§ VOTE ON ACCOUNT.
§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £3,886,563, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the Charges for the Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1893."namely:—[See page 1228.]
§ (9.1.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has done anything in reference to the question of mining royalties in Wales? He was to see some of the hon. Members on this side of the House, and make some arrangements by which royalties should be paid on net results, and not upon gross. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, a meeting of the Mining Section of the Associated Chambers of Commerce last week came unanimously to a resolution in favour of the principle of mining royalties being paid on the net and not on the gross results. I believe that several hundred licences for gold mining in Wales have been issued, but work is only carried on in two mines, and this is because the industry is so heavily handicapped, and prevented from natural development through the practice of the Crown exacting royalties on gross results, and this does not pay with low grade ores. Has the right hon. Gentleman made any inquiries on this subject?
§ (9.2.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN, St. George's,) Hanover Square
I do not think it would be respectful to the Royal Commission appointed for the consideration of this question if I were to express an opinion before receiving their Report. I shall not be prepared to deal with the question in any way until I have seen this Report. Meanwhile, my mind is perfectly open on the subject, and I shall be ready to consider any recommendations for the development of the industry.
§ (9.3.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I have to call the attention of the Committee to Vote O in Class V., Colonial Office, on which I shall move a reduction.
§ MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
On a point of Order, and to avoid subsequent difficulty, may I ask, Mr. Courtney, if you have ruled that an Amendment being put to one item prevents our discussing an earlier item in the Votes? I ask this because I am desirous of discussing Item 4—the salary of the Home Secretary—with reference to the executions yesterday morning.
§ MR. PICTON
On the point of Order, Sir, may I ask, have you not on previous occasions ruled that on a Vote on Account it is not necessary to adhere strictly to the order of the Votes?
After entering upon one item the Committee cannot go back to a former item. The hon. Member is not bound to give way.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
On the point of Order, Sir. No doubt some hon. Members have Notices to reduce items in the Vote on Account; but does your ruling import that a Member who desires to move an Amendment to an item preceding that as to which Notice has been given is not entitled to do so?
If an hon. Member wishes to raise a question in reference to an item preceding that to which Notice has been given he will rise to bring that question before the Committee; but, the Committee having entered upon an item, discussion cannot go back again.
MR. P. W. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)
Having regard to the fact that the hon. Member for Caithness had introduced a subject on which I desired to speak, am I debarred from speaking because I did not happen to catch your eye in taking my hat off?
§ (9.5.) MR. PICTON
It is a matter of great regret to me if I, by intervening, prevent hon. Members from bringing forward subjects they consider of importance to the country; but this matter to which I have to refer is a matter of life or death to a number of half- 1251 -civilized or barbarous people dependent upon Imperial rule. I have for a considerable time waited for the opportunity of bringing the subject before the attention of the House, and really I do not conscientiously think I should be justified in giving way now that the opportunity offers. It is, I suppose, well known to Members of this House, who have given attention to Colonial subjects, that Zululand, annexed to the Empire some years ago, has been recently re-settled by being mapped out into a number of districts. One of these is called Ndwandwe, and is the north-eastern district of this Colony—if so it can be called—at any rate, this dependency of Great Britain. Since the wars which devastated the country, the people of the district of Ndwandwe have gradually been settling down into a tolerably peaceful mode of life; but this is now to be changed, or so it appears from the information we have, owing to the determination of the Colonial Office to send back to this district the Chieftain Usibepu, who, for years past, has been the cause of much disturbance and bloodshed. It is believed by those who know the country best that if this man is sent back there will be recurrence of bloodshed, and an inter-tribal war is absolutely certain. In reference to this point, I ask the patience of the Committee while I read one or two extracts from contemporary publications, for in this way I shall best indicate what is the state of local public feeling on the subject. First, I quote from the Times of Natal for 28th January, and this paper I take to be not so much the exponent of native interests as a paper which takes generally a sensible view of what is expedient and practicable in the interest of the Empire in South Africa. The Times of Natal says—The return of Usibepu to the northern part of Zululand will, if carried out, add one more to the long list of blunders in Zululand. The fact that Usibepu's people and the Usutu tribe are inveterate enemies is too well known to need recapitulation.The article goes on to say—Zululand is now in a peaceful and prosperous state, and it is difficult to believe that the Governor of Zululand will permit an act which will, without doubt, disturb the peace, and set Zululand in a blaze. …. The white 1252 communities in Natal, the Transvaal, Free State, Swaziland, and Zululand will unanimously oppose an act which is bound to affect them. Fighting cannot take place in Zululand without its influence being felt in adjdining countries.The writer of the leading article goes on to show how in various ways the return of Usibepu to this northern district will have a very detrimental effect on the peace of the country. Then I turn to the Daily Independent, published not in Natal, but in Cape Colony, at Kimberley. There I find, under date 20th January of the present year—It seems hardly credible that the Chief Usibepu is to be restored to Zululand by the powers presiding over that country. Yet the statement is made on apparently good authority. For some reason, which it would be difficult and perhaps not altogether edifying to fathom, this Chief has always been a favourite with the Native Department in Natal. …. If Usibepu goes back into Zululand there will be fresh disturbances in that country. That is as certain as it is that putting a light to gunpowder will cause, an explosion.Now, I do not know that the Independent has any special attachment to a sentimental policy as regards the native population. Next let me quote a letter published in the Natal Witness for 27th January, written by Mr. R. C. Samuelson, the son of a Norwegian missionary, and who knows Zululand well, and has had ample experience of the Zulu people. In his, letter Mr. Samuelson says—I have now and again heard from Zululand natives that the Imperial Government is minded to return Chief Usibepu to the Mandhlakazi District (this is another name for the north-eastern district of Zululand), and my only reason for crediting such a monstrously mad intention is the fact that the paid Chief has already on several occasions been privileged and allowed to do what no one else would be permitted to do by the mostcareless and thoughtless of Governments. To return Chief Usibepu to the said district is throwing fire into a powder magazine. There is such a bitter feeling entertained by the whole or most of the Zulu nation against the said Chief, by reason of his being the leader of the party which has been the cause of the death of a member of almost every Zulu family, that the only way, and the most merciful way, is to keep Chief Usibepu in the Reserve, either where he now is, or nearer to Natal.No doubt much may be said in defence of Usibepu, and as much in accusation of the family of Cetewaye, to whom the Chief is distantly related—their great grandfathers were cousins, 1253 I believe—and to which he is in some respects a rival. Much may be said on either side; but if we had any regard for Usibepu, we should be anxious to keep him out of the country, where he is almost certain to be killed. The writer of the letter I have quoted speaks of Usibepu as being generally mischievous, and as having caused the death of a member of almost every Zulu family, and this might be thought to be the language of a partisan, and therefore not to be trusted; but here I find the same thing clearly set out in a Blue Book for 1884. In a despatch to Sir Henry Bulwer in August of that year Lord Derby said the condition of Zululand since 1879, the year of annexation, had been one of chronic war, often provoked by this Chief acting on his own responsibility; that Her Majesty's Government had never entered into any engagement to aid or defend him, and that all he was entitled to was an asylum in the Reserve; but that it must be clearly understood that that position of safety was not to be abused, and that attempts to make it a basis for acts of retaliation must be checked by removal from the Reserve. Well, the Chief did make it a basis for a policy of retaliation against his enemies. Of course this despatch of Lord Derby was written a long time ago, but I mention it to show that at that time Lord Derby held very much the same opinion as that expressed in Mr. Samuelson's letter that Usibepu was the cause of much trouble among the people. In 1879, at the time of the English invasion, the tribes with whom Usibepu had had prevailing influence were suffering from his turbulence and breaking away from him, and this is to be borne in mind, because it is urged that the Zulus in the north-eastern corner of Zululand are blood relations to Usibepu and therefore attached to him. That is not the case according to the best information I can obtain. Even in 1879 Usibepu had upset the peace of his tribe by his turbulent temper, and from that time to this the Mandhlakazi tribe attached to him by ties of blood have remained hostile to him. I shall have to quote the words of Commissioner Osborn, of whom I desire to Bay nothing disrespectful, for I have no 1254 doubt he endeavoured to do his duty to the country, and to the native races according to the best lights he had. But I think there is much evidence to show that he did cherish certain prejudices with regard to the natives which he manifested in a way which is not quite consistent with what many of us consider the highest Christian policy. There is much evidence to show that he scarcely realised, to the extent that might have been expected from the Representative of this country, our responsibilities to these people. But I call Commissioner Osborn as a witness in support of my contention that it is in the highest degree impolitic and mischievous, and from my point of view wicked to send back to the country a man who has been the cause of so much disorder there. In the Colonial Papers, C 4980, page 126, under date 15th November, 1886, we find Mr. Osborn says—The Zulus ask that Usibepu may not be permitted to return to his territory. This is a very important question.