1. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £48,719, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1894, for Expenditure in respect of Miscellaneous Legal Buildings— namely, County Courts, Metropolitan Police Courts, and Sheriff Court Houses, Scotland.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
said, when the Committee last met, the subject of the Vote for London Police Courts was discussed, and several hon. Members expressed the opinion that they ought to be paid for out of the London rates. In London, however, they maintained that, so far from being unduly favoured in comparison with other districts, they had, on the contrary, great reason to complain. He did not allude to the scanty representation accorded to the Metropolis, but to the financial treatment they experienced. A considerable part of the police expenditure was for Imperial purposes. The London police was in the hands of the Home Office, and cost no less than £1,600,000, or 5d. in the £1, while in other boroughs it was only 4d. A difference of 1d. in the £1 amounted to £130,000 a year. Again, the Hackney Carriage Licences, amounting to £38,000 a year, in other boroughs went to the borough rate. Again, in the City of London the whole of the police expenses were paid out of rates, and the Imperial Government contributed nothing. These items together placed London at a disadvantage of over £200,000 a year as compared with other boroughs. But that was not all. The President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler) in his recent Report pointed out that, whereas the contribution from the Imperial Government towards local expenses amounted in other county boroughs to 10d., in counties to 9.6d., in London it was only 8.6d. Here, again, the difference amounted to over £100,000 a 1289 year. In fact, so far from being unduly favoured, London was unfairly treated to the extent of something like £400,000 a year, and they would certainly resist any additional burdens being thrown on them. He would not, of course, go into the whole question just then; but he felt sure that when the Committee had the whole facts before them they would see that they in London suffered under a very great disadvantage in this matter.
§ *MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)
said, the hon. Member for North Islington (Mr. Bartley) was rather precipitate in his method of dealing with this matter on a former occasion. There was much to be said in favour of London paying for its Police Courts. But if this change was made, they would have to go into an inquiry as to whether the Metropolis was not called upon in other matters to bear far more than its share of the public expenditure. In the provincial towns the fees and fines obtained in the Police Courts went to the Municipal Authority maintaining them, and in that way relief was given to such authority. In London at present the fees went to the State. The fees and fines received in the Metropolitan Courts, amounting in 1891 to £26,889, were paid into the Imperial Exchequer. If the proposed change was made it was obvious that this large sum should go to the local funds, to be applied towards defraying the cost of the Courts. He anticipated that the whole question of the relation between the finances of the County of London and those of the Exchequer would have to be gone into at some future time, and he hoped when that time came justice would be done to London.
§ *MR. JAMES STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the London University had put the case of London with such admirable point and justice that it was not necessary to add a word to what he had said to the Committee. He (Mr. Stuart) wished to express his sympathy with the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. He would not have intervened in the Debate but for the remark of the hon. Member for Chelsea, that this was a small matter as compared with others that had been mentioned. It was important that a relief should be given to London rates, in comparison with burdens in the other large 1290 centres of the country. He would refer the hon. Member to the Report which had lately been issued by the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. H. H. Fowler). The hon. Member might have in recollection that the inequality that now existed was mainly due to the late Government, and was supported by the hon. Member's friends, whilst he (Mr. Stuart) and his hon. Friends representing London did all they could to relieve the London burdens, in comparison with other burdens as already mentioned. The Bill of 1888 established a difference between the aid given to London and County rates of 1¾d. in the £1. The rates of London had been relieved of 4¼d., and the rates of other County Boroughs 6d. in the £1, whereas the country districts were relieved of rather more than 5¾d. It was that Bill which had introduced the great inequality between the relief given to London from the central fund and that given to the rates of the country. He and his friends had endeavoured to rectify this state of things, but were strenuously opposed at that time by hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were now endeavouring to obtain a little cheap popularity. He seconded all that had been said by the Member for London University, and hoped that, before long, relief would be given to London burdens, as compared with the burdens of other parts of the country. In bringing about that result they would be glad to see all exceptional circumstances taken into account.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
I will not say anything about the allocation of Imperial Funds to local purposes at present; but as to the Metropolitan Police Courts it is said you ought not to throw on London the cost of maintaining them, unless you also give to London the fines and fees levied in them. The hon. Member said that the fines and fees are taken by the Local Authorities in the Municipal Boroughs. But I would point out that the Municipal Boroughs pay for their own Magistrates and Magistrates' Clerks, whereas the salaries of the London Police Magistrates and their Clerks are paid out of the Imperal Exchequer. There are 23 Magistrates in London, and as the salary of each is 1291 £1,500 a year, it will be seen that the fines and fees would not cover that expenditure as well as make provision for the staff at each Court. When it is said that London has not the advantage of drawing fines and fees, I would point out that London has the great advantage of drawing on the taxpayers of the United Kingdom for amounts which ought to be paid out of the Local Funds. I admit that the whole case of London finance is a difficult question, and I should be the last to maintain that London has obtained justice under the present arrangement.
§ *MR. WHITMORE
said, his argument was that if London in future had to pay out of its own resources for the maintenance of the Police Courts and Magistrates, the fees and fines obtained in them should go to the London local exchequer.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, the hon. Member opposite (Mr. J. Stuart) had referred to some of them as trying to get popularity out of their opposition to the Vote. He would remind the hon. Member that he (Mr. Bartley) had always advocated London paying for its own Courts. He had always supported the hon. Member for Northampton in those Motions. No doubt this was part of a larger question, and when the whole subject came to be dealt with, no doubt it would be more complicated than it was at this particular time. But he thought that they ought to show that they were bonâ fide in their desire that the cost of maintaining the Police Courts should be borne by the localities. He was opposed to Imperial taxation assisting, as it was called, local taxation. The two ought to be kept as separate as possible. This might not be a very popular view to take of the matter, but it was a strictly financial one. These Police Courts were special to London, and were not at all of an Imperial nature. The hon. Member for Northampton had intended to reduce this Vote of £7,516 by £7,000. He had spoken very boldly, and had then run away without moving a reduction. He (Mr. Bartley), therefore, would move to reduce the Vote by £50, as an intimation that this particular item should be put upon the Local Authority.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed) "That Item G, New Works and Metropolitan Police Court Buildings, be reduced by £50."—(Mr. Bartley.)
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
I rise to say a few words which may induce the hon. Gentleman not to press his Motion to a Division. The hon. Member for Northampton did propose a reduction in the Vote, but withdrew his Motion on the intimation that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be prepared to deal with the question before another year came round. I will state what has taken place since we discussed this matter a few weeks ago. Since that discussion the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given instructions for a letter to be written to the County Council, and I have already undertaken the duty of writing it, setting forth the opinion of the Treasury with respect to taking this item of expenditure off the Imperial Funds and placing it on the funds of the County Council. That letter will, I hope, satisfy the hon. Member who has moved the reduction, and will give the London County Council a chance of considering the whole question. I do not think that this is the time to go into the question of Imperial finance and County Council finance, as against county finance. I have always been of opinion that this expenditure ought, in fairness to other parts of the United Kingdom, to be placed on the Metropolis; and I trust that, looking at the intentions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we shall he able, before another year (tomes round, to arrive at some agreement with the County Council with respect to this matter. I rise to say this in the hope that it will induce the hon. Member not to press this Motion to a Division.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he was pleased to hear the remarks of the Secretary to the Treasury to the effect that there would be some attempt made to alter the present arrangement, and to get purely local charges put on the Local Bodies, so that equal justice would be done all round, which ought to have been done in 1888, when the allocation took place under the Local Government Act. The right hon. Gentle-man the Secretary to the Treasury had not informed them of one thing. If they were going to re-adjust the question of the Police Courts, they must re-adjust the 1293 whole question of the civil administration of justice, and they must deal with the question of the control of the police. This was a question as to whether certain charges now borne by the Imperial Funds should be borne by the Local Authorities, and it was not a question of a reduction of £50 or £7,000; because, if hon. Gentlemen would glance at the full amount of the Vote, they would see that something like £50,000 was involved. This would have to be dealt with as a whole. He took it that the hon. Member for North Islington, in moving the reduction of the Vote, wished, as one of his Colleagues had put it, to appear very heroic. There were always hon. Gentlemen in the House prepared to give London something when it cost nothing; but when it came to going into the Division Lobby on the question of giving extended powers to London they always found those hon. Gentlemen voting against such extension. He should vote against this reduction, because he believed they could not deal with this question by a simple reduction. The moment they had an opportunity given them of dealing with the whole question of local charges they would be prepared to go into it. They would not assent to London being deprived of anything it now received until they had a thorough re-adjustment and London was treated in the same way as the rest of the country.
said, he did not think it necessary to go into the whole question of the amount London should receive from the general funds. The question now was simply with regard to the Police Courts—whether the Provinces ought to pay for them, or whether the cost should be thrown entirely upon London? The hon. Member opposite had said he (Mr. Labouchere) had moved an Amendment and was now going to run away. He had moved his Amendment time after time, even when the Party opposite were in power, but had never succeeded in getting a majority in favour of it. All that he cared for was that the thing should be done, and the question was what was the best way to obtain that end? It certainly seemed to him that when a responsible Minister said that he agreed with the principle, and would attempt to carry it out next year, that it would be a mistake to go to a Division. 1294 At the present time the London County Council could not raise money for the Police Courts even if they wished. It would be ultra vires. If he had carried his Motion to reduce the Vote by the sum of £7,000 it would have been necessary to put the sum back on Report because it was evident that London could not go without its Police Courts, and in a lesser degree the same argument would apply to the proposed reduction of £50. But were they sure that they would carry a reduction if they went to a Division, and what would be the result if they did not? Why, it was understood that if hon. Members did not accept the pledges of the Government and went to a Division and were beaten the Government were freed from those pledges. For his own part, he desired to hold the Government to their pledges. If no action was taken in the matter by the Government next year they would go to a Division, and if they did he believed they would carry a reduction. The answer of the Government to-day, however, had been so ample and practical that he believed if hon. Members took a Division they would be beaten, and do more harm than good in the cause they were espousing.
MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
did not think the answer of the Government was a practical one. They did not deal with the particular item which was the subject of attack, but said they had written to the London County Council raising the general question of the charge for the Police Courts, and a large number of other questions involving great complications. What they wanted to do was to get rid of the gross injustice which was very deeply felt in the London constituencies of the London Police Courts receiving assistance from the Imperial Funds while the local Police Courts had to be supported locally. It seemed to him that the Motion of the hon. Member opposite was a direct attack upon that state of things; therefore, he hoped he would press it to a, Division, notwithstanding the consequences the hon. Member for Northampton threatened them with.
§ MR. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
I did not understand the Secretary to the Treasury to state the case as the hon. Gentleman has just put it. I understood him to say that, although there 1295 was a very large question, he had communicated with the London County Council with reference to a particular item—the Police Courts—or that he was about to.
§ MR. JACKSON
Presumably the communication will be made before very long. I understood the Secretary to the Treasury to go further than that, and to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was prepared to deal with the matter before the next Estimates are proposed. I take it, therefore, as far as the Police Courts are concerned, that this is the last time the item will appear on the Estimates.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that he said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had promised to deal with it before the next Estimates. It seems, then, from what we have heard from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board and from the Secretary to the Treasury that the Government are of opinion that this change should be made. I think we may be reasonably satisfied with the pledge we have received. I do not know whether this promise is confined to the buildings, or whether it extends to the more important question of who is to bear the expense of the salaries of the Police Magistrates. I should have been glad if the Secretary to the Treasury had told us something on that point. It would be tinkering only to deal with the buildings and not to touch the larger question. Whether London receives its fair share is a much larger question. My impression is that the late President of the Local Government Board was of opinion that London does not get its fair share. If the point is to be raised we should have a full opportunity of examining the whole question. I should be glad if the right hon. Gentleman would inform us whether his communication to the London County Council proposes that they should consider only the question of buildings, or whether they should deal also with the question of how the charge for Police Magistrates is to be borne in future?
