§ On the Supplementary Vote for £100 for the services of the Ordnance Factories,
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
asked that the ordinary Ordnance Factory Vote for the year be postponed. If the Government would accede to his request the Supplementary Ordnance Vote might be taken without discussion, so far as he was personally concerned.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)
said, the Treasury had always insisted that the Ordnance Vote and Supplementary Ordnance Vote should be taken at the same time. It was therefore proposed to take the Votes together.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
said, the Secretary of State for War would recollect that last year the Birmingham Members represented that the Government were taking from one of the factories in Birmingham a considerable part of the machinery, and removing it to Enfield or elsewhere. The Secretary for War considered the circumstances, and made an arrangement which, although not entirely satisfactory, was, he believed, all he could do at the time. That arrangement was, that while a portion of the orders was to be given to the Small Arms Factory, another portion of that factory was to be fully employed in repairs, which repairs were to be removed from the factory in Bagot Street. He desired to know whether any change had been made, or was going to be made in that direction.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
did not think so. He understood the arrangement had been successfully carried out, and that the disturbance which surrounded the Birmingham factories and Enfield had been allayed in a way which would prove satisfactory to those concerned.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
said, the answer was entirely satisfactory, but in 1386 order to be quite certain, he might say it had been stated that an order had been received in Birmingham for the transference of the Bagot Street station, which had been for a period of 35 years in the city, to Woolwich.
THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (MR. W. WOOD-ALL, Staffordshire, Hanley)
said, there was not the smallest truth in the statement.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
supported the appeal which had been made by the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury). He understood the Treasury had laid it down that, as a rule, some nominal sum should be granted by the House in order to justify them in expending money in carrying out the ordnance work. Although he admitted that on the whole it was desirable the Vote should be discussed now, it must be borne in mind that on two or three occasions during the late Government's tenure of Office, the discussion of the Vote was postponed, and postponed without any serious consequences. It was most undesirable that late at night the Committee should be involved in one of those wrangles with which they were all too familiar, and the Government would themselves be responsible for any such unhappy consequences if they deliberately congested the business of the House by bringing on a Vote to-night which, after all, might be postponed without breaking the law, or submitting any Department to unnecessary inconvenience.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
admitted that it was not absolutely indispensable to take this particular Vote to-night. He suggested that the Vote should be postponed for the present, and that if it were found they had time to take the discussion upon it tonight they should do so. They must, however, have the Supplementary Vote.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he was grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the courteous mariner in which he had met the request of the Opposition. He hoped the Ordnance Vote would not be brought on after 11 o'clock.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said, that, as one of the unfortunate Members who had been left out of the general agreement between the Front Benches, he asked, particularly as he was interested in the Vote, that the 1387 Ordnance Vote should not be taken up after 11 o'clock.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
As regards the other question, I will not ask the House to sit to consider the Ordnance Vote after half-past 12 o'clock, and as to the time the Vote should be taken up, I will make inquiries amongst hon. Members.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ On the Vote for a supplementary sum of £100 for Ordnance Factories—
§ MR. STUART-WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
wished for an assurance that none of the money for Ordnance factories would be spent for setting up forging presses at Woolwich. A promise had been given by the Government that those works would not be set up in competition with similar works opened by private enterprise in other places; and, acting on that assurance, large sums of money had been spent on such works by private firms.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling)
said, he was able to give the assurance asked for. There had been considerable correspondence and consultation on this subject, and the Government gave to one of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues in the representation of Sheffield—his right hon. Friend the Member for the Brightside Division, Mr. Mundella—who had acted as an intermediary between private firms and the Government, that these presses would not be set up at Woolwich. There was no intention on the part of the Government of departing from that arrangement or understanding.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote for a Supplementary Sum of £29,000 as a Grant in Aid of the Revenue of the Island of Cyprus—
§ MR. R. PIERPOINT (Warrington)
said, he would not discuss the question whether Cyprus was or was not a valuable acquisition to England; but he 1388 desired to say a few words on the treatment of the people of the island by this country. Before coming to the important part of his subject, he should like to comment on some of the remarks made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to Cyprus when the Vote was under the consideration of the Committee a few evenings ago. The right hon. Gentleman inferred that the island was an unhealthy place. He supposed the right hon. Gentleman formed that opinion from his memory of what occurred in 1878, when a wave of un-healthiness went over the whole of the Mediterranean, and our own island of Malta suffered terribly from fever. How could it be expected that Cyprus would be particularly healthy for the British troops when those who took them there had no knowledge as to the healthy and unhealthy parts of the island? It was well known, that the troops were encamped on the low-lying plains which had achieved a bad and well-deserved reputation for unhealthiness. But as to the general healthiness of the island, Sir R. Lambert Play fair, an independent authority, wrote in 1890:—The climate, in spite of all that has been said against it, is during the greater part of the year extremely healthy in almost all parts, and for a resident who is able to choose his quarters and move at will hardly a more perfect combination of warmth, dryness, brightness, and equability can be found than may be obtained by residing at Nikosia in the spring and autumn, Limasso in the winter, and Troodos in the summer. The extremely good health of the troops who live in camp from October to May, and on the cool slopes of Troodos from June to September is a proof of this.The Chancellor of the Exchequer also said that crime had increased instead of diminished in Cyprus, and that the Bishop, who was over here lately, represented the condition of Cyprus as worse now than it had been under Turkish rule. But the last report from the High Commissioner of Cyprus said, in reference to the return of offences reported to the police:—But when the returns are examined in detail, it appears that the greater part of this increase has occurred under the head of offences other than those classed as offences against the person and offences against property. Amongst these 'other offences' are included offences against the Revenue Laws, the Forest Laws, 1389 the Field Watchman Laws, the Quarantine Laws, and breaches of Municipal By-laws. These offences cannot be regarded as crimes in the ordinary acceptation of the word; and it is the opinion of the Chief Justice that the criminal record of the year exhibits a decrease rather than an increase in the sum total of serious crime. In support of this conclusion, it is pointed out that the number of cases committed for trial before the Supreme Court is steadily declining.Again, the Chief Justice, in his report dated 22nd June 1893, states:—The Return shows that the number of offences brought to the notice of the Courts during the period above mentioned was 6,617, a substantial increase over the figures of the preceding 12 months. In the year ending the 31st March 1892 the total number of such offences was 5,337, and it therefore appears that there has been an increase of about 24 per cent. in the number of offences reported to the Courts. The Return appears to be, and doubtless is, unsatisfactory; but I am glad to say that it is not so unsatisfactory as need appear to be the case at first sight, as I think that I shall be able to show, not only that there has been no increase of serious crime, but a very substantial decrease.It was the opinion of persons who were well qualified to judge that some of the crime committed in Cyprus was owing to the fact that the people of the island found that the fruits of their labour went, not into their own pockets, but into the taxation of the country, which was transferred to the Bank of England. The people said, "Why should we toil for England, or to make up this great subvention for England and France?" And instead of working, unfortunately, some of them took to the road. But the main grievance of Cyprus was the tribute that had to be paid by the people. The island was extremely poor; there were no rich people in it; its population was only a little over 200,000; and yet it produced a revenue of £180,000 a year, of which £93,000 went to pay the so-called Turkish tribute, but which was really spent by England and France in satisfying their indebtedness to Turkey under the Treaty of 1855. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had said that Cyprus was an unhappy speculation, as it had cost the British taxpayer about £500,000. But it was an undoubted fact that during the years we had occupied Cyprus the British and French taxpayers had got back £1,500,000. How could it be a bad speculation to get, one and a half millions for half-a-million? 1390 The right hon. Gentleman also said that the administration of the island cost the British taxpayer £30,000 a year, and observed that it would be difficult for anyone to say what they yet in return. France and England got nearly £93,000 a year in return for the grant in aid of £30,000. If it were not for the Cyprus tribute, France and England would be deprived of this £93,000 a year, and he would suggest to the Committee it was very hard that because Cyprus happened, in 1855, to be about a five-hundredth part of the Turkish Empire, that they, for the sake of their own pockets, and those of the French, should squeeze out of the island rather more than half of what remained of the indebtedness of the 1855 Loan. If they had not got this tribute from Cyprus and could not get it out of the Turks, then England and France, as joint guarantors of the 1855 Loan, would have to pay the money, and the effect of all this was that the people who benefited most by the tribute were the French, who were brought into the matter by an arrangement made in 1882. He did not suppose that before that time the French ever dreamed they were going to have any part or parcel of this Cyprus tribute. But the Government, finding they could not get the money out of the Turks, and being joint guarantors with the French of the 1855 Loan, decided to take the money out of Cyprus.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
The hon. Member will see that if this money were not paid to the bondholders, it would not go under any circumstances to Cyprus. We are bound to pay it to the Turks, and we only intercept it for the creditors. If the money were not paid over to the creditors of the Turks it would be paid to the Turks.
§ MR. PIERPOINT
was aware of this. He also knew that the Government of this country had, apparently, as far as he could judge, an absolutely strong technical case against the Porte, by which they could say to the Porte—This money, which was originally due to you, legally belongs to us and France as guarantors of the 1855 Loan. You will never see one penny of it; make an arrangement with us and we will pay you down a moderate sum of money simply to abrogate the one clause in the Convention of the 4th June which promises to the Porte the surplus revenues of Cyprus;which were eventually arranged to be 1391 between £90,000 and £93,000 a year. But if the Government could say to the Porte, as they could—that the latter would never get one shilling of the Cyprus tribute and were to offer half-a-million of ready money paid down in lieu of it, surely the Porte would be willing to accept half-a-million. That money could be easily borrowed by Cyprus, and with interest at 3 per cent. and a sinking fund at 1 per cent., it would mean, only £20,000 instead of nearly £100,000 a year.
§ MR. PIERPOINT
What has Cyprus got to do with the bondholders? He asked, was Cyprus, because she was a little bit of the Turkish Empire when this debt was made, to go on for ages paying the debts of England and France? England and France entered into the arrangement of 1855 with the Turkish Government, so that they might carry on a war by the expenditure of Turkish lives instead of those of Englishmen and Frenchmen, and they lent the money in order that this might be effected. Cyprus formed part of the Turkish Empire at that time, and being the one little half-acre over which we had power now, one Government after another had squeezed that little half-acre until they had got this tribute from its people. The right hon. Gentleman had said that Cyprus was rather a squalid possession. It was the Government of this country who had made it a squalid possession, by taking away from the islanders half of their revenue. Talk of absentee landlords! What absentee landlords took half the revenue of a whole country and spent it elsewhere? Cyprus paid nearly £93,000 a year, and England, after giving a grant in aid, made a profit out of Cyprus of between £15,000 and £20,000 a year, and France, who had nothing whatever to do with the matter, received £46,000 a year, which had actually to be met by taxation in Cyprus. Considerable credit was taken for the Government in Cyprus that they had got rid of the locusts. Locusts only came occasionally, but the Government came every year and took half of the revenue of the country, leaving not nearly sufficient to enable the resources of the island to be developed. The island was crying out 1392 for bridges, roads, irrigation, instruction in cultivation, and things of that sort, but all the Government said to them was, "You can have a Parliament." Accordingly a toy Parliament had been set up, but it was framed on such a basis as to make it a very questionable boon. Meanwhile the Government went on taking this revenue every year. The islanders were poor, but Cyprus was not a squalid possession. It was one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean. It had a great past, it had been very rich, and it had great capabilities for the future if it were allowed to use them with some of the money taken away in this cruel manner every year. The right hon. Gentleman asked who was to pay the bondholders in respect of the 1855 loan if this tribute were not enforced? England and France ought to pay their own indebtedness, which they incurred for their own purposes. Surely something might be done to help the poor people of Cyprus, so that they might understand that the English flag meant freedom, and that the English flag and Government meant something like generosity. He was not asking for any great thing in taking the point of view of the people of Cyprus. What was it after all? It only meant a few thousands to a very rich country to enable a very poor country to make that progress they hoped and expected all their colonies and possessions to make. He was asking for common English justice and something like consideration for a struggling people.