…. But for the restraining hand of the Government Usibepu would, without loss of time, return to his country and resort to fearful retaliation on the Usutu (representing Cetewayo's special following) for their conduct in bringing the Boers against him.Now I have nothing to do with the question whether they were right or wrong in bringing the Boers against him. I do not enter into the quarrels of the natives. I deal with the policy of the Imperial Government, which ought to be in favour of peace. They ought to choose such means and measures as will keep the people in quietness. Now, even on Mr. Osborn's showing, Usibepu was not the man to preserve the peace of the country. From Lord Derby's Despatch and from Mr. Osborn's letter we learn there was a prevailing opinion that if Usibepu were permitted to return it would lead to disturbance. Well, he did go back in 1887. Having been for some time an exile in the Reserve territory, as noted in the Despatch from Lord Derby, Usibepu was restored by the same Commissioner Osborn whose words I have quoted, but, of course, with the authority of Sir Arthur Havelock, his superior, and much bad blood was caused. Sir Arthur Havelock wrote on 8th January, 1888 (C 5331)— 1255From the whole tenour of the information which reached me I was reluctantly compelled to think that more care and greater consideration and discretion might have been exercised in arranging Usibepu's re-settlement.… Recent news from Lower Umfaloo is disquieting. Somkali, the principle chief of the locality, is reported to have been collecting his followers, and to have sent them to join Dinizulu (the son of Cetewayo). Fear of Usibepu is probably the motive in this case.…. It has been made clear to me that the risks attending the return of Usibepu were underrated. Great vigilance, discretion, and forbearance are needed to avert trouble. When his re-settlement has been arranged his presence in his location will, I still think, act as a salutary check on any possible disorderly or disloyal action on the part of the Usutu chiefs. It is to be gathered from circumstances that have transpired—and it is the opinion of those who have most closely observed the recent recrudescence of trouble in Zululand—that the animosity of the Usutu party, and such designs as they may have, are directed against Usibepu personally and not against the Government, except in so far as they believe the Government to be supporters against them of Usibepu.So, we find, it was Sir Arthur Havelock's opinion then that so far as he could read the information he had, the Cetewayo section were not disloyal to the British Government, but that their animosity was against Usibepu. That was in 1887, and what followed? In June, 1888, the next year, in this very district of Ndwandwe, Usibepu and a number of his followers fell upon the chief Musutwana and savagely murdered him, together with several of his followers and women. Sir M. H. Gallwey, the Attorney General, writes under date 12th November, 1888 (C 5890, page 350):—Usibepu preferred to incur the displeasure of the Government and to disobey their orders and to take his revenge and have it inflicted by his orders in his presence rather than wait to see the trial and sentence of these people who murdered two of his men in March last, and who had been handed over to Government and were since tried and are now under sentence of death.I have omitted reference to the fact that two of Usibepu's men were murdered previously. I only want to show the turbulent character of the man who would not wait to see justice done at the hands of the Government, but carried out vengeance with his own hands. Almost immediately afterwards, on 23rd June, Usibepu was attacked by some 4,000 Usutus, routed, and driven into the Reserve. 1256 There have been three distinct attempts made to force this man upon the northeastern district, and in each case they have been followed by disorder, war, and sanguinary feuds. From 1879 to 1882, after the annexation of the district, he was one of the 13 kinglets, commonly called in Natal the "Kilkenny Cats," whose only object seems to have, been to disturb and injure each other, He was restored in 1883; then disturbances took place, and he had to be expelled in 1884. In 1887 he was, for the third time, restored. Then the murders and fights took place to which I have just referred. I should like to call the attention of the House to the evidence of a man who has been regarded as on the whole highly disinterested, and that is the trader Moore, who has been praised by the representative of the Imperial authority as a highly trustworthy authority, On 29th November, 1885, he wrote—it was after the expulsion of Usibepu, and before the final attempt to restore, him—that the country was settling down, that is Zululand generally, and especially Ndwandwe. But he adds—I notice that the Mercury"—that is another paper of Natal—"advocates the re-instatement of Usibepu. I cannot coincide with that unless England would like finally to get rid of him. If she re-instates him a body of troops must be left with him. He would have to be guarded night and day, and the country would again be in a ferment.And he goes on to advise that Usibepu and all his own military retainers and supporters should be kept in the Reserve. I do not think anything has occurred since to show that trader Moore was wrong in his prediction. In 1887 Usibepu returned to his country, and was restored by Mr. Osborn, the Resident Commissioner, with the authority of Sir Arthur Havelock, and much ill-feeling was the result. I do not wish to occupy any more of the time of the Housed I think I have a fair testimony, not from the mouths of ex-parte witnesses, but from the mouths of respected and trusted representatives of the Imperial power in that country, to show that Usibepu has been persistently for years past—ever since the country was annexed, in fact, to the Empire—he has been the constant 1257 cause of outrage, of mutual strife amongst the clans, and of bloodshed. Surely the Imperial power has a sacred duty to these poor, uneducated, or, at best, half-cultivated people. We know what is necessary for social life; we know the principles upon which social security must depend; but instead of following out these lofty Christian principles that we profess to have drunken in with our native air, we condescend to intrigue with rival chieftains, and set one against another. I think that policy is totally unworthy of a Christian nation. The poor people of this district, who are much less numerous than they used to be, are immediately under the shadow of the Imperial power. They have no strength of themselves to give resistance to the Imperial power. They have strength enough to fight amongst themselves, and murder each other and cause disturbance. With the view of eliciting some statement from the Government on the subject, I beg to move that the whole Vote—but with special reference to the Colonial Office Vote—be reduced by the sum of £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item, Colonial Office, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Picton.)
§ (9.37.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not rise to deal with the speech which the hon. Gentleman has delivered on a subject as to which he feels deeply and upon which he has clearly bestowed a great deal of care; but I would most earnestly point out to the Committee that, according to the ruling of all the great authorities upon the procedure that regulates our Debates, it is not a convenient course to raise great questions of policy upon the Vote on Account, when that policy can be more properly discussed upon the ordinary Estimates. [Mr. PICTON: It will be too late.] The hon. Gentleman is influenced by the best of motives, but if the practice which the hon. Gentleman has pursued on this occasion were followed through all the Estimates it would clearly take as long to discuss a Vote on Account as to discuss the 100 and odd Votes which are required to deal with the Imperial expenses; and I would, therefore, earnestly press on the Committee the desirability of bringing 1258 this Debate on the Vote on Account to a conclusion, and of coming to the discussion of the Supplementary Esti mates. It is a new practice, and an inexpedient practice—a practice which I am sure I think the sense of the House ought to check—to raise these very large questions of policy on a Vote on Account; and I beg the hon. Member and other hon. Members not to pursue the course which unfortunately has been pursued by the hon. Member on the present occasion.
§ MR. PICTON
Perhaps I may be allowed to say that I should be very sorry to refuse to yield to the right hon. Gentleman, if I felt I could, conscientiously do so; but, as I have already pointed out, the Vote is for about two months, and in the course of these two months there may be streams of bloodshed in that country through this insane policy of the Government. It is because of the danger we incur by postponing the consideration of this subject for two months that I am very anxious that the opinion of the Committee should be taken on it.
§ (9.40.) MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)
There is no doubt but that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House is quite right in what he has said as a general rule; but this is an exceptional case. Within two months it is more than probable, if the present policy is persisted in, Zululand will be deluged with bloodshed; and I cannot but think that, under the circumstances, my hon. Friend has made out a good case for departing from the general rule, and, therefore, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able at any rate to give some answer to the speech of my hon. Friend.