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
I am anxious to confine the discussion as far as possible to the Vote, and I wish to avoid stating anything as to the larger question of the taxation of the Metropolis and as to the Police Magistrates and the police. At present the intention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to deal with the question of buildings. I cannot say whether the whole question of the Magistrates will be entered upon; but the London County Council will have an opportunity of dealing with the whole question.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, he could understand the desire of the Secretary to the Treasury to confine this controversy to the question of the Police Courts; but he thought that if the House of Commons were going to deal with the matter at all they should deal with it as a whole. If they were going to place the whole burden of this item on the London County Council, no one would deny that it would be difficult to withhold from them the control of the police.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
We propose now to write a letter to the London County Council to give that Body an opportunity of stating their views.
MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
wished to know what was the use of making any representation to the London County Council on this particular head, inasmuch as the County Council had no legal means of taking this charge on themselves? The Provincial Corporations had power to levy a rate for Police Courts, but the London County Council had no such power.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK
said, his contention was that as the Metropolitan Police cost no less than £1,600,000, or 3d, in the £1 on the rateable value—which was £130,000 more than ought to be paid— and considering that the Metropolitan Police discharged a great many Imperial duties, if the question was raised at all it should be raised as a whole.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he did not see the close connection between the police and the Magistrates' Courts. There was a much closer connection between the Police Courts and the payment of the Magistrates. They formed a part of the same question, and he had 1297 been astonished to hear the Secretary to the Treasury adduce as a reason for passing the item that he was about to bring a part of the question before the London County Council. If the London County Council paid for anything at all it would have to pay for the Courts and the Magistrates too, as was done in the Provinces. Members who represented large Provincial towns could not understand why London should be placed in a different position to other towns in regard to the police and Magistrates. What was the exceptional character of the Police Courts of London? Extradition cases were heard at Bow Street no doubt, and an exception should be made in the case of that Court; but in the case of the other Courts it was ridiculous to say that they were in any sense international, or that they ought to be treated in a different manner to Provincial Police Courts. Clerkenwell, Greenwich, Lambeth, Southwark, Woolwich— all these Courts were essentially local Courts. It was in that sense that opposition was being offered to the Vote by hon. Members who represented the Provinces. he did not think the promise to refer the question to those who had no legal powers in the matter would be of any use to them.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
I would point out that it will be impossible to introduce a Bill until we have arrived at some kind of agreement with the London County Council.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he and his hon. Friends said they should object to a Bill which dealt with one part of the question only. The Government would deal with the Magistrates as well as the Courts, and yet on that the most important part of the question they were not going to consult the London County Council.
§ SIR J.T. HIBBERT
I say we have not yet deluded whether the question of the Magistrates shall be included with the buildings.
§ MR. HANBURY
thought that if they did not get a promise that all these questions would be considered together a Division should be taken. He observed that most of the Police Courts were rented, yet he saw charges for repairs and alterations—in the case of the Thames Street Court, £315; and in that of the Southwark Court, £401. What did these charges mean?
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that even then it seemed that they were spending large sums of money on these Courts. Before he assented to the money being voted he should require to know the length of the leases.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. SHAW-LEFEVRE,) Bradford, Central
said, that most of the buildings were originally taken on 99 years' leases. Large sums of money had been spent in warming and ventilating.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
thought it would be a great advantage if Magistrates and Courts could be brought into the same Vote; but they could not do that. This Vote affected buildings—the salaries were on the Consolidated Fund. If the Motion to reduce the Vote were carried it would only affect the buildings, and would in no way prejudice the question of the salaries of the Police Magistrates. The only way they could raise that question would be on the question of the salaries of the Police Commissioners, or of the salary of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He agreed that all these charges ought to be thrown on the Metropolis; but they would not advance the. matter further even if they carried the reduction of £50. Indeed, they would prejudice these cases if the Division went against them. It was, therefore, very much as the Prime Minister said the other day, "Heads I win, tails you lose." If anyone could show that, by dividing against this Vote, the Committee would in any sense put the Government under an obligation of taking the salaries of the Police Magistrates off the Consolidated Fund, he should certainly divide against it. That, however, would be impossible, because that was not the question raised by the proposed reduction. The proper course to adopt was to move a reduction of the salary of some Minister who was responsible for the present state of things. If such a reduction could be carried, the Committee might be absolutely certain that the reform which so many Members desired would be carried out in the following year.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
said, he had voted on two or three occasions against this charge being put upon the Consolidated Fund, and he 1299 should have done so this year but for the undertaking given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he would endeavour to meet the views of hon. Members before the next Budget. He had always objected to London being put in a different position from other large towns. To his mind it was somewhat disgraceful to London that the Metropolis was not allowed to manage its Police Courts and its Police Force in the same way as other towns. Next year, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not carry out his undertaking, he (Mr. Morton) should certainly join in attacking the Vote.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
said, he was sorry that the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was not going to vote for the reduction; but he could not help admiring the hon. Member's flexibility and adaptability. The hon. Member seemed to change his opinions as he changed from one side of the House to the other. As the Representative of an agricultural constituency, he (Major Rasch) thought he should not be doing his duty to his constituents if he did not support the Vote. He could not conceive anything more unfair than to pay out of the taxes for the maintenance of the London Police Courts, when people in the country had to pay for their police out of their miserable local rates. With wheat at 25s. a quarter, it was rather hard that the Government should exempt any localities from the payment of taxation which they clearly ought to pay, and should refuse absolutely to give any assistance in the direction of reform, beyond writing a letter to the County Council, which the Council would probably not answer.
§ *MR. FREEMAN-MITFORD
said, the present state of things was altogether indefensible, although it was evident that any alteration must be of an extremely complicated character. At the present moment there was nobody to whom these buildings could be handed over if the Government gave up the control of them, because there existed no Body with any funds which would enable them to look after them properly. He thought Bow Street stood in altogether an exceptional position, as it was, perhaps, the one Police Court in this Metropolis which had a distinctly Imperial character. Something had been 1300 said about the necessity, if the Police Courts were handed over to the Representatives of London, of handing the Police over also. That was an absolute and entire non sequitur. There was no reason why the Metropolitan Police should not remain under Government control, whilst all the Police Courts except Bow Street were handed over to the London County Council.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
wished to know why the Commissioners of Works had not bought the freehold of the South Western Police Court site instead of putting up an expensive building on a leasehold site? It was well known that after erecting a building the land on which it was built could not be obtained as cheaply as before the building was put up.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the transaction referred to by the hon. Member occurred before he himself went into Office, and all he could say was that the Government were anxious in every case to obtain the land on which their buildings were erected.
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
said, he observed that the cost of new works for the Sheriffs' Courts of Scotland was divided equally between the Local Authorities and the Crown. He was informed that this arrangement was due to the fact that the Sheriffs' Courts had criminal as well as civil jurisdiction. But he would like to ask on what principle the cost was divided equally between the Local Authorities and the Crown?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the amount was arrived at some years ago on a rough estimate that one-half the business of those Courts was of a criminal and the other half of a civil character.
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
said, he wished to get at the principle on which the payment was made. Suppose in the case of Airdrie the criminal side of the Court needed greater accommodation, and it was necessary to expend £1,000 on that increased accommodation, would the Treasury take no cognisance of that fact, but still pay half the cost? If so, it was perfectly clear that the Crown 1301 was contributing to Scotland considerable sums annually for the purpose of local criminal business, although it was making no such contribution to England.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, that in the hypothetical case stated by his hon. Friend it would only be reasonable to take into account the fact that the increased cost was due to the need of further accommodation on the criminal side.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £22,951, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1894, for Expenditure in respect of Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
asked what the sum of £2,850 for new works, alterations, and additions meant?
§ MR. HANBURY
wished to ask a question as to the item for additions to the Assyrian collections in the British Museum. He was personally glad that such additions were being made, and should like to know of what they consisted. From his own experience he could say that there were places in Assyria where one could see lying on the ground for almost the first comer to pickup very valuable winged bulls, and other monuments of antiquity, covered with inscriptions. These would be very valuable additions to the British Museum, and he wished to know whether the Museum authorities were obtaining any of them?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, that what the hon. Member desired had, he thought, practically been carried out. A largo number of Assyrian sculptures were being put into place, and it had been found necessary to remodel the room for the purpose.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that was not his point. What he had said was that, for historical purposes, it would be well if the Government saw whether it was possible to bring to this country a number of the Assyrian sculptures at Nineveh, which could be had almost for nothing, and which he had been assured by those conversant with the matter were of great value.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
On a point of Order, Mr. Mellor. Is not the hon. Gentleman out of Order in bringing this question up on a Vote for Buildings?
I have explained that the Trustees of the British Museum have already a greater accumulation of those Assyrian sculptures than they can find room for.
§ *MR. FREEMAN-MITFORD
asked whether the item of £250 for Sanitary Works at the British Museum would complete the works, or was it likely that additional expenditure in that direction would appear on future Estimates?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
It is to be hoped that the expenditure of this sum will put the drainage into a proper condition; but I may say that the drains are old, and are not up to modern requirements.
THE MARQUESS OF CARMARTHEN (Lambeth, Brixton)
drew attention to the inadequate lighting of the British Museum. He owned that the question was not a novel one. It was brought up year after year. And year after year, Ministers made promises that something would be done to effect an improvement; but nothing was ever done. Considering the efforts that were being made to educate the working classes through the agency of the Free Libraries and similar institutions, it seemed a pity that such a great educational institution as the British Museum could not be lighted at night when the working classes had time to visit it. The stock argument against the lighting of the Museum was the danger from fire; but that danger was now obviated by the great perfection to which electric lighting had been brought. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give an assurance—not that the work would be carried out this year, for the expense would be too great for one year—but that the matter would not be practically shelved.
§ MR. LAWRENCE (Liverpool, Abercromby)
said, he understood that a considerable sum had been spent in improving the lighting of the Museum; and he would like to know whether any appreciable increase in visitors had followed? 1303 Some time ago he used to go in the evening to South Kensington, and from his experience there——
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
asked whether the First Commissioner of Works intended to get the Assyrian bulls referred to by the hon. Member for Preston. He did not know much about Assyrian bulls, or whether there was any connection between them and three acres and a cow——
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he saw an item of £2,000 for the new Assyrian rooms at the British Museum. He wanted to know whether it was intended to provide a room for the Assyrian bulls?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
There is a large amount of Assyrian sculpture to be provided for, and the Vote is intended to procure the necessary accommodation for sculpture that cannot now be shown.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
drew attention to the inadequate accommodation for readers in the Reading Room of the Museum. He had been there several times, and had found the place so full that it was extremely difficult to get a seat. He thought it was a great deal more important, from the point of view of the convenience of the British public, to provide room for readers than room for Assyrian bulls at the Museum. It would be a great public advantage if an additional Reading Room were provided for the benefit of the old gentlemen who went to the Reading Room for the purpose of spending a placid if not an instructive day there.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
There is no provision this year for increasing the accommodation in the Reading Room. I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that the pressure on the accommodation in the Reading Room is becoming an urgent question; and I have no doubt 1304 that if the Trustees of the Museum press for an increase in the accommodation it will he the duty of the Government to provide it.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any representations have been made to him by the Trustees of the want of accommodation?
