HC Deb 17 March 1892 vol 2 cc1076-94

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)



(1.) £10,000, Supplementary, Chicago Exhibition.

(4.30.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)

Sir, last year I had an opportunity of waiting on the Committee and upon some officials connected with this Exhibition in Chicago; and I frankly made to the projectors a promise that, if necessary I would bring under the notice of the House of Commons the necessity, of applying some portion of public money towards this "World's Fair." It was principally in the interests of my own countrymen that I waited on the Committee. The Irish people are very much affected by this Exhibition, and I notice in a foot-note to this Vote that we are asked to sanction a sum of £10,000 for the expenses of the Royal Commission, and for the organisation of the British section of this Exhibition. I suppose the British section includes Ireland. The Irish people in America are likely to take a very large interest in the Irish exhibits. At the present moment they have no very flourishing industries. In the year 1882 we had an Exhibition, in Dublin, of Irish manufactures. That was followed a year or two later by an Exhibition at Cork and by an Exhibition at Manchester, at which there was some space entirely devoted to Irish manufactures. Now, Sir, these three facts relating to what has occurred during the past ten years, show that the Irish people at the present moment are honestly engaged in an effort to bring before the world the products of their industry. I therefore claim that whatever may be done with this Vote of £10,000, and that whatever Commission may be appointed to carry out the purpose for which this money is voted, should be impressed with the idea that prominence should be given to the products of Irish industry. Now, Sir, I asked the Committee of the Chicago World's Fair whether they would be willing to devote a separate space to the products of Irish industry, and the Secretary of the Committee assured me that it would give him profound pleasure to do so. That being so, I do not think it is too much to ask that great and sufficient prominence should be given to Irish manufactures and industries. The Irish people will be proud of the efforts made by their own countrymen to compete with the world in industrial matters and achievements, and what I claim is that upon the Commission there should be placed some representative of Irish manufactures.—I do not say necessarily a Member of this House, but some gentleman with a large connection with Irish manufactures, because I am informed that upon this Commission the only Irishman is a man who has no connection with Irish industry. The Duke of Abercorn represents the landlord interest. I do not wish to disparage the Duke in the least. I have no doubt he is anxious for the promotion of Irish industries and for the general welfare of the country; but it would be more satisfactory to Irishmen if a gentleman was placed upon the Commission who is more intimately connected with and acquainted with Irish industries. I have another request, and that is that the Government should bring before the Secretary, whose name I think is General O'Brien, his promise to me to devote several and separate spaces to the products of Irish industry. For the last ten or twelve years we have endeavoured to bring our industries before the world, so far with very beneficial results. Those industries which are indigenous to the soil are being promoted by Irish capital and Irish industry, and are for the present, at least, flourishing to a greater degree than before. English industries are so well able to take care of themselves, are so established and enjoy such preeminence in the world, have such capital and skilled labour to commend them, that they need scarcely any assistance at all. They are sought out by reason of their excellence. On the other hand, Irish industries have been neglected in the past, and they are unknown in the present, hence there is the greater necessity for exhibiting them to the world. It is for this reason that I ask for this information.