§ MR. H. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
remarked that when the hon. Gentleman said that Cyprus was the most beautiful country in the world, and might be the richest, he had to reply that almost all these places could be made rich by an enormous expenditure of capital. He supposed that Cyprus was about as valuable as Uganda or any other of those absurd and ridiculous annexations which distinguished the present time. He rejoiced to hear the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the recent discussion, because there was a true and honest ring of anti-Jingoism about it which delighted him. The Chancellor of the Exchequer pointed out that he was not responsible for what had taken place in Cyprus. England got Cyprus by one of the most infamous 1393 pieces of dirty trickery that ever distinguished a great country. There had been war between Turkey and Russia, and in order to prevent Russia acquiring any territory in Turkey, England went secretly to Turkey after the Berlin Convention, and told Turkey she should be supported if she would give to us what we claimed she ought not to give the Russians, and that was the way we got Peace with Honour. Peace with Cyprus! The acquisition of Cyprus formed only a portion of our Treaty with Turkey. We pledged ourselves to guarantee the integrity of the whole of Asia Minor on the condition that the people there were well and properly governed. That guarantee was a sham, and he put down all the astrocities now taking place in Armenia to that Peace with Honour Treaty of which hon. Gentlemen opposite were so exceedingly proud at the time. The only effect of the hon. Member's proposal was to make a present of half a million to Turkey; we should still have to pay the amount due upon the loan. The hon. Member must submit some plan which would cost this country a good deal less money. We sympathised with suffering humanity, but we were not prepared to pay for suffering humanity all over the globe. We had poor in England and had a great deal to do with our money. He had a more practical plan. The 1855 loan was borrowed at 4 per cent. upon the guarantee of France and England. The Turks gave as special securities the Egyptian tribute and the customs of Smyrna and Syria; and they paid the sinking fund and interest until 1875. At that time £1,177,000 of the bonds had been redeemed. The debt consequently then stood in round figures at £3,800,000. Since then there had been drawings each year, but the bonds drawn had not been redeemed. The holders had not insisted on being paid, for the excellent reason that the bonds stood at 112. The bonds so drawn amounted to £2,695,000, leaving a balance of little over a million. His suggestion was, that they should borrow this £2,695,000 at 3 per cent, and thus save £25,000 a year, which was nearly equivalent to the amount of grant in aid to Cyprus.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that some arrangement must be made with Turkey on the subject. He would remind hon. Gentlemen that Cyprus was not a British possession; it was a portion of the Turkish Empire, and we had only a lease of it. There was another island in the same sea, the island of Samos, which enjoyed autonomy, and paid a certain tribute. It seemed to him it might easily be arranged that we should, concurrently with the adoption of the suggestion he had made for the reduction of the interest, give up the lease of Cyprus, and that Cyprus should secure some sort of autonomy such as was enjoyed by the islanders of Samos. By that means we should do good to ourselves, to the Cypriote and, to a certain extent, to the Turk himself. He moved a reduction of the Vote by £100, in order to make a protest that nothing had been done to reduce our indebtedness in this matter. No doubt, Cyprus might, by a large expenditure of money, be made wealthy. But we did not take Cyprus in order to make it wealthy by draining or anything of that sort. Lord Beaconsfield said that our object was to make it a place of arms. But no one could say that it would be of any advantage as a place of arms, or that its harbour was of any possible use. And no one pretended that it could be made a sanatorium. It was perfectly and absolutely useless at the present time. ["No, no!"] No! It had a use. Let it be an object—lesson to hon. Gentlemen opposite not to annex islands of this sort. Let them remember what their dalliance with the Cypriotes had cost us. Let them in future spend the money of this country at home instead of seeking to gain territory by trickery, fraud, and force, and then to boast that they had increased the glory and the dignity of the British Empire.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
said, the financial question depended on the point of view from which they regarded it, and he maintained that the British taxpayer had been a considerable gainer by the lease we had had of the island. Admitting that the subsidies which the House had had to vote averaged £30,000 a year, we had practically taken £92,000 a year from Cyprus for the payment of the 1395 interest of the Turkish Guaranteed Loan of 1855.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, he was very doubtful whether France paid any of that sum—he had not been able to trace any payments by France in that respect. If we had not received that money, we should have had to raise a considerable portion of the sum required every year for the service of the loan.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I can now give the exact figure. The sum that we should have had to provide, supposing Turkey had provided nothing, and taking into account that France it responsible for one—half of the whole liability, and gets the benefit of discharge from that liability every year, is exactly £40,876 per annum.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, that being so, we should have to provide, in order to meet our liability every year—the Porte having made default—a sum of £40,876. That figure reduced no doubt considerably the figures which he had in his mind, but it still left a considerable surplus. Assuming the amounts of our subsidies in aid to have averaged £30,000 a year, we had received from the revenues of Cyprus £10,876 a year, being the difference between £40,876 and £30,000. Therefore, from the point of view of the British taxpayer, so far from the occupation of Cyprus having cost us anything at all, it had, in fact relieved the British taxpayer to the extent of £10,876 a year. The hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Pierpoint) had pleaded rather in the capacity of a representative of the people of Cyprus than as a Member of the British Parliament; but, from the point of view of the Cypriotes themselves, he would like to ask whether they are not better off now under the British administration, than they were, before the year 1878, under Turkish rule? He did not think then could be a doubt as to the answer. The Cyprians' position had been enormously improved, and justice was well am fairly administered. He would like to quote to the Committee one passage from the important letter addressed to The Times on the 14th instant. Speaking as a former High Commissioner in 1396 Cyprus, Sir Henry Bulwer stated as follows:—We have conferred on the Island the solid benefits of a pure administration of justice and of an honest and impartial administration of Executive Government. In the preservation of the forests, in the promotion of education, in the establishment of hospitals and dispensaries, in the construction of roads, in the improvement of harbour accommodation, in works of irrigation, in the security given against the scourge of locusts (though the cost of this work, it should be stated, is defrayed by a special tax, and not out of general revenue)—in these and in other ways the Government has done what it could to promote the present welfare of the country, and to guard its future interests. The general condition of the people has improved. They have now comforts and conveniences of life to which they were formerly strangers. The value of the trade of the Island increased from £532,000 in 1879 to £776,000 in 1891.He could go on showing that, not only had these substantial improvements been derived from the English rule in Cyprus, but, in addition to that, taxation had been considerably reduced since our advent.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
said, there had been more remitted than had been newly imposed. Could anyone doubt that the Cypriotes were in a better position now than they were in 1878? If a poll of the inhabitants of the Island were taken upon the question whether they would rather remain under British rule, or go back and be under the direct administration of the Sublime Porte, there was, he believed, very little doubt as to the answer the Cypriotes would return.
§ COLONEL BRIDGEMAN (Bolton)
said, that, according to the figure now given by the, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the cost of the interest on our share of the liability under the Turkish loan of 1855 amounted to £694,892. Against that we paid £494,000, and England had, consequently, benefited to the extent of over £200,000 by the occupation of the Island.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I do my sum a little more simply. We have received the benefit of our remission of our liability, say, £40,000 a year. We have paid, say, £30,000 a year. The difference is £10,000. Multiply that by 17 years, and I make that £170,000.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. SYDNEY BUXTON, Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
, interposing, said that the difference was the amount on the Estimates for 1894.
§ COLONEL BRIDGEMAN
said, that he had taken his figures from an answer given by the right hon. Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Goschen) on July 2, 1889. He wished to give these figures because he thought it was unfair to talk about Cyprus as a "squalid possession," when we had put into our own pockets about £200,000 out of its revenues. He admitted, however, that France had had the better bargain, because she had not only profited to the same extent as ourselves, but had been saved from paying the grants in aid which we had been called upon for. He hoped that they would never again hear Cyprus spoken of in the terms used that afternoon.
§ SIR D. H. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
desired the Committee to look at the matter from another point of view namely, the aspect of the offensive and defensive alliance between this country and Turkey. On our taking over Cyprus the Porte agreed to reform the administration in Armenia, and, in consideration of that condition, we were to give her armed assistance, if necessary, to uphold the integrity of Armenia. It had been shown, he admitted to his surprise, that Cyprus had been a profit to us in a money sense, but he did not think we had gained honour in gaining money. The question he desired to put was whether, at this moment, England was liable to give armed assistance to Turkey in case of an invasion of Armenia by Russia. He contended that, if we were not prepared to fulfil that condition, we ought, in common decency, to withdraw from Cyprus. When we went there it was for a particular object, and upon a specific understanding. It was perfectly well known that the Porte had not carried out its portion of the agreement. It had not administered Armenia in the way that England intended that it should be administered. He asked whether, if the Commission reported proving—as he had no doubt it would report—that the atrocities had 1398 been committed in Armenia, the Government would denounce this Treaty and at the same time give Cyprus back to the Turks. The island was of no value to us. Then let us give it back to the Turks, as we were no longer willing to fulfil the conditions originally undertaken. Was there in the House or in the country a man who would go to war with Russia in order to maintain Turkish rule in Armenia? The Member for King's Lynn was not easily terrified, but he doubted whether he would be willing to advocate that policy. If they were not ready to do that they had no right to maintain their rule over Cyprus.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have listened with great astonishment to the views of hon. Gentlemen like the hon. Member who has just sat down when they were recalling reminiscences in connection with the Eastern question. The hon. Member for Northampton and others have taxed their memories to recall some few features of the speeches made between 1878 and 1880 on the iniquities and enormities of the Government which made the arrangement as to Cyprus.
§ SIR D. MACFARLANE
I made no charges. I said there was much to be said in favour of the policy in winch it originated.
§ MR. BALFOUR
The hon. Member for Northampton certainly made an attack upon Lord Beaconsfield's Government which answers to that description—an attack less relevant to the Vote I cannot imagine. What did he say? He said that he has discovered to his dismay that Cyprus is a profitable investment. He said he was astonished to find that we make a profit out of it. The ground then was cut from under his feet. According to the Treaty we were endeavouring to give the Turkish Government the strongest inducements to reform their rule in Asia Minor. It is not my business to form any estimate as to how that has been carried out. I leave that to others. At all events, in making that Treaty we did as much as, or more than, was done by any Government before or subsequent to Lord Beacousfield's Government. We gave the Porte substantial, 1399 direct, and obvious motives in the matter. Let me tell hon. Members that if we have not gained the object we had in view we are much less likely to gain it by the course suggested. The hon. Member thinks that we are bound in honour to hand over Cyprus, our obligations being to defend Asia Minor, provided the Porte extended there that good government which we all desire to see extended in the Ottoman Empire. If that was done there would be no reluctance on our part to carry out any part of the obligations. The hon. Member made an appeal to the Government on the subject of Armenia, and at the very moment that he was appealing to the Government to interfere on behalf of Armenia he desires to hand back the population of Cyprus to Turkey. Was there ever an inconsistency like that?
§ SIR D. MACFARLANE
I never appealed to the Government to interfere with Armenia. I ask them to retire from Cyprus.
§ MR. BALFOUR
I certainly understood him to say that, while we ought not to go to war, we ought to make representations to the Porte.
§ MR. BALFOUR
He wishes the Government to threaten the Porte with regard to these reforms in Armenia, and at the same time hand back the population of Cyprus, which at present enjoys all the blessings of Western government, to Turkey. I cannot understand who it is that is injured by the present condition of things. My hon. Friend near me has pointed out that the British taxpayer is not injured, and the Cyprians are not injured by it. These are the two chief parties to be considered, and if they have both benefited I see no reason why we should have any change such as is suggested by the Motion. As regards the strategic value of Cyprus, I will not say a word beyond this. Some hon. Members talk as if we now knew what the end of that great and complex drama, the Eastern question, will be. But without such knowledge as to the development in the future, it may be in the near future, of the Eastern question, he would be a rash prophet, and he would be a reckless politician, who would say that Cyprus would not prove to be of great importance. Whether that will be the case or not I do not venture to 1400 say, but it would be perfect insanity on the part of this House or any Government, not knowing what the future may bring forth, to drop out of an arrangement which at the present moment is a benefit to Cyprus and to the British taxpayer. For these reasons I do earnestly hope that the Member for Northampton will not press his Motion to a Division, and will not give an opportunity to the smallest minority to express an opinion in a rash moment that this arrangement ought to be brought to a termination.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I entirely agree that it is not desirable that we should discuss on this Vote the whole of the Eastern question. I have carefully abstained, and I hope hon. Members will carefully abstain, on the present occasion from raising that other question—namely, the obligations which this country has entered into with Turkey, and how far those obligations are binding on one side when they are not fulfilled on the other. This is too grave a question to raise on a small Vote in Supply. It is a question pregnant with serious consequences, and I would strongly deprecate raising a question of that kind now—a question which to a great extent is sub judice. The question how far Turkey has fulfilled its share of the obligations is being examined into now in Asia Minor, and I would venture to urge on the Committee that this is a question which it is not now wise to pursue. With reference to the question of Cyprus that is comparatively a narrow one. The fact is what was done in 1878 with regard to the island was done in a great hurry. No inquiry was made as to what the profits were that Turkey made out of Cyprus. [An hon. MEMBER: "There was the Commission."] Yes, there was the Commission, but the Commission did not report for two years after we got Cyprus—not until 1880. I have got the figures here, but at the time there was mere speculation. In my opinion it was an unfortunate thing that we should take the thing in order to pay it over to some one else. The members of the Deputation who came over from Cyprus made the loudest complaints of the Administration. They alleged that they were much better off before than after Cyprus was taken over by England, but I never accepted that 1401 Surely you did not expect, when you went to Cyprus, that you were going to squeeze as much out of the Cypriotes as the Turks had been able to squeeze? As I have said, that was the foundation of the bargain, and I think it was an unfortunate bargain. But, on the other hand, when the hon. Member for Warrington comes forward and says:—Oh! let us go to the Turks and get out of this bargain, and let us pay the whole of the interest on the 1885 loan.I can only wish that he occupied my place as Chancellor of the Exchequer,
§ MR. PIERPOINT
I did not suggest that we should give the Porte half-a-million of money. I suggested that Cyprus should borrow it on the credit of England.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
Then what is going to become of the interest on the 1855 loan? I could not entertain for a moment the financial transactions recommended by the hon. Member, because they would be extremely hard on the English taxpayer. When hon. Members say that we are a very rich country, they should also remember that there are a good many persons here who find their burdens to be as heavy as they can bear; and that we should be asked to call upon them now, when the taxation of the country is at a higher point than it has over readied in this country, to take a share in redeeming the bargain of 1878, is a proposal which I, for one, could not entertain. That is the amount of the criticism which I have made on the transaction of 1878. I said that we ought never to have undertaken to pay this sum of money. The hon. Member who spoke last said I had described Cyprus as a "squalid possession." I did not mean by that phrase to refer to the profits made out of it by England, but to the result of the profits. The fact of taking one half of its revenue and diverting it to other purposes—into the pockets of the Turks, the bond-holders, or the guarantors of the loan of 1855—reduced your resources for the good government and the development of Cyprus to such narrow limits that you would have, in that sense, a "squalid possession." It is in the position of an estate which has one half of its income under mortgage. Naturally, that estate is an unfortunate possession, and that is 1402 exactly what happened in the case of Cyprus, and must continue to happen unless you are prepared to impose on the English ratepayer the burden of redeeming that mortgage. That is the condition of things, and to that extent I made my criticism upon it. I have never, however, proposed the abandonment of Cyprus. I do not see, in existing circumstances, how we are to retire from the obligations into which we have entered to the people of Cyprus. I have never proposed to hand Cyprus over to Turkey. I should be sorry to hand over any population. I know there have been proposals with regard to other portions of the East, but I have been opposed to them. As regards strategical value, I have always understood that, you should concentrate rather than disperse your points and your forces. It was on that account Lord Palmerston gave up Corfu and the Ionian Islands. He thought that by having Malta we should be stronger than we would be if called upon to defend two places. Therefore, looking to the obligations we have entered into, we must perform them as best we can, and, in the circumstances, I think that what has been done was the best that could be done in the circumstances in which we took over Cyprus.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said, the right hon. Gentleman need not ask himself whether he could leave Cyprus. He could leave it as a former Liberal Government had left the Ionian Islands. Nay, it was provided that we should leave Cyprus in a certain eventuality. The Convention put us under an absolute obligation in that respect. Cyprus was a portion of the Ottoman Empire, which England held on a lease, determinate at the pleasure of Russia, for the Convention provided that if at any time Russia should give back to Turkey Kars, Ardahan, and Batoum, England should evacuate Cyprus, and the Convention should be at an end. This question of Cyprus, he submitted, was not to be argued on financial grounds, or even on the ground of the prosperity and happiness of the Cypriotes. Cyprus was acquired wholly as a strategical measure. The statesman who thought it worth while to acquire Cyprus foresaw that a considerable change might take place in the relative 1403 importance of the Levant ports. Take Salonica fur example. It was destined to become one of the great points in the world's highway, and in order to provide for that and other changes he acquired Cyprus with the purpose of making it a place d'armes, as great a citadel almost as Gibraltar, to be provided with harbours and docks and with a corps d'armée, always ready to act on the flank of any possible advance along Syria towards the Suez Canal. Before they judged, therefore, whether it was wise or unwise to acquire Cyprus or to retain it, they must surely consider this important factor in the question, that the original purpose had never been carried out. Cyprus had not been made a place d'armes, and it possessed no harbour, only a few anchorages in exposed bays open to the south-east gales which prevail in winter. The Cyprus Convention only entitled this country to ask for "necessary reforms, to be agreed upon between England and Turkey, and those were the conditions that were brought forward by Armenian conspirators in the interest of Russia, both in Armenia and in England. The bargain was, that we were to make, and we did make, an offensive and defensive alliance with Turkey as to the Asiatic defence of Turkey, and in order to enable us to carry out this alliance we occupied Cyprus. But he did not see how the possession of Cyprus would enable us to carry out that policy. Supposing we were going to defend the Asiatic frontier of Turkey from an advance by Russia, how would the soldiers be sent? Not to Cyprus. Were we to attempt to reach the Asiatic frontier of Turkey from Cyprus soldiers would have to cross the Taurus range of mountains, and this would take months to effect. Any Army for the defence of the Asiatic frontier of Turkey, must be sent by sea through the Bosphorus. But Cyprus was a thousand miles from Malta and about a thousand from the Bosphorus, more or less, and if they wished to defend the Asiatic shores of Turkey it would be much easier to send soldiers direct from Malta (distant itself only about 1,000 miles from the Bosphorus) than round by Cyprus, thus adding 2,000 miles to the voyage. As to the strategical position of Cyprus, he was out of harmony 1404 with a great many of his friends. He thought that the possession of Cyprus tended inevitably to cut our Mediterranean Fleet into two squadrons, one of which was obliged to keep east of Cape Matapan. It put a thousand miles between the two halves of our Mediterranean fleet. The effect of that might be most serious in the event of a sudden outbreak of war, therefore he confessed himself an entire heretic as to the strategical claims of Cyprus. If the purpose for which it had been originally intended had been carried out he admitted it would have been of some value, but at present it was only mischievous. If by fair means we could acquire important strategical positions, he was not adverse to a little British aggression. He could show them stations in the Mediterranean which would be far more valuable to us than Cyprus, such as Crete, Mitylene, or Mahon in Minorca. He should not object if by fair means we could obtain possession of one of these posts, but during the 17 years we had possessed Cyprus we had been halting between two opinions. If we kept Cyprus it must be for strategical purposes alone, and not to secure either the interests of the bondholders or the happiness of the Cypriotes. He urged that the island should either be made a place d'armes, and the harbours and other works, costly though they would be, should be completed, or it should be given up altogether.