§ *MR. JACKSON
I notice a sum of £900, a Re-Vote for the conversion of the Medal Room into an Exhibition Room for gold ornaments. I was responsible, more or less, for putting £900 for this purpose on the Estimates last year, and I judge from the fact that it is stated to be a Re-Vote that none of the £900 voted last year was expended. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us why no progress was made with the work last year, and whether any progress will be made with it this year? I remember that this work was pressed on the Treasury with great assiduity, and we could never have sanctioned the £900 unless we were satisfied at the time, not only that the work was necessary, but that there was an immediate intention of carrying it out. Let me add that the noble Lord the Member for Brixton has done some injustice to those who are responsible for the lighting of the Museum; for when I was at the Treasury we sanctioned the necessary expenditure for introducing the electric light. The work was carried out under the supervision of Mr. Preece, the Electrical Engineer of the Post Office, and I understand it gives the greatest satisfaction.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
In answer to my right hon. Friend, I have to say that it is intended to provide a Library and Students' Room; but the work could not be proceeded with in consequence of no room being ready into which to transfer the medals. I understand the work will be proceeded with this year.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he was under the impression that there was a large Library at the Museum already, and he would like to know why an additional Library was required?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
I am afraid I cannot give the hon. Member any information about this Library and 1305 Students' Room. It was a work undertaken last year.
§ *SIR RICHARD TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he desired to urge oh the Government the necessity for developing the British Museum, which was probably the finest institution of its kind in the world, and was the glory of the British nation. The question was whether due provision was made year by year for the development of the institution? The opinion amongst those who were best versed in literature, science, and art was that the provision made was of a scanty and insufficient character. They did not take sufficient care to add to their magnificent and world-renowned collection from the different regions under the influence of the British Crown——
The Vote before the Committee relates to the buildings of the British Museum, and not to the policy of the Trustees of the British Museum.
§ *SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
said, he wished to urge the importance of adding' to the collections, and, no doubt, the first step in that direction was to provide additional building accommodation. Then he wished to say that the electric lighting apparatus of the Museum must be deficient, because the Museum was not regularly lighted by the electric light at times convenient for the working classes. From an educational point of view, it was most important that the Museum should be lighted every evening, and, if not every evening, on certain evenings of the week for the benefit of all those who desired access to the collections.
§ MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)
I wish to call the attention of the First Commissioner of Works to the fact that there is no provision in the Estimates for the year for the prosecution of the scheme for completing the building of the Museum at South Kensington. The Committee are probably aware that there was a sum of £5,000 voted last year as a preliminary to the prosecution of those buildings, and I wish to toll the Committee very briefly how the matter now stands. This matter has excited a great deal of public interest for a long time. The condition of the buildings of South Kensington Museum on the east side of Exhibition 1306 Road, fronting the Brompton Road, are really a scandal to that part of London; and we have been pressed not only by men of science and art who are interested in the proper housing of our most valuable treasures of art and science, but also by the residents of the locality, who naturally complain of the very unsightly condition in which the buildings are allowed to remain. I am glad to say that we took steps to begin this most necessary work. In 1890 the late Government invited eight eminent architects—four of whom were nominated by the Institution of Architects and four by the Office of Works—to enter into a competition for providing designs for the building, with the result that the very handsome designs of Mr. Aston Webb were accepted. In the Estimates for 1891–2 a sum of £5,400 was voted for the expenses of the competition amongst the architects, and in the Estimates last year a sum of £5,000 was provided for the purpose of erecting temporary buildings into which it will be necessary to remove the valuable treasures before the new building can be commenced. I am sorry to see that there is no provision in the Estimates this year for carrying the project further; and I should like to ask the First Commissioner of Works why it is the work of providing proper accommodation for these national treasures at South Kensington, which are at present housed in very inadequate and very insecure buildings, is not continued this year?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
I can assure my right hon. Friend that, personally, I fully sympathise with what he has said on this subject, and I hope that at an early period the works he has indicated will be carried out. I agree with him that it is extremely important that increased accommodation should be provided at South Kensington. The present buildings are extremely indifferent, and the plans to improve and enlarge them decided upon by the right hon. Gentleman have, I believe, given general satisfaction. The estimated cost of the new buildings, however, is no less than £400,000, and the right hon. Gentleman will not be surprised that the Treasury hesitated about beginning a work of such magnitude, at all events when they already have very large works on hand. The expenditure on new 1307 works this year is more than double that of the last four or five years, having risen from £150,000 in 1887–8 to £388,000 in the present financial year. In view of that largo expenditure, it would not have been wise on the part of the Government to have undertaken, at least until the public buildings of different kinds now in progress are completed, another great work involving an expenditure of £400,000.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
said, the necessity for this very heavy expenditure had not been made quite clear. They had at South Kensington a very large amount of unused gallery space, sufficient, he believed, to meet any demand on them for the accommodation of works of art; and he would, therefore, like to have an explanation, what further buildings were needed. He was bound to say he thought the expenditure on this proposed gallery was of a very unnecessary kind; but he would like to urge an expenditure for a different purpose, for which he saw no provision in the Estimates, and that was to procure additional accommodation for teaching at South Kensington. The conditions under which teaching in science was carried out there was hardly creditable to the country. There was a great deal of important work not only of a teaching character, but of an original and investigatory character, carried on at South Kensington under conditions that would disgrace a fifth-rate University in Germany or any other foreign country. he hoped, therefore, that the First Commissioner would be able to give an assurance that proper accommodation would be provided at South Kensington for carrying out this great national work.
§ SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)
I must call the attention of the Committee to the very unsatisfactory reply of the Representative of the Board of Works with regard to South Kensington Museum. This is no new complaint about the state of the buildings at South Kensington and their surroundings. No doubt the sum required for those buildings is very large, and in the present state of the Exchequer no hon. Member would propose that a very large amount should be at once voted. But what I complain of is that no effort whatever is made in these Estimates to alter the existing disgraceful state of things at South Kensing- 1308 ton. The outside appearance of those buildings is a disgrace to our civilisation. The First Commissioner of Works has been especially unfortunate in regard to this question. In 1882–11 years ago—the present President of the Hoard of Trade wrote that the Committee of Council expressed their satisfaction at learning that the Lords of the Treasury were going to take steps in the next financial year with a view to the completion of those buildings; and in the Estimates of 1883–4 a sum of £5,000 was inserted by the right hon. Gentleman who was then also First Commissioner of Works on account of the south-west wing. The proposal was attacked by the hon. Member for Northampton, and the right hon. Gentleman did not think it would be wise to press that part of the Vote, and so he withdrew it. Now, there is another withdrawal of £5,000 from the Estimates, and the right hon. Gentleman does not say that there is a probability of a sum being taken for the purpose even next year. I am not making this a question between Her Majesty's Government and the Opposition, and I am making no personal attack on the right hon. Gentleman. What I do complain of is the studied neglect shown by Her Majesty's Government and the Office of Works with respect-to those buildings. What is the present state of affairs at South Kensington? There is a quadrangle filled with several wooden buildings covered with some hideous corrugated iron; the buildings are of the most inflammable materials, and are placed next to a collection of the most valuable kind in the world, estimated to be worth over £2,000,000. But what I am anxious to press above all is the want of accommodation within the buildings themselves. In 1882 my right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works wrote, as I have already shown, to the Treasury, stating that the accommodation was deplorable. But since then the work carried on has doubled or trebled. Since drawing was made compulsory in the elementary schools, the number of schools sending work to South Kensington for examination has gone up from 4,500 to 20,000. For many years past the examination work has been carried on in passages where the water trickles through the roof on to the papers, and even over the staircases of the 1309 building. That is a most disgraceful state of affairs. It is really like spoiling the ship for a halfpenny worth of tar. The rest of our educational system has risen by £3,000,000 a year. No one objects to it, for a better policy of insurance no nation could have. But, surely, in order to assist the great work of education, we ought not to hesitate about spending £5,000, which would, at least, commence the necessary buildings. Instead of that, we are brought face to face with the fact that we have no pledge whatever from Her Majesty's Government that even next year this paltry sum of £5,000 will be voted for those buildings. That state of things at South Kensington cannot be remedied for four years—that is, not before 1897, for it will take at least four years to complete the buildings. With the consent of both parties a Museum has been made at South Kensington where art objects are displayed, and it is one of the best educational institutions in Europe. There is at South Kensington a splendid collection of art objects, which are sent from that place and circulated at local Museums throughout the country. That shows the great educational value of the institution. Technical education is also carried on under the auspices of the Science and Art Department. There has been a great increase in the work of the Department through the spread of technical education, and I hope it will be soon doubled and trebled. I trust I have said enough to show to the Committee and all the inhabitants of the Metropolis that this question of the South Kensington buildings should not be allowed to sleep. Parliament ought to insist that, either by this Government or by another—for I acknowledge that both Governments are to blame in this matter—the grave state of things to which I have called attention should at once be remedied. I only wish that the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he got his fingers into the Treasury Chest the other day had taken out £50,000 for this purpose, and had the right hon. Gentleman done so I am sure it would have met with the approval of the country. I hope, therefore, that another year's Estimates will not be framed without some prospect of this condition of affairs at South Kensington being remedied.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, he agreed with the right hon. Gentleman that in questions of this kind there was little to choose between one Government and another; but still it seemed they had had some advantage in this matter in having a Conservative Government turned out and a Liberal Government placed in power. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee that a disgraceful state of things prevailed at South Kensington, and that the rain trickled down on the unfortunate examiners. But who was responsible for this for the last six years? The Conservative Government. Instead of buying some silly old cabinet for 50 times its value, if they had mended the roofs at South Kensington they would have protected the examiners from the rain, and saved a considerable amount to the country. Then the right hon. Gentleman said, "We want more space; look at the vast number of things we are sending round the provinces." But surely that was a reason why they did not want more space. Let them send more things round the provinces, and then the pressure on space at South Kensington would be relieved. He asked the Committee to consider what they bad heard from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University. The right hon. Gentleman calmly stood up and told them that £5,000 had been expended upon the architect's plan for the proposed buildings; and that when the plan was accepted it was found it would not do and had to be altered.
§ MR. PLUNKET
What I said was that there were some slight alterations suggested by the Office of Works and by the Science and Art Department, but they did not interfere with the plan.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, the plan was impracticable, and alterations were proposed by the Science and Art Department and by the Office of Works. He did not think much of that plan, and he thought it cost a great deal too much when they had to spend £5,000 on it. Then, after they had been told that £5,000 had been spent on the plan, complaint was made by another right hon. Gentleman that the £400,000 necessary for the buildings was not spent.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, no Government wanted to spend the money at once. They slipped in a little Vote—a mere trifle; next year there was another Vote, and when complaint was made, it was—"Yon are pledged to the work, and will you waste the £10,000 that have been spent on it?" He rejoiced that there was not a shilling for the work on the Estimates. He was thankful that they had got it Chancellor of the Exchequer who was a jealous guardian of the Public Purse. He was thankful to say that the Chancellor of the Exchequer probably shared his objection to this wild and reckless and useless expenditure at South Kensington. Let them have it as a centre for examinations, as an exhibition of works of art, and as a means of sending those works over the country for pleasure and instruction, and South Kensington was, no doubt, in that way a valuable institution, but it was reckless and outrageous to suggest that they should be asked to spend £400,000 more in building a new gallery without even knowing what they were to put into it. He hoped the Chief Commissioner of Works would firmly oppose it, and he would give him his support; but if the right hon. Gentleman took the advice of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who took care not to vote the money while they themselves were in Office, and proposed this expenditure, he would give it his most strenuous opposition.
An hon. MEMBER said he strongly opposed any such expenditure as that suggested for new galleries or extension of buildings, but there was one item in the present Estimates which he supported. That was a sum of £2,500 for making the gallery in which the Raphael Cartoons were exhibited fireproof. It was certainly a most reprehensible state of things that these priceless works of art should have been allowed for years to be exhibited in a gallery which was liable to be destroyed by fire. He hoped the gallery would be made fireproof without the least delay.
