§ The House went into Committee on the Supplementary Estimates.
§ Sir JULIAN GOLDSMID in the Chair.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ On the vote for a supplementary sum not exceeding £14,000 for the Houses of Parliament.
§ MR. T. W. LEGH (Lancashire, S.W., Newton)
, complained of the smallness and discomfort of the reading-room. It appeared to be designed, more or less, on the model of the prisons of Venetian political prisoners, which were so made as to be as hot as possible in summer and as cold as possible in winter. It really only fulfilled the purposes of a kind of enclosed tea-room, where Members were in a sort of glass cage to be inspected by inquisitive and irreverent strangers. He thought there should be a larger selection of literature in the room. Why should not the leading Continental papers be provided, and why should not the papers supplied be arranged properly as to be easily found? This might seem a trivial question to many, but in his opinion it was as important to have a suitable reading-room, as a tea-room, a dining-room, or even a bath-room. In case his right hon. Friend, the First Commissioner of 416 Works, should not have a policy in the matter, he would suggest that the present paraphernalia for tea and muffins in the room should be abolished altogether; that the tea-room should be abolished also, and the two rooms thrown into one. He thought tea a purely unnecessary meal, and most people would be better without it. He begged to move the reduction of the vote by £100.
§ MR. W. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
hoped the recommendation of the hon. Member would not be acceded to. He, for one, was a teetotaller, and he did not wish to be driven out of the tea-room. At the same time, he thought an improvement of the reading-room desirable. The fault he found with the room most he could not read in it; there was too much talk going on, and he thought that if the First Commissioner of Works gave them a talking-room it would be much better.
§ THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. H. J. GLADSTONE,) Leeds, W.
said, he was sorry his hon. Friend, the Member for Newton, did not bring his suggestion before the Committee, which sat on the whole question of the Houses of Parliament last year. He was bound, however, to disagree with his hon. Friend. He was sure that hon. Members would protest against any suggestion to deprive them of the tea-room. Of the two rooms he thought the tea-room was more used, and was more valuable as a tea-room than it would be as a reading-room. He thought the proposal of his hon. Friend might be ascribed to the raising of the standard of comfort, brought about by the extensive alterations made during the last Recess; and, if the proposals were persisted in, he did not know how to meet them, because, of course, the space at their disposal was limited. If his hon. Friend wished for a larger and better reading-room he must use his influence with another place to obtain a partial evacuation in order to find space for his requirements. But, so far as the space at their disposal was concerned, there was really no room at present for further enlargement.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, that the newspapers in the reading-room were in such a condition of chaotic confusion, that he generally found it impossible to get the newspaper he wanted. There was nobody there to arrange the papers.
§ MR. H. J. GLADSTONE
said, there was an attendant whose duty it was to do so, but hon. Members were in the habit of shuffling up the papers.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, the attendant was very casual in his attendance, no doubt because he had other duties to attend to. He thought there ought to be attendants there to relieve each other.
§ MR. H. T. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
said, he could not advocate the abolition of the tea-room. He thought the real objection to the present paper-room was that it was a passage-room. The doors opened on both sides of the room, and the windows were draughty. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to set apart another room, without interfering with the tea-room, for this purpose.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
thought it strange that the right hon. Gentleman should say that he had never heard complaints as to the reading-room before.
§ MR. H. J. GLADSTONE
pointed out that he had said that no complaints had been made to the Committee.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, it had been a matter of common complaint during the ten years he had been in the House. Hon. Members generally took in the literature in which they were interested themselves, and this room gave them an opportunity of reading their opponents' views, than which there was nothing more educational. He thought they might find a space where 30 or 40 Members might sit in reasonable comfort to read the papers. The arrangement of the papers was very unsatisfactory, but the accommodation was more so, and he thought a room which was so much used should be of proper proportions.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
said, they were all much indebted to the First Commissioner of Works for much that he had done, but he felt bound to say that a great deal yet remained to be done, and he thought it was a great pity that nothing had been done to improve the accommodation of the House itself. It seemed to him an extraordinary thing that Members should have to attend there on special occasions many hours before the House met in order 418 to obtain a seat, and, if they conformed to the strict Standing Order, to remain within the precincts of the House.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said that something had been done to improve the accommodation for Members of the Press, but still it might be made very much better than it was at the present time. The interest taken in the Debates of the House by the newspapers throughout the country, and by the public generally, was so great that the accommodation for the members of the Press was far too limited. He thought it was extremely desirable that some arrangement should be made not only to increase the accommodation for provincial papers in the Gallery, but also to improve the accommodation for the journalists who attended the House.
§ MR. W. CROSFIELD (Lincoln)
asked the right hon. Gentleman to make some improvement in the ventilation of the serving room of the tea-room.
§ MAJOR L. DARWIN (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
asked what steps the right hon. Gentleman would take in regard to the provision of a type-writing room?
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, he was extremely doubtful whether there should be a newspaper reading-room, as it very much diminished the attendance in the House. Members were often reading the illustrated papers instead of listening to an interesting debate on hypothec or the Law of Settlement in Scotland. He thought, however, that if they were to have a reading-room they should have one sufficiently large and adequate. He thought that there were still some defects in the kitchen arrangements. The kitchen authorities having been provided with a new serving-room, there was no reason for retaining the old serving-room, which was a block in the middle of a long corridor, intended to be a private corridor. The effect of this was to drive a Member outside the corridor, sometimes with disastrous results, as he might from that cause meet a constituent. There were Members, too, who wished to smoke and write at the same time, and there was inadequate accommodation for them.
§ MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Penrith)
asked the right hon. Gentleman to use his influence in the proper quarter in order that Members might be provided with the papers they desired to read, especially the French papers. He did not agree with the suggestion that the tea-room should be abolished, but suggested, as it was more necessary to have a good reading-room than a good tea-room, that the present tea-room should be used as the reading-room.
§ SIR RICHARD WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)
said, the traffic in the reading-room was very inconvenient. The dining-rooms were usually empty from four to six o'clock, and he suggested whether tea could not be served in the northern dining-room during those hours.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY (Preston)
said, the suggestion just made was a practical one, and he thought one of the adjoining rooms might be thrown into the tea-room, and further accommodation thus obtained. It was very desirable also that the suggestion of the hon. Member for King's Lynn should be carried out, and the block in the passage prevented. But he rather begrudged the public money spent for the comfort and convenience of hon. Members themselves. They ought to be very careful of spending money in this direction, and he could not help saying that he thought a good deal of the money spent during the last six months might have been better; utilised. A proper and complete reading room was one of the first things that should have been provided. They had gone on spending money year after year on tinkering alterations, and yet things were not yet in order. The conditions even of that Chamber itself were not altogether satisfactory. But the point to which he desired to draw the special attention of the Committee, was the fact that not one penny of the £14,000 which had been spent, appeared on the Estimates last Session, nor was its expenditure sanctioned by Parliament. The circumstances might possibly justify the expenditure, but the fact was none the less a great irregularity. It would be impossible to carefully supervise the Estimates on a proper system if such irregularity was permitted. The fact, he was bound to say, was a very bad precedent.
§ MR. H. J. GLADSTONE
said, he would remind the hon. Member that the money has been expended on works recommended by the Select Committee, and that last Session the question of carrying out this and other works was discussed time after time in the House. A great deal of pressure, moreover, was brought to bear upon him to carry out the work. The proposal to appoint the Committee was before the House for several weeks certainly, it was mentioned in the discussion in the Estimates, and therefore the whole question was within the knowledge of hon. Members. The Committee was appointed; it was representative of all sections of the House, and they were unanimous in recommending the execution of the work that had been carried out. As to the remarks of the hon. Member for Sheffield about the Press Gallery, he could only say that it was not possible to do more than had been done without making large structural alterations.
