HC Deb 30 May 1892 vol 5 cc289-322
Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens 15,000
Houses of Parliament Buildings 8,000
Admiralty, Extension of Buildings 4,000
Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain 6,000
Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain 3,000
Diplomatic and Consular Buildings 4,000
Revenue Department Buildings 54,000
Public Buildings, Great Britain 20,000
Surveys of the United Kingdom 35,000
Harbours, &c., under Board of Trade, and Lighthouses Abroad 3,000
Peterhead Harbour 2,000
Caledonian Canal
Rates on Government Property 10,000
Public Works and Buildings, Ireland 20,000
Railways, Ireland 30,000
United Kingdom and England:—
House of Lords, Offices 8,000
House of Commons, Offices 11,000
Treasury and Subordinate Departments 13,000
Home Office and Subordinate Departments 15,000
Foreign Office 17,000
Colonial Office 7,000
Privy Council Office and Subordinate Departments 3,000
Board of Trade and Subordinate Departments 30,000
Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade
Board of Agriculture 5,000
(11.39.) DR. CLARK (Caithness)

There are two or three little questions that I do not intend to raise now except to ask for some information about them. The first is with reference to the Fishery Board for Scotland—

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

I rise to Order. I wish to know whether I can afterwards raise a question on the Board of Trade Vote?

THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. COURTNEY,) Cornwall, Bodmin

It depends whether a Motion is made in reference to the reduction of subsequent items.


I do not intend to move any reduction. I think the Scottish Fishery Board should change their policy, and instead of spending ten, or twelve, or twenty thousand pounds in making large harbours, should under the new circumstances spend some money in small sums on the smaller and older harbours. The smaller harbours are getting into disrepair, especially in the Highlands, because there is no one now to look after them. The landlords used to do that; but as they cannot raise the rents of the crofters, they are permitting some of the old Board of Trade harbours to fall out of repairs. £200 or £300 is all that is necessary to maintain some of these small harbours, and I trust that the Secretary to the Treasury will be able before the Report stage to communicate with the Fishery Board, and to tell us what course they intend to carry out. There is one more item that I want some information about. There is a portion of this Vote for the present Labour Commission. On several occasions I have tried to get a Sub-Commission appointed to inquire into the grievances of farm servants in Scotland, who occupy a different position to the farm servants in England. There they live in bothies, and are boarded by the farmers. The late First Lord of the Treasury suggested to me that the present Labour Commission ought to investigate this as a branch of the labour question, and a couple of months ago I had a correspondence with the Duke of Devonshire, the Chairman of the Commission, and I understood then that they intended to appoint a couple of Sub-Commissioners to investigate into the condition of the farm servants of Scotland. A number of these farm servants in various parts of Scotland have been holding meetings for the purpose of electing delegates to give evidence before the Sub-Commission. Week after week and month after month have since passed, and I want to know whether it is the intension of the Labour Commission to take up this question, and have a special inquiry into the case of the Scotch agricultural labourers? If it is their intention to do so, I will not press the appointment of a Special Sub-Commission for Scotland.


I am not sure that I can give the hon. Member an answer with regard to the intention of the Labour Commission. Of course, we have no official cognisance of what the Commission does; but I hope I am right in saying it is the intention of the Commission to appoint a Special Sub-Commission for the purpose of inquiring into agricultural wages in Scotland, and, no doubt, the whole condition of the agricultural labourer will be fully investigated. The hon. Gentleman says perfectly truly there is very little or no resemblance between the special conditions under which the Scotch agricultural labourers work and those under which the agricultural labourers in the South of England work.

(11.45.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman for information with reference to the report which has appeared in the papers lately of the persecution of the Catholic natives in Uganda. The question is not only of Colonial or even of Imperial interest; it is rapidly assuming almost international proportions.


Order, order! The hon. and gallant Member's question has reference to the Foreign Office Vote, which has already been passed.


I did not know that the Foreign Office Vote had been passed.

(11.47.) MR. STEPHEN WILLIAMSON (, &c.) Kilmarnock

I move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of £500, in order to call attention to the ill-judged, overbearing, and I believe illegal action of the Scotch Education Board with reference to—


I rise to Order. I wish first to ask the right hon. Gentleman for information as to what has been done on the coast of England and Wales with reference to the Fisheries Vote. The salaries and expenses of the Fishery Inspectors have been increased, as well as the expenditure in connection with piers and harbours. Much has also been done for Scotland, where scientific investigations have been made with reference to the fisheries and harbours. But nothing has been done with regard to the fisheries or harbour accommodation on the coast of Wales. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what he is prepared to recommend the Treasury to do, and whether investigations are to be made on the coast of England and Wales?


There are parts of the coast of England and Wales, and particularly in Cornwall, where the people have provided for themselves the harbour accommodation they require by taking the proper steps for the purpose. What ought to be done is that someone should move in the matter, get plans and estimates prepared, and then come to the Board of Trade with a definite proposal to raise the necessary capital upon the security of the harbour dues, or in some such way. If the hon. Member will induce the persons interested in the coast he refers to to take the same action, I shall be happy to do all in my power to forward a suitable scheme; but I cannot ask the Treasury for a free grant, for that is contrary to their rules. An inquiry would also be altogether useless until the Board of Trade have a definite proposal before them.

(11.54.) MR. ABEL THOMAS (Carmarthen, E.)

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can be aware of the facts of the case. Years ago there was a successful fishery in Cardigan Bay, but now it is gone. The position of the land is also such that the harbours at Holyhead and Milford Haven are useless to the fishermen in Cardigan Bay.


Order, order! The subject of harbours of refuge does not come within the scope of the Vote now under discussion.


I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will send Inspectors down—


Order! The question has been put and answered.


No, Sir, it has not.


Order, order!


I think I shall be in Order to criticise the last Report prepared by the Inspectors. I say that that Report—


The hon. Gentleman is not in Order in discussing this question on the present Vote.


