Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £24,674, 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 1895, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of the Registrar General of Births, &c., in England.
MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)
said, that many years ago a Royal Commission expressed the opinion that, in the public interest, it was very desirable that all Registers of Births, Deaths, and Marriages should be deposited at Somerset House. Acting upon that opinion the Registrar General of that day issued an earnest request to the Nonconformist Bodies to give up possession of their various Registers. They very cheerfully complied, and a large number of Registers were deposited at Somerset House; an Act being passed making the Registrar General their custodian. Some of the Registers deposited were of considerable historical and biographical interest, and for 40 years the previous owners of these Registers had had free access to them, and facilities had been accorded to them to inspect them. Within the last few years these facilities had been withdrawn, and now those most interested in them had to pay the same fees as the rest of the public for consulting the Registers; whilst they had to conduct their researches in the midst of a crowd of persons who were engaged in searching modern Registers. They thought the hard-ship thus inflicted was all the greater, because facilities were given freely at other public places, such as the British Museum, the Record Office, the Library of Lambeth Palace, and even in the Wills Department of Somerset House itself. The reasons assigned by the Registrar General for withdrawing such facilities were that he had discovered, after 40 years, that he had no power to remit the statutory fees; that the number of applicants had so increased that it was inconvenient to grant the former facilities, and that he had no room, and no clerk, at his disposal. He trusted that the Government would allow a restoration to be made to the Nonconformists of the facilities they had hitherto enjoyed. They were quite willing to submit to conditions as to days and hours, if the Registrar General thought fit to impose them. The additional expense that would be caused could be but very inconsiderable. Where there was a will there was a way. He hoped the Government would have the will, and 33 he was satisfied that then the way would be found also. He also trusted that the Government would order a reprint of the catalogues of the old Registers.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. SHAW-LEFEVRE, Bradford, Central)
The Secretary to the Treasury has asked me to reply to this question. I have consulted the Registrar General, and it appears that it is really a question of want of space. He is very much hampered at present for want of space, and has therefore been obliged to withdraw the facilities which Nonconformists at one time had of searching the Registers. I will make inquiries into the matter, and will endeavour to see whether some arrangement can be made for restoring the privilege of search, and if possible of providing another room for the purpose. I have no information with regard to the catalogues, but I will make inquiries as to whether the advice of the hon. Member can be carried out on that subject.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, &c.)
said, he wished to call attention to the Report published in January last in the Census of Wales, especially with reference to the language Return. In 1890 pressure was brought to bear upon the Government to introduce a new column into the Census Return in regard to language in Wales. The Conservative Government agreed to introduce such a column. Papers on the subject of language were distributed when the Census was taken, but the Welsh Members drew attention at the time to the fact that those papers were not properly distributed, that there were several parishes where no papers at all were distributed, and that in districts which were thoroughly well-known to be Welsh speaking the papers were printed in the English language, and the people were without proper instruction in their own tongue with regard to the method of filling up the Returns. The Registrar General's Report on the Returns contained a grave reflection upon the character of the Welsh people. The Registrar General seemed to have formed a very strong view in regard to the language question. He appeared to have some preconceived opinion on the subject, and seemed very much disturbed because that idea had been upset by the Returns. It was found that out of a 34 population of 9,500,000, 508,000 persons spoke Welsh exclusively, and had no practical knowledge of English. Commenting upon this, the Registrar General said—The instruction seems clear enough. Nevertheless, abundant evidence was received by us that it was either misunderstood or set at naught by a large number of those Welshmen who speak both languages, and that the word 'Welsh' was very often returned when the proper return would be 'both.'No indication was given as to the nature of the Registrar General's "abundant" evidence. The Registrar General went on to say that the Returns were absolutely unreliable, that a certain amount of suspicion attached to them, and that no weight whatever could be attached to the Returns made by the people themselves regarding the language they talked. This meant either that these people did not understand the Returns or the instructions given with regard to them, or that they had made false Returns with regard to the language they habitually used. He need hardly say that that was a very grave allegation to make against a whole people, and it ought not to have been published with the sanction of the Government without some evidence of a more clear character than anything indicated in the Report. What was the ground on which the Registrar General came to this conclusion? He said that some householders returned their children as speaking the Welsh language, although they were only two years of age, and because two cases of this kind were detected the Registrar General came to the conclusion that the whole of the Returns were false. The Registrar General went on to state that he made a test, and discovered that a number of infants were returned as Welsh speaking. The fact that he made such a test indicated a preconceived notion with regard to the Return. He would like to know whether a similar test was made with regard to infants of English-speaking householders. But the test in either case was unnecessary, for the Return contained an ago column; and, besides, as a matter of fact, the Registrar General completely answered his own observations, because he stated further on that children of two years of age—infants, in fact—had been excluded from the Returns of language taken, yet, notwith 35 standing this, he made the strong statement of which he (Mr. Lloyd-George) complained. But what did the Registrar General expect householders to do? A householder who habitually spoke the Welsh language naturally thought the proper thing to do was to return his children as speaking the same language as himself. Was there anything in that circumstance to justify an important State official in casting this grave aspersion on a whole people? This was a matter of some importance to the Welsh Members, who had been for years enforcing upon the Governments of the day the necessity of appointing Welsh-speaking officials in the Principality—Welsh-speaking County Court Judges, Inspectors of collieries and quarries, and other officials who would have to listen to the complaints of those who only understood their own language. But after the Report of the Registrar General the Census Returns were absolutely useless as regards the number of people reported as speaking Welsh. It was found that after the Census Returns appeared there were 500,000 people who did not understand a word of English. The clergy took alarm, seeing that it affected the position of their Church. Circulars were sent round by the Bishops, and the clergy became amateur detectives as to how the Census Returns were filled up in Welsh-speaking districts, and one or two suspicious cases had been discovered. The Bishops communicated with the Registrar General, and this official incorporated in his Report, which now appeared in the Blue Book, some suspicious evidence got up and cooked by a number of clergy for political purposes. Why was that evidence not produced, so that the House of Commons might sift and test it—a duty it was better qualified to perform than the Registrar General. He protested against anything of the kind. It was clear from the general tenour of the Report that the Registrar General had taken a strong view of this question. The Registrar General came to the conclusion that the Welsh language was only spoken by a few mountaineers, and when he discovered from the Census Returns that his ideas were upset he was naturally very indignant, and instead of setting himself in an impartial frame of mind to sift the evidence, to go through the Returns and to arrange and collate 36 the facts, he set himself deliberately to prove that the whole of the Welsh people were liars. That was a very serious matter. He submitted to the President of the Local Government Board that it was nothing more nor less than an attempt to buttress up the theory which the Registrar General had of the Welsh language, for he had clearly come to the conclusion that the Welsh-speaking inhabitants were very few and were dying out. In the first place, the Registrar General printed an insignificant supply of forms in the Welsh language. He knew of a case where there were about 750 householders in a particular parish. It was an eminently Welsh-speaking district. He did not believe that there were 30 English-speaking householders in the whole district, and yet to that district there had only been sent down 40 or 50 Welsh forms. To another district, which was a purely Welsh-speaking one, the Registrar General sent only three or four forms which were printed in the Welsh language, and then he complained that the Welsh-speaking population seemed to have set the instructions at defiance, and forthwith issued a Blue Book stating that they either did not understand those instructions or had lied. He asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was prepared to defend such an aspersion cast upon a whole people upon strong partisan evidence which had been got together simply for political purposes by the enemies of the Welsh-speaking population, by men who were simply fighting for their own emoluments there. Was the Registrar General prepared to justify the conclusions of this Blue Book founded on the suggestions of the Bishop of St. Asaph and other political partisans? The conclusions were based on no evidence whatever. They were produced by a person who sat somewhere in an office in Whitehall. He knew nothing about the Principality, and had perhaps only visited it once or twice in his life. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the evidence justified the inference of the Registrar General, and, if not, whether a fresh Report could be issued on this subject by somebody who, with a more impartial frame of mind, or that one Englishman who could approach the question in a judicial frame of mind should be instructed to go through the 37 Returns so far as they affected the Principality of Wales, and produce some Return on which Parliament could rely. He would also point out that there was no kind of Report at all upon such a matter as the decrease of the population in the agricultural districts, or upon the occupations pursued by the people in different parts of the country, upon overpopulation and other matters. He would further point out that while there was a separate Report as to the Scotch and Irish Census there was no separate Report with regard to the Welsh Census. In a case of this kind there ought to be a separate Return for the Principality.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That Item A, Salaries, be reduced by £1,200, in respect of the Salary of the Registrar General."—(Mr. Lloyd-George.)