Sir, I am extremely glad to have an opportunity of making a brief, and I trust a satisfactory, reply to the hon. Member for Tipperary and to the hon. Baronet the Member for Dublin and the hon. Member for Cork, who, I am sorry to say, are not in their places. In their observations last Friday—when, owing to the lateness of the hour, I could not then reply—they showed that there is a good deal of misunderstanding prevailing as to the constitution of the Commission. All three hon. Members have imagined that there was a personal selection of the Members of the Commission. They are entirely mistaken. The fact is that Her Majesty's Government applied to the Council of the Society of Arts asking if they would be disposed to become a Royal Commission, and they agreed, and undertook the duties of such a Commission. The constitution of the Council was fixed last May, long before the question of a Royal Commission arose, and since last May there has been no opportunity of changing or adding to the Council, nor will such an opportunity arise until next May. It was made a condition of the appointment of the Council as a Royal Commission that the Council should be appointed without any special selection ad hoc at the time. I can assure hon. Members representing Ireland that their wish that there should be a further representation of Ireland and Irish industries will not be overlooked. But, of course, the work of the Commission is not done by the Commission alone. It is largely done by different Committees, appointed and working under the Royal Commission, with the view of adequately determining the various interests of securing exhibits worthy of this nation in the various branches of art and industry. Now, Sir, it has been said that on no single Committee is there any representative of Irish industry or Irish trade. At the present time, with regard to industries of importance in Ireland, there is a very large representation. I have an official list of the various Committees before me as well as the list of the Commissions. Besides the Duke of Abercorn, I believe General Donnelly is an Irishman. On the Committee for Textile Manufactures, consisting of 18 or 20 Members, there are no fewer than seven or eight Irishmen representing Irish industries. Their names are: Mr. J. W. Barbour, Mr. Charles C. Connor (Mayor of Belfast), Sir William Q. Ewart, Sir Howard Grubb, Mr. A. Hogg, Mr. T. Mahony, and Mr. J. T. Richardson. If anyone will communicate to me any other names that they may think it desirable to add, their wishes will receive consideration. On the Agricultural and Food Products Committee there are the Earl of Rosse and Sir Maurice Fitzgerald (the Knight of Kerry). The Earl of Rosse was asked as President of the Royal Dublin Society, but did not reply to the first invitation, so his name was not printed on the first list. On the Committee for Engineering, Architecture, &c., is Mr. M. F. O'Reilly. On the Committee for Electricity, Mr. Charles A. Parsons and Mr. John Perry; on that for Transportation, Sir Edward James Harland; on that for General Manufactures, Mr. John Young; and on that for Science and Education, Sir Howard Grubb, Mr. M. F. O'Reilly, the Earl of Rosse, and Mr. Robert H. Scott. There are thus 14 Irish gentlemen connected with Irish trade who have already been giving their services on these Committees, and who are taking a very active interest in the work. Four of them serve on two Committees. The next error, arising from want of information, is the statement that hitherto no single Irish firm or manufacturer has applied for space. The actual space at the disposal of the Commission for British exhibits is 60,000 square feet. Up to the present 282 exhibitors have applied for 41,521 square feet of space; have paid the deposit with their application. Of these 26 are Irish, applying for 3,239 square feet, which is more than one-twelfth of the space applied for by the whole of the United Kingdom. The Irish exhibitors include Barber and Sons, Belfast; Mahoney, of Cork; Harrington Brothers, Cork; Belfast Rope Work Company, Belfast; Cantrill and Cochrane, of Belfast; Brookfield Linen Company, Belfast; the Irish Woollen Company, Belfast; John Power and Sons, Belfast. I am told these are all firms of the highest standing. Besides the firms who have paid their deposit there are a considerable number with which the Commission are now making arrangements. The total space available for Great Britain (exclusive of the Colonies), after deducting the amount required for passages, &c., I estimate, as I have already said, at about 60,000 square feet, so that the Committee will see that more than two-thirds of the space is actually occupied and paid for. It is fair to say that a small proportion of the exhibitors will have to be weeded out as not being representative. As to the time having expired for applications for space, that is a mistake. No time has ever been fixed as the final date for the receipt of applications for space. The 29th February was fixed as the date at which exhibitors were asked to send them in. In accordance with what I am told by Sir Henry Trueman Wood, who has great experience of exhibitions, is the ordinary practice, applications will be taken as long as any space is available; and, owing to the alterations and retirements, the allotment generally goes on until close before the opening of the Exhibition. Sir Henry is in correspondence with other representatives of Irish trade, and it must not be taken that the applications sent in represent the total that will be received from Irish exhibitors, or the space that they will occupy. Now, Sir, as to the charges for space. They have been