§ (9.41.) THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Baron H. de WORMS,) Liverpool, East Toxteth
I shall express no judgment on what may be the motive or intention of the hon. Gentleman in bringing forward this question, and I am sure I am expressing a view shared by the whole of the Committee in stating that the hon. Gentleman has put his case most fairly before the Committee, and without exaggeration or Party feeling. If the hon. Gentleman were correct in his premises, 1259 undoubtedly his conclusion would be justified; but I think I shall be able to show in a few words that there are no grounds for his apprehensions. I was glad to see that the hon. Member did not allude to a pamphlet which has been widely circulated amongst the Members of this House, and on which I cannot help thinking the principal and main charge against Her Majesty's Government rests. In common with many Members of this House I have received a copy of this pamphlet from Miss Colenso, the title of which is called Fresh Troubles in Zululand. I was glad to observe that the hon. Member said that the condition of Zululand is peaceful and prosperous. [Mr. PICTON: Most peaceful.] I am able to confirm on the best possible authority that the condition of Zululand is absolutely peaceful and prosperous. The Revenue has been steadily increasing since the annexation. There is now a balance of more than £20,000 to the good. The hut tax is paid regularly. There is very little crime—in fact, no serious crime whatever. Now, I ask in what way can such a statement as is made and contained in Fresh Troubles in Zululand be justified? This circular was sent to every Member of the House of Commons; on the margin is written, "For consultation on 17th March." It contains translations of letters in the Zulu language, and nobody can doubt that this circular in English will be translated into the Zulu language and transmitted to Zululand. If trouble ensues in Zululand, though it is now in a most peaceful condition, it will be in a great measure due to the action of persons like Miss Colenso, who act with the freedom and recklessness of absolute irresponsibility. I had occasion last year to speak of the course pursued by Miss Colenso in severe terms; and in the responsible position which I have the honour to occupy in this House I repeat that condemnation of her action, and do not hesitate to affirm that documents such as she has circulated here to-day, when transmitted to Zululand, are more likely to bring about trouble there than any possible action of Her Majesty's Government. I think that I shall be able to show 1260 to the satisfaction of the hon. Member and of the Committee that the statements set forth in this circular are utterly misleading, and, more than that, absolutely untrue. In the first place this circular states—The two letters appear to me to represent a serious situation. They show fresh evictions of the rightful inhabitants of Northern Zulu-land"—the district to which the hon. Member refers—"in favour of Usibepu's people—i.e., they show Mr. Osborn still adhering to the policy he has pursued since 1880—the hateful policy of setting tribe against tribe; of forcing Usibepu, as an authority, into a district which detests him; a policy which must result in many murders, judicial and others; and which means the expulsion or extermination of a large portion of the inhabitants. My latest information is a report from European sources in Natal that Usibepu's people are gathering together to go north, and that Usibepu goes with them. Usibepu is quietly at Eshowe.This is absolutely without foundation. The information received at the Colonial Office, and which is certainly derived from an authority quite equal to that from which this irresponsible statement is derived, as recently as the 7th of this month, is as follows:—It appears that not a single eviction has taken place, nor will any eviction be necessary, if the Usutu people affected by the location boundaries abide by the arrangements made for their own benefit by the Commission in September last. Usibepu is quietly at Eshowe.Judging, however, by the fact that a rumour of Dinizulu's return was persistently spread in Zululand, and that some of the Usutu party showed a disinclination to accept the authority of the British Government, it was feared that they were being encouraged to reject the logic of accomplished facts in the hope of again establishing the Zulu Kingdom under Dinizulu. Her Majesty's Government denies that Mr. Osborn is antagonistic to the Usutu party; but, in any case, that accusation cannot be brought against Colonel Cardew; and they must decline to accept the statements of irresponsible persons, who are not even resident in Zululand, in preference to their own responsible officers. I need not say that that information was derived from a source in which Her Majesty's Government are justified in placing every confidence. As a matter of fact, there is no present intention of restoring Usibepu to the territory which he has left, [Mr. PICTON: Or his retainers?] 1261 No; I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to an answer I gave a short time since to a question put by the hon. Member for Rugby. He asked me distinctly whether, speaking of the Secretary of State's letter, dated 17th January, 1892, in which it was stated that his Lordship had recently intimated, not for the first time, that he was not prepared to entertain the restoration of Usibepu to the Ndwandwe district, he had now any intention of restoring Usibepu or of allowing him to return to that district; and if, before restoring him or allowing him to return, sufficient notice would be given to afford an opportunity of the subject being discussed in Parliament. The answer I gave on the 15th February to this question was—In reply to the first paragraph of the hon. Member's question, I have to say that the Secretary of State has not changed his intention with regard to Usibepu since the date of the letter of the 7th January, to which the hon. Member refers.I was then asked a further question as to the attitude of the Secretary of State in July, 1887, with respect to the restoration of Usibepu, and in answer I said—I cannot add anything to the answer I have given. The Secretary of State is not aware of any change of policy, and since the date of the letter referred to, the 7th January, no change has taken place.
§ MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
Will the two Chiefs who were supposed to be adherents of Usibepu be restored?
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
I do not think the question arises. The question before the House is as to Usibepu.
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
No. Usibepu is the only person to whom this discussion relates. I do not think anything could be clearer, more distinct, or more categorical, than the statement I made on behalf of my noble Friend the Secretary of State. I have nothing to add to that statement, and therefore I can only say that the whole question raised by the hon. Member for Leicester seems to me to be based 1262 on false premises put forward in the circular to which I have referred, and which I cannot condemn in sufficiently strong terms; and I hope the assurance which I have given to the hon. Member will sufficiently prove to him that no change of policy has taken place; that there is no present intention of restoring Usibepu to the territory which he has left; and that, therefore, the fears of the hon. Member are not justified by fact, and have grown out of information given by irresponsible persons.
§ MR. PICTON
Would the right hon. Gentleman say if the six or seven hundred military retainers who were associated with Usibepu are going back to the Ndwandwe district?
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
I can say that there is not the slightest present intention of restoring Usibepu or any of his followers.
§ (9.50.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I think the answer of the right hon. Gentleman is very satisfactory as far as it goes, but I think he is scarcely accurate in his facts. In 1886 Sir Henry Holland, the Secretary of State, now Lord Knutsford, made a similar statement in reference to Usibepu, that there was no intention on the part of the Government to restore him; but, unfortunately, in 1887 or 1888 he was restored. Then you had civil war, and Usibepu had to be taken out of that district of Ndwandwe and is now in the Reserve where I hope he will be kept. I do not know what the source of that statement is in reference to the Zulus, but I do not think it is accurate. I believe the Zulu people are as law-abiding a people as any people in the word; and if you do not interfere with them, and allow their Chiefs to rule them, you will have no trouble at all. I have not seen this circular of Miss Colenso's that the right hon. Gentleman has replied to; but what I want some information about is a despatch I saw from John Bramston in December 1891, in reference to this territory. In this special district there has been a Commission appointed, and you are going to turn the adherents of the King's party out of 22 kraals or villages, 1263 and you are going to turn the followers of Usibepu out of 56 other villages, and you are going to move them from one district into another, and you are re-partitioning them and making a new arrangement. The feeling of attachment to the soil, and the place where they were born, is very strong among the people in Zululand; and trouble may be caused by removing the inhabitants of 56 villages of Usibepu, as is intended, to the territory of a brother of Usibepu, who was loyal to Cetewayo and the National Party in Zululand, and killed by his brother in 1883 during the "Kilkenny Cat" fights. Usibepu, who is an able and brave man, a man with considerable force of character and intelligence, was carving out a position for himself, and he would have replaced Cetewayo and the whole family of Cetewayo by a new dynasty; and yet, even in this very territory, the people are quite content, and you are going to disturb them by clearing away 56 of the villages on one side and 22 on the other. And what is the need of it? Mr. Bramston says—It is believed that of both classes a certain number of kraals will prefer to konza to (recognise) the local Chief or head man rather than move.That is not the way to make Zululand prosperous and get your hut tax paid. This is simply the way to meddle and muddle. This new policy has returned with the return of Mr. Osborn. Have the Government got no wise statesmanlike policy to carry out there? Are they going to carry on a hand-to-mouth policy with Usibepu, or are they going to do something to settle matters finally there? As I said last year, and as I say again now, I think the only wise course to adopt in order to settle the question is to get Zululand outside the hands of the Colonial Office altogether. The great bulk of the Zulu people are in Natal now. They are troublesome in Natal, and may cause trouble there. The best thing to do is to get the Zulu people back again into Zululand, where there is plenty of land for everybody. Let the district of Natal comprise the whole of Zululand. I have no confidence at all in Downing Street. They 1264 do one thing to-day and another tomorrow. It is this policy of drift, of blowing hot and cold, that has done all the harm in Zululand, and that has decimated the Zulu people. While you keep these three Chiefs in St. Helena you will prevent a settlement. Why cannot you do what I urged last year—send the three Chiefs back to Zululand under certain conditions? I believe if you do that, and get someone to loyally carry out your wishes, you will have no trouble at all. Miss Colenso is here fighting for the cause of the Zulu people, the same people as her father fought for. Well, Sir, I say that while you keep Dinizulu and his two uncles and the other Chiefs there, you will prevent any settlement. Why do you not do what I advocated last year—send back the young King and Usibepu under certain conditions; and if you do that and have someone there loyal to you, to carry out your wishes, there will be no trouble at all, especially if you are going to give responsible government to Natal. All the trouble would then cease, and Miss Colenso would resume her labours at Natal and cease to trouble the Colonial Office. Now as to the grounds of economy. The three men were a hat—well, not a hat, it was rather a ring—to show that they were men and married men. Their rings or hats were worn out, and they wanted to get them replaced, and with their ideas, the refusal to provide new ones helps to keep up the irritation. I hope and trust that the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues in the Government will look at this question from a statesmanlike point of view, and will come to a settlement of the matter at the present time, especially in view of the fact that responsible government is going to be given to Natal.