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. SHAW-LEFEVRE, Bradford, Central)
said, he had had no notice that the hon. Member was going to raise this question.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, he had told the Under Secretary to the Local Government Board that he intended to raise the question.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, that until he came to the House he did not know that the hon. Member intended to raise this important question, and consequently he had had no opportunity of communicating with the Registrar General upon the subject. He had no information on the subject other than that which he could gather from the Report. He did not think, however, the hon. Member was justified in saying that the Registrar General had accused the Welsh people of having deliberately lied, or of having deliberately made false Returns. What he gathered from the Report was that the view of the Registrar General was that a certain number of Welsh people, being enthusiastic Welshmen, had rather misunderstood the language of the Return, and had consequently been rather inclined to magnify the number of persons who spoke Welsh. [Cries of "Oh!"]
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, he did not think that it amounted to that. He thought the hon. Member had made the charge against the Registrar General on 38 too high ground, and was of opinion that the Report did not justify the assertion that the Registrar General had accused the Welsh people of having deliberate intention to make false returns. That was his opinion. It would seem that children had been entered as speaking only Welsh when it was thought they ought not to have been entered at all. The paragraph did not, in his view, indicate that there had been any deliberate intention to make a false statement. All that was meant was that there had been a desire to increase unduly the number of persons speaking Welsh only. Whether the Registrar General was justified or not in his observations he could not say. He could only take the Report as it was, and he hoped that there would be some future opportunity of making the matter clear.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL (Wigan)
said, he thought it was impossible to read the Census Report without feeling that some of the Welsh parents were somewhat prophetical in their view as to the language to be spoken by their children when they reached maturity. It occurred to him that the Registrar General had made some remarks which were not necessary, and this was often the case in Government Returns. He rose to condemn in the strongest terms the language used by the hon. Member for Carnarvon respecting certain clergymen in Wales. He understood that the hon. Member accused those clergymen of having endeavoured to mislead officials, and, further, accused the Registrar General of being misled by correspondence which had taken place between him and the Bishops and clergy of Wales. That was a most grave accusation to bring against the clergy or ministers of any denomination. [Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE: Hear, hear!] To accuse the clergy of Wales, and particularly such a clergyman as the Bishop of St. Asaph, of having wilfully made certain false returns was an extraordinary accusation, and one which ought not to have been made.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, he did not withdraw the accusation, because no such accusation was made. He said the clergy had misled the Department, but he did not say they had done so wilfully.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
said, he did not see how any gentleman living in Wales and knowing the facts could make statements misleading the Department without being guilty of conduct that deserved the severest reprobation.
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
said, they must have known the facts, because they were living on the spot, and he repudiated with scorn the allegation that these clergymen would endeavour to mislead a public official. With regard to the Bishop of St. Asaph, speaking as a friend of his, he declared there was no gentleman in Wales who was a more thorough Welshman or was more ardently attached to Wales than he was; and though a different opinion existed between the Bishop and hon. Gentlemen opposite, he was as much a Welshman as any one of them.
§ MR. REES DAVIES (Pembrokeshire)
rose to a point of Order. Was the hon. Member in Order in speaking with respect to the nationality and character of the Bishop of St. Asaph on this Vote?
§ SIR F. S. POWELL
said, his object was to defend the Bishop from the aspersions which the hon. Member had cast upon him—[Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE: Hear, hear!]—and he repeated they were absolutely and entirely undeserved. With regard to the question of a Quinquennial Census, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would give them some assurance that he would consider the question of such a Census for the whole of the United Kingdom, giving certain facts relating to population which would be of great service.
§ MR. EDWARDS (Radnorshire)
said, he thought the tendency of the Report was undoubtedly such as had been described. He was afraid he could not agree with the right hon. Gentleman in his version, or his assumption, that the Registrar General did not impute motives. It looked from the whole Report as if there had been a deliberate intention to minimise the number of Welsh-speaking Welshmen in Wales. The Registrar General stated that the desire of many householders appeared to have been to 40 add to the number of Welsh monoglots' and that parents had not only returned themselves as speaking Welsh, but also their children of a few days old. He did not think that was a very extraordinary thing for a Welshman to do. If a Frenchman resident in England had to make a return of his children's nationality he would put them down as monoglots, and in this case he did not see that any grave charge could be made against the Welsh people. It must be borne in mind that the language of Welsh children at home was Welsh, the only time when they had an opportunity of acquiring English being when they were at school. Schoolmasters could now, however, explain the lessons to Welsh children in the Welsh tongue, whereas formerly they were not allowed to do so. It seemed to him that this was a case which was not at all deserving of the censure which had been poured upon it by the Registrar General. Some of his hon. Friends had called attention to the necessity of providing proper Welsh Schedules in Welsh districts, and they had complained that proper Schedules had not been supplied. It had also been pointed out that in many cases the English forms supplied contained no language column. What was the inference from that? That, so far from the Return making out that there were too many Welsh-speaking people in Wales, the fact was that the Return fell under the number. There were whole blocks of cottages which were left without Schedules, and it was in the cottages that the people spoke the Welsh language. It was a curious fact that while the Registrar General inquired very closely and carefully into the case of Welsh children who were put down as Welsh-speaking, he did not say anything in the Report of a condemnatory character of the children put down in the Returns as English-speaking. He quite agreed that there had been a great use made of this Report to bolster up the claims of the Church Establishment. He did not accept the assumption that the Registrar General did not attempt to impute motives, and he did not think that official was well qualified to make such a Report. He joined most cordially in the protest made by his hon. Friend, and he hoped this Report would not be allowed to remain as it was, but that something 41 would be done by the Government to give them an amended Report.
MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint, &c.)
said, that speaking from personal knowledge he could bear testimony to the difficulty that occurred in making Returns at the time of the Census. His neighbours were in difficulties and came to him for assistance in filling up the Census Returns, saying they did not in the least know what the papers meant, and no Welsh forms were supplied to them. What took place in the district where he lived occurred throughout Wales generally, and complaints were made in the House shortly afterwards of the manner in which, in taking the Census of 1891, the officials failed to fulfil their obligations. In one district only 200 Welsh Census papers were distributed, although it contained a Welsh-speaking population alone of 10,000.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
said, he could confirm everything that had been said as to the painful feeling that had been excited in the Principality by the Registrar General's Report. In his own constituency, as in other Welsh constituencies, there was great confusion in sending round the Census papers, the consequence being that many of those who filled them up did so imperfectly and at haphazard. He fully associated himself with the contention that there was animus in the Report. It was a painful thing to see highly-placed officials, whether in the State or the Church, allowing themselves to issue Reports of this kind containing expressions which would naturally lead those who were not well acquainted with the facts to form erroneous conclusions as to the number of Welsh-speaking people in Wales. The fact that a man spoke English was no indication of his sympathies or the language he used in daily life. Men who could speak English fairly well preferred to use Welsh in the ordinary affairs of life. The inferences which would naturally be drawn from the Report were either that the Welsh language was dying out or that the use of English was increasing, both of which were erroneous.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
regretted that the right hon. Gentleman could not see his way to give some kind of a satisfactory answer to the question raised, because it would be necessary to press the 42 matter upon his attention a little further. The right hon. Gentleman had paraphrased and endeavoured to explain away the objectionable expressions in the Report, and no doubt if it had been the right hon. Gentleman's own Report there would have been no occasion for these complaints. There was no complaint of the view of the right hon. Gentleman; the complaint was of the Registrar General. The right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, that he did not know this question was going to be raised. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that that was no fault of his (Mr. Lloyd-George's). Several questions had been asked in the House on the subject; it was then pretty plainly intimated that the question would be further discussed when opportunity offered, and he took the precaution to place a Motion on the Paper for the reduction of the salary of the Registrar General, informing the Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Local Government Board what his reason was for proposing such reduction. It was not, therefore, their fault if the right hon. Gentleman was not posted up on this question. After what had been said, did not the right hon. Gentleman think there was a case for some further Departmental investigation? If he would promise an impartial inquiry into the mutter by an official of his Department in whom he had confidence—and there were several who knew Welsh, and the circumstances of the Welsh people thoroughly—then the Debate would for the present close, but in the absence of such a promise it would be the duty of the Welsh Members to press the matter a little further, and to adduce further arguments to enlighten and influence the right hon. Gentleman, since he seemed to know so very little about the subject, and had not been coached in it. With regard to what had fallen from the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir F. S. Powell), he could assure him that he did not intend to bring any charge against the clergy, or any ecclesiastical personage in Wales, of having wilfully misled the officials in this matter. What he did say was that he understood the Bishops in the Principality issued circulars to their clergy, instructing them to make inquiries with regard to the Census Returns, and that the "abundant evidence" referred to by the Registrar 43 General in his Report was identical with the Returns made by the clergy to the various Bishops. He did not accuse the clergy of Wales of wilfully misleading the public or the Registrar General's Department on this question; but he did say that, having taken a very strong view of this question, knowing how much it affected the matter of the Establishment in Wales, they naturally did not take a very judicial view in regard to the subject. He had asked in this House what ground there was for the inference, of the Registrar General that there was "abundant evidence" that the Returns made by the Welsh people were not trustworthy, and the Minister replied that he did not know. In these circumstances, did not the President of the Local Government Board think it was a case for a Departmental inquiry to ascertain what the "abundant evidence" was? It might be that the Welsh people had misunderstood the instructions given in the Census papers; and if they had not misunderstood them a very serious imputation was made upon their veracity. To state that they had made Returns about the language they spoke, which the Registrar General did not believe, was to give them the he direct, and that was an imputation under which the Welsh people were not satisfied to rest.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
did not think he could be expected to direct an inquiry by some independent person, but he would make inquiry himself, and would be prepared to make a statement at a future time. He would make special inquiries, and would communicate the result to the hon. Member publicly or privately. He could only now repeat he was persuaded the Registrar General never intended to make any such accusation as had been attributed to him. The utmost of which he complained was that there had been some exaggeration, and that some of the Welsh people had made returns that were not altogether to be relied upon. The only doubt he suggested was as to the number of those who could speak Welsh only. The Registrar General could not be considered to have said that the Welsh people purposely made false Returns.
MR. HERBERT LEWIS
regretted exceedingly that inquiry could not be granted, because the Registrar General, while blaming the Welsh people, made 44 no reference whatever to the mistakes made by his Department in 1891—mistakes which were admitted in the House by Mr. Ritchie, who was at that time President of the Local Government Board. They could not possibly accept the offer of the right hon. Gentleman as adequate or sufficient, because the sources from which he would derive his information would be precisely those already utilised in producing this extraordinary Report. He hoped his hon. Friend would press the matter to a Division.
§ MR. EDWARDS
said, it might be that the right hon. Gentleman, in his reading of the Report, considered that it did not impute motives, and that the Registrar General had no malicious motives in passing the figures he did, but everybody looking through the Report would not have the same kindly feelings towards the Registrar General as the right hon. Gentleman. The object of the Welsh Members was to secure that there should be some amended Report, some real official documentary evidence from which no false impression should go out as to the number of Welsh-speaking people in Wales. They felt this was a serious matter for them, and they desired to extract from the right hon. Gentleman a promise that there should be issued an official statement in a form from which no false impression could be derived, giving the facts free from assumptions and inferences.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
expressed the greatest reluctance to oppose the Government on a Division, even by way of formal protest, but to that extent he must join with his hon. Friends, unless the right hon. Gentleman would go a little further than he had done. There were two points they had pressed on his attention—namely, the untrust-worthiness of the figures and the obvious animus of the Report.
