§ 5. £23,282, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Legal Expenses.
§ SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
desired to call the attention of the Committee to one or two subjects under this head, and more particularly to the Railway Commission. That Commission consisted of three Commissioners—one a Judge and two other members—and a Registrar, and it was proposed to make a grant in respect of it of £7,000. The duties of such a body were very important and ought to be extremely useful to the community, because they dealt with such questions as undue preference as between Railway Companies and traders. It was a Court of Appeal in respect of questions of terminals and the like, and it was generally, or might be, a tribunal for the better regulation of questions of transport and travel. Such a tribunal was eminently needed for the purpose of dealing 1365 with all these important questions and others. He should ask the Committee whether they thought the Railway Commission fulfilled the demands made upon it? One test he should apply to its usefulness would be the extent to which it was resorted to. The sittings last year were 15 in number, so that the cost of the Railway Commission for each sitting was practically very nearly £500, in addition to which a Judge gave his time as a member of the Court. He thought that was not an adequate use of what might be a very useful tribunal. When they came to consider what the objections to it were, and why it was so little resorted to, he thought they should come to the conclusion it was because its procedure, as a sort of High Court, was extremely technical; inevitably, almost, great delays took place in dealing with questions which were brought under its consideration, and the tribunal itself was essentially far too costly a one. One objection to the Railway Commission was that according to the rule of the Common Law Courts the costs generally abided the event. These costs were readily incurred and paid by the rich Railway Companies with all their resources. These Companies had also at their command experts for preparing evidence and the like, which was utterly impossible to individual traders. On the other hand, he quite recognised that individual and small traders could not compete on equal terms, and naturally shrank from resorting to a tribunal which might involve them in having to bear an expenditure of possibly some hundreds and even some thousands of pounds. There was, indeed, one case brought before the Railway Rates Committee in which one trader did appear and conducted his case personally at small expense; bat that was an exceptional case, and it was not to be expected for a moment that this was a course which traders generally could take. The Commission had very considerable work which it might do. For his own part he should be disposed to say its jurisdiction might well be enlarged if, and when, reformed. He thought it would be desirable it should then have power not only over questions of undue preference, but also with regard to reasonable or unreasonable rates, and certainly it would seem to be desirable 1366 that when a solution had been attempted and failed, between a Railway Company on the one hand and a trader on the other—when that took place under Section 31 of the Act of 1888, it ought to be open to the Board of Trade itself to refer any proper case to the Railway Commission for the purpose of determining and bringing it to a proper conclusion. Under the Conciliation Clause of the Act, valuable as it had been in many respects, and admirably worked by the Railway Department, there was no power to enforce any decision at all, therefore power should be given either to the conciliatory body itself or to some other tribunal—say the reformed Railway Commission.—of enforcing a decision. In other words, in a proper case sanction should be given to the law which at present existed. He would mention that this tribunal did not follow what had become the ordinary rule with reference to sittings. The whole Court consisted of three members. The present system in the Common Law and Chancery Divisions was for single Judges to sit, and he would suggest that the members of this Court might sit singly, and that the Registrar of the Court, who was necessarily unoccupied a great deal of the year, might also give attention to minor cases and decide them, subject to the supervision, if necessary, of the Commission itself. He thought a new rule altogether might be introduced as to costs—say the Parliamentary rule which prevailed in their own Committee-rooms, under which, save in exceptional cases, each party bore his own costs. There was a power, in the last resort, where a case was frivolously brought forward or misconducted, in which costs could be enforced. He suggested that this rule should be adopted, and each party bear his own costs in the absence of a contrary decision by the Commission, and he believed even the Railway Companies themselves would not be averse to some alteration of the rule in that direction. He hoped at no distant date, whatever might be done with regard to railway rates themselves, that this tribunal would be reformed and made what it ought to be—a Court readily accessible, cheap, and adapted to the purpose in view. In other words, that it should become 1367 exactly what it was not, and should serve the wants of the traders and trade as well as the Railway Companies, and should be a Court to which access could be readily had at no great expense, and in which decisions on the points he had mentioned could be readily obtained. The next point to which he desired to direct attention was the Vote for the expenses of Extradition. He ventured to say the power of extradition—which at one time was viewed from a political standpoint and viewed adversely—was one which should be greatly extended, and so far from obstacles being placed in the way of the extradition of criminals, facilities should be given for that purpose. It was to the interest of any State to get rid of those who had committed offences against the laws of other countries, and certainly it was highly objectionable that people who had committed offences in this country should be able to escape to other places and there defy the law and create a sense of injustice and feeling against the administration of justice in this country. He did not wish to take a personal instance, but there was one most notable case in which most grievous wrong and injury had been inflicted on large bodies of the poorest people of this country, where homes had been desolated and where there had been most manifest plunder on the part of someone who had simply gone to another country, and was now practically defying the laws of our own State. He ventured to think that was a most undesirable state of affairs, and he should be glad if the Minister in charge would tell them exactly how it was—when the Argentine Republic offered to surrender that person why some reciprocal concessions were not made, and why every facility we could offer was not proffered, and proffered very strongly, in return for the extradition of one who had done so much harm in this country. He thought every possible facility in both directions should be given for the extradition of criminals. With regard to another element of this Vote—that with reference to the Wreck Commission—he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether any decision had been come to, and, if so, carried out, as to the presence of owners at the examination of witnesses for the purpose of making their depositions at the Custom House in 1368 cases of wreck casualties? A strong point had been made for many years at Hull, that whereas many witnesses were examined at the Custom House with a view to the use of their testimony upon the Board of Trade Inquiry, that the owners of the vessels who under the present law might be made civilly liable to a very large amount, and even criminally, were excluded from the opportunity of putting questions to check such testimony when being given. His experience was that if a nautical witness had once made a statement, and that statement had been taken down in writing, it was a most difficult thing to displace that testimony in any possible way. It became crystallised whether it were accurate or not, and it was almost impossible to get any variation of that testimony afterwards. He thought opportunity should be given to those incriminated to take, at the earliest stages, all possible means of testing the reliability, truth and veracity of such statements. He hoped he should receive answers to the points he had raised.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