fixed on a sliding scale, from 2s. 6d. to 5s. per square foot. The Royal Commission have been compelled, owing to the small amount of the grant, to take steps to see that they could do their work. I think the general feeling that this country should be worthily represented may possibly lead to this House suggesting an increase of the grant. But it is absolutely essential that the Committee should not act foolishly or attempt too much with so small a grant. Accordingly it was determined to make the charges for space which I have mentioned, but that was done on the distinct understanding that the money would be returned pro rata if we were able to do it after meeting the necessary expenses connected with the installation—if I may use the expression—of the British Section. I must contradict a suggestion of the hon. Member for Cork that we shall want to make a profit out of the transaction. We have had to undertake advertising, correspondence, the building and preparation of offices to represent the British Section, so that the expenses falling on the Commission are very heavy, and I doubt whether the money will, as I have said, be sufficient. Now, Sir, as to the charges made by the hon. Members for North Cork and Dublin, that we have utterly neglected Irish industries, I wish to call attention to the circumstances, which will show that they are mistaken. Applications were made to five Irish Chambers of Commerce—namely, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford. They were all asked to form Local Committees. A meeting was held in Dublin on the 12th March, which was attended by Sir Trueman Wood, who went as representing the Royal Commission, and it was agreed that a Joint Committee should be formed, consisting of members of the Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce and the Dublin Royal Society. The Belfast Chamber thought it undesirable to appoint a Committee. The other three Chambers did not reply. Sir Henry Wood had some correspondence in August last with the Belfast Linen Merchants' Association, but nothing came of it; and he has been in communication, since the first appointment of the Commission, with Sir Howard Grubb, the Secretary of the Royal Dublin Society. We do not know of any actual result from the Dublin meeting, except that one agent, acting for several exhibitors, wrote to say that they were holding back their applications in consequence of their having got the idea from the meeting that the charges would be reduced. From personal knowledge, therefore, I can state that the interests of Ireland have not been neglected. Now, Sir, as to the amount of the grant given by this country, I quite agree it does not compare favourably with the grants made by other countries. Germany has given £50,000, Norway £117,000, France £120,000, and Russia a still larger amount. While the Commission hope that from the experience many of their members have had of previous exhibitions, that they will be able to secure to British and to Irish manufacturers a thoroughly worthy representation, yet it would be most satisfactory if, as the result of the expression of opinion in this Debate, Her Majesty's Government could see their way to an increase of the grant.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I recognise, Sir, that the hon. and learned Gentleman has addressed us in a spirit of conciliation, and with a desire to meet the complaints that have been made. His explanation, however, as to the charge of five shillings per foot for space is insufficient, whilst his intimation of the amount of the grants of Russia, France, and other countries shows that the grant made by this country is altogether inadequate. There are 60,000 square feet allotted to this country, and it is proposed to make a charge of 5s. per square foot. The revenue expected from that charge is £15,000. Considering the generosity manifested in this affair by the Corporation of Chicago, the American Congress, the State Legislature, and also the Governments of various countries in Europe, is it not rather too bad that, for the sake of that revenue, you should make a charge of 5s. per square foot? It tends to put this country in rather a ridiculous position before the United States. The charge may not prejudice the interests of other British exhibitors, because they are wealthy; but Irish industries are mostly struggling, and I fear that even a charge of 5s. per square foot, useless as it is for any practical purpose, and paltry as it is from a public point of view in the case of a great country like this, may have the effect of discouraging exhibitors from Ireland, who are the reverse of wealthy, and deter them from taking any part in this Exhibition. It is worth while to consider whether this charge of 5s. per square foot will not greatly inter- fere with the interests of Ireland. There has been some remark about the money being returned. But that is not the way in which exhibitions are managed. This is not a guarantee fund—it is a charge which wants levying and which will never be returned. I would strongly urge the abolition of this charge. I think the foot-note of this Estimate is one which it is hard for Irishmen to read with patience; and patience is not our strong point. It speaks of the British Section of the Exhibition. In a matter concerning the United Kingdom, when you speak about it as British, you not only ignore Ireland, but directly exclude it. Whilst considering the interests of other countries, you deliberately exclude the interests of a country which lies at your very door. I thought it rather naïve of the Attorney General to say that Ireland is represented by the Duke of Abercorn.