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
said, he would take occasion at a future time to disclaim on the part of the Registrar General any such intention as had been imputed to him. He felt quite certain, although some passages in the Report might seem to justify language which had been used, that the Registrar General never contemplated making such a charge. It was his intention to speak to the Registrar General on the subject in the utmost confidence that he 45 would disclaim any such intention as had been imputed to him, and that he would give an explanation that would be perfectly satisfactory to the hon. Member, so he hoped the matter would not be pressed further, for he felt certain that after inquiry he would be able to relieve the minds of hon. Members.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
inquired whether the right hon. Gentleman would make a further statement on the Report of Supply? It did not much matter what had been the intention or animus of the Registrar General; the important question was whether the Returns could be relied upon or not, and, if they could not, whether the instructions given had been such as could be understood by the Welsh people. What they wanted was a Report on this question upon which Parliament could rely, and which could be quoted in future proceedings in that House. He wanted to know whether the right hon. Gentleman would take steps to furnish the House with a proper Report on this question before the House met next Session?
§ MR. SHAW-LEFEVRE
could not give any such undertaking, but he would communicate with the Registrar General, and make a further statement on the whole subject on the Report stage.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. CLARK
said, that for the work done under this Vote Scotland got £13,000, Ireland £157,000, and England £212,000. The population of Ireland and Scotland was about the same, but the difference in the grants to the two countries was very remarkable indeed, The reason was that a good deal of the cost of the work was thrown on the local rates in Scotland, while in Ireland and England it was paid for out of Imperial funds; which was another illustration of the unfair treatment meted out to Scotland.
Original Question put, and agreed to.
2. £6,915, to complete the sum for Secretary of Scotland's Office.
§ MR. WEIR moved the reduction of the Vote by £50, with the view of getting 46 information from the Secretary for Scot-land on various matters. He considered the salary of £2,000 wholly inadequate for the services rendered by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland. It was less than half the salary paid to the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and exactly the same as that given to the Under Secretary for Ireland. He desired, however, to complain that the right hon. Gentleman had failed to redeem the promises which he had frequently made during the last two years in regard to the Crofters Bill.
I wish the hon. Gentleman would speak louder. If he is referring to the Crofters Bill he is not in Order.
§ MR. WEIR
said, the right hon. Gentleman had failed to carry out the promises and pledges he had given, and he attributed that to the supposition that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was too strong for him in the Cabinet, and that the right hon. Gentleman did not assert himself there as he ought to do. With regard to the Crofters Bill—
I have already pointed out that the hon. Gentleman is not in Order. The Secretary for Scotland cannot be attacked on a matter of that kind.
§ MR. WEIR
said, he bowed to the ruling of the Chair; but he thought he had a right to call attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had not given effect to the pledges he had made. However, ho would ask the right hon. Gentleman for some information in reference to the Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland. He wanted to know why this gentleman dated his Reports from his private residence in Ross-shire? He sympathised with the Inspector's heart being in the Highlands, but he would like to know if the £250 allowed the Inspector for travelling expenses included the expenses of his travelling to and from his private residence? The Inspector of Constabulary was one of the Justices recently appointed by the Lord Lieutenant of Ross-shire. He had to complain that the Inspector spent too much of his time in travelling between his private house and Dingwall in attending Quarter Sessions. He would now proceed to refer to the charges of the Returning Officer in Ross-shire.
If the charges are paid by candidates the matter does not arise under this Vote. It does not amount to administration within the sense that the Secretary for Scotland is responsible for this particular matter.
The officer acts under Statute, and the Secretary for Scotland is not responsible for that.
§ MR. R. WALLACE (Edinburgh, E.)
said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Saturday compared the Secretary for Scotland to St. Sebastian. He did not think saintship was the strongest point in the variegated character of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and certainly he could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman selected St. Sebastian as a parallel to the Secretary for Scotland, because St. Sebastian was well known to have been a young and dutiful warrior who was with difficulty killed by Domitian in his early youth. The Secretary for Scotland, he was sure, would not be displeased at his saying that youth was neither his (Sir G. Trevelyan's) strong point, nor his (Mr. Wallace's); and as for militant propensities, he did not know that he should be insulting the right hon. Gentleman were he to say that he was a lover of peace. But in this matter this saint would not have done, or abstained from doing, exactly what the right hon. Gentleman was doing in the connection with respect to which ho wished to make a few remarks. He referred to the griev 48 ances of the professional waiters in Edinburgh. What this Society stated was that they were very much handicapped and otherwise ousted and put to a disadvantage in earning a living in their calling by the fact that the State-paid subordinate officials in the Public Departments of Edinburgh, and the macers of the Court of Sessions, messengers of the Exchequer, and officials of the Register House, who had salaries of from £90 to £150 a year, were enabled, through this endowment, to undersell them in the waiting market. Representations had been made to the right hon. Gentleman, which he held in his hand, but which he did not think he should be justified in reading to the House.
