|Royal Palaces and Marlborough House||6,000|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||16,000|
|Houses of Parliament Buildings||6,000|
|Admiralty, Extension of Buildings||8,000|
|Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain||9,000|
|Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain||5,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||5,000|
|Revenue Department Buildings||56,000|
|Public Buildings, Great Britain||33,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||40,000|
|Harbours, &c., under Board of Trade, and Lighthouses Abroad||3,000|
|Rates on Government Property||92,000|
|Public Works and Buildings, Ireland||40,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|House of Lords, Offices||7,000|
|House of Commons, Offices||5,000|
|Treasury and Subordinate Departments||15,000|
|Home Office and Subordinate Departments||16,000|
|Post Office Packet Service||20,000|
|Post Office Telegraphs||415,000|
|Total for Revenue Departments||£735,000|
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
On a point of Order, Sir. I have an Amendment which touches the whole subject; should that not be taken first, Sir?
No, that would not be in Order, as it would prevent other Members from calling attention to particular items.
§ MR. HANBURY
We want, by the Amendment put down by my hon. Friend, to dispute the right of the Government to take money on account for two months. We say that they ought to be content with sufficient for one month. If all the items are passed, then it will be impossible for my hon. Friend to raise the question. It therefore seems to me that his Amendment should have precedence.
If I were now to allow a discussion on the whole Vote, hon. Members wishing to discuss particular items would be precluded from doing so.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he did not intend to propose any reduction of the Vote, but he desired to know from the First Commissioner of Works whether anything was to be done towards the repair of Holyrood Palace? On the Estimates he would raise the whole question of the condition in which the palaces and castles in Scotland were maintained, and ask the Government to provide a sum of, say, £10,000 per annum for a series of years so as to place the Scottish palaces and castles in proper order, and in a decent, respectable condition. Although he was in favour of economy and against the waste of money by the Government, he did not object to the requisite amount of money being voted to maintain Scottish palaces and castles if they required it. He believed the Government of the country had sadly neglected their duty in regard to those palaces and castles.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. SHAW-LEFEVRE,) Bradford, Central
said, he would consider the matter before the Estimates, but he could not undertake to propose an expenditure of £10,000 a year for Scottish palaces. He did not think that would be a wise policy, or in accordance with the arrangement carried out in 1323 regard to the maintenance of public buildings. If money were voted in that way he was afraid the expenditure on those palaces would largely increase. At the same time, he sympathised with the hon. Member in his desire that Holyrood should be kept up with dignity and in good repair.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
asked, whether it would be in order for him at that point to move to reduce the Vote on one particular item?
Before we discuss a proposed reduction of the whole Vote we must take the items; after the items have been disposed of, it would be quite in order for the hon. Baronet to move the reduction of the whole Vote.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, the Vote included the large sum of £3,500 for sanitary works at Buckingham Palace. Similar Votes were constantly being asked for in regard to public buildings, and he wished to know whether the Government intended to take any steps to put an end to this system of continually asking for Votes for sanitary works. He thought the best way of dealing with the question was by legislation, because until there were means of punishing men who did sanitary work badly a good many lives must be lost in consequence of bad work. He wanted to make certain that in the works now to be undertaken adequate precautions would be observed so that the money spent should not be thrown away. It was well known that enormous blunders had been perpetrated in respect to Westminster Palace. For years there was a fire burning in the Victoria Tower for the purpose of ventilating the drains of the building, and after this fire had been kept alight for about a quarter of a century it was found that there was no communication whatever between it and the drains. He wished to know whether there was any one responsible person who could be punished if sanitary work in public buildings was not properly done? For the purpose of getting an answer he moved to reduce the Vote by £3,000.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the item of £6,000, for the Royal Palaces and Marl borough House, be reduced by £3,000."—(Mr. Hanbury.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said that during the last six years he had been complaining of the large expenditure in palaces without obtaining the support of a single hon. Gentleman opposite, but now the Conservative Party actually carried their objection to palaces so far that they demanded that the palace which Her Majesty inhabited when she came to London should be left in an insanitary condition. Much as he (Mr. Labouchere) objected to palaces he thought that sanitary regulations should apply equally to a palace and a hovel, that therefore he should vote against the Amendment.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
The hon. Gentleman has raised a point of considerable importance, and one which is fairly entitled to come under the consideration of the Committee. I may say that this item of £3,500 for the maintenance of the sanitary works of the Royal Palaces is an expenditure which is incurred only on the professional advice that it is absolutely necessary. The great bulk of the Government buildings are now in a fairly good sanitary condition, but in some of them much remains to be done to improve their underground drains. These drains, were constructed when sanitary science was not so advanced as it is now, and it is therefore proposed to remodel the system and put those drains in a perfectly sound condition. It will he necessary to incur considerable expenditure to bring about, that improved state of things. With respect to Buckingham Palace and to other Government buildings, it will be necessary to spend £8,000 or £10,000 on them annually for the next seven or eight years, in order to put them in a proper state. I do not state that there is any danger in the present state of things, but as the present drainage is not up to modern, science it requires constant care and attention.
§ Mr. HANBURY
said, he was sorry the right hon. Gentleman did not willingly incur this expenditure, as it was clear from his speech that it was absolutely necessary. Having got the information he desired from the right hon. Gentleman he considered it entirely satisfactory, and, differing from the right hon. Gentleman, he entirely concurred in the expenditure.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
What I meant was that the Government would rather have to spend the money on some work which would show better and do more public good.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, he did not agree with his hon. Friend in thinking that this expenditure on the drains was absolutely necessary. He believed that the more alterations they made in drains the more likely they were to catch typhoid fever. He therefore hoped the First Commissioner of Works would hesitate before he expended this large sum on drains.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he did not intend to prolong the Debate on the condition of Holyrood Palace, as so far he was satisfied with the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, but he would point out that the expenditure of thousands of pounds every year on the English Palaces was another argument why the Palaces and Castles of Scotland should be put into that proper and decent condition to which their history entitles them.
§ MR. PERCY THORNTON (Clapham)
said, he found himself in thorough agreement with the hon. Member for Peterborough on this question. As one who had lived a good deal in Scotland, and studied the history of the country, he thought there was a real need for a greater expenditure of money in preserving the old Palaces of Scotland. Indeed, he would go further than that, and say, that the maintenance of these Palaces in a proper condition was part of the bargain of the Union of 1730. In the matter of historical interest these Palaces stood on an equality with Hampton and Kensington, while Holyrood had no peer except Royal Windsor.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER (Edinburgh, W.)
said, he had followed the excellent example of his hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough, and had visited those Scottish Palaces. Through the courtesy of the representative of the Board of Works he was shown through Holyrood, and he believed that if hon. Members visited the place they would come back, like him, convinced that the way it was maintained was wholly unworthy of its history. He would, therefore, earnestly join the hon. Member for Peterborough in urging on the First Commissioner of Works to look into this matter personally himself.
§ DR. MACGREGOR (Invernessshire)
said, that as one of the few medical men in the House, and one who know something about sanitary science, he should say that a large portion of the money spent on the sanitary improvement of these public buildings was wasted. Take the House of Commons. He should say that the sanitation of the House was a disgrace to sanitary science. It was utterly impossible to sit for a minute in the Tea Room or the Reading Room without having a draught.