§ MR. T. W. LEGH (Lancashire, S.W., Newton)
, said the right hon. Gentleman had, at all events, until quite recently, been the idol of the Little Englanders. The right hon. Gentleman never, he thought, enjoyed himself so sincerely as when he was denouncing any accession to the Empire, or advocating some contraction of it. The right hon. Gentleman's speech on Friday had consisted in large measure of a denunciation of the policy of the Conservative party in going to Cyprus at all. He expressed himself dissatisfied at the fact that the island cost us a large sum annually. He stated it was a useless island, and positively exulted, with almost indecent pleasure, at a statement made, he believed, on the authority of a bishop, that the island was in a worse condition now than it was when it formed part of the Turkish possessions, and he excused himself for 1405 not withdrawing on the ground that it was easier to get into a place than to get out of it. He would make an amicable suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman to help him out of his difficulty. The original reason for our occupation of Cyprus, it appeared to him, had been more or less lost sight of, and many people were under the impression that we went there to benefit the ARmenians. We went there, of course, to obtain an equivalent for Russian aggression on Turkey, and if Russia would restore to Turkey Kars and her other conquests in Armenia during the late war, the Island of Cyprus might be evacuated by England. They were told that Lord Rosebery had established a new entente cordiale with Russia; here, then, was an opportunity of putting it to the test. He did not believe the most hardened Jingo would oppose the evacuation under such circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman had not been able to show that we had lost money by the bargain, and he was not going to accept his opinion that the island was worthless from a military point of view. He did not see why it should not be just as prosperous as any other Colony if it was treated in a fair manner. Finally, no European Power would believe that we were going to leave Cyprus, but would believe that the right hon. Gentleman's statement was a cloak for some insidious design to acquire a more valuable possession in Eastern waters.
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
, said the question had been discussed from the point of view of the English taxpayers and of the Treasury, not from the standpoint of the Cyprus taxpayers. He was quite sure the Colonial Office had always been inclined to act fairly and liberally towards Cyprus, but the Treasury had always been forcing them to treat it a little more harshly than any other Colony. The terms of our acquisition were, not that Cyprus should pay £93,000 a year, but that England should pay it; but no sooner had the English Government accepted this obligation than they placed the sum upon the revenues of Cyprus. This was the only Colony or Dependency which we treated in this way. It was a singular instance of the unfair treatment which England exercised in the 1406 case of a very small State. Having unfairly extracted £93,000 from Cyprus, and agreed that the money should be paid to the Porte, we next stopped the tribute in transitu on its way to Constantinople and it was paid to England. When it came here, half was paid over to France. What had France done for Cyprus that the unfortunate Cypriotes should pay a tribute to France of £42,000 a year? It was a hardship on the Cypriotes and on the English taxpayer. Since 1883, roughly speaking, the taxpayers of Cyprus had paid into the English Treasury £700,000, and of this £420,000 had gone to France, to relieve the French taxpayer of the £42,000 a year which they were bound to pay under the guarantee of the Turkish loan of 1855. He thought that by capitalising the tribute in some way the Cypriotes might be relieved of this undue taxation, and we might place what was truly and honestly an English obligation on English shoulders. Whoever heard of their dealing with any other Colony in this way? Sir Henry Holland said that England made a profit out of Cyprus. The late Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Goschen) put it more mildly by saying that it was true that England obtained an incidental benefit from Cyprus, and remarked that three courses were open to the Government—either England and France might pay the interest themselves, or they might seize the revenue, which the Turkish Government gave as security, or they might transfer their obligations to Cyprus. They had taken the last course. Two or three years ago, in reply to a question in the House, he was informed that £77,000 had accumulated in the English Treasury from Cyprus. The Cypriotes had never been asked whether they would pay, they were compelled by the superior force of England. He readily admitted that the affairs of Cyprus had been ably administered by this country, and he contended that Cyprus would be one of the most flourishing of our dependencies if only allowed to use its own revenue for its own purposes.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said, the length of this Debate—in fact, the Debate itself—was entirely due to the remarkable speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer last 1407 Friday week. The right hon. Gentleman then made a very different speech from that which he had made now. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on the former occasion must have forgotten himself. The right hon. Gentleman saw before him the shade of Lord Beaconsfield, and he thought there was an opportunity of attacking the memory of that great man without reply. So he made rash statements and insinuations which recalled some of his reckless speeches of 15 years ago. Those statements had not been repeated that evening by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had tried to explain away almost everything he said on that Friday night. [Sir W. HARCOURT: "No, no!"] Evidently the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not remember what he had said. A more absurd explanation never had been heard in the House of Commons than that, when he described Cyprus as a "squalid" possession, he only referred to the tribute paid to Turkey. His whole speech last Friday week was directed to proving that Cyprus was a worthless and useless possession, and that the possession of Cyprus had cost England an enormous sum of money. It had been demonstrated to the right hon. Gentleman that he was quite wrong in both his propositions. [Sir W. HARCOURT: "No, no!"] Apparently the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not any definite views upon this subject whatever. On Friday week he saw a chance of attacking the memory of Lord Beaconsfield. On the present occasion, when he found himself confronted with a more serious Opposition, and had probably read the criticisms which both the English and Foreign Press had passed on his remarks, he made a much more prudent speech. The only logical conclusion to his former speech was an immediate evacuation of Cyprus. There had been speakers who had tried, since the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make out that Cyprus had not improved under British Administration. That was a proposition so baseless that it hardly required refutation. The trade of Cyprus Sir Henry Bulwer had shown had improved since 1879 by 50 per cent. In the face of that could they say that the island was a decaying island, and had suffered by British Administration? The population had increased by 25,000, and that again was not a sign of decaying 1408 prosperity. Sir Henry Bulwer, whose knowledge of Cyprus was unique, went on to give other evidences of prosperity. He showed that the cereal production of Cyprus had nearly doubled since the occupation by England. The production of wine had greatly increased, there was a preservation of forests, a purer administration of justice, and an honest and moral Administration by the Executive Government. Surely these facts disproved the arguments of the Mover of this reduction, and also the former statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The most extraordinary point about the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement ten days since, was, that he actually complained to the House Cyprus had cost this country £450,000, and he did not say a word about the fact that Cyprus had paid, by way of interest on the loan of 1879, a sum of no less than £1,500,000. Imagine the Leader of a great Party and the responsible Minister in that House, making such an unfair and one-sided statement. It was only pardonable on the supposition that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, when he spoke, was not informed as to the real facts. Even if they deducted the French half of the guarantee received—and he was not so sure that they ought to deduct it, as the guarantee was a "joint and several" one to bear the whole loss, and, if France refused to pay, England would have to bear the whole loss—the gain to this country had been £200,000. In the face of that fact the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was too fantastic and inaccurate to require much refutation. It was possible, too, that in certain contingencies Cyprus might possess great strategic value. We did not occupy it owing to the caprice of a Prime Minister, but because the highest military authorities in this country recommended that it should be occupied in view of its value in the future. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that Alexandria was a much better position to hold; and the only logical conclusion to draw from that remark was that our occupation of Alexandria would be permanent. But when Cyprus was occupied we had no footing in Egypt, Cyprus was of distinct value as covering the approaches to the Suez Canal. 1409 There were three important positions in the Mediterranean, the occupation of which would ensure to a great Naval Power practical supremacy in that sea—Gibraltar, Malta, and Cyprus. If Cyprus had not been made use of hitherto it did not follow that it could not be or would not be used. A valuable harbour might be made there, and, if we had the men and the money, it might be made a great place of arms; but it did not follow that it was of no value because a harbour had not yet been made and the troops were not actually there. When railways were made in Asia Minor they must touch the Mediterranean under the lee of Cyprus, which would then become a very important place. There were many schemes for opening up to the sea the vast wealth of Asia Minor and the matchlessly fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates. Wherever these railways found their terminus—at Tripoli or Alexandretta, or some adjacent port—Cyprus would completely command the harbours and the trade that passed through them. As the Leader of the Opposition had reminded them, the Eastern Question could not be regarded as settled. Events might move more rapidly than some expected; and a critical situation easily might arise in which it would be all important that we should be in possession of a dominant point commanding these portions of Asia Minor. If these events should happen the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be the first to be obliged to recall the rash denial he had given to the value of Cyprus to this country.
§ MR. W. S. CAINE (Bradford, E.)
suggested that the Amendment for the reduction of the Vote should be withdrawn, and that the Committee should divide on the whole Vote, in which case he should be happy to vote with his hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere).
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he was a moderate man, and proposed to strike off only £100, but, if his hon. Friend preferred to take off £29,000, by all means let them vote for that.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
suggested that opposition to the Vote should be withdrawn altogether, for surely no one could wish that the unfortunate Cypriots, who, in his opinion, got too little already, should have nothing at all; that would 1410 be an unworthy wish on the part of any Member, unless, indeed, we were going to evacuate Cyprus at once. As we were not going to do so, we had no alternative but to vote the very moderate provision that was necessary to carry on the administration.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said that, whether the course now proposed to be taken by the opponents of the Vote was worthy or unworthy, it was precisely the course taken on a former occasion, when the Members of the present Government divided against the whole Vote and the Chancellor of the Exchequer walked out rather than support his colleagues.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 246; Noes, 29.—(Division. List, No. 30.)