§ MR. R. WALLACE
said, then he would hold them as read. These representations asserted that there was a certain amount of irregularity and impropriety in the management of the Scottish Departments in this matter. The allegation was that those officers were not allowed to engage in this extra Departmental activity except upon days which were reckoned out of their six weeks' holiday; but the allegations made to him by the Waiters' Society were distinctly to the effect that that was not true, but that these officials were allowed to go out and employ themselves in waiting, and adding considerably to their incomes, and that their holidays were not to be curtailed. What he wanted to press on the right hon. Gentleman was whether he would not once for all institute a thorough and searching inquiry into the matter. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to be satisfied with a mere Departmental reply. The Scottish Public Departments required to be taken by the throat, to put it in plain Scottish, and if the right hon. Gentleman would get the truth out of them, he must apply his fist to that portion of their constitution. The waiters of Edinburgh had noticed that the Government had yielded to the pressure of the eight hours movement. It was notorious that one of the reasons put forward by the promoters of that movement was to provide employment for the unemployed. What the waiters of Edinburgh not unnaturally said was that £1,500, which was pocketed by the 49 macers, messengers, and other officials in the Public Departments in Edinburgh in working 14 and 15 hours a day, might much better go to the relief of the unemployed section of their body. He understood that holidays were given to public servants in order that, after a temporary cessation of labour, they might come back more invigorated for the performance of their public duties. But the moment one of these officials got a holiday he proceeded to devote it to harder work than he was usually engaged upon. If he were to spend his holiday by romping up and down stairs with plates of meat and bottles in a heated atmosphere loaded with carbonic acid gas, he certainly would be rather unfitted for the discharge of his duties in the public interest. These off-days given to the Edinburgh officials wore scattered in doles throughout the year, and therefore were no good to the officials concerned, and he submitted seriously that those holidays might very well be dispensed with, with advantage to the Treasury. He submitted, further, that it was against the interests of decorum and propriety that these officials should be employed in this way. He would take an extreme case. The Lord Advocate would bear him out in saying that the Senators of the College of Justice were not only men who were solid, but were occasionally men of brilliant, parts. The right hon. Gentleman had known them as men of histrionic and literary capacities—people who wrote and sung their own songs with great delectation to their hearers. Suppose that some of these gentlemen chose to go on the "boards." He knew they would draw audiences every night, and that even upon two-thirds salaries they would add very considerably to their incomes. But was he to be told, if either Mr. Irving or Mr. Toole, or both of them, sent a remonstrance to the Government, that the Government could say it was no matter of theirs—that if these gentlemen did not occupy Court hours in this way there was no title to interfere? Yet that was what they said in regard to these subordinate officials. He would make a condition that that sort of double activity should not be possible in those cases. Take the case of a macer. He was not a small official; he was a dignified official. He had a salary, he wore a gown, and 50 called out, "Silence in Court" every quarter of an hour in the College of Justice. Was it right that a person in that position should be found ranging over the whole country serving "hot and hot" between polished tin plates? He thought that the conduct of these officials in connection with epicurean proceedings was not consistent with that dignity that suited the administration of justice, nor the propriety that was befitting the appropriation of the resources of the country. He would ask the attention of the Government to another matter—namely, the extraordinary coincidence between the private festivities of Scotch Societies and the Departmental slack time of its public officers. The explanation that was made by the Scotch Departments was that they never gave a holiday to their officials except when there was a cessation or slacking of business in the Departments; and that when they gave these holidays they never asked, and did not know, what the officials did in the holidays. Well, he did not doubt that. The Department said it, and it was his duty to believe the Department, and he performed that duty with the best grace that he could. But then a remarkable thing took place, and it was this: that, whenever a great social function came off in Scotland, throughout the length and breadth of the country, by a most extraordinary coincidence, it became known in the Public Departments that on the very day when that social function was to take place there was also going to be a special cessation of public activity and of attention to public business to such an extent that they were able to allow one-third, or even two-thirds, of their official staff to get their regularly-appointed and promised share of their annual holidays; and when the appointed day arrived, whether it were in Edinburgh, in Inverness, in Oban, in Dumfries, or in any of the other principal towns of Scotland, there were found some officials, he would say many officials, of the College of Justice, of the Exchequer, and of the Register House on the spot, busy interrogating the guests as to their partiality for thick soup and clear, or, at a later period of the evening, confidentially inquiring whether they would have champagne or potatoes. He must say, for himself, that these coincidences had 51 occasioned him, as he had no doubt they had occasioned the Secretary for Scotland, many difficult moments. He was not able to explain this, except by a reference to the doctrine of the pre-established harmony which the great philosopher Leibnitz employed to explain the connection of mind and body. When it was willed that a hand should rise, as that great man said, the thing took place as a matter of course, not as the result of cause and effect, but because the mind and body were like two clocks which had been wound up to strike continually at one point together. That was the only way in which he had been able to explain the continual, the most remarkable, he might say the mysterious, the almost miraculous and marvellous synchronism that subsisted in Scotland between the private festivities of Scotch Societies and the slack time of its public departments. He commended that matter to the Scotch Department, and he thought that some of the spare hours and some of the spare energy of Dover House might very well be applied to working out that problem with advantages which were not always found to emanate from that very leisured and "lotophagous" institution.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, that a threatened man did wisely when he asked no questions. The storm had fallen, and he must say he had enjoyed it as much as anyone in the House, because everyone must consider that he had had a treat during the last few minutes. The three English Inspectors of Constabulary got each £750 to £850, and that was the salary of the Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland. He (Sir G. Trevelyan) did not think that, compared with the salaries paid to Chief Constables, Inspectors of Constabulary in Scotland should have one penny less. If there was any difficulty arising in the discharge of the duties of this official, through his living in Ross-shire instead of Edinburgh, or Glasgow, or wherever hon. Members might think he ought to live, the question must be reconsidered; but if the Inspector of Constabulary discharged his duties with great assiduity and completeness, they ought not to interfere wherever he chose to reside. The travelling allowance of £250 did not appear to be at all excessive. He was not responsible for the conduct of the Returning Officers, though 52 he would always be glad to answer questions on any subject which the hon. Member might put to him. The Inspector of Constabulary had been appointed a Justice of the Peace, and had taken part in several decisions. He had represented to the official that that was not a wise course, and he had since then desisted. On the question of the waiters, the question was not one confined to Edinburgh, but the general conclusion to which the Government had come was that they should insist that their employés should undertake no offices that were incompatible with their giving to the performance of their official work the whole if their official time. In the case of Directorships of Companies—a class of business in which he hoped not only public servants but people of every degree were very cautious before they embarked—the Government did not approve and would not allow employés of its own to take Directorships which would take them away from the public offices during even five minutes of the time when public business was done; but they did not inquire what they were doing out of hours, and some very prominent public servants have been known to spend their time in literary labour. With regard to the waiting at night, there was no special irregularity. In the English public offices the messengers were allowed to wait at night—indeed, a very great number of them were well suited for that purpose from the character of their calling before they took the office of messengers. The matter was open to abuse as regarded waiting during the day, and he had not been satisfied with taking the reply of the Departments, but had written a letter requesting that the superintendent of the messengers should be informed that care must be taken in future to prevent any irregularities. He would consult with the Treasury, to see whether some general rule might not be made that messengers, like other people, should take their holidays in one succession of days, or, at any rate, in two long holidays in the course of the year, and that no special single holiday should be given if there was the least suspicion that these holidays were for the purpose of waiting. He would lay down Rules which would prevent any such abuse in the future, and he would signify to the heads of these Departments that a holiday must never be given to 53 enable a man to do any work outside his office.
§ DR. CLARK
hoped that the official resident in Ross-shire, to whom reference had been made, would take the hint as to his action in small local matters in the County of Ross. He (Dr. Clark) spoke on a former occasion very strongly indeed as to the remarks of the Assistant Secretary, but he had had more accurate information since, and he regretted he had spoken so strongly, but still he thought some of the statements were inaccurate. He regretted that while law and order ran in Ireland, it did not do so in the Highlands, and that they refused to allow the aid of the forces of the Crown to carry out unjust work. He did not think they ought to be in that position. The Airdens case was one where the law was unjust, and he would rather have an unjust law put in force occasionally, because they would get up public steam to have it repealed. He hoped, however, that the trustees of estates who were compelled to carry out the law would not be made responsible for not having done their duty.
Vote agreed to.
