18.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies I should like to raise one or two points in connection with the case of Mr. Cullinane which have occurred to me. It will be in the recollection of hon. Members that when attention was first drawn to the case the Chief Secretary told the House that Mr. Cullinane was suffering from influenza. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us upon what basis he gave that intelligence to the House; from whom was the information received; was it obtained from the medical officer of the prison or from 1007 the medical officer of the General Prisons Board? I should think that Dr. O'Farrell, who is a medical man of standing, would be very slow to express himself so decidedly, so early in the case, as the Chief Secretary did. Again, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether there were any cases of influenza in the gaol and in the town of Tullamore at the time Mr. Cullinane was seized. There may be some assumption that in the preliminary stage of the disease there was some little doubt as to its nature. I cannot agree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Longford that it is very easy for any medical man to distinctly say in the first period of typhoid fever that the patient is suffering from that disease. On the other hand it is extraordinary that the Chief Secretary should have been advised to state that this gentleman was suffering from a disease he was not suffering from. Assuming this was an ordinary attack of influenza, would it not have been more humane and honest and straightforward to have immediately released Mr. Cullinane, seeing that he was within a couple of days from his release? Now that it has been proved that the gentleman was suffering from typhoid fever, I should like the Chief Secretary to tell us at what time the symptoms manifested themselves. Moreover, I desire some information in respect to the question of expenses. We who come from Ireland know that if a policeman meets with any injury his expenses, during sickness, are paid, and he receives recompense. We know, too, that if any member of the so-called loyal minority in Ireland suffers a deprivation of rights or injury, he is always recompensed. Considering Mr. Cullinane was detained in gaol longer than his term, and that expenses were necessarily incurred in the shape of medical and other attendance, I think it only fair that those expenses should be defrayed by the Government. Tullamore Gaol has been regarded by the Chief Secretary as a great sanitorium, indeed, the right hon. Gentleman has always spoken of this gaol as the captain of a clipper ship speaks of his craft. We now find that the prison is in a most unsanitary condition. A great number of the prisoners detained there have been transferred to another 1008 gaol. Several political prisoners have recently been given their freedom, and I heard of that with great pleasure; but other prisoners have been transferred to Clonmel. Why has Clonmel Gaol been chosen for the transference? I had an opportunity of spending a brief apprenticeship in that establishment of the right hon. Gentleman, and I endeavoured to get several insanitary defects rectified. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether this is not a time when he should take in hand a systematic investigation, not merely of the sanitary condition of Tullamore Gaol, but of all the prisons in Ireland. In Ireland there is a great rainfall. In the western portion of the Island there are scarcely two fine days in the week. That, of necessity, interferes with the exercise of prisoners in gaol. All prisoners are supposed to have two hours open air exercise daily, but all of them cannot possibly have it because of the want of accommodation suitable for use in wet weather. No such accommodation exists in the Clonmel, Galway, Derry, and many other gaols in Ireland. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to afford me some information on the points I have raised.
§ (6.30.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I think that in a very brief statement with respect to Tullamore I can dispel the illusions of hon. Members opposite, or at all events reply satisfactorily to their criticisms. Hon. Members have attacked me on the ground that I have made certain mis-statements of fact respecting the illness of Mr. Cullinane. Of course, as the Committee know, when inquiries have to be made I only communicate with the officers of prisons through the Prisons Board, whose servants they are. No blame, I think, should be thrown on the medical officer of the prison because he has been mistaken in his diagnosis, for mistakes must now and then occur; unfortunately, no medical skill and care will prevent them. It appears that there was a good deal of influenza in the town of Tullamore, and, amongst other persons, 1009 the wife of the medical officer of the prison was affected. The early symptoms in Mr. Cullinane's case were developed so rapidly that they had much more the appearance of influenza than of typhoid. That was the reason why the doctor took the view at first that the disease was not typhoid, but influenza. It soon became apparent, however, that it was typhoid, but the treatment which the patient had received was not, I believe, improper or unsuited to the true conditions of the case. I have been attacked on account of the alleged insanitary condition of the prison, but I gather, from the information at my disposal, that the fever was due to some contamination of the milk with which the prisoners were provided, and not to any insanitary condition of the prison. As soon as the disease declared itself prompt measures were taken. All the short-sentence prisoners were released, and the long-sentence prisoners were removed to Clonmel, where the Prisons Board believed that they would find ample accommodation and proper sanitary arrangements.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think there have been nine cases. One case declared itself after the removal to Clonmel. I have also been asked whether it would not be proper to compensate Mr. Cullinane for the sufferings he has undergone. If to grant compensation in such cases is the practice either in Ireland or in England, no doubt it will be followed in this instance, but there is no reason that I can see for treating the case exceptionally. As to the alleged error in not releasing Mr. Cullinane as soon as it became clear that he was suffering from a serious disease, the explanation is that he could not be released in consequence of the state of health in which he was. It was quite impossible to turn Mr. Cullinane out in the cold with the typhoid fever upon him. The hon. and learned Member for Longford has referred to another subject. He has asked whether the Irish Executive will remit the recognizances which have been forfeited in the case of Messrs. Dillon and O'Brien. As I have 1010 said on a former occasion, it is a serious matter for any man to violate deliberately his legal engagement; and there are no circumstances that I know of in this case that would justify any departure from ordinary procedure. It is evident that the flight of these two accused persons might have had very serious consequences in connection with the trial of the remaining prisoners. In fact, an attempt was actually made to found upon the fact that all the accused were not present at the trial, a reason for quashing the conviction of those prisoners who went through the trial. In circumstances not widely differing from those that actually occurred, the whole proceedings might have been invalidated, and it might have been necessary to undergo the trouble and to incur the costs of a fresh trial. These would have been serious consequences, and they were consequences deliberately contemplated by the two gentlemen who escaped. They thought fit, in order to further a cause they had at heart, to forfeit their recognizances; and, as far as I can see, there is no ground for departing from the ordinary practice in these cases.
§ (6.39.) DR. TANNER
I do not wish to make any personal attack on the officials at Tullamore, although I might have been tempted to do so, seeing that there are some officials in Irish goals whose services could very well be dispensed with. That is notably the case with the lunatic doctor at Clonmel Gaol, where the Chief Secretary has transferred a great number of prisoners from Tullamore. Out of the right hon. Gentleman's mouth the doctor at Tullamore stands convicted. Every one knows that typhoid fever takes at least a fortnight to incubate, and consequently Mr. Cullinane was ill in Tullamore for upwards of a fortnight, and no attention was paid to his case. The Chief Secretary seems to feel it his duty to defend any Irish official be he right or wrong; indeed the right hon. Gentleman is practically bringing about a state of affairs in Ireland from which the country will not readily recover. Here is the case of a man who should have been discharged on a given day, and the 1011 doctor declares he is not in a fit condition to be discharged. I think more attention ought to be paid to these cases. Many unfortunate men are suffering in Irish prisons in consequence of the action of the Chief Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman is responsible for the bad and criminal system of administration now in force, for he backs up every thing done by his supporters—I will not use the word "minions"—whether it be right or wrong. The time will come when the abominable system of officialism will be swept away. Nine-tenths of the prisoners in the West of Ireland do not get their rights in the shape of out-door exercise, and the right hon. Gentleman should see to that. With regard to Mr. Cullinane, let me point out that the symptoms took a fortnight to develop, so that he must have been neglected during that period.
§ (6.45.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I rise to move the reduction of the Vote by the amount of £20,000, and I do so in order to raise the question as to the length of time for which Votes on Account should be granted. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury made out a good case in the discussion we had in regard to the habit of taking these Votes at so late a period of the Session. It must be borne in mind that as the Session commenced in November we stand practically in the position of having reached a date comparable with the end of June in an ordinary Session. Can the right hon. Gentleman cite any instance in which at the end of June a Vote on Account for two months has been taken? — I do not think that he can. He may be able to advance good reasons for doing it this year, but he can give us no precedent. What will be the position of affairs presently? We are to prorogue about the end of July, and about the 20th of that month we shall be told that the Votes must be hurried through or the Session will have to be prolonged. Some of us, no doubt, will be willing to sit on here, but I doubt if we shall be sufficiently numerous to carry on a business-like discussion. I am afraid that this Vote means that there will really be no discussion on the Estimates this year. 1012 The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us in the previous discussion that the First Lord of the Treasury would no doubt put down the Estimates on divers dates before the end of the two months. We hope he will, but looking at the state of business we scarcely anticipate there will be any real discussion. I beg, therefore, to move the reduction of the first item by £20,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item, Class I., 'Surveys of the United Kingdom,' be reduced by £20,000."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ (6.48.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON,) Leeds, N.