I think I should be in Order in discussing the character of the work done by the Inspectors, and in showing that more might be expected of them.


The hon. Member is entitled to criticise the way in which the Inspectors discharge their duties, but not the question whether additional duties should be cast upon them.


It is not additional work that I am discussing now. As this may be the last time I shall have the opportunity of speaking in this Parliament, it is important to my constituents that I should bring this question forward, and so long as I have the honour to represent them I will endeavour to do so. I would suggest that Inspectors should be sent to the coast of Wales, in order to make inquiries with reference to the fisheries there. All I will say with reference to the general character of the Report of the Inspectors is that it is a singularly barren one—one of the most miserable Reports I have ever read. For instance, I find here that because a certain Board of Conservators on their first appointment appreciated their duty, that action was deprecated. In Mr. Berrington's Report in regard to this case it is stated— The Board of Conservators of the Dwyfach, on their first appointment last year, appeared hardly to have appreciated the duties which have devolved upon them. What was the action of this Board? The first thing they proposed was to reduce the licence fee from five guineas to one guinea, in order that the charge might be in consonance with the character of the fishing. Because this alteration would place it in the power of poor fishermen to follow their pursuit with some possibility of return, the Board of Trade officers condemned the change. The Board of Conservators is a Public Body, knowing the wants of the locality; and as their action was reasonable, I think I am right in criticising the condemnation of a proceeding dictated by sense of duty.

MR. ROBY (Lancashire, S.E., Eccles)

I am anxious to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Law Reports are not included in the Library of this House. Last year I was answered that the matter was under consideration, and that there was some difficulty in the way of finding room. Therefore, I suggested that it would not be necessary to get more than the Reports for the last thirty or forty years. At present the only method of getting the Law Reports is by sending to the House of Lords, and there are inconveniences in connection with that proceeding. As to the necessity for these Law Reports, take the case, for instance, of the Rating of Machinery Bill, which turned entirely upon the construction given by recent Law Reports to the rating of machinery. It seems to me reasonable that this House should have access to the Reports, and I cannot understand any reason why we should not. In the Library there are a large number of books which are hardly ever used, and yet they occupy places which might be usefully devoted to books which Members are desirous of consulting. I trust the Government will do something to remedy this defect, and I would suggest that the interval of the General Election would afford a convenient opportunity for rearranging the Library, and introducing such necessary works as the Law Reports.

MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthen, W.)

I only desire to say one or two words in reference to the fishery question. My observations have reference to the manner in which the Local Government Board over-ride the resolutions passed by the Boards of Conservators. Some time ago a very vexed question in the county I have the honour to represent was whether or not the close season ought to be extended, and the Board of Conservators passed a resolution that, having regard to the circumstances of the case, they were of opinion that the close season ought to be extended a fortnight, or may be a month. That resolution was forwarded to the Board of Trade, who, for some reason or other, deemed it proper to over-ride the deliberate intentions and wish of the Board of Conservators. The proceeding struck me as being rather high-handed. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade will give some reason for the action of his Department.


I think I remember the case to which the hon. Member refers. The resolution was discussed when a snowstorm prevented the attendance of the Upper Water Conservators, who, I understand, were strongly opposed to the change. As it was carried, when only the Lower Water Conservators were present, I deemed it wise that there should be delay in order to afford an opportunity for further consideration.


I was not aware of the circumstances stated by the right hon. Gentleman; but I am under the impression that the resolution was passed on two different occasions.


Yes, and curiously enough there was a snowstorm on each occasion.

MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

I hope there will be a reduction of the salary in question under this Vote, as on almost every occasion the Board of Trade deem it their duty to over-ride the wishes of the Conservators who, of course, have a local knowledge of all the circumstances of the matters they deal with. The point we have to consider is whether the over-riders are within their rights? It seems to me very hard that where the Conservators deem a reduction of fee necessary, the Board of Trade should refuse their sanction. This action, however, is not confined to one solitary case. The County Council of Carmarthenshire applied for a certificate, doubling the number of members whom they were entitled to appoint on the Board of Conservators. We know that the squires of the county are, as a rule, appointed to these Boards of Conservators, and the County Council representing the inhabitants applied for an increase of members. The Board of Trade found it impossible to concede to that request. My hon. Friend suggests that a gentleman should be sent to inquire into the local circumstances, and if that were done I am sure it would be found that the County Council fairly represent the wishes of the inhabitants. In these country places, where the squirearchy is in the ascendant, it appears that they have the ruling power, and that they, to use a common expression, lead the Board of Trade by the nose in these matters. In the mining districts where the fishing is of no importance at all, except for gentlemen who fish for sport, the Inspectors of the Local Government Board attend and do their best to stop the prosecution of industry for the benefit of those who desire to fish for sport alone. On page seven I find it stated— From the Ogmore we learn as a matter of surprise that a few salmon have again been seen in the river. Their appearance is ascribed to the fact that the tin plate works are no longer in operation. The Llantrissent Tin Plate Company admitted the offence [of polluting the Ely River] and submitted to an injunction restraining them from repeating it. I am able to tell the Committee that that Report is absolutely incorrect. No offence was admitted, and no consent was given to an injunction against pouring the refuse of the tin-plate works into the stream. I hope my hon. Friend will move the reduction of the Vote, to enable the Committee to express their opinion with regard to the conduct of these officers in refusing to sanction a reduction of the licence for fishing where it was absolutely necessary to enable the fishermen to earn a living, and for their willingness to stop the tin-plate works in order to give a little sport in a river where practically no fish exist.