agreed with the hon. Member in his remarks as to these Commissions. With regard to the question of extradition, he was surprised to hear the hon. Member say that he wished to see extradition extended. To his mind nothing was more sacred than the right of asylum afforded in this country; it was a right which should be most jealously and sacredly guarded, and a person only given up under stress of the direst necessity. He observed that expenses had been incurred in arresting and delivering up foreign criminals here, whilst we had to pay expenses in regard to our criminals arrested in foreign countries. If we paid our expenses for the arrest of our criminals in foreign countries, foreign countries ought to pay their expenses in this country with regard to the arrest of their criminals. He found in the Votes that we paid an auditor of the Welsh Sheriffs' Accounts £180 a year. He did not find any other Sheriffs' Accounts were audited except Welsh Sheriffs. Did the Welsh Sheriffs alone require 1369 their accounts to be audited? This auditor was a pluralist of the worst kind. He not only had £180 a year as auditor of the Welsh Sheriffs' Accounts, but he held the position of Receiver of Crown Rents under the Office of Forests and Woods, his salary for which was £900 a year, and in addition he received £100 a year from the Vote for superannuation for compensation for the Office of Assistant Receiver of Hereditary Revenues. After spending a long and useful life in collecting these hereditary revenues, he was superannuated, and got £100 a year to keep him for the rest of his declining years, and then he was immediately appointed Receiver of Crown Rents at £900 a year, and then sent down to Wales to audit the Sheriffs' accounts, for which he received another £180 a year. He thus got £180 a year for one office, £900 for another, and then £100 a year because he was incapable of doing any work at all.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Then conscience was at last awakened. He next came to the Wreck Commission, which entailed an expenditure of £1,000 a year. This Commission was first appointed in 1876 to investigate wrecks and their causes. These wrecks had gone on for many hundred years without wanting any Commissioner or Commission for that purpose. This Commission was then appointed to inquire and issue a Report. It began to inquire in the year 1876, and went on inquiring; but the extraordinary thing about the Commission was that it had no effect at all on the wrecks. On the contrary, they rather increased with this Wreck Commission; and at last, in 1888, the Commissioner resigned, and since then the Commission had not acted at all.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Precisely. That was what he said. The Commissioner resigned, but the Commission, or rather the salary, remained. This Commission now was a mere wreck, a mere shell from which the kernel had departed. In the last year in which the Commissioner sat and exercised his function as a Commissioner there were 1,013 wrecks. The Commissioner ceased inquiring, and the wrecks began to fall. The following year they came down to 906, and in the last year they were only 771. It showed that whatever else the Commissioner did, he did not stop the wrecks; but, on the contrary, they had a tendency to be much larger under the régime of the Commission than they were now. The Commissioner, as he had said, had gone; but the rudimentary tail remained, and it consisted of one senior clerk at £600 a year, and a junior at £400 a year—a total of £1,000, with a large sum for travelling and other expenses. What were the duties of the chief clerk? He had duties when there was a Commissioner; but now there were no Commissioners he could not conceive what the duty of this gentleman could be, unless it was to transmit some claims or some remarks made by those who actually conducted inquiries into wrecks. These inquiries were still carried on—and much better than they were before—by Magistrates. These Magistrates got in fees £500 a year, Magistrates' Clerks and local Court keepers £600 a year; hire of Courts £135 a year—a total of £1,235. So that the two clerks who did nothing got £1,000, and the Magistrates who conducted all the inquiries got £1,235. If that was not abuse he did not know an abuse when he saw one. The Magistrates did the real work. In the year 1891-2 some 229 formal inquires were held. He was very glad these inquiries were held, as they should be, before properly-constituted Magistrates, acting in a proper judicial manner. But what he wanted to know was why this rudimentary tail of the Commission remained at £1,000 a year when there had been no 1371 Commissioner since 1888? When there was no Commissioner, why should they retain such remnants of the Commission as a senior and junior clerk? He contended that they had no work to perform, and their offices should be abolished.
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
said, with reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for South Islington (Sir A. Rollit) as to the Railway Inquiry Commission that the constitution of that Commission and its powers were discussed and determined so recently as some few years ago. With reference to the question of expenses, no doubt it was necessary there should be a permanent staff in connection with such an important body. As regarded the question of costs, he differed with the hon. and learned Member in saying that each of the parties should pay their costs. He was of opinion that the party found to be in error should, as heretofore, pay the costs. As regarded the question of extradition, he need not remind the hon. and learned Member or the Committee that extradition depended entirely on Treaties with foreign countries. He was informed by those who knew the circumstances that every step had been taken that it was possible to take to secure the extradition of the particular person to whom the hon. and learned Gentleman referred. The difficulty had arisen because of the fact that the Argentine Republic declined to ratify a Treaty which, if ratified, would have given this country the right to insist on the extradition of this particular person. That Treaty was entered into as far back as 1889, and the Government had pressed for its ratification by the Argentine Republic; but they had not been able to succeed. He was unable to satisfy the inquiry of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Gibson Bowles) as to the auditor of the accounts of the Welsh Sheriffs, and he must refer him to someone else for information on that head. As regarded the Wreck Commission, he really though the criticism of the hon. Member was 1372 hardly just. When they remembered the services rendered to the shipping trade and the interests of commerce generally by the inquiries which had to be made into casualties at sea, he thought no one in that House who understood the necessities of that important branch of commerce in this country would for a moment object to the expenditure on this head. What had happened was this: The Wreck Commissioner had ceased to be a permanent establishment in this country, and what had been done under the powers of the Act of 1876 was that the Lord Chancellor had, under Section 29 of that Act, from time to time requisitioned the services of Stipendiary Magistrates to inquire into the circumstances under which casualties arose. When the hon. Member referred to the expenses of the establishment and of these inquiries, he hardly thought, looking to the number and character of these inquiries, that a total expenditure of £7,000 was a very extravagant item. With regard to the two clerks, these officers had to make all arrangements for the inquiries, to arrange the appointment of assessors, to notify all the parties concerned, and, in short, to keep the machine of inquiry going. He submitted, therefore, that there was little just ground for the criticism of the hon. Member.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, he would like to know whether any arrangement had been made for the Railway Commission carrying out the duties that devolved upon them in consequence of the passing of the Hours of Railway Servants Act? He asked what was the amount received in stamps or fees for business transacted before the Railway Commission?