I am afraid I do not quite gather what the hon. Gentleman means. He asks if I can point to any precedent for a Vote on Account for two months being taken at the end of June. But may I point out that the period of the Session has really nothing to do with the matter. The first Vote on Account can only be taken at the end of the financial year, on the 31st of March, no matter when the Session may have commenced. The first Vote on Account covers the months of April and May, and there have been cases when it has covered a period of three months. The second Vote on Account is usually made at the end of May. For the last 15 years the second Vote on Account had been for two months at the end of May. In 1881, the first Vote was for three months, and the second Vote, on the 25th June, was practically for two months.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman, for though it is true that the first Vote on Account cannot be taken till the end of the financial year, no matter when the Session commences, yet the effect of commencing the Session in November ought to be to give the Government a clear field for Supply earlier in the year than in an ordinary Session. Had we met in January or February this year we should have had the Debates on the Queen's Speech and on the Second Reading of the Tithe and Irish Land Bills, which would all have occupied a considerable amount of time. But that business was got 1013 through last November, and the Government consequently had a clear field before them when the House re-assembled in January. But they failed to take advantage of it, and the business of the House is more than usually backward. As I think this Vote on Account will practically cover the remainder of the Session I shall press my Amendment to a Division as a protest against the conduct of the Government.
§ (6.55.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 119.—(Div. List, No. 246.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (7.5.) MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)
I have to move a reduction of the Vote for the Department of the Woods and Forests by £1,000. That Department is carried on under the supervision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Some five years ago I had the honour of waiting on the right hon. Gentleman who promised to give special attention to the question of granting licences for searching for precious minerals in Wales, but I do not find that he has given the relief which is so necessary. In Wales, at the present moment, there is an opportunity of giving employment to a very large number of men. On one small property alone no fewer than 200 are profitably employed. The right hon. Gentleman has issued 447 licences, but this is the only one which has been taken advantage of. When I point to these facts I think the Committee will come to the conclusion that, when Lord Salisbury states in a speech at Glasgow that the money of the British taxpayer may have to be spent in making a railway in Africa for the purpose of developing the mines of that country, the time has arrived when those who own land in Wales should be allowed, without unjust and unnecessary interference on the part of the State, to carry on their business and give employment to labour. We often hear in this House professions of goodwill towards all men; the Chief Secretary for Ireland tells us, from time to time, how desirous he is of promoting Irish industries. But when those who know something of the 1014 matter go to the Treasury and ask to be allowed to work the mines, such high terms are fixed as prevent it being done. The State will not work the mines itself, nor will it allow other persons to do so. A short time ago 80 or 90 Members of this House requisitioned the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give this matter his attention with a view to making such terms as would enable the mines to be worked. But so far he has vouchsafed us no answer, and nothing has been done.
§ MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN
I venture to say the Department has never visited the locality in which the mines are situated, except for the purpose of collecting its pound of flesh. Now we again ask the Government to consider this matter. We know, by the answers we have elicited from the Attorney General, that the Treasury has a perfect right to collect royalties from all gold mines in the British Empire, and that it neglects its duties if it does not collect them. We know it has a right to a royalty upon gold obtained in Australia. Then why does it not collect it? It knows it cannot. It knows it was found in the colonies that the smallest possible charge on precious metals was detrimental to the interests of the colony. Will the right hon. Gentleman promise to look into this matter and examine its effect upon Wales? There are gold mines in the Principality ready to be worked. We know that annually hundreds of thousand pounds worth of gold ore are imported into Swansea, where a gold producing industry is carried on. We know that there is no import duty upon it, and no tax whatever imposed, and yet you impose such royalties as effectually prevent the Welsh gold mines being worked. You are altogether disregarding the principles of Free Trade. I say you ought to encourage the development of the gold and silver mining industries in Wales instead of so handicapping them as to make it impossible to treat the ore at a profit. No attention has been paid to this matter.
§ MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN
Attention has been given to it to the extent of shelving it year after year.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I must interrupt the hon. Member. The matter is under consideration. It has not been shelved, and it will receive further attention.
§ MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN
I am delighted to hear that after five years of incessant application to the Woods and Forests Commissioners, and of waiting on, or attempting to wait on, the right hon. Gentleman, he is at last going to give the matter his attention. The right hon. Gentleman laughs. It is certainly a very jocular thing that a large number of men are being kept out of employment. He knows that 447 licences have been granted by the office under his supervision, and that only one of them is now being acted upon, and he knows the reason is that he has imposed such excessive royalties on the one mine in existence that it cannot carry on its work at a profit. The Committee is not aware of the circumstances of the case. Suppose a certain number of mines produce every day, except Sunday, £1,000 worth of gold, and a profit of £100. At the end of the year there will be a profit of £30,000, and £300,000 worth of gold will have been produced. The right hon. Gentleman takes his royalties not out of the £30,000, but out of the £300,000. He and the ground-landlord take l-15th of the produce, or £20,000—or, in other words, two-thirds of the gross profits. No business could stand against such a tax. If a man produces 30 carriages a year he cannot afford to give away one of them, although he might be able to give away 1–30th of his profits. You, Mr. Courtney, cannot have forgotten my attempt, some time ago, to tell the right hon. Gentleman the origin of royalties. We know perfectly well that royalties originated when Joseph, in the land of Egypt, charged the people one-fifth of the produce of their land. But the right hon. Gentleman will remember that Joseph owned the corn, and he had some fair ground for asking that he might have a portion of the product. In this case the land belongs to us. The right hon. Gentle- 1016 man will not take a fair proportion of the profit. I have offered to give 10 per cent.—20 per cent. of the profits, and to let the Government supervise my books and ascertain that we did not charge unfairly for management expenses. We are told, however, in effect that it is beneficial to the State that one mine should be working with difficulty, and that 447 licencees who are desirous of mining should be shut out from doing so. I would implore the right hon. Gentleman if he has the welfare of the community at heart to give this matter his consideration, and allow us to get on with our business. I think that five years' interference by the State, the payment by us of heavy costs for the purpose of settling the law, which had never been reviewed since the time of Elizabeth, is a sufficient reason for asking the right hon. Gentleman to allow us to get on with our business.
§ MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN
After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that the matter is receiving attention I will not move a reduction.
§ (7.22.) MR. GOSCHEN
The matter has been considered, and I expect that the result will go a long way to meet the views of the persons whom the hon. Gentleman represents. The difficulty generally is to make sure that any reduction in the licences shall not have the effect of inducing certain adventurers to sell their licences for a much higher price than they could get otherwise. It by no means follows that any concessions which may be made would go to the benefit of the working men. The hon. Gentleman assumes that the majority of the 447 licences, of which he has spoken, have not been worked because of the' royalties. But the hon. Gentleman must be aware that a large number of the licences are merely speculative. The hon. Member says, "It is our land." That is precisely what it is not. The minerals are merely let to the licencees for certain purposes. The hon. Member must be aware that a Committee has been appointed. I believe he gave evidence before it. That Committee 1017 will report, and it will be the duty of everybody interested to see what that Report is. I am sorry the hon. Gentleman, or any hon. Members, should have thought that I, in any way, have neglected this important matter. I do not think I have done so, although, certainly, during the past few months, owing to pressure of other business, I have not been able to give that full attention to the matter which I should have liked to give.
§ (7.26.) MR. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN
The right hon. Gentleman says that the action of the Government has been to prevent mining adventurers from getting large sums of money at the expense of the public. If that has been the policy of the right hon. Gentleman, how is it that 447 licences have been given to adventurers—to every Dick, Tom, and Harry who has asked for them, regardless of whether or not these persons have been financially in a position to develop the properties? No care is taken by the Woods and Forests Department to stop such a proceeding as that which the right hon. Gentleman seems anxious to prevent. The only desire with which the Department seems to be actuated is that of collecting these fees. The Solicitor to the Department gets £30 for every lease granted and something for every licence and the total amount received in this way has between £4,000 and £5,000. I am not alone in my ideas in this matter. One of the greatest mineralogists of the country has obtained a large concession from the Government in Wales and he has done good work, but he declines to put up extensive machinery for the purpose of carrying on an industry solely for the benefit of the Government. As to what the right hon. Gentleman says in regard to "the fostering care of the Woods and Forests Department" in the interests of the public, I think the public are very well able to take care of themselves. I think that instead of the Woods and Forests Department granting leases for 300, 400, or 500 acres of land as they do now, no one should be entitled to a lease of Crown lands exceeding 25 acres, which is the maximum granted in the Australian Colonies. If the Govern- 1018 ment will only take a leaf out of the book of the Australian Colonies who have been so successful in these matters, and whose methods have been to such a large extent copied by America, they will be doing well.
§ (7.30.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I am sorry to find that in this matter of mining royalties we are only in the position we were in two years ago. I have had experience of mining in many countries, and I am in a position to state that there is a very good goldfield in Wales, and that the Welsh people are very much indebted to my hon. Friend for the money he has spent on the development of the mining industry in that country, and for the enthusiasm he has shown in the matter. There has been 10 times as much money spent in developing these goldfields as has been realised from them. Of the companies who have worked the precious metal only one has been able to make a dividend owing to the large royalty charged upon the gross product of the mines. If the Government would content themselves with taking a quarter or a fifth of the net profits, plenty of people would be found to work the minerals. The great bulk of the ore is of a low grade, and the only way in which it could be worked at a profit would be by paying a royalty on the net results. I am in favour of mining royalties being paid, not only on gold and silver, but also on the other metals; but if you are going to continue charging the present royalties, I can only say that it will be rack-renting of the worst type.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The system has not been altered for years. We have been simply working the old system which has been in existence for a long time. However, as I have already informed the Committee, we are now contemplating a change in the system.