As the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Michael Hicks Beach) has given no explanation of the conduct of the Board of Trade in refusing to sanction the reduction of licences, I feel it necessary to move the reduction of this Vote by £100. This is a matter of considerable importance. If these Inspectors proceed upon the general principle that £5 ought to be the minimum fee applicable to every stream in England, I think they are acting wrongly, because a £5 licence may pay in one stream and not in another. If the licence of these fishermen had been reduced, there would have been a fair prospect of their continuing to make a living, but without that reduction they are unable to do so.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Item of £30,000, for the Board of Trade, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)


We are anxious to know, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us, whether or not, when the Board of Conservators, as at present constituted, passes a resolution, the Board of Trade intend to override their decision?


That depends upon the circumstances of the case. Of course, the object of the Board of Trade is to preserve the salmon rivers as far as possible in the general interest of the inhabitants. It is a difficult matter to deal with all the streams, because there are always conflicting interests to consider. My main reason for refusing to agree to the particular resolution referred to was because on both occasions it was arrived at without the opportunity of all the interests concerned being fairly represented at the Board. If, however, at a meeting of the full Board of Conservators, representing all the interests concerned, a similar resolution is passed the matter will be carefully considered by the Board of Trade. With regard to the general question, I can only say that I think that hon. Members have attacked the Board of Trade without full knowledge of the facts. There are only two Fishery Inspectors, who have to visit all parts of the country in connection with salmon and sea fisheries. They are constantly holding various inquiries, and their time is fully occupied. The particular case referred to by the hon. Member, where one of the Inspectors objected to increase the number of licences for a certain river, is one that I had not present in my mind; but I understand it was desired to obtain further information on a proposed decrease of the scale. There are many detailed matters to be considered in a question of this sort which I cannot deal with in a general way. The hon. Member appeared to wish to draw the attention of the House to another matter; but instead of doing so he branched off into complaints against the Inspectors, which I can assure him, if he will take the trouble to inform himself, he will find there is no cause for.


I only rise to say that I made no attacks on the Fishery Inspectors. I only wished to have an answer to the question I asked the right hon. Gentleman.


I have taken pains to inform myself of the particular circumstances of this case, and I can assure the Committee that the decision of the Inspectors in this matter has caused me considerable surprise. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that no summer licences have been taken out. The fishermen, however, make use of the river, and public opinion is so strongly in their favour that no prosecution has been instituted. Looking at the matter from the point of view of preserving the salmon stream the decision has had a calamitous effect.


If the hon. Gentleman will put me in possession of the facts, I shall be glad to inquire into the matter.


Since the right hon. Gentleman promises to inquire into the matter I do not wish to press it any further, and I will, therefore, withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.


No answer has been given to the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Roby), who asked that a complete set of Law Reports should be placed in the Library of the House of Commons. Being a lawyer, I have some difficulty in speaking on this matter, because I may be accused of being specially interested from a personal point of view. The hon. Member for Eccles is not a lawyer, but whether lawyers or laymen we all feel it to be a hardship that we cannot see a volume of the Law Reports without sending to the House of Lords for it. They are always very kind there in obliging us, but we know that their duty does not necessitate their sitting till a late hour, so that if one wants to see a volume of these Reports he cannot do so when the evening is far advanced. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir John Gorst) that there is a strong feeling in favour of the Library of the House of Commons being supplied with a complete set of Law Reports, and I hope he will see his way to meet us in this matter.


I must remind the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Roby) that there is a difference between the two Houses, inasmuch as the House of Lords is the highest Court of Appeal, and the Law Reports are constantly required there by the learned Lords for reference. I believe that the Library of the House of Commons contains all the recognised textbooks on law. The Law Reports would be a great addition to the Library, and would necessitate the displacement of perhaps more useful books for general use. However, I will take care to consider the subject, and make inquiry before next Session.


It is not out of any feeling of jealousy that we ask for the Law Reports. But I assert that the House of Commons, having more legislative work to do than the House of Lords, has a right to demand the materials necessary for forming an opinion on certain legal matters. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman is so unsatisfactory to me that I feel inclined to move the reduction of the Vote, because it is evident from the tone of his remarks that he does not think it desirable to turn the Library from a comfortable sleeping chamber into something more useful. I do not want to put the Committee to the trouble of a Division; but unless I can get some more satisfactory information from the right hon. Gentleman I shall do so.

(12.30.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)

I am afraid we want something more than the assurance that the right hon. Gentleman will take this matter into consideration. On the 28th March I got an answer to the same effect, and it scarcely seems as if that consideration is likely to produce the result we desire. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that there is nothing more misleading than to go by text books. Words are often interpolated which alter the sense of passages, and the books for which we ask will be most useful when we get into Committee on the Irish Local Government Bill, which we expect to do very shortly. We should then be able to study the reports of cases which have been raised on points in the Local Government Bills of England and Scotland, and those points will, in all probability, be raised in the Irish Bill. In order to afford the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of giving an answer which will be more satisfactory to the House, I will move to reduce the Vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £60,000, for Stationery Office and Printing, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Knox.)

(12.33.) MR. MATTHEW KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)

I am sorry the Attorney General is not here, because I am perfectly certain that he would be in favour of this proposal. The price of the Law Reports for 1865 to 1890 is one hundred guineas, and you could get the Irish Law Reports for thirty guineas more. The Secretary to the Treasury has pointed out that the House of Lords requires these volumes for the purposes of their judicial decisions, but we require them for purposes of legislation. At present we are entirely dependent on the Library of the House of Lords, and sometimes we find it impossible to get what we require. This is only a small expenditure, and I think the House would confer a great favour on a deserving class of Members if they would see that this class of literature is provided. The right hon. Gentleman said that this would alter the character of the Library. That is not the case. The text books are merely useful as a reference to the law books, and the addition of the law books would therefore be only a proper supplement. Many of the text books in the Library are out of date, and I may say that the Library as a whole is not up to date. On most legal subjects there are two or three standard works, but there is only one in the Library, and in most cases the worst work has been selected. I may mention that there is at present in course of publication a new series of revised Reports, under very able editorship, which will contain all the Reports previous to 1865. It is expected that there will be about fifty volumes at £1 each, and that will cover the whole period of reported cases in English law; and these volumes, with what I have already suggested, would properly equip the Library.