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Mr. ACLAND,) York, W.R., Rotherham
I desire to refer to some of the observations made by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, who at Question time made an appeal to me when I answered a question of the hon. Member for Bordesley, as to the 1312 money spent in existing local museums, that Northampton should get its share. Well, I wish to say that this money for buildings is not merely for new galleries for exhibits, as hon. Members seem to suppose. A good deal of work of arranging specimens for circulation amongst the museums through the provinces is curried out at present in buildings which are not waterproof, or in any way in a favourable condition for the work. And when the hon. Member sneers at the Government for buying what he calls "a silly old cabinet" he should remember the purpose for which objects of the kind are purchased. The raison d'être of the Museum is that it should be a collection of splendid works of art having a close relation to the industries of the country, and a very large number of the working classes, who know what good work is, are of opinion that the money expended on South Kensington has been well spent on the whole. The object in view is, and should be, to make the Museum, as an educational institution, effective in every respect; to see that the arrangements for circulating specimens among local museums and other work of the institution are carried on in decent and convenient buildings, and by degrees to relieve the present overcrowded condition of the courts and galleries, so that the great works of art may be seen to advantage. I regret that the state of the national finances do not allow us to move faster in the matter. The whole question of Science and Art in this country is bound up with the Museum, and I say that the present condition of things at South Kensington is therefore a matter which all Governments alike should desire to see remedied.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said, he had a great deal of sympathy with the protest of his hon. Friend the Member for Northampton against any additional expenditure at South Kensington. He remembered that some years ago there was a large Party in the House who regarded the whole institution at South Kensington with a great deal of suspicion, and he admitted that he was an embodiment of old and obsolete ideas, so far as that he had not absolutely divested himself of those sentiments. But he thought the expenditure of an adequate sum to keep the buildings in proper repair should not 1313 be grudged by any Party. What he wished to draw attention to was that the First Commissioner of Works had not answered the question with regard to the lighting of the British Museum. As to the lighting of a great national institution like the British Museum, he thought the Government ought to have ascertained that they were proceeding on a right principle. Great disappointment had attended the efforts of those who had sought to apply the electric lighting system to many of our buildings, and he thought his noble Friend the Member for Brixton was quite right in asking for assurances on this point. He ventured now to ask the right hon. Gentleman to explain what steps he had taken to meet the requirements of those who used the British Museum at night, and how far the amount which appeared in the Estimate as the amount which was to be expended in that direction would meet the requirements of the situation.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said, that so far from going back the right hon. Gentleman had not replied to the inquiries which had been addressed to him.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
Discussion has arisen already on this matter, and I thought the Committee had passed from the British Museum to South Kensington. In point of fact, the greater portion of the British Museum is lighted by electricity, and a great portion of it is open to the public, but not the whole of it, the same night. I agree that the result has not been altogether so satisfactory as was expected, and that the attendance of the public has not been so large as was expected; but, at the same time, there is no occasion whatever for reducing the present facilities.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH
, alluding to the electric lighting of the British Museum, asked if the right hon. Gentleman could give them any facts as to the number of people who attended the British Museum in the evening; whether the experiment of lighting up the Museum was tried mainly at the instance of the House of Commons; and whether it was not the fact that the attendance at the Museum consequently on its being opened in the evening had been very small, and was diminishing? He was 1314 afraid the experiment of lighting the British Museum by the electric light so as to keep it open at night had not been attended with success, and there was not much prospect of it being so in the future. It was a costly matter to have the Museum opened at night; and seeing that the amount which the Treasury could vote for the service of the British Museum was limited, he thought the money might be expended to much better purpose. With regard to South Kensington, he called attention to the fact that they had there two galleries with almost the best light in the world for pictures, and these were at present devoted to diagrams and magnifying models of the insides of insects, &c. These were, no doubt, very useful objects, but they did not need the perfect light which was needed for pictures. He thought everything that had been said was true as to the crowded chaos that existed on the east side of Exhibition Road. He congratulated the Government on the new appointment of Director that had been made at the South Kensington Museum. The gentleman who had received the appointment had a power of scientific arrangement, and by proper scientific arrangements, and by getting rid of duplicate casts—the originals of which might be seen at Bloomsbury—they would find that further room might be utilised. The accommodation for science teaching at South Kensington was absolutely and grossly inadequate. The rooms in which the science work was conducted were scandalous and would disgrace a country School Board or a provincial town, not to speak of a German University. He hoped the Government would give the Committee an assurance that they were prepared, without further delay, to carry out some scheme by which a proper, suitable, and adequate building for the teaching of science would be provided, and that they would no longer be content with the present miserable makeshifts.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present.
§ *SIR. RICHARD TEMPLE
said, his only reason for rising was because of the educational aspect which had been given to a portion of this Debate. The Committee had heard a very strong statement 1315 from the late Minister of Education— than whom a more competent authority they could not have—as to the utter insufficiency of the accommodation for conducting the various examinations in Science and Art, and especially in elementary drawing. The right hon. Gentleman had pointed out the growing expansion of that branch of elementary education — namely, the instruction of pupils in drawing, most of whom had to be examined ultimately in South Kensington, and the question before the Committee was not the style of examination or the mode of conducting it, but the deficiency of the accommodation provided for holding such examinations. The hon. Gentleman who had last spoken had said that no Education Department in Europe and no School Board in England would tolerate such accommodation. Of course no School Board would, and certainly the School Board for London would not. But he must point out that between our Parliament and the School Boards there was an essential difference in providing accommodation. School Boards provided it from capital account; they borrowed for it; but in the House of Commons a different policy was pursued. If a School Board had to provide this accommodation they would do it at once, but that House must do it by degrees, because whilst a School Board borrowed, Parliament had to defray the cost from current revenue and thus they had the delay which scandalised the nation and impeded the progress of education as well as of many other branches of national life. That was the kernel of the question, and of course there was much to be said for the Parliamentary practice. What they required in this case was an outlay of a sum of £400,000 which would supply their wants. As they could not obtain that sum they could not undertake the work, as it was no good attempting to spend £400,000 by driblets, and all that could be done was to provide this £15,000 or £16,000 for keeping the present temporary buildings in a tolerably satisfactory condition. He believed that was the outcome of the question, and what that House was about voting was the money for providing temporary accommodation or remedying the deficiencies, faults, and shortcomings which the late Minister of Education had so properly 1316 pointed out, and certainly there were no signs of extravagance in this respect; for, while the deficiencies became more and more glaring every year, the amount voted for that House became slightly less. They were now absolutely going to vote £2,000 less for this object than they voted the previous year. Under these circumstances he could not understand the hon. Member for Northampton when he talked about squandering money on South Kensington. Could it be said that money devoted to the purposes he had mentioned was squandered? Such language would not be popular with the new democracy, inasmuch as the students were drawn from the humbler classes and from all parts of the country, in order to pursue their studies and to pass their examinations there. Was it, he asked, likely to be a popular thing to decry this expenditure and say it was not wanted, and that students and prize-winners were to be treated as if the nation despised them and their occupation? On the contrary, the nation desired to receive them with true national hospitality, and in a manner in which students of this character, drawn from all classes of the nation, ought to be received. The hon. Member for Northampton went on to say that the money ought not to be spent at South Kensington at all, and that some better place ought to be found. But he would point out that South Kensington was the finest technical institution in the world, with immense ramifications, exercising a world-wide influence, so far as the English-speaking races wore concerned, and it was to that great national centre students from all classes were invited. It could not he an unpopular thing on the part of the governing classes to provide the finest, handsomest, and most attractive site to be found in the whole of the Metropolis. He contended that this Vote deserved the approval of the Committee, and the only question was whether it ought not to be larger. If the money could not be given this year it might be given next year. He regretted the disparaging expressions that were sometimes used in that House with reference to the objects of art which were collected in South Kensington, and which were not merely matters of curiosity, but which were required for affording object-lessons to the students, and, therefore, it was very important 1317 that sufficient money should be voted for their proper accommodation. He would desire to say a few words about the Natural History Museum. Whatever objection might he urged to the accommodation in the other buildings, he believed that certainly the accommodation in the Natural History Museum was extremely fine. The museum collection itself was well worthy, he thought, of the large buildings in which the objects were placed — buildings not only so elaborate as to attract the popular taste, but suited in every way for scientific instruction, and unsurpassed in any country in the world. Well, then, they had certain subsidiary matters in connection with all these buildings, and money was required for the workshops that were necessary to be kept in operation at the museum. If the development of the institution was to be properly cared for, if must be through the establishment of a staff of trained artificers and scientific workmen, and fair and full accommodation for such men. It did seem to him that more might be done in that direction, because, when they looked at the specimens that had been collected and placed in these fine buildings, it was not unreasonable that they should ask for a moderate sum to provide for the subsidiary works. That was not much to ask for in respect of institutions which were an honour and a credit to the nation.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, he had listened with very great pleasure to the speech of the hon. Baronet. There was one point about which he was not quite correct, however, and that was as to the amount spent on South Kensington. It was a mistake to say that that amount was small, for he (Mr. Collings) recollected that last year there was a Supplementary Vote for it, apart from the regular Vote, of something like £100,000. The administration of the Department was not such as commanded the approval of many provincial Members. If the institution was to gain the favour of the country it must make itself national in a truer sense. He was disappointed with the meagre speech of the Vice President (Mr. Acland), because he could not but contrast it with a speech he made a year or two ago, bringing the late Government to task in the strongest manner on account of the 1318 manner in which South Kensington was conducted. The right hon. Gentleman then pointed out the great national importance of South Kensington, and called for more accommodation. How was it they heard nothing about that now? How was it he did not dwell on these points in the speech he had just delivered? He spoke of providing additional accommodation, but of doing it by degrees. What step had he taken in the present Estimates to provide for this? There was an item of £2,850 for works; but that could not go far. The right hon. Gentleman had it now in his power to give effect to the ideas contained in the speech which he delivered on the subject while the late Government was in Office, but he did not attempt to do so. He agreed with him that a penny-wise and pound-foolish policy was not right where a great national work was concerned, and he hoped they would have some more information as to the intentions of the right hon. Gentleman. The late Government spent £100,000——
§ MR. J. COLLINGS
said, he might be astray as to the amount, though he did not think he was. He would put it to the right hon. Gentleman the late Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) was that not the amount voted?
§ MR. J. COLLINGS
said, that being so, what was the right hon. Gentleman now prepared to do on behalf of the present Government? He noticed that the hon. Member for South Birmingham (Mr. Powell Williams), for the first time while this Vote was under discussion, was not present. That hon. Member used to complain also of the accommodation. Surely they were entitled to further explanation? The Vice President, in speaking of the national character of South Kensington, told them of the large numbers of the working classes who visited the place. Why, more of the working class population visited the museums in Manchester, Glasgow, and Birmingham in one week than visited South Kensington in two months. If the right hon. Gentleman wanted accommodation, let him take some dozens 1319 of the objects at South Kensington, and send thorn to the provinces, where the working classes would see them, and where they would be useful. That would give him, temporarily at any rate, additional space. His opinion was that South Kensington had been carried on, of late years, with a hide-bound officialism., If its collections, or duplicates of them, were sent to the provinces with greater liberality, there would not be so much outcry about want of space in the Museum. Before sitting down, he wished to ask what arrangements had been made to cope with any outbreak of fire at South Kensington. Having in his mind a painful recollection of the great fire in the gallery and library at Birmingham, he was anxious to know that the priceless treasures which the country possessed at South Kensington —and which could never be replaced— were secure from fire as far as science and human ingenuity could provide. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not rest content with an official assurance, but would have the very highest scientific evidence, and a professional assurance, for, like his hon. Friend behind him (Mr. A. C. Morton), he liked the advice and assistance of professional men in matters of such great importance. It was not enough to go to the Chief Librarian and hear from him that all was secure. There was a higher authority somewhere in London, and he wanted to know whether the Government had 1aken steps to secure the advice of that authority. It would not do to wait, for, as he had said, they could not replace these treasures if they were lost.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the Government attached great importance to this subject, and they had included in the Estimates a Vote for £2,500 for the construction of a fire-proof roof for the South Kensington Galleries. They would take an early opportunity of asking for power to make an addition to the South Kensington buildings in order to provide the necessary accommodation. In his view, there ought to be a fixed sum taken every year for additional buildings and for repairing the existing buildings. The Government had spent a good deal of money for these purposes in London during this year, and he did not think that they would be justified it spending any more at present.