§ (7.36.) DR. TANNER
I regret to see that the Committee is in such an apathetic condition. The Government are asking for a large amount of money; there are many Members who consider that some of the items of expenditure mean wanton waste, and who object to 1019 voting them without an adequate explanation from the Treasury Bench, and yet those explanations are not given. I wish to call attention to the question of Public Works and Buildings in Ireland, and to complain of the wanton mismanagement of the Public Works Department. The new Science and Art Buildings in Dublin, although architecturally good, have a miserable piece of ironwork attached to them in the shape of a gate. It is an eyesore to the public, and I trust that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, whom I know is a gentleman of great taste in these matters, will exert his influence in order to bring about an improved condition of things. Then I must protest against the two red blotches of building to be observed from the St. Stephen's Green side. Why are they left there?
§ DR. TANNER
Then I will say no more than that I hope attention will be paid to those matters. I would now ask what is going to be done as to Ballycotton Pier? The end of the pier is insecure. Something should be done to improve it. There is also a reef of rocks running out to the western side of the harbour which is capable of doing a great deal of damage, and which ought to be removed. I would also ask whether anything is to be done to bring about the construction of a small pier at the entrance to Cork Harbour, near the lighthouse? There are a number of poor boatmen who live at Roche's Point whose boats are often in a condition of great danger through insufficiency of pier accommodation. The only accommodation that exists is that constructed for the lighthouse boats, and I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to consult with the Local Cork Authorities with a view to bringing about an improvement in this respect. Lives have been lost at Roche's Point owing to the want of pier accommodation, and owing to the fact that the lifeboat for Cork Harbour is kept at Queenstown. I would also ask the Government to make arrangements for lighting the harbour 1020 of refuge at Glandore and the pier at Castletownsend. I called attention to the matter last year, and the Government said that a light at Castletownsend would be of no use. Seeing, however, that it is a capital harbour of refuge, I think that great good would result to the poor people who use it if it were properly lighted. I also desire to say a few words in reference to the light railways, in regard to which I do not think the people have been properly treated. Hon. Members must have seen two questions that were put on the Paper to-day by the Member for East Kerry (Mr. Sheehan) in reference to what has been done in connection with the Tralee and Dingle Light Railway. In the case of some of these railways the Government laudably proposed to provide employment for the people of the districts concerned; but in CountyCork you have the Great Southern and Western Railway Company scheming to get possession of property at the expense of the dwellers in the locality. The area of taxation ordinarily adopted in connection with these light railway schemes is, in nine cases out of ten, manifestly unfair, the landlords not having to bear their proper share of the burden, although deriving the greater share of the benefits. I should like to have some information from the Secretary to the Treasury in regard to what has been done respecting both the Tralee and Dingle Light Railway, and the Cork Newmarket Light Railway. It is stated that while the Tralee and Dingle Light Railway Company, with a capital of £150,000, consists of nine members, there are ten Directors, only two of whom hold shares in the company. I should like to know whether it is true that the Directors, over seven months before the opening of the line, appointed a secretary at £200 a year, and a manager at £150, which they have lately increased to £200 a year? When we consider the character and the requirements of such a district, the amount likely to be received by the company for fares and goods traffic, the character of the passengers, and the way in which the Directors manage the line, I think a lurid light is thrown upon the way in which these lines have been promoted. I remember travelling over the light railway from Skibbereen to 1021 Schull upon which the passengers had to alight at a point where the gradient is very steep and assist in pushing the train along. On many of these lines the gradients are excessively steep, and proper attention has not been given to the curves, although these curves have been passed by General Hutchinson, who is the Inspector of the Board of Works, and who has thus put the district to great inconvenience and expense. Last winter I asked the Chief Secretary that some attention should be paid to the Cork and Muskerry Railway, and I was promised the favourable consideration of the Government in consequence of the great distress which existed in that part of the country last winter. The Chief Secretary stated that the line would have every consideration and assistance the Government could afford in order that the distress might be relieved by the employment of labour within the distressed area. But although I received this assurance last February nothing whatever has been done in connection with that line. Soft words butter no parsnips; and though we get these assurances, the people suffer and are offered no work. I also referred to the potato failure, and the fact that the seed potatoes which were being supplied were not what they ought to be, but nothing satisfactory has yet been done in this direction. I must urge on the Chief Secretary the necessity of doing something in connection with the Cork and Muskerry Railway, and that pressure should be brought to bear on the Directors to employ the labour of the district instead of importing labour from other quarters. I also hope that something will be done with regard to the Cork and Glandore line.
§ DR. TANNER
There are many other points I could raise if I had the time, but I will reserve my remarks on them for a future opportunity, contenting myself by asking for answers to the questions I have put with regard to the Ballycotton Pier, the entrance to Cork Harbour at Roche's Point, and whether we may hope for something to be done 1022 for the better lighting to the entrance of Castletown Harbour.
§ (7.56.) MR. JACKSON
I may inform the hon. Member that I have only to-day received a Report as to a careful examination which has been made as to the state of Ballycotton Pier, and I have no doubt the hon. Member and his constituents will be glad to learn that, as a matter of absolute certainty, during the last two years neither the sea wall nor the pier has moved in the slightest degree. I think it is three years ago since the hon. Member pointed out the certainty of this pier being driven in by the sea; but up to the present moment there is no cause for the apprehension he then expressed.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am unable to answer that question. I can only give the hon. Member the assurance I have offered, and express my hope that the fishing vessels having access to that place may so multiply as to materially benefit the inhabitants of that part of the coast. With regard to Roche's point, I should like to make further inquiry before I can give a definite answer to the question put by the hon. Gentleman. With regard to the lighting of Castletown Harbour, which the hon. Member desires to see improved, that is a matter which does not come within the control of the Government Department, and is one requiring to be dealt with by the Local Authorities. I am afraid that on the same ground I cannot hold out any hope of the Department doing anything with regard to Castletown Pier. With regard to the Tralee and Dingle Railway, which comes under the Act of 1883, all the Government has to do is to contribute its share towards the guarantee for which it is responsible under that Act. The responsibility for the construction and management of the line rests with the Local Authority. The same answer applies to the Cork and Newmarket and the Cork and Donoughmore Light Railways.
§ DR. TANNER
I have had no wish to impute blame in what I have said. My only object was to try and get the work done by means of local labour, so as to relieve the distress of the district.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I wish to take this opportunity of asking the right hon. Gentleman what it is contemplated to do about the reporting of the Debates of the House. Two or three years ago certain arrangements were decided upon, and the contract for the work was obtained by a certain company—the Hansard Company. I wish to know whether, on the termination of that contract, the work is to be put up to public competition, and whether, if there are no bidders, it is intended to give some sort of subsidy in connection with the work? I should also like to know whether any Department exercises any supervision over the reporting in order to see whether it is up to the mark?
§ (8.6.) MR. JACKSON
There was a question on the Paper to-day in reference to this subject which I was prepared to answer, but it was not put. The hon. Member has stated the facts correctly. It will be in the recollection of the Committee that three years ago a Joint Committee of both Houses considered the question of reporting and printing the Debates and Proceedings of Parliament. Following the Report of that Committee tenders were invited, with the result that the tender of Messrs. MacRae, Curtice, and Co., Limited, whose business was afterwards absorbed by the Hansard Company, being the lowest— in fact, the company offered to do the work without a subsidy — was accepted, and the contract was made for three years. The contract expires this year, and I think that, under the circumstances, it will be necessary to call for fresh tenders. I am not in a position to say more at present, but the question has been carefully considered as to what is necessary to be done; steps will in the meantime be taken to prevent any breakdown. With regard to supervision, in a general way there is some supervision, and it comes under the Stationery Office, but I cannot say how far the responsibility can go beyond 1024 seeing that the terms of the contract are complied with. I believe the terms have been complied with. From the form of the question which appeared on the Notice Paper to-day in respect to the matter, but which was not put, the hon. Member seems to think it desirable, if possible, to separate the work of reporting from the printing. I certainly disapprove any such separation, because I do not think we should be placed in the position, in case of any complaint, of the reporter being able to say that it was the fault of the printer, or, on the other hand, of the printer being able to say it was the fault of the reporter. The work, in my opinion, should be entirely in the hands of one firm, who should be responsible for the whole of it. I repeat, I think it will be necessary to advertise for fresh tenders.
§ (8.11.) MR. LABOUCHERE
When I spoke of supervision, I did not mean going closely into detail, and seeing whether this person or that person was properly reported, but such general supervision as a newspaper would exercise over its reporters. I am not saying whether the reporting is good or bad, but I think there certainly ought to be some such supervision, and I hope that when the time comes for a fresh contract to be made, it will be considered whether such a duty should not be discharged by some official connected, say, with the Stationery Office, There is a Vote on the Paper to which I wish to draw particular notice —that for Secret Service money, which amounts to £35,000 a year. The Government now ask for an additional £10,000. They have already had £6,000, and if this Vote is granted they will have received £16,000 for four months. Many hon. Members object to Secret Service money altogether. I do not go so far as that; but the sum for the purpose has increased, and is increasing, and it ought to be diminished. £35,000 per annum is undoubtedly too much, and I believe that £10,000 would be ample for Secret Service. I shall, therefore, move a reduction of the Vote by the sum of £10,000 in regard to the Secret Service.