I hope the Secretary to the Treasury will condescend to admit that the demand is a reasonable one, and I do not see why the right hon. Gentleman should not meet the convenience of the House. I should like very much to know who has the decision in this matter, and I would put it to them that the cost will not exceed £200.


This question has been put to me before, but I am not entitled to pledge the Government in the matter of expenditure in these Law Reports. I think it is scarcely reasonable to expect me to do that. The hon. Member (Mr. Matthew Kenny) gave his estimate of what the cost would be, but I think you would find if you fully equipped the Library with all the English, Scotch, and Irish Law Reports you would spend a great deal more than the sum he has stated. What I would suggest to the Committee is this. We are now discussing the Vote on Account, and if we pass this hon. Members do not lose their control of this matter. It will come up in the Estimates in the ordinary way, and I will undertake that before the Stationery Vote is reached this matter shall have been considered by the Treasury. If the hon. Member will raise the question on the Stationery Vote in the Estimates I will undertake that he shall have an answer.

(12.39.) MR. ROBY

I do not wish to press the matter further. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the question was raised last June, and at that time he said the matter was under consideration. We seem to have got no further, but after the specific promise he has given tonight I think we may believe that something will be done.


After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman—(Interruptions.) Very well then, we will divide upon it.

Question put.

(12.40.) The Committee divided:—Ayes 38; Noes 132.—(Div. List, No. 154.)

Original Question again proposed.

*(12.50.) MR. PRITCHARD MORGAN (Merthyr Tydvil)

I desire to move a reduction for the purpose of calling attention to the administration of the Office of Woods and Forests. It will be within the recollection of the House that I have brought this matter under the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on several occasions, and he more than once promised, and eventually did, in deference to a feeling expressed in the House, do something towards lightening the charges imposed on the mining industry of North Wales. But we are not satisfied with matters as they stand. The right hon. Gentleman has answered questions from time to time, saying that he will not have one fixed sum to be charged on mines royal, and that means that the holders of the two hundred leases now in existence shall go on working, not knowing what they are going to be charged, and when they are similarly circumstanced to the one mine where the right hon. Gentleman has made a reduction, then he will consider the matter. Now, the right hon. Gentleman might as well ask a man to build a house on his land before having the ground rent fixed. It is not reasonable. What we contend for is that the charge shall be one uniform sum. We do not want a fixed scale or a sliding scale on rates for the first time imported into the control of metalliferous mines by the Woods and Forests Department on the recommendation of a gentleman whose experience has been of coal mines, not of metalliferous mines. The complaint I have to make is this. Notwithstanding the existence of all the leases of which I have spoken, only two or three of them are being worked and have been worked under great difficulties. It is not many years ago that the Woods and Forests charged ten per cent. on the turnover of mines and claimed twenty-five per cent. of the sale price upon realisation, and now it is the fact that in some cases the charge is reduced to one per cent. in royalties, and no part of the sale price is demanded. Still absurdities exist. The House will scarcely believe that though only a quarter of an ounce of silver is obtained from a ton of ore, the Crown claims a royalty upon that. Now, I need not argue out at length that the Government ought to accede to the wishes of those who have endeavoured at great outlay to develop a new industry, instead of taking up the position on the law, saying, "We stand upon our judgment, and that is all we care about." It is not a fair position to take up. The law has not been reviewed for three hundred years, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer took an active part a short time since in trying to enforce against this industry by means of an execution the payment of costs incurred and the fees of the Attorney General in reference to an attempt to obtain a review of the law which had not been considered for centuries, and in respect to which the Judges differed. The right hon. Gentleman has taunted me, saying I should never have gone into Court at all; but how, unless we agitate and take such action can we get our grievances redressed? The right hon. Gentleman has not treated the matter in a fair and liberal spirit; he has gone away with the "bit in his teeth" as it were, and hence all the difficulty and delay have occurred. For years he refused the reduction of royalties until the feeling in this House compelled the reduction. The right hon. Gentleman should remember what royalties mean—that they may mean all the profit when charged upon a product; and if I may be allowed to look back on an incident I once before endeavoured unsuccessfully to bring before the Committee. I may remind the right hon. Gentleman that when Joseph went down into Egypt—into the land of Goschen—we have the first recorded instance of an attempt to create a corner in corn, and an exceedingly clever operation it was—(interruptions)—


The hon. Gentleman should confine himself to a practical discussion of the question.


I say in considering the origin of royalties, when Joseph first created that corner in corn—


Order, order!

*(12.56.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square

I have told the hon. Member on previous occasions, as the Committee will remember, that the Royal Commission which has been appointed to inquire into this question of royalties will, in due course, present its Report. From month to month I have expected that Report, and until it is presented it would be discourteous to that Commission, and would be contrary to all precedent in such matters, if I attempted to come to a final decision upon matters the Commission is specially charged to inquire into. From the Report of the Commission I anticipate practical guidance in aiding us to arrive at a decision as to the proper way of levying royalties. Waiting such Report, I, in the meantime, am prepared to give such relief as it is possible for me to give.

(12.58.) MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I hope the answer may satisfy my hon. Friend that it is not right to harass the right hon. Gentleman pending the presentation of the Report of the Commission. The right hon. Gentleman has hope that the Royal Commission will offer some guidance as to the proper way of levying royalties, but will it not be in excess of the powers of the Commission to make recommendations? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Commission has no power except to report the evidence taken? I have this from the noble Lord at the head of the Commission, and when during the previous Session of Parliament I endeavoured to press on the late Leader of the House the importance of giving power to the Royal Commission to make recommendations as to the course of future legislation, I could get no satisfactory answer. I think there would be no difficulty in the case even at this late sitting of the Commission in extending the powers of the Commission, so that recommendations might be made, and this would be of material assistance in considering the question.