I did not say that the Duke of Abercorn alone represented Ireland—there are other Irish gentlemen on the Commission.


But the Commission has been reconstituted.


The Commission was not reconstituted at all—the names of the Council were decided upon in 1891, before there was any idea of a Royal Commission. Now, it is proposed to constitute the Council of the Society of Arts as part of the Commission, and no name has been added to it.


In the case of the United Kingdom, including countries with separate interests, this seems a new way of appointing a Commission. The Council of the Society of Arts is substantially an English body, and the Government propose to get rid of their trouble and responsibility by appointing that Council holus bolus to be on the Commission for the Exhibition. It is no answer to say that on Sub-Committees there are Irishmen. Those Sub-Committees will have no power regarding the expenditure of money. I do consider it a matter for grave complaint on the part of the Irish Members that, in appointing men to represent the interests of Scotland and Ireland, the Government has gone to a body in London and given them supreme control. The Duke of Abercorn cannot be supposed to represent any Irish industry which will find a place in this Exhibition. He is concerned in Irish land, and, if there be any Irish interest in which he is concerned, it is the collection of rents. You cannot exhibit specimens of Irish land, nor would it be interesting to the public to have an exhibition of the collection of rents. Amongst the names cited by the Attorney General there is only one connected with the City of Dublin, and I am informed that he is since dead. Also, upon the Agricultural Committee there is the name of Lord Rosse, and to say to Ireland at large that he is to represent the interests of agriculture is simply comic and cannot be regarded seriously. I think the Government should take some independent step to recruit that Commission and make it more representative. But more important than all these questions is the question of a separate Irish Section. You have 60,000 square feet of space. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General has told us that the Irish interests have already 3,000 feet. What is the meaning of arranging that these 26 Irish exhibits should be hidden away amongst the British industries in the 60,000 square feet? The effect of that will be directly prejudicial to the interests of Ireland, and will serve no British interest. Let the Commission give Ireland a separate section, as they ought to do, and then keep the rest for themselves. The interests of Ireland are minute, no doubt; but, minute as they are, they are important to us. There is a strong connection between Ireland and the United States, which renders the Chicago Exhibition of great importance. If you allow us to have a separate section, there is no doubt the material consequences will be beneficial to Ireland. There are many thousands of Irish people who are citizens of the United States, and, very naturally, these people take a deep and affectionate interest in the welfare of the old country. If you make arrangements such as common sense dictates, and allow the Irish exhibits to be separately shown at the Chicago Exhibition, I have no doubt that, without injury to any British industry, the effect would be very good indeed. The linen trade of Belfast has been prejudicially affected in recent times, and it needs every encouragement at the present moment. I am certain, if you take away the charge of 5s. per square foot, and allot to Ireland 4,000 or 5,000 feet for a separate Irish Exhibition, the effect would be to improve the market, and stimulate the demand for Irish linen throughout the United States. If you bury the 26 Irish exhibits amongst the other hundreds—if you put the 3,000 feet amongst the 60,000 feet, the effect will be that anyone who visits Chicago will have no idea where the Irish exhibits are to be seen.


I will certainly bring this matter before the Commission, and consult them in regard to it. If it should turn out that it be the wish of the exhibitors that there should be a separate Irish Section, certainly this will be considered.


Allow me to mention that I have already brought the matter before the Committee in Chicago, and they promised me personally to afford every opportunity of building a separate Irish Exhibition.

MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)

I am sure that the Chicago Exhibition, as far as Irish industries are concerned, will be divided in the usual way. There will be an Irish Department as well as an English and Scotch Department, and you will find that Irish exhibits and matters appertaining to them will be separately exhibited under the denomination of an Irish Department. In former years such has been the case with exhibitions in all parts of the world. Everyone will be delighted to find Irish industries very much sought after as the result of the Exhibition, for I happen to know they ought to be sought after, as the Irish people make specialities of their industries. There is one matter further—namely, the prohibitive duty on certain articles. There is one article alone on which there is a duty of 60 per cent. which is certainly prohibitive. I am certain the Government will do all they can for the interests of Ireland.