§ (8.13.) MR. MORTON
I desire to support the reduction. I do not think there ought to be a Secret Service Fund at all. But as the matter stands, the Government have already got £6,000 on account; and that, I think, is plenty. We do not know at all how the money is spent. It is generally believed to be spent in corruption and bribery either in this or in some other country. It ought not to be so spent; and there certainly ought to be no need for a Secret Service Fund. Some years ago it was found out that some of the money was spent in electioneering purposes; and certainly there are widespread suspicions that it is got rid of in a way which the taxpayers would not approve. Unless we can have explanations of the expenditure, we ought to do away with the fund altogether. I hope the Government will give us satisfactory assurances on this point.
§ (8.15.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 26; Noes 74.—(Div. List, No. 247.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (8.25.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I absolutely object to the next item in this Vote, and shall feel it my duty to divide against it. I see that, with regard to the Police Courts of London at Greenwich and Sheerness, for which £19,000 is required, and towards which £3,000 has already been voted, a further sum of £3,000 is asked for. Upon this matter I have in the past had the support of a considerable number of Conservatives, and I hope to do so again. I do not see why the expenses of the Police Courts of London should come out of the Imperial taxes, when all the other big towns, except, I believe, Dublin, pay for their own police courts out of the local rates. This question has been frequently discussed; and unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer has a better answer to give than any of his predecessors, I shall divide the Committee upon the question. I am rather curious to know the views of the right hon. Gentleman on the point. He is an eminent financier; and I think he will agree with me that this 1026 money ought to be paid out of the local rates. At Bow Street Police Court, it is true, international cases are sometimes heard, but that is certainly not true of such Courts as that at Greenwich. On one occasion when I moved the Reduction, I was told to wait till the County Councils had come into existence, and then they could satisfactorily arrange the whole thing. Well, those Bodies do now exist, and nothing has yet been done. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £3,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item, Class III.,'Police Courts, London and Sheerness, £3,000,' be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr, Labouchere)
§ MR. MORTON
I support the reduction on the ground that my constituents have to pay for their own police courts, and I do not see why they should also have to pay for those of London, which is supposed to be the richest city in the world. I know that some of the Metropolitan Representatives are quite willing that this burden should be thrown on London, providing the citizens are given the control of the police. I am in favour of their having that control, but that the Tory Government refuse to do justice in that matter affords no excuse for continuing this injustice as to the police courts. I trust this Vote will before long disappear from the Estimates.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has yet made no sign, intends to give us his views.
§ (8.29.) MR. GOSCHEN
This matter has so often been discussed that I am surprised the hon. Gentleman should ask me to speak upon it. I agree theoretically with a great deal of what has been urged by the hon. Member, but the whole question of the financial relations between London and the rest of the country is a very complicated one. The question of Police Courts cannot be dealt with separately, and this charge cannot be taken off Imperial taxation and put on the London rates without an examination being made at the same time as to other "set- 1027 offs" which London urges ought to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer. Therefore I am not prepared to agree to this reduction.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having really discovered a new reason for objecting to this reduction. The question has been often discussed before, but this is the first time I have heard of "set-offs." The usual defence has been that the Metropolis has not the control of its own police.
§ MR. MORTON
I am not at all satisfied with the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman. He speaks of this as only part of a large question, but let me remind him that the Government have already dealt with the question of the maintenance of the parks. It is absurd, therefore, to say that they cannot touch this matter. I shall vote for the reduction.
§ (8.35.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 24; Noes 71.—(Div. List, No. 248.)
§ Original Question again proposed. (8.45.)
§ (9.10.) Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ (9.13.) MR. MORTON
I do not desire to move a reduction of the Vote, but I do wish to elicit some information on a matter with which an item in this Vote on Account is concerned, and which is of general interest. I mean the reclamation of slob lands on tidal rivers, and more especially I wish to direct attention to Ireland.
§ MR. MORTON
Then, Sir, if I cannot go into that matter there is another question upon which I should like to ask for information, and that is the publication of Hansard's Reports. I do not see the Secretary to the Treasury in his place—
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
There is a question I take the opportunity to ask in reference to the British Museum. I noticed in to-day's 1028 newspapers an intimation that it is proposed to close the Museum in the evening from the 1st June to 4th July next for the purpose, as it is stated, of making alterations in the electric lighting plant. That seems a very long time for the purpose, and I should be glad to have some information as to who originally installed the electric light at the Museum, and in what respect has it been deficient, and what is the nature and probable expense of the proposed alteration? Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury can tell us something about this?
§ (9.16.) MR. JACKSON
I am afraid I am not aware of the circumstances to which the hon. Gentleman refers. The electric lighting at the British Museum I have always understood has been very satisfactory, but I can quite understand that if an alteration is necessary why advantage should be taken of the summer months and the long days for the purpose. Why the alterations are to be made, however, I have no information. The light was installed, I understand, experimentally by Messrs. Siemens, and has from time to time been added to in a manner eminently satisfactory, and up to the present an arrangement has been in force by which an annual rent has been paid for the plant. I think it was about the beginning of last year that the experiment was begun, following upon an expression of opinion of this House in Committee of Supply.
§ MR. MORTON
Might I raise the questions to which I just now referred by moving a reduction of the Vote?
§ (9.19.) DR. TANNER
If my hon Friend will allow me, there is an earlier item I wish to mention—that for law charges and prosecutions in Ireland. That is an item of public expenditure that if we had full benches, Irish Members would insist upon having fully debated, and the Debate would be initiated by Members fully acquainted with the technicalities of the subject. I, unfortunately, am physically incapable of 1029 debating the question, and must content myself with raising the question and making my protest by taking a Division. As an Irish Representative, taking into consideration all that has occurred during the past year in Tipperary, the disgraceful way in which Irish stipendiary Magistrates have been brought from different counties because their truculence and virulence made them more fitted for the work given them to do— when we consider how juries have been packed at Assize after Assize throughout the whole proceedings of the present Administration—I say no Irish Member would be doing his duty in this House if, though he were the sole Irish Representative present, he were to sit and allow such a scandalous item as this for law charges and criminal prosecutions to pass unchallenged. We have only to refer to the proceedings against Mr. William O'Brien and Mr. John Dillon, and to the way in which men have been sent to gaol in the attempt to collect scandalous rack-rents on the Ponsonby and Tipperary Estates, and the wanton mis-expenditure of public money through the means of Mr. Ronan, Q.C., and Mr. Carson, Q.C., whose virulence and truculent behaviour have been conspicuous, to recall the sad history of these transactions. Many of these men I have known in earlier days honoured and respected among their fellows, before the upas tree reared by the present Government had spread its baneful influence. It is an old story, and I cannot now go into the history of these trials in connection with the Ponsonby Estates and the proceedings in Tipperary, though I believe I should be entitled so to do. I am not, I confess, fully conversant with all the details. I can only refer to the matter en gros, and my colleagues are absent after having had plenty of work in the last week or two in attempting to lick the Land Purchase Bill into shape. Many of the Irish Members have had to go away to Ireland; but I should not be doing my duty if I allowed a Vote including such an item as this for law charges in Ireland to pass without a protest, and, therefore, I move the reduction of the Vote by £15,000.
§ (9.24.) MR. MORTON
I fully expected some answer would be forthcoming from the Treasury Bench. I do not wish to detain the Committee, and only wish to say that I have such a bad opinion of the proceedings in connection with these prosecutions in Ireland during the last four or five years that I shall, whenever I have the opportunity, protest against expenditure on this account. These are not prosecutions against crime but against created political offences.
§ (9.28.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 31; Noes 72.— (Div. List, No. 249.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (9.33.) MR. MORTON
I desire to move the reduction of the Vote by the item of £12,000 for Dublin Police, &c. What the etcetera means I do not know, but it appears to me that this item comes under the same category as that for the London and Sheerness Police Courts, to which we have already taken objection. I think the people of Dublin should pay for their own police, as other towns in the Kingdom do. I say nothing of that quasi-military force, the Royal Irish Constabulary, but the Dublin Police Force is a matter for local funds, not for Imperial expenditure, and it is unfair to the taxpayers that they should be saddled with this amount.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item, Class III., 'Dublin Metropolitan Police, &c, £12,000,' be omitted from the proposed Vote."—(Mr. Morton.)
§ (9.35.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I must support this omission from the Vote. My hon Friend who has moved this reduction has asked a question of the Government with respect to the control of the police in Dublin, and I think it would be only courteous of the right hon. Gentleman, whom I observe on the Treasury Bench, to take some notice of it. I have all along entertained a very strong view that the Constabulary should be altogether outside the control of the Central Authority. Therefore, as far as this grant for £12,000 to the 1031 Metropolitan Police of Dublin represents in any sense the control of that Body by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, I think it is our duty to support the Amendment. I am not going to say a single word against the efficiency of the Force, but, having regard to the despotic methods which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary adopts, I cannot but express the view that they constitute an additionally strong reason why, if possible, we should free the Constabulary of Dublin from the control of the right hon. Gentleman.
It is the duty of hon. Members to bring a certain amount of study to bear upon the Estimates.
§ MR. MORTON
I am very sorry, Sir, that I have not been able to apply that study, but it is due to the fact that the Government are taking a Vote on Account. We have not got the opportunity under such circumstances of going through the Vote regularly, and we are surely entitled to full information. I think it is very wrong that the Government should refuse to give the information we ask for.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (9.41.) DR. TANNER
I wish to raise a small matter that has occurred in my own constituency, and with regard to which I have received several letters. There happens to be a sergeant named Joseph Barton, at present stationed at Coachford. This man was recently removed from his former district for gross immorality. There is a child of his who is being supported out of the rates. I think it would be to the interest of the Government when a case of this kind crops up that the man should be reduced in rank. In the present case he was not reduced, but was sent only about 12 miles away—practically only to the next parish. This has been the cause of serious complaint in the district I represent, and I would ask that this man, if he is to continue in the Service, should be sent further away. It is usual when a man marries in a certain district that he should not serve in that district, but 1032 should be transferred to some other place. In the same way a man who joins the Royal Irish Constabulary is not allowed to serve in the city of his birth or in a place where he has a number of relations. If that is so, I should say that in a case of this kind where a man has been found guilty of gross immorality he should be removed some distance from his old district.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
I wish to call attention to two or three items under Classes V., VI., and VII.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
As a point of order, I would ask whether it will be competent for me to refer to items which come before those referred to by the hon. Member?
§ (9.47.) MR. CONYBEARE
Then with the permission of the hon. Member I will deal with the items which come before those he wishes to refer to. I wished to ask a question or two, of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, but it is a very curious fact that although we are dealing with half a dozen Votes relating to Ireland, there is not a single Member of the Government representing that country in the House. It is impossible for me to ask questions in regard to the Constabulary in Ireland in the absence of the Chief Secretary and the Irish Attorney General, therefore, with a view of enabling them to attend, I beg to move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Conybeare).
§ MR. JACKSON
I hope the hon. Member will not press that Motion. I will see that the questions raised are submitted to the Attorney General for Ireland.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
It is not fair to the Secretary to the Treasury that I should put questions to him affecting Ireland.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I trust the Government will acquit us of any desire to delay the proceedings, and I withdraw the Motion on the understanding that one of the Members of the Government representing Ireland will attend.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (9.52.) MR. CONYBEARE
The first question I wanted to ask the Chief Secretary was with respect to what I believe to be a wholly unnecessary police-station at a place within two miles of Cavan, at the entrance to a Lord Farnham's park. There is no crime in the district to justify the number of men at the station, and it is the duty of the Government to get rid of such an expensive and unnecessary display of police force which was only adopted in the first instance as the result of a panic. If the Government can point to any serious crime which has been committed, or any attempt which has been made to inflict injury upon Lord Farnham during the years that have elapsed since the establishment of this police-station it would be a reason why I should not ask for a reduction of the police force in this place, but I challenge the Chief Secretary to produce any evidence of such a thing having occurred. The Police Force throughout Ireland is, as we know, greater than the condition of the country warrants. I should be glad if this were an occasion on which I could argue in favour of a much more general reduction in the expenditure on Irish police; but in a Vote on Account of this nature we must content ourselves with dealing with the question piecemeal. The next point on which I wish for information is in regard to the police on Mr. Olphert's Estate in County Donegal. What are they doing? We have not heard much about disturbance or crime, or agitation in that district for some time, and I desire to know whether the Police Force there is still maintained at the exaggerated number of years ago. I wish to know whether the large Police Force is still maintained at Falcarragh, and whether the workhouse at Dunfanaghy 1034 is used for the accommodation of the Constabulary or military. The Constabulary were used by the owner of the Falcarragh Estate in a way in which that Force ought not to have been employed—in the destruction of the growing crops of the tenantry for instance—and I want to know if that has been put a stop to. Another point is whether the Chief Secretary has considered, or will consider, the advisability of putting numbers on the uniforms of the members of the Royal Irish Constabulary? The question is not a new one, having been raised again and again in connection with the Irish police and outrages committed by them, the right hon. Gentleman having taken care to prevent identification of offenders by refusing to have numbers placed on their uniforms. The right hon. Gentleman and his friends are constantly declaring that Ireland is in a most satisfactory condition, and that the Unionist policy has resulted in its pacification. If that is so, there can be no special reason why the police should be employed in any unusual duties under the Coercion Act — such duties as would require that they should be preserved from identification. There have been no conflicts between the police and the people for some time past, and it, therefore, appears to me that whatever reason there may have been for concealing the identity of individual policemen in times past no longer exists. I think I can claim that the time has now arrived when the police of Ireland should be treated in the same manner as the police in this country. If the right hon. Gentleman refuses to alter the regulations, we shall have a right to question his sincerity when he proclaims on public platforms the restoration of law and order in Ireland.
§ (10.6.) MR. MORTON
I desire to move to reduce the Vote by the sum of £5,000, the item for Cyprus. I do not think the Island is of any use to this country, or that there is any reason why we should be called on to pay £10,000 (£5,000 of which is now asked on account) a year in respect of it. As I understand the matter, when we took possession of the Island in 1879, we were told that it would be no charge to this country, and I want to know in what relation it now 1035 stands to the British Crown or to the Sultan of Turkey. It is the duty of the Government to prove that there is some need for this money. So far as I can see, the Island is of no use to anyone but a clique of officials who hang about London waiting for good salaries, and do not mind where they go. I shall persist in moving the rejection of the Vote unless the Government can show that there is some good reason for our retaining possession of the Island.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item, Class V., 'Cyprus, Grant in Aid, £5,000,' be omitted from the proposed Vote"—(Mr. Morton.)
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I certainly sympathise with my hon. Friend in what he has been saying, and shall be happy to vote with him if he goes to a Division; but I would point out to him that no reply has been tendered to me in regard to the points I raised, and, furthermore, that there are several questions to be raised in connection with two or three items which he has passed over in order to move this reduction. I would suggest to him that be should withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. MORTON
I shall be happy to withdraw the Motion for the present on the understanding that I can bring it forward later on.
§ (10.14.) MR. CREMER
I shall vote for the Amendment unless some account is given of the way in which this money is expended. It seems to me to he a monstrous thing that the Government should ask for £10,000 as a grant in aid for Cyprus, without affording any information as to how the money is to be expended. We have no information as to whether the retention of the Island is of any use to this country, and there are many out of doors, I may add many in this House, who if asked to state the exact position the Island of Cyprus occupies in relation to this country would be unable to give us any defi- 1036 nite information. Is it a Crown Colony? Has it any connection with the Turkish Empire, and, if so, what is the nature of that connection? Is its retention of any advantage to us, and, if so, what is the advantage? Unless we are informed on these matters we shall be perfectly justified in pressing the Amendment, and also in continuing our demand for full information on this subject. As far as I can learn, the acquisition of this costly Island is about the only thing we are able to boast as the result of the spirited Foreign policy we beard so much about a few years ago.
§ (10.17.) MR. CONYBEARE
I must say that the way in which business is being conducted is exceedingly unsatisfactory. ["Hear, hear!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Members opposite cheer, but I refer to the unsatisfactory conduct of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. We are asked to vote a large sum of money for the Island of Cyprus, as a Vote on Account, which is to cover the period between now and the end of the Session. If business is to be conducted in this way we are simply wasting our time in coming here to consider these Votes. Surely we are entitled to information on this question. Surely the Government are not going to say they are not disposed to discuss such matters. If we are not to discuss them why are they put on the Paper? It is all very well to say the information is obtainable on the general Estimates, but that is hardly an answer to the hon. Member who moved the reduction of the Vote. This Vote involves the question of our relations with the Ottoman Empire, and the extraordinary arrangement which still prevails by which Lord Beaconsfield made us tenants on a long lease, and at a rack-rent payable to Turkey, of the Island of Cyprus. We know that a small Blue Book is annually published dealing with this Island, but I cannot discover in that any answer to the questions we desire to receive information upon, regarding the policy of our relations with the Ottoman Empire. We have a right to know what is to be done with the money now asked for, and I should like to know the total amount we have had to pay in shape of annual 1037 contributions to the Sultan of Turkey for the pleasure of looking after this outlying estate of his. I should like also to know "what is the character of the Force we have to retain on the Island, and how long it may be necessary to maintain it there. Are we to be told that it is expedient that this Island should become one of our military stations in the Mediterranean? Will the Government say Aye or No to this question? We have been paying £80,000 or £90,000 a year as the rent of this Island to the Sultan. Have the Government considered whether that payment is to be perpetual? Will the Government consider the propriety of applying to Cyprus the principle of land purchase they are applying to another Island, because, as we are responsible for the government of the Island, it might be well to consider whether we should not pay the Sultan out and out, and become the owners of the fee simple? I should like to know whether Cyprus belongs to us or to the Turks. If it belongs to us we might not grudge the amount required to keep it in order. If not, we ought to arrange with the Turks so that we may not be called upon to make any further contribution. Whatever the Turks may get out of the Island, we get nothing—not even in the shape of kudos. It seems to me that, whether from the sentimental or the pounds, shillings, and pence point of view, the Island is totally useless to us, and I am certainly opposed to the continuance of this grant in aid for the maintenance of our supremacy in that Island. It would be much more sensible to apply the money towards the consolidation of our rule in other parts of the world than to squander our resources in keeping up this Island as a garden for the Sultan of Turkey. I cannot help expressing regret that we cannot go into these matters. I was desirous of raising some questions in regard to the Diplomatic Service. [The CHAIRMAN: Order, order!] But I shall not do so on the present occasion. But the Government must not complain if, upon the next occasion that they ask for a Vote on Account, we find it necessary to go over the ground again. It cannot conduce to the rapid progress of Public Business that we should be required to 1038 vote these sums half in the dark upon these various occasions, and we cannot do justice to our constituents when we have to take en bloc as it were a whole series of Votes. I presume that later on we shall have a third Vote on Account, and I shall not consider myself precluded from discussing these matters more at length on that occasion.