(1.0.) MR. GOSCHEN

Speaking without my attention having been specially directed to the point, I think it would be extremely difficult at this stage of the proceedings to make a change in the arrangements of the Royal Commission. It is a matter of some importance, and I will consult the noble Lord at the head of the Commission. It is, I think, undesirable to make the change. I hope we may soon see the Report, and I am unwilling to interpose any difficulty or in any way to prolong the labours of the Commission.


I do not wish to delay the production of the Report. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite appreciates my point. It would not widen the scope of the inquiry. Speaking as one of the witnesses before the Commission, I may say that I was asked questions in reference to future legislation, and I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that a great deal of evidence has been given by various witnesses as to proposed legislation. What I suggest is that instead of the Commission being limited to simply reporting the evidence taken, the Commissioners should summarise the various recommendations made by witnesses in answer to questions, and express their own opinions in relation to them. I do not press for an answer now, but as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested the possibility of consulting the noble Lord at the head of the Commission, perhaps he will be able to give me an answer later on.


I do not desire to take up time, and it cannot be said that I have ever obstructed Business. But it is a very serious matter I desire to raise. There is the greatest difference between Crown mines and private mines. We shall have a general Report from the Commissioners now considering the question of royalties. What I desire to impress on the right hon. Gentleman is this: in settling the Civil List all these mines were taken over by the State in consideration of a very large sum of money given to the reigning monarch—that is an absolute fact not to be denied. That being so, these mines belong to the State, and, therefore, they belong to the people; and inasmuch as the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not prepared with any scheme by which the taxpayers may secure the working of the mines, surely it is a dog-in-the-manger policy not to allow them to be developed in the manner in which they could be developed but for the working being hampered with unfair restrictions. I draw a great distinction between these mines and other metalliferous mines, and I would impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that the people should not be shut out from having the advantage of the development of this industry.


I am not sufficiently acquainted with the facts to discuss the question on its merits, but I do remember the right hon. Gentleman giving my hon. Friend identically the same answer nine or ten months ago. But my object is to elicit an answer to a question which properly arises under this Vote for Woods and Forests. The predecessor of the present Secretary to the Treasury promised in discussion on the Estimates to have an inquiry made into the system of royalties paid on the slate quarries in Carnarvonshire, and that inquiry was subsequently held by Mr. Foster Browne. It was a public inquiry and the proceedings were reported in the local newspapers, but I do not find that the Report has been laid before Parliament. I presume it has been printed; but I wish to ask whether the Secretary to the Treasury will bring the Report before Parliament or give facilities for seeing it?

(1.8.) MR. THOMAS ELLIS (Merionethshire)

I think the least the office of Woods and Forests can do is to make the Report public, so that every hon. Member may see it. I know that there have been great complaints with regard to the working of these quarries in Carnarvon and in other counties. The inquiry, I believe, was very carefully conducted by Mr. Foster Browne and reported to the Department. I trust there will be no difficulty in laying that Report on the Table.


I have had no notice of this question, but I will make inquiries. It relates to occurrences which took place before I came into my office. I will give the hon. Member an answer on Thursday.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say that if the Report can be supplied we shall have it before the Report of this Vote is taken?


I am unable to answer as to the Report until I have made inquiries, but I will do my best to give the hon. Member the opportunity of seeing it. I may remind the hon. Member also that of necessity we must take the Report of the Vote on Account to-morrow, and that there will be full opportunity for him to raise the question on the ordinary Vote in Supply.


That would apply to all discussions on a Vote on Account, but I do not think there will be any disposition to forgo the right which has always been exercised in this House, to discuss grievances on a Vote on Account. We are also told that there is to be no discussion of the Estimates this year, by reason of a compact between the two Front Benches. But will the right hon. Gentleman deny that, this inquiry having been instituted in consequence of pressure brought to bear in this House, the House is entitled to have the Report on the Table? I think we are entitled to press the right hon. Gentleman to say that the Report shall be laid on the Table.


The hon. Gentleman has thought fit to ask me a question, and I have promised to give him an answer to-morrow. I cannot do more. I cannot undertake to lay the Report on the Table; I know nothing of it. If the hon. Member will give notice of a question, I will endeavour to give him an answer.

(1.14.) MR. KNOX

I have a question to ask in reference to Class III. By the rules of the Commission in reference to the distribution of seed potatoes Guardians of Unions were bound to accept only such seed potatoes as were passed by the Inspector appointed for the purpose; and the Cavan Board of Guardians, acting on the advice of the Inspector, refused to accept certain potatoes, as not being, according to tender. The vendor sued the Guardians, who defended the action, producing the Inspector as a witness. In the result, however, the Guardians were cast in £400, for verdict and costs against them. I have brought this matter several times before the various Departments in some way concerned under the Treasury, and I have a Petition couched in most respectful terms from the Guardians requesting that consideration may be given to their claims on this account, seeing that the Guardians have been placed in this false position in consequence of complying with the law. In the neighbouring Union the Guardians refused to follow the advice of the Inspector; they distributed the potatoes, which grew well enough. Now, I submit that in such a case the Guardians, being placed in this position simply in consequence of obedience to the Inspector; in compliance with the Act, have a fair claim to compensation. I raise the question now, as it concerns the Land Commission Department, with a hope that I may receive such an answer as will not make it necessary to move a reduction, and divide the Committee.

(1.18.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.

I regret that the hon. Member has not given either my right hon. Friend or myself any notice of his intention to raise this question. For my own part, I do not know that I have heard anything of the case.


But I have asked the question half a dozen times. It is easier to ask questions than to get any definite answer.


My right hon. Friend is not aware of any question having been addressed to him.


The hon. Member has taken me completely by surprise in raising this question without any notice whatever. The matter is strange to me; but I would repeat what I have said in reference to the question raised by the hon. Member for Carnarvon (Mr. Lloyd-George). If the hon. Member will give me notice I will endeavour to give him all the information in my power.