§ MR. H. J. GLADSTONE
The work done had been carried out efficiently and economically, and great credit was due to those who had superintended it. In particular he must mention Mr. Taylor (the Chief Surveyor of the Office of Works), Mr. Price (the Resident Engineer), and Mr. Jones (the Clerk of the Works). The Contractors (Messrs. Holland & Hannen), had carried out their work in a most satisfactory manner. With respect to the tea-room and dining-room, although he thought those matters came more properly under the authority of the Kitchen Committee, he should be glad to gather the general opinion of hon. Members, and confer with the Chairman of the Committee, with a view to see whether anything could be done to meet the suggestions thrown out by the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight, and other hon. Members. Between four and six o'clock the tea-roon certainly did not afford sufficient accommodation, and he did not think it would be advisable to change that room for a smaller one. He agreed with the hon. Member for Lynn Regis that it would be desirable to remove the wine service room if it could be done, but 421 hitherto it had not been found possible to do so. As to the supply of newspapers, he had nothing to do with the selection of the papers, but he would undertake to communicate with the proper authority, and see whether some better arrangement could be made to meet the wishes of the hon. Members. The matter of type-writing accommodation for hon. Members was already under his consideration. He was in communication with a number of persons for the quotation of prices, and he hoped in a week or so to be able to state the result.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
said, the financial point raised by the hon. Member for Preston was a very important one, and he desired to press it further. The Committee, he presumed, must have made its Report towards the end of last Session, and if the First Commissioner had made up his mind about the work, he could have obtained a Vote for the money while Supply was proceeding. The money had been spent during the Recess without the sanction or supervision of the House, and its established practice in financial matters entirely reversed. He called for some answer or explanation from the Government.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, it was all the more necessary to press the point, because it was very important that the House should do its best to check Ministers from spending money without proper authority, and as to which no Estimate has been submitted. This work was not contemplated when Estimates were laid on the Table last Session. It was no answer to say that a Committee recommended the work, for that gave no authority whatever. The report of the Committee was no authority for undertaking the works, and did not free the right hon. Gentleman from the duty of obtaining the sanction of the House. This way of administering the finances of the country ought never to be tolerated. The Committee never considered the question of cost, and it was the duty of the right hon. Gentleman to have brought an estimate before the House last Session.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, it was only fair to his right hon. Friend that he should say a word or two upon this question. Of course, he was obliged to look after the interests of the Treasury, 422 but there were two sides to this question. The hon. Gentleman found fault with the right hon. Gentleman for expending this money without the assent of the House. The Committee reported on the 7th of August; the House adjourned on the 23rd, and, therefore, it would have been quite impossible to have had estimates prepared in that interval. His right hon. Friend laid the matter before the Treasury. The Treasury went carefully into the proposed expenditure, and they gave their consent—for this reason, that it was impossible to carry out these works except during the Recess. Therefore, his right hon. Friend was perfectly justified, having got the assent of the Treasury, in carrying out these works during the Recess. He quite agreed that no large expenditure of money should be carried out without the assent of the House of Commons, but, in this case, it would have been quite impossible to obtain a Vote before the Adjournment.
§ CAPTAIN G. R, BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
thought the right hon. Gentleman was to be congratulated on having had the boldness to spend this money on a purpose connected with the comfort of Members of the House. It would, he thought, be horribly inconvenient to be deprived of a tea-room of some sort, and he did not think the proposals of the hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight, would at all meet the circumstances of the case.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
said, the Secretary to the Treasury had really made the matter much worse. The right hon. Gentleman tried to console them by telling them that the consent of the Treasury was obtained, and he seemed to suggest the monstrous proposition that that was as good as the consent of the House. But that was an entire subversion of the Constitution. This was a matter that should especially have been submitted to the House, because the matter was one which applied to the personal comfort of Members of the House; and they therefore ought to be more chary in going outside the proper rules and practice. With regard to the time available, he would point out that almost the whole of the period between the 7th and the 23rd of August, was occupied in dealing 423 with Estimates, and there was no difficulty in getting them passed because the Government closured nearly every one of them.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, he wished to offer a word of explanation which must be satisfactory to the hon. Member. The sanction of the Treasury was generally much more difficult to obtain than the sanction of the House of Commons.
§ MR. W. L. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)
thought the Secretary to the Treasury was getting into lax habits. The First Commissioner of Works was a little unwise in resting a case of this kind upon the sanction of a Select Committee. If there was one question, when he had the honour of being at the Treasury, about which he was always drilled more than another, it was that no new works should be undertaken by any Department unless the sanction of Parliament to an Estimate had first been obtained. Whether these works were to be described literally as new works might be an open question. They certainly could be described as alterations. He hoped the Treasury would not slacken the rule as regards the desirability of the sanction of the House; otherwise the Treasury would lose all its support and all its control. The House seldom acted as the friend of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was generally more extravagant than the Treasury was disposed to be. At the same time, the Treasury could not without danger, slacken any of its rule. The Treasury was, after all, the only reliable support the country had in matters of expenditure, and they ought to require that its rules were rigidly adhered to no matter what Government might be in power. Work of this kind, however, could only be done during the Recess, and great inconvenience would have been caused if it had been postponed for a year, The question of principle had been most properly raised, and he thought they might rest satisfied with the protest that had been made.
§ DR. TANNER (Mid Cork)
said, that during the time of the late Government, material alterations in the drainage system of the House were carried through, before the money was obtained from Parliament.
§ MR. JACKSON
I think the hon. Gentleman is wrong. If the principle of the works has been assented to by 424 Parliament by the Estimate presented, then the question stands in a very different position.
§ DR. TANNER
said, that if he found that he was wrong, he would unequivocally withdraw and apologise. He wished to draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that the doors of the dining-rooms were altogether too narrow. Then he thought more money might have been spent on the House itself.
§ DR. TANNER
said he wished to prevent hon. Members going into the Division Lobby and then taking advantage of those means of escape from voting which existed there.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON (Peterborough)
agreed to the principle that no money should be spent by any Department without the sanction of Parliament. But this was an exceptional case. Hon. Members had been pressing his right hon. Friend to carry out some: alterations, and he thought they should be obliged to him for what had been done. The largest expenditure had been in connection with the kitchen arrangements, which applied more particularly to the comfort and convenience of the servants than to themselves, and certainly had not been incurred before it was necessary. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had referred to the danger of coming out of one the rooms straight into the Lobby, perhaps only to meet some of his constituents, but there was a greater danger he had to meet—namely a bar, and he begged to ask whether it would not be far the greater safety and convenience of the hon. Member, that it should be removed, or only non-intoxicating drinks supplied from it. There had not yet been time, however, to judge of the real value of the work that had been done; but the greatest difficulty seemed to be that of finding room. A good many rooms were occupied in connection with the House of Lords which might better be devoted to the convenience of Members of this House, but as something was likely to happen to that body in the Autumn, he had no doubt they would have more space at their disposal then.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
thought it a farce that, whilst the Public Accounts Committee should have to make every 425 Department explain and enter into their accounts, if they spent even a few shillings which were not in accordance with the rule, the right hon. Gentleman should enter into this expenditure without any authority at all. There would have been no difficulty in obtaining the sanction of the House last Session by means of a supplementary Estimate, and he was glad the matter had now been brought before the Committee, because these things ought to be done more in accordance with the rules.
§ MR. HERBERT GLADSTONE
said that work had been undertaken on behalf of hon. Members. In connection with that work he had made a close inspection of all the arrangements of the House, and could say emphatically that the arrangements and accommodation for the Press, the Police, and for the large staff of servants were of such a character that would not be tolerated by the owner of any private house, while the precincts of the kitchen would have been condemned by any factory inspector of the country. He had but deemed it his duty to alter that state of things.
§ MR. SIDNEY HERBERT (Croydon)
thought that, while there might have been some irregularities in regard to this matter, he ought not to let the occasion pass without expressing the thanks of the Kitchen Committee for what the right hon. Gentleman had done for their convenience. There was one point, however, which he wished to call attention to, and that was, that although they had been given more room in the kitchen, yet the heat was something unbearable, the temperature at times being over 100 degrees.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 173.—(Division List, No. 19.)
§ On the Vote for £7,300 for the Foreign Office,
§ MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
asked what was the cause of this large expenditure for telegrams. Was it recent events in Armenia which had caused this large amount to be spent?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir E. GREY, Northumberland, Berwick)
said, it was difficult to state the actual cause, but he might say roughly that the supplementary expenses for 426 telegrams were due to the war proceeding in the East. As far as he was aware affairs in Armenia could not be said to be the cause of this Supplementary Vote being required.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
thought they ought to have details about the stupendous sum. Nearly £35,000 had been spent on telegrams, and it was not sufficient for the Under Secretary to talk of telling them roughly how this arose. He must press the hon. Member to tell them what these telegrams were about. Had any of them connection with Armenia or Siam—with the ordering of a British ship by the French to clear out of the harbour?
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
Oh ! I beg pardon. The point was how was the money spent? The Under Secretary could tell if he chose how every sovereign was spent.
§ MR. T. W. LEGH
said, telegrams were necessary, and telegrams from the far East were very expensive. If they attempted to cut them down by leaving out the prepositions and auxiliary verbs there might be mistakes, and possibly the telegram would have to be repeated. He thought it would be unwise economy to insist on these messages being shortened. While telegrams were necessary, he thought instructions might be given that they should be compressed as much as possible under certain conditions. No one could read the telegraph despatches without being struck with the fact that certain representatives found it much easier to compress their messages than others. Perhaps no harm would be done if instructions were issued that telegrams were to be compressed as much as possible where necessary.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
thought they might have a little more information. These Supplementary Estimates gave no information whatever. Generally they had a foot-note showing fairly what the money was for, but they had this item of £7,300 for telegrams without any explanation. Surely the hon. Member might tell them generally how the money was spent. Surely it was remarkable that more than a quarter of the expenditure of the Foreign Office should go in telegrams, and yet no explanation 427 was forthcoming. Were they telegrams to distant places like Siam and Argentina—had they to do with Jabez Balfour, or were they telegrams to nearer places in Europe? He admitted that telegrams from distant places were necessary as post would take too long, but the post might be used to places in Europe. If a large number of telegrams were sent to places in Europe he should object, because there were other means of communication which might very well be utilised. They had the Queen's messengers who go all over Europe, why not use them? He knew it was said that telegrams had to be sent in cypher; why not send letters in cypher? They were entitled to an answer, arid the hon. Member did not save time by sitting still on the Treasury Bench.
§ SIR E. GREY
said, he had no wish to refuse to give information. He had answered the question addressed to him and since then three hon. gentlemen had spoken dealing with one or two points. The first was the general policy of keeping down the expenses of telegrams. That is an understood thing by all—that the expense of telegrams was to be kept down as low as possible. Of course whether a telegram was necessary was a matter which must rest with the individual on the spot. He would do his best to give the details asked for by the hon. Member for Preston, but out of such a large number of telegrams it was impossible to do more than give the details in the rough. It was asked whether the excess of those telegrams was due to the communications made in Europe, and the hon. Member indicated that in his opinion it was prima facie more unjustifiable to have this excess arising from communications in Europe than with distant places. In the first quarter ending June, 1894, he found that the total expenditure was £3,637 2s. 4d. If hon. Members multiplied that amount by four they would find that it was slightly in excess of the original sum, but nothing like the excess amount they were obliged to ask for during the whole year. Out of the above amount he found that there were telegrams to Pekin and Tokio amounting to £1,716, Bangkok, Rio Janeiro, £536, Mozambique and Zanzibar, £531, Guatemala £58, and other places £1,117. The figures for the December quarter, which was an abnormal 428 quarter, were £5,670, and if the other quarters had been of the same abnormal character, the total expenditure would have been over £20,000. The amount in the abnormal quarter was due to telegrams to Bangkok £416, Rio de Janeiro £297, Guatemala £46, Mozambique and Zanzibar £334. The telegrams in this quarter alone to Pekin and Tokio amounted to £3,001 as against £716 in the first quarter; to all either places the amount was £1,572. The excess therefore, had arisen through communications with distant places, and the enormous amount of the charges to Pekin and Tokio was an excess due to communications rendered necessary by the war between China and Japan.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
, asked whether the charges for telegrams included those sent from this country abroad as well as for those from abroad to this country.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
asked what proportion of these telegrams were sent in cypher, and what was the number of telegrams sent over subsidised lines. Were telegrams sent for the Government over subsidised lines at a reduced cost?
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
wished to know what the "anticipated savings" represented. Were they savings on the whole Vote, or were they "anticipated savings" on this particular additional Foreign Office Vote? How was the saving arrived at?
§ SIR E. GREY
explained that the savings would be in respect of another sub-head as to salaries. The savings owing to salaries had arisen because there had been a great many promotions of persons who had not yet attained to the full salary which they would ultimately receive. The great bulk of the telegrams were sent in cipher. He did not absolutely see them in cipher because their preparation was a perplexing matter; but he was informed with regard to the cost of sending them over certain subsidised lines that a number of telegrams were sent at a reduced cost.
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
, pointed out that under Head II. the Estimate was £10,250, while the details of the revised Estimate were £17,550; so that £19,225 had been spent on telegrams. In his judgment this was a curious method of preparing an account.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
said that as far as he could make out, the remarks of his hon. Friend were correct. The revised estimate was practically speaking double the original estimate. The Committee was being asked without further information to vote a sum of £9,000, which formed just a seventh part of the whole cost of the Foreign Office, for those extra telegrams. The fact that the savings were to come out of either votes aggravated in his judgment the position. Although it was true that some of the charges might have been due to the war between China arid Japan, he pointed out that the figures of the hon. Baronet did not really account for the whole of the extra cost. He thought that there must be some other explanation of the affair, that the Armenian arrangement must be included in the Vote; and if so this raised the question whether the Committee could fitly discuss the Siamese question also. He asked the ruling of the chair as to whether hon. Members could discuss the Siamese question on the vote?
§ SIR E. GREY
said it would be impossible for him to enter into the details of the telegrams; but inasmuch as the amounts for Guatemala were £41, £46, and £58, the hon. Gentleman would see that the amount was neither large nor important. As to the form of the estimate, he could only say that he believed this form had always been in use, and had been adopted without question. If the form was to be altered, the alteration would presumably have to be extended to other votes. He understood that the amount was for telegrams sent out from home only, and did not include the cost of those sent from abroad.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
failed to see how any saving could have been effected in salaries, when, according to page 18 of the Votes, more money was asked for salaries.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
It is not at all irregular. It is more regular than it used to be before. What has been done in altering the form in which the Supplementary Estimates were now framed was done at the suggestion of the Comptroller and Auditor General.
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER
asked whether, if Parliament voted money for one purpose, and the whole of it was not required, the Treasury, without coming to Parliament, could sanction the expenditure of the balance for another purpose.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Kent, Thanet)
asked, whether it was out of order on a question like telegrams to inquire for what purpose they were sent without discussing the policy involved.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Supplementary Vote for £1,500 for the Colonial Office.
§ MR. HANBURY
asked whether the payment for telegrams sent out to the Colonies included the charges for telegrams in reply? Telegrams to and from 431 India were charged on the Indian Exchequer most unfairly, and he wanted to know whether the same practice was followed in respect to the Colonies? There ought to be a distinction between India and the Colonies in a matter of the kind.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON, Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
replied that with one exception—telegrams to the High Commissioner in South Africa—telegrams to the Colonies were paid for by the Home Government, and telegrams from the Colonies by the different Colonies themselves. He did not know what practice prevailed with regard to India.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
suggested that the Committee should know what I kind of telegrams were to be paid for and how any excess arose.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
stated that telegrams of the High Commissioner paid for in England were those relating only to Bechuanaland and Swaziland and other territories under his control. The excess was practically due to the South African telegrams.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Board of Trade Vote for £2,500 for the Mercantile Marine Fund (grant in aid).
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, the Vote was in aid of the expenditure on electrical communication with lighthouses. Nearly three years since the House accepted unanimously a Resolution in favour of establishing electrical communication with the lighthouses of the country, and a Royal Commission was appointed, which had made two Reports upon the matter, and recommended what was looked upon as a limited scheme. The whole sum required had been put at from £200,000 to £300,000. So far only £24,000 had been voted. The safety of seamen and shipping was concerned. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give some assurance that a little more effective progress would be made with this very important public work.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, that last Autumn, at a certain place on the coast, he found that the telegrams which were 432 sent ashore from the lighthouses giving information as to the position of wrecks, were communicated only to the National Lifeboat Association, by the Coastguard, and were withheld from the Volunteer Lifeboat and others.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, that to put himself in order he would move a reduction in the Vote of £1,000. It was well understood why the coastguard kept the telegrams from the knowledge of the Volunteer Lifeboats. It was because the first boat to reach the wreck was entitled to the salvage. On some parts of the coast it was difficult to ascertain the position of a wreck, except by information from a lighthouse, and this information ought to be made as widely known as possible. If he could not get a satisfactory answer on this point he should divide the House.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. BRYCE,) Aberdeen, S.
said, that he should be very much concerned to know that such a practice prevailed as the lion. Member had described. It was clearly the object of communication with the lighthouses that every opportunity should be given for saving life, and to conceal the information so received would be very wrong. He had no information on the subject, but he would inquire and give all he could to the hon. Member. As to the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, this sum of £2,500 was really a re-vote of what had been voted in previous years. The works were not begun in time enough to enable the whole sum to be spent within the financial year, and therefore, the surplus had to be refunded to the Treasury. Now the works were being proceeded with, and so the money appeared in the Estimates again. At this distance of time, it was impossible to say what was the cause of delay in the initiation of the work. It might have been that the weather was unfavourable, or that the contracts had to be got out.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, that he was quite willing to take the assurance of his right hon. Friend that the information should be given to every one who wished to have it.
§ MR. A. C. MORTON
said, that it was obviously to everybody's interest to get away as many lifeboats and other boats as possible to a wreck. He (Mr. Morton) was anxious to bear testimony to the good work done by the National Lifeboat Association, but all others who were willing to assist in saving life and property should be encouraged to do so. He would ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE (Plymouth)
said, that on June 7th of last year, the right hon. Gentleman, in answer to a question on this subject said:—In the last financial year. £10,000 were placed at the disposal of the Board of Trade for the purpose of effecting electrical communication with light vessels, &c. That money was expended in connecting the Kentish Knock and Goodwin (N. Sand Head), light vessels and the Gunfleet Pile lighthouse with the shore. In the present financial year £11,000 has been similarly placed at the disposal of the Board of Trade, and it in intended to expend this amount in connecting the Haisborough and Shipwash light vessels with the shore, and in laying a vessel to the Taskar Rock lighthouse. I am afraid that the other works recommended by the Royal Commission must wait until the Treasury can place more money at my disposal.Had these works all been completed? The £10,000 was not as a matter of fact expended in the first year.
§ MR. HANBURY
asked whether this money applied to the northern and Irish lights or only to those under the Trinity Board?
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
asked as a point of Order. This sum of £2,500 was part of a Vote in aid of the Mercantile Marine Fund. Under the Merchant Shipping Act of last year, the 434 Vote in aid of the Mercantile Marine Fund was no longer to be the specific sum of £40,000, but such a sum as would make up the whole balance against the Fund, whatever that balance might be. He wished to know whether, under the changed conditions, it would be in order to discuss the whole of the Mercantile Marine Vote or not?
This Vote has nothing to do with the particular Act to which the hon. Member refers. It is a grant-in-aid in respect of lighthouses, and all discussion must be confined to that alone.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
said, that unless he received satisfactory explanations, he must move a reduction of the Vote. He contended that there was an adequate sum already voted for this communication with lightships. The Board of Trade would of course have control over this expenditure. A fortnight ago, when the President was asked whether the Board of Trade had control over the Trinity Board, he replied "None whatever;" but to-day he had said the contrary.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
continued, that the sum asked for was not required, because £500,000 was received in light dues, and only £437,000 was expended upon lighthouse purposes, whilst £70,000 was spent upon clerks and establishment charges. Let the money obtained for lighthouses be spent upon lighthouses, and then, if more money were needed, let Parliament be asked for it; but this —2,500 ought not to be asked for whilst there was an available surplus from the light dues.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
desired to ask what control the Board of Trade would have over the spending of this money, and who were the men who were to be engaged in making these electrical communications? It was impossible that it could be undertaken by the men in the lighthouses, who worked 17 hours a day, for small wages, and practically had no holidays. The House ought to know who it, was that was responsible for a state of things that would not be tolerated on any railway nor in private works. If the Board of Trade were not responsible for the expenditure of this money, he failed to see why, for the 435 first time, the House should be asked to make a special grant. If the money was to be added to a general fund administered by Trinity House, why was this vote earmarked and treated separately? In what respect did this sum differ from an ordinary grant in aid of the Mercantile Marine Fund that it should be treated in this special way?
§ MR. BRYCE
said, this money was not specially voted or earmarked for the first time, but in two preceding years these special grants had been voted. The whole business had arisen out of the recommendations of a Royal Commission, which recommended that electric communications should be established in certain cases; and the Board of Trade had endeavoured to carry out the recommendations. These votes were quite distinct from the Mercantile Marine Fund, the affairs of which were being investigated by a Committee over which the right hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Courtney) presided. It would not be right to enter upon any question concerning that Fund until the Committee had made its Report. This money was voted for a special purpose, and would not be mixed up with the Mercantile Marine Fund. It was not at the general disposal of Trinity House; but it was appropriated for the purposes recommended by the Royal Commission. As regarded the unemployed and the Lighthouses he had every reason to believe that Trinity House and the other Lighthouse Commissioners took care that additional men were provided to do additional work and that they did not ignore the considerations which had been mentioned. The money was spent in the way and upon the general principles that Trinity House, and the other Lighthouse Authorities managed the lighthouses generally. Contracts were made by them and were submitted for the approval of the Board of Trade; and the accounts were regularly audited. There was nothing exceptional in this Vote except that the money was given for a special purpose. It was found that the Mercantile Marine Fund was not able to bear the charges that were coming upon it, and, therefore a special grant had to be made. But the whole subject would come under review when the Report of the Committee was presented.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
said, it would have been better that they should not have been asked to vote a sum in aid of the Mercantile Marine Fund seeing that the explanation was, that the Vote had nothing to do with that Fund. He complained, therefore, of the form in which the Estimate was presented. The extra work involved in making the communications would fall upon the men in the lighthouses at the very time that their ordinary work was heaviest.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he must press upon the President the giving of a little more attention to this matter, for he was not absolutely free from responsibility for the treatment of the men. There should be a distinct promise from the President of the Board of Trade that the case of these men should be inquired into. There should be a distinct declaration that no extra work should be thrown upon them, and, if it could be shown they were overworked, extra men should be appointed for the relief of their burden.
§ MR. BRYCE
shared with the hon. Member the feeling that these men were worthy of every consideration. But, he repeated he had no power to interfere with Trinity House, its servants, or property. He would, however, be happy to communicate to Trinity House the hon. Member's observations, and the discussion would, no doubt, draw attention to the subject.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the vote of £496 for the Local Government Board, Scotland,
§ DR. G. B. CLARK (Caithness)
asked for an explanation with regard to the anticipated savings appearing in the Estimate amounting to £602.
§ THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Sir G. O. TREVELYAN, Glasgow, Bridge-ton)
said, that part of the saving was due to the retirement of a first-class clerk, and to the consequent promotions in the offices of the Local Government Board. Every clerk promoted in consequence of the retirement began with the minimum salary attached to his post. In addition to this there was a saving of some £200 under the head of Special Inquiries by the Commissioners of Loans.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Mid Lanark)
asked what was the salary of the legal and medical members of the new Board?
§ MR. H. T. ANSTRUTHER, (St. Andrews Burghs)
wished to state that the appointment of the gentleman who had been made the legal member of the Board had given very great satisfaction. The right hon. Gentleman would remember that it was stated, when the subject was before the House on a former occasion, that the medical member of the Board was to give his whole time to the work of the Board, while the legal member was only to give such time as was at his disposal. The salaries given to these gentlemen being equal, he wished to know whether there was an equality of service. He did not, of course, impute that the legal member would not give full attention to the duties devolving upon him.
§ SIR G. O. TREVELYAN
expressed great satisfaction at the hon. Member's approval of the appointment of Mr. Patten MacDougallas legal member of the Board. There was only one opinion as to the merits of that gentleman in all quarters of the House. It had been stated that it was a matter of great importance that the full time of both the medical member and the legal member should be given to that office. They were regarded by the authorities, not only as an eminent legal member and an eminent medical member, but as two responsible administrators. It was quite, understood that the full time of the legal member was given to the work of the Board. Mr. MacDougall, eminent as he was as a lawyer, was at heart a thoroughgoing administrator, and he gave no time to private practice.
§ MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
asked whether the desirability of issuing more stringent dairy orders in Scotland had been considered? There had been cases of infectious disease breaking out on the premises of dairymen, and the result had been that customers had suffered in health. He had heard that day of a sad case in Dumfriesshire. Scarlet fever had broken out on a dairyman's premises, and 16 families were now affected by the disease. Did the right hon. Gentleman consider that the Public Health Committees had 438 sufficient power to deal with cases of that kind, and if he thought that they had not sufficient power, would he consider the advisability of issuing a general order which should apply to the whole of Scotland?
§ SIR G. O. TREVELYAN
said, that the matter had engaged his attention. The case specially referred to by his hon. Friend was a most important case, and the results were sad and pathetic. The law on the subject was extremely doubtful, and the question was what ought to be done in the circumstances. He was most unwilling to make the County Government Bill, which he was introducing, a Public Health Bill as well, but this was such a pressing case that he was sure the Government would not be averse to a special provision being inserted in the Bill, if such was the general wish of hon. Members.
§ MR. DALZIEL
was much obliged to his right hon. Friend, and added that from what he knew of the feeling of hon. Members, no opposition would be made to the adoption of the suggestion.
§ SIR G. O. TREVELYAN
I do not promise it will appear in the original draft of the Bill, but I should be prepared to insert it in Committee.
§ DR. CLARK
said there had been three Public Health Acts passed for England since they had had one for Scotland. Scotland, indeed, was 50 years behind England in this matter. More people proportionately died in Scotland from preventable disease than was the case in England, and the state of the Public Health Law in Scotland was a disgrace to the House of Commons.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £16,570 for Law Charges, England,
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
said, he desired to take the first opportunity of calling attention to the change made in the position of the Law Officers of the Crown by the Treasury Minute of last year. The change was not only an important, but, he thought, a most mischievous one in every regard. It was mischievous to the character of the Bar, injurious to the offices of Attorney General and Solicitor General, and he 439 believed in the long run it would be found seriously injurious to the public service. One immediate effect had been an increase of charge which appeared on the face of the Estimate, and which had been caused by the prohibition of the law officers of the Crown from taking any private practice at all. This change made them political officers, and not the leaders of the Bar. If it were to be permanent, the Attorney General would no longer be the head and recognised leader of the Bar. If he was hardly ever seen in the Courts, and scarcely ever brought into contact with his brethren, he must of necessity lose a position which was obtained not merely from the possession of high office, but by the fact that he had been a leader of the Bar himself. He had always thought there was much to be said for altering the position of the Attorney General. It was a great mischief that there was not in the House one lawyer who sat in the Cabinet, and who in the Cabinet would have to consider the course of public business in the House. Too often the Law Officers in previous Governments had not been consulted in regard to measures, and had been delegated to defend them when actually proposed in the House. That was a position which had its disadvantages, and there was something to be said, therefore, for making the Attorney General a legal member of the Cabinet, sitting in this House. But there was nothing to be said for the present change. At present the law officers received £10,000 and £9,000 respectively. But that was not all. The change which had been made involved the creation of a public office, the Patent Office, upon which some hundreds a year were now spent. The whole of that money was provided before the change by the law officers themselves. Besides that, a grant was made for the clerk of the Attorney General and for the clerk of the Solicitor General. The charge now came to £19,000 for the salaries of the law officers and £700 a year for their clerks, and there must be added to that a sum of at least £800 a year which was now expended upon the Patent Office, making £20,500. This was a larger sum than the income of the Attorney General and Solicitor General came to during the last years of their predecessors in office. Not only had 440 there been this increase of charge, but the Law Officers had to be assisted by Other counsel, for whom the House had to provide the means of payment. In the excess vote before the Committee there was an item of £4,000 for agents' costs, counsel's fees, and other expenses in certain prosecutions, and a further item of £11,000 for agents' fees, counsel's fees, and other expenses in a Chancery suit, and he should like to know how much of these items was for counsel's fees. If this were a permanent charge he should challenge the decision of the Committee upon it, but it was not. The change was brought into effect by a Treasury Minute, and the Leader of the Opposition had stated that he looked upon it as nothing more than an arrangement made between the present Government and the present Law Officers. Of course, what the Treasury had done by Minute it could undo, but he could not refrain from making his protest against the change at this the first opportunity. He was sure his hon. and learned Friends who worthily filled the offices of Attorney and Solicitor General would recognise that it was with all friendly feelings he made this statement, but he had a very strong opinion indeed, which was shared by his hon. and learned colleague the Member for the Isle of Wight, and, he believed, by the present Lord Chief Justice of England, against the change which was made, and he desired, with all courtesy and friendliness to the present Law Officers, to make it understood that he looked upon this as a temporary arrangement in which he regretted they were induced to acquiesce.
§ MR. CYRIL DODD (Essex, Maldon)
regretted excessively the speech which had been made by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, because it meant that if at any future time the Conservative Party should happen to be again in Office, then the Law Officers of the Conservative Party would revert to the old practice, which, he thought, was an unfortunate one. The old practice was, that the Law Officers of the Crown were entitled to act for private clients as well as for the Government of the day. There had been cases when the Law Officers were so engrossed in private work that the business of the country was neglected and thrown over time after time. In addition there had been 441 cases where public duty to the country would necessarily conflict with the duty of a Law Officer to private clients. It was because of the difficulty and danger there might possibly be of the Attorney General or Solicitor General using his influence and position for private clients that it was thought right to put an end to private practice on the part of the Law Officers. He regretted the suggestion that such a practice was likely to be again revived. With regard to the suggestion that when the Attorney General was engaged in private practice he was in the Courts, and in all the Courts, and more in touch with the Bar, he agreed that that was the case. It was also true that in such circumstances he was more the leader of the Bar. He denied, however, that it was the duty of the Government to pay for or to provide a leader of the Bar. If the Attorney General was not in a position to lead the Bar, then the Bar must provide their own leader. The country desired that the legal Members of the Government should give their whole time to the Government, and have no other interest than that of the Government. One suggestion which had been made by the hon. and learned Member' for Plymouth had often occurred to him as deserving consideration. The hon. Member suggested that a legal Member of the Government should also be a Member of the Cabinet. He agreed with that view, seeing that the Law Officers of the Crown had often to advise on important international matters, as well as upon questions concerning domestic and other affairs. His principal object in rising, however, was to enter his protest against any attempt to go back to the old bad system of allowing private practice on the part of the Law Officers of the Crown.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. T. REID, Dumfries, &c.)
recognised the friendly way in which the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth had made his criticisms on this subject. He must say, however, that ever since he had been at the Bar he had entertained the opinion, which had, if possible, been strengthened by his experience as Law Officer, that his hon. and learned Friend was entirely wrong in the view he took of the matter; and he should very much regret if he thought that what he had said represented any settled policy on 442 the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to revert to the old system, which he believed to be most injurious to the public service. With regard to the point of economy, it was an entire delusion to suppose that any additional sum was involved by the Treasury Minute of June 1894. He believed the salaries fixed on that occasion represented the average of the sum of payments which had been made to the Law Officers during the preceding five years antecedent to 1892. In regard to the particular cases mentioned by his hon. and learned Friend was the Cordite case, in regard to which practically the whole expense was undertaken and incurred under the old system. The other related to expenses in the proceedings connected with Mr. Jabez Balfour, who was now in Argentina, and did not in any sense affect the salaries of the Law Officers. His hon. and learned Friend further suggested that Counsel were more frequently instructed now than they used to be under the previous system. He could only say that the Solicitor General and himself had been most scrupulously particular that there should be no ground of complaint in regard to this particular point; and they had accepted every brief and conducted every case in which any single Department had even hinted their desire in this direction, except in one case in which the Queen's Proctor considered it was not a matter in which the Law Officers should intervene. On the question of whether it was in the interest of the public service that the private practice of Law Officers should be discontinued on their taking Office, he did not make the least reflection on their predecessors, who did their work most ably and with a real desire for the public service; but he held that it was incompatible with the duties of the Attorney or Solicitor General that they should appear for private clients in the Courts of Justice. In the first place, they could never say when, unexpectedly, some political complexion would be attached to a case. Those who had studied the history of the country would know that the battles of the Constitution had been largely fought out in the Courts of Law. In the second place, it was conceivable that in a case in which the Attorney General was concerned for a private client perjury might be committed; and 443 would it not be an anomalous position that the person whose duty it was to direct a public prosecution should be the Attorney General of the day who had himself been counsel for one of the parties who might be accused? For himself, he could only say he could not do the work of a Law Officer of the Crown and any more work if he was to do it efficiently. If further work was to be attached to the various numerous and annually-increasing duties of the Law Officers he was perfectly certain it could not be done efficiently and with that moderate degree of leisure which allowed a man, at all events, to think over the opinion or the advice he had to give in matters of enormous importance like those in which the assistance of the Law Officers had to be invoked. He believed that his hon. and learned Friend and himself could not perform more work than they did at the present time unless they sacrificed quality to quantity. With reference to the point as to the position of the Law Officers in relation to the Bar, he should feel it exceedingly if he thought there was any diminution in the authority which was held by the Law Officers in regard to the Bar of England. But he did not believe there was any feeling of the kind. The Law Officers of the Crown were constantly in the Courts of Justice, and were constantly brought into contact with the profession; and he believed the honour and high-standing of the Bar were better served by those who led the Bar, holding conspicuous and prominent positions in the House of Commons, than by anything else they could be. No gentleman was very likely to be appointed a Law Officer of the Crown, who had not risen to a very considerable—indeed, he might say—a great position at the Bar beforehand, and if the Law Officers were able to shew that they held public, which commanded respect in men, they would command the respect of the Bar. He would conclude by repeating that he should regard it as a very deplorable thing in the public interest, if he should persuade himself that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth was right in his prophecy.
§ SIR R. T. REID
said, he hoped, in any case, his hon. and learned 444 Friend was mistaken in his view, for he should regard it as a very great misfortune if, on the advent of another Government to office, the rule which had been happily made with regard to the Law Officers should be reversed. He was sure his hon. and learned Friend would, on reflection, see that the first thing to look at in the matter was the Public Service; and that the Public Service would best be served by appointing the best and most able men at the Bar, and requiring them to occupy the whole of their attention with the interests of the State.
§ MR. C. J. DARLING (Deptford)
said, he thoroughly agreed with the arrangement which required that the Law Officers of the Crown should not serve private interests during the time they hold office. He did not think that any other arrangement was possible in the public interest. He regretted that during years not long gone by, Law Officers had been seen much more frequently engaged in cases on behalf of private clients than in cases on behalf of the Crown. It had been said that if they made the Law Officers depend on their salaries, they would not get the best men for the positions. He thought he could point in the not distant past to more men in the positions than the two present Law Officers—he did not allude to the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, or any appointment so recent—men who were surprised to find themselves promoted to the offices, and who, notwithstanding the salary, could not resist the temptation to neglect the business of the Crown in order to attend to private clients—he knew the Bar very well, and he could not think that a salary of £10,000 a year would not provide a very adequate barrister to advise the Crown. The same amount provided a Lord Chancellor, and half the amount a Chancellor of the Exchequer. And yet they were asked to believe that for £10,000 a year they would not be able to induce to accept the Office of Attorney General a barrister adequate to advise the Crown as to the rights of the Japanese against the Chinese, although he had got to assist him another barrister at £9,000 a year, whom the hon. and learned Gentleman, the present Attorney General, said he could not easily distinguish from 445 himself, and as to whom it was a mere accident that one was Attorney General and the other Solicitor General. With the last remark he agreed, but he and all at the Bar were glad that an accident had not supplied the House with a Scotch metaphysician, instead of one or other of the present occupants of the Law Offices of the Crown. He could not, for the life of him, see that the business of the Crown had been worse done since the arrangement had been come to, than when it was perfectly notorious that the Attorney General and the Solicitor General were engaged in all the great cases up and down the country and unable to give time to their duties to the Crown. Turning to the Vote itself, he could not compare the Estimates for 1894–95 with the Estimates for 1892–93 without being struck with the fact that they had been largely increased. He should like to know the reason. Item A, Salaries, &c., stood this year at £14,255, and the additional sum required was £4,070, whereas the same item in 1892–93 was £13,000. For criminal prosecutions the amount in 1892–93 was £19,200; the original estimate for 1894–95 was £25,000, and a supplementary sum of £4,000 was now asked for, but they were not told why the additional sum was required. In item C, legal proceedings, other than criminal, the original estimate for 1894–95 was £12,000; the revised estimate was £23,000; whereas in 1892–93 the amount was only £4,000. The intervention of the Queen's Proctor in 1892–93 cost £2,300; this year it cost £6,500; the total in 1892–93 was £39,450; this year, the original estimate was £55,255; and the revised estimate was £76,000. Another item that struck him as most extraordinary was, £2,500 for costs in divorce cases in which the Queens Proctor had unsuccessfully intervened. To a Law Officer, like the Queen's Proctor, that was a very discreditable matter. He thought the Committee should have some little explanation as to what those cases were, and as to how it came to pass that the Queen s Proctor had been condemned in those unsuccessful interventions. He was, of course, aware that there was an immense amount of perjury in the Divorce Court. He knew there were many people who thought it 446 a point of honour to commit perjury in the Divorce Court. At all events, it was committed in the Court by an enormous proportion of co-respondents; and the county did not seem to think the worse of them. The Queen's Proctor might be wrong now and then, but it was certainly startling that in one Supplementary Estimate it was admitted that he had intervened unsuccessfully to the extent of £2,500.
SIR R. T. RELD
said, it was not fair to blame the Queen's Proctor, who only intervened upon the direction of the Attorney General.
§ MR. DARLING
said, he was extremely sorry to hear it. The Attorney General did not seem to have expected so much successful perjury as had been committed, and perhaps he would tell the House what these cases were in which he had advised so unsuccessfully. He made these remarks in no unfriendly spirit to the Law Officers, nor to the offices which they held. He could not help thinking that the Crown was well served by its Law Officers, and that the terms on which they held those offices were the best that could be made.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £7,000 for Miscellaneous Legal Expenses,
§ SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)
said, the circumstances in regard to the arrest of the eminent man of science, Dr. Cornelius Herz, were, he thought, most discreditable to us on this side of the water, and very much more discreditable to the French Government. It would not be desirable for him to state the case at full length, because it was a very elaborate and complex one, but the object of his observations was to put an end by some means to the present state of things. The charge upon which Dr. Herz was prosecuted was such that within three years of the alleged offence he could not be prosecuted at all, consequently those who were implicated, in common with Dr. Herz, in the, affair in which he at any rate played a secondary part, were free men, walking about Paris and London as they pleased, although many of them were convicted by Courts in 447 France of the misdemeanours with which they were charged. But Dr. Herz was held under arrest up to this moment, and, so far as he could learn, would be held under arrest until the end of his life. He had been in his bed for more than two years while under the arrest of an English police officer for alleged misdemeanours in France, in spite of the fact that on the very day of the last of the three warrants the President of the French Republic and the Minister of Justice in France declared in a public decree that for no one of the charges alleged against him could he be tried in France. His belief was, that if Dr. Herz had been well enough to have had his case heard at Bow Street, he would have been immediately discharged. There was no need to arrest Dr. Herz under the Extradition Treaty, because he was confined to his bed by dangerous illness and was not a fugitive, the treaty applying only to fugitives from justice. On the very day on which the last of the warrants was served on him the Journal de la République published a decree signed by President Carnot and the French Minister of Justice declaring that Dr. Herz, could not be tried in France for any of the charges alleged against him. It was the duty of the French Government to have communicated this fact to the British Government, but as far as he knew they had never done so. He held that from the moment that decree was published, Dr. Herz had been improperly kept under arrest. According to the present state of things the man might be kept under arrest for any number of years; until the French Government made the next move in the case the British Government appparently could do nothing. The French Government had asked them to arrest Dr. Herz; they did so, and they still hold him without any prospect of release. He should have thought that the decree issued by the French Government would have been sufficient to induce the British Government to liberate Dr. Herz, but they closed their eyes to the decree because it had not been officially communicated to them. Before July last the Home Secretary received a number of certificates from certain eminent physicians as to the deplorable state of health of Dr. Herz, and Sir 448 William Broadbent was officially sent down to examine him. He did so, and his report to the Home Office fully corroborated the previous certificates, and showed that the man accused was utterly unfit to be removed to London. There was this peculiarity in the matter—that under the Extradition Treaty his case could only be heard by the Bow Street Magistrate in the Bow Street Court, or in some other Court within his jurisdiction. So that this gentleman, who was ready to prove his innocence, was not allowed by his physicians to remove to London, and the law did not permit the magistrate; to go to the place where he was lying. The consequence was that he might have to remain under arrest where he was for his whole lifetime, unless he recovered and could come to London, which was very improbable. It could hardly be agreeable to Englishmen to know that a man was being victimised on their soil in this way simply because the law made no proper provision for the case. He had always understood that it was the practice in this country to give to unconvicted persons simply under arrest the benefit of any doubt, or of any misfortune that might occur to them. He had suggested to the Home Secretary a year ago, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, to bring in a small Bill to remedy the defect in the law and to have the case heard; but, unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman said he was unable to do so. In July last year many protests were made by different persons in regard to the case; and the Government were asked to try and meet the difficulty. The occasion arose for another medical certificate, and a word or two from this certificate would, he thought, satisfy the mind of the Committee as to the state of the invalid. On the 21st of July of this year, Sir Richard Quain, Bart., Sir George Johnson, Dr. T. Lauder Brunton, Dr. William Frazer, and Professor Malcolm McHardy reported in a formal certificate that they had on that day visited and examined Dr. Herz, and found that—he is suffering from grave diseases of his aortic valves and also of the mitral valve, and that the walls of the heart are diseased. This condition of the heart—449 they continued—leads to attacks of angina pectoris, in any one of which death may occur. The attacks are brought on by the slightest movement, such as an attempt to sit up.They further added—Under these circumstances, we are decidedly of opinion that any attempt to move him would be fraught with the greatest danger to his life. Dr. Herz, has long been suffering from diabetes, and from degeneration of his arteries.The condition of Dr. Herz was reported to the French Government, but such were the political exigencies and excitement of the Chamber of Deputies that, within six days of the issue of that certificate, he was tried on the assumption that he was contumaciously refusing to go to France to be tried, while our Government, the instrument of France for the purpose of holding him under arrest, with the full knowledge that he was incapable of coming even to London, or of travelling at all, or even of sitting up in his bed with safety, remained silent. His contention was that, if at that moment Dr. Herz was being held under arrest in the interest of the French Government, and if the French Government did not consider the British Government a sufficiently good and honest agent for its purpose, the British Government might well have said—In these circumstances, as you do not believe us, as you do not accept these statements of the most important medical men, as you do not accept the statement even of your own medical men, why should we hold this gentleman any longer? You discredit us as your agents, consequently we wash our hands of the case.He was conscious that a full and satisfactory account of the case could not be given here; but he thought it wrong, feeling a close interest in the subject, to allow this money to be voted for the further indefinite holding under arrest of this unfortunate gentleman, for no other reason than that the French Government were afraid to say to the British Government—We cannot expect you to go any further in this course of irregularity.He was not making these remarks for any other purpose than to bring the case to the notice of the Committee. He did not make them by way of censure upon 450 the Government, although the Government had frequently said—We cannot go into the question of whether Dr. Herz could be tried in France or not. It is enough for us to know that we have him under arrest here, at the request of the French Government made two years ago.He could not believe that the House would be content with this. He hoped the Government would take the matter into their serious consideration, and, because he looked to them to exercise more discretion and activity than they had hitherto shown, he wished to make his remarks as moderate as as he could. He hoped the Solicitor General would understand that his speech was not made by way of complaint, but by way of statement. He believed the Members of the Government, individually, would be as willing as anyone to do justice to this unfortunate individual. But the case was peculiar. This gentleman was there because there was no law applicable to the case, and he could only do one thing—he could lie arid he could die. That was the only course open to him, unless, as he feared, his brain and mind gave way under the circumstances. Was it right that the British Government should be called upon to go on in this way? When Dr. Herz underwent the ridiculous mock trial, the French Court sentenced him to the fullest term of imprisonment that was possible for the alleged misdemeanour—five years. This gentleman might be in this country during the five years, and if the French Government did not move, if they were afraid of the outcry of a certain section of the Deputies, he might thus fulfil his sentence, and might yet be under arrest a prisoner for the same reason that he would be lying under arrest now. He was not at all unfriendly to France, he had a great many friends in France, some of them among her Ministers; but if the French Government were so timid as to be afraid to do justice in a case like this; if it refused to make any communication with the British Government, then, in his opinion, Dr. Herz ought to be released on the ground of common humanity; or at least a communication ought to be made to the French Government to the effect that the British Government were not satisfied with the present state of things, and that they could not allow it to continue.
§ THE SOLICITOR GENERAL (Sir FRANK LOCKWOOD, York)
said, his hon. Friend, in addressing the House, had displayed no unfriendly feeling towards the Government of this country, but had spoken rather strongly with regard to the conduct of that of a friendly State. As he understood the case, Dr. Herz was one of the persons charged in connection with what was known as the Panama scandals, and at the time the charges were made he left France, or, at any rate, was not at home when the investigations were made. He came to this country, whereupon a requisition was made for his surrender as a fugitive criminal, and the Secretary of State had no option in the matter. It became his duty, under the treaty existing between this country and France, to signify to a police magistrate that such a request had been made, and to obtain the issue of a warrant for apprehension. That course was followed, and an officer went down to Bournemouth for the purpose of executing the warrant. It was not executed, however, because Dr. Herz was ill in bed. Nor had the warrant been executed up to this time, though an officer was in attendance to put it into force in case he left the house. In that sense Dr. Herz might be said to be under arrest at the present moment. Now his hon. Friend had said that under those circumstances it was the duty of the Home Office to withdraw the warrant, and no doubt it was within the power of the Secretary of State to take such a course, but upon that point he would express no opinion. Another matter alluded to was that many of those persons who were charged at the same time in connection with the Panama case, were now walking about in Paris enjoying themselves, but, to use a common expression, they might be described as having served their time.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
said they were within the doctrine of prescription, and, on the ground that they had been improperly tried, the High Court ordered their immediate discharge.
§ SIR FRANK LOCKWOOD
said, if that were so, his apologies were due, not to his hon. Friend, but to the persons in question, and he would make them accordingly. The next point was that the President had declared that none of 452 these charges could be tried under the conscription. He had had an opportunity of looking at the proclamation of the President of the French Republic, and, Dr. Herz holding a high position in the Order of the Legion of Honour, that proclamation appeared to have been made for the purpose of depriving him of his position in the Order. He had no doubt the same course would be followed in this country in similar circumstances; and the controlling authority would withhold its judgment until the criminal Court had pronounced a verdict. There would be, no doubt, something in the point if Dr. Herz had been acquitted, or if there had been, as he was reminded by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Plymouth, a trial on the merits of the case. Then he did not know that his hon. Friend would not have something to say. He had had an opportunity of speaking with the Home Secretary on this matter, and he would be glad, indeed, if he could assist his hon. Friend in making an investigation or representation. But beyond that he could not say more. He did not think there were any grounds for suggesting that the Government had been guilty of any harsh conduct. The position was this. They had been requisitioned by a friendly Power under a treaty which bound them. The Secretary of State, acting on that requisition, made application to the magistrate. A warrant was applied for. The warrant could not be executed owing to this gentleman's condition of health. No unnecessary indignity or inconvenience was inflicted, arid it was to be hoped that he would be happily restored to health and the warrant properly served upon him.
§ SIR EDWARD CLARKE
thought that the statement made by his hon. and learned Friend was quite unassailable. No doubt, this gentleman was in the position of one with respect to whom the French Government were entitled to make a requisition, but there, was, he thought, a question to be considered. He did not want to discuss the legal aspects of the question. Nor was there any doubt as to the reality of the Gentleman's great sufferings and terrible condition, because that had been investigated by the highest authority. All were agreed that he had been for two 453 years in the custody of an English police officer, who was in the next room. He did think that this was a case, not for the Home Office, hut the Foreign Office, which should make some representation to the French Government as to the undignified position in which this country was placed with regard to the cruel harshness exercised towards Dr. Herz. He hoped the Government would see that some representation might be made to the French Government to put an end to a state of affairs painful to everyone.
§ SIR EDWARD REED
contended that this gentleman was being held here under arrest on charges for which he could not be tried in France; and, secondly that he was being held here in spite of the fact that the French Government had treated this country with so much inconsideration in alleging practically that they did not believe what was said by our Government and our physicians.
§ MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
said they appeared to be placed in an anomalous position in this matter. Here was a gentleman who had now been under arrest for practically two years. From what he understood, the warrant which was issued by Sir John Bridge was issued ultra vires. Dr. Herz said, in effect, that if he could being his case before the police magistrate he should prove that the warrant ought not to have been issued, that it ought to be cancelled, and that he ought not to be extradited to France. That was the position from the fact that this unfortunate gentleman was suffering from a conplication of diseases and unable to leave his room or his bed. He was unable, in fact, in consequence of the state of our law, to bring his case before the Court. It was not the fault of the Government, but the fault of our law; and it was the duty of Parliament so to amend the law as to meet cases of this description. He believed that a simple alteration of the Definition Clause of the Act of 1870 would be adequate. The whole difficulty depended upon, this—that in England we did not allow a trial to take place except in the presence of the prisoner, and under the Extradition Act all these cases must de tried in the Bow Street Police Court. But were there no other police courts or other magistrates capable of trying these cases? The Government 454 ought to introduce some exceptional Legislation to deal with an exceptional case, and to such Legislation he did not believe there would be any opposition.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
asked whether all these expenses were borne by the Metropolitan Police Fund and not by the French Government. In the time of the late Lord Aberdare at the Home Office all expenses incurred for the arrest of a prisoner beyond the Metropolitan Police district were borne by the prosecutor, and an indemnity was always required from the prosecutor for extraordinary expense in connection with sending Metropolitan Police officers beyond the district.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, that under the Extradition Treaty with France the cost of the Herz case had to be voted by Parliament. Unfortunately, this country had to pay the expenses in the Herz case under the French Treaty and the expenses in the Jabez Balfour case under the Argentina Treaty. In fact, we were burning the candle at both ends.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said, he had had experience of many of these cases, and they were never undertaken in his time without seeking an indemnity from the French prosecutor.