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he had heard a good many unsatisfactory answers to questions in that House, and he was sometimes conscious of the unsatisfactory character of the answers that were being given, but he had never listened to an answer which was so unsatisfactory as that which hon. Members had just heard from the right hon. Gentleman on this most important subject. The right hon. Gentleman had said that this Vote ought to be maintained at. the same amount each year, but he forgets that the late Government had doubled the amount of the Vote during the last four or five years.
§ *MR. JACKSON
said, however that might have been, the late Government had eventually doubled the amount of the Vote. It was clear from the language of the right hon. Gentleman that neither he nor the present Government thought that Science teaching was a matter of much importance.
§ MR. JACKSON
wanted to know was that the reason there was not in the Estimates a Vote for a shilling for the extension of the buildings appropriated to Science teaching at South Kensington?
§ MR. JACKSON
said, he was speaking of the provision made for South Kensington. The buildings at South Kensington were being neglected. What were the facts? It could scarcely be disputed that the provision for Science teaching at South Kensington was inadequate for the requirements of the Department. The Government ought to utilise for the purposes of the Department the land that was bought for the purpose of extending the buildings by the late Government. That Government most reluctantly arrived at the conclusion that it was absolutely necessary to provide additional accommodation for the Department, in view of the fact that the clerks had to discharge their duties in passages instead of in rooms. As Secretary to the Treasury in that Government it was his duty to fight against the demands made on the Treasury. The 1321 Chancellor of the Exchequer had no friends in the House of Commons when it came to an expenditure of this kind. The objections were raised from time to time; a Committee was appointed to see whether by any re-arrangement of the articles in South Kensington it would be possible to find additional space. The Committee was presided over, he thought, by Sir J. Evans, of the Royal Society. An important Report was presented by that Committee, and the conclusion come to was that, unwilling as the Government might be to add to the demands on the Treasury for new buildings, Post Office sites, and other undertakings, still they were bound to go on with the South Kensington extension, or at least that they should make ready to enter upon it when the Report came before them——
§ *MR. JACKSON
said, they did what might be expected. They arranged for plans for new buildings, and had a substantial sum expended on temporary buildings. So much importance was attached to the matter that the late Mr. William II. Smith (his right hon. Friend the then Chancellor of the Exchequer) and himself went out to South Kensington, and saw the condition of things for themselves, trying to find out in every way whether they could postpone the expenditure. So impressed were they with what they did see that they were compelled to make the provision to which he had referred. Altogether, the late Government expended in two years some £10,000 in connection with the preparation of plans and the provision of temporary buildings. The answer of the right hon. Gentleman was unsatisfactory, because it left it in complete doubt whether the Government proposed to carry out the scheme of the late Government, or intended to allow the whole proposal to fall to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner had answered the question that had been put to him according to his brief, but he should like to know what were the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt) with regard to it? Surely the Government ought to tell the Committee whether they were prepared to carry the intention of the late Government into effect or not, and, 1322 if so, it would be done in accordance with their plan. He did not wish to blame the right hon. Gentleman, but he would say that if ever there was a time when it was necessary to give increased accommodation to the Science Department at South Kensington, this was the proper time. Throughout the country enormous sums of money were being spent upon technical education. South Kensington had been expected to keep pace with the growing requirements of the country, and a representation had been made to the Treasury by the Professors and others engaged in the teaching of Science at South Kensington. He knew something of the standard of the Professors there. There were amongst them some of the best teachers in the country—two of them had been stolon from the Yorkshire College, Leeds, very much to the disadvantage of that college, although he had been glad to see these men promoted, and to see their abilities recognised by the Government, and to know that they had justified their appointment. These men had spoken to him over and over again as to the insufficiency of the laboratory accommodation, declaring that in some cases, owing to this cause, students were only able to take half their course at South Kensington. The late Government had spent between £2,000 and £3,000 in providing additional accommodation on the west side of Exhibition Road. This, however, was only intended to meet the pressing requirements at the time, and was really looked upon as a temporary expedient. He remembered being struck with the fact that these men proved to the Treasury at that time that the fees paid by the students more than covered the interest upon the additional expenditure, and that these students could not have been accommodated at South Kensington at that time. He had mentioned these facts to show that the question was not a new one. It was a question which was thoroughly investigated by the late Government, who came to the conclusion that it should be faced; and be confessed that in looking through the Estimates nothing had surprised him as much as to find the entire absence of any provision for the extension of the buildings connected with Science teaching. He hoped that the Government would be able to 1323 assure the Committee that they had not dropped the scheme which was decided upon, and that they intended to proceed with the work. If they got that assurance the Committee would probably have to rest satisfied. If they did not get that assurance the Committee ought to show its strong sense of disapprobation at the policy and proceedings of Her Majesty's Government.
§ *MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
The right hon. Gentleman could hardly have been in the House when I replied to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
From the right hon. Gentleman's speech one would have been led to suppose that he had not been present when I answered the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin. At any rate he could hardly have listened to what I said. I said that, personally, I agreed with all that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. JACKSON
That is exactly my complaint. I said I did not blame the right hon. Gentleman, but I wanted to know from the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether this scheme is to go on or not?
§ *MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
I gathered that though he did not blame me, yet he wished to hear from me a more explicit account of what was intended. I stated to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin that I agreed with him; that he had given an accurate account of what had taken place on the point, and that the decision that the Government had come to was, that they would not during the coming year vote any sum of money for the purpose of carrying out this work. I pointed out the heavy expenditure the Government had undertaken in the matter of public works, and that, with this in view, it was not possible for them to face the large expenditure of £400,000. I ended by saying that I could not state whether the Government would undertake the expenditure next year, but that, personally, I was strongly in favour of it. Until the Estimates next year come on I can say no more. I think that the right hon. Gentleman hardly distinguished between the two questions 1324 —buildings for scientific purposes, and additions opposite to Brompton Road, but I fully recognise the importance of both. During the present year some of the public buildings we have in hand will be completed, therefore I have great hopes that next year we shall be able to advance one or both of these works to some extent. Hut when once a portion is begun it will be wise to complete it as soon as possible. It would hardly be wise to commence a building which will ultimately cost £400,000 by spending £10,000 or £15,000 on it, as was proposed by the former Vice-President of the Education Department (Sir W. Hart-Dyke). I do not think it would be a wise policy to spread the expenditure over a number of years. I do not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jackson) that the late Government faced this question is a correct one. No doubt they spent something on preliminary arrangements and temporary buildings, but it would have been just as possible for them to commence the work they are urging us to undertake as it is for us.
§ MR. JACKSON
The right hon. Gentleman must know that it was impossible for us to commence the work before settling the preliminaries.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
My point is that the late Government cannot be said to have faced the question. I have full sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman as to the importance of the work, and, as far as I am concerned, I shall use my influence with the Treasury to get them to sanction the commencement of these works.
§ MR. PLUNKET
We are not finding fault with the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works. The fault is that apparently, with all his good intentions and sympathy, he has been placed by his Colleagues under such terms that he is only allowed to say that no decision has yet been arrived at by the Government. A decision was arrived at by the late Government, and unless the present Government are prepared to carry out that decision in the sense desired by the English public we shall be justified in concluding that the scheme which the late Government determined upon has been abandoned. The time has come when the Representative of the Science and Art Department ought 1325 to move in this matter, and if he will not, pressure must be brought to bear by the public upon the Government, as it was brought to bear upon the late Government, to strengthen the hands of the Science and Art Department and the Office of Works, and compel the Treasury to give effect to the will of the public. Unless that, is done there will be more delay and more money wasted. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says there is a large increase in the expenditure on buildings. Well, I have been looking over the Estimates, and I find that the total increase in the Estimates for buildings is £40,000, of which £25,000 is for postal and telegraph buildings, which are always reproductive. Expenditure of that kind is a way of earning money for the public, therefore I cannot attach much importance to the right hon. Gentleman's plea. The late Government obtained plans and spent £5,400 one year and £5,000 the year following. It would have been impossible to spend more on building operations during the last financial year. I agree that it would be unwise to spend £10,000 or £15,000 this year on a building which is to cost £400,000; but that is no reason for saying that the scheme should be dropped altogether, or dropped for some years. I say the necessity for these buildings has been demonstrated and proved again and again, and the good intentions and the sympathy expressed by the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works are altogether insufficient and unsatisfactory. Unless the public take the matter up nothing will be done.
§ SIR J.T. HIBBERT
was understood 1o say that the works contemplated by the late Government had not been abandoned.
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
I rise to Order. May I point out to the right hon. Member that there are others besides those on the Front Bench and who sit immediately opposite who want to hear what he has to say on this question?
§ SIR J. HIBBERT
I beg pardon. I have been asked whether these works have been abandoned or not. I naturally cannot say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consent to the works being carried on next year; but I can say that, owing to financial pressure, the Treasury have consented to the works being postponed, but not abandoned. My own feeling in the matter is strongly in favour of the continuation of the works at South Kensington, when we are in a position to spend money upon them. The present Government are in a very different position from that, in which the late Government were in when they sanctioned these buildings. Nearly every year the late Government were fortunate enough to have a. considerable surplus, but this year there is a large deficiency; and I feel sure that the Committee, and even the strongest friends of the South Kensington Museum, will agree that this is not a year when we should incur a large expenditure on new buildings. My own opinion is that, the portion of the scheme which we should push on with first is that with reference to the Science-teaching Department. I know there is great pressure on that Department owing to the want of buildings; and I trust that next year, presuming we are in. a more fortunate position, provision will be made for carrying out that portion of the scheme. With respect to the larger scheme and the expenditure of £400,000, I am not in a position to commit the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the question. I can only say that I look upon the proposal as postponed, not abandoned. I do not doubt the bona fides of light hon. Gentlemen opposite; but, had they been in Office, I do not think they would have been able to carry out these works this year. Next year I trust we may be in a more fortunate position, when something may be done to carry out the scheme elaborated and prepared by the late Government.