(1.20.) MR. KNOX

The right hon. Gentleman surprises me, because in March last he gave me an answer, in which he said that the matter was under consideration. I naturally supposed that after the interval the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give me some definite reply. The question had reference to the case of "Bryan v. the Cavan Guardians." I will state the case again.


I recollect now. The hon. Member asked as to a question of costs incurred by the Cavan Guardians whether the Board of Works would remit the amount.


That is not precisely the case. The costs were paid long ago; they arose out of litigation due to the action of the Government Inspector.


The question is whether the costs are or are not to be remitted to the Cavan Guardians? I told the hon. Member that the question could not be decided until the next seed rate is about to be paid, and that is the only answer I can give him now.


But I was told in March that the matter was under consideration.


That is so, and it will not be decided until the seed rate is paid.

(1.26.) MR. KNOX

There is no question of the payment of the rate, which will be duly met in August. The matters are not connected. The Guardians have paid this sum of money through the fault of the Government Inspector. The right hon. Gentleman would put off a settlement of the question until the next Government is in Office; that is what it comes to. There is no question of the Guardians meeting their liabilities. The Government having the facts have had due time for consideration, and I submit there should be a decision now, not a delay until August. I move to reduce Class III by the sum of £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £15,000, for the Irish Land Commission, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Knox.)


I hope the hon. Member will not put the Committee to the trouble of a Division. He asked me whether certain payments made by the Cavan Guardians can be remitted. I then said that the question was under consideration. It was considered by the Local Government Board, with the result that it was decided the matter should be left in abeyance until the rate is received. I will make further inquiries, and ascertain the reason for the matter being thus left in abeyance, and will inform the hon. Member when I have done so.

(1.29.) MR. KNOX

I have no wish to put the Committee to the trouble of dividing. I will be satisfied if the right hon. Gentleman will say that the question shall be decided on its merits within a reasonable time, irrespective of any seed rate. The right hon. Gentleman can perhaps give me an answer in a couple of days.


It is impossible for me to say when, but I will ascertain the reason for the postponement; and if the reason does not appear sufficient, I will press the Local Government Board to come to an immediate decision, which will be subject to the approval of the Treasury.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

(1.31.) MR. STEPHEN WILLIAMSON (, &c.) Kilmarnock

There is a matter of importance I think it my duty to bring to the attention of the Lord Advocate, and it was the subject-matter of a Petition I presented to the House a short time ago, asking for redress. It has reference to the School Board election in Port Glasgow in March last. Nine members had to be elected; but three nominations having been withdrawn, and the regulations not affording time for the nomination of three other candidates, only six members were voted for and elected instead of nine. The six members formed themselves into a School Board, and, with the assent of the Education Department, added three of their friends to make up the required number of nine Members of the Board. The election was not valid in consequence of only six members having been voted for, but they perpetrated an act of grievous wrong in dismissing their clerk, Mr. Hood—a solicitor of high repute and standing in the town—simply because he told them that they were illegally constituted as a School Board. Unfortunately, however, this illegally-constituted Board was backed by the Education Department in Edinburgh; but so deeply did some of the townsmen resent the action of the Board dismissing their clerk, that application was made to the Court of Session which decided that the Board was not legally elected, a decision which was confirmed on appeal. The Education Department being urged to comply with the Statute, it was natural to suppose that they would order a new election, which I understand Clause 15 of the Education Act of 1872 requires. But even supposing there was a choice of two courses open, the nomination of a new Board would be a high-handed proceeding, and prudence and common sense would suggest a new election. But, no; the Education Department chose to follow their own course, and they nominated the very men who were declared by the Court of Session to be illegally elected—the men who had perpetrated this grave wrong of dismissing the clerk because he declared the true state of the law. This has been done despite the wishes of a large number, if not the majority, of the ratepayers. The Petition presented had 1,400 signatures. I am told that a Memorial has been presented to the Lord Advocate in the interest of the nominated School Board, and this, I am told, was largely signed in public houses; and in relation to this I may mention that Mr. Hood is a strong temperance advocate. The irritation caused in the town is extreme, and I think I am justified in bringing this matter forward; and I hope I may have an assurance from the Lord Advocate that this grievance will be redressed; that in this and similar cases the illegality will be remedied by the election of a new Board, not by the nomination of a Board by the Department. Also, I would press upon the Lord Advocate the necessity of an amendment of the regulations to allow of proper time for the nomination of new candidates in the case of withdrawals.

*(1.40.) THE LORD ADVOCATE (Sir C. J. PEARSON,) Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities

I do not think the hon. Member need have any fear that the regulation will not be in conformity with the Statute. He is in error in supposing that Section 15 governs such a case as he has referred to. If he will look at Section 13 of the Act of 1872 he will see that the Department have three courses open when an election is declared invalid, as in the case he has referred to. They may continue the pre-existing Board in office; they may order a new election, or they may nominate a new Board, It will be in the recollection of the Committee that I said, in answer to a question, that Port Glasgow was not a solitary instance in regard to which difficulty had arisen, and it had been considered by the Department out of the question to order a new election in every case of this kind with its attendant expenses. The Department resolved to exercise the option conferred by the Statute, and they issued nominations, which they had reason to believe would be acceptable in the locality. It is ample justification for the course pursued when I say that since these nominations were made—now a good many weeks ago—not a single complaint has reached the Department with regard to any of the localities with the exception of Port Glasgow. I take it, therefore, that the course taken by the Department has commended itself to the common sense and wishes of the people in the various localities. The hon. Member abstained from saying that a majority of the ratepayers of Port Glasgow were in favour of a course other than that taken; and since then an influential Memorial, signed by six hundred or seven hundred ratepayers of Port Glasgow, has been received expressing in strong terms their sense of the propriety of the course followed, and which the judgment of the Court of Session left the Department free to take, and I do not believe it has led to any inconvenience in the locality, or is likely to do so. I hope the hon. Member will be satisfied with my assurance that, the judgment of the Supreme Court having been given, it will be followed in regard to any future regulations issued by the Department.


It was impossible for me to say more than that the Petition I mentioned was signed by 1,400 persons. The Memorial to the Lord Advocate had only some six hundred signatures. I do not understand that the judgment of the Court of Session indicated any course to be followed; it simply declared the election invalid. It was for the Department to adopt the course most consonant with local feeling, and though I am not a lawyer I still think that course is prescribed in Clause 15. With the explanation that the regulations of the Department will be overhauled, I do not wish to press the matter further. I had hoped that something would have been done to assuage the local feeling that a grievous wrong had been done in the dismissal of the clerk who simply declared the state of the law, and his view proved to be correct.

(1.48.) MR. GROTRIAN (Hull, E.)

I take this opportunity to call attention to the discrepancy which exists in the pay of officers of the Excise and Customs officers performing identically the same duties. With equality of service the difference in pay is very striking. The duties of the officers of either Department in relation to foreign or British spirits and beer are equally responsible; but I find that while in the Customs the maximum pay for officers of the second class is £220, in the Excise it is only £150, a difference of more than forty-six per cent. against the Inland Revenue officers. Again, in the first class the maximum paying £340 in the Customs and £250 in the Excise, a difference of thirty-six per cent. In the grade of supervisor again the salaries are respectively £480 and £300, a difference of sixty per cent. against the Excise officer. The qualities required in either class of officers are equal; their responsibilities and duties do not differ, and I do not understand why there should be this great difference in salaries. I do not say that the salaries of Customs officers who fill very responsible positions are too high. I assume they are fair and equitable, and therefore the officers in the Excise Department are at a disadvantage. I know that the question has been con sidered on more than one occasion by the Board of Inland Revenue, and that some slight concessions have been made; but what these officers ask for, and what I hope will be conceded, is an independent inquiry into their claims, and in which the views of the Service may find expression. I do not want to occupy the time of the Committee, though I should under other circumstances be quite prepared to still further support a claim which I hope will be acknowledged to an independent inquiry.


Before the hon. Gentleman receives his reply, I wish to turn to quite another set of topics in which the Irish Members are concerned. In the first place, I claim that something should be done in reference to Green Street Court House in Dublin. The state of the Courthouse is a public scandal, against which Judges have protested again and again, and we have often called attention to it in this House. The Government demand that the Corporation shall contribute a third or two-thirds—I am not sure which—towards the building of a new Courthouse; but we claim that an Imperial Court such as this is, the citizens of Dublin having no value in it and having no right to appoint any of the officials, from the Recorder to the doorkeeper, should be paid for from Imperial funds. Why should we, the ratepayers of Dublin, be expected to pay for the Court? The Government may say we have done so before, but now a different view prevails, and when you take a prison without compensation, upon which the Corporation have spent £100,000, the least you can do is to provide a decent Courthouse for your Imperial business; or, better still, remove that business to the Four Courts. My next question has reference to the prison warders in Ireland, and I ask, would it not be well, now that the Government have given up the practice of detaining political prisoners, not to insist on the warders wearing their uniform when off duty and outside the prisons? Why are they treated differently in this respect from prison warders in England? The men feel the regulation most keenly. They have to deal in prison with a rough convict class, and they feel that when off duty they are liable to be spotted, and to be treated with violence or insult when their uniform is recognised. The Chief Secretary visited Mountjoy Prison lately, I believe. Perhaps he there heard something of this complaint, and the claim of the men to be allowed, as warders in England are, to wear their own clothes when off duty. The last point I have to raise has reference to the breach of the undertaking given by the Government to deal with the question of the use of schoolrooms for public meetings. The Resolution passed by this House requires for its adoption in England that legislation should be passed, but in Ireland it is merely a matter of regulation. All you have to do is to send the Resolution to the Board of Education in Ireland, and they will apply the rule. I quite agree that regulation is required, and that you cannot throw open the schoolroom for anybody to make a racket in it; you must have some regard to the purpose for which the meeting is convened. In England you require fourteen days' notice, security against damage; that religious and anti-religious meetings shall not be held, and the manager's consent. Why not ask the Education Board in Ireland to draw up similar regulations? I trust the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to tell the Education Board that the Resolution of the House within reasonable limits ought to be carried out. I am quite aware of the difficulties, but they can be met by regulations which will ensure that proceedings shall be conducted decently and in order by either Party. The managers of a school should be allowed a veto, and with reasonable safeguards the practice might be followed as in England.


I do not think the matter is quite so simple as the hon. Member seems to indicate. As I understand it, the Resolution of the House of course gave no power in England or Ireland against the consent or without the consent of the school managers. The hon. Member seems to think that the Education Department would have power in Ireland. But, for instance, take the case of the non-vested schools. The Education Department will have no power to compel the school management to afford facilities for holding political meetings. Then take the case of the convent schools. It is not intended to limit the use of the schools to political meetings; they are to be equally devoted to municipal and other meetings; and I do not think the Education Department in Ireland has power to compel either convent schools or monastery schools or non-vested schools to offer these facilities. It is not a matter on which the Government can have any strong opinion. My own view, until I heard the hon. Member, was against opening the whole of the schools of Ireland, because if you open one you must open all. I should like to say that I think it would be desirable to make due inquiry as to what the opinion in Ireland is. I do not think you can make a distinction between one school or Party and another, because if these schools are to be available for such purposes they must be available for all such purposes and persons. I should be glad to ascertain what is the view taken, as the speech of the hon. Member has rather surprised me. The simplest course, perhaps, would be to move that Ireland be included in the Bill. The hon. Member will, however, probably see that it is desirable I should make further inquiry before committing myself on the question. With regard to the prison warders, I have not heard of any difficulty arising from the wearing of uniforms outside the gaol. I should be disposed rather to take the view that the uniform, instead of being a cause of hostility, would rather have caused protection. ("No!") I do not agree with the hon. Member. A warder in uniform is known by everybody, and in case of attack would receive more protection than one in ordinary clothes.