MR. MORTON (Peterborough)

I would ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General to lay aside law for a little, and look to the interests of trade. I quite agree with the Irish Members that Ireland should be treated separately. I would like to ask the Attorney General a question or two. He stated just now that some of the hon. Gentlemen who spoke the day before yesterday had gone wrong over one thing. Who is to blame for that? I should think the Government is to blame. And I fancy before this Vote came on we should have had all the information that the Government or the Commission could have given us with regard to this matter. I notice something in what are called the details about a grant of £10,000 to account of the total grant of £25,000, besides a sum for "franking." I would ask the Attorney General what is this "franking" business?




Well, that is not a very big item, I expect. I do think we ought to ask the Government to do away with this charge of 5s. per square foot. As I understand, the American people, or whoever has charge of this Exhibition, have given up the space entirely free, and I should think, when they do that, they give it for the benefit of manufacturers and exhibitors, and not for any particular Government. I would urge on the Government as strongly as possible that they should take into consideration the necessity for increasing this grant. When it comes to a matter of this sort, with which the trade of the country is so intimately connected, we should do what is necessary in the way of spending money; spend the money economically by all means, but do not let us be afraid to spend a few pounds when the object is to advertise our trade and manufactures, and show the world what we can do. I would also ask the Government to consider the necessity of asking a larger grant from Parliament with regard to the expenses in connection with this matter. The Government have got over their scare with regard to foreign exhibitions, and have recognised that promoted by the French Republic. I am glad to see they have done that, though I do not know whether it has been done on account of the near approach of the General Election; but I am glad to see they have taken notice of the great Republic over the water. But I want them to do more. The idea that the Duke of Abercorn represents Ireland seems absurd, and I should like the learned Gentleman to do something in the way of having Ireland better represented. Let us do everything we can to have our trade, business, and manufactures properly represented at this Exhibition.


All articles of all kinds intended for exhibition are to be allowed to be imported and exhibited free of any duty whatever. But a charge will be made if they have been sold in the Exhibition or close to the Exhibition.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

The great object in all these matters, which, to a certain extent, are international, is that there should be absolute harmony; and in view of the fact that there is no one on the Commission who represents the feelings of Ireland, or of the majority of the people of Ireland, it really does seem to me only reasonable that the Government should make this concession. If the hon. Members for West Belfast and South Tipperary were put on that Commission, it would meet the wishes of the Irish people, and insure that Irish interests are properly attended to. I would call the attention of the Attorney General to the fact that he has expressed very noble sentiments about the desirability of our money Vote being larger than it is, and he has pointed out that in other countries they have voted three times as much as we have, and it is to be hoped the House will take that fact into view. I hope the Attorney General will realise the rights of the House. If I move that this Vote be increased to £50,000 or £100,000, you, Sir, would tell me I was out of Order—that I cannot move an increase on the Estimates. The Government are always parading their excellent intentions; but I would suggest to them that they should act on those intentions. Let the First Lord of the Treasury and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury say they are perfectly ready to recommend that there should be a larger amount of money than there is for the Exhibition. With regard to the charge for space, it must be remembered that exhibitors will not pay for their space; and it does seem an invidious thing that whilst the promoters of this great Exhibition throw it open to the whole world, Irish and British exhibitors are obliged to pay for space.


Other countries are charged.


Let us set a good example. Observe how small this Vote is. I would put it to the Attorney General to use his influence—which, no doubt, is great—with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the First Lord of the Treasury to increase it. And I would tell the First Lord of the Treasury, whom I now see in his place, that the Attorney General has complained bitterly of the Government giving so small a grant.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I hope this will be a lesson to the Government, whilst they are going to appoint a Royal Commission for an Imperial purpose, not to appoint a local committee in London, and also that the words English and British will be no longer used in official phraseology. If the Government are going to do anything they will require to do it quickly, because the exhibits have to be in by October.

MR. O'KELLY (Roscommon, N.)

Unquestionably, this charge will weigh heavily on many small Irish exhibitors. With regard to having Irish exhibits in a section by themselves, that is of the greatest possible importance to Irish industries, in view of making an outlet for them. If our manufactures are lost away amongst the Scotch and English and Welsh manufactures, they will produce practically no effect. Surely, in the interest of the manufactures themselves, and not for any political reasons at all, it will be most desirable to have Ireland represented in our own Irish Department. The departments would be scattered all over the building, and the visitors would not be able to see in a mass and at one view what are the manufactures we have to sell. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consider that question, and meet the wishes of the people of Ireland.