§ (10.27.) MR. PICKERSGILL
I should like to press for a reply on a question of such importance. Of course, it is inconvenient, no doubt, for a Ministry to be called upon at a moment's notice to give information on every item included in this Vote; but if the Government choose to bring forward Votes on Account they ought, I think, to be prepared to face the inconvenience which that course entails. I am not quite sure whether the Vote upon which information is now desired is controlled by the Foreign Office or the Colonial Office. Unfortunately the Representatives of both those Offices are absent; but in' their absence I think we have a right to require that there should be some other Minister present who is prepared to give the necessary information.
§ MR. JACKSON
I thought after the remark of the hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare), that on a subsequent occasion he proposed to raise these questions again, it was hardly necessary to follow him into detail now. If I may venture to say so, this is hardly the time to discuss questions of policy. When the Vote itself is taken an opportunity will be afforded of discussing any matter it is thought right to raise. I think I may go further and say it is most unusual on Votes on Account to raise questions of general policy such as questions relating to Cyprus. The hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Morton) complained he had not all the information he requires. I suppose he has never looked at the original Estimate, but has simply contented himself with glancing at the Paper which bears the amount of the Vote on Account. The hon. Member for Camborne spoke as though the tribute, or what he called rack-rent, was paid to Turkey. I am sure he knows perfectly well that not 1s. of the tribute has gone to Turkey. It has been explained in the House over and over again that the 1039 amount is simply intercepted. We should have to pay the same sum whether we took it in that form or any other. We are responsible for the payment of a certain share of the guaranteed debt. [Mr. CONYBEARE: Why do we have to pay it?] We should have to pay it in another form if not in this. These questions have been answered over and over again in the House. I hope the Committee will not think that in our not rising to reply there was any desire to act discourteously towards hon. Members who have raised these questions. The Vote will have to be taken on a subsequent occasion when all these questions can be raised again.
§ (10.33.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I quite agree that there is great difficulty in discussing all these matters upon a Vote on Account, but the difficulty is really not of our making, it really is the making of the Government. It is all very well to say that the Vote for Cyprus is coming on in the Estimates; but when is it coming on? That is exactly what we have not been able to ascertain. I regard this question of Cyprus as an exceedingly serious one, and I have long wished to discuss it in the House. The Secretary to the Treasury has failed altogether to appreciate the point. This is not a question of whether this money is paid to Turkey, but whether it is taken from Cyprus. Cyprus is the only Dependency of England I know of from which you take money and devote it to other purposes. It is quite true Turkey owes you money, and therefore you do not let Turkey have it. But you take it from Cyprus under the name of tribute, and, having taken £100,000 or thereabouts a year from Cyprus, you find you have so impoverished the country that you are obliged to take power from the English taxpayer to make up the void you have created. The condition is most disastrous and most discreditable to the English Government. We remember the flourish of trumpets with which Cyprus was acquired. Cyprus was to be a model of government in the East. We recollect a Cabinet Minister saying that it was to inaugurate steam ploughs in Asia Minor, and all the rest of it; and now you have got there certainly one of the most squalid Adminis- 1040 orations, one which is unable to perform its duties. Whether the money you take from the country is paid to Turkey or the bondholders is immaterial. Money is taken out of an extremely poor country, and in my opinion the state of things is most unsatisfactory. The position in which we find ourselves to-night is a very good illustration of the infinite mischief and danger of postponing the discussion of the Estimates. In a few weeks time, when the Adjournment of the House is imminent, we shall be told, "Oh, there is no time to discuss the Cyprus Vote." We fully recognise the ability and industry with which the Secretary to the Treasury deals with all these matters in the absence of the Ministers specially responsible for such Votes as this. Yet we are bound to take note of the position in which we are placed by the taking of these Votes on Account.
§ (10.40.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I wish to take note of two observations which fell from the Secretary to the Treasury. He complains that we have not sufficiently and adequately studied the main Estimates in order to discuss Votes on Account. We will endeavour to please the right hon. Gentleman by studying those Estimates in future. In the second place, the right hon. Gentleman asks us to suspend the discussion on Cyprus, and promises us that we shall have an adequate opportunity of discussion on the Estimates themselves. Now, let us make a note of that. We are to have adequate discussion, not the end of an evening or an occasion at the end of the Session. I suppose the Government will give us a whole evening, and I must confess that, considering the importance of the questions involved, it is not unreasonable to expect that an entire evening will be devoted to the discussion of the Cyprus Vote. Under the circumstances, I recommend my hon. Friend the Member for Camborne not to continue the discussion to-night, but to agree to the proposition of the Secretary to the Treasury on the full and distinct pledge of the right hon. Gentleman that we are to have pretty well an evening later on in the Session for the discussion.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I am quite willing to accept the suggestion of my 1041 hon. Friend, but I wish to guard myself against a wrong impression the Secretary to the Treasury seems to have formed. I did not at all intend to convey that I should on any future occasion traverse all the ground I have traversed to-night, but what I did intend to convey was that if we allow the Government to take these snatch Votes we shall not consider ourselves precluded from dealing with these questions hereafter. My excuse for troubling the Committee at all to-night is that hitherto we have not had any adequate opportunity of discussing foreign and colonial questions. The Secretary to the Treasury has pointed out that this tribute or rent goes towards the payment of the guaranteed debt. Is that a debt in which the country is interested, or a debt in which certain classes of persons known as bondholders are interested? I conceive that there is a considerable difference between a debt in which we as a nation are interested and a debt in which only a certain portion of the population as bondholders are interested. Of course, if this is a debt to the nation we cannot complain of a certain portion of the revenues of the Turkish Empire being sequestrated for the purposes of that debt. But I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, if it is a guaranteed debt to this country, it is a solitary instance of the kind, or whether there is any case in which a similar course of action is pursued? I ask this question for very good reasons. Portugal owes us several millions sterling, and I ask the Government what course is being, or is to be, pursued in reference to that debt?
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I do not for a moment intend to transgress the Rules of Debate, and I will reserve that point for a future occasion. I will conclude what I was saying by asking the right hon. Gentleman to state, if he can, whether this is merely a debt in which bondholders are interested or a debt to the nation.
§ MR. MORTON
The right hon. Gentleman says it is an unusual thing to discuss these matters on Votes on 1042 Account. That is not our fault. There ought to be no such things as Votes on Account. We have got an undertaking discussing these matters, and probably the discussion of them is the best way of putting a stop to these Votes on Account. We have got an undertaking from the Government, however, that we shall have an adequate opportunity of properly discussing this Vote on another occasion, and, under these circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ (10.50.) MR. JACKSON
Perhaps I may be allowed to answer the question put by the hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare). He will find, if he will turn to the Estimates, that this is a debt which was guaranteed by this country, and, therefore, this country is responsible for it. The hon. Members for Camborne, Peterborough (Mr. Morton), and Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), have referred to what they call the undertaking that there shall be ample opportunities for discussing this hereafter, and the hon. Member for Northampton was good enough to draw imaginary pictures about spending a whole night in discussing the Vote for Cyprus. What I said was that there would be an opportunity for discussing the matter when the Vote itself was taken, and that it was unusual to discuss such matters on the Vote on Account. That was all I said, or intended to say. I am sure that hon. Members, having discussed the matter at such length to-night, will be desirous of saving the time of the House in Committee.
§ DR. TANNER
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this will be the last grant in aid to Cyprus? Last year some £35,000 was asked for, and it was then stated that that would be the last time a grant in aid would be asked for.
§ MR. JACKSON
I am afraid, Sir, no promise of the kind asked for by the hon. Member can be given. It is true, however, that at this particular time Cyprus is in a more prosperous condition than ever before.
§ DR. TANNER
The right hon. Gentleman took exception to the hon. Member for Peterborough not 1043 studying the Estimates. I have taken up the Estimates in connection with this matter, and I find that last year you asked for £35,000, and said that would be sufficient to deal with all the items of expenditure. This year there is a Vote on the Estimates to the effect that a sum of about £15,400 is enough to meet the total demand up to the 31st of March, 1891, but, as the High Commissioner has only asked for a grant of £10,000, provision is only made for that amount.