§ MR. POWELL WILLIAMS
thought it very unfortunate that the Government had come to the conclusion to postpone this important matter. If they had the experience which some hon. Members had of the immense advantages, in the 1327 point of view of technical education, which were derived by local communities from exhibitions of this kind, they would consider it one of their first obligations and duties to see that the splendid collection in South Kensington was exhibited in a building fit to contain it, and that every opportunity was afforded to working men for studying design and construction which they saw exemplified in so many forms in that building. The right hon. Gentleman said the Vote was postponed, and he thought they had a right to ask how long was it to be postponed? That was a matter closely affecting the prosperity of the nation. It affected trade, which depended on design, and the skill of working men. He wished, further, to call attention to the security of this building. He would ask a simple question which would test the question of security. Did the Government insure the collection, or did they not? Had they any difficulty in getting the requisite amount of insurance from the great Insurance Companies, or were the great Insurance Companies unwilling to take the risk at the ordinary rates? If they did not insure, he thought it would be because the Insurance Companies would not accept the risk of insuring such a collection in buildings of so dangerous a character. There was another question he wished to ask. He saw there was an item of £3,500 for rent for certain parts of the existing buildings; and it appeared to him a fair question to ask whether this sum had reference to buildings erected on land which was not the property of the Crown? He was told that some years ago a certain portion of 1he buildings stood on land that did not belong to the nation. Was that so, or was it the fact that, though the laud belonged to the Crown, the buildings did not? This touched the question of whether the buildings were properly fitted to contain this collection. As to the character of the buildings as they stood, he quite concurred with what had been said by the right, hon. Member for Dublin University. Anything more disgraceful than those buildings it would be impossible to find in any capital in Europe. He never saw such a thing in his life as the entrance to the South Kensington Museum. He agreed with 1328 all that had been said as to these buildings, both in point of security and in point of architectural design.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I am sure I have no desire unnecessarily to prolong this discussion; but I am bound to say that nothing can be more unsatisfactory than the statement of the Secretary to the Treasury and the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works in reply to the speeches which have been made from this Bench. The Committee will observe that the importance of these works is not denied for a moment by either of these right hon. Gentlemen. On the contrary, they have admitted the force of everything that has fallen from my right hon. Friends. A question was put from this side of the House as to whether or not the work is to be abandoned, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite, in reply, said—"It is not to be abandoned; but. I cannot say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consent to go on with the work next year, or whether he will not." He says—"All I can say is that this work is to be postponed." Postponed, but for how long? Are we to understand that it is postponed sine die? If not, will the Government, give us a distinct undertaking as to when they intend to go on with it, and when progress will be made with it? Frequent allusion has been made to the wishes or intentions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this subject, and it appears that no answer is possible from the right hon. Gentleman opposite unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer is consulted. Well, where is the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Is it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to ask for his attendance, and for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come into the House to listen to the Debate upon a subject which the Government themselves admit to be very important. We are driven to the conclusion, by the attitude of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that they intend to postpone sine die the work to which the late Government were committed. We cannot allow the matter to remain in this position. We must have some more explicit statement from the Government; therefore, in order that 1329 the First Commissioner of Works may have an opportunity of consulting the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and in order to enable the Committee to advance the business, I beg leave to move to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Chaplin.)
§ MR. JACKSON
I do not know whether my right hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) contemplated the possibility of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer not being at hand. If it is not possible to consult him, the alternative would be to postpone the consideration of the Vote until such time as the right hon. Gentleman is in his place.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
I think the proposal to postpone the Vote is hardly reasonable. We have been discussing this matter not in regard to what is in the Vote, but in regard to what is not in it. The importance of commencing this work next year has been pressed on the Government, and that is a matter which we shall have to consider when next year's Estimates are before us. Even if the Chancellor of the Exchequer were here, he might not be in a position to pledge himself to commence the work at a certain date. All he would be able to do would be to say that he would take into consideration the views that have been expressed in many quarters, and would consider the question on the Estimates of the coming year. It has been already pointed out that the Government have not abandoned the work, and that the only decision they have arrived at is that they will not insert an item in the Votes of the present year. I am not sorry there has been a strong expression of opinion from many sides of the House on the subject. I hope, however, the right hon. Gentleman opposite and other hon. Members will rest satisfied with the assurance that I will do my best, when the Estimates are under consideration in a future year, to induce 1330 the Government to insert an item to enable the work mentioned to be commenced.
§ Mr. J. COLLINGS
said, the right hon. Gentleman, in speaking on the adjournment, had thrown more light on this question than he had done all the evening. The reason this Motion was warranted was because there were other points beside the one to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded to which no reply had been given. There was the question of security from fire, for instance.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
I dealt with that subject in answer to a question put to me earlier in. the evening. I should have been glad to enter into the subject again if this Motion for reporting Progress had not been moved.
§ MR. J. COLLINGS
said, they had been listening in vain to hear the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council: therefore, if the Motion were withdrawn, it would be on the understanding that the information asked for should be given in a way that would satisfy the Committee, and in a way commensurate with the importance of the subject. The Committee should not be treated like a lot of children, to whom any kind of answer might be given.
§ M R. CHAPLIN
I gather from the reply of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works that the services of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer are not at the present moment available—that, in fact, the right hon. Gentleman is more pleasantly engaged. I do not propose to put the Committee to the trouble of dividing; but I would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should confer with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that on the Report he should make a more definite statement.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
endorsed the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley Division as to the necessity of taking 1331 precautions for the prevention of fire and for recouping the Government in. the event of fire. There were several large items in the Vote for the repairs of official residences. It was obvious, therefore, that there were officials in. residence in these buildings; and his observation upon that was that if they were to have their public buildings protected as much as they could, humanly speaking, protect them, there was only one thing to do with official residencies, and that was to do away with them altogether. When there were officials in residence their children were, as a rule, allowed much greater freedom in the buildings than adults by the firemen and policemen, and thus there was always danger from fire. Besides, the space occupied by these residences would be much better utilised for technical instruction and laboratories, and, at the same time, the money spent on them might be saved. He in. no sense agreed with the Radical Vandalism of the hon. Member for Northampton. If Radicalism meant ugliness in public buildings and Vandalism in. Art he was against it. The hon. Gentleman said there was plenty of room at South Kensington; but, as a frequent visitor, he (Mr. Burns) was unable to endorse that opinion. There was no space to spare either in the rooms or the galleries, and if the hon. Member were present he would ask him where the vacant space was. In the picture gallery the pictures were crowded together for want of space, and the engineering section resembled more a scrap-iron heap than an engineering museum. In the china department and in other parts of the Museum where general objects were exhibited it was impossible to get a clear view of some of the most beautiful exhibits in consequence of the limited accommodation. He could not concur in the criticism that had been indulged in as to what was called the extravagance of the proposition that the front portion of the Museum, facing the Brompton Road, should be completed. At present the front of the building looked like a cross between a blank factory wall after a fire and a disused racquet court. When he remembered that this blank wall was next to one of the most beautiful cathedrals now in course of being finished—namely, the Oratory—he thought it was a shame 1332 that it remained in such a condition. What was £400,000 to a nation as rich as England? It was only half the price of an ironclad, which would go to the bottom either through some lack of knowledge on the part of the captain or some fault in the compass. If the country could spend £800,000 on an ironclad, the guns of which could only be fired 10 or 15 times, he really did not see why it should not spend half that amount in instalments spread over four or five years on the completion of the South Kensington Museum. He must, however, express a hope that no encouragement would be given to the over-centralisation in all things which, he believed, took place at South Kensington. But even if decentralisation took place there was a necessity for increased accommodation for all purposes.
§ *SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
said, the Trustees of the British Museum had always been most anxious to take every possible precaution against danger from fire, because they realised what a misfortune to the whole civilised world it would be if the British Museum were destroyed. Captain Simonds, the present chief of the London Fire Brigade, was their adviser with respect to danger against fire, and every precaution which experience could suggest was taken. Humanly speaking, he believed nothing more could be done in order to protect the Museum against fire. The official residences were not in the Museum, but adjoined it. The Trustees had always been of opinion that it was a very great security to have one of the officials close at hand in. case any misfortune should happen; in. fact, one of the regulations was that one of the keepers should always be in his official residence for the purpose. As regarded the question of saving money, it was necessary to have gentlemen of the highest possible acquirements in their respective departments, and as the salaries were only from £500 to £700 a year he did not think the officials wore overpaid. The official residences had always been regarded as moderate additions to the salaries, and if the officials were deprived of their residences the loss must be made up in some other way.
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Mr. ACLAND,) York, W.R., Rotherham
I may just say in reply to the hon. Member opposite and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley (Mr. Jesse Collings) that, as far as fire is concerned, great precautions are taken at South Kensington.
§ MR. J. COLLINGS
said, that the authorities in Birmingham believed every possible precaution was taken against fire, and yet they lost their collection. He wanted the right hon. Gentleman to state on what scientific authority, if he had any, he based his opinion that the best precautions were taken.
§ MR. ACLAND
We have there military men of the greatest possible experience in a matter of this sort, engineers of great skill, who are in constant training, fire-alarms which are frequently set, in motion, and admirable appliances of the most modern description. Policemen and engineers are there all night, and I believe the very best precautions are taken.
§ *MR. JACKSON
said, there was a great difference of opinion as to whether official residences in some cases were not rather a source of danger than a source of protection. At South Kensington the official residences were in close contact with two important buildings. One of the plans proposed by the Treasury was that the official residences should be used for an extension of the Science Teaching Department. He was under the impression that this was rather a favourable time to consider the question, as he understood that one of the gentlemen connected with South Kensington was about to retire. If that was the case, the Vice President had an excellent opportunity for pressing the Treasury for additional accommodation for the Science Department. He thought it would be found that the Chief of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade had reported that the official residences were a source rather of danger than of safety.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
observed that no sum appeared this year in the Estimates for the insurance of the 1334 galleries at South Kensington. Was he to understand that the galleries were no longer insured?
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
had been rather surprised to hear that military officers were employed in connection with the prevention of fire at South Kensington. It is a most extraordinary thing in the government of this country that military officers were so frequently employed to do work which had nothing of a military character about it. He was anxious not to have everything put in the West End of London, and would suggest that if the Government had money to spend on these purposes some of it should go to other parts of London. He would remind the Committee that before long a large building in the neighbourhood of the South Kensington Museum would be vacant—namely, the Imperial Institute. He wished to know how it was that £750 was put down for the rent of a gallery in the Imperial Institute building? Did it mean that an attempt was being made to smuggle into the Vote some sort of subsidy to the Imperial Institute?
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said, he did not wish in any way to endorse the idea that officials whose duties necessitated their constant presence on the premises should not have official residences; but, at the same time, he thought that such residences ought not to be in dangerous proximity to buildings in which priceless treasures were housed. There was no reason why the officials should not be provided with residences reasonably near their work, but disconnected with the public buildings. He did not wish to have more money spent at South Kensington, because he had a strong opinion that the less money we spent, except upon the Army and Navy, the better.
Sir John Hibbert rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.1335
§ Original Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ 3. £25,201, to complete the sum for Diplomatic and Consular Buildings.
§ MR. HANBURY
On a point of Order, Sir, I distinctly challenged the Vote, and several others around me.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he wished to ask a few questions with regard to this Vote. On page 26, he found a sum of £190 for Municipal and State Taxes. As was well known in this country, Consuls were not charged any local or Imperial taxes, and two years ago, when he raised a similar question, he was promised the matter should be looked into. He wished, therefore, to know why the Prussian or German Government should be the one Government to make this charge for local taxes? The next point he wished to raise was why we were going to spend at Constantinople £500 more than last year? The same remark would apply with regard to Lisbon, where they were spending this year £500, as against £100 last year, and he wished to know why there should be an increase of £400 in this item? On page 28, he found there was an increased charge for Siam of £430 more than last year. At Tangier also there was an increase of more than £200 over last year. On page 29, he found the Vote asked for Zanzibar was increased by very nearly £700. A little while ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister said that efforts would be made to reduce the expenditure of some of these Consuls, but he found that in many of these items, instead of being reduced, or of the Chancellor of the Exchequer insisting upon a reduction, they were increased and no reason given for it. He should, therefore, like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman some explanation in regard to 1336 the charge for taxes in Berlin, and the increase in the other cases he had mentioned.
§ *MR. FREEMAN-MITFORD
said, there were one or two questions he wished to ask with regard to Berlin. He found that the charge for maintenance and repairs of the Embassy House, furniture of State Room, and Architect's fees came to a total of £75, and out of that sum the Architect's fees were £25. The ordinary foe to an architect was 5 per cent., whereas here it was 50 per cent., and that seemed to him an altogether immoderate and excessive charge, and inasmuch as we had a travelling surveyor, who looked after these buildings, it seemed to be a very heavy demand to make. There was a matter he also wished to call attention to on page 28, which was a charge that appeared for the first time, namely—Purchase of site for new hospital to British seamen, and preliminary building expenses, total estimated cost £8,000.The charge for this year was £2,000, and this was a matter on which he thought the Committee ought to have some information before voting the money. Then there was a sum of £300 set down for the maintenance and repairs of furniture, gardens, and other things at the Legation House at Tangier, and on this item either a great many items were charged which would not be provided, or else the whole thing was perfectly unintelligible.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he should like some explanation as to two items under the head of Constantinople. First, he saw that two Embassies were charged for, the Embassy at the capital and the Embassy at Therapia. He could not understand why they should provide a country house on the Bosphorus for the Ambassador as well as a residence in the capital. His next complaint was in reference to the provision of a prison. Sir Henry Drummond Wolff had reported that the Capitulations involving ex-territorial prisons were most objectionable, and rendered the government of the country where they exist impossible, and he therefore objected to this charge. When 1337 a man went to Turkey he should be content to abide by the laws of the country, and he thought that no Foreign Power should attempt to maintain a prison in a foreign country.
§ *SIR R. TEMPLE
wished to enumerate various points with regard to this Vote, because these consular buildings greatly concerned the welfare of this country; they were buildings constructed in the face of nationalities not always friendly to us, and were regarded as a symbol of the British influence and sovereignty in various parts of the world. When one came to think of it, there was no doubt these items were entered upon by the recommendation of the Foreign Department, and the right hon. Gentleman would surely have Reports on the subject from this Department. The Reports ought to be familiar to the right hon. Gentleman, and doubtless he had brought them with him, therefore it ought not to be difficult for him to answer these various questions, which ought to be answered if the Committee was to go over this branch of the expenditure satisfactorily. The points he wished to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to were items under heading "B" relating to China and Japan, "H" relating to Egypt, "L" relating to Persia, "O" relating to Siam, and matters relating to Zanzibar, and various other Missions. The items were all in the Votes, and in reality they were bound to look at each one, as they were matters actually before the Committee at this moment. With regard to the China and Japan item, he wished to draw attention to this fact: that there was a large sum for new works, alterations, and additions to the Consular building, and at the same time there was another item of £3,000 odd for the maintenance and repair of the buildings. He had no doubt the Reports which the right hon. Gentleman had from the Foreign Department would explain how these two items stood. He supposed the one was for maintaining the buildings which already existed and the other was for building new ones. One would not think the two 1338 things would go parallel; either buildings already existed and were in use—and if so he could not see why they should want a new building—or they were occupying some old building while a new one was being eroded. It required some explanation, as it was not usual to see two items, one for new construction and the other for maintenance and repair. The next point related to Egypt, and notwithstanding the presence of his hon. Friend the Member for Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles) he must say he imagined the large expenditure for the residence at Cairo was very much needed. He understood his hon. Friend to object, but considering the position of our official there, he thought that the expenditure was necessary for the upholding of the dignity of this country. Whether we occupied Egypt or not we should always have an officer there of the first class to represent this country in a manner worthy of the nation, and in that case he must have a proper house to live in. Either he would be in full British residence and real Governor under the control of England under the suzerainty of the Sultan, or if we evacuated the country he would be Consul General, and in either case they would require a residence of proper dignity and decent architectural style. But the other building at Alexandria seemed to be maintained at an extraordinarily cheap rate. They found under all the other Consulates in Asia and Africa several hundreds a year charged for maintenance and repairs, but in the case of Alexandria it amounted to only £90. That seemed to be so unaccountably cheap that it required some explanation as to whether this £90 could really cover all the cost attending this Consulate, and if the Consulate received some other sum besides this they ought to know it. [An hon. MEMBER: The £90 is for rent.] His lion. Friend pointed out that sum was for rent, and in that case he supposed the tenant would do the repairs, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman, with the aid of the Report from the Foreign Department, would be able to tell them that. Then, with regard to Siam, the items were certainly moderate. In another place the Government adopted the plan of building new structures outright, and the question naturally arose as to whether 1339 it was better to have these buildings constructed at once at capital cost or to rent them. At Smyrna there was this large item of a site for the new hospital that had been referred to by his hon. Friend (Mr. Freeman-Mitford). That was certainly a large expenditure, but the institution was of considerable interest. He was not sure it had been before the House as yet, and if this was the first time it appeared, he thought the right hon. Gentleman should give them some information regarding it, and why there should be a hospital for British seamen at Smyrna of all places, though, no doubt, there was a good reason for it. At Tangier there was an item of £300 for maintenance and repairs. Considering the rapid developments of our interests and the importance of our position there, it would be well for the right hon. Gentleman to inform them as to whether our Consular buildings there were in a proper condition and capable of meeting the growing requirements of this country in that part of the British sphere of influence. Then they came to Zanzibar. [" Oh, oh! "] A year ago the Committee would remember these hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway urged similar criticism he was now doing. On that occasion the Committee patiently listened to them, and now that he was offering what might be called skilled criticism they objected. As regarded Zanzibar our interests there were rapidly spreading. What was a Consulate had become an Agency, and would soon become a Residency and seat of government, and they should be informed whether the buildings were in a proper condition for an officer upon whom so much depended. With regard to the West Coast of Africa, he noticed this peculiarity: that, whereas certain items were put down last year for the old Calabar Consulate and various other Consulates, nothing whatever was put down this year, and he wished to know whether they were to infer those Consulates had been removed? On the East Coast of Africa, at Delagoa Bay, there was an item of £1,700 put down for the completion of the erection of a Consulate there. The total cost was £4,100, and by the 31st March last there had been expended the sum of £2,400. Apparently the work was being done at the rate of about £2,000 a year, and it 1340 would be satisfactory to know when the work would be completed. Lastly, he came to the cemeteries. £360 was put down for repairs to a cemetery on the Bosphorus, and he wished to ask what cemetery there was on the Bosphorus? There was a well-known cemetery at Scutari that contained the remains of many of our officers and men who fell during the Crimean War, and he would ask if that was the cemetery indicated, or whether the Bosphorus cemetery was some other; and, if so, could the right hon. Gentleman tell them whether the cemetery at Scutari— which was certainly a British one, containing the bones of many of our best officers and men, and one that was held in veneration by all nations—was being kept in proper repair by the British Government or not? There were other cemeteries about which remark might be made, but, out of regard to the feelings of hon. Gentlemen, he would not pursue the question further. He would conclude his list of questions by submitting, with all respect, that the points he had raised were worthy of consideration, and if the Committee was to proceed with proper knowledge they ought to have information regarding the condition of our consular buildings, as it constituted a matter of national importance.
§ *MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had gone from China to Zanzibar, and he had certainly amused the Committee if he had not enlightened them. The hon. Gentleman asked him various questions, and he would take the last one first, as to the cemetery on the Bosphorus. The hon. Gentleman was quite right in supposing that was the cemetery at Scutari, though he believed there wore other smaller cemeteries that came under the same item. Then his hon. Friend reverted to the expenditure incurred upon various Consulates in China. He need hardly point out that it had been absolutely necessary to provide for these. The charge with regard to Tangier is to defray the expense of providing gardens to the Consular buildings. With regard to our Ambassador at Constantinople having two residences, it must be remembered that it is impos- 1341 sible for him to reside in that city during the summer months, and, therefore, it is absolutely necessary that he should have an additional residence at Pera. With regard to the payment of taxes for the Ambassador's residence at Berlin, that is due to the fact that the Municipal Authorities of the city exact the payment.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, that as the Local Authorities of Berlin insisted on charging rates and taxes on our Ambassador's house at Berlin, the right hon. Gentleman ought to direct the Local Authorities of the parish in London in which the Berlin Embassy resided to charge that Embassy rates and taxes, so that there might be equal dealing on both sides.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, our Embassy House at St. Petersburg seemed to be held on different terms from the Embassy Houses in other capitals, because rent was paid for it; while in the other cities the residences of the Ambassadors were acquired by Great Britain. It appeared to him that the country would save a considerable sum of money by purchasing the Embassy House at St. Petersburg. He also noticed that the rent of the house varied considerably from year to year. In 1891 the rent was £1,875; last year it was £1,500; and this year it was £1,600. Perhaps the First Commissioner would give an explanation why the rent varied in such considerable amounts in three years? He also noticed that there was a sum of £1,700 on the Estimates for the completion of the Consular buildings on the East Coast of Africa. The total estimated cost of the building was given at £4,100, but going back on the Estimates for previous years, he found that in 1891–2, £1,000 was voted for the works; in 1892–3, £2,000; and now this year £1,700, making a total of £4,700, which was £600 above the total estimated cost.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
The estimated cost of these buildings is £4,100. The sums to which the hon. Gentleman 1342 has called attention have not all been spent, and we expect to keep within the estimated cost. With regard to the Embassy House at St. Petersburg, it is true that we pay rent for it; but I cannot say why, three years ago, the rent was higher than it is now.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said, that there was a sum of £7,000 down for the new Agency House at Cairo, and he wished to know whether that amount would really complete the buildings?
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
asked whether it was the fact that rent had to be paid for the Embassy House at St. Petersburg because the Russian Government would not allow us to buy land there? He saw that a rent of £430 was charged for the Consular House at Alexandria. He knew the house; it was a twelve-roomed house, such as a prosperous tradesman would retire to in Bloomsbury, and how anyone could charge £430 for it he could not imagine.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, he noticed that there was a number of items for allowances to Ministers for petty repairs. For instance, in Brussels there was an allowance of £33, which he did not consider a large amount. But he thought it was hardly consistent with the dignity of Ministers to be allowed a small salary—for the payments seemed to be made regularly every year—for these petty repairs. The cost of these repairs should be defrayed when the work was done. He also noticed that the Ministers at Athens and Copenhagen were each allowed £100 a year in lieu of furniture. It would be better to furnish these houses than to pay a large sum annually for furniture in that fashion.
§ *MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
It has been found that these annual allowances for repairs are the most economical arrangement; and if we were to furnish the houses at Athens and Copenhagen as the hon. Member suggests, our expenditure would be very much greater than it is now. The cost of the new 1343 Consular buildings at Cairo will be fully covered by the Estimate; and, with regard to the sum charged for rent of the Consular House at Alexandria, it must be borne in mind that rents are very high there.
§ MR. HANBURY
thought they should have a more satisfactory answer in regard to the Embassy House at St. Petersburg. It seemed strange that we should pay rent for the Embassy House at St. Petersburg, while the Embassy Houses in all the other capitals were our private property. The Embassy House at Constantinople was a present from the Sultan. He believed the real reason why we had to pay rent at St. Petersburg was because the Russian Government would not allow us to acquire land there. He noticed that there were certain Consular Buildings in China to which the Indian Government contributed, and others to which they contributed nothing. He would like to know the principle on which the Indian Government made these contributions?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
congratulated hon. Gentlemen opposite on their skilled criticism of the Estimates. It seemed to him they had reversed the usual order of things with regard to the Estimates, for nearly all of them had absolutely complained that the Estimates were too low. The hon. Baronet the Member for Kingston was in a perfect state of despair because the expenditure at some of the Consulates was lower than the expenditure at others, and he urged that they should level up rather than down. The reason why the Embassy House at St. Petersburg was hired, rather than, as in other cities, purchased or built, was because it was easy to hire a house sufficiently large for our purpose at St. Petersburg, while there was a great difficulty in obtaining houses of the proper kind on hire in other capitals. He hoped the Government would consinue to hire the house in St. Petersburg to long as it was possible to do so, rather than build or purchase one.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
said, he had pointed out that the rent for the house 1344 at St. Petersburg fluctuated year by year in the most extraordinary manner; and surely, if they had to rent a house there, it would be wise to secure that they should not be at the mercy of the landlord of the house.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, it was more economical to hire the house than to build or buy one. He was unable at present to give the hon. Member for Preston the arrangements under which the Indian Government contributed towards the Consular Houses in China.
§ Vote agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £283,923, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1894, for the Customs, Inland Revenue, Post Office, and Post Office Telegraph Buildings in Great Britain, including Furniture, Fuel, and sundry Miscellaneous Services.
§ MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)
said, he was aware that any criticism on the Estimates which came from his side of the House was liable to be received with adverse criticism by hon. Gentlemen opposite and their organs in the Press. But he was willing to take the risk, because he believed that the practice of criticising the Estimates was wholesome and good, and in the interest of good government and administration as well as of the taxpayers. On this Vote for Revenue Buildings a most important principle arose, on which he wished to make a few comments, but not at all of a Party character. His observations would be directed to the question of the framing of the Estimates. In order that the Committee might properly understand the proposals of the Government, it was necessary, in the first place, that the Estimates should be reliable and intelligible. But the present Estimates were not intelligible. He had no doubt that hon. Members, when they took the Paper which had been circulated by the Government in their hands, they imagined that the heading of the Paper really indicated the money they were asked to vote, and the 1345 circumstances and particulars of previous Votes. That was far from being the state of affairs in this case. On page 35 of the Estimates, which professed to give particulars of the proposed outlay on different Post Office Buildings, it would he seen that in the first column they had the name of the post office on which the money was to be expended and its location; then the next two columns gave them the Estimate of the costs; then they were told what had been the expenditure of the Vote up to the 31st March last, and then they were told what Vote was required for 1893–4, the balance required to complete the Vote, and, finally, what the Vote was last year. Now, if that were all that was in the Estimates, it would be a clear, and simple, and intelligible statement. There were no details given of the works to be carried out. When these figures were arrived at they had evidently in their minds distinct and individual works, for they actually said £47,709 with regard to the Post Office, and £14,161 with regard to Telegraphs. Therefore, he was afraid all the information that appeared on that Table as to the amount required was illusory and altogether unreliable, and they might just as well have had placed before them the Vote for £1,096,000 without any particulars whatever as to have had the Vote placed before them in the form in which it appeared. In former years there was a column in this Vote which gave the amount of Re-Votes; but that was now omitted. The Secretary to the Treasury explained he omitted it because it might mislead. Therefore he concluded that all the items which might mislead the House in connection with this Vote had been eliminated, and that they might take the Vote as drawn up as clearly and distinctly showing what money was wanted for each and every purpose. On that hypothesis, where opposite different items the word "Re-Vote" appeared, he must assume it meant that on a previous occasion the House voted that sum of money for the particular purpose for which the Vote was required; that the money had not been expended; and that, therefore, the House was asked in the coming year to provide the sum over again. Let him take one of these items and test it. Here was an item that was typical of them all — "South- 1346 Western District, New Sorting Office." On that there was a Re-Vote of £9,000. Take the history of this transaction. The cost of the building was estimated in 1891–2 to be £54,000; £15,000 was voted for it, and there was spent in that year only £1,760. In 1892–3 £25,000 was estimated, including a Re-Vote of £13,940. But out of that £25,000 there was only spent £7,510 in the year and £8,490, making a total of £16,000 out of the £25,000 voted. This year it was proposed to ask for £25,000, and there still remained £13,000 to complete that work in the following year, so that they would positively have been asked to vote £78,000 for a building that was only to cost, at the outside, £54,300. That was a system of estimating and charging upon the taxpayers of this country that was eminently and highly unsatisfactory. His right hon. Friend opposite said it was not spent. No; but the cost of the building was £54,000, whereas with Re-Votes the taxpayers had had to provide £78,000. [Sir W. HARCOURT dissented.] It had been explained by the Secretary to the Treasury that these Re-Votes were to replace money voted in a previous year.
§ MR. FORWOOD
But the money not spent had to be surrendered, and, as far as the taxpayers were concerned, they had had to provide £78,000 instead of £54,000.
§ MR. FORWOOD
If it was, it was a fallacy deducible from the Estimates and the mode in which they were prepared. The amount of Re-Votes amounted to £50,000 added to the Votes of this year; therefore there was £50,000 short, spent in the last year, if this statement was worth anything. He could not understand how such a statement as that could be approved by the Treasury, or passed by the Controller and Auditor General. If he understood Public Accounts, the system of the Exchequer and Audit Act, and the course of procedure laid down by the Treasury, he gathered, in the first 1347 place, that any money voted find not expended became an amount that had to be surrendered to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was available with the surplus of the year for the reduction of the National Debt. And, secondly, he understood that the Controller and Auditor General, in auditing these accounts, ought to ascertain whether or not the money voted had been expended in the course of the year upon the item for which it was so voted. He notified the Secretary to the Treasury accepted that position; and, that being so, how was it possible for the Controller and Auditor General to take this statement which professed to give the Vote of the year on a specified building and then at the end deduct a lump sum without saying from which Vote that lump sum was deducted? This matter was not raised for the first time. A former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Childers, in criticising the Votes, attacked the then Postmaster General. On that occasion he complained of the extraordinary way in which the Estimates were prepared for post offices in and around London. He pointed out that on the proposed Post Office at Fins-bury Park the total expenditure was to be £2,500; but £5,000 had already been spent. In the case of another post office, the Estimate for which was £1,000, a sum of £2,000 had already been spent; and for the London Bridge Post Office the original Estimate was for £12,000, and £22,000 had been expended. Another hon. Gentleman, the Member for East Donegal, who was thoroughly acquainted with Public Accounts, said the whole method of preparing the Post Office Estimates was a farce, and that the Post Office officials never paid any attention to the statement of detailed expenditure in the Estimates. These elaborate statements, said the hon. Member, were quite untrustworthy as guides to the manner in which the money granted to the Post Office would be spent. Since that time no change whatever had been made in the manner in which these documents were placed before them, and he thought they were absolutely misleading and completely unintelligible. He could not understand the Controller and Auditor General giving a certificate for such Estimates on such a statement as was then before the House; but 1348 perhaps he did so because the aggregate sum mentioned in the Estimate was not exceeded, and he took no notice whatever of the amount spent on individual buildings. If that were so let it be distinctly stated. He pointed to the fact that in a Treasury Minute issued on the 19th February, 1890, on matters analogous to this, allusion was made to the inclination of Departments to find some other object on which to spend money which had not been used for the purpose voted rather than surrender it to the Exchequer; and the Auditor General stated that instead of having been so used such money ought to have gone to increase the Sinking Fund for the reduction of the National Debt, and if any Department had a surplus at its disposal resulting from one Vote for the service of the year, it had no right to spend the 'saving for any other purpose, not even for effecting a saving in the succeeding year. If there were Re-Votes to the extent of £50,000, clearly £50,000 was not expended last year; but it was either surrendered to the Treasury, or it was spent for other purposes of which Parliament had no knowledge. He was sorry that the First Commissioner of Works had not asked from the Chancellor of the Exchequer enough money for the work of the coming year. He thought it would be admitted that in the great commercial wants of the country the Post Office played a most important part, and that to starve the Post Office was to starve the Revenue and inconvenience the traders and people of the country. He called it starving the Post Office and levying increased cost of charges on the public if, when they once undertook a large work, they did not provide sufficient money to push that work on to completion. If anyone would take the Votes, it would be seen they had on hand works for the Post Office estimated to cost £1,096,000. To put aside £200,000 or £300,000 towards providing works which were going to cost £2,000,000 meant that it would take five years to complete the work. It was realty a waste of money to start a work unless they had enough money to push on quickly with it. That sum of £1,096,000 did not include sites which were lying dormant and idle, and which would 'mean another £1,000,000, so 1349 that positively there were £2,000,000 the work for which required to be finished in order to be utilised for the benefit of the Revenue and the public. He thought there was a change required in that system, especially regarding the Post Office. He would take a particular case in his own knowledge. Nearly three years ago a new site for a Post Office was required at Liverpool at a cost of no less than £180,000, and that site was lying idle. The present Post Office had been condemned as unsanitary by the Medical Officer of Health, and as an unfit place for the clerks of the Post Office to reside in. In consequence of that, the late Mr. Raikes was induced to favour the purchase of this large site for the erection of a Post Office: and, therefore, not only had they a site lying idle and a consequent loss of interest on money, but it was positively injurious to the health of the postal officials who have to remain in the old Post Office which had been condemned. What did they find? After three years, on a building which was to cost £180,000 this year, the small sum of £6,000 was asked to go on with the work. The plans had been passed, the contract made, and there was a splendid opportunity for the work to be gone on with. The defence of the First Commissioner of Works in regard to the Science and Art Department building was, that it would be idle to commence a building which would cost £400,000 if they could only have £10,000 or £15,000. What would be his defence in regard to a building which was to cost £180,000, the contract for which had been made, and in regard to which he only proposed to spend £6,000? In Leeds, a new Post Office was commenced in 1890 or 1891, which was to cost £76,000; but so little money had been taken for that undertaking, that at the end of this year there would yet remain 50 per cent. of the work unexecuted, although four years would have elapsed since its commencement. In Sheffield, in 1890. a new Post Office was commenced at a cost of £14,500,and it would have taken four years when the work was completed. In Glasgow, Post Office Buildings which were to cost £30,000 were commenced in 1889, and they would not be completed by March 1894.
§ MR. FORWOOD
He endeavoured, at the opening of his remarks, to show that I his was not a Party question. It was the fault of the system on which they proceeded. There was no doubt that hon. Members of that House came to the Postmaster General, or the Secretary to the Treasury, and said that the most important post office that could be built was in the particular Member's constituency; and then it was a very satisfactory thing—especially if it was near an Election—for that hon. Member to go down to his constituents and tell them he had got this new post office from the Tory or the Radical Government, as the case might be. Thus it came about that, instead of having 20 or 30 works on which £200,000 could be spent, and the works completed, they undertook no fewer than 64, and dribbled and frittered away their resources over them. The Post Office was a revenue-producing undertaking, and ought not to be subjected to the exigencies of the Exchequer. They ought to have such financial arrangements come to that, when a post office was really wanted, the work should be commenced and carried through without delay. They should treat this as any public undertaking should be treated. It was capital expenditure, and ought to be spread over a reasonable number of years. If barracks and fortifications could be provided and paid for by the money being spread over a series of years, surely they could spread the payment for the post offices over a period of years, and so insure such necessary works being completed within a reasonable period of time. He disclaimed having brought this matter forward in any way as a personal attack on his right hon. Friend, the Secretary to the Treasury or the present Government: but the fault was with all Governments, for it was in the system. The way the Estimates were prepared and laid before them was such as to make them misleading and unintelligible, and he was surprised they were allowed to pass the 1351 Public Accounts Committee and Controller and Auditor General. He hoped this matter would receive attention, and that they would not allow these sites to remain waste after having cost such an enormous sum of public money.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
(who rose a minute or two before midnight) said, the right hon. Gentleman had not left him time to reply. It was no doubt a question of capital expenditure, and as such deserved consideration.
Mr. T. M. Healy
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
called attention to the post office at Preston, where the accommodation was totally inadequate for the requirements of the town.
§ It being Midnight, the Chairman proceeded to interrupt the Business.
§ Whereupon Mr. T. M. Healy rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ And the Chairman left the Chair to make his report to the House.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Two of the clock.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.