(5.32.) MR. GILL (Louth, S.)

If the Attorney General threw out his suggestion as to the inadequacy of the sum for the purpose of testing the opinion of the House, he ought to be well satisfied with the result. The House seems to be unanimously of opinion that the sum is inadequate. I do not think Her Majesty's Government quite grasp the magnitude of the Exhibition, which is to be one of the most extraordinary that has ever been held, and on a far larger scale than the Paris Exhibition. Other nations of Europe have taken this large view, and have made large grants; and, so far as I can gather, Norway and other countries will exhibit specimens of their architecture and other things, which will strike the imagination of visitors, and enable the particular nation to be creditably represented. I am sure, now, the First Lord of the Treasury must be satisfied that the House of Commons take a larger view of the question than the Government have done, and I hope he will no longer hesitate about making the grant what it ought to be for such a nation as Great Britain. I would strongly urge the Government to abolish this very discreditable tax of 5s. per foot on the manufacturer. The Government of America give the space for nothing, and here are Her Majesty's Government endeavouring to make a profit out of that generosity. This is a humiliating position, and I can imagine the comments such a course will excite in America. Many of the Irish manufacturers are not in a position to pay this charge in addition to all the other expenses they will have to bear, and it is simply placing a prohibition on Irish exhibits. There cannot be the slightest doubt as to the necessity of Ireland having a separate exhibit; with that and a liberal grant of money Ireland will be able to avail herself of one of the greatest opportunities that ever arose for pushing Irish manufactures in America. Something has already been done in that way, and with substantial benefit to Ireland, especially with respect to woollen goods. If, therefore, Ireland is not suitably represented, it will not be a very satisfactory way of pushing a struggling trade in the United States. It would be better that Ireland should not be represented at all if she is not to have a separate section, and to be supported by a generous grant by Parliament. I hope, therefore, the Government will have no hesitation about removing this charge, which is a disgrace to themselves, and increasing the grant to what is only creditable to Great Britain. It should be done at once in order to enable the Royal Commission to form its plans on an adequate scale. The sooner the Commission knows that the funds at its disposal are going to be generous the better it will be for the character of the British and Irish exhibits.

(5.38.) SIR LYON PLAYFAIR (Leeds, S.)

I have had great experience from the year 1851 to the present time, both with regard to British exhibitions and foreign ones, and I am perfectly sure of this: that the money you propose to vote for this Exhibition is utterly insufficient for the credit of the nation. If you are to exhibit in the United States it is very important that you should make the Exhibition worthy of the industries of this great country. Formerly, on occasions when we have had to ask Parliament to aid foreign exhibitions, we have always commenced with a small sum and have been obliged to come to Parliament and ask for it to be increased. The present sum is not adequate to the trade between the United Kingdom and the United States. No doubt that will impress the mind of the Government so that the sum will be made adequate. When a larger sum is granted, I hope the Royal Commission, which I think should have been made more national, and not confined merely to the Society of Arts, should have the means of developing a special Irish section, to enable the manufacturers to exhibit their industries in a proper manner. On account of the poverty of the country that is a right and proper thing to do. The Irish Members have naturally expressed that opinion. The Central Committee will arrange where the exhibits of each country are to be arranged, but I think it would be an advantage if the Irish manufactures were shown alongside of the Scotch manufactures. Then there is no linen manufacture in the United States, and the Americans would be interested in seeing how the linen manufacture in Ireland has developed. I would point out, however, that to take away from all other like exhibits, say the magnificent engines or models of ships built at Belfast, would be to the detriment of Irish industries. But to have an absolutely separate Irish exhibit is almost impossible under the classification in force at exhibitions. I rose for the purpose of impressing on the Government that, having gone into the Exhibition, they should allow it to be done in such a liberal spirit that the industry of the United Kingdom will be properly represented in Chicago, and I am perfectly sure that a good exhibition would redound very much to the advancement of the trade of this country.

(5.45.) MR. BLANE (Armagh, S.)

I cannot well understand the Government leaving the nomination to the Society of Arts. It is a body of which we Irish Members are ignorant. The President of the Commission is the Attorney General, who is a lawyer, and knows nothing about trade; and we Irish Members do not even know the names of the members of the Commission, who represent nobody but themselves. I do not think there is a single Nationalist amongst the number. I do not mention these matters to waste time, but because I think Irish industries should be represented on the Commission and that the British manufacturers should not monopolise it.

(5.50.) MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

I should like to appeal to the Government to vote a larger sum for the Exhibition. The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down probably does not know the amount of personal sacrifice the Attorney General has made in connection with the work of the Commission; he has rendered most excellent service, and many of us wonder where he finds the time. It is quite true that the Commission was nominated by the Society of Arts; but that Society conducted the whole of the work in connection with the Paris Exhibition, and made the most of their opportunities. In a great National Exhibition like this Great Britain ought to be well represented, for I can conceive no more important object lesson than to so provide for the representation of our industries that the Americans may see what the United Kingdom can produce, and the prices at which her products can be delivered. If the manufactures of England, Ireland, and Scotland were represented by good typical illustrations, and the prices marked in plain figures at what they could be delivered in America, the effect would be very valuable to our trade, and to the American people too. I think the right hon. Gentleman must feel that £25,000 is altogether inadequate for the purpose of making a fair show at Chicago of the products of the first manufacturing country in the world. I have been a member of several Royal Commissions, and I have scarcely ever known an exhibition where a charge has not been made for space. The country where the exhibition is held awards the space free, but then there are large expenses incurred in fitting it up and adapting it to exhibition purposes; the charge is for that, and not actually for the space the goods occupy. I hope the Government will see that the charge is as small as possible. It is very natural, especially in the United States, that Irish Members should desire that Irish goods should be well and prominently exhibited, but there is always classification at exhibitions. For instance, the woollen goods of France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and other countries will be shown together, so that you could not have the Irish manufactures in one place. You must exhibit Irish textiles with the textiles of other countries, and you must show Irish woollens against the woollens of the world. But to provide that British and Irish exhibits should have fair comparison with those of other countries it is necessary that the Government should very considerably increase the grant.

(5.55.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

There is one point I should like to make clear. The two right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench appear to think that the World's Fair will be a comparison of industries all the world over rather than a National Exhibition. Is it not a fact that it will be very much split up into national sections? I understand the fundamental plan of the Exhibition is the exhibition of national industries altogether. If that be so it is expedient that each country, including Ireland, should have a place of its own. Then the Americans would have an opportunity of finding where the Irish industries are.

(5.58.) SIR R. WEBSTER

There is classification under both systems—as to subjects and as to nationalities. I can assure the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) that what he suggests with regard to Irish industries will be considered. I would like to point out that the Commission consist of 37 gentlemen, of whom something like 28 or 30 have had practical knowledge of one, two, three, or more exhibitions, and, without saying more for my colleagues than I desire to say, I will give the hon. Gentleman the list of names if he desires to see it. I am sure no Commission constituted ad hoc could be more representative.

MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)

I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman will use his best endeavours to have the amount of the Vote increased.


I will use my best endeavours, but I am afraid it will not be of much avail.

MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)

No doubt the charge is a perfectly fair one, but if it is sufficient to prevent anyone from exhibiting, the Government should bear the expense, because I think nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of the complete representation of English and Irish manufactures.


I think after the general expression from both sides of the House, we are entitled to ask the First Lord of the Treasury for his views on the matter. The sum is altogether inadequate, and it is quite impossible to have a fair representation of English and Irish manufactures if we only spend a sum of £25,000. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will promise at least that the matter shall have the attention of the Government.


I regret to say that I cannot give a very definite answer to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman, but I will note what he has said, and what has fallen from the right hon. Member for Leeds (Sir Lyon Playfair), who probably speaks on the subject of exhibitions with more authority than any other Member of this House. I cannot, however, say more than that I will bring the matter before my colleagues.

Vote agreed to.