§ (10.3.) MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
I am glad the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies has had the opportunity of making the statement which he has made on the part of the Government, but I must say a word or two about his remarks concerning Miss Colenso. It may be possible that 1265 Miss Colenso has indulged in a certain amount of exaggeration; but we must remember that she acts from the highest philanthropic motives. I have never known a more generous or disinterested woman in my life. She is, moreover, carrying out the trust bequeathed to her by her father, a man who devoted—nay, sacrificed—his life to these poor Zulus. Indeed, I would go further and say that I think it is desirable, in dealing with Colonial matters, that there should be somebody who really understands the natives, and who is willing to take upon himself or herself the task of helping to enlighten this House from their point of view. In fact, we are all too apt to look at these questions through official spectacles. At the same time I thank the right hon. Gentleman for saying that Usibepu is not to be sent back. He is a dangerous man. He is a man of great force of character, and, above all, he is a bitter opponent of the Usutos, who naturally look on Cetewayo's son very much as the Jacobites regarded their "King over the water." But I go further, and say that his followers are imbued with the same spirit, and that if they are sent back to the north-east part of Zululand there will be a war of vendetta. I am very glad, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman has promised that neither Usibepu nor his adherents will be sent back. But, at the same time, I am bound to say that my hon. Friend (Mr. Picton) had a perfect right to bring this matter before the Committee. Having said that, and having had the explanation from the right hon. Gentleman, I should, suggest—of course, my hon. Friend will take his own course—that he need not press this matter further. I would also mention one other point, and it is this: whether it would not be possible now, after two or three years have passed, to re-consider the very severe sentence which was passed on Dinizulu?
§ (10.37.) MR. PICTON
Before I withdraw my Motion I would just like to say this one word. Let us have a clear understanding. I understood the Under Sectretary of State to say distinctly that the Government have no 1266 intention of sending back Usibepu to the north-eastern district of Zululand, nor have they any intention of sending back his military retainers. There are some 600 or 700 of them, I believe. I understand him to say that there is no intention of sending them back or allowing them to go back.
§ MR. PICTON
Very well. Then, so far as I am concerned, I am content to withdraw the Motion. But just one word more about the criticisms passed on Miss Colenso. I must say, as my hon. Friend has well said, that that lady has inherited from her father, a man of missionary, of apostolic spirit, his feeling of enthusiasm for these people. Well, if the right hon. Gentleman is correct, and if she has made some mistake in her authorities, was it right of him to speak of her devotion to these people in the way in which he did speak of it. I do think, Sir, that it was scarcely the right thing for the Under Secretary of State to do.
§ (10.41.) BARON H. DE WORMS
I only wish to say a word in reply to what has just fallen from the hon. Gentleman. I do not reflect in any way on the motives or the objects of the lady. All I said was that I thought her action was ill-advised. This is not my view alone; but it was held also by Gentlemen who have filled the same office before me in other Administrations.
§ (10.42.) MR. WEBB (Waterford, W.)
It is not our fault that we have to discuss this subject at this time: I wish to protest against the language used by the right hon. Gentleman concerning Miss Colenso. Her action has been characterised as reckless; but if the assumptions of the right hon. Gentleman were carried out, no one but officials would be allowed to take part in the Government of dependencies. It has been our sad experience that in dealing with these countries officials have been invariably inclined to back up an aggressive policy; and that whenever abuses 1267 have been laid open and this Parliament has been called to its duty, it has generally been done by outsiders who have had no official connection with the Government. Unfortunately, we Irishmen have too much reason to know this in our own experience. A person like Miss Colenso is often likely to be more accurately informed than officials in such matters, and instead of blaming her I think the whole nation is under a deep debt of gratitude to her. It is, however, satisfactory to have had the assurance which we have had from the Under Secretary of State. But with the map in our hands, and our knowledge of the manner in which the country is being chopped up and divided among various tribes, we cannot but regard the position of affairs as extremely dangerous. We trust that matters will go on well, but we are not entirely satisfied. I would ask the House to remember the opinion of the Bishop of Zululand with regard to the present condition of things. Hon. Members will find it in the London Guardian of 24th February. In it he pointed out that we broke up the old laws, customs, and arrangements of these people, and put nothing in their place. The assurances we have had, however, from the right hon. Gentleman are to a certain extent satisfactory; but as regards Miss Colenso, nothing will persuade the philanthropic people of this country but that her action has been for the best for those people and also for the honour of this country. I agree with my hon. Friends regarding the treatment of these poor men at St Helena. We believe that it has been, and is, in many respects, harsh and unnecessary, and we all hope they will soon be sent home and used as a means of good to their own country instead of embittering feeling by their continued detention.
§ (10.43.) MR. COBB (Warwick, S.E., Rugby)
I wish to make sure, Sir, that there should be no mistake about the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has made. He was good enough to refer to a question I asked him on 15th February as to the return of Usibepu, and he said quite 1268 clearly then that there was no, idea of his return. But I asked him also whether the exclusion of. Usibepu would extend to the men who had acted solely under his orders, and, the reply of the right hon. Gentleman was—"The answer to the Second paragraph of the question is in the negative"—meaning, as I understood, that he would not pledge himself then that the exclusion of Usibepu would not extend to his followers. I understand now that it will include the exclusion of his followers. If I am not right in that opinion, perhaps we shall have it quite clearly stated now.
§ (10.16.) MR. CUNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
There is one question I should like to ask, and that is—as to the refugees at St. Helena?
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
The action taken by Miss Colenso, and others who share her views, is not to the advantage of the refugees, and Cannot forward the views which they entertain as to their return. I explained to the hon. Member for Leicester that we could not recognise the position assumed by the friends of Dinizulu, that he would be able to return to Zululand as King. I must remind the hon. Gentleman that Zululand is annexed to the British Crown. So long as mete is this talk, about Dinizulu and, the Kingship, so long is it imperative that he should not be allowed to return.
§ (10.18.) MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)
I wish to call attention to the separation of Northern and Southern Queensland.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (10.19.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I wish to get some information about two little conflicts we have hair in Pahang. I am told that the cause of the trouble is that since we annexed, or, rather, took Pahang under our Protectorate, the natives: have been losing their lands. They are being dispossessed in favour of European 1269 Companies and the Chinese. I do not know whether that is true. I want to know the cause of the troubles; whether the Sultan is on our side, and if the troubles will soon pass away?
§ (10.20.) BARON H. DE WORMS
The troubles, as the hon. Member has inferred, are very trifling, and will soon pass away.
§ (10.21.) MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
I wish to call attention to the desire of the people in the northern part of Queensland to have the Colony divided into two parts. The matter has been ventilated in the Legislative Assembly in Brisbane. Sir J. Griffith and Sir T. McIlwraith both expressed a desire that the Colony should be divided.
§ (10.22.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I would ask you, Sir, whether it is in Order to raise a question of this kind, which does not come upon the Vote at all, and over which the Colonial Secretary has no power at all?
I was watching to hear how the hon. Member would connect this with the Colonial Office, but so far as he has gone it is merely a domestic question in Queensland.
§ (10.24.) MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
With great deference I submit it is a question which would come within the province of the House, as the Home Government alone has power to separate the Colony into two or more parts.
§ MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
With great respect I venture to assert that the Colonial Office has been approached.
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
Only in the form of a representation made to the Secretary of State. In the event of matters assuming a tangible form the matter would have to be dealt with by Bill, which would be subject to the veto of the Crown. No such step has taken place.