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Supplementary Vote £24,000, Superannuation and Retiring Allowances.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
took the opportunity to refer to the grievances of Major Farquharson, late Governor of Portland Convict Prison, whose retiring pension had been reduced by £75 through no fault of his own. If he had but to rely on the consideration of the Secretary to the Treasury he would have good hope of gaining his point, but the right hon. Gentleman could not act in his individual capacity; he was governed by the rules of the Treasury. But the case was one of such exceptional hardship that there was a claim to have it dealt with in an exceptional manner, and this gallant officer should be relieved from a disability which pressed upon him very hardly. Major Farquharson was appointed Governor of the Prison in 1865, on the distinct understanding that he should on the completion of his term retire with two-thirds of his salary as pension as prescribed by the Superannuation Act. But there came out an Order in Council for compulsory retirement at the age of 65, and by this Major Farquharson lost £75 a year. With the Order in Council he found no fault, for the State had a right to insist on the retirement of its officers at any time and at any age the State might think fit; but 1411 what he did find fault with wan the inequality meted out to officers in two departments. The State could dictate its terms, but it should take care that vested interests were effectually guarded before enforcing an order for compulsory retirement. In the old local prisons governors were allowed to serve on without limit of age provided they were pronounced judicially fit for duty. That showed that the intention was not to apply the rule of compulsory retirement to prison governors; and that to withhold the exception from convict prison governors was unjust. The local prison governors were protected by Act of Parliament; the convict prison governors were not; and this arose from no fault of their own, but simply through the neglect of the Home Office. This unfortunate and small body of gentlemen were left unprotected by this Act, and this old officer was penalised to the extent of £75 a year. Major Farquharson, who had always been in Her Majesty's Service, was in a worse position than those who came under Her Majesty's Government in 1878. He was quite willing and able to serve and complete his full term, but he was not allowed to do that, and he was not allowed the full pension in the hope of which he came into the Service originally. Certainly the Royal Commission on Civil Establishments did not intend the age clause to refer to gentlemen in this position, nor would it apply if the Home Office had put the convict prison governors on an equality with the governors of local prisons. Major Farquharson had been in correspondence with the Department and the answer was an expression of regret, but that it could not be helped; for, while local governors were protected by Act, convict governors were not. There must surely be some other reason, for the two services were identical; and he asked that this officer should be granted his two-thirds penson. The money required to pay these officers on the footing he claimed for them would not be a large sum for these men. He believed only three other officers would suffer under the order for compulsory retirement. As a matter of fact the order for compulsory retirements had never been enforced in the Prisons Department, and officers were allowed to serve for the term entitling them to a pension of two-thirds of their 1412 salary. They could not enter until 24, while ordinary Civil servants entered much later, and in the Array and Navy officers obtained better pay and allowances. Major Farquharson suffered from no fault of his own, but simply through the neglect of the Home Office. He was an old officer in Her Majesty's Service, without influential friends, and he earnestly pressed his claim, for relief from the disability which deprived him of £75 a year, upon the Treasury.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir J. T. HIBBERT, Oldham)
said, that he had no fault to find with the hon. and gallant Member for bringing forward this case. He felt great sympathy for Major Farquharson, and was sorry that under the regulations it had been necessary to treat him in the way described by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Local prison governors were protected by the Act of Parliament relating to the transfer of prisons from the municipalities to the State. Under that Act all their former rights and privileges were ensured to them after the transference. That was the reason why local prison governors were in a better position than Major Farquharson. One of the difficulties in the way of treating his case exceptionally was that if that were done it would be necessary to extend the same treatment to various civil servants in other Government departments. Major Farquharson had completed 29 years' service, and in estimating his pension five years had been added to his service, so that when he retired he received 34–60ths of his pay. By the addition of these five years to his service he had got a certain advantage. He was sorry that he had no power to effect any amelioration in Major Farquharson's position. It had been suggested by the Home Office that the case might be one for a special pension, but it was no longer the custom to grant special pensions, so the case could not be met in that way. If it had been possible to make any special arrangement in favour of Major Farquharson he should have been only too glad, for Major Farquharson had been a most excellent officer, and had done much good work.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
asked whether such special terms could be granted 1413 to Major Farquharson as were given when an office was abolished.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
thought that abolition terms could not be granted, because the retirement of Major Farquharson was due not to the abolition of the prison, but to the fact that he had reached the age of 65. If a distinction were made in his case a similar distinc-would have to be made in a great number of other cases.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would do something for Major Farquharson if an opportunity should present itself—if there should be an opening.
§ MR. HANBURY
asked why the scale of Diplomatic pensions was so high. He saw that a Consul-General (Sir W. L. Booker) was retiring on a pension of £1,266, which was a great deal more than was given to Civil Servants of the highest grades in other departments of work. Another official was compensated on a still more extravagant scale. The Solicitor to the Treasury, who had entered the service of the Government late in life, and who had received a good salary during his eight or 10 years' service, had retired with a pension of £1,750. They wanted information with regard to the compensation allowance of £2,250 to be paid to the executors of the late J. Wainewright, a taxing-master of the Supreme Court. He should also like an explanation of the gratuities of £600, £500, and £750 for three officials of the Local Government Board, the Board of Agriculture, and the Home Office. He did not understand why these items should appear under this Vote. Surely it was known at the beginning of a year that certain officials were likely to retire during that year. He wished also to be told what was the rule with regard to pensions in the ease of members of the Civil Service and Diplomatic Service, who, after retirement, took up other posts which were more or less of an official nature. There was, for example, the case of Sir Rivers Wilson, who was drawing a pension, of £950 and also a salary as a member of the Board of the Suez Canal. Was there not a rule providing for the diminution of pensions in the case of officials transferred 1414 to new posts actually in the military, naval, or Civil Service? If there was, the same rule ought to apply to officials who took semi-official employment. It was a question how far the Government were in the right in reducing the pensions of officials who, after retirement, were appointed to other posts. The hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Burns) had drawn attention to the case of retired non-commissioned officers and others who were in Government employment in civil capacities, and who received lower wages than they otherwise would on account of the pensions which they enjoyed. The Labour Members objected strongly to this practice on the ground that it had a tendency to lower wages. If the Secretary of State for War and other Ministers were going to accede to the views of the Labour Members, and if neither the pensions of these men nor their salaries were to be reduced in future, it would certainly be contended that the same principle ought to apply to retired officers and to the civil servants of the Crown. He thought that one result of the controversy would be that in future, when a man was granted a pension; it would be on the assumption that he was not qualified for further public service.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
stated, in reply, that it was impossible to say, when the Estimates were prepared, what number of officials or persons entitled to pension would retire during the year. There were numerous instances in the list. He might name Lord Welby, Secretary to the Treasury, and so it was with the majority of other cases. He believed it had always been the case that there had been Supplementary Estimates for pensions and allowances of this kind. He was glad the hon. Member had drawn attention to one case—the compensation allowance to the executors of James Wainewright, a taxing-master. That was a remarkable case, and it might be looked at as an object-lesson. In the year 1842, more than 50 years ago, the Act 5 & 6 Vict. cap. 103, was passed, at the time when Mr. Wainewright was a sworn clerk in Chancery. The office was abolished by Section I of that Act, and by Section 12 he was compensated for the abolition of his office, and the, amount of the compensation was fixed by the then Lord Chancellor at 1415 £4,500 5s. 1d. per annum. This represented three-fourths of his emoluments, which amounted to £6,000 6s. 9d. The gentleman died on September 27, 1893. It might have been supposed that the considerable sum he had received during his lifetime would have been considered sufficient, probably, to compensate him even for the abolition of his office. But there was another step. Section 14 of the Act went on to provide that one-half of the named compensation—namely, £2,250 2s. 6d., should be payable to his executors for seven years from the time of his death as "part of his personal estate."
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
We have no option. It might be asked, why was this not put into the Estimates last year? The answer was, that the attention of the Treasury was not drawn to the matter until October 20, 1894, or else provision, would have been made in the original Estimate of 1894–5. This was a case the Committee really ought to ponder upon, taking some comfort, perhaps, from the reflection that it could not possibly occur in our time. With regard to gratuities, his hon. Friend might be satisfied that the Treasury looked very closely into every case; but as to the pensions, of course, they could neither be increased nor reduced, being regulated according to the number of years' service.
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
was of opinion that the scale of pensions was defensible. The interests of this country were so complex and varied that we certainly required to pay our representatives abroad highly. As a French diplomatist of the highest rank once told him: "This country was exceedingly wise to grant liberal pensions to its Consuls."
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £14,000 for Temporary Commissions,1416
§ SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
asked for information with regard to the Historical Manuscripts Commission.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
stated that the Commission was still continuing its work and reported from year to year. As the result of strong pressure brought to bear on the Government a sum of £250 was taken for the purposes of a descriptive catalogue of Welsh manuscripts, the Commission having agreed to give £150 for the services of a Welsh speaking assistant.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
made some remarks on the Agricultural Commission, and said there was a consensus of opinion in the Eastern Counties that part of the evidence taken before the Commission was absolutely futile and a waste of time and money. A gentleman came before the Commission and said he had been able to grow wheat to the extent of 16 quarters to the acre. The statement was absolutely ridiculous and absurd; if he had grown 3½ quarters to the acre he had done very well. The witness went on to say that a thousand millions of money might be well spent on land in England. Other evidence was given to the effect that derelict farms might be let for 20s. an acre, whereas it was perfectly well known that the whole lot of those farms were not worth 20s. altogether. The reason for producing this evidence was simply to show that agriculturists were always crying "Wolf!" and that agriculture was not in a very bad way at all. Everyone knew what was the cause of agricultural depression without being told by a Royal Commission. It was low prices and high taxes. He had in his possession a sample of English wheat at 18s. a quarter, which was very much less than the price of bath-brick, though that, was not edible. He should not be doing his duty to his constituents if he did not move a reduction of £100.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
seconded the Motion. He believed that the conclusion at which the Commission would arrive was already known, and he regarded the money spent upon the Commission as absolutely wasted, as far as the discovery of any new facts was concerned. The question resolved itself entirely into one of prices and over-taxation of the raw material. Until the Government could hold out some promise of relief, agricultural Members were justified in dividing 1417 against this fraud of a Commission. The intention of the Government was to put off the evil day of reckoning with the deluded persons who supported them at the last election.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. HERBERT GARDNER, Essex, Saffron Walden)
protested against the way in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman treated the Commission. When the Government appointed the Commission they said that they were not aware of any remedy for the agricultural depression, but that it the farmers wished to state their case and to suggest a remedy, the Government were willing to give them the opportunity. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had nothing to complain of as to their position on the Commission. They had two representatives in whom they had complete trust, and it was said by some that they were almost in the position of "predominant partners" there. Gentlemen on the Government side of the House were as anxious as anyone for the Commission to report. He hoped the Amendment would not be pressed to a Division.
§ MR. J. ROUND (Essex, Harwich)
said, that agriculturists had hoped for an interim Report at Christmas, and, disappointed in that, they had a right to know when the Commission was likely to report. A Royal Commission was appointed in 1878, and the House was aware that some of the recommendations of that Commission had not yet been carried out; he was one of those who thought the recommendation with regard to transferring the liability of the maintenance of the indoor poor might be carried out with advantage.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Liverpool, West Derby)
hoped that his hon. Friends would not Divide. He could understand their impatience, or that of any agriculturist, and especially of the representatives of Essex, but a great deal of trouble had been devoted by the Commission to getting the best evidence, and in many cases it was impossible to anticipate what the witnesses would say before they were called. He could not admit the Minister for Agriculture was right in saying that the Opposition as such had a majority on the Commission. If the inquiry were to be brought to a successful conclusion, it could only be by a further expenditure of money. Success 1418 would be impossible if agricultural Members persisted in trying to decrease the Vote for the Commission.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
said, that the Committee had now heard on the authority of a member of the Commission that it was intended to spend a great deal more money on the Commission. That was the worst argument which his hon. Friend could have used against a Division.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, that he objected to these Commissions altogether, and especially to Agricultural Commissions. The recommendations of the Commission of 1878 were not carried out, and the same fate would befall the recommendations of this Commission. Commissions were suggested by Governments in a difficulty. They cost a great deal of money; and in this case it was known that very little result would over be obtained. Why could not the Government, which had the, great Departments of the State and their experienced officials at its hand, find out remedies for itself instead of referring to Royal Commissions? The cost of these Commissions was a great addition to the cost of our Civil establishments. He hoped his hon. Friend would Divide.
§ MR. H. T. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
said, that he should support the Amendment as a protest against this Commission. It was appointed to find out what everyone knew. The cause of the present depression was our existing fiscal system, and a remedy was to be found in a change of that system. The recognition of that fact was spreading through the country, which, before long, would come to its senses.
§ MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said, that of eight recommendations made by the Duke of Richmond's Commission, something like six had been carried out. There were Agricultural Commissions in 1821, 1833, 1836, and 1837; and any one who wished to trace the causes of the depressions which had visited this country 1419 would obtain much light from the study of the Reports of those Commissions. These inquiries made available to those who desired to understand the real causes of agricultural depression in the past a good deal of very useful information, and he hoped agricultural Members would not now do anything to discourage the laying bare everything which bore upon the present agricultural position.
§ MAJOR RASCH
said, the feeling was so strong in agricultural districts, and especially in East Anglia, that he must, as a protest, take a Division against the Vote. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ The, Committee divided—Ayes, 26; Noes, 115.—(Division List, No.31.)