§ (10.55.) SIR W. HARCOURT
I do not think the hon. Member does quite appreciate the whole state of the case, and it is the very seriousness of it that prevents the Secretary to the Treasury from giving any pledge for the future. The real truth is, you rob Cyprus of a large sum of money which should be devoted to its administration, its roads, its public works, and so on, to the extent of something like £100,000 a year; you impoverish Cyprus to such an extent that you are obliged to re-vote money from the English taxpayers that you may decently and very barely carry on the affairs of Cyprus, and there is no chance of our failing to have a Vote of this kind every year. Sometimes it will be more and sometimes less, but there will always be a Vote so long as this country is obliged to withdraw from Cyprus a large sum of money annually. You may have to vote £40,000 or £50,000 next year. That is the situation —the serious situation—which I think the House, if not to-night, must at some other time take notice of. I think it is one of the greatest blots upon the administration of any part of our dominions.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman has omitted to mention that during the five years he and his friends had control of affairs the same state of things prevailed in regard to Cyprus.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
And now the right hon. Gentleman makes it matter of reproach against the present Government, though his Government allowed the same state of things to continue from 1044 1880 to 1885. Now he thinks the moment has arrived when it is absolutely necessary that these grants in aid should cease. During the whole period of his government this state of things was allowed to continue, because the right hon. Gentleman and his friends were well aware that we were under an obligation to pay this sum in one way or other to Turkey, or to the credit of Turkey. Then and now we were, and are, under an International Act obliged to make these payments. This sum represents the amount Cyprus paid to Turkey prior to the arrangement made under which Cyprus came to us, and under an agreement then entered into, rightly or wrongly, this sum, equivalent to the amount of tribute, has been paid over. It may be a bad arrangement, but the right hon. Gentleman and his friends found it impossible to set aside an International Act, as we find it impossible. We are glad that, through improved administration and the increased prosperity of Cyprus, the loss is lighter to Cyprus and to this country than during the previous five years; but it should be understood that we have no power to set aside this arrangement, by which it is an obligation upon us to pay over a certain sum annually.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The right hon. Gentleman has entirely mistaken the purport of my remarks. No doubt the late Government were obliged to fulfil the obligations imposed upon the country by their predecessors. In order that you might take Cyprus you undertook to pay this sum of £100,000 a year to Turkey, and you also undertook most stringent obligations in Asia Minor and other parts of the world. This was the price you paid—an enormous price—for that which, in all points of view, is altogether worthless, and the bad bargain means an injustice to this country, and it prevents your doing justice to Cyprus; and with the experience we have had, and with the obligations under which we lie, you ought to make arrangements of a different kind which will not be so unjust to the people of Cyprus as the present arrangement is. This is a point I have long desired to place before the House, though I will not raise a discussion tonight; but, in my opinion, these obliga- 1045 tions, placed upon this country in 1878, are not only extremely prejudicial to the interests of this country, but most unjust to the people of Cyprus.
§ (11.0.) MR. LABOUCHERE
There was one observation fell from the Chancellor of the Exchequer which I must take the liberty of questioning. He says this £90,000 represents the amount— I presume he means is equivalent to the amount—that Cyprus used to pay to Turkey before the island was handed over to us. Now, that is a statement we have denied again and again, and we have asked for the evidence upon which it is made. The cession of Cyprus was secretly arranged and suddenly sprung upon us behind our backs, in the dark, and to the surprise of the greater part of Europe, and it was, therefore, impossible for the Government at that time to obtain any exact information as to the amount of money actually paid by Cyprus to Turkey—that is, the amount in excess of Turkish expenditure in Cyprus. The Turks asked for £90,000, very naturally. I wonder they did not ask £900,000! There was no investigation into the matter, and it has been asserted that Cyprus did not bring into Turkey more than from £10,000 to £30,000 a year, notwithstanding the most severe oppression. Well, we having engaged to pay over £90,000 in excess of the expenditure upon the island, cannot obtain it from Cyprus. I do not complain that the British taxpayer has to pay; it is well that the country should have brought home to it in this practical form the result of these wild Jingo eccentricities. We were told that the late Lord Beaconsfield brought us peace with honour; Sir, he brought us home peace with Cyprus and a charge of many thousands on the British taxpayer for an island absolutely and entirely worthless to us.
§ (11.3.) MR. CONYBEARE
I thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for answering the question put to him. It now appears that the guaranteed debt the Secretary to the Treasury spoke of is a debt which we guarantee to the bondholders, not a debt of this country to Turkey, a debt to the bondholders who are interested, 1046 because I suppose they have advanced money at 6 or 8 or more per cent. Now, I am not going to trouble the Committee with reflections upon the morality of the position of the bondholders or to inquire why we should be bound to regard their debt; all I say is, that now we understand exactly where we are in this matter, no matter what were the international obligations undertaken when this ridiculous arrangement was entered into by the late Lord Beaconsfield, we have a right to insist that the time has come when the whole affair should be reconsidered with a view to relieve the unfortunate Cyprians and the taxpayers of this country from the burden of this charge. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will place before the House, in order that we may have a basis to consider this question on a future occasion, a Return showing exactly the amount that is required for the liquidation of this bondholders' debt? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to tell us that the whole of this amount— £90,000, or whatever it is—which goes to Turkey, is required for the service of this debt? Can he satisfy us that a large portion of this sum does not go to maintain the Sultan's harem or for other questionable objects? I am not at all satisfied that anything like £90,000 is required for the service of the guaranteed debt; but if it were, I am here to assert that it is time to tell Turkey to find other sources of revenue, and not to wring the money by oppression from those for whose prosperity we are responsible. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will endeavour to furnish us with some information on this point, so that we may place the whole matter more fully before the people of this country on some future occasion. Certainly, I hope that, this question of policy in regard to Cyprus having been raised, we shall not let it drop until we have compelled the Government to go to Turkey, and say to them, "My dear friends,"—we know how dear is the friendship of the Turks to a Tory Government—" we find that our people in England will not tolerate the paying over of all this money. You must, therefore, revise your arrangement with us." We all know how, when it was a question of the debt of Egypt, the 1047 right hon. Gentleman went with all alacrity to Cairo and made all sorts of arrangements for his friends the Egyptian bondholders. He is now Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he may not hold that office for long. Let him assist the bondholders interested in this Cyprus Guaranteed Debt; for so soon as he loses his present position—a consummation that must shortly arise— we shall take the matter in hand in earnest, and cut down these bondholders, clear them out from the revenues of Cyprus, and inform the Turks that they nust pay their debts from other sources of revenue.
§ (11.8.) MR. GOSCHEN
It might be expected that an hon. Member who takes up the time of the Committee should, at all events, make himself acquainted with the first elements of the matter with which he deals.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The absolute ignorance the hon. Member has displayed is astounding. I take no notice of the rudeness of his remarks; as they concern me personally, I can afford to pass over these; but here is the hon. Member speaking with crass ignorance of the debt to which the Cyprus tribute is applied as a debt raised at 6 or 8 per cent. The debt was not so raised; it was raised at the time of the Crimean War by the joint influence of England and France at the rate of 4 per cent., and it was raised under the guarantee of England and Prance, so far as the interest was concerned, there being also provided 1 per cent. for the Sinking Fund. The loan was raised at a time when, rightly or wrongly, this country thought it was right to give financial assistance to Turkey while Turkey was our ally in the war then being carried on. These facts are so notorious that I am surprised the hon. Member should have wasted time with such remarks as he has addressed to the Committee. The hon. Member says, "How do we know that part of this money does not go to support the harem of the Sultan," and I dare say he thought that was a very pungent remark. As a matter of fact, it is paid to the Bank of England to pay 4 per cent. on the money advanced under the guarantee of England and France, 1048 and I believe Returns are periodically presented showing the reduction of this debt, which has existed from 1854 downwards, and the service of which has been regularly conducted by the Bank of England. That is the history of the debt which the hon. Member has made the subject of such remarks as those with which he has wasted the time of the Committee. The Committee is entitled to the fullest knowledge on this matter, and, if I am not mistaken, Returns have been presented in regard to this debt, but, if they have not been, they can be presented. But the whole matter is well known to anyone acquainted with finance in the slightest degree. The Governments of England and France are responsible, and we have intercepted this revenue due to Turkey for the purpose of paying this debt incurred by Turkey under the political influences of the time, and under the guarantee of England and France. I trust that, notwithstanding the aggressive manner of the hon. Member, I have given complete information.
§ MR. SINCLAIR (Falkirk, &c.)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will add to the information on one point, and that is, whether any portion of the principal has been paid? He has referred to 4 per cent. interest and 1 per cent. Sinking Fund. Has any part of the principal been paid off, and what prospect is there that the charge will cease?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The 1 per cent-has been suspended for some time. We have not paid over the balance of the tribute to Turkey between 1881 and 1890. Proposals have been made for paying off the debt, and no doubt an opportunity will occur when negotiations can be entered into with Turkey on the subject.