§ (10.25.) MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
That being so, I take it that I have a right to ask whether it is the 1270 intention of the Government to accede to the request of a very large proportion of the people?
The hon. Gentleman is not entitled to proceed upon that topic. If the Colonial Office had been formally appealed to to take certain action and had declined, then the conduct of the Office could be discussed; but a domestic question of this kind cannot be discussed.
§ MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN
With great respect I submit that the course of debate is one almost unprecedented in the House.
It is not the function of the hon. Member to discuss this matter. Has the hon. Member anything to say on this question?
§ (10.28.) MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
Am I justified in asking the Colonial Under Secretary a question as regards the taking of land in the Falkland Islands? The right hon. Gentleman will recollect that I brought rather a serious charge in regard to the management of the lands of the Islands. The people alleged that they were being kept out of the land. They wanted security of tenure. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can give the Committee some information on the subject.
§ (10.28.) BARON H. DE WORMS
I have not received notice, and I can only give the answer which I gave to the hon. Gentleman on the 18th February. I have received no information since that answer.
§ BARON H. DE WORMS
It would be impossible for me to amplify it without drawing largely on my imagination. The hon. Member asked me—Whether the Secretary of State for the Colonies has received several Petitions and Memorials from the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands urging that as the leases of Crown lands for gracing purposes are now 1271 falling in, provision should be made that no individual or company should hold land exceeding a certain definite limit; whether he can inform the House of the circumstances tinder which an Ordinance was passed by the legislative Council on the 9th September, 1890, authorising the sale of certain lands; what was the constitution of the Council on that occasion; and whether, having regard to the fact that the present Governor, Sir R. Goldsworthy, possesses the confidence of the Colonists, the Secretary of State for the Colonies will grant the inquiry which has been so frequently demanded into the administration of the affairs of the Falkland Islands?My reply was—The Secretary of State has received one Petition, but not several Petitions, from certain inhabitants of Stanley in the Falkland Islands, alleging that the holders of leases of Crown lands for grazing purposes are occupying more land than is comprised in their leases, some of which are falling in, but are subject to rights of renewal, and praying that such surplus land may be secured for the benefit of Colonists other than the existing lessees. The object of the Ordinance, which was passed on 2[...]th December, 1890, was to enable the Government to sell to the Falkland Island Company certain lands, of which they were lessees at the rate of 3s. per acre, instead of 4s. per acre, the rate fixed by a previous Ordinance as the selling price of country lands. The Council consisted pf the Governor, the Colonial Secretary, the Colonial Surgeon, and two unofficial members, Messrs. Cobb and Felton. The statement of the hon. Member in the concluding portion of his question, that the Governor possesses the confidence of the Colonists, disposes of his suggestion that an inquiry into the administration of the Colony is necessary.
§ (10.30.) MR. MACNEILL
I would like to ask one question of very serious interest. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well my opinion that these lands are sold to a Monopolist Company at 3s. per acre, whereas they are sold at 4s. an acre to others. The right, hon. Gentleman knows that two-thirds of the Council are official members, and the gentleman who is not an official member is a member of this Falkland Islands Land Company, which enjoys a monopoly. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies a question in reference to this matter. I would ask him whether Lord Knutsford has signified that this Ordinance is simply a packet transaction? I know the weight of what I am saying, having regard to the responsibility of my position. I am responsible to my constituents—I am responsible for my own honour— 1272 in any charge I make. I state, from information that has come to me, and from information in possession of the Colonial Office, that this monopolist Company has endeavoured to take the land from these people, and that the late Governor gave the monopolist Company this land. I move a reduction of the hon. Gentleman's salary by £50, with as much for two years. I have brought this matter before the House and have received no satisfaction. The people of those Islands are in great want and misery, they have an ample opportunity, if only permitted, of working out their land and of truly earning an honest livelihood.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item, Colonial Office, be reduced by £50."—(Mr. MacNeill.)
§ (10.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I would like to point out the position in which we stand. It is absolutely necessary to finish this Vote and to finish the Scotch Vote to-night, I do not deny that the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. MacNeill) has raised a question of considerable interest. I do not object to that, and I am certainly not going to say that he has raised it in the way of obstructing in any way the proceedings of the House. I hope the hon. Gentleman will accept that disclaimer on my part.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Vote on Account may be interrupted even by matters which are in conformity with the strict Rules of Order, although not in conformity with the propriety of Debate in this House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is possible for us to go on not for one or two hours but for weeks upon every subject on which discussion might arise; at the same time it is perfectly impossible on those principles to get through, any business at all. Business of far greater importance still awaits our discussion 1273 this evening, and must be decided before we part to-night or to-morrow morning. Under these circumstances, though I am very reluctant to do so, and would like, so far as I am concerned, to absolve myself from all responsibility in the matter, I beg to move that the Question be now put.
(10.40.) THE CHAIRMAN
The question is one with regard to which I would invite hon. Members to consider their own position. It must be obvious to hon. Members that there are serious questions on this Vote on Account which hon. Members would be debarred from raising if any hon. Member rakes up anything which lurks in some corner of his memory. Though I do not propose to put the Question to the Committee, I shall be compelled to put it if this course is persisted in.
§ (10.42.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I have listened with care to the judicious and carefully-worded appeal which has been addressed to the Committee, and I fully appreciate the importance of what you, Sir, have said. It would be not only extremely difficult but practically impossible to discuss the Vote on Account without any regard to the convenience of the House, or the time that we are to devote to other things urgent and necessary. I submit that my hon. Friend (Mr. MacNeill), in the brief observations which he made, did not lay himself open to such language from the First Lord of the Treasury. But I am delighted to find that he disclaims having meant to convey any offence. I make no complaint generally of the tone and substance of the speech, although it is open to some slight comment. The moral to be drawn from the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury is not so much that the discussion on the Vote on Account is inconvenient, but that the Vote on Account is a novel and indefensible mode of procedure. When I first came to this House, twelve years ago, the Government were content to take Supply in the usual form. They obtained their money in regular course, and by ordinary discussion. The whole thing is a matter of arrangement, and if the Government had done what they should have done a little earlier, it would have been 1274 possible to have taken Supply in the ordinary course. It is rather hard, after the Government have grossly mismanaged their business, to find that all other questions on the Vote on Account must be left out, and that the Government will not allow hon. Members to take the first opportunity that arises for bringing up these questions. But I would advise hon. Members to limit themselves to-night to what is necessary and urgent. I have now made up my mind, seeing the Scotch Members have been so much put in the background, that I shall deal with these questions on the Report of Supply.
The Question now before the Committee is the reduction of the Colonial Post Office Vote.
§ (10.45.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
I desired to raise the question with respect to the administration of Sierra Leone. I would point out to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that I am perfectly willing to give up my right to bring forward a discussion on a matter of that kind now if he will undertake that we shall have a reasonable opportunity at some later period of discussing this matter. Unfortunately, those Votes on Account are run through Session after Session, and the discussion is not brought on until the end of the Session, and then we are told it is impossible to give any attention to these matters. That is the reason why we have, on the other hand, on other occasions found it necessary to claim our rights from the beginning. I claim that we should have a proper opportunity, if not to-night, at some later period, when we can properly discuss these matters and bring them properly forward. While forgeoing our rights on this occasion we shall have a claim on the consideration of the right hon. Gentleman in the future.
§ (10.50.) SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary for the Colonies whether he is aware that the shareholders in the 1275 Council of the Falkland Islands are shareholders in this great land monopoly—a great landed company which holds these islands year after year?
§ MR. MACNEILL
I have raised this question thoroughly in earnest, and in the interests of the people of those islands; and if there was a shadow of an imputation—
§ MR. MACNEILL
I am glad to hear there was no such imputation against my bona fides. I always desire to consult the wishes of the Committee, and I will, Mr. Courtney, accede to your suggestion and withdraw my Motion, because I esteem you very highly, both personally and officially.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ (10.52.) MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
I would like to ask the First Lord of the Treasury who is charged with the interests of Scottish agriculture on the Board of Agriculture since we lately lost Sir James Caird? Some resolutions have been passed by the Highland and Agricultural Society in favour of having some representation of Scotland at the Board of Agriculture. We have a most important Bill now before the House with reference to small holdings, and there are some provisions of that Bill which would never have been introduced by anyone who had a knowledge of agriculture in Scotland. I would like to know who has charge of the interests of Scotland at the Board of Agriculture?