MR. T. H. BOLTON
said, he did not think that any distinct comparison could be made between a suitor in an ordinary Court of Law and a person who, in his own interest to a certain extent, but to a larger extent in the interest of the public, raised the question of the propriety of certain rates charged to the public, and took the matter before the Commissioners. Such a man had a great deal to encounter, because he had to fight a great and powerful Corporation, and very frequently 1373 had to meet the very highest legal talent and fight at very considerable expense. It was hardly fair, therefore, to say that he should be punished by the payment of costs, which would fall upon the unsuccessful litigant in the ordinary course of things. He cordially agreed with all that had been said by the hon. Member for South Islington. There was a strong feeling on the part of the public that the Railway Commission should have increased powers conferred upon it, and its procedure altered and revised, so that it could deal not only with cases of preferential rates, but in many other cases of hardship and grievance which the general public suffered in railway matters. If the Commission were strengthened in this way it would be a very popular reform.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, the fees received from the Railway Commission for work done were estimated at £250 for the year. He might say that under the Conveyance of Mails Act, which had been passed by the Post Office, it was proposed to give the Railway Commission considerable work in arbitrating on the points of difference between the Railway Companies and the Post Office Authorities.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he noticed in the Estimates an item for the repayment of Sheriffs' expenses incurred in providing lodgings for Judges on Circuit. In a good many counties—including his own County of Stafford—they provided lodgings for the Judges in the County Hall, and he was not aware they got anything back for it out of the Imperial Purse. It was rather hard on those counties which provided for the expenses of the Judges to have to contribute to those other counties where lodgings were found for the Judges at the public expense.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, wherever an old Assize was held a certain amount was allowed by the Treasury; but wherever a new Assize was established, such as in Manchester or Birmingham, no money was given for that purpose. Even in Stafford they had probably been in receipt of a certain amount of money.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he did not think so. He saw that expenses had been incurred in arresting criminals in the United States. So far as he could see, they had also to pay expenses supposing American criminals were arrested in the United Kingdom. Was there no reciprocal arrangement?
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
replied, that there was a reciprocal arrangement. If the American Government caught a criminal for this country in the United States we had to pay the expenses, and, in the same way, they had to pay us the expenses incurred in the capture of an American criminal in this country.
§ Vote agreed to.
6. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £177,902, 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 such of the Salaries and Expenses of the Supreme Court of Judicature as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund.
MR. T. H. BOLTON
inquired whether the Government were quite satisfied with the work done by the Official Referees? So far as he had any information, the Office was more or less a practical failure. The work would be better done by arbitrators selected by the parties; and he therefore wished to know whether, when a vacancy occurred, the Government would abolish the office altogether? He suggested that there might be a transfer of the present occupants to some other offices which it would not be infra dig. for them to accept, and by this means they could get rid of the appointments altogether. So much for the Referees. He now came to the case of the Clerk of the Crown Office in Chancery. In this case he would point out that the duties of the Office were nominal, and that it was absurd to supply this official with four Clerks at salaries ranging from £300 to £600 a year. He would suggest that an early opportunity should be taken to transfer the duties of the office to some other Department. He wished also to mention a matter connected with the Chief Clerks and the 1375 other Clerks of the Chancery Division, the Registrars and their Clerks, and the Taxing Masters and their Clerks. He believed that a proposal had been made that these offices should be amalgamated; but, speaking from experience, he thought the duties of each Department were separate and distinct, and under these circumstances it would be unwise to throw all the duties of these offices together merely with the result of again separating them and afterwards appointing other officers to discharge the duties. Generally, he might say that he doubted the wisdom of the suggested amalgamation, and he hoped the matter would be reconsidered.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT,) Derby
said, there was no foundation for the suggestion that an amalgamation of these offices was proposed.
MR. T. H. BOLTON
said, he was glad to have an assurance on the point, and to learn that the proposal had been abandoned. The next question to which he would refer was that of the Clerks of Assizes. The salaries of these gentlemen ranged from £300 to £1,000 a year. He would like to point out that their duties, for these large salaries, were of a very nominal character. In his opinion they were greatly overpaid. They were only employed for a few hours or so per day for about three months in the year. They were permanent officials, and drew the salaries he referred to. It was, no doubt, necessary that the Judges should have sufficient officials, but he did not see why they should have an unnecessary number. He did not think there was any waste of time in referring to such a matter, which, he hoped, would be looked into. Another item to which he would call attention on this Vote was the payment of District Probate Registrars. The sums paid to these officials were considerable, although their work was of a merely formal kind. The registries were badly distributed, many of them being in small towns which were not easily accessible, and their number might be reduced with advantage, the distribution to be made in a manner which 1376 would be more convenient. He hoped that, when possible, a rearrangement of the offices to which he had called attention would be effected. It was in the interests of efficiency and economy that this should be done. There were other items to which he would have wished to call attention, but he would not detain the Committee at that lates hour.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he would only interpose for a moment in order to refer to the appointment of a gentleman, who was not previously a member of the Civil Service, to the post of Deputy Assistant to the Paymaster General of the Supreme Court. This appointment was viewed with jealousy—very natural jealousy, he thought—by Civil servants who had entered the service of the State after passing a severe competitive examination, and who considered that they had a moral claim to positions which they regarded as the prizes of the profession, He would like it to be clearly understood that there was no personal question in this. He did not raise it on personal grounds. He understood the gentleman who had obtained the position was a capable, accomplished, and efficient officer. But that was not the question: the question was one of principle, and he really thought the Civil Service had a right to an explanation of such an appointment. He had no desire to recall the decision in this particular question; but he wanted to have it understood that, in all cases of the kind in future, the patronage would be kept within the Service itself. He hoped the Financial Secretary would be able to give him an assurance on that point.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
It was a fact that the gentleman to whom the hon. Baronet referred was brought into the office from outside. If there was any blame in the matter it must fall upon the shoulders of the late Government, because the appointment was made before they went out of Office. He had not been able to ascertain why they had 1377 passed over persons in the office, but, no doubt, they had good reasons for doing so. He had himself a strong sympathy with Civil servants in regard to the right of promotion, and he would always be glad to recognise their claims; but in this case he could only repeat that there were very likely good reasons on the part of the late Government for making this appointment.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
said, he would just for a moment direct attention to the appointment of Clerks of Assize and of the salaries paid to these gentlemen. His principal objection was on the score of patronage—the manner in which the patronage in the matter, which lay in the hands of the Judges, was distributed. He thought it was very unsatisfactory. The gentlemen appointed might be very admirable officials, but it was difficult to help noticing that there was something not entirely right in allowing Judges to appoint their own Registrars. It was remarkable, at all events, that on the North and South Wales Circuits the gentlemen who filled those posts bore the honoured names of Judges of the Supreme Court. The Clerk of Assize on the one circuit was Mr. Crompton, and on the other Mr. Coleridge, a son of the present Lord Chief Justice. It seemed to him that it was entirely wrong to allow Judges to appoint their sons Clerks of Assize—more especially when they were not members of the circuit at all. He would ask the Attorney General whether the time had not come for a change in the method of appointing these gentlemen, and whether, at least, a member of the Circuit ought not always to be appointed?