§ DR. MACGREGOR
said, he would conclude by saying that when large sums of money were spent on the sanitary arrangements of these buildings the country had a right to expect that the money's worth was obtained.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith, &c.)
said, he wished to draw attention to one other Scottish palace—Linlithgow Palace. He understood that the matter was engaging the attention of the First Commissioner of Works, and he hoped his right hon. Friend would see his way to restoring the Palace to some extent, or to at least put it in a more satisfactory condition.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
considered that the Old Royal Palaces of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, and Stirling, deserved fully as much consideration as any of the buildings that had been mentioned. He would appeal to the Government, which was so thoroughly composed of Scotchmen, to give some attention to those buildings, which possessed so deep an historical interest for Scotchmen. He thought, that Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle should not be used as a barracks, but should be maintained as interesting memorials of ancient Scottish history.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
I may say that I deeply sympathise with the remarks of hon. Gentlemen in reference to those old British buildings. As regards Stirling Castle, it is not under the con troll of the Board of Works—it is a military establishment, and therefore under the control of the War Office. Edinburgh Castle is also under the control of the War Office, with the exception of a small portion, such as Queen Mary's apartments, and the chapel. With regard to Lin- 1327 lithgow Palace, the matter was taken up by my Predecessor, and it was determined to expend on it a sum sufficient to maintain it in its present condition as an interesting ruin and to prevent further destruction With that object £500 will be spent on the Palace.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, his information was that the Society referred to by the right hon. Gentleman wanted a considerable sum of money spent on the preservation of Linlithgow Palace beyond the amount stated, which he thought a paltry sum. He also thought that the right hon. Gentleman was incorrect in stating that only a small part of Edinburgh Castle was under the control of the Board of Works. The late Mr. Nelson had spent £24,000 on it, and it therefore could not be a small part. There were many parts of the Castle left untouched by the donation of that good-natured and patriotic citizen. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would visit these places himself, and not trust merely to the information of officials in Scotland, for if the right hon. Gentleman did this he was sure he would do something better for the maintenance of these historic buildings.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
regretted that the Minister for War was not in his place, for he desired to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that these Castles had been dealt with entirely from the military instead of from the æsthetic point of view.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he would take care to put down a notice to reduce the salary of the Minister of War also, in order that the right hon. Gentleman might have full notice.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, that in view of the large sum proposed to be spent on Buckingham Palace for sanitary purposes, he wished to know how many days the Palace had been in actual occupation during the year?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
There are a large number of people residing in the Palace, even though Her Majesty is not there, and I am sure the Committee will agree that the health of these people is entitled to consideration.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL (Wigton)
hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would adhere to the decision that he would not attempt to put a roof on Linlithgow Palace, no matter what the hon. 1328 Member for Peterborough or anybody else might say.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he wished to know what action the First Commissioner of Works intended to take with regard to the Departmental Report which had been submitted to him recently in reference to the emoluments and remuneration of the employés of the Kew Gardens? The contents of that Report was awaited with much anxiety by these skilful, industrious, and meritorious men, and he trusted that his right hon. Friend would be able to give them the information, so far as his official duty would permit. Another matter to which he wished to refer was the hours of the opening of the Gardens. At present they were open from 12 o'clock noon to the general public, but they were also open from 9 or 10 o'clock to persons belonging to the scientific or artistic world, who were provided with special tickets. He desired that the general public should be allowed to enter the Gardens at the earlier hour, and felt sure that the change would not interfere in any way with scientific or artistic investigations.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
called attention to the condition of Rotten Row, or the Ride in Hyde Park. He rode therein at an early hour of the day before coming down to his duties in the House, so that he had some experience of its state. It was full of cataracts, rocks, lakes, precipices, and brick-bats, which were not conducive to quiet riding. He attributed that state of affairs to the way the Ride was attended to, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to having it improved. Another matter to which he wished to draw attention was the Mall in St. James's Park. Since the opening of Constitution Hill for light traffic it had become of the highest importance that the eastern end of the Mall should be opened into Charing Cross. That would relieve the traffic not only in Piccadilly, but also in the Strand, for anyone driving by Constitution Hill and the Mall for the City would go along by the Embankment. He hoped, therefore, the new Admiralty buildings would be so constructed as not 1329 to interfere with the extension of the Mall to Charing Cross.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
The plans of the new Admiralty buildings contemplate the opening of the Mall into Charing Cross; but as these buildings will not be completed, at the earliest, before seven years, we will have to wait some little time. It will not be possible to make the opening until the buildings are completed, because the existing houses in Spring Gardens are occupied by the Admiralty Offices, and they cannot be turned out until the buildings are finished. I think the hon. Member has exaggerated the state of Rotten Row. I have known the Ride for many years, and I must say that I think it is now, on the whole, in a better condition than it has been for many years. It is not easy to keep it in good condition, because riders are allowed to go there in wet weather; but, being myself a rider and a frequent visitor to the Row, I must say that it is very well attended to. With regard to the matters raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston, my Predecessor in office directed a Departmental inquiry into the question of the wages paid to the labourers at Kew, and the Report of that inquiry was recently sent to me. The Report is not in favour of a general rise of the wages of the labourers. They say that the wages paid at the Gardens are somewhat higher than the average rate of wages paid for the same work by the market gardeners of the neighbourhood, and they do not, therefore, recommend a general rise of wages. The Report, however, is in favour of some minor improvements, and of increased pay to some special men, and those recommendations are now under the consideration of the Treasury and the Office of Works. As to the opening of the Kew Gardens at an early hour, I think I have given evidence in my interest in open spaces that I would entertain any such proposal from a favourable point of view. I was, therefore, disposed to do all I could towards opening the Gardens at an earlier hour, but I find it would entail great additional expense—something like £600 a year in the shape of wages for park-keepers—and also that there is much to be said for the opposite side. Although the Gardens are not open to the general public in the mornings, they are open to 1330 persons interested in botany and to gardeners and other specialists, who receive tickets from the Director, and are thereby enabled to study the plants in a manner which they could not do if the public were admitted. I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that there is no great case made for the opening of the Gardens to the general public at an earlier hour.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
drew attention, to the state of the water in the tanks in Trafalgar Square. He had called attention to this subject every year for the past few years, but nothing has been done. As there was a probability of an approach of cholera, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would do something in the matter, as the water was very much like sewage, and was likely in the hot weather to affect the health of the people of the neighbourhood.