§ (10.53.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture is not in his place in the House to-night, but, in his absence, I shall endeavour to give the hon. Member a satisfactory answer. I received a Petition from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, of which I am a very old member myself, with regard to the representation of Scotland on the Board of Agriculture, and I ventured to point out to that Society that 1276 the Board of Agriculture was not a Board in the ordinary sense of the word, that it was only a Board in the sense in which the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade are Boards; it is not managed by a Committee on which there are representatives, but that it is managed by a single Minister, who is responsible directly to Parliament. If there were Scotchmen on the Board because of their being Scotchmen, and on account of their knowledge of agriculture, the responsible Minister of the day would be obliged to look at agricultural matters through their eyes, and through their eyes alone. As the constitution of the Board stands at present the Minister for Agriculture may be a Scotchman, an Englishman, an Irishman, or a Welshman, and it would be his business, as responsible to Parliament for the Agriculture of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, to take the advice of those persons best qualified to give him advice upon the special circumstances with which he has to deal. I do not think the Board would be better constituted if they had a subordinate official supposed to represent Scotland in regard to agriculture. I can assure my hon. Friend that the Minister of Agriculture has the interest of Scotch agricultural, matters fully at heart, and has at his disposal the best advice with reference to any matters affecting agriculture in Scotland, or England, Wales, or Ireland which may at any time arise.
§ (10.55.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
The matter to which I wish to call attention, and of which I have given notice of a reduction of the Vote in regard to, is the contract for the Report of the Parliamentary Debates and Proceedings. I called attention to this matter on the 16th of July of last Session, and we had a Debate more or less important at that time on the matter; but I regret very much, considering the position we were in then—namely, that the contract was to come to an end, and that the Government were bound under the special circumstances to find a further contractor—I am sorry that more interest was not taken in the matter at that time, because we could have considered it, perhaps, better then than we can do at the 1277 present moment, the hands of he Government being at the time quite free and unfettered with regard to the contract. My attention has specially been called to this matter by the terms of the contract. When we were discussing the matter last year the Financial Secretary to the Treasury said—The Government will, of course, invite further tenders, and will endeavour to select some firm who, as far as we can judge, is perfectly competent to perform the work in a satisfactory manner. Beyond that it is quite impossible for me to give any pledge in the matter.I do not wish to say anything specially against Renter's Company, who have undertaken the contract, nor to contrast that company with the preceding company which did the work; but what I wish to say most distinctly is that, as far as I can understand, this company is not very likely to do the work in such a satisfactory manner as was stated by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. They have taken the contract at £200 per volume, and I believe the Government purchase, besides that, 100 sets at five guineas per annum. So far as I can understand, and after consulting with what may be considered the views of experts, I am told distinctly that this work cannot be produced for less than £350 per volume, and therefore, if that work, which costs £350 per volume, is only paid for at the rate of £200 per volume, someone must suffer. In the common language it is said there is a species of sweating going on. As far as I can understand, at the present moment, with one exception, the old staff who used to do the work have refused to do the work on the terms and conditions laid down by the present Company, and it is undertaken by other men, who have to work such a number of hours, 12 or 14 hours per day to get the work done, that we are perhaps quite right in saying it is a species of sweating. I see by the terms of the contract, and I give that, of course, as my reason for bringing this forward to-night—and I may mention it is a matter of urgency—I see by the terms of the contract that it is taken nominally for three years; 1278 that the contract may be brought to an end at any time on certain conditions; and also may be put an end to at the end of the Session by cither party giving a month's notice without any reasons whatever. Therefore, we are in this position—if the Committee chooses, this contract may be put an end to at the end of the present Session without in any way breaking the terms or conditions of the contract. So far as I am personally concerned, I object to the system of contracting altogether in this way. I have carefully read the evidence taken by the Committee in 1888, and, strange to say, the conclusion the Members of that Committee came to, with the exception of the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool, was entirely in favour of the work being done by ourselves instead of being contracted for in the manner which now prevails. There has been a complaint made which I should like to have some explanation in regard to. It is said that when particulars were issued for the tenders, it was practically understood that there should not be advertisements allowed on the daily issue. As a matter of fact advertisements are now issued. I noticed on the covers of one of the issues an advertisement commencing on one side "Notice, Buffalo Bill," and on the other side an advertisement with regard to Irish whiskey. Some of the parties who tendered for this work complain that they understood, as I believe everybody understood except those contractors who got the work, that they were not to be allowed to advertise on the covers of these daily issues. That is a matter, I think, we have a right to demand an explanation in regard to, because, it might happen that a tendering contractor might be told of this question of advertising on the covers before he sent his tender in, and that would of course allow him to send in a lower tender than other parties. I would ask the Government to appoint another Committee to consider on a very early day in this Session, the question of this reporting altogether. The feeling is, I think, against our present system so far as I can understand, and I believe we are 1279 the solitary country which adopts this system of reporting by contract. In nearly every other case it is done by the House, and copies are issued to the Members. I would ask the Government to consider whether they will consent to the appointment of a Committee to re-consider this question altogether during the present Session, so that, if the House likes, they may terminate the present contract at the end of the Session, and make a different arrangement altogether. I daresay I shall be met with the answer that another arrangement will cost a little more money; but, to have the work done properly, I am willing to consent, so far as I am personally concerned, to the spending of a little more money. And there are other items of printing on which we could make a saving, so that we could meet the additional expenditure in that way. I move the reduction of the Vote by £50, and would ask the Government for particulars with respect to the advertising, and whether they will consent to have the Committee re-appointed to reconsider the whole question of the Parliamentary Debates?
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item for Stationery and Printing be reduced by £50."—(Mr. Morton.)
§ (10.58.) THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir J. GORST,) Chatham
The advertisement of tenders for the contract in this case was exactly the same as in previous years. The contractor is only bound to provide the daily issues without covers, but there is no prohibition, either expressed or understood, to prevent him, if he likes, putting covers on the issues, and if he does that he may put advertisements on the covers. The present contractor does exactly what the previous one did without any objection being made. I can assure the hon. Member there has been no favouritism in the contract, that no notice was given to any contractor to tender for the contract, and they were all allowed to do what they liked. I would also assure the hon. Member that there is no sweating of any kind. 1280 This contract is like all contracts made by the Government. There was a Resolution past by the House last Session, and, before the present contractor took the contract, the Comptroller of Stationery informed him that he would have to perform certain things, and received from him the assurance that the spirit of this Resolution should be complied with.
§ SIR J. GORST
The contract is nominally for three years, as the hon. Member has pointed out, but it can be terminated for cause shown at the end of any Session by giving one month's notice. More than that, the contract specifies that the work shall be done satisfactorily, and if the Controller of the Stationery Office is of opinion that the contract is not satisfactorily performed, and that the contractor does not comply with the assurances he has given and the understanding under which the contract was entered into, the contract may be put an end to at any time. The hon. Member complains of the reporting. I have not received a single complaint from any hon. Member as to the way the reporting is done.
§ SIR J. GORST
It seems to me it is rather early—little more than a month—to judge of the way in which the contract is carried out, and it is somewhat premature for the House to appoint a Committee to consider the question. I would suggest that we should wait until we have had a little more experience of the present system, and if then it is ascertained that it is the general feeling of the House that a Committee should be appointed to consider what should be done in future Sessions, I am sure such a wish would be favourably considered by the Government. But I think it would be rather premature to appoint a Committee at the present moment, and the Government cannot consent to such a course.