§ MR. BARTLEY
desired to refer to the item concerning the Secondary Education Commission. Although the Commission was appointed on March 6, 1894, and had now nearly finished its work, this was the first occasion on which the attention of hon. Members and of others could be drawn to it. The terms of reference threw a great deal of light upon the principle on which the Commission was formed. Those terms were—Whereas we have deemed it expedient that a Commission should forthwith issue to consider what are the best methods of establishing a well-organised system of Secondary Education in England, taking into account existing deficiencies, and having regard to such local sources of revenue, such as endowment and otherwise, as are available, or may be available, for this purpose, and to make recommendations accordingly.The object, therefore, of the Commission was clearly to take into account existing deficiencies. The whole working of the Commission, however, had been to ignore existing private schools. In many parts of the country private schools were very large, important and excellent institutions; many of them rivalled some of the best educational institutions in the world. Roughly speaking, there were some 15,000 private schools in the United Kingdom, and in them were taught about 500,000 children of what was vulgarly called the lower middle and upper middle classes. It had been calculated that at least three-fourths of the boys and five-sixths of the girls who were receiving Secondary Education were taught in private 1420 schools. Possibly the proprietors of private schools had an exaggerated idea of their own importance—he did not think they had—but, whether they had or not, when the formation of the Commission was suggested they were greatly alarmed lest their position might be endangered. They, of course, assumed that if a Commission were formed they would be properly and fairly represented on it, but, when it was formally announced who were to constitute the Commission, the alarm the private schools had previously felt was considerably increased. Not one single bona fide private teacher had been put upon the Commission. The Vice President of the Council had said, when his attention was previously drawn to that fact, that it was impossible to place representatives of all interests on the Commission. But it was a very remarkable thing that not one single member of a body which was deeply interested in the subject of the inquiry, and which had an undoubted right to representation on the Commission, were entirely ignored in the formation of the Commission. The private teachers strongly urged on the right hem. Gentlemen that their interest should be considered. They sent a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman, which the right hon. Gentleman received in no very friendly spirit.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, the view of the private teachers was, that the right hon. Gentleman did not receive them with that sympathy which they really had a right to expect. It was said by the right hon. Gentleman, that the private teachers were represented on the Commission by Lady Frederick Cavendish. She was a lady whom everybody highly respected, but she did not in any way represent the private teachers; and, indeed, she had herself repudiated the idea that she represented any particular section or interest on the Commission. One of the principal points underlying the formation of the Commission was whether secondary education should in the main be left to private enterprise, as in the past, or whether it should be based on State aid or rate aid. He was not arguing which was the right or proper plan, but it would be agreed that it was on one or the other of those two lines that the question of secondary education was 1421 approached by all who were interested in the subject. The private teachers naturally regarded with apprehension any scheme by which State aid or rate aid would be given to secondary education, for they feared it would mean the ruin of private secondary schools, just as the great Act of 1870 had practically wiped private elementary schools out of existence. A general feeling prevailed that the Vice President of the Council was not friendly to Voluntary Schools. It was also thought that the right hon. Gentleman might not be friendly either to Voluntary or Secondary Schools, and it was a remarkable thing that, in the formation of the Commission, he thought it was not supposed to be a Party matter, and though there were many Conservative Members who had made their mark in the educational world, only one had been placed on the Commission, while five Liberal Members had been appointed.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, he would deal with the hon. Member for Somersetshire later on. And of the other sixteen Members of the Commission not one could be fairly said to represent the private teachers. He thought that in the formation of such a Commission opinion ought to be so fairly balanced that it would be regarded as an impartial body, but as things had happened he believed that the ideas which prevailed as to the constitution of the Commission would mar the result of its inquiries. The right hon. Gentleman had referred to the hon. Member for Somersetshire. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to have forgotten that the names of the hon. Member for Somerset and two other Members of the Commission were on the back of a Bill, introduced in 1893, which proposed to give local authorities the power to raise rates in aid of secondary education, which showed that those hon. Gentlemen were biassed in the direction of State aided or rate aided secondary schools. Since that Bill was introduced, an agitation in opposition to it prevailed amongst the private teachers; and the College of Preceptors passed a series of resolutions showing that the principle of State aided or rate aided secondary schools should be carefully considered if the interests of private schools and of private teachers were not to be seriously 1422 injured. But those views had been entirely ignored in the formation, of the Commission, and the Commission had shown by its actions, since it began its inquiries, that its members had read the instructions given them to mean that they might practically ignore the existing private schools. That being so, was it any wonder that the private teachers had a distrust of the Commission? No one would say that secondary education was not capable of great improvement. He by no means contended that secondary education was perfect, or that all private schools were good, but he thought the right action had not been taken in the appointment of the Commission to inquire into that very important question. He knew it was perfectly useless for him to move any reduction, but in the circumstances he had indicated, private, teachers had a right to ask that their interests should be looked after by some Members of the House. They had done an immense deal for education in times past, and were prepared to do a deal more in the future. A wise policy would have been to have so framed the Commission that no one could have taken exception to its constitution and personnel, but would have been convinced that attention would be paid by it to those schools that were really efficient. The teachers thought that this Commission had been formed of Members the bulk of whom were in one frame of mind, that it was not, therefore, an impartial Commission, and that its Report would be of very little value.
§ THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (Mr. A. H. D. ACLAND, York, W.R., Rotherham)
thought the point the hon. Member had raised was a perfectly legitimate one. Considering the enormous difficulty attending the formation of a Commission of this kind, he was glad to find the hon. Member had only criticised it with reference to one aspect. One of the great reasons why a body of this sort was required was because of the very large amount of money available—the beer money, as it was called—which many of them thought had not always been well used in some of the parishes. In order to deal with that, it was absolutely necessary that representatives of the County Councils, like his right hon. Friend, the Secretary to the Treasury (Sir J. T. Hibbert), 1423 who was Chairman of the Lancashire County Council, and the hon. Member for Somersetshire (Mr. H. Hobhouse), should find places on the Commission. It was also necessary that the School Boards should be represented. He only gave one representative to public, schools and universities, and it was necessary that other bodies concerned should have some representation. With regard to the particular point raised by the hon. Member, he could assure him that, on this question of private schools, there was no Party view at all. It was not for him to speak of the work of the Commission, but he would like to make this remark: The hon. Member just now stated that, when the hon. Member for Somerset brought in a Bill dealing with secondary education, the private teachers passed some strong resolutions on that subject; and, pointing to the representations made by the College of Preceptors, he used these words: "A very representative body of private teachers." It would be found that Dr. Wormell, the Vice President of the College of Preceptors, was on the Commission. It could not, therefore, be said that private teachers were absolutely unrepresented, for many of them looked upon Dr. Wormell as a man who would see that their case was fairly dealt with. It was difficult to find a largely organised body, like some others, who represented the private teachers, and he thought that, in selecting Dr. Wormell, he was doing one of the best things he could. Then, again, Mrs. Bryant was a member of the Commission, and it might safely be assumed that she would not suffer the interests of the private teachers to be neglected or unrepresented. Lady Frederick Cavendish was also on the Commission, and she represented a private commercial body—which would not be satisfied to be superseded by a public representative body—a body which paid a regular commercial 5 per cent. She did not represent an interest which would be anxious to be swallowed up by a public corporation. Again, how could the hon. Member say that the representative of Cambridge University (Dr. Jebb) would be unmindful of the interests of private teachers? [Mr. G. C. T. BARTLEY: "He is only one Member."] He must feel that the interests of private teachers were as safe in the hands of the Member for 1424 Cambridge University as of any member of the Commission. As to the composition of the Commission, although he admitted some of the criticisms of the hon. Member, he thought that on the whole the interests of the private teachers would not be unrepresented.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. BEYCE, Aberdeen, S.)
, as Chairman of the Commission, would like to say a word or two in reply to the strictures of the hon. Member opposite, and he would venture respectfully to protest, against the way in which the conduct of a Commission whose proceedings were confidential, had been canvassed by the hon. Member and assumptions made the basis of criticisms for which there was not the slightest foundation. The hon. Member had assumed that the Commission had read the reference in the particular sense he had put upon it. There was not the slightest foundation for that, assumption. They had not read the reference in any such sense. It would not be proper for him to state what the Commission had done, but he might say there had not been any occasion, in his recollection, in which the interests of private schools had come into contact with other interests in the way in which the hon. Member seemed to suppose them to do. He did not remember any occasion on which any private schoolmaster could have wished to be present, or to have a representative present to champion the interests of private schools more than they were, championed, and fully represented by several members, of the Commission. There never had been an instance in which the question of private schools versus public schools had come before them in the kind of form in which the hon. Member assumed, and he could not imagine any body of men or women who could have given a more full consideration to everything that was to be said on behalf of private schools than that which had been given by this Commission. Several members of the Commission had an intimate acquaintance with the private schools, and were able, to give the other members information as to the sentiments and wishes that actuated those schools. They had, further, the evidence of several leading private schoolmasters and mistresses; they had applied to various bodies to send representative witnesses before the 1425 Commission, and those witnesses had been examined at great length. When hon. Members came to study the evidence on its publication, and when that evidence came to be submitted to the public, it would be seen that the Commission had taken every possible precaution to secure, that the interests and the wishes of private schoolmasters and mistresses should be fully and fairly represented. He might, fairly say that there had not been a single occasion during the meetings of the Commission when any Division was taken on anything approaching a political line. In fact, on not one single occasion had he heard anything in the nature of a political opinion expressed.
§ MR. J. BRYCE
There were, in fact, several members of the Commission whose political opinions he did not at all know. He could not go further into details, but he might be allowed to say that the Commission fully and entirely realised the great value that private schools were in our educational system, and he believed that in the deliberations they were conducting the fullest possible attention would be given to the importance of maintaining them as an extremely useful adjunct to that system. He was convinced that when the final Report of the Commission appeared, and the conclusions at which they had arrived after their inquiries were published, it would be found that private schoolmasters had nothing to complain of.
§ MR. R. L. EVERETT
said, that schoolmasters of the highest respectability in his own constituency took the same view of the Commission as the hon. Member for Islington. They considered that those who were supposed to represent the interests of private schools on the Commission were not proper representatives of them, and they feared that the interests of private schools would be overlooked in favour of those of public schools. He was glad, however, to hear from the Government that the interests of private schools would be carefully guarded.
§ Mr. R. W. HANBURY
said, the President of the Board of Trade misunderstood the object of his hon. Friend the Member for Islington in introducing his Motion, and the gravamen 1426 of the charge made as to the constitution of the Commission. His hon. Friend did not for a moment charge the Commission with partiality or a desire to go beyond the terms of the reference, or twist them in consonance with their own particular ideas. His only complaint against it was that teachers were not properly represented on the Commission. The interests of teachers of private schools would no doubt be fairly considered, and though they might be represented, they were undoubtedly put at a distinct disadvantage by the fact that not a single one of the large body of private teachers sit on the Commission. With regard to secondary education, this country was far behind other countries, and we ought to do everything possible to facilitate the extension of secondary education on a sound basis. The object of secondary education should be to establish a kind of ladder by which every child should be able to mount from the primary schools to the Universities. It was in the interests of secondary education that his hon. Friend had raised this question. Undoubtedly the interests of secondary education would be largely prejudiced if the Commission ignored existing private schools and their teachers. An impression would be created that we were not going to utilise existing schools as far as it was possible to do so. Some of the schools might be defective, but many of them were doing good work which would hardly be surpassed by schools to be set up under a now system. Therefore, it would be a mistake if the Commission did not show a desire to utilise all the information it could get from competent private teachers. The ultimate difficulty that, would have to be encountered would be the expense of setting up a new system; and that difficulty would be increased if the impression prevailed that the Commission did not duly consider what he would call in this relation Voluntary Schools, and if rate-aided or state-aided schools were set up without the manifestation of any desire to utilise efficient private schools. A further difficulty that would have to be encountered was that the bulk of the people were hardly awake to the necessity for the organisation of secondary education, just as in some counties they were indifferent to technical education. The object now 1427 aimed at was not in any way to thwart the advance of secondary education, but to take care that it should not be prejudiced by the exclusion of those who had practical experience in schools which cost nothing to the public purse, and many of which were in no way interior to secondary schools on the Continent.
§ MR. T. SNAPE (Lancashire, S.E., Hoywood)
thought the last speaker could hardly have heard the greater part of the speech of the hon. Member for North Islington, who, if he simply wished to urge that private teachers would not be sufficiently represented on the Commission, had greatly disguised his intentions. He had rather imputed to the Commission political partisanship, incompetence, and unwillingness to look into the claims of private schools and private teachers. Undoubtedly these ought to be taken into account, because they were, as a rule, of a very different character from the dames' schools that were superseded by the Act of 1870. Many private schools were conducted by University Graduates, and achieved distinctive success; and, if he thought the Commission would not regard their interests, he would join in the criticism of the hon. Member for North Islington, who, however, instead of waiting for the Report, had prejudiced its possible scope and direction. Having been a witness before the Commission, he knew the thoroughness with which it conducted its inquiry, and that the claims of private teachers would not be overlooked. The defence the Vice President had offered of the composition of the Commission with reference to the representation of the teachers of private schools had been most conclusive, and it ought, to be satisfactory to the hon. Member for Preston. It should be remembered that the Vice President was not at first favourable to a Commission, because he desired to see something done without prolonged delay. A conference was held at Oxford at which the Bishop of London advocated a Commission on the ground that investigation ought to precede legislation. The Vice President yielded to the wish of that Conference, and appointed a small Commission, in the hope that if it were not an unwieldy body it 1428 would report the sooner. Having regard to these facts, the right hon. Gentleman might be congratulated upon his success in making the Commission a fairly representative body. If any fault was to be found, it was that it did not contain any direct representation of the Technical Instruction Committees of the County Councils; but he made no complaint, because he knew the Commission would not overlook either the interests of private teachers or the work of the Technical Instruction Committees.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON (Preston)
said, his hon. Friend the Member for Islington objected to the constitution of the Commission because one important section of the people who were doing most for secondary education at the present day were wholly unrepresented on the Commission. The Committee were aware that objection had been taken in various quarters to the composition of the Commission, and if any justification for that objection were needed it was to be found in the speech of the hon. Member for the Heywood Division of Manchester (Mr. Snape). The hon. Gentleman had told them that the Commission really originated at the Oxford Conference. In that Conference the teachers of private schools took a very large part. Commissions might be nominated in two ways. There were Commissions which were representative, and Commissions which were judicial. The latter Commissions were composed of a body of men selected not because they had experience of the subject to be dealt with, but because they occupied an impartial position. The hon. Member had truly said that it was intended to make, this Commission representative, and if so it ought to have been fully representative, and to have had representatives of private schools amongst its members. It was admitted that the country owed a great deal to the private secondary schools. It seemed to him that, if the Commission were to lay down lines which the improvement and development of secondary education should in future follow, it was of the utmost importance that the Commission should be as representative as possible.
ADMIRAJ, FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
said, he took a great interest in secondary education, but he also took much interest in the Manning of 1429 Ships Committee and its Report. The Committee was presided over by the hon. Member for Cardiff. They could not have a better chairman, or one more competent to analyse the subject and make a good report to the House. But he had heard—it might not be true—that there was hesitation on the part of one or more shipowners to give evidence before the Committee because of some element in the composition of the Committee. He wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he was aware of any unwillingness on the part of the shipowners to give evidence. If there be any substantial ground for the objection to the composition of the Commission he held that that ground should be at once removed. The Report of the Committee was of great importance from a national point of view. It was upon the Mercantile Marine that the Imperial Navy must lean in time of war for a supply of men. Therefore, anything which would improve the Mercantile Marine was of national importance. He noticed that £3,000 was set apart for the Committee. He did not know whether that was an additional sum or the total sum. [Sir J. T. HIBBERT: "That is all."] He supposed that partly accounted for the increased Estimate of £3,000. At all events, the Committee had been sitting long enough to be able to present a Report; and if they had not presented one he thought a little pressure in the shape of a friendly letter from the President of the Board of Trade might be put upon them. He confessed that the condition of the Mercantile Marine afforded a most melancholy spectacle of decay. Of the 80,000 men, 27,000 were foreigners, and of the 53,000 left, 25,000 were under five years' service. It was terrible that the mercantile marine should have fallen to such a low condition. If any step could be taken by the Committee or the Government to remedy this terrible state of things, a great benefit would be conferred on the country as well as upon the mercantile marine. Could the President of the Board of Trade tell them whether the Committee were likely to report on an early day, and if not, could he give any reason for the delay?