3. Motion made, and Question proposed,That a sum, not exceeding; £16,739, 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, 1895, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Fishery Board in Scotland and for Grants in Aid of Piers or Quays.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
alluded to the great loss which the Board had sustained by the death of its Chairman. Those who knew Mr. Esslemont knew that the Public Service had lost in him a most able, energetic, and capable man. One of the subjects to which he (Mr. Buchanan) wished to call attention was that on which he put a question earlier in the day. Everyone on the coast was aware that the grievance connected with trawling continued to exist. He had a budget of letters on the subject in his possession. Ho would not occupy time by quoting any of these communications, but he proposed to quote one authority. A case had been brought under the consideration of the House during the present Session by the Member for Orkney with regard to a prosecution for breach of Trawling Regula 54 tions. The case fell through from what he thought a miscarriage of justice, but the Sheriff, referring to the extent to which illegal trawling was carried on along the shores of Orkney, said—I believe it has already been shown on this coast that they systematically trawl at night without lights, and I think that more than once the scene of their operations has been so chosen as to be a source of considerable danger to passing ships.That was the evidence of a person who was perfectly unbiased on the subject. He (Mr. Buchanan) wished to refer to the existing Regulations. There had been constant complaints year after year as to the inadequacy of the sea police, and these complaints were repeated in the Report of the Board for the present year. The Secretary for Scotland had given the Fishery Board a new cruiser on the west coast; but on the east coast, where the fisheries constituted more than two-thirds of the whole of the Scotch fisheries, the only vessel available was the Jackal, and she was practically restricted to service within the Moray Firth. For carrying out the Regulations along the rest of the east coast the Board had no cruiser. He strongly urged the Secretary for Scotland to carry out the recommendation of the Committee which sat last year, and of every one who had considered the subject, that an efficient police independent of the Navy should be placed under the control of the Fishery Board, so that they should be able to see that their Regulations were carried out. This duty was thrust upon the Admiralty, and that Department would be glad to be relieved of it. An efficient marine police independent of the Admiralty should be given to the Fishery Board. The Select Committee of last year considered the subject of trawling, and recommended that steps should be taken to extend the territorial limit for fishing purposes along the coast, and that there should be an International agreement come to with other Powers sanctioning the extension. The Government, however, had not taken any steps to ascertain whether the Powers interested in the fishing in the North Sea would be disposed to consider this question. The principal objection on the subject was that France was jealous and disinclined to come to any agreement with us. The Institute of International Law held its last meeting in Paris in April, and passed 55 a resolution, moved by one of the members representing France, unanimously recommending that for fishing purposes the territorial limit should be extended from three to six miles. That showed that there was a strong preponderating opinion among jurists in France as elsewhere in favour of this change for extending jurisdiction. He trusted that the question would not be lost sight of by the Government. Another point was one relating to expenditure. As mentioned at page 120 of the Report, the Fishery Board had paid a large sum to the Post Office as guarantee for certain telegraph offices at fishing stations. Considering the limited resources of the Fishery Board, it was hardly fair that that practice of one Department paying over to another should continue. Surely the Post Office out of the large revenues at its disposal, particularly from the large fishing ports, might forego those charges, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would strongly urge on the Post Office Authorities the adoption of that course. Then he wished to call attention to the want of fishery harbours round the coast of Scotland. Ten years ago a Committee made certain recommendations on the subject, but no steps had been taken to carry them out. Powers had been given recently to the Fishery Board, by an Act passed by himself, by which the Board could use its harbour grant as a security on which to borrow money. So far so good, but the sum placed at their disposal was quite inadequate for embarking on a general scheme for building fishery harbours round the Scotch coast. He, of course, recognised that for their construction it was necessary that contributions should be made from local as well as from Imperial sources. They had some reason to complain of the attitude of the Government, during the passing of the Local Government Act, in reference to an Amendment proposed by the Member for Orkney, by which County Councils or districts might pledge their rates for harbour purposes as burghs were able to do. That subject was not taken up by the Government as it should have been. It would be of the greatest advantage to the whole coast of Scotland if some general scheme for fishery harbour construction were introduced and passed by the Government. He was not merely proposing additional grants-in-aid 56 for harbour construction, but that they should be constructed according to a definite and well-thought-out plan. What was wanted was that an adequate sum should be advanced so that those who were responsible in these matters might know how far a general scheme could be carried out during the next 10 or 15 years for the construction of fishing harbours where required for the benefit of the fishing population round the coast of Scotland.
§ SIR W. WEDDERBURN (Banffshire)
joined in the expressions of regret at the loss they had sustained in the death of Mr. Esslemont. He was universally valued and respected. The appointment to the Chairmanship of the Fishery Board was a matter of great importance to the fishing industry of Scotland, and he trusted, therefore, that his right hon. Friend, in filling up the vacancy, would as far as possible consult the wishes of the practical men engaged in it, and endeavour to obtain the services of someone experienced in all branches of the industry which he had to superintend, and the prosperity of which depended upon his efforts. As regarded the construction of harbours of refuge, particularly in the Moray Firth, he thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the sympathetic way in which he had received the suggestions made to him. That was absolutely necessary for the protection of the fishing fleet against north-east storms. The question was one of life and death to the fishermen, and he trusted, therefore, that the Secretary for Scotland would press the matter on the Treasury until a grant for this purpose was made. Three thousand pounds for fishery harbours for the whole coast of Scotland was a ridiculous sum, and the least that should be done was to double it. Speaking for his own constituency, he entirely agreed with what had been said about increasing the limit of jurisdiction to six miles, and until that was done trawlers would be able to continue prowling round our coasts. He would point out also with regard to the sum paid to the Post Office that the amount was larger than stated—more like £1,500, he thought. It was not desirable that so large a proportion of the Fishery Board's small resources should be devoted to subsidising the rich Post Office and 57 Telegraph Department. Further, he wished to ask the right, lion. Gentleman whether he could give the Members for Scotland any assurance as to when the Fishery Bill would be again brought forward?
§ MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)
said, more efficient stops should be taken for marine police purposes. The tendency was not to increase the number of sailing vessels, but of steamers. Referring to a sum set down in the Estimates for a new cruiser and tender for the purposes of marine police on the coast of Scotland, he suggested that the expenditure might be avoided by the Admiralty utilising for the work, as was done on the English coasts, some of the many spare gunboats they had at their disposal. He also thought the three-mile limit might be advantageously extended.
§ MR. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
said, that the trawling difficulty was by no means an easy one to deal with. For his own part, he believed that until the full responsibility for illegal trawling was placed on the masters of vessels, the Board or the Government would never be able to deal effectually with it. The sum provided for the work to be done by the Fishery Board was much too small, and what, had been spent had been to a great extent frittered away. The money granted, if not sufficient for all purposes, should be spent on those harbours which benefited the largest number of people along the coast.