§ (11.5.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Nobody can deny that this is a matter which it was absolutely necessary to bring before the 1281 House, as there are objections to the present system. On the Committee on Reporting I voted against an official Report, but I have since modified my opinion, and I think it is most desirable that there should be some sort of official Report. When the Committee had reported it was arranged that the then Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) should put out contracts in order to obtain a firm ready to accept the conditions. At that time the Hansard Union was anxious to issue a large amount of shares, and they took the contract gratis. As I said then, the right hon. Gentleman ought to have known perfectly well that a firm does not agree to do work gratis without hoping to get back the money it loses in some other fashion. What was the result? The result was that the firm of Macrae, Curtis, and Co. and other firms were converted into the Hansard Union; they brought out a vast capital; and the conclusion of the matter hon. Members can read in the papers. But this is still sub judice.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I was taking this as an example of what the Government have done. I will come to the present history now. They have done the same thing on the present occasion, and have taken the lowest contract that was offered, and did not trouble themselves to consider whether Messrs. Reuter could do the work for the money. They said: "Messrs. Reuter are ready to do the work at £200 a volume; other firms are not ready to do it for less, and so we will give it to Messrs. Reuter." Messrs. Reuter are not printers; they should have given the contract to a printer, and in selecting the printer they should have done one of two things—they should have asked some well-known printers what they would do the work for, or they should have estimated the cost, which they could easily do, added the trade profit, and given it to some respectable printer. My hon. Friend has made some complaint as to the advertisements, and the right hon. Gentleman said that Messrs. Reuter 1282 may put on a cover or they may not; the are not obliged to do so. The contract says—The first edition shall be issued in daily parts, stitched, without covers.Messrs. Reuter, therefore, have no choice. One of the most prominent printers in London—I do not wish to give the name to the House, but I can toll hon. Members privately — was anxious to know whether this "without cover" proviso meant that advertisements were not to be allowed. They sent their representative to the Stationery Office to ask if that were so. He was officially told at the office that that was the meaning of the proviso. Now, of course, they had to contract under very different conditions to Messrs. Reuter, who, as soon as they had obtained the contract, were allowed to put on this cover with advertisements. Taking the number of advertisements in the "Debates" already issued, and the prices for them, it makes a difference of about £1,500 per annum; a very important matter. I say the principle firms in the Metropolis were unfairly treated when they were officially told that they might not have advertisements, while Messrs. Reuter were allowed to have them.
§ SIR J. GORST
No complaint in the sense indicated by the right hon. Gentleman has reached the Treasury. I hear of it for the first time this evening, but if the complaint is made officially to the Treasury, I will certainly inquire into it.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
What would be the gain to the firm now that the contract has been made? They would be marked men. Will the Government annul the contract, and allow a new one to be made? I pledge my word that the firm I have referred to is one of the first and most respectable firms in London, but I do not think they would approve of going to the Treasury and making this complaint unless it is to be understood that they are to gain something by so doing.
§ SIR J. GORST
I think, Sir, an accusation of so grave a nature should not be made unless the hon. Member is prepared to give the Treasury the name of the firm in question.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Well, Mr. Courtney, the real fact is that the firm asked me not to give their name, but I will communicate with them, and no doubt they will consent to my giving it. It is desirable that we should pay a fair price for this work; I think my hon. Friend puts it too high when he suggests £350 a volume, but I assert it cannot be properly done at £200 a volume. The result is that it is badly done. Messrs. Reuter have at present in the Gallery a sort of superintendent and six reporters, who have to report a great deal more than the Times does, but the Times has 14 reporters. The House will, therefore, be able to judge whether Messrs. Reuter are doing the work efficiently when then have only six reporters, while the Times, which does less, has 14. When the report has not to be written out the same night it is not necessary for the reporters to succeed each other so rapidly as they do on a daily paper; but I am given to understand that these reporters have not the material time to write out themselves their shorthand notes fully, and, therefore, they have to hand them over to other people to transcribe. Anybody who knows anything about shorthand knows that when one man reports in shorthand and another writes it out, it is extremely likely that there will not be a very accurate report. Besides, we want in this House, reporters who will put our observations into decent English, for it often happens that our nominative and our verb are a little disconnected, the speaking in the House being frequently of a conversational character. If hon. Gentlemen will follow the speeches carefully they will find that there are certainly not six members in the House who, if reported verbatim, would be found to be speaking very good English. Therefore, we require very superior reporters in the Gallery. My chief complaint, however, is that the contract was given to Messrs. Reuter at all. What are Messrs. Reuter. A company has no soul so I can speak freely of them—they are a company. 1284 This company is a news agency company, which has added to its news agency a large advertising business. It is in connection with two other agencies—Woolf's Agency and the Havas Agency, and exchanges news telegrams with them. Both these agencies are subsidised, the former by the German Government and the latter by the French Government, and they have to submit all the news they send out to the censorship of their respective Governments. They are what Prince Bismarck called "reptile organs." It is easy to understand, therefore, that Messrs. Reuter, with these connections, and desiring to push their business, think it advantageous to be called the official reporters of Parliament. It is a great mistake, in order to avoid paying a fair price, to give the reporting to Messrs. Reuter, leaving them to make up what they lose on the reporting by the advantage of being called the official Parliamentary reporters. Under these circumstances I hope we shall receive some more satisfactory reply from the right hon. Gentleman. I do not much read my own speeches, but I have heard hon. Gentlemen complaining bitterly of the way the reporting is done, and I can say—knowing something of the business—that with this number of reporters it cannot be well done. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to look thoroughly into the matter, with a view to deciding, when the reporting has gone on for a month or two, whether the contract shall be terminated at the end of this Session or not.
§ (11.20.) MR. MACLEAN (Oldham)
It seems to be the general feeling that some more satisfactory method of reporting the proceedings should be adopted, and I was very glad to hear from the Secretary to the Treasury that the Government is disposed to make further inquiry into the matter. I hope a definite pledge will be given that a Committee shall be appointed before the end of the Session to consider it. I will not go over the ground which has already been covered, but with respect to the question of sweating I would point out that the terms of the contract are— 1285The contractors shall have at all times when either House is sitting representatives in attendance capable of reporting in full when necessary; but, subject to this condition, they shall be at liberty to obtain their reports from such sources as they may think most convenient.That means that they can take the greater part of their report from the daily papers. Messrs. Renter are not bound—as one would expect—to maintain a staff of ten reporters of almost uniform excellence, but they may have ten men of different degrees of skill in reporting, and if they are at any time in a difficulty they can save themselves trouble by appropriating the reports of the Times or any other paper. With respect to the advertisements, I think the Treasury is adopting a moan and very shabby line in trying to save expense by allowing advertisements to be connected with official publications. I am sure the country would not grudge the expenditure of any proper sum of money to ensure that the reports shall be made in proper and decent form. But if we are to go on saving expense by advertisements, we shall soon have a hoarding covered with posters round Palace-yard, and Westminster Hall filled with costermongers' barrows for the sale of apples and oranges to Members of Parliament. I hope the Government will take a more magnanimous view of their duties in this respect, and not try to save a paltry sum by allowing these advertisements, which interfere with private trade and enable men to tender lower than other firms, and get work which they have not the proper means to carry out.
§ (11.23) MR. SEYMOUR KEAY (Elgin and Nairn)
There is only one point I would like to refer to. I do not know whether the same system obtains under Messrs. Router as under Messrs. Hansard, but in communications I had with the latter firm I found that the contract for the reports in this House only provided that Members' speeches should be reported at one-third of their length. There was an explanation added that Cabinet Ministers and others, at the discretion of the reporters, were to be reported fully. It appears at the same time that, with regard to the Debates in the House of Lords, the contract was so worded that they had 1286 to give verbatim reports. It appears to me that there is an anomaly here, and I cannot see why, when public money is expended on the reports, a contract should be entered into whereby the speeches of Members of this House are only reported at one-third their length, while speeches in the House of Lords are reported verbatim. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into this matter.
§ (11.25.) MR. MORTON
I do not desire to take up the time of the House, but I think I may reply to some of the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. He said I implied that the work of reporting was done badly. I did not say anything of the kind. I did not object to the way in which the work has been done, but to the system of reporting by contract at all. As to the advertisements it is clear by the contract that there are to be no advertisements. The contract provides for the issue of the Debates without covers, and covers have been allowed. Another part of the contract says that the contractors are not to connect this reporting with any other business; but, surely, the advertising is a different business altogether. The hon. Member asks me to read—The contractors shall carry on their business as official reporters to the Houses of Parliament separately and altogether distinct from their general reporting and other business.I say the advertisement business is another business, and has nothing whatever to do with reporting the Debates of Parliament. I think the House is very nearly agreed on the matter, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us distinctly whether he will consent to the appointment of a Committee in a reasonable time, so that their Report may be considered this Session.
§ SIR J. GORST
If there should be a general wish on the part of the House for the appointment of a Committee the Government will consent to it.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
I hope a Committee will be appointed, for I have seen nothing more disgraceful than the difference between the speeches as they were made in the House and the speeches 1287 as they are reported. Last Session I never had to correct a speech, but this Session I had to go to Messrs. Reuter's chief, and I told him that I looked upon the report of my speeches as a perfect libel. The answer he gave was that he could not help it; it was not his fault; the old staff had refused to do the work, so he was compelled to engage an entirely fresh staff who were new to the work.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I should like to ask if the contract only changes the name and not the system? I am informed, from a very good source, that Messrs. Macrae, Curtis & Co. are still doing the work.