§ MR. SYDNEY HERBERT (Croydon)
said he wished to call attention to the light on the Clock Tower of the House of Commons. The First Commissioner stated, in reply to a question which he put to the right hon. Gentleman a few days previously, that the light, which was a gas light, was not yet completed, from which he gathered that more money was to be spent on the light. He submitted that it was desirable to have an electric search light instead of the present gas light. To Members who lived at a distance from the House it would be a great advantage to have an electric search light in an upper direction which could be seen over London. At present they could not see the light, except there was a clear space between it and them, whereas if there was a bright column of light shooting up into the air it could be observed from every quarter.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
complained that the electric light used in the House, as at present arranged, was very injurious to the eyes. The light, especially in the Smoke Room, was exceedingly bright and dazzling, and was without any protection for the eyes. He had heard on good authority that the number of Members of Parliament who suffer from weak eyes in consequence of the light was very considerable. He suggested that every light should be placed in a globe of either very thick glass or tinted glass, so as to 1331 prevent the violent effect of the electric light striking the eye directly, and if the right hon. Gentleman availed himself of the Recess in order to make that alteration he would have done a good deal for the health of the Members of the House.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
said, he thought he spent a great deal more of his time in the Smoke Room than the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, and his judgment was that the present light was excellent. He did not know anything of the opinions opposite which prevailed amongst the right hon. Gentleman's friends, but he had heard no complaint amongst his own Radical friends, by which he was driven to the conclusion that the Radicals had stronger vision than the right hon. Gentleman and his friends. He hoped the First Commissioner of Works would not disturb the present arrangements for lighting the Smoke Room.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
said, he had had to bring under the notice of the Committee a question of far more importance than the lighting of the House, and that was the sitting accommodation of hon. Members in the House—that question becoming this Session more than ever a burning question. Unless they happened to be in the House by half-past 2 or a quarter to 3 o'clock it was impossible to get a seat on the Benches anywhere from which it would be easy to address the House. He had come down the previous day at five minutes past 3, and could not find a single seat on any of the Benches, and was not even fortunate enough to obtain a seat under the Gallery. It would not mean a very large expenditure of money to increase the accommodation in the House. Considering that only on Friday last the House voted a very large sum of money for the remuneration of hon. Members, which was to be an annual charge, he thought the House would not object to voting the expenditure necessary to increase the sitting accommodation of hon. Members. He was expressing the opinion of private Members when he said that they desired greater consideration in the matter of seats. Members of the Government and Members of the ex-Government were not in the unfortunate position of private Members as regarded seats, 1332 for they had their seats provided for them. He was sorry the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was not in his place; the hon. Member had promised a plan for giving a seat to every hon. Member of the House, and he was not sure that the hon. Member did not also undertake to accept the contract for the alteration of the House at a moderate price.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
drew attention to the serious inconvenience to which hon. Members were put owing to the limited space of the Post Office. Within 25 years every corner of the Lobby had been tried to accommodate the Post Office, but the actual area of the Post Office had not been extended all through that time, though the amount of correspondence had largely increased. He ventured to say that if the First Commissioner of Works stepped out into the Lobby that moment he would find a row of Members two or three deep waiting at the Post Office to be served. He suggested that some other part of the building might be found to accommodate another post office.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I will give consideration to the point just raised in reference to the Post Office, and see whether any additional accommodation can be provided. With regard to the light on the top of the Clock Tower, it was quite true that I told the right hon. Gentleman opposite, a few days ago, that it was not quite completed, but still it only awaits final completion, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to wait until he sees the effect of the new arrangements before he asks me to incur a further expenditure in a new direction. I think he will find that the new arrangements will not be unsatisfactory. The question of providing additional seats for hon. Members in the House is a very large question. The hon. Member for Northampton has given notice of his intention to move for a Committee to inquire into the sitting accommodation of the House, and I think it would be better to defer the definite discussion of the matter until that Motion comes on. It is a matter rather for the consideration of the House than for the Government, and if the House should desire that there should be an inquiry into the matter, the Government would consider whether it 1333 is possible to carry out their wishes; but when the Motion does come on I shall venture to show reasons why it would be wise to defer such an inquiry until the second Session of the present Parliament. There has always been a great pressure in the accommodation of the House during the first Session of every Parliament, but that pressure has been removed in the second Session, when the House becomes to a certain extent blasé, and when hon. Members do not display that extreme devotion to business which they showed in the early days of the Parliament. Take the illustration afforded by our proceedings yesterday. It so happened that yesterday a larger number of hon. Members took part than in any previous Division of the Session; 590 Members voted in the Division, which was 50 more than in any previous Division of the present Session, but curiously enough hon. Members did not sit in the House to listen to the Debate on the Vote of Censure. During the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Motion one-third of the Benches of the House were empty, so that there was a large body of hon. Members within the precincts of the House who did not care to listen. That cannot be attributed to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, because he never addressed the House without securing the general attention of hon. Members, and the House is always pleased to hear him; but, in my opinion, it goes to show that hon. Members are already weary of speeches, and that they are not giving that devoted attention to the duties of the House which they gave only a few weeks ago. Therefore, before expending a large sum of money on increasing the accommodation of the House, it would be wise to wait until we see whether, as usual, as the Parliament grows older, the demand for seats falls off.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
said, it would seem from the remarks of hon. Members that there was only one part of the House to be considered, and that was the part devoted to hon. Members; but he ventured to protest against the limited accommodation allowed to strangers. He had had the pleasure the other day of going to the Press Gallery and the Press Rooms, and he thought it was really scandalous on the part of the House that the 120 Pressmen or so who were com- 1334 pelled to be there—Who Were obliged to sit and listen to the Debates—should be cribbed, cabined, and confined the Way they were. The number of rooms at the disposal of the Pressmen was insufficient, and he thought the accommodation in the Gallery was not good enough. Considering the number of important papers that were applying for admission to the Gallery, the Gallery should be at least one-third larger than it was. The Strangers' Gallery should, he thought, be also more convenient to the public; and with regard to the sitting accommodation of hon. Members in the House, he thought the time had arrived when the First Commissioner of Works should anticipate the Motion of the hon. Member for Northampton; and when it did come on he would join the noble Lord the Member for Brixton in supporting a complete revolution in the architectural accommodation of the House. If every hon. Member could rely upon a seat it would tend, he believed, to the more orderly conduct of the Debates. The House was now a congested district, and under the Sanitary Regulations of the County Council it ought to be indicted. The First Commissioner of Works would do well to anticipate the almost unanimous desire of the House, and to consult with his advisers respecting a plan for the complete remodeling of the House of Commons.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said, he entirely endorsed what had fallen from the hon. Member as to the necessity for a complete reconsideration of this subject. The First Commissioner of Works considered that this was a matter which was always put forward in the first Session of a new Parliament, that it gradually died out, and that by the time Parliament drew to a close hon. Members became accustomed to the inconvenience to which they were subjected. He should, however, like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether or not hon. Members ought to be precluded from having better accommodation? Looking back to the time when the right hon. Gentleman and himself first entered the House, the attendance of hon. Members day by day was very much less than it was at present. The habitual attendance of hon. Members had very largely increased during the last 25 years. In past times there were occa- 1335 sional nights when there was a crush, but as a general rule very few hon. Members were present. Now, however, the demand was much greater, and sometimes they had to complain that they could not get even standing room. The right hon. Gentleman was doubtless aware how many hon. Members could find seats within the purview of the Speaker, and he believed he was right in stating that after deducting the galleries and other seats outside the recognised limits for purposes of debate, something like two-thirds of the Members were unable to obtain seats in such a position as would enable them to rise in their places in order to discharge their public duties. He had seen an article published recently which sketched out a very comprehensive and at the same time economical scheme for remedying the defects to which attention had already been drawn, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give this matter more than the passing attention which he seemed inclined to give. It seemed to him that the right hon. Gentleman, when he got too much money on account, would think no more of this matter, especially as Ministers did not themselves have the present difficulties to surmount which fell to the lot of others. In very recent times he had had some practical experience of the great difficulty there was in obtaining a seat. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not allow the subject to be indefinitely shelved, but that he would also consider not only the accommodation provided for Members, but for the Press and other strangers, and treat the whole subject in a spirit worthy of its importance.