§ MR. WEIR
, in reference to the alleged ravages by trawlers on the West Coast of Scotland, reminded the Government, of an assurance which he received last Session, that the speed of the new cruiser should be equal to catching any trawler around the Island of Lewis. Notwithstanding that assurance, it was now found that the Government had employed a 10-knot cruiser to catch trawlers possessing a speed of 12 or 13 knots. Two of the trawlers had passed two days working day and night in Loch Roag, where they had completely ruined the fishery, no gunboat being within hundreds of miles. The same thing had occurred in many other places round the Western Islands. He was surprised at the small expenditure on this vessel. She was very well for fine weather, but not for stormy seas. 58 She was staunchly built, and had a good captain and crew. Still, it was no use whatever sending a 10-knot vessel to catch 13-knot trawlers. What chance could she have against them? He had been assured that the speed of the new cruiser would be sufficient to capture any trawler. The new cruiser did not fulfil that condition. He quite agreed with the Member for Sunderland that they should have gunboats, but why not send a torpedo boat if they could not send gunboats? It was the duty of the Admiralty to see that the industry was protected. It could not possibly be protected by the means placed at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman. The Jackal spent most of her time in Invergordon Harbour, and the officers were at every garden party, fête, and amusement in the neighbourhood. The Jackal ought to be out at sea doing her work, instead of being always in harbour. The commander of the Jackal had two masters, the Admiralty and the Fishery Board, and everybody knew what happened to those who sought to serve two masters. The Jackal should be put under the control of the Fishery Board absolutely. At many places besides Loch Roag the fishermen were simply ruined. The living of the line fishermen was taken from them, and how they were to exist next winter ho could not conceive. He feared there might be trouble in the North. He was anxious that this should be avoided, and that gunboats should be sent to protect the fishing-grounds. The Secretary for Scotland recently told him that the people should act as their own sea police. But how could they report trawlers which came along at night, or how could a fishing boat chase a steam trawler? The people of Lewis had decided to act on that advice. They, however, needed one thing to effectually settle the whole question. If the right hon. Gentleman had arranged with the War Office and the Admiralty to supply the people with Maxim guns and ammunition, and had given them full license to use those guns and to send to the bottom of the sea any and every trawler found within the three mile limit around the Island of Lewis, he would warrant that the Lews men would not be troubled any further with trawlers. When these men were about to protect their own interests, 59 as suggested, the gunboat Foxhound was sent to watch them. So far as he could ascertain, she was 33 days in harbour, and nine days out of harbour, and a precious little way out of the harbour she went. In drawing the attention of the Secretary to the Admiralty to the fact that she only went eight knots an hour, he inquired whether she had fired a single shot. The answer was that as no trawler had been seen or heard of, it would be difficult to fire a shot at them. He agreed with that. But why did the Foxhound not go out to look after the trawlers: how could the Foxhound see trawlers 35 miles off on the other side of the Island? He hoped answers of this frivolous character would not be given in future. On another occasion he asked how the commander of the Foxhound when lying at Stornoway could tell what was going on 35 miles off at the other side of the Island? The answer was that the information came from the Sheriff Substitute. But how did he know what was going on 35 miles off? The Fishery Board officer was the man who should receive this information. When he drew attention to the fact that there was no fishery officer there, he was told the officer was required in Orkney and Shetland. Why was there not an officer kept in the important fishing district of the Island of Lewis? It would not mean much extra cost, as these officers only received £80 or £100 a year. How did the right hon. Gentleman expect to get information regarding trawlers around the Island of Lewis? Did he expect him (Mr. Weir) to go down and get it when the Whip was trying to keep every man he could at his post here? How could the right hon. Gentleman expect so faithful a follower as himself to desert him? He had not paired; it was so much nobler to remain here and support the Government from whom they hoped to obtain something. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the other day—"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" after the middle of August. Until this afternoon he had had a little hope that the Secretary for Scotland would have sent him off to the North rejoicing but he would now go up to Scotland hopeless, and sad at heart. He was very mud surprised that the Government had treated this matter with such absolute indifference. This little five-thousand pound 60 cruiser was not enough. A swift gunboat should be sent out to scare away the Sassenach marauders. He wanted to know why there were not more penalties inflicted upon the trawlers? It would be better to send up a gunboat and one or two Maxim guns and settle the whole question. The Jackal was not absolutely at the disposal of the Board, and he bought she ought to be. No man could serve two masters.
The hon. Gentleman has said that over and over again, and I draw the attention of the Committee to the repetition.
§ MR. WEIR
said, he should refer to the latter part of a letter of the late Chairman of the Fishery Board. He said—I may add that I am of opinion that the sea police of the Scotch coast never can be satisfactory unless a sufficient force could be placed entirely under the control of the Fishery Board.
§ Mr. HENNIKER HEATON 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. WEIR
urged Parliament to give the Fishery Board entire responsibility, with suitable cruisers. He supported very heartily the desire of communities who had appealed for harbours. He had himself appealed for harbours, and had appealed in vain. A dozen harbours were wanted in his constituency. He had many times called the attention of the Secretary for Scotland to Portmahomach Harbour, and he sincerely hoped something would be done to put the harbour in a better condition. He would draw attention to other harbours on another Vote.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, the question of trawling was a very important matter to the fishermen in the North of Scotland, and he wanted to impress on the Committee the necessity for something being done in reference to it. They had a large number of fishermen who depended for a living upon the fishing industry, and the fishing industry and the fish supply was a very important industry indeed in Scotland. Unfortunately, these men were having their living destroyed, and this source of food was being destroyed. Acts of 61 Parliament had been passed for the purpose of preventing it; but they had not been carried out, and the money of this Vote of £5,000 for a new cruiser would not be adequate for the work required to be done. A large number of English steam trawlers had on the East Coast of England almost, entirely destroyed the very valuable fishing beds there. They had gone to Ireland and done the same thing. Now they were going round the whole of Scotland, because it was the only place left to them except the Bay of Biscay. There were laws to prevent them trawling within the three miles' limit, but the sea police was altogether insufficient, and so the trawling was going on. The trawlers were destroying the lines of the line fishermen and the nets of the drift fishermen, and were greatly injuring the herring fishing. It was ridiculous to expect that an eight-knot cruiser like the Jackal could do anything against boats steaming 12 and 13 knots. As the result of the Select. Committee that sat last Session it was proposed that £5,000 should be spent on a new cruiser, and the Fishery Board, which was dependent upon the Admiralty for gunboats and failed to keep the sea police, were going to have a number of boats themselves. The local Fishery Boards in England had got small boats of this kind, and probably the best method of dealing with these trawlers would be to have boats of the same type as trawlers which could go up to 14 knots, and should be similar in appearance to trawlers. Torpedo boats would be very much better, and he considered the Admiralty were not doing their duty. If they sent torpedo boats and fast gunboats it would be splendid work for that branch of the fleet. It would be useful for them, because a great deal of this illegal trawling was done at night. The sea police was utterly inefficient, and the work of destruction of Scotch fishery beds was going on, and Scotch fishermen were having their lines and nets destroyed. There was a vessel that had committed a crime, and because, forsooth, it had left Scotland and gone to Milford Haven, the Public Prosecutor would not take the trouble of having these people summoned and fined, as the Act directed. This was a condition of things which ought not to exist. If an English fishing boat went into Scotch waters and broke 62 Scotch laws, when it went back to England they ought to know of some remedy, and the captain ought to be summoned before the Scotch Court and fined. He did not, blame the Secretary for Scotland or the Fishery Board, but he did think the Lord Advocate should see to it, or the Procurator Fiscal should give his opinion of the cases. Surely he ought to see that wherever they go the law follows them, and they are brought to book for their illegal actions. If they were only going to spend, £5,000 that would be only continuing the existing condition of things. If they were to have new boats they would require £20,000 at least, and £5,000 in expenses alone. He hoped the Admiralty and the Scottish Office would come to terms, so that a number of swift boats would be placed at the disposal of the Fishery Board until the question was ended. The people were not going to have their fishing beds destroyed by English trawlers; and if they were not going to have legal protection, then they would resort to illegal protection, and defend their rights themselves. About £5,700 was spent in harbours. He very much preferred to give the people the right of raising the money themselves, and let them get it on the security of their votes, in which case the harbours would be built in a reasonable fashion, and according to the wants of the community, instead of in the wasteful way that obtained when the money came from the Imperial Treasury. If they were coming to the question of stopping these grants he would certainly vote with the English Members who desired that they should cease. He had no objection to the grant of £3,000 under the provision of 6th Geo. IV. if they could get back their surplus grant sums. They had to pay £1,500 a year for telegraphic expenses, so that the Government had it all back again, inasmuch as the Telegraphic Department wanted security, and a sum of money had to be paid down. Last year there was about £700 taken on this head, but the Scotch Fishery Board did not get the balance. So far as the £3,000 was concerned, it was their own money, and Scotland had no preference over England, Ireland, or Wales in that respect.
§ SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, that hon. Members for England who had listened to the hon. Member for Ross-shire must 63 not consider that that county was, after all, so badly used. There were at, this moment being constructed in the Island of Lewis one harbour costing £16,500, and another costing £2,000. Besides, there were nine other harbours in the constituency of the hon. Member which were either in the course of construction or very soon to be taken in hand. Compared with any other county in Scotland or in England or Wales, it could not be said that Ross-shire was badly off. The most important matter in regard to harbours which had been raised was the question of the disposal of the £3,000. An hon. Friend had done himself great credit by carrying a Bill through the House by which that sum of money could be capitalised, which made it necessary for close consideration on the part of the Fishery Board, the Secretary for Scotland, and the Scottish Members themselves, because instead of giving £3,000 a year, they should have something like £100,000 at once. It was important that his hon. Friends interested in the question should agree upon some harbour or harbours, for it would never do to take the first suggestion, and perhaps spend the greater part of this money on one work instead of spreading it over. The Scottish Office would regard with real gratitude any combined scheme on the part of the Scottish Members and the Scottish Local Bodies, naming some one or two harbours on which this large sum might be expended. As to the amount paid out of the brand fees for telegraphic extension, these were very likely telegraphic services which would not have been obtained at all if someone had not guaranteed them. But most of the time of hon. Members had been taken up by discoursing about the prevention of trawling, and English Members might imagine that Scotland had specially bad usage. So far as that went, however, Scotland had two vessels placed at her disposal out of the Treasury funds. But she had besides, during the summer fishing, three of these Admiralty gunboats for the protection of her fishing and, incidentally, the suppression of trawling. In the case of one of these, they had had in Shetland a particularly brilliant capture of a trawler, which gave the Government the idea that if even they had to go and cut out privateers, they had officers who could 64 not only show courage but craft. It was all very well to run down the speed of these Government vessels, but the fact remained that within the last six weeks or two months no fewer than four trawlers had been captured by them. These vessels could not be everywhere at once; but he had not the slightest doubt that with these two vessels at the disposal of the Fishery Board—he had decided that the time of the Jackal should not be spent in scientific experiments, but in the protection of the fisheries—Scotland was, at any rate, better off than any other part of the coast. His hon. Friend the Member for Banffshire (Sir W. Wedderburn) had expressed the hope that in any future Sea Fisheries Bill for Scotland the expenditure would be put upon the rates. He was very much in agreement with his hon. Friend, but it was difficult to persuade the people of Scotland generally upon that point. As for himself, he would not recommend any Minister for Scotland to introduce such a Bill in a hurry. Such a proposal might be acceptable in the constituency of this hon. Friend, but it would not be acceptable to the majority of the Scottish Members. But he earnestly hoped that in the course of the next three or four months Scotland would come to some determination as to what method of fishery protection it wanted; but he could not agree that the opinion of the Scottish Members was unanimous on the question of placing that protection on the rates. He hoped, however, the question was not insoluble. He submitted that in the main the Government had done right in this matter, and he thought they and the Fishery Board deserved credit for having made a new departure, instead of being open in any serious sense to criticism.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said, he had no objection to the action of the Government in supplying cruisers for the protection of the Scottish fisheries, but he thought they might recognise the claims of other places as well. With regard to the grant, it ought to have been made in the interests of the country generally and not merely for the improvement of Scotch harbours.
§ Question put, and agreed to.65
§ 4. £87,081, to complete the sum for Local Government Board Ireland.
§ MR. MACARTNEY
called attention to the deportation of a man named Charles Devine. This man went to Scotland 42 years ago, and lived in Glasgow for 27 years. Owing to the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank he had to leave Glasgow. He ultimately became chargeable on Glasgow, but he was deported to Donegal Union on the ground that, as he had lost his settlement, his birth settlement revived. This birth settlement was a mere figment of the imagination and was not sanctioned by any Act. The law said nothing about forfeiting a settlement once acquired, and he would be glad to hear what the Chief Secretary had to say in the matter.
MR. J. MORLEY
said, he was not surprised that this question was raised. There were numbers of these deportation cases, and no one could deny that the Irish Unions had a serious grievance. He had looked into the matter, and he found that legislation would be the most-satisfactory method of dealing with it. He should consult with his right hon. Friend near him (the Secretary for Scotland), with the view of arriving at an equitable settlement of what was an undeniable grievance.
§ Vote agreed to.