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he entirely agreed with the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down with regard to these appointments. He would remind the Committee that out of five cases of extra remuneration mentioned by the Auditor General last year two were the sons of Judges. Mr. S. W. B. Coleridge, to whom the hon. Member had referred, got 1378 two guineas a day extra as an Acting Associate in the Royal Courts of Justice; his brother, Mr. G. J. D. Coleridge, who was Private Secretary to the Lord Chief Justice, also got two guineas a day as Acting Associate in the same Courts, and had since got an appointment of £1,400 a year. It was really time to protest against these appointments by Judges of their own relations. The hon. Member for North St. Pancras (Mr. Bolton) had referred to Official Referees. He thought the hon. Gentleman had attacked these officials somewhat unjustly. He found the advantage of the Official Referee in a case in which he was concerned, and he could testify to the remarkably able manner in which the duty imposed upon the official was discharged. It was agreed that each side should pay his own costs, and for that reason, and because he knew his case better than any solicitor or barrister could have known it, he fought it himself. Some thousands of pounds were at stake. Mr. Ridley did his work admirably, and only charged them 10s. an hour for Court fees. He (Mr. Hanbury) won his case for £10 on a hearing extending over some days. He, therefore, felt bound to defend the Official Referees; but they were the only people connected with the Courts that he could defend in any way. The cost of these Courts was enormous, and it was impossible from these Estimates to see whom they were paying. He ventured to say that there were no Votes in which there were so many stars and crosses and double crosses against the names as there were in this. There were no Estimates in which there were so many pecuniary allowances, and that meant that they were paying too much for the work done. These officials claimed to be under a certain status, and they were fighting their case very hard. The Lord Chancellor was trying to introduce something like order and regularity in his Supreme Court of Judicature Bill, but in his efforts he was resisted and fought by every one of the Judges. In the House of Lords the Bill was fought by the Master of the Rolls and every one who had patronage to lose. He (Mr. Hanbury) thought these things should be under one head, and he could not 1379 see why they should not be under the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor. He did not think the Bill to which he referred had yet passed the Second Reading in the House of Lords, but when it reached the House of Commons, he hoped that a great deal that had been put in in the Lords would be struck out. There were a great many pluralists in the Vote, and every one of the salaries was in excess of the ordinary maximum. On the first page there was this remark on several items, "to be reconsidered," "to be reduced," or "to be abolished," but those things did not happen. Looking at page 214 he found there was an "extra" Registrar appointed at £1,200 a year. There were only three last year, but this year there were four, yet it was stated in the Estimates that the next vacancy would not be filled up. Why was this fourth Registrar appointed if the next vacancy was not to be filled up? This gentleman, he was afraid, had very little legal knowledge, for prior to his appointment he was engaged in administering oaths at £350 a year. His present salary was £1,200 a year. There were "extra" charges also for "Associates." With regard to the Chancery Division Registrar's Office—which was an Office especially attacked by the late Mr. Jennings in 1888—reforms had been promised, but since 1888 the cost of the Office, instead of being reduced, had considerably increased. The cost was some £200 or £300 a year more than it was five years ago. In regard to the Taxing Master's Office, they were told that consolidation was under consideration, with a view to a reduction in the appointments; but the number of first class clerks in the Office was the same this year as last, and in the meantime one of the clerks had been transferred from the Taxing Master's Office to the Lunacy Department. Here, again, the Government had an opportunity of carrying out their pledges, but they had neglected to avail themselves of it. In three cases offices had become vacant, and they had been filled up, in spite of promises. Then, he objected to the allowances of £7 10s. a day to the Judges as "Circuit Expenses." He objected on principle. The Judges were paid out of the Consolidated Fund, so that they should be removed from 1380 criticism, and their action should not be subject to review on the Estimates. But this privilege the Judges themselves deliberately sacrificed. Drawing the large salaries they did, they came to the House of Commons and claimed this paltry sum of £7 10s. a day for expenses while on circuit. The sum was too much, and, moreover, it ought not to be charged on the Estimates. The Judges, by making the claim, put both themselves and the House of Commons in a false position. He trusted they would see a discontinuance of these allowances. With reference to the District Probate Registry, he believed there was a battle going on between the Lord Chancellor and the Judge responsible for the Registry—namely, the President of the Probate and Divorce Court. He had been told that if the Judge of the Probate Court would give up the patronage which he clung to very persistently it would be possible to save a good deal of heavy cost of this Registry. The work could be done by the County Court Judges or the District Registrars of the High Court. It was only right that attention should be called to these matters.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I must begin by saying that I very much agree and sympathise with the spirit and the details of what the hon. Member has said. We are engaged at the Treasury in a contest against these judicial charges; but, unfortunately, a great number of them are secured by Act of Parliament. Large as these salaries and expenses were, they practically cost nothing to the Exchequer. The hon. Member very properly referred to an attempt we made this year to put these charges on a better footing. That attempt was defeated. Unfortunately, it is not in the power of the Treasury in many cases to deal with these matters. But I would point out that, large as their expenses are, they practically cost nothing to the Exchequer. The salaries of the Judges are on the Consolidated Fund, and the whole of the rest of the charges are more than covered by the fees received. There is no reason why we should not endeavour to diminish these charges. I can assure the hon. Member that everything is 1381 being done to keep these judicial charges down. In that matter I have had some success, and I hope I shall have more. I trust we may now be allowed to take the Vote.
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, these Estimates as they were framed afforded no means of ascertaining whether the charges to suitors were fair and reasonable or not. No doubt, in civil cases, charges should be made, but in criminal cases the parties should not be called upon to pay such large sums. There was nothing in the Estimates to show that the litigants did not really pay more than the cost of the law.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, he was sorry the exigencies of time would not allow him to criticise these Votes as they ought to be criticised. The extravagance which took place in connection with these Votes was scandalous, and yet they saw that the increase this year was £2,200. This increase occurred, notwithstanding that they were every year promised, in marginal notes, that there would be no increase. He was not sure that the time was not coming when it would be necessary to discuss the Judges' salaries, and consider the allegations made as to their putting relatives in office. They could not do it on the Estimates, but there was another method which could be adopted. With regard to the Circuit allowances, he considered them altogether illegal. The Judges had no right to put these charges on the Estimates, their salaries being intended to cover everything. He could only conclude that the practice had been adopted for the purpose of favouring some individual. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, he knew, had courage enough to look into these matters—and it required a Minister of courage to deal with them. He would, therefore, ask the right hon. Gentleman to give an undertaking that the matter would not be lost sight of, and that, if necessary, he would propose legislation. There would be no difficulty in getting legislation passed. The right hon. Gentleman wanted money, and if he was not careful he would have to put another 1d. or 2d. on the Income Tax, and hon. Gentlemen opposite would not like that.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
wished to know if it was not the practice on all Circuits, except the two Welsh Circuits, for Clerks of Assize to be appointed from amongst the members of the Circuit?
§ SIR C. RUSSELL
said, that these appointments were by Statute vested in the Judges. His impression was that it was not the practice to appoint members of the Circuit. With regard to the appointment of relatives, was it to be inferred from the questions asked that the persons who had been selected were not competent?
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ 7. £3,830, to complete the sum for Land Registry.
§ 8. £24,200, to complete the sum for County Courts.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
said, that this was an important Vote, and he had one or two points to raise on it. In the first place, he thought the time had come when there ought to be a revision of the scale of costs and fees in County Courts paid by suitors. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board had taken great interest in the matter, and would admit that the fees were too high. He (Mr. S. T. Evans) would be glad to have an assurance from the Government that the matter was receiving their attention. He had made suggestions on various occasions, one of which he would now repeat—namely, that when the scale of costs came to be revised there ought to be two scales laid down; one in respect of contentious business which was tried by the Judge, and another to apply to cases in which the County Court was used as a debt-collecting agency. At present, when the County Court was used as a debt-collecting agency, the defendant very often had to pay 30s. in the £1 instead of 20s., owing to the unreasonable piling up of costs, and it was this system that he wished to see done away with. In referring to Sub-head B, he was speaking 1383 for all Members from the Principality. There was in the Estimates an item of £20 for "Prosecutions for assaults on bailiffs, and other law expenses." He wished to know how much had been paid in respect of these "assaults" arising out of the Tithe Act of 1891. He had to complain that the costs of these prosecutions were paid for out of the public funds, the offences very often consisting merely of nudging a man as he was getting over a fence. It was too bad that these bailiffs should, of their free will, without check, be permitted to make complaint to the County Court, and to get their expenses and costs paid out of the public purse. He should like to hear that these prosecutions would not be paid for in this manner in future. There might be some cases where it was desirable, but in nine cases out of ten it was not. And the fact that it might be said that the tithe bailiffs were in "the execution of their duty" was no justification, for the same could very often be said of policemen who were assaulted, and yet the Treasury did not always consider it necessary to bear the cost of prosecuting. The fact was, the public money was being used in this way for the collection of tithe to sustain the parsons of the Established Church in Wales.
MR. BEUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
wished to call public attention to the scandalously large proportion of commitments to prison from the County Court of Middlesbrough. A friend of his was in Court a short time ago, and heard a specimen of the sort of evidence upon which the gentleman who sat there was induced to commit a prisoner. The Judge asked, "Have you any proof that this man is able to pay the debt?" The answer was, "I saw him at work last week"; whereupon the defendant was committed for 28 days.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
With reference to the point raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Glamorgan (Mr. S. T. Evans), of course the County Courts are practically self-supporting as far as these Estimates are concerned. I quite agree that the fees are enormous, and that the cost of the County Courts is enormous. I have maintained for years 1384 that the establishment needs very large reductions, as there are many County Court Judges who might do double or treble the work they do. I can, however, give the Committee the assurance that the Lord Chancellor is looking into the question. As to the sum for prosecutions for assaults on bailiffs, the amount seems to be fixed. I understand that the Director of Public Prosecutions is never allowed to interfere in these cases except where the County Court Judge takes the initiative.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
pointed out that there was a loss on the County Courts of £200,000 per annum, and said that in the City of London, where the Corporation managed its own Court and paid high salaries to everybody connected with it, they made a large profit. His opinion was that the County Courts generally would be much better managed if they were placed under the control of the County Councils and Municipal Authorities.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 9. £3,498, to complete the sum for Police Courts, London and Sheerness.
§ MR. HAYES FISHER (Fulham)
said, that very great inconvenience was caused to tradesmen and others in West London owing to the undermanning of the Police Courts. He wished to know whether the consideration which he understood the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir W. Harcourt) had given to the question of appointing two new Police Magistrates in London had had any practical result.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Whenever London does whatever every other large town does, and pays its own Magistrates, I have no doubt more will be appointed. Though we have great difficulty in getting rid of the abuse which already exists, we are certainly not going to extend that abuse. I gave an undertaking early in the Session that we would communicate with the London County 1385 Council on this subject. The Treasury has addressed a letter to the County Council, and I hope that no long time will expire before this matter is put upon the footing upon which it ought to be placed. It has been discussed over and over again in this House, and I have always taken the line that London, the richest town in the United Kingdom, should not have paid out of the pockets of the taxpayers that which every other town pays for itself.
MR. POWELL-WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)
said, he had intended to raise the point with regard to which the right hon. Gentleman had just made such a satisfactory statement. He thought it was desirable to point out on another subject that the imposition by Magistrates of fines rather than of imprisonment was not only a wholesome thing in itself, but had this desirable effect—that when the account came to be made up, instead of there being an additional charge for the cost of imprisonment, there was an additional sum in relief of the expenses.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 10. £35,385, to complete the sum for Police, England and Wales.
§ MR. E. H. BAYLEY (Camberwell, N.)
said, there was a strong feeling in the Metropolitan Police Force on the subject of a supply of summer clothing for the Police. Some time ago the Home Secretary told him that he had consulted the Chief Commissioner and the Surgeon General on the subject, and they had informed him they did not think any change was necessary. The right hon. Gentleman said the climate was variable, and the obvious answer was that the clothing ought to vary. The truth was that the high officials who thought summer clothing was unnecessary for the men went about themselves in the middle of the summer dressed in the most light and airy garments. If they had, like their men, to stand for hours at a stretch in a broiling sun, with heavy tunics buttoned up to the chin and wearing heavy helmets, a change would be brought about at once. The climate of 1386 London was not more variable than that of the Provincial towns, where light tunics were supplied to the Police during the summer months.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fife, E.
I am sure that nobody is more solicitous for the welfare of the Police than the present Commissioner, and I was rather sorry to hear my hon. Friend suggest that he showed any want of care for his men. I will undertake to recall the matter to his notice again, and to see whether it is desirable that anything should be done.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 11. £352,637, to complete the sum for Prisons, England and the Colonies.
§ VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Rochester)
said he must refer for a moment or two to a matter in which the interests of his constituents were concerned. It related to the grievances of the warders of convict prisons. In the first place, their hours were very long. While the members of the Metropolitan Police Force were on duty only eight hours a day, or, including the time occupied in reaching their beats, not more than nine hours, the warders of convict prisons were on duty from 10 to 10½ hours, deducting the time allowed for rest and meals, while they had 8½ hours of night duty. This was the state of things with regard to all prison warders. The case of Borstal was very exceptional. The Borstal Prison was very badly constructed, and this largely affected the number of men who had to be on duty at one time. Ten men had to be employed at Borstal for patrol duty for every three employed in other convict prisons, and patrol duty had to be performed in addition to the long hours of ordinary work. An additional hardship at Borstal was that the men were not accommodated in the prison, or in every case near the prison, and in some instances they had to go as much as a mile to reach their own homes. An enormous number of hours had to be worked at the time when they changed night duty for day duty or day duty for 1387 night duty. Deducting the periods of rest allowed, he estimated that they worked 13½ hours on these occasions, during which time they had to keep close supervision over the prisoners. The only request he had to make to the Home Secretary was that, in view of these very long hours, the men should have a little more relief in the matter of holidays. When a man was on night duty he had no half-holiday at all on a Saturday. The night watchman at Borstal seemed to be a very much overworked individual, and he was off duty only every other Sunday. He worked as many as 11 hours every night, with perhaps an hour off a night. When a warder was on night duty it was too hard that he should be deprived of his usual weekly half-holiday. He thought there was a case for inquiry. These men were not properly treated; and he hoped the Home Secretary would be prepared to state that the case was one that he would not overlook.
§ MR. LUTTRELL (Devon, Tavistock)
said, he had had special opportunities of knowing the grievances that existed amongst these men, and he thought it incumbent upon him to make their views known to the Committee and to the Home Secretary before the passing of this Vote. They might be right or they might be wrong with reference to their attitude; but he had examined carefully into these grievances, and he had come to the conclusion that these men had a just and equitable claim for the amelioration of their condition. In his criticism on these matters he wished to say that he did so in no hostile spirit. It was only fair, in his opinion, that if grievances existed they should be brought to light; it was fair to both the Government and to those who suffered that the matter should be brought to the notice of the House. Whether rightly or wrongly, grievances did exist, and on a careful consideration, as he had said, he was of opinion there was, at least, claim for consideration. He would first deal with the case of the storekeepers and clerks. Their case was 1388 that there was unfair classification, and that the prospects held out to them had not been fulfilled. They entered a special examination on nomination and by payment of a fee of £3. But it was understood and authoritatively stated by the Circular which gave them notice of the examination that those who paid a fee of £3 would be entitled to a salary of £400; and, though they entered on these conditions, they were now in an inferior position to those who entered at the ordinary examinations. It was impossible for any of them to have more than £326 a year, and the great bulk of them could never obtain more than £200 a year. This he considered to be very unfair to these men. Then as to the question of classification. When these men entered there were three grades, which had been increased to six in 1880, and reduced to five at a later period. It now stood at five. There were first-class storekeepers, second-class storekeepers; first-class clerks, acting as storekeepers; first-class clerks, second-class clerks. But, although there were five different classes, there were only two sorts of works; and his contention was that similar work, entailing similar responsibilities, should have a similar treatment, and that there should be an amalgamation of those classes. He wished to press upon the Home Secretary the desirability of having a Parliamentary Committee to inquire into these grievances—a Committee before which the men would be enabled to give their views, and the report of which could be made public, so that they might have a chance of enforcing a remedy for the grievances that were complained of. He next wished to say a few words regarding the question of the school-matrons. These officials had become redundant on account of the diminution of the number of prisoners at which he was sure they all rejoiced, the school-masters were, in his opinion, in a very unsatisfactory position. They were attached as clerks, and were ignorant of their classification from day to day, and did not know their prospects. Before becoming shoolmasters they passed two years at a training college, and received certificates. Surely these men could not 1389 be said to be justly treated under the system that prevailed? It had been suggested that it should be transferred to some other Department. Well, if this were done it would be well to transfer them to some other Department where there were not the difficulties that existed in the present state of affairs. For his own part, he would suggest the Education Department. In this Department there was no likelihood of stagnation, and it was the Education Department which was in the proud position of being mainly responsible for the decrease of prisoners, and in these circumstances he thought it would be well that it should compensate its victims. Now he came to the subject which came under the technical head of "inconvenience money." It was a question that affected Prince-town solely. This was paid on account of the remote situation, and it was to all intents and purposes part of Wales, in these cases. The men asked that this amount should be added to their salary when calculating the retiring allowance. As the retiring allowance was based upon salary, the whole salary should be included. They had a precedent for this, and, therefore, they were not asking anything new. In London such money was paid in connection with the convict prison—it was on account of inconvenience, high rents; and in their case he was bound to say that the salary had this money added to it in the calculation of the retiring allowances. It appeared to him to be only right that what was granted in London should be granted at Princetown, and that the inconvenience pay should be added to the salary when calculating the retiring allowance. There were two subjects affecting prison officials generally which he wished to bring before the Committee. Those were the hours of work and the retaining allowance of warders. The warders were not receiving the same advantages as the London police in this matter. The noble Lord had spoken of the hours of labour. On that question he (Mr. Luttrell) could hardly expect that his views would meet with agreement on both sides of the House, but he was sure there were a great many who would agree with him when he said that as far as possible the Government should not employ these men for more than eight 1390 hours. The Government, in fact, should set a good example to private employers. What are the hours now at the convict prisons? How did they compare with the London police? The police work for eight hours a day for six-and-a-half days per week; the warders for 10½ hours for six-and-a-quarter days per week. And yet the work at the prisons was fully as arduous, as anxious, and responsible as that of the police; and everything, to his mind, pointed to the necessity of regarding these men as entitled to be on a footing with the police. He did not wish to make any invidious comparison, but he thought, from what he said, there was an example which should be followed. But it was clear that though the hours of labour were more the conditions of pay as relating to retiring allowances were less favourable to the officials than to the London police. The police joined at 21, and after 26 years they might voluntarily leave with a pension of two-thirds of their pay—that was to say at the age of 47 he might leave, and enjoy two-thirds of his salary as a pension. But the warder might not have that until he was 60 years of age, and then the retirement was on only 36–60ths of the pay. A warder did not get two-thirds until he was 64. He said that they should have treated these warders in another manner. They should, in his opinion, be allowed to leave after 26 years' service, with a pension of two-thirds of their pay. Then there was, in case of the death, the question of the widow or next-of-kin. In his opinion the treatment in these cases should be equal to that given to a policeman's widow or next-of-kin in the event of death. It might be said that all these grievances were owing to the diminution of what might be called prisoners; but that ought to be an additional reason why this should be remedied. For what did the diminution mean. It meant a great saving to the expenditure of the Treasury. This very Vote showed a saving of £2,000 over last year; not long ago there was a decrease of over £40,000. Therefore, they could afford to be generous in this matter. He thought it would be conceded that they were in a position to deal generously with those who were the victims of general improvement. On these grounds 1391 he commended the case for favourable consideration.
§ MR. HAYES FISHER
said, he wished to draw attention to the treatment to which prisoners on remand were subjected in Holloway Gaol. He hoped that in future these prisoners, who might for all he knew to the contrary be quite innocent, would be given the benefit of as humane regulations as could be sanctioned. He was anxious, however, to dissociate himself from the attacks which had recently been made in certain portions of the Press on the Governor and officials of the prison.
§ SIR A. ROLLIT
said, some of his constituents were interested in the question raised by the hon. Member, and he would strongly suggest that the subject should be investigated by a Committee.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. H. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
said, the Home Secretary would investigate the statements made by the hon. Member for Fulham, and would consult the Prison Commissioners, and take any steps that might be thought necessary in the matter. He could assure the noble Lord the Member for Rochester that, with regard to the grievances of the Borstal Prison warders, there was every disposition to meet the convenience of the men where it was possible. Several changes had already been made with that object. First of all, night duty was to be taken after the Sunday off, so as to remove the complaint that when on Sunday night duty the warders were entitled to a day off, clashing with the Sunday off to which they were ordinarily entitled. In the second place, one of the three halls which constitute Borstal Prison was closed, and that would have the effect of lightening the patrol duty. Thirdly, arrangements had been made with the nurses to relieve the necessity of patrol duty so far as the infirmary was concerned. Fourthly, with regard to the question of wages, the weekly payments to the men had been increased, and practically they would receive almost the full 1392 amount of their wages each week; but if any inconvenience to the men on this score continued to be felt, the matter would be further inquired into. Then, with regard to the time table, and the question of a longer period of night duty to avoid the long transitional hours, any representations of the officers to the Department would be carefully considered with a view to the convenience of the officers. But the noble Lord must be aware that in changes of this kind it was necessary to know exactly the feeling of the men themselves, as it was clearly impossible to know from his statement whether he was representing the views of a portion of the officers or of all. With regard to the various points brought forward by his hon. Friend the Member for the Tavistock Division, clearly, if his views were adopted, they would involve the alteration of the pay and pensions of the Civil servants—certainly of all classes of prison officers. It must be remembered that the positions and claims of prison officers were fully considered in 1890 by Lord de Ramsey's Committee, and it was not possible, after so brief an interval, to re-open the inquiry. With regard to the prison clerks, his right hon. Friend had fully considered the question, and had received several weeks ago a deputation of the clerks, who had stated in full detail their views and their claims. In view of the improvement in the pay and pensions of second-class clerks in 1891, it was not found possible to make any further improvement in their position. Undoubtedly, there was a prospect of a serious block in promotion; but, as a matter of fact, only one second-class clerk at the present time had reached the maximum of his scale, and it was not a principle of the Public Service that when an officer reached the maximum of his class he should expect to obtain immediate promotion as a matter of course. With regard to second-class schoolmasters of convict prisons, he admitted that there was a serious block, and the matter had for some time been receiving close attention. His right hon. Friend was now in communication with the Treasury, with the object of lessening the block and improving the position of the schoolmasters. He could not admit the contention of his hon. Friend with regard to Princetown warders. It was quite true 1393 that an increased allowance had been granted at one time to the warders of some of the London Convict Prisons in consideration of the greater cost of living in London, and that increased allowance was reckoned in calculating the pensions. There were no such prisons now; and, although that might be said to be a precedent, it was not a desirable one, and it was well to take the opportunity of putting it aside. It was quite true that a special allowance had been made to the Princetown warders, because of the remote and desolate position of the prison at the time. Since then a railway had been made, and the conditions were different; but, in any case, that special allowance ought not to reckon towards pension. It had not been given to increase the profits of the post, but as a solatium to equalise the conditions of service. If it were to reckon to pension, an inequality would be set up, as the conditions in respect to which extra payment was allowed would cease with the termination of the service. He was afraid that he could hold out no expectation that the views of his hon. Friend in that particular could be met.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 12. £130,000, to complete the sum for Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Great Britain.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, he would like to know whether the time had not come for the proper transfer of the Scotch Industrial Schools?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said, so far as the noble Lord's question was concerned, it was desirable to have uniformity of administration.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 13. £22,604, to complete the sum for Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.
§ Agreed to.
§ 14. £59,891, to complete the sum for Law Charges and Courts of Law, Scotland.
§ MR. PAUL (Edinburgh, S.)
called attention to the claims of the clerks of the Commissary Office, Edinburgh, to be placed on the permanent establishment of the Civil Service, just as the clerks in the Commissary Offices in Dublin and London 1394 In Edinburgh, quite lately, the clerks of three other offices had been put on the footing of Civil servants, and their hours increased from six to seven in consequence of the Report of the Ridley Commission. The number of cases the Commissary clerks had to deal with last year exceeded 1,200; the value of the property affected, £4,000,000; and the fees paid, £3,500. Their salaries had not been increased since 1877, and whereas in Dublin 14 clerks, who did practically the same work, received £6,000 in salary; in Edinburgh 11 clerks received only £2,000, although the fees brought to the Treasury exceeded £1,500. He hoped his right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland would be able to promise that some inquiry would be held into the condition of the clerks with a view to its improvement.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER (Edinburgh, W.)
said, he desired to support his hon. Friend and colleague in pressing the case of these clerks upon the favourable attention of the Government. The corresponding clerks in Dublin and London were in the Civil Service, and there was no reason why the Edinburgh clerks should not be placed on the same footing. The objection raised by the Treasury was that the work of those men was of a purely clerical kind, which could be supplied as occasion demanded from the outside market. But that was not the view of the men. They contended that to carry on the tradition of the work required skill and experience. The men were treated by the Treasury as Civil servants, in the matter of fixing their salaries and regulating their hours of work, but they did not get the privilege of Civil servants. The men had made out a clear case for a Departmental inquiry, and he hoped the Secretary for Scotland would order such an inquiry.
§ MR. BURNS (Battersea)
said, he had been informed that the subordinate clerks and messengers in this Department were in the habit of leaving work before their proper time and acting as waiters in Edinburgh to the disadvantage both of the Service and of the waiters of the town. He thought the Government should give to these men the alternative of becoming professional waiters or remaining in the Service.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend that men in the Public Service should not be allowed 1395 to take other work outside except during hours on which the Public Service have no claim. Strict Rules have been laid down by the Treasury, and I shall see that in this case the Regulations on the subject are strictly enforced. With regard to the Commissary clerks, the Treasury has laid down the rule that in Offices of a legal or semi-legal character the staff is to be recruited from the outside market, in order that claims to pension should not be needlessly set up. I shall, however, communicate with the Treasury as to the relative positions of the clerks in London and Dublin.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 15. £21,655, to complete the sum for Register House, Edinburgh.
§ VISCOUNT WOLMER
said, he desired to call attention to the case of the engrossing clerks of the Sasine Office, who claimed to be included in the Civil Service, a course which they believed had been recommended by a Committee which sat to consider the case. The position of these clerks was likely to be more perilous in the future than in the past, because by the Land Register (Scotland) Bill which had been introduced this Session, but withdrawn, provision was made to extinguish the clerks altogether; and as many of them had served the Department for years, and were led to believe that they would be included in the Civil Service, the case was an exceptionally hard one. He hoped, therefore, that their claim would be favourably considered by the Government.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, the claim had been met by giving them a gratuity on their retirement, which they had not before, and they had likewise an advantage in this respect: that from time to time promotions were- made on the list of the Established clerks where they had served either for two years as engrossing clerks or two years in the Conveyancing Office. The engrossing clerks were entitled to deduct any time they had served in the Office.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 16. £4,955, to complete the sum for the Crofters' Commission.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
asked whether the First Commissioner received his salary as Sheriff as well as the salary of £1,200 mentioned in this Vote; and also, whether he received a 1396 salary for being on another Commission on Deer Forests? He further wanted to know how the work of the Crofters' Commission had progressed.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, the Sheriff received a salary as Chairman of the Crofters' Commission in addition to his Sheriffs work. But when they added up these two salaries and compared them with the larger salaries paid on the Irish Land Commission, and when they considered the work was very severe, they would agree, he thought, that that gentleman was certainly not overpaid. He had taken the extra work of the Highland Commission without insisting upon any increase of pay. When the business was over, the circumstances would be considered. The work of the Crofters' Commission had gone on very steadily. About 18,000 or 19,000 cases had been settled and disposed of since it began. At the beginning of this year there were 1,451 to be disposed of, and of those 664 had been completed, so that only 787 cases now remained to be dealt with.
§ Vote agreed to.
17. Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £56,800, 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 Expenses of the Prison Commissioners for Scotland, and of the Prisons under their control, including the Maintenance of Criminal Lunatics and the Preparation of Judicial Statistics.
§ MR. W. WHITELAW (Perth)
asked the right hon. Gentleman to grant him a Committee to inquire into important matters connected with this Vote. A Departmental Committee would be absolutely useless. It would be no answer for the right hon. Gentleman to tell him that these grievances were inquired into by a Departmental Committee for Scotland years ago. What he asked for was a Select Committee in the next Session of Parliament. The case, which he did not think the right hon. Gentleman would be able to resist, was with regard to the extraordinary extravagance and maladministration of prison affairs in Scotland. He had called the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the way in which prisons in Scotland were overcrowded in defiance of the Act of Parliament, and the right hon. Gentleman had received information from the Prison Commis- 1397 sioners, which was, to say the least, most extraordinary. The result had been to show that the prisons were not overcrowded, generally speaking, and only upon rare occasions, but his information was that the prisons were continually overcrowded. But his figures were only from the 31st March, 1891, to the 31st March, 1892. The Report gave the number of prisoners in prisons upon the first Tuesday in every month during the year. In Aberdeen Prison during this year there was overcrowding during six of the months. The average number of prisoners during those mouths was 88, and there was only accommodation for 79; on one day there were 105 prisoners for only 79 cells. A similar state of matters existed with regard to Ayr, but the worst case of all was that of Dundee. In Dundee Prison during 12 months, from April, 1891, to March, 1892, he found that there was considerable overcrowding. The average number of prisoners, taking them upon the first Tuesdays of the month, was 116, and there were only 107 cells, and there were 146 prisoners on one day, which was the largest number at any one time. He could give other instances of persistent overcrowding in Scotch prisons, which was owing to want of administration. With regard to the question of extravagance of the Scotch Prisons Commissioners, it was something extraordinary. The average number of prisoners in England and Wales during the year was 13,196, and he found the prison staff in England cost £584,837, which would amount to about £44 per prisoner. In Scotland the average number of prisoners was 2,552, and the prison staff cost £91,800, or only £36 per prisoner. But when he came to the administration—the head office work—he found the exact opposite state of affairs. The results in England, of administration only, proved that each prison cost about two guineas a year; but in Scotland the administration cost very nearly three guineas per head, so that it was a guinea a head dearer than the administration in England. With regard to the staff of Scotch prisons, the English prison staff was 3,000 for the 13,000 odd prisoners, and the corresponding staff in Scotland was only 338. These figures proved that whilst the staff in Scotch prisons were simply starved in numbers and wages, the administration was grossly extravagant in numbers and salaries. 1398 There was, he believed, a considerable unanimity amongst the Scotch Members in the demand he was making. With regard to prison clerks in Scotland, their position had been slightly improved lately, but he could not see why they should not receive as high a salary as the English clerks. It might be said that the English prison clerks passed a higher examination, but the Scotch clerks were willing to undergo the same examination and to be put on all-fours in every respect with the English clerks; and if they could not pass the examination, they would not put forward a claim for higher salary. With regard to the warders, two who joined the service in 1861 had converted their gas allowance into a sum of £3 a year, which they received until promotion in 1882, when, without the slightest prior intimation to them, their gas allowance was stopped. In the year 1885 another warder, who joined the prison service somewhat later than the other two, but under precisely the same conditions, was also promoted, but he still retained his gas allowance. Why was there this difference of treatment? ["Divide!"] Three other warders who entered the prison service were put on a different scale in 1874, which gave them a higher salary. They were, as they understood, entitled to a gas allowance, but the Scotch Office maintained that they were told that on coming under the new arrangement this allowance was to cease. ["Divide!"] He begged to move that the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
The Chairman being of opinion that the Motion was an abuse of the Rules of the House, declined to propose the Question thereupon to the Committee.
MR. WHITELAW (resuming)
said, these warders were not told they were to receive the gas allowance until 1880. With regard to two other cases, a number of warders, according to the terms of their engagement, received free quarters in the prison at Perth till the year 1886. For some reason they had never been able to discover why these free quarters were taken away from the men. But after an agitation, extending over six years, the free quarters were again conceded, and the rents were repaid to those men who had paid them for six years, with two exceptions. Two of these men had never received repay- 1399 ment of the rents they had paid, and he wanted to know why they had not been treated in precisely the same way as the others? He begged to move a reduction of the Vote by £2,200.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £54,600, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. W. Whitelaw.)
§ MR. HOZIER (Lanarkshire, S.)
drew attention to the fact that medical officers and chaplains in Scotch prisons were remunerated at a much lower rate than doctors and chaplains in English prisons.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, a Departmental Committee was granted by the late Government, which recommended a substantial increase to the warders of prisons and to most of the clerks. That increase had been given. He could not dream of granting a Committee on such absurd and trivial grounds as had been mentioned by the hon. Member for Perth. With regard to prison chaplains, several English prisons contained a much larger number of inmates than the Scotch prisons did.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.