§ MR. LEGH (Lancashire, S. W., Newton)
alluded to the fœtid atmosphere of the Chamber, and the uncomfortable condition of the Reading Room, which was so contrived as to give the maximum of heat in summer and the maximum of cold in winter. There did not appear to be any position in which they could sit without inconveniencing somebody else, and it was permeated by the odours of the Tea Room.
§ MR. ALLAN (Gateshead)
said, he had had a large and varied experience in the construction and alteration of buildings. Hon. Members must bear in mind that they were confined here within a parallelo- 1336 gram of fixed dimensions, and as the Chamber was bounded by stone walls on all sides any attempt to alter it must be undertaken with the greatest possible care, because of the difficulties attendant upon such an operation, and due attention should be given to the mode of the accommodation to be provided.
§ MR. H. R. FARQUHARSON (Dorset, W.)
hoped the question of the acoustic properties of the House would not be lost sight of.
§ MR. R. G. WEBSTER (St. Pancras, E.)
thought the Reports of the Committees that sat in 1867 and 1868 with regard to this question might be consulted with advantage, for they had dealt with it in all its bearings.
§ MR. MOORSOM (Great Yarmouth)
said they did not know at present how many hon. Members the House would have to accommodate in the future. Probably either this year or next year that question would be settled for a considerable time. No man could foresee now how many hon. Members they might expect from Ireland, and he thought it would be prudent to wait and see exactly how they stood.
§ BARON F. J. DE ROTHSCHILD (Bucks, Aylesbury)
said, it was only fair that they should have a more definite assurance from the Chief Commissioner of Works than the one he had given. The right hon. Gentleman had treated the question with comparative contempt. When the right hon. Gentleman was not a Member of the Government he had, in his capacity of Privy Councillor, a permanent seat on the Front Opposition Bench; but for the few Privy Councillors in that House there were hundreds of private Members who had no scats, and it was impossible for every hon. Member to be in time for prayers in order to obtain a seat. It was not always pleasant for private Members to be obliged to sit in parts of the House where they did not usually sit, and to find themselves between hon. Members with whom they were not in unison, and to have to listen to remarks which were not wanted. Many hon. Members waited in the Lobby and in the Smoking Room until the Division bell rang. He hoped a more definite answer would be given.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, his hon. Friend who had just sat down had given them very excellent reasons why the 1337 House should be enlarged. He had said that instead of going to the Smoking Room he would have sat in the House, and no doubt he would have been converted from the political error of his ways. He had always been in favour of the enlargement of the House, because it was absolutely in accordance with common sense that there should be room for the 670 Members of which it was composed. Outside the House he was for One Man One Vote, but inside the House he was in favour of one man one seat. He understood that the Chief Commissioner was not prepared to accept his proposal for a Committee. In the present state of business he could only obtain a Committee by the universal consent of the House, because the Chief Commissioner or anyone else could block it; but he was quite prepared to bring in his proposal as soon as possible if the right hon. Gentleman assented. He thought there had been a sufficient expression of opinion in favour of the enlargement of the House to entitle them to a Committee, which would not only examine into the scheme, but the cost. He was given to understand that the cost of providing a place for every hon. Member would be about £3,5,000. There was no Legislative Assembly in the universe, except this one, which consisted of a number of Members who could find no place when they got there.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Northampton would persevere with his Motion for the Committee, for even if he had to confront the opposition of the First Commissioner of Works he would find a sufficient number of hon. Members in all parts of the House to support him. It was somewhat of a scandal that hon. Members should have to enter into something like a physical encounter in order to get seats. He saw from an article in the Nineteenth Century, the other day, that there were only 270 seats on the floor of the House for a membership of 678, and that was a condition of things that would be tolerated only in this country. His hon. Friend the Member for Battersea had spoken in favour of each hon. Member having a desk, but he thought nothing could be more destructive to the homogeneity or harmony of a legislative body than the provision of desks. He 1338 should be very sorry to see the system of providing a desk for each Member introduced into the House, because the result in the United States was that the Members spent their time in writing letters, with the consequence that the Legislative Bodies were nothing but public offices, and the Debates were listened to only by a few Members around the Speaker. The removal of the desks from the House of Representatives at Washington had been recently recommended in an article by Mr. Reed, who was sometime ago Speaker of that House, and with whom he had conversed on the subject. The House of Commons, with all its inconveniences, had one advantage, which was that hon. Members were not obliged to speak in it at the top of their voices in order to be heard. The late Mr. Parnell used to say that the elevated tone of oratory in America was largely due to the fact that every speaker, by reason of the immense size of the House of Representatives, was compelled to bellow for the purpose of getting attention. He should, on that account, be opposed to any considerable enlargement of the House. But there could be no difference of opinion as to whether there should be a seat for every hon. Member in the House. The hon. Member for Northampton had many claims to public attention and regard, but his highest claim was his invariable piety. He knew no hon. Member who was so devout, and who was so assiduous in his attendance at prayers. But the attendance at prayers in the House of Commons was entirely removed from anything like devotional considerations. He observed that, while the House was piously asking for spiritual guidance, responsible occupants of the Front Benches were always conspicuous by their absence, which might partly be attributed to the fact that they had secured by right of office a place, without any spiritual intervention. His opinion was that spiritual merit should have only a spiritual reward, and therefore he objected to the earthly considerations which induced many hon. Members to come to the House at so early an hour every day.
§ MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
asked what were the intentions of the Government with regard to the Select Committee. They had had a very fair discussion, and the opinion of all sides of 1339 the House was now known, that every private Member should have a seat.
§ MR. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
said, hundreds of hon. Members had to come down hours before the House met in order to secure seats, and if 400 hon. Members came down two hours before the time that would make 100 working days of eight hours totally lost. That was a substantial loss to hon. Members, many of whom were engaged in business.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
said, that if the general sense of the House was in favour of a Committee of Inquiry the Government certainly would not oppose it. He would take into consideration the opinions that had been expressed, and he would bring them under the notice of the Government. He could not undertake to promise a Committee of Inquiry; all he could say was that the Government would carefully consider what had been said, and also the opinions that were held by other Members occupying important positions. What he bad ventured to urge was that the experience of the last five or six Parliaments had shown that in the first Sessions of new Parliaments there had been great pressure upon the accommodation, but in the second and subsequent Sessions it had gradually diminished. The question first arose in 1866, when there was a Committee which considered all the plans for enlarging the existing House, and which came to the conclusion that they were all open to objection, and recommended that a new House should be constructed in the adjoining Courtyard, and that the present House should be converted into a kind of ante-Chamber. The estimated cost was £120,000, which was a very large item, and when the matter was discussed in the House the following Session, the almost unanimous feeling was against the incurring of that expenditure. The subject had come up again in the first Session of every new Parliament, and the Government generally met it by offering a Committee in the next Session. The last case that had occurred was that with reference to the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington. In 1866, the noble Lord the Member for South Paddington was asked in the first Session of Parliament whether he would grant a Committee to consider the increase of accommodation, and he replied that if the hon. Member who put the question 1340 would bring the matter up in the next Session, and the House desired a Committee, the Government would not oppose the appointment of one, but they would not commit themselves to any scheme which would entail a large expenditure on the present Houses of Parliament That was a very sensible answer, and the result of it was to extinguish the question for the time. In the next Session the questioner did not renew his demand, and the subject dropped. On the whole, he was inclined to think it would now be wise on the part of the House to follow the same course. There were many reasons why it was not desirable to hold an inquiry now. The Bill for the Government of Ireland was before the House, and it was quite possible that the determination of that measure would practically settle the question of whether a large body of Members from Ireland would sit in that House, and under what conditions. It was, at all events, desirable that the question of the accommodation required should be postponed for the present. If seats were to be found for all the present Members, it would be necessary to double the present accommodation. The present House was well adapted for the transaction of ordinary business. There were occasions when it was found too small, and hon. Members were put to inconvenience, but nine nights out of ten it was of a very convenient size for the business transacted in it. Its acoustic properties were good, and hon. Members could make themselves heard without difficulty; but with a Chamber double the size the strain would be great, and resort would have to be had to a tribune, which was the case in foreign countries. The Government, as far as he knew, had no objection to an inquiry, but there were many reasons for postponing it to next year. If the House should be satisfied with that he would undertake that there should be a Committee of Inquiry next year, when they would have had more experience as to what they actually wanted.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said he had been rather alarmed by what the right hon. Gentleman had said as to the great length of time it would take to complete the new Admiralty Buildings. It was essential to the work of the Department that these offices should be built as soon as possible.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said be thought it was regrettable that so long an interval should take place in the completion of the works, but unfortunately it was quite unavoidable. The buildings were in two blocks, and until the first was completed the second could not be started. The first block could not be completed for two years, and the second block would take four or five years; therefore, taking it altogether, seven years would probably elapse.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
asked when the new road from the Mall would be opened into Charing Cross? It would much relieve the traffic, and he hoped it would be done as soon as possible.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said that unfortunately the houses could not be removed until the building was completed.
§ >COLONEL BRIDGEMAN (Bolton)
wanted to know whether there was any hope that the Secretary to the Treasury would make the hours for the opening of the British Museum longer?
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT (Oldham)
said, that matter would be considered, but the Trustees of the British Museum were an independent body, and he would have to confer with them.
§ MR. HANBURY
thought the sum of £ 3,500 for the introduction of electric light into the Foreign Office was a very large one. He did not know why the Foreign Office should be singled out for it. If they were going to introduce the electric light on this scale into all the Government Offices they would rush into an expense of many thousands of pounds.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said the Foreign Office was different from any other Department. It was taken first because work was carried on there later than in any other Office. He did not think the amount excessive, having regard to the building.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
wanted to know what had been done towards renewing the Ordnance maps, whether the surveys were corrected regularly, and who was responsible?
§ MR. STOREY
said, that from a Minute which the Secretary to the Treasury had sent to the House, he found that the £600,000 in respect of the Irish Light Railways would be expended this year, and that the remaining 1342 liabilities of the Government would be met by estimate. He wished to know whether, and when, a Report was going to be made on these railways, and what were the extra liabilities of the Government which would have to be met?
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, that Parliament had only provided for a sum of £600,000 up to the present time for Irish Light Railways, but that as the expenditure contemplated was about £169,000 in excess of the former amount, a Bill would be introduced to make provision for the latter sum.
§ MR. STOREY
said, of course if a Bill was to be introduced there would be an opportunity of discussing the whole policy.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. H. GARDNER,) Essex, Saffron Walden
, replying to the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Jeffreys) said, there had been a Departmental Committee to inquire into the whole subject of the Ordnance Survey. The Committee had done most excellent work and presented a most valuable Report. The recommendations of the Committee might be divided into three classes—one requiring the sanction of the Treasury, another requiring legislative action, and the third requiring Departmental action alone. The recommendation of the Committee with regard to the 1-inch map had been agreed to, and the Treasury had sanctioned the provision of the necessary funds in the Estimates for 1893–4. The other recommendations were at present being carefully considered.
§ MR. FARQUHARSON
inquired whether the Ordnance maps would be coloured so as to indicate what was formerly arable land, but which had now been brought back to pasture.
§ MR. PENROSE FITZGERALD
inquired when the question of telephonic and telegraphic communication between lighthouses, lightships, and the coast could be raised?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
asked the hon. Member to put this question to the President of the Board of Trade, who was absent for the moment.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, there was no separate Vote for this particular purpose, but a special sum of £20,000 had been set apart in the Post Office Vote for providing for coast communication; and, as an experiment, a connection was being made between one light ship and the shore. The other proposals of the Commission which dealt with this whole question were, at present, under consideration, and as soon as the Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade had decided what should be done the matter should be considered by the Treasury, and when the proper time came a Supplemental Estimate would be proposed to provide the necessary amount.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
Then I take it that the proper time will be on the salary of the President of the Board of Trade?
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
moved the reduction of the Vote by £250, in respect of the salary of the Home Secretary, in order to call attention to an accident at the New battle Collieries, Midlothian. He said he had a similar notice on the Paper with regard to the salaries of the Lord Advocate and the Secretary for Scotland, but he made the deduction in respect of the Home Office larger than others because the Homo Secretary was the greatest offender in the matter. On the 9th March a County Councillor, who was also a Magistrate representing the Newbattle district of Midlothian, asked him to put a question to the Lord Advocate, and to try to get a copy of the Report made by the Procurator Fiscal of Midlothian to the Crown Agent of Scotland, showing the result of his investigations, into an accident at the Newbattle Collieries of the 20th January last, whereby John Neesam, one of the constituents of Mr. John Romans (the County Councillor referred to), was killed while descending the pit shaft, and who left a widow and 10 of a family, nearly all under working age. Mr. Romans also asked him to ask for a Report on the accident by the Inspector of Mines, and said that he had exhausted all powers of inquiry in Edinburgh and 1344 had not been able to get any information whatever. The Lord Advocate, in reply to him (Mr. Morton), had refused to lay on the Table the Report of the Procurator Fiscal, because it was contrary to the custom of his Office to do so; and the Home Secretary, a few days afterwards, refused to lay on the Table a copy of the Report of the Inspector of Mines, as he said the Report was a confidential one. He (Mr. Morton) could not see why the matter was confidential. The public, including the miners, had to pay for these Reports, and they had to pay the salaries of the Home Secretary, the Lord Advocate, and the Secretary for Scotland, and the Inspectors. He might bring up a number of cases where there appeared to be no difficulty whatever in getting a copy of the Report of the Inspector of Mines, and in the case of a colliery accident which occurred some little time ago at Wednesbury an inquiry followed, and the Report of the Inspectors was laid upon the Table without any difficulty whatever. What they were demanding really was, however, that there should be some inquiry in Scotland like what they had in England, called a Coroner's Inquest. In this particular accident it was claimed by those on the spot that this accident was preventible with proper machinery, and it appeared to him that it was the duty of the Government to let the men who worked in these places know all they could about the matter. The Trade Union Congress, which met last year in Glasgow, passed unanimously a resolution in favour of some public inquiry into the case of these accidents in Scotland, and they have passed resolutions of a similar character in previous years. The Radical Party were supported by the working-men, and the working-men ought to have the support of the present Government. He would be glad to know whether the Home Secretary had, within the last six months, promised Trade Unionist representatives that there should be something like an open inquiry in Scotland. Apart, however, from the question of public inquiry, he (Mr. Morton) brought forward the Motion more particularly to get copies of the Reports, at least that of the Inspector of Mines. Of course, immediately they went in for secrecy, it was assumed that there was something wrong; and in the case of the accident, 1345 it was assumed that the proprietor, who happened to be a Marquess, or who was a large shareholder, had some particular influence with the Lord Advocate and the Crown Agent to enable their people to refuse to give information to the working-men. He (Mr. Morton) would meantime content himself with moving the reduction of the Secretary of State's salary by £250.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the sum of £16,000, for the Home Office and Subordinate Departments, be reduced by £250."—(Mr. A. C. Morton.)