It is not so much a question of hostile attack upon a warder; but, as some of the warders explained to me when I was in Londonderry Gaol, a question of not being able to go out for a short holiday without being subjected to insult.


I have made inquiry into this matter, as I heard something of it from another source. The particular gaol was mentioned, and I was assured that no opinion of that kind had ever been expressed by any warder.


Of course not to the Governor.


Surely it is not a question there need be any hesitation about. As to the case mentioned by the hon. Member for Camborne (Mr. Conybeare), I am somewhat surprised, and will make inquiries as to the fact. The information I received was that there was no such feeling, and that the wearing of the uniform was rather a protection than otherwise. The other question was about the Green Street Courthouse, and I do not know that there is anything I can add to what I have previously said in answer to questions on this subject. I may, however, mention to the Committee that a suggestion has been made that it would be possible to build a Court for less money than the original estimate, which, I think, was £42,000 or £45,000. At that time the Government agreed to contribute £13,500, and I then said I would recommend the proposal to the Treasury if the Corporation of Dublin desired to renew the proposal. I have heard recently that a suggestion has been made that a Courthouse sufficient for the purposes could be built on some site—owned, I think, by the Corporation, and which they would probably give—for about £13,500. I think negotiations are at present going on between the Corporation of Dublin and Dublin Castle; but in the course of a day or two I shall know more about the matter.


Might I venture to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman to take the opinion of the Attorney General for Ireland as to the site of the Courthouse? It is really very desirable that the Courthouse should be in a central position. I have always been amazed that the Government did not insist upon getting a Court in the Four Courts, and by only making a conversion effect an enormous saving. If you could take some of the existing buildings, and at a cost of £5 or £10 erect a dock suitable for prisoners, you would have a Court which would suit everybody. I never could see why £40,000 was necessary to build Green Street. As to the prison warders, I really think the right hon. Gentleman cannot be aware of the controversy on this point. What the warders complain of is the very point my hon. Friend has raised—that when off duty they should be compelled to wear their uniforms. The right hon. Gentleman says it serves the interests of protection, but why not give them the option? The rule is of new make; it was made during the Crimes Act period, I think, rather to mark out the warder in order that he might not come into contact with any member of the Nationalist Party. The necessity for that has now disappeared, and I trust the Government will allow the warders to now mingle with the ordinary public without carrying with them the trade mark of Her Majesty. On the other subject I hardly think the right hon. Gentleman has fairly met us. What we ask is that the rule which prohibits political meetings in schools should no longer obtain. That would relieve the management, and would also give a liberty which this House has declared itself in favour of. I do not agree with the logic of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that if we have one we must have all. What we want is to satisfy the people, and therein seems to be a great want in the minds of the people of England. The right hon. Gentleman says he will look into the matter. In answering a question put by me on this subject the right hon. Gentleman did not give me such a reply as I had reason to expect. I simply asked him whether he would send copies of the Resolution of this House to the National Board of Education. He gave one of those replies which are a sham, because he did not tell me what he was going to do. I think such a Resolution should have been sent on to the Department. I again respectfully ask that it be done, and if it is I shall be satisfied, because if Sir Patrick Keenan has a copy of that Resolution, and wishes to drop on the managers of the National Convention, we shall be able to have a twist on him.


I only wish to say that the right hon. Gentleman must have been misinformed as to the warders, if he thinks that they do not feel the grievance which has been put forward to-night. It is probable that the right hon. Gentleman's source of information could not possess sufficient knowledge, because my experience of sub-officials is that they do not care to make complaints about these matters to their superiors in office. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the facts are as stated, and I may remind the Committee that I brought this matter forward two years ago. I trust the Government will do their best regarding a grievance which the prison warders asked me to aid in remedying.


As to the question of allowing schools for public meetings, I would point out that the distinction between schools has already been under consideration. One of the proposals of the Ballot Act was that public schools should be taken for the purpose of polling booths. In applying that general provision to Ireland the case of the convent schools was considered, and one of the enactments in that Bill is that any school attached to a religious house should be taken for the purposes of a polling booth. I would also point out that as the law at present stands in Ireland, we are in a worse position than England. In England the managers can lend a school for a political meeting; but if in Ireland the managers venture to lend it for that purpose, they do so at the peril of having the grant stopped. Seeing the House of Commons has passed a Resolution on the subject, I do think the least the right hon. Gentleman can do is to communicate that Resolution to the Board of National Education in Ireland.

MR. SINCLAIR (, &c.) Falkirk

It is not a question of Party politics which the hon. Member for North Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy) has raised. When I was contesting North Antrim I remember the difficulty of securing places for public meetings. Frequently the farmers were compelled to employ their barns in order to allow of a meeting being held. I think the Government would confer great convenience on Ireland by allowing schools to be used by either Party for public meetings.


I wish to point out to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, with regard to the Green Street Courthouse, that when he considers the amount the Government will advance towards the building of a new Courthouse, he might include the value of the present site, which I would recommend him to sell. I would also suggest that the new Courthouse be built on one of the vacant sites near the Four Courts, which can be obtained at the present time. The only person opposed to this in Dublin is the Recorder of the City, and he is opposed to it because he wishes to administer the ordinary Civil business of the County Court away from the reach of the Bar. He has the utmost objection to the attendance of the members of the Bar, with the result that he administers his Court in a fashion peculiar to itself, and without parallel in any other portion of the United Kingdom. I think we may expect from the Government a little more than £13,000 towards the building of a new Court, which, unless it adjoins the Four Courts, will be of no advantage to the general body of practitioners.


I give notice that I will to-morrow put a question on the subject.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.

Committee to sit again upon Wednesday.