§ (11.28.) MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)
I would like to ask whether to this Committee would be referred the large question whether the reporting should be official or not? In Colonial Legislatures the reports are official reports, and each Member is reported verbatim. I do not think the public would gain much by having verbatim reports of the House of Commons. Many speeches of leading Members are reported verbatim in the daily papers, and I understand that the charge against Messrs. Reuter is that their reporters check their notes by these reports. There is no piracy in that. I can only say that as far as my experience goes I have been reported shortly this Session, though I do not complain of that. I cannot say that in my judgment the reporting by the present reporters is bad compared with that of other reporters. In my opinion, the reporting as at present done is vastly superior to that under the old system.
§ MR. MORTON
On the understanding that there is a general wish for a Committee, and that the Government recognise that wish, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
The other day I asked a question with respect to the most unsatisfactory state of matters in the Sheriff's Court in Airdrie, on the subject of which a Memorial has been addressed either to the Secretary for Scotland or to the late Lord Advocate by the local Faculty of Pro- 1288 curators. I asked, also, whether any further complaints had been received, since last Session, and I further asked what provision existed under the law of Scotland for the removal of Judges of Inferior Courts who had abused their office? The right hon. Gentleman (Sir C. J. Pearson) mentioned the Statutes which refer to the matter. Now it appears to me, when such charges are made by such a responsible body as the local Society of Solicitors—and I think the right hon. Gentleman will admit it—that a fair prima facie case is made out for an inquiry by the Judges. But the question arises, who is to set the Judges in motion? Must a discontented suitor apply to the Judges, or should application be made to the Secretary for Scotland or to the Lord Advocate? It appears to me the proper policy for the Secretary for Scotland to retain the power in his own hands, and that he should not leave it to outsiders to bring charges against the administration of justice. I wish to know who is the proper agent? Has the Lord Advocate nothing to do with it? Has the Secretary for Scotland nothing to do with it? Are these solicitors to go on holding meetings, and are they to get up another agitation? I will not mention the nature of the accusations mentioned in the Memorial against the Judge in question; but the right hon. Gentleman will find in the judicial statistics a table which shows the delays in the various Sheriffs' Courts between the close of the evidence and the delivery of judgments, and he will find that the instances of delay in the Sheriffs Court at Airdrie of more than 14 weeks is greater than are to be found in the aggregate in all the other Sheriffs' Courts in Scotland. The case, of the greatest delay was 160 weeks, whereas in no other Court was the delay more than 60 weeks or one year.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Sir C. J. PEARSON,) Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities
It is not easy to discover what the complaint is against the Secretary for Scotland which the hon. Member has brought before the House. In the first place, let me say that the answer I gave will not bear the interpretation which he puts upon it. The answer I gave was that my 1289 predecessor received a Petition from the Procurators practising in the Airdrie Court; but I am not aware that that Petition was ever before, the Secretary for Scotland. My predecessor, on investigation, found that there was no case for a public inquiry, and so refused the petition. The Statute provides that a Sheriff Substitute is removable by the Secretary for Scotland, and by him alone, upon report from the two heads of the Court of Session. The Statute does not provide any special procedure which must be followed in carrying out the removal; but I am not aware that it is incompetent for any litigant or for any public body, such as the Procurators of the Court, to bring complaints before the Secretary for Scotland. The Statute suggests the Secretary for Scotland as the proper person to whom complaints should be addressed. I do not say this is the only method, but it is one of the methods. I believe there is only one case in which the Secretary for Scotland has been invoked, and that case is still under consideration. It only came up a few weeks ago, and it is quite a recent matter; therefore I shall not enter into it. The other matter referred to was the delay in the Sheriff's Court at Airdrie. I am not aware that any special complaint has been made of this, though I will admit that the judicial statistics do show, I think, in one case, a delay which is on the figures undue; but one is quite aware that these delays, as scheduled, require to be investigated in each case in order to find what the cause of delay was, and whether it was not proper and even necessary.
§ (11.41.) MR. D. CRAWFORD
I am sorry to say that for two or three years past the number of complaints I have received on this subject has been more numerous than agreeable; but hitherto I have declined to bring the matter before the House, as I hoped that it might be settled in a more suitable manner and without undue publicity. It is very undesirable that the conduct of a Judge should be canvassed before the House of Commons; but I must say I think the Lord Advocate and the Government have treated these complaints 1290 too lightly. It is impossible for the Government to disclaim all interest in, and responsibility for, the administration of justice in that part of Scotland, as the right hon. Gentleman appears to do.
§ MR. D. CRAWFORD
I am glad I interpreted the right hon. Gentleman wrongly. I offer no opinion on the justice of the complaints which have been made; but I am sorry to say, distasteful as it may be, that confidence in the administration of justice in that part of Scotland is for the time completely undermined and destroyed. The position of the Sheriff in Scotland is one of great importance and responsibility, and I am happy to say that it is a unique case in which the relations of the Sheriffs and those amongst whom they administer justice have not been good. But in this case things have unfortunately come to such a pass that I do not think this Judge, supposing he can clear himself—which I hope he can—has anything to gain by an attempt to hush it up. I think the Government or the Secretary for Scotland ought to undertake an inquiry.
§ MR. D. CRAWFORD
That inquiry is not what I refer to, and would not in the smallest degree satisfy the demands that have been made. The predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman on that Bench has placed this Judge where he is, and I think it is the duty of the Secretary for Scotland to take the advice of his Law Officers when a complaint is made that justice is badly administered, and if the Judge is guilty to remove him. It is the duty of the Government to inquire whether these allegations are true for the satisfaction of the people amongst whom this Judge administers law. It is a case that urgently calls for inquiry, and that inquiry must be instituted by Government.
§ (11.45.) DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that this Memorial has been received either by the Lord Advocate or by the Secretary for Scotland. It matters not which, but if the Secretary for Scotland were in his proper place—namely, in this House—there would be no possibility of his remaining in ignorance of matters to which the attention of the Lord Advocate or of the Government was directed by questions in this House. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that inquiry is to be made by the Secretary for Scotland through the agency of the Judges of the Court of Session.
§ SIR C. J. PEARSON
No; I said that complaint had been made and was under the consideration of the Secretary for Scotland, and that he is deciding whether he shall make an inquiry.
§ DR. CAMERON
Will the Secretary for Scotland look into this Memorial making very grave allegations against the Judge in question? I know and have known all about it; but I have abstained, and my hon. Friend the Member for Lanark (Mr. Crawford) has abstained, as long as possible from moving in the matter. Since the Memorial of the Faculty of Procurators the Lord Advocate has told the that various further complaints have been received with regard to the Judge in question; but these are minor complaints of private individuals, and entirely behind in point of seriousness the complaint brought by the Faculty of Procurators. It is the duty of the Lord Advocate not to stand on his dignity and say that he has nothing to do with it, or that the Secretary for Scotland has nothing to do with it, but to take care that the Secretary for Scotland does know about the matter, and give him an opportunity of judging whether these statements are not of sufficient importance to justify a full and complete investigation.
§ (11.49.) MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeenshire, E.)
A few days ago the Lord Advocate, in answer to a question of mine, said that the Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Bill, in which the Scotch people take great interest, would be introduced in the course of a few days. [Mr. A. J. BALFOUR: 1292 Hear, hear!] The Leader of the House says "Hear, hear," but more than a few days have elapsed since that promise was given.
§ (11.52.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
On this matter may I mention the question of the Irish Fishery Board, and ask the Government whether they will consider the constitution of that Board? It is a question whether a more popular spirit might not be infused into that Board, or whether its constitution should not be altered, so as to more closely resemble that of the Scotch Fishery Board.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
There is a difference between the cases of Ireland and Scotland, as there is a difference between the Irish and Scotch Boards, but I will mention the matter to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I hope the House will now be content with the discussion that we have had and will proceed with the business.
(11.54.) MR. MUNROFERGUSON
I hope the Lord Advocate will give us some assurance that the addition of one Scotch Fishery cruiser is not intended as a final measure. There will not be sufficient protection for the Scotch Fisheries until three or four cruisers steering at least 12 knots an hour are placed in Scotch waters, each having a steam launch.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The question is one not so much for the Scotch Office as for the Admiralty. The hon. Gentleman will see that if four cruisers were placed in Scotch waters and the same percentage were given to England and Ireland, this would entail a very large increase in expenditure. However, the matter shall have careful consideration. I think we have now had a full debate, and I beg to move that the Question be now put.
§ (11.55.) Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 162; Noes 91.—(Div. List, No. 46.)
§ Original Question put accordingly.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 188 Noes 66.—(Div. List, No. 47.)