§ SIR FREDERICK MILNER
wished to call attention to a speech made by the Home Secretary at Liverpool with reference to the Trafalgar Square meetings.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
I rise to order. I moved the reduction of the Vote upon a special matter, and I believe the custom is to get that decided before you wander off into other subjects.
It is quite open to the hon. Baronet on this Vote to refer to the action of the Home Secretary.
§ SIR F. MILNER
, continuing, said, that in his official capacity the Home Secretary received a deputation at the Home Office on the 19th October, 1892, on the subject of meetings in Trafalgar Square, and on that occasion he made use of the following remarks:—In the autumn of the following year, 1887, the privilege of meeting in the Square, which had hitherto been used sparingly and considerately, began to be grossly abused. Meetings were held day after day for a considerable time. They were preceded and followed by processions through the streets—almost daily processions—which obstructed the traffic, which hindered business, which drove away customers from the shops and guests from the hotels, and which not only imposed a serious strain upon the Metropolitan Police, but undoubtedly created a not altogether ill-founded feeling of apprehension and uneasiness in the neighbourhood. I do not hesitate to say that the state of things which grew up at that time constituted an intolerable nuisance, and so long as I am responsible for the peace and good order of the streets of the Metropolis it shall not be permitted to recur. …. Undoubtedly, in my judgment, a very grave and serious state of affairs existed.That was, he thought, a very statesmanlike attitude on the part of the Home Secretary. It might be questioned whether he was wise in re-opening the Square to meetings, but so long as the 1346 Home Secretary kept the key of the Square practically at the Home Office, and allowed no meetings to take place there without due permission, so that proper precautions might be taken, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was right. When addressing the deputation the Home Secretary took a statesmanlike view of the matter, acknowledged the difficulties of his Predecessor, and admitted there was good reason for stopping the meetings in the Square. But then the Homo Secretary went to Liverpool, and there, addressing himself more to the gallery than to the interests of the country, he assumed a totally different attitude on this question. He said at Liverpool—I found myself unable to conceive why the privilege which had been enjoyed until it was arbitrarily and wantonly interfered with without any cause of complaint should be permanently taken away from the people of London.He considered that that was a most mischievous utterance for a person in the position of the Homo Secretary to make. It was all very well to say that it was an extra-Parliamentary speech, but the words of a gentleman filling the responsible post of Home Secretary carried weight, and they carried all the more weight when it was remembered that the right hon. Gentleman himself was counsel for the rioters charged with the disgraceful disturbances in the Square, and that—no doubt doing his duty—he warmly espoused their cause on that occasion. But that circumstance added considerably to the gravity of this occurrence at, Liverpool. When the right hon. Gentleman said that these meetings were wantonly interfered with without any adequate cause of complaint he practically condoned the proceedings which he condemned at the Home Office. To show that this speech had created mischief he might mention that the patrons of disorder had quoted it as an argument that the public had an absolute right to the Square without permission from the Home Office, and in support of their contention that they had this right they had pointed out that the Home Secretary had receded from the point taken up by him when addressing the deputation at the Home Office, and had stated that the conduct of the late Government was absolutely unjustifiable. There was nothing to justify the Home 1347 Secretary in saying that these meetings had been arbitrarily and wantonly interfered with without any cause of complaint. He thought public men ought to be very careful in their utterances, for considerable mischief might be done by unguarded observations of this character. They had had proof of the mischief caused by extra-Parliamentary utterances in the case of the Transvaal and Egypt. Statements of Ministers on public platforms were seriously considered by the county, and they ought, therefore, to be careful what they said. He hoped the Home Secretary would frankly admit that in his statement at Liverpool he made a slip, and would revert to the statesmanlike attitude he assumed when addressing the deputation at the Home Office. He disclaimed any discourtesy to the Home Secretary in bringing this matter forward, but having seen the use that was being made of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, he felt it a public duty to draw attention to the fact in order that the Home Secretary might make it clear that he meant what he said at the Home Office.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
I want to point out to the House exactly how we are situated with regard to the time that still remains for the discussion of the Vote on Account. I want to point out to the House that it is absolutely essential and indispensable that the Vote on Account should be taken to-day before 10 minutes to 7. That will not preclude further discussion on the matters in the Vote upon the Report of the Vote on Account, because the Report on the Vote of Account is not subject to any limitation of time, whether it is taken on Wednesday or Thursday. But as to the Vote on Account itself it must be taken to-day, in order that it shall be possible to issue orders for the payment of various persons who have to be paid on Monday next. For that purpose the Vote on Account must be taken to-day, and we must get the Report of the Vote on Account at the latest by Thursday, and by the process of expediting matters it will then be possible for Her Majesty to sign the warrants upon the Vote on Account on Friday, and the warrant may return on Monday. If we do not have the warrant on Monday, payments which are due 1348 cannot be made. I only rise for the purpose of putting the House in possession of the facts as to how we are situated with reference to time, and to point out that in dealing with the Vote on Account to-day we are not precluded from further discussion on the Report of the Vote, which is not subject to any limitation of hours.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I think the Committee will perceive that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman shows most clearly and distinctly how greatly the Government had been to blame in postponing the taking of the Vote on Account. Remonstrances have been made over and over again from this side of the House with regard to the action they indicated their intention of taking, but they wore treated with indifference. In spite of the appeals of the Leader of the Opposition, made over and over again, to take this Vote at a time when it could be properly and reasonably discussed, the Government chose to take their own course in the matter, and whatever the consequences they must be held entirely responsible for them. I wish to point out to the right hon. Gentleman who has not been much in the House this afternoon, in consequence of the repeated charges of obstruction made against the Tory Party, that certainly three-fourths of the time occupied during this afternoon has been occupied by supporters of the Government themselves; and whether that time has been occupied by supporters of the Government or not, I have only this to say—that, in my opinion, not one word has been said on either side of the House which was not perfectly justified by the importance of the question before us. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman this question: He says if the House will consent to take this Vote to-night there will be further opportunity of discussing questions more fully on Report. But when does he propose to take the Report stage? Does he propose to put it down for to-morrow, and take it as the first Order of the Day? The right hon. Gentleman can give notice, and take tomorrow for this purpose in precisely the same way as he proposes to take the Wednesdays after Easter for Government Business. I do not know whether the Government wish to avoid taking tomorrow for any particular purpose. I are aware that there is an Irish measure 1349 down for to-morrow—no doubt a measure of importance—but not of more importance than are the Bills standing first for a great number of Wednesdays after Easter. I would, therefore, suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should take the course I have ventured to indicate, and it will probably facilitate the getting of the Vote to-night.
§ MR. HANBURY
hoped the right hon. Gentleman would have some consideration for Public Business. He had taken Wednesdays already this Session, and why could he not take to-morrow for bringing on the Report of the Vote on Account. He endorsed what had been said by the last speaker, that if there had been any waste of time that afternoon—and he did not admit that there had—it had been mainly on the part of the supporters of the Government. Out of some 30 questions on the Paper that day 20 were put down by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who, in addition, put many supplemental questions. But, passing from private Members on the Government side, they had a much more serious complaint against the Government, because this was the first time within the last 10 years that a Vote on Account had over been brought on at this late period.