§ (11.15.) MR. CONYBEARE
The right hon. Gentleman has exercised his spleen in his usual moderate manner by some very caustic references to myself, and I have no wish to respond in like manner. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seems to think it was rude to remind the right hon. Gentleman of his connection with the finances of Egypt, but I leave the Committee to judge whether it was not certainly much ruder to denounce a Member of this 1049 House as crassly ignorant. The right hon. Gentleman has gone out of his way to abuse me on the ground that I have wasted the time of the House, but I should like to know how many of those hon. Members who applauded that remark could have supplied all the valuable information my remarks have elicited? During the evening we have been putting questions on this subject, but it was not until the right hon. Gentleman rose to reply to my remarks, with righteous indignation, that we received the information we desired. For three or four Sessions I have known this subject to have been brought under discussion, but I am bound to say, however notorious these matters may be —I do not say they are not, but I am sure not a score of Members here could have given the facts as the right hon. Gentleman has—I do not remember on any occasion that we have had such an intelligent and interesting explanation as my humble remarks have elicited. For my part, I claim to have done a public service in having at last extracted valuable information from the right hon. Gentleman. But whatever the origin of this debt may be I may take exception to the right hon. Gentleman's denunciation of my crass ignorance in the matter, because the question I raised was not as to the origin of the debt. I may have interpolated a remark of a sarcastic nature in reference to the Sultan's harem, but the right hon. Gentleman seems incapable of taking such remarks in the spirit in which they are uttered, and takes them au pied de la lettre, so that he may find fault with the observation. I asked if the Government could give us information to satisfy us that the whole of this money does go to the service of this debt, or whether there was not reason for assuming that the sum extorted from Cyprus was greater than might be required for the service of the debt, a portion going towards the Sultan's personal expenses. I think the Committee will see that I am not liable to the charge of crass ignorance and all that sort of thing, with which the right hon. Gentleman endeavoured to cover his retreat. I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given, which, I think, goes to justify our resistance 1050 to this Vote, and demand for more specific information. I may observe that the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman on this subject does not seem complete; "he believes" that Re turns have been presented; but surely, in his position in a financial Department, it is his business to know whether this Guaranteed Debt is being properly served or not—
§ MR. CONYBEARE
It is the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to know whether this Parliamentary Return relating to his own Department has been presented; it is impossible for us to keep acquainted with every series of Parliamentary Papers. I do not think the right hon. Gentlemon is himself altogether free from the charge of ignorance he levels against me.
§ MR. MORTON
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the information he has given, and I think we are now placed in a position to debate the matter more fully on a future occasion. I now ask leave to withdraw my Motion.
§ (11.20.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 35; Noes 116.—(Div. List, No. 250.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (11.30.) MR. CONYBEARE
Before we pass on to other items I should be glad to have some information in reference to the subsidies to Telegraph Companies. These subsidies are paid to various companies having telegraphic communication with East and South Africa, and between Halifax and Bermuda, and I observe they are to continue for 20 years. I would like to know what the arrangements are to be at the end of that period. Then, further, I should like to know in reference to the appropriations in aid of these Telegraph Companies from various colonies, upon what basis these appropriations are fixed, and whether they are liable to increase with the wealth of the colony? Why, I should also like to know, are contributions taken from some colonies 1051 like Gambia, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and Lagos, and not from Natal, Cape Colony, the Transvaal, and other places? I hope I may not lay myself open to a further charge of crass ignorance if I confess I do not know why the distinction is made, and ask for the information I do not find in the Votes.
§ (11.35.) MR. JACKSON
The simple answer is that the terms depend on the bargain that was made at the time when the telegraph was laid. Sometimes there was a reduction in the rate, and in other instances there was an appropriation in aid. It is quite impossible for me to give any answer as to what may be done when the period for the payment of the subsidy has expired, but in all probability business will have grown to such an extent that a subsidy will no longer be required.
§ DR. CLARK
I desire to say a word or two upon Class VI., for I am afraid that another opportunity may not occur until quite the end of the Session. This is a continually increasing Vote, and I find, as usual, that reorganisation of Departments has led to a considerable increase, and we have the usual increase from illness and old age. Under the head of Colonial Pensions there are three cases of gentlemen retiring with pensions of £1,000 a year. One of these is 56 years of age. He was very willing to have remained a Colonial Governor, but it was thought wise to suspend him on the ground of ill-health, and he is now a Member of this House. Another of these gentlemen who has retired with a pension of £1,000 is also willing to go back again to his duty if allowed a free hand; but this the Colonial Secretary will not give him, and so we have to find a pension of £1,000 for this gentleman, who, since his retirement, has been put upon the directorate of three banks—the London and Westminster, where I suppose he gets £500 a year; the Standard Bank of South Africa, where I know he gets £500,and I dare say he gets the same from the other undertaking with which he is associated. In the Consular Service too, I find cases of men retired in the prime of life on handsome pensions. But the point to which I particularly wish to 1052 draw attention is a case upon which I happen to know something, and with that knowledge I know how easy it is to throw dust into the eyes of the Treasury in reference to this matter of pensions. I propose to move the reduction of the Vote by £73 6s. 8d., and I think I shall be able to show good reason for doing so, and why this particular pension should cease. On page 343 we find the salary of Mr. A. R. Sawyer as £400 a year, as Assistant-Inspector of Mines, and he has retired from that post with a pension to the amount I have mentioned. Now myself and the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, as directors in a colonial undertaking, had occasion to invite offers from gentlemen as managers with a salary of £2,000 a year. Among others, this gentleman (Mr. A. R. Sawyer) applied, and from among many candidates he was appointed. Needless to say, when he received the appointment he was in very good health, of some 56 years of age, and for the past 12 months and more, he has been in receipt of a handsome salary of £2,000. But what a farce it is that this Gentleman leaving the Service, and taking an appointment with five times the salary he had been receiving, should also be in receipt of a pension of £73 6s. 8d. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £73 6s. 8d.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item, Class VI., 'Superannuation and Retired Allowances, £120,000,' be reduced by £73 6s. 8d."—(Dr. Clark.)
§ (11.40.) MR. GOSCHEN
The hon. Gentleman says it is easy to throw dust in the eyes of the Treasury, but I have always thought the complaint has been that the Treasury are too strict in the matter of these pensions. There is no part of the duty of the Treasury more painful, and requiring greater firmness than the granting of pensions to those who claim to be unable to serve the country longer. I am not sorry the hon. Gentleman has called attention to this matter. No doubt abuses are to be occasionally discovered; but I can assure the Committee that the Government are fully alive to the necessity of hedging round the granting of pensions with every possible precaution. It 1053 is necessary now, not only for the medical man of the applicant to certify that he is unfit for work, but also that a medical man on behalf of the Pension Committee should certify to the same effect. I can assure the Committee that there is a growing tendency in the Department to surround with every possible precaution the granting of pensions.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I quite appreciate what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said as to the difficulty of dealing with pensions, but that is not the question raised by my hon. Friend. He is not disputing the propriety of the Treasury granting pensions to Civil servants, but what he does complain of is that gentlemen should leave the Civil Service because they are physically incapable of earning their salaries, and suddenly become physically capable of earning much larger salaries elsewhere. I want the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say that when a pensioner takes another post outside the Civil Service, then his pension should cease. Sooner or later the taxpayers of the country must revolt against this system. I also wish to ask what the Government intend to do with regard to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Pensions and Superannuation Allowances, presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool? I wish to know whether the Government intend to initiate any legislation with a view to carrying out those recommendations?
§ (11.47.) MR. GOSCHEN
We are deeply indebted to the Commission for their labours, and their recommendations have borne fruit in the departmental arrangements we have been able to carry out without legislation; for instance, the requiring that the medical certificate shall be from the departmental medical officer as well as from the medical attendant of the Civil servant is a safeguard due to a recommendation of the Commission. Of course there is always the question of vested rights upon which the Civil Service is extremely sensitive. I do not know what legal power the Treasury would have to stop a pension 1054 when once it has been granted, but in my opinion it is only just to the taxpayers that when a pensioner takes an appointment with a salary far beyond that he has been receiving in the Service his pension should be rescinded. It is a very delicate matter, and one well worthy of attention, and I am not at all sorry the right hon. Gentleman has called attention to it.
§ DR. CLARK
The right hon. Gentleman does not appear to have appreciated the point of the case I have mentioned; let me mention the facts again. When we appointed the General Manager he was Assistant Inspector of Mines; he then, upon being appointed, sent in his resignation and proceeded with his new duties at five times the salary he had been receiving. I do not know a better case in point. This is the first time we have been called upon to vote this pension, and I do not see any ground for voting it. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lanark and myself gave the man this appointment as manager, for which he was candidate, while holding the office of Assistant Inspector of Mines; he gave a months' notice, and he came into our service some 18 months ago. He was then hale and hearty, and this time last year I saw him in South Africa in excellent health, and performing far more arduous duties than he discharged in the Civil Service at home.
§ (11.50.) MR. GOSCHEN
I will examine into the matter carefully. Of course the hon. Member will not expect me to act upon a statement without hearing what can be urged on the other side.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
The Chancellor of the Exchequer does not misapprehend the point brought to his notice, he simply knows nothing of the circumstances. But I simply wish to say in relation to these matters that there is no delicacy or difficulty in dealing with them. It would be quite easy to provide, by legislation if necessary, that, when a person who enjoys a Government pension on account of age or ill-health earns a private salary, his pension should be proportionately reduced.
§ (11.54.) DR. TANNER
Possibly the gentleman who suffered from ill-health in his occupation under Government recovered under the influence of a more genial climate and the employment of my hon. Friend. But I rose to mention in a few words the large item the Irish Constabulary present. It is an extraordinary thing to find the sum total required for the Royal Irish Constabulary this year given at £1,688,088. If things are going on so well in Ireland, and the Government are succeeding so well, it is remarkable that there should be such an enormous expenditure on the support of this artificial Force. I maintain that even this sum does not comprehend all the money voted for the support of the Royal Irish Constabulary. I should have thought that the Government, if only to throw a veil of decency over the administration in Ireland, would have taken some steps to cut down the expenditure on that body. I do hope that hon. Members will pay some attention to these stupendous figures, and will try to get them cut down for the benefit of the country from which I have the honour to come, and also for the benefit of the British taxpayer.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported to-morrow, at Two of the clock.
§ Committee to sit again to-morrow, at Two of the clock.