§ MR. J. BRYCE
said, he had never heard of any unwillingness on the part of shipowners to give evidence before the Committee. 1430 The Committee had taken evidence at various seaports, and he hoped it was now approaching the termination of its labours. When exactly the Report would be presented he could not say.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he was surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he was unaware of objection being urged to the composition of this Committee, for he himself had understood that a well-known member of a Hull shipping firm had even written a letter expressing that objection. The first remark he had to make was an inquiry whether this was a Commission or a Committee, because he observed that while it was under the head of Commissions it was in a note described as a Committee. Was it a Departmental Committee of the Board of Trade, one of those such as there had been half-a-dozen of upon the Rules of the Road at Sea, each reviewing the work of its predecessor? Was it appointed by the Board of Trade, and why should it cost £3,000? Who got this monstrous sum of money? Here was a Department calling itself the Board of Trade, though, of course, it was well-known there was really no Board beyond the right hon. Gentleman opposite, so eminent as statesman and historian; and this Department had at command nautical advisers by the score, and a Marine Department. Whenever he asked the right hon. Member a question in reference to matters connected with the sea, he was always answered on the authority of the Marine Department, upon which, he was always told, could be found the most eminent sailors. Well, if the right hon. Gentleman had all this nautical knowledge, and navigating experience at hand, why did he not avail himself of it? Why did he come to the House for £3,000 for somebody else? The persons who were paid for this marine work should do it, and £3,000 additional should not be provided from the taxes to do work the right hon. Gentleman and his subordinates should do. They were well paid, too highly paid, he thought, and the Marine Department had done nothing but mischief to our merchant shipping since it was instituted, and this Committee or Commission was eminently calculated to do more mischief to our carrying trade, upon which the country depended for its prosperity. What was 1431 it trying to do? It was attempting to fix for each ship the number of men.
THE CHAIRMAN (MR. J. W. LOWTHER)
I think it is not competent for the hon. Gentleman to go into that matter upon this Vote.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he was commenting upon this item of £3,000 for this Marine Committee in respect to the work it would do. But not to transgress the ruling, he would say generally that the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, ever since the Department raised its ambitious head, had endeavoured to strangle the carrying trade of the country; and this was a further attempt. It was endeavouring to impose new regulations as to our fellow-subjects, the Lascars, which would tend to prevent their employment. If that was to be the result, he would rather vote £3,000 not to have the Committee. Specifically he asked why, with all the strength of the Marine Department available, had the Committee been appointed, and why had it been packed?
§ MR. A. B. FORWOOD (Lancashire, S.W., Ormskirk)
said, that, as he was a member of the Manning Committee, he might perhaps be allowed to give his hon. Friend the information for which he asked. He was rather disappointed that the President of the Board of Trade had not himself explained what was the genesis of this Committee. It was a departmental Committee appointed by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office, who invited several Members of Parliament to serve upon it. The reason for appointing the Committee was the statement made by an hon. Member of that House that it was the habit and custom of British shipowners to under-man their ships. The question of the manning of the mercantile Navy and of the training of the men for that service was, he regretted to say, not included in the scope of inquiry, which was limited strictly to the question whether there was any truth in the charge that it was the habit of British shipowners to under-man their ships.
asked who the hon. Member was who made the charges? His name ought not to be kept secret.
§ MR. FORWOOD
replied that it was the hon. Member for Middlesbrough. The Committee was appointed in April or May last year, and it had been in almost continuous session since. It had 1432 taken a vast amount of evidence, and he presumed that the expenditure to which attention had been drawn was for the payment of the expenses of the seamen and other witnesses who had been, brought to London. He thought he might say that all the evidence had now been heard. A digest of that evidence was in course of preparation, and in about a month or six weeks it would be in a state of sufficient preparation to enable the Committee to reassemble to consider its Report. It had been asked whether it was true that a shipowner had refused to give evidence, and in reply he had to say that he believed one shipowner did decline to do so. There was, however, abundant evidence without his before the Committee. He thought that the results of the Inquiry would be satisfactory to those who believed that the British shipowner was still a man who took pride in his vessels and the crews that manned them.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
referred to the Opium Commission, which he said had had a very remarkable history. He supposed there was not a single Member who, during the past three or four years, had not been deluged with petitions, and letters, and protests with regard to the opium question. In the whole history of modern agitation it would be very difficult to find a more complete illustration of the waste and blundering of that unmitigated abominaion "the political crotcheteer" than was furnished by this Commission and the cost it had involved. He hoped the lesson would not be lost on hon. Gentlemen opposite, many of whom still favoured fads and crotchets and prejudices quite as absurd as those represented by the Anti-Opium Agitators. For a long time it was intended that India should bear half the cost of the Commission. He was very glad to know that that monstrous proposal had been abandoned, and that this country was to pay the whole charge. That meant that the taxpayers of this country had to find £16,900 to satisfy the prejudices of people who had engaged in one of the most groundless agitations ever started in this or any other country. Those who were responsible for imposing this Commission upon India and upon the taxpayers of this country were Gentlemen who sat on the opposite side of the House. They really ought to bear the cost of this Commission, instead of its 1433 being placed on the taxpayers. He hoped the results of this agitation would be borne in mind by them when other equally mischievous and even more injurious crotchets with regard to India were pressed forward for consideration.
§ MR. B. L. COHEN (Islington, E.)
did not regret the appointment of this Opium Commission. It would, in his opinion, be a very cheap inquiry if it dispelled, as he believed it would, the delusions which existed in the memories of many earnest and sincere but misinformed persons on the subject of the use of opium. He was not sure that the outcry that had been raised against various Royal Commissions was quite reasonable. It was not a useless function that Commissions discharged if they dispelled delusions. They were at any rate useful instruments in the hands of Governments who wished to get rid of embarrassing questions. If the delusions of those who thought that they could get rid of agricultural depression by certain nostrums, or who thought that a uniform value could be given to silver by Bimetallism, or who held that the evils arising from the abuse of opium could be done away with altogether—if such delusions could be dispelled by Royal Commissions at a reasonable outlay, the money was well spent, and the Government was justified in having recourse to these methods of investigation.
§ SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)
said, that the hon. Member for Sheffield had indulged in rather strong language against those who proposed needless commissions. But if the hon. Member would cast his mind back to former Sessions he would see that the Motion against the opium traffic had been an "annual" in the House of Commons. Of course there were two opinions upon this question, but a large number of people in the country felt convinced that we were doing a very great wrong to India by promoting the growth and sale of opium. There were Motions on the subject in 1877 and subsequent years down to the day of the appointment of this Commission, but no satisfactory settlement was arrived at. It was stated that the use of opium was not a good thing and did much harm. At the same time it was granted that sometimes in malarial districts opium was a protection against fever. There 1434 could be no doubt that many people thought over this question earnestly, and he was himself one of those who suggested the idea of a Commission, for he was of opinion that any delusions which were entertained on this subject ought to be investigated and dispelled. The question was—was this Committee worth having or not? He was satisfied the time spent upon it had not been misspent, and the evidence would not have been accumulated in vain.
§ MR. BARTLEY
reminded the Committee that on the 20th of August last he moved that the whole charge should be borne by this country, but he received the usual answer from the Chancellor of the Exchequer saying the Government could not think of it. It was satisfactory to think the Government had learnt wisdom in the Recess, and that the shabby trick of putting this paltry charge upon India had been abandoned. The information was wanted not by India but by England. If India had wanted an inquiry into the consumption of alcohol in this country, and proposed that, this country should pay the half of it, he had no doubt, this House would have laughed at the idea altogether. The cases were on all-fours. At the same time he thought the cost of the Commission rather heavy.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, the reference of the hon. Member to the discussion on the subject last year entitled him to take credit to himself in the matter. A large part of the expenditure had been obliged to be paid to Indian officials, and only between £6,000 and £7,000 had been paid in travelling and other allowances to the Commissioners. Whether the Commission had done good or harm, whether it was necessary or unnecessary, he thought all would agree that the thanks of the House were due to the Chairman and Members of the Commission for the way they had laboured since their appointment, and he wished to tender him their thanks for the manner in which they had devoted themselves to the service of their country.
§ MR. W. S. CAINE (Bradford, E.)
said, the opinion had been hazarded that this Commission was granted in order to meet the views of certain "faddists." He did not at all object to the expression, but as a matter of fact the group of Members referred to voted against 1435 the Motion. They did not wish for this Commission, and were not responsible for its appointment. Before the hon. Member got up again to make a furious attack on hon. Members he should satisfy himself as to what were the real facts. The newspapers in India were never tired of saying that he and his friends—his own name was freely mentioned—insisted on this Commission being appointed. So far from that, he spoke and voted against its appointment, and all those associated with him did exactly the same thing.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
asked when the Report of the Commission would be presented. The Commission, he understood, returned in June or July last year.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, it had been necessary to send the Report to India to be signed by some Native members of the Commission. As soon as it was returned from India it would be presented to Her Majesty the Queen and to Parliament.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON
said, he joined in congratulating the Government upon their tardy repentance, but that did not cure the mischief done originally by the proposal to throw half the cost of the Commission on India. One reason given for the course taken in reimposing the Indian Cotton Duties was that there was excitement and apprehension of disturbance in India arising from the belief that India was administered rather in the interests of this country than of India. One of the things that had especially contributed to foster that uncomfortable feeling was the fact that the Government intended in the first instance to place half the charge of the Opium Commission upon India.
§ SIR E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, he wished to correct the misapprehension of the hon. Member for Bradford who did not hear his remarks. The hon. Member seemed to think that he was attacking the Members of Parliament who took part in a certain Division. His description of a certain section in this country as faddists and crotcheteers applied to the anti-opium agitators in general. And among the anti-opium agitators he imagined that the Member for East Bradford held the position of Arch-priest.
§ SIR RICHARD TEMPLE
asked whether it was quite clear that the whole of the cost of the Opium Commission was to be borne by this country. The people of India felt that no inquiry was necessary—that the whole of the information was already at the disposal of the British Government. But Anglo-Indians looked forward to the Report with great interest, believing it would largely justify the existing system with regard to the opium revenue in India. He wished to refer to the Commission on Secondary Education, which had greatly exercised a very important part of the educational world. The Commission was very representative of an important class of opinion, but there was another class that was not represented at all. Secondary schools might be divided into two branches——
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER)
I must call the attention of the hon. Member to the fact that the composition of this Commission has already been the subject of discussion for some considerable time in this House. If he desires to discuss it he must confine himself strictly to the composition of the Commission, and must be careful not to deal with the general question of secondary education, which would be quite out of order on this Vote.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, he quite understood the position. He wished to call attention to the fact that the private schoolmasters and schoolmistresses, that large interest in the educational world, which received no assistance, was not represented on the Commission. They had already given evidence before the Commission, but there were one or two points on which they felt the gravest dissatisfaction. One of the points on which they complained was that the Commission sent inquiries to the schools in the country; and that these inquiries were directed mainly, if not entirely, to schools that received assistance either from grants, or from endowments, or other sources. If that were true, then it showed that the inquiry had been conducted in a very imperfect manner. Then, again, suppose there were a deficiency of accommodation in a particular locality or in a certain district, the presumption was that such deficiency had been ascertained in secondary schools in that locality. Recommendations were made 1437 for supplying the deficiency. In calculating the allocation, it was amazing——
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER)
The hon. Member seems now to be discussing the question of secondary education generally. He cannot do that upon this Vote. He must confine his remarks to the composition of the Commission.
§ SIR R. TEMPLE
said, that his complaint was that, in making the calculation, the places in private enterprise schools were not reckoned. He contended that a great injury was being done to private enterprise schools, and also to the ratepayers. The deficiencies would have to be supplied, and the Commission would recognise that they must be supplied by State-aided schools, and this would constitute a grievous burden on the ratepayers, and would inflict a grievous injury on that class of enterprise which was most meritorious. It would, moreover, throw a grievous burden on local taxation. His complaints were from the very beginning. He complained of the composition of the Commission; of the great injustice that was being done to the great interest of private enterprise schools, and of the imperfect manner in which the evidence had been taken. They visited private schools, but they did not trouble to visit the public schools. He begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Question put, that Item P. be reduced by £100.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY
asked whether, as a reduction had been put on Subhead P., hon. Members must confine their remarks to that.
MR. R. G. WEBSTER
contended that the questions regarding the Opium Commission had not been finally decided upon.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. W. LOWTHER)
It is perfectly clear that when I have once put the question in regard to a particular subject, the discussion 1438 must be confined to that particular subject.
§ The Committee then divided:—Ayes, 43; Noes, 134.—(Division List No. 32.)
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Supplementary Vote of £8,500 for the Salaries and Expenses of the Inland Revenue Department,
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
called attention to the increase which had arisen under two heads—partly extra statistics and partly extra work. As to the statistics, he asked when they might really expect to have adequate statistics showing the working of the Finance Act. He must press for a promise of this information, or otherwise would have to move a reduction, which he did not wish to do. The information, in a most accessible form, was in possession of the Inland Revenue Authorities, and he desired, first of all, to have the amount of the principal value of the property charged with duty for each quarter, distinguishing separately, personalty, realty, settled and unsettled property, and also giving the amount of Estate Duty at each rate. He also wanted the amount of settlement estate, and the amount of the legacy and succession estate duty. With these statistics before them, they would be enabled to see how complete the success of the Finance Act had been. He doubted whether they would get value for their money, because he anticipated that this return would show the capital value returned for taxation to be diminishing. If it were diminishing, it was not of much consequence what rate of duty the Exchequer charged. This year had been an influenza year of an aggravated kind, and they might, therefore, expect it to yield as much capital value as 1891–2, another influenza year; in other words, they might expect £241,000,000 of total capital or principal value to be returned as chargeable with duty in order to justify any increase of the staff. He predicted, however, that the Exchequer would receive nothing like £241,000,000, and if it did not obtain this money, there was something seriously wrong with the Finance Act.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
said, he was desirous to give the hon. Member all the 1439 information desired, the more so that it would remove from his mind the painful impression which he appeared to entertain; and then, no doubt, Cassandra would be delighted to find her prophecies had not been fulfilled. The Annual Report had hitherto given full details of the character desired by the hon. Member under the old Act. The hon. Member had prophesied that each quarter would be less than the preceding quarter, but the fact was that each quarter had become better. It was satisfactory to find that this was so. He would be happy to supply the hon. Member with information, which, he was sure, would gratify his patriotic soul.