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Clare, E.)
I rise to a point of Order. I wish to ask you whether we are now discussing the Vote on Account, or whether we are going into another Vote of Censure on the Government?
The hon. Member is in Order. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made an appeal, which is being answered by the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. HANBURY
observed that the interruption to which he had just been subjected was one of those needless interruptions to which hon. Members on that side of the House were becoming accustomed. When he was so interrupted he was stating as a matter of fact that the Government, for the first time in 10 years, had broken through a hitherto unbroken rule in bringing on the Vote on Account at so late a date, and as to the discussion on the Vote it had for the first time for many years been compressed within the limits, not of one day but of half a day. The chief duty of that House was to vote Supplies, but in this the Government had signally failed, and 1350 the right hon. Gentleman himself, after having grossly mismanaged Public Business, now wanted to burk discussion. The Government thought, apparently, that their chief duty was to attempt to rush a great number of Bills through the House in the hope of gaining a certain amount of temporary popularity. The Government had delayed this Vote in order to burk proper discussion, and to so shorten the holidays that the Home Rule Bill could not be discussed during the Easter Recess, and in face of such facts he wished to know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to move the Closure upon this Vote for £4,500,000. Would the right hon. Gentleman be content, in the exceptional circumstances of the case, to take a Vote on Account for one month only, which would not be unreasonable considering the circumstances under which the Vote was taken? They had a right to ask the right hon. Gentleman, if he was going to burk discussion on the Vote on Account to-day, would he promise that no further Vote on Account would be brought forward, and that Supply, which was the proper business of the country, would be brought on at a reasonable period of the Session. The main issue between the Government and the Opposition was this: that the Government were for pressing forward their own measures, while the Opposition wore for doing the ordinary business of the country, and the Opposition would take every step possible, consistent with the ordinary Rules of the House, to press on Supply, which, as he had said, it was the first duty of Parliament to deal with.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The hon. Member says I can be very moderate and conciliatory when I have an object to gain. Well, I have an object to gain in this case, and that is that the law shall be observed, in view of which this Vote on Account is proposed, in order that the proper payments may be made. I have asked what will happen if the Vote on Account is not taken to-day, and I have been told that the result would be that it would he impossible to pay the Irish Constabulary—a result which, I am sure, hon. Gentlemen opposite would not wish to bring about. I do not desire, however, to enter into any 1351 recrimination or any controversial matter, and I only rose to explain to the House how they are situated. Debate cannot take place on the Vote on Account on Thursday, but it may be taken tomorrow. The hon. Member asks for an undertaking that we will not bring forward another Vote on Account. I am afraid I cannot give that undertaking, but I agree with him generally in the view that, after a Vote on Account, unless there are exceptional circumstances intervening, we ought to go on with regular Supply.
§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
did not wish to adopt, the course the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Hanbury) had declared it to be his intention to follow—namely, to retard the Business of the House. He, however, desired to support the proposal of the hon. Member for Peterborough, and he could not sit there without making a protest against the way in which inquiries into fatal accidents were managed in Scotland. The hon. Member assumed that there was something radically wrong in the Scotch system; but he (Mr. Weir) could assure him that there was no need at all for assumption—things were radically wrong. The policy of "hush up" had been adopted in Scotland for years in these matters, and it prevailed to-day. Procurators Fiscal were often the agents of the landlords, and therefore it suited their purpose to hush up important facts. He referred to the case of a clergyman at Portree, whose death resulted from a fall on a dark night between a steamer and the quay Avail; and because he had a small flask in his pocket the rumour was circulated that he was under the influence of liquor. As there was no public inquiry, there was no chance of contradicting this foul and calumnious report. Inquiry by the Procurator Fiscal ought to be abolished, or it should be conducted in public. [Cries of "Divide!"] He reminded the hon. Gentlemen who cried "Divide" that he had occupied less time than the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. ASQUITH
On this Motion to reduce my salary, perhaps the House will allow me to say a few words. First with regard to the remarks of the hon. 1352 Baronet opposite (Sir F. Milner). It is not necessary that I should say much, as he did not attack my administrative conduct in the least. On the contrary, he appears to be rather pleased with what I have done. If I did not mistake him, I think he even applied the epithet "statesmanlike" to the regulations affecting Trafalgar Square. It is flattering to me that the hon. Baronet should have thought it worth while to occupy 10 minutes of the time of the House in arguing whether or not in two public extra-Parliamentary utterances of mine I was or was not consistent with myself. I believe, however, that they were consistent. There was no inconsistency either in the two statements of mine which the hon. Baronet has referred to. What I said upon both occasions was this, in substance, that there was no case, in my judgment, in what took place in 1887 to justify the permanent exclusion of the people of London from the privilege of public meeting in Trafalgar Square. I did admit, and I admit now, that there was abundant reason in what took place in 1887 to justify temporary restriction and permanent regulation. I have adopted the plan of permanent regulation, and I am glad to say that, up to the present moment—and we have nearly got to the end of the winter—the new system, having been tried for several months, has completely answered our expectations. There has not been a single case of disorder or of abuse in connection with the meetings that have been held in the Square, owing to the admirable tact and good temper of the police on the one side, and the equally admirable good temper and spirit of moderation of the people of London on the other. We have established a modus vivendi which I venture to hope will be permanently satisfactory. I say nothing more with reference to that. Now I come to the much more serious question raised by the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. A. C. Morton) as to the accident that took place at Newbattle. I think my hon. Friend has confused two things totally distinct. The first is the desirability of public inquiry in Scotland into fatal accidents, and the second is, as to whether I, as head of the Home Office, am bound to lay a confidential Report by a subordinate on the Table of the House. As to the expediency of public inquiry, 1353 I go a great length with the hon. Gentleman. I regret very much that the law of Scotland differs from the law of England on this matter. The English system of public inquiries in case of an accident, where evidence is taken on oath and cross-examination allowed, I regard as one of the best safeguards against abuse, and one of the best securities for the maintenance of the protection which is necessary in the prosecution of dangerous employments like that of mining. I do not think I have ever made any promise on this question; but so far as my own personal opinion goes, if I were approached on the subject, I should give an answer very much in the sense indicated.
§ MR. PICKARD
thought the right hon. Gentleman had made a promise to a deputation of minors the other day.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The point upon which I said I thought the law of England and Scotland ought to be assimilated was with reference to juries in Sheriff' Courts, in actions under the Employers' Liability Act in Scotland. They cannot have a jury in the Sheriff Court, and I say that is an absurd anomaly. It has never been the practice to lay on the Table confidential Reports from Mining Inspectors. Such a course would greatly hamper the freedom of the Inspectors in expressing their opinions. After reading with great care the Report with reference to the Newbattle accident, I have come to the conclusion that, however regrettable the accident was, there was no case of infringement of the law.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR,) Clackmannan, &c.
said that, according to the system which prevailed in Scotland, there was an investigation held by the Procurator Fiscal, and reported to the Crown Office. With regard to all deaths which were not clearly due to natural causes, the primary object of these inquiries was to see whether there was or was not any case for instituting criminal proceedings. That had been generally satisfactory in Scotland, apart from the particular case of accidents. In the last Commission which sat upon this question, and which reported in 1870 or 1871, the result of the evidence was to show that there was no reason why a 1354 system of Coroner's inquests should be introduced into Scotland. He was quite aware that a somewhat different feeling existed in regard to fatal accidents occurring in great and important industries, and in some cases, where such accidents had occurred, resulting in the loss of many lives, inquiries had been held under special Commissions issued by the Home Office or the Scottish Office. He instanced the cases of the Blantyre and Mauricewood mining accidents, and the capsizing of a steamer in the Clyde immediately after launching, in regard to which public inquiries had been held. It was felt by many persons that that very exceptional course did not cover the whole ground, and that, having regard to the object in view, public inquiries in regard to accidents should be instituted. If that should appear to be the prevalent desire of the people of Scotland, the Government would most sympathetically consider it, and take steps for carrying it out. He thought what had passed that day, and what one heard otherwise, made it very fit that the special case of accidents should be reconsidered.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he should like to know whether the Secretary for Scotland was in accord with the Home Secretary and the Lord Advocate in regard to public inquiries?
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, he was agreed in principle with the Home Secretary that in all cases of fatal accidents there ought to be publicity, and that the measures necessary to bring that about should be inquired into. He approved of legislation in the matter.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he was satisfied with the answers of the right hon. Gentlemen, and he would withdraw his Motion for the reduction of the Vote, and he desired that they would understand that in bringing the matter forward he had not intended to in any way reflect personally on the hon. Gentleman.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. LEGH (Lancashire, S.W., Newton)
said, he had a Motion on the Paper to reduce the Vote for the Foreign Office by £100 in order to call attention to a grievance suffered by the junior members of the Diplomatic Service. 1355 Some Members might not be aware of the fact that when candidates had passed their examination for the Service they were employed in the Foreign Office for two years without receiving pay. Up to quite recently, on the expiration of those two years, these young men received a salary of £150 a year, and upon passing an examination in International Law an additional allowance of £100 a year. When the Royal Commission on the Civil Service sat a few years ago they recommended that this allowance of £100 a year should be discontinued, and in its place that their payment as attachés should commence when their examination was passed and they began to fulfil their duties. Now he observed that the authorities had adopted one portion of the recommendation and had rejected the other; in other words, they had cut off £100 a year from the salaries of the Third Secretaries, and these Secretaries did not receive, as formerly, the additional allowance of £100 a year for passing the examination in International Law after they had served their two years. He thought it would be admitted that these gentlemen had been treated in an exceptionally shabby manner. If it had been proposed that from the salaries of persons holding high positions there should be taken off £1,000 a year it would be found very difficult to carry out the recommendation. Unfortunately, the young men whose case he was pleading had not many friends. Theirs was a case of undoubted hardship which called for some remedy, and unless he received a favourable answer, if he could secure a Teller, he should press the matter to a Division.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £6,000, for the Foreign Office, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Legh.)
§ SIR E. GREY
said that, undoubtedly, the hon. Member had a case, and he would not say that he had stated it unfairly, but at the same time he hoped he would not go to a Division on the point, which was one upon which it was not necessary to detain the Committee at any length. It was true the Royal Commission recommended that the additional payment of £100 a year to those attachés who passed in International Law should be discontinued, and that the Government had 1356 not thought it right to disregard the recommendation. The Commission also recommended that equivalent compensation should be made after the allowance had been discontinued. It was felt by those who had to do with the matter that there had been a delay in carrying out the second part of the recommendation, but that delay did not altogether originate with the present Government; it was caused by a fact which always led to delay—namely, the fact that the change would occasion additional expenditure. The original allowance having been discontinued, it was necessary to obtain money to effect the compensation, and that had caused the delay. He could assure the hon. Member that the delay was felt by the Government to be a matter of regret, and when the hon. Member asked for an explanation he (Sir E. Grey) hoped he would accept the assurance that the matter was receiving serious attention. He (Sir E. Grey) hoped the hon. Member would not press his Motion to a Division.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
asked whether the hon. Baronet was in a position to say that a remedy would be absolutely applied? It was not sufficient to say that the delay was felt to be a matter of regret. Would the hon. Baronet consider the case of these Civil servants at once?
§ SIR E. GREY
said, their case was being considered now, and his regret was that it had not been possible earlier to bring that consideration to an end. He was anxious to bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion, and he could assure the hon. Member that it was not lost sight of.
§ SIR E. GREY
said, he could not do that. He could only say that the Government were doing their utmost to bring the matter to a satisfactory settlement.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
asked whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer could say when the matter would be settled?
MR. WOOTTONISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
asked whether the Report of Supply would be taken to-morrow? If so, he would postpone some 1357 observations he wished to make on this Vote.
§ MR. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
said, he understood from the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs that the delay did not rest with his Department, but the hon. Baronet had not answered the question as to when a decision would be arrived at. The question was: Would those who were entitled to the money receive it when a decision was arrived at? The subject was one of importance, and, though he did not wish to press it unduly, he thought that some one on the Treasury Bench should be able to answer the hon. and gallant Member.
§ SIR E. GREY
said without hesitation he could state that he had intended to convey to the Committee that the consideration which was being given to the subject was with a view to providing fun Is to make this compensatory allowance.
§ MR. HOZIER
asked whether the hitch was in the Foreign Office or at the Treasury, because, if at the latter, his experience as an old Foreign Office man taught him that the Foreign Office was only too glad to be backed up by the House against the Treasury.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 74; Noes 299.—(Division List, No. 50.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
Considering the exigencies of the Public Service, I do not think that I ought to withhold this matter from the judgment of the Committee.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 253; Noes 135.—(Division List, No. 51.)
§ Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when the Report of the Vote will be taken?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman may be able to inform us why notice cannot be given to-night that the Report will be taken as the first Order to-morrow. The light hon. Gentleman will remember that last Wednesday the Appropriation Bill was taken as the first Order, and I cannot see why the Report of the Vote on Account should not also be taken as the first Order, especially in view of the fact that it has been closured after only about £400,000 have been discussed, while about £3,000,000 remains still to be discussed. The greater part of the time this afternoon has been occupied by Members on the Government side of the House. On one occasion two Ministers followed each other, and were followed after a minute, or two by a third. I only mention this to show that no fault whatever attaches to this side of the House, if the proceedings have been prolonged this afternoon. In order to give a fair opportunity to gentlemen who have been deprived of the right of discussing the Vote in Committee, and in the interests of fair play, I venture to suggest that the Report should be taken the first thing to-morrow.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The Appropriation Bill was put down last week as the first Order because it was presumed, and, indeed, Mr. Speaker stated, that that stage of the Appropriation Bill was not contentious business. The Vote on Account has been discussed at length; but if it is taken at half-past 5 tomorrow, it can be discussed at any further length, and it can also be discussed on Thursday, so that really there can, practically speaking, be two days' discussion upon it if that is desired.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
I only wish to put this to the right hon. Gentleman: that there was no such exigency of the Public Service, and that it was in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to have given us Wednesday for the Committee. [Cries of "Spoke!"]
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The power of going on after half-past 5 applies to the Report and not to the Vote. That is why we could not put the Vote down to-morrow, but could the Report.
§ SIR M. HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
Does the right hon. Gentleman think that after half-past 5 we shall have any opportunity of discussing it?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)
It is very unusual for gentlemen on the Front Opposition Bench to break the Rules of the House.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.
§ It being Seven of the clock, Mr. Speaker suspended the Sitting until Nine of the clock.