§ MR. BARTLEY
drew attention to the sum of £2,000 extra which appeared in the Vote chiefly in connection with the evasion of the Dog Licence Duty, and asked for an explanation.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, the amount expended with reference to Dog Licences had been in consequence of the great evasion in payment of the tax in all parts of the country. This additional expenditure had enabled the Exchequer to secure 10,000 additional dog licences, or a sum of £3,750.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
That may be so, but those licences will now be taken out from year to year. The extra provision was not, however, made solely in respect of Dog Licences.
§ MR. T. GIBSON BOWLES
said, the methods of the Inland Revenue were very expensive. For instance, the authorities had written to him that, as he had two dog licences last year, they wished to know why he had only one dog licence this year, and what he had done with the other dog. As a matter of fact, the dog was lost. The Authorities also wrote saying that he had a carriage last year and asking where it was this year. All this cost money. The questions were silly, and really required no answer at all.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I receive these letters myself. If I have a dog, a carriage, or a horse less, the Authorities call my attention to the fact of the oversight, probably thinking I have forgotten it. They are only calling attention to the accuracy of the returns.
§ Vote agreed to.1440
§ On the Supplementary Vote of £90, the cost of the charges for portraits in the National Portrait Gallery,
§ MR. GERALD LODER (Brighton)
asked when they might expect to see the pictures removed from Bethnal Green? He had been told that they would be removed at the beginning of the month, but on steps had yet been taken in this direction. Many gentlemen interested in the National Portrait Gallery were extremely anxious that the services of Sir George Scharf should be secured.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, that the services of Sir G. Scharf had been secured for six months up to September next. There had been two causes of the delay in the transfer of the portraits from Bethnal Green. One was the unfortunate illness of Sir George Scharf, whose health was now, happily, improving, and the other was the death of the architect of the building. He hoped that the whole of the transfer would be completely carried out by June.
§ MR. W. E. M. TOMLINSON
said, that he believed the bulk of the Vote was for the purchase of the portrait of Carlyle. He thought there ought to be some restriction on the purchase of portraits of contemporary celebrities or of those only recently deceased. It was to be hoped that the friends and relations of distinguished men would make gifts of their portraits to the National Portrait Gallery; and these gifts would be discouraged if the habit of purchasing the portraits were acquired.
§ SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, that it was most desirable that such gifts as the hon. Member referred to should be encouraged. But there were cases where it was necessary to purchase the portraits.
§ Vote agreed to,
§ On the Vote of £49,519 9s. 2d. for the excess of Naval Expenditure beyond the ordinary Navy Grant for the year ended March 31st, 1894,
§ MR. A. B. FORWOOD
said, that he wished to call the attention of the Civil Lord to the cause of the Vote. It appeared from the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General that in March, before the close of the financial year 1893–94, the Admiralty made larger purchases of stores in the expectation of meeting the expenditure out of savings. 1441 The request for the authority of that expenditure was only sent into the Treasury three or four days before the expiration of the financial year, and some days after the stores had been purchased. The present Financial Secretary of the Admiralty, when presiding over that Committee of which all the spending Departments stood in so much awe, was, more than any man, strenuous in condemnation of a Department making proposals for new expenditure at so late a date, and when that expenditure resulted in an excess. There were other items in this Vote on which the Treasury had animadverted. They thought that this expenditure might have been postponed to the next financial year. He was not questioning the propriety of the Vote, but if there were any value at all in the Comptroller and Auditor General's Department, which cost the country a fabulous sum of money, and if the Reports of the Department were not to be treated as so much waste paper when presented to the House, these questions of excess ought to be brought up with the circumstances to which the Comptroller and Auditor General had drawn attention. On this Vote, as on previous occasions, the Committee was confronted with the shortcomings on the provision for ships in Indian waters. It was a way of making the Estimates pleasant at the beginning of the year to anticipate and to take credit for that which there was little prospect of receiving. There was another point to which he wished to direct the attention of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. By the sinking of The Victoria we lost £12,490 in cash. We were pursuing, in reference to the ships of Her Majesty's Navy, a custom that might be all very well a century ago, but which was altogether unnecessary now. Under the present system a large amount, in cash was carried by each one of our ships, with the result that if a vessel went to the bottom the money was lost. He suggested that a comparatively small amount in cash should be earned on board ships, and that the Treasury or the Admiralty should make a bank arrangement at the different ports at which vessels touched, by which Treasury Bills should be sold, and money sufficient for the payment of the crew obtained.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said, the right hon. Gentleman had alluded to an old controversy between himself and his successor in Office, the Financial Secretary, to whom his observations should be communicated. He, the learned Gentleman, said that too large credit had been taken for the Indian contribution. He had never been a Member of the Public Accounts Committee; but his impression was, that that Committee had sanctioned the course adopted by the Admiralty. He believed that that would turn out to be the fact when the award was published.
§ MR. ROBERTSON
imagined so. He understood that what had been referred to Lord Rosebery for settlement was the meaning of certain words in an old convention. As to the money carried on board ship, the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman was worthy of, and should receive, consideration.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he had understood hitherto that what was referred to Lord Rosebery was the settlement of the equitable claims between India and England. He now understood the arbitration was of a very much more limited scope, and would go no distance whatever towards settling what was the real question, and that was—What was a fair demand India ought to make for certain vessels in Indian, waters?
§ MR. ROBERTSON
said, the contention of the Indian Government was, that certain small vessels—viz., such vessels as were necessary for the performance of police duties—should be paid for by India. The contention of the Admiralty was, that India should pay for the vessels necessary for the protection of Indian trade. The Prime Minister had placed a certain interpretation upon the words of the Convention, and his interpretation was now the subject of correspondence between the two Governments.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £100 for the Ordnance Factories (the cost of the productions of which will be charged to the Army, Navy, and Indian and Colonial Governments),
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
believed that, if he were to do his duty towards the Ordnance system generally, he would 1443 attempt to argue the whole case of the best smokeless powder that existed, and whether we were in possession of it, and whether the present cordite powder issued was the best powder. He would even go so far as the question of high explosives in shells. At that time of night, however, he would confine his remarks to the question of the last report on the recent explosion of nitro-glycerine at Waltham Abbey; to the deductions drawn by the Committee; to the question of the safety of the buildings there in the, future; and to the composition of the Committee appointed to inquire into the cause of the explosion. That was the first opportunity they had had of discussing the most serious explosion of nitro-glycerine, as regards quantity, that had occurred, not only in England, but in any other country in the world. In the first place, he had to say he regretted the great delay which had taken place in the publication of the report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the explosion. The explosion took place on the 7th May of last year. The Committeee which had been appointed to inquire into a previous explosion at Waltham Abbey had just finished their labours in regard to that explosion, and was reappointed with commendable promptitude, by the Secretary of State for War, to investigate the causes of the fresh explosion. The Committee was reappointed on the 9th of May of last year, but its report was not circulated till September. That, considering the small amount of evidence taken, was a very great delay, and one of its results was that he was precluded from calling the attention of the House to the explosion last Session, while it was fresh in the public mind, instead of being, as now, only a memory of the past. On the appointment of the Committee, he had been rebuked for objecting to Lord Sandhurst as the Chairman of the Committee. He had objected to Lord Sandhurst, not because he had the smallest reason to doubt the capacity or the impartiality of the noble Lord, but because he thought the noble Lord, as the Under Secretary of State for War, was not the proper man to preside over an inquiry into the conduct of the very department with which he was officially connected, with regard to a matter affecting the lives not only of the men employed in the factory, but of the inhabitants of the town of 1444 Waltham Abbey. However, the Committee under Lord Sandhurst, in their report on the first explosion which occurred at Cam House, Waltham Abbey, on the 13th December, 1893, made some very strong comments on the state of things they found existing at Waltham Abbey. He said—The Committee can have no hesitation in stating that the result of the inquiry, though it has not enabled them to place their finger confidently on the actual cause of the accident on the 13th December, has served the useful purpose of bringing to light very grave defects in the system of discipline and precautions prevailing at Waltham Abbey, and the urgent necessity for a comprehensive revision of the regulations, and for the adoption of disciplinary measures for their more rigorous enforcement.The Committee also stated—When the Explosives Act, 1875, was passed, Section 97, which exempts Government factories from its operation, was, it is understood, adopted in a very large degree, because it was considered that the Government department principally concerned—namely, the War Office—could be depended on to secure throughout its factories, without having recourse to the machinery provided for private factories, the same beneficial results which the application of the Act, and the introduction of an independent system of inspection, were designed to effect in the civil establishments. With this view the Committee are disposed to concur. But, if it should be found impracticable to secure, through the independent action of the War Department, results corresponding to those which Her Majesty's Inspectors of Explosives has accomplished in the private factories, then, in the judgment of the Committee, it would certainly be in the highest degree expedient that the question of subjecting the Government establishments, where explosives are manufactured, manipulated, or stored, to the inspection of Her Majesty's Inspector of Explosives, should be taken into serious consideration.The report of the Committee on the nitro-glycerine explosion was not so strong; but at the same time it was sufficiently strong to cause misgivings as to the safety of their lives amongst those employed in the manufacture of the explosives. The Committee stated—Many of those risks which the Committee signalised in their Report of the 25th of April 1894, on the accident of the 13th December 1893, in the Cam House at the Royal Gunpowder Factory, undoubtedly existed in the present instance, and some even in an aggravated form, with such further source of risk as would be liable to result from the public right of way before referred to, and to the extremely insufficient protection against the presence in the factory of unauthorised persons.The Report proceeded to deal with risks, and among other things pointed out that the explosion might have been caused by 1445 foul play, by the wilful insertion, for instance, of a match-head by an unauthorised person into the factory. He ventured to think that such a Report of a Committee on the second explosion after they had reported on the carelessness and want of discipline in regard to the first explosion, showed that something was certainly wrong. The Report went on—The Committee do not think it necessary to recapitulate the risks which they specified in their Report of 25th April, 1894, on the accident of the 13th December, 1893, in the Gunpowder Factory, but it is proper to remark that, of these, several existed, some even in an aggravated form, on the occasion of the present accident. Thus, although, according to the superintendent, the system of searching has been greatly improved since the accident of the 13th December, it is certain that full effect had not yet been given to the recommendations of the Committee on this head. The Committee's Report had not up to that time got into the hands of the factory staff, and thus the possibility of the existence of matches or other dangerous articles within the nitro-glycerine factory cannot be confidently disregarded.It is also in the judgment of the Committee not desirable that a practice which is prohibited by the Explosives Act, 1875"—(as to the wearing of boots)—"and which is therefore not allowed in private factories, should be permitted in one of the Government factories.Why had not full effect been given to the recommendations which had been made by the Committee consequent upon the inquiry into the first explosion? The Report proceeded—Without, however, going through the various points in detail, the Committee desire to express their opinion that the whole of the regulations affecting the Cordite Factory should be revised in the directions indicated for the Gunpowder Factory Regulations in the former Report of the Committee.The quantity of nitro-glycerine that exploded was nearly two tons, and he contended that an explosion of this extent should have been subjected to a very long and serious investigation. It should not merely have occupied the attention of what was practically a Departmental Committee for some days, with the examination of 23 witnesses, only 12 of whom had any pretensions to any skill at all, and all of whom, excepting two, were connected, more or less, with the former administration of this factory. He presumed that the terms of reference to the Nitro-glycerine Explosion Committee were exactly the same as those of Cam House Explosion Committee. As far as he had been able to make out, 1446 only two independent witnesses were called, and he complained that the question of the construction of danger buildings was not sufficiently considered. By the courtesy of the Financial Secretary he was enabled to go to Waltham Abbey and see the new precautions taken, and the buildings that had been recently erected in place of those that had been blown down, and he was bound to say that he was pleased with many things he saw. He regretted, however, that the old ground had been so much occupied, and that more space had not been allowed for the building. He complained also that more witnesses were not examined on the question of the future safety of the building, for after an explosion of such magnitude, he thought more evidence of a perfectly independent kind ought to have been heard. Then as to the question of the construction of danger buildings, that point was left entirely to the men who had built them, in face of the evidence of Colonel McClinlock on the subject. He did not intend to make any reference to the case of Colonel McClintock, for it had been brought before the House by the hon. Member for Preston; and the Secretary for War stated that he had acted as he had done in the matter for reasons connected with the Service. That, of course, he was obliged to regard as a sufficient answer beyond which he could not go; but he did complain that the evidence of Colonel McClintock did not receive the attention from the Committee that it, ought to have received. He thought, moreover, that it was a great pity that the witnesses examined before the Committee were not allowed to hear the evidence of those who followed them, because their presences when other witnesses were being examined might have been useful. Then as to the cause of the accident—he believed himself that the washing house exploded first, and that it then extended to what was called the storehouse. Four suggestions were made as to the cause of the accident—through the "skimmers" (which were used at Ardeer), the probable fagging of an earthenware cock; the fall of some article used in one of the washing houses, and foul play. Into the suggestion of foul play, however, the Committee declined to enter. The principal person who suggested foul play was Colonel 1447 McClintock, and his evidence on this head was hardly regarded by the Committee at all. The whole thing seemed to centre in the experience and practice at Nobel's factory at Ardeer, and nobody seemed to receive proper recognition from the Committee, except those connected with the factory. He might be told that there had been scarcely any accidents at Ardeer, but in an important investigation like this, further evidence ought to have been brought forward. The only witness outside was Mr. Guttman, and his evidence was extremely strong, and he was the only witness who suggested any theory as to the cause of the accident. Though the Committee in their report said they did not accept his idea of the hot soda-washing making the nitro-glycerine more sensitive, yet in a subsequent paragraph they seemed to modify that opinion very much. He should like to call attention to Mr. Guttman's evidence. He gave some very startling facts, especially as regarded the chemistry department. He was asked first of all whether there were any points in connection with the arrangements at the factory which struck him as being exceptional as compared with those in other factories. He replied, that there were no doubt many points. There was, for instance, the too close proximity of the washing house to the nitrating house. He said—I see no reason why they should not be altered, there is room. I was asked by the Superintendent of the Royal Gunpowder Factory to look into the question of the last explosion of the powder, and on the 19th of April I sent him a communication in which I dwelt upon the unsuitability of the present system of washing.He further objected to their washing nitro-glycerine at a temperature of 50° Centigrade. He stated that when he went into the washing house at Waltham Abbey he noticed it was full of nitro-glycerine vapours. Then he told a most extraordinary story. He said he asked the chemist in charge at what temperature he was working, and the man replied, "About 30° Centigrade." He then dipped his hand into the tank and said, "This is at least 50° Centigrade," and it was. He thought a chemist in charge of such a high explosive, who made a mistake by 20° Centigrade in its manufacture was not a fit man to be in charge. This witness also pointed out that the vapourised nitro-glycerine 1448 most probably would condense on the windows or skylights, and so constituted a danger, and suggested that the explosion happened through the skimmer slipping out of the man's hands after he had skimmed the stuff, and that the explosion was communicated to the storehouse. That skimmer weighed 36lbs. complete, and the height at which it fell would be about three feet. He thought this was, at all events, a plausible suggestion and the Committee did not seem to take any notice of this evidence in the Report. Since then at Ardeer they had reduced the heat used in the washing. The fact was, these hot washes were used because they were working under pressure, and the hotter the temperature the greater was the output. He hoped they would hear what measures had been taken to remedy the defects he had spoken of, and prevent any further catastrophe. Men turning nitro-glycerine into cordite were exposed to great danger, and worked with their lives in their hands. But they asked the Government to insist that the work should be carried on at a minimum of danger and a maximum of safety. His training as a soldier did not lead him to view with much favour the idea of placing the factory under the Home Office. Yet he was not sure that it was not the only way to insure absolute safety to the workmen. Then, seeing that the men employed in the danger houses, through no fault of their own, but through some chemical or mechanical action, might be blow to pieces at any time, he thought they should have a pension, and were entitled to more consideration at the hands of the Government than they had hitherto received. So far as the Secretary for War and the Financial Secretary had been able they had met the claims that had been legally made. But he appealed to them as to whether a special class could not be catered for men employed in these dangerous factories.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, this was the second occasion within a few months on which the case of Waltham Abbey had had to be brought before the House, and the second occasion on which they had had to comment on the report condemning, root and branch, the whole system upon which the factory was worked. In view of the series of explosions that had occurred, and the gross maladministration of the factory, he asked whether it 1449 was not high time such factories were put under the same inspection as other factories throughout the country. The Report they had received was not that of an independent Committee, but it was that of a Committee on which the War Office was largely represented; and the witnesses were men engaged at the factories. This was not a class of evidence from which, as a rule, you would be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion. The House would have had more reason to be grateful to the War Office if, instead of appointing a Committee of this kind, it had done what would have been done in the case of any other factory—appointed an independent Committee so that it might have made an independent inquiry. He wanted especially to direct the attention of the War Office to what, after all, was the centre and kernel of the whole question, and that was that the Government factories ought to be put, as other factories were, under Home Office inspection. The first Committee which sat distinctiy said that, in their opinion, it was to be regretted that these factories were specially exempted from Home inspection, and they said distinctly that, if great alteration did not take place, if the administration of the factory was not greatly improved, in their opinion the Act applying fo private factories ought to be made to apply to Government factories also. Within a few days there came the second explosion, and, as to this, they were told that certain explosives ought to have been absorbed in other materials, in which condition they would have been far less dangerous than in their liquid form. This, in fact was what would have been done under the terms of the licence to any private factory; and there could be no reasonable doubt that if it had been done at Waltham the explosion would have been avoided. So that here were two successive reports, the first stating that this factory ought already to have been under Home Office inspection; and the second, that an explosion would have been averted if the ordinary requirements in a private factory had been carried out. Surely the time had come for setting aside all questions of etiquette, or whatever else it might be that tied the hands of the War Office in this matter. The men working in Government factories had as much right to 1450 have their lives protected as the men working in private factories. War Office inspection had been tried and found wanting. A further reason why ordinary precautions ought to be taken in Government factories was that the town of Waltham itself was exposed to risk, and the Government did not pay compensation on the same scale as private firms did. The town of Waltham might be blown to pieces. It was only by mere accident that one explosion was restricted to 1,500lbs. of nitro-glycerine, seeing that a few days before there had been in store on less than eight tons—a quantity which would not be allowed anywhere else. If the whole eight tons had exploded the loss of life would have been much greater, and the town would have suffered great damage. These Government factories, which ought to set a good example to private employers, paid miserably inadequate compensation to sufferers. Mrs. Suckling, whose husband had been employed at the factory for 15 years, was granted a pension of £14 7s. 2d. only until her possible re-marriage, and a gratuity of £10 for each of her three children. Mrs. Frost, whose husband had been engaged for nine years, was awarded a pension of £10 6s., and a gratuity of £17 for her two children. These cases compared badly with the compensation awarded to a widow whose husband was killed at an adjoining private factory—he thought it was Mr. Joyce's. The widow was to receive 15s. a week for two years, 10s. a week for the rest of her life, and 5s. a week for each child up to a given age. Surely if a private factory could pension its servant's widow on this scale the Government ought to set a better example than it did. The Government ought to manage this factory in the business-like way in which private factories were conducted. The Superintendent was appointed for five years, and entering upon his appointment with little knowledge or experience, he at the end of that term was withdrawn. There was an intention, he knew, to modify that system, and at the end of five years the Superintendent would not necessarily go, the War Office retaining the right to renew the appointment for another five years; but, surely, this was an inadequate way of dealing with such an appointment. Why not adopt the practice a private firm would 1451 follow, and having secured a good man for the post retain him as permanent Superintendent? He would be glad to have some information as to the hours of labour in these factories, which seemed to vary in each department to an extraordinary degree. The Committee which sat first recommended that in the black gunpowder factory the hours of labour should be reduced from 12 to 8, because they said 12 hours was too long a day for men in this dangerous employment, and a very proper recommendation. As a result the hours were reduced, but the pay of the men was cut down in proportion—a heavy loss to the men; and, in consequence of the complaints, he was informed a return had been made to the 12-hours system. So, illustrating the difference of hours in the several departments, he mentioned that the men in the gunpowder department on day-work worked 67 hours per week only, night-work 60 hours; but the machine department—the fitters—worked 54 hours; the engine men and stokers, 63½ hours; in the cordite works, 49 hours; in the stores, 54 hours; and in the nitro-glycerine works, 49 hours. This must lead to considerable confusion, and it would be much better and simpler for work to go on by a definite system of so many hours daily. How far had the recommendations of the first Committee been carried out? There was evidence given before the Committee that time after time more hydrants had been pressed for, and though this was essential for the safety of the factory, and the cost would be small, the request had again and again been refused. Had precautions against the extension of fire in the factory been properly carried out? In all private factories the number of persons allowed in the houses at one time was strictly limited, but in this Government Department there was no such restriction, and almost any number might go in. A great deal had been said about the visits of inspectors to dangerous buildings, but such visits were only made in the daytime, while it was at night that there was the greatest risk of explosion. It was shown in the evidence that a surprise visit was not often made, inspectors did not go at unusual times, and night after night passed without a visit. What guarantee was there that the system of inspection would be put and kept on a 1452 sound footing? It was shown in the evidence, too, that though rules and regulations were drafted for the conduct of the men, and the precautions to be adopted, these rules were never practically brought before the men, and many of them did not even know of the regulations. In their special recommendations the last Committee stated that actually one of the precautions upon which the War Office prided itself for preventing the spread of explosions really increased the danger, and they denounced the system root and branch.
§ MR. HANBURY
said, he meant the last one on the nitro-glycerine explosion. The Committee said that the system of manufacture and supervision, the distribution and, to some extent, the protection of the buildings, called for modification and improvement. Considering that this was a War Office Committee, he thought that this statement insinuated a great deal more than was said. The gist of the Report was contained in the following recommendation:—The Committee intimate their decided conviction that the position, or perhaps more strictly, the distribution, of the buildings composing the Quinton Hill factory, and more especially that part of it which concerns the manufacture of nitro-glycerine, is eminently unsatisfactory.Yet these buildings were, he believed, being re-erected on exactly the same site in spite of this recommendation. If that was really being done, the conduct of the War Office could hardly be condemned too strongly. It was because Colonel McClintock fought against the re-erection of these buildings on the same site that he had been made to resign. There was a further recommendation by the Committee with regard to the manufacture of cordite. If, as the Committee understand, the exigencies of the service demand the temporary use of the factory, as at present arranged, when the damaged buildings and works have been re-erected, then the output should be reduced to what may for the time be absolutely necessary, and any accumulation of explosives in a dangerous form should be avoided as far as possible. That that recommendation should be necessary was very unsatisfactory. This was practically the only factory in which we manufactured cordite. It could not 1453 be manufactured in India, where the attempt to manufacture it had failed. So, in the case of the only factory available, the Committee thought it their duty to warn the authorities that cordite ought only to be manufactured on a very small scale. Our store of cordite was very limited in comparison with the amount of smokeless powder manufactured and stored by foreign Governments. He begged to ask the Government what they proposed to do under the circumstances. Whatever might be the merits of this powder, the House had a right to demand, in the first place, that the lives of the workers should be properly protected; and, in the next place, that the factory should be carried on in such a way that we should be able to get an explosive in quantities sufficient for the country's needs.
§ MR. WOODALL
said, every experience the War Office had had of the new explosive only confirmed their judgment with respect to the wisdom of its adoption. He ventured to think it was hardly fair of his hon. Friends opposite to have arraigned, as they had done, the conduct of his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in appointing the Departmental Committee, and especially the strictures passed upon the conduct of Lord Sandhurst, who had presided over it—[An hon. MEMBER: "Not the conduct"]—or as to its independence. In the first place, the Committee never professed to be anything but a Departmental Committee. In the next place, the best answer to the allegation of want of independence was to point out that the Committee condemned the processes fearlessly, root and branch. With regard to the explosion, he reminded his hon. and gallant Friend that it occurred on May 7. The Committee appointed to make special inquiry into the circumstances of the explosion began their work almost instantly, and on July 12 they signed the Report which was presented to the House. Something had been said with regard to the witnesses called before the Committee; but it had not been suggested that any one person having any claim of technical or practical knowledge on the subject was not called who might have been. As was perfectly well known, the whole processes involved in the manufacture were recent in their discovery, and the number of experts on the subject was extremely limited. 1454 He thought, however, they might more profitably employ themselves in considering what had been the general outcome of the inquiry and what had been done by the Department to prevent the recurrence of such an accident. Cordite, as hon. Gentlemen were aware, had for its dangerous components nitro-glycerine and gun-cotton. In their natural condition both were extremely dangerous, but when brought into combination they were practically safe. The accident in question occurred in the processes connected with the production of nitro-clycerine, and although the Committee exhausted every possible opportunity of discovering the cause of the explosion, the cause remained a mere matter of conjecture. That the explosion occurred in the washing-house in the first instance, and that the concussion caused an explosion in the storehouse, seemed to have been the view generally accepted by the Committee. What did the Committee recommend? Perhaps its most important recommendation was that the output should be reduced and that no accumulation of explosives in a dangerous form should be allowed. The Department had resolved that, no nitro-glycerine should be kept in store, but that nitro-glycerine as it was produced should be blended with gun-cotton, and so brought into a condition which was free from danger. Then the Committee called attention to the fact that, in highly-technical processes involving necessarily subjects that might naturally occupy the attention and this mind of a highly-skilled chemist, the men engaged, however competent they were, had not that reputation which would command the confidence that the public might, naturally expect from a Government Department. The War Office had been able to satisfy that view by appointing a highly-skilled chemist—Dr. Kelvin. He was charged with constant supervision of all processes and the control of all subordinate chemists, and it was his business to keep himself in constant communication with the factory and to make himself familiar with every process. Without his authority no departure was permissible.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
inquired whether the degrees of temperature in washing would be allowed to be altered without his consent.
§ MR. WOODALL
would say certainly not. The temperature was watched as sedulously as any matter of detail in the process of manufacture. The position of superintendent differed from the actual chemist. Colonel McClintock's position did not involve any responsibility for the technical process of manufacture, but the Government had continued the method of appointing a military man, highly trained in the science of his profession, and capable of maintaining with strictness and constant severity the discipline of the establishment. He was delighted to have the opportunity of testifying to the efficiency of Colonel Ormsby, who had been appointed by the Secretary of State. His hon. Friend had alluded to the five years' system. He remembered that Lord Morley's Committee gave a great deal of attention to the system of five years' appointments, and he also remembered that a competent witness said that that system was a good one provided that a man of average ability might have his engagement terminated before the expiration of five years without any reflection being east upon him. If he was found to be a man of exceptional value his appointment would be continued from time to time, and that would, no doubt, be the course always followed. His hon. and gallant Friend opposite had asked for a guarantee that in the arrangements the Government had made they had endeavoured to keep before them the ensuring of a minimum of danger to the men employed. He could honestly say that this had been done. It had also been urged that the Government ought to have put themselves in the position of private manufacturers, and ought to have accepted the constant control of the Home Office. One of the most valued members of Lord Sandhurst's Committee held that these regulations, from the experience derived, were sufficient. He would go further, and say that, if there were any regulations that the Home Office was pleased to provide, the Department had not the smallest objection. A great many irregularities were found, but the Committee would hardly expect him to refer to them in detail. His right hon. Friend had required that every one of these strictures should be taken to heart, and that every regulation for greater security should be followed, and he could 1456 without hesitation assure the Committee that these regulations had been very thoroughly and very stringently adopted. Reference had been made, and made very properly, as to the awards to families of those who had lost their lives in the explosions. Those awards were made under the Act under the interpretation of the Treasury, and the War Office was left with very little discretion. His right hon. Friend had expressed an opinion as to the making of a communication to the Treasury and a further application. Although the Treasury had not acceded to the appeal made to it, it had undertaken that in any case that might be submitted to it the case would be looked into. With regard especially to a young man of great promise as to whom on strict examination it was held that his relatives were not entitled to have anything awarded to them, an allowance had been made to his mother, although she was not entirely dependent upon him. The buildings were constructed, as they believed, with such modifications as would secure far greater safety and minimise danger. The main point with reference to which he desired to give an assurance to the Committee was that they did not contemplate that it would be safe to carry out the manufacture of cordite on the site now occupied. Whether they would require further land in the immediate neighbourhood, whether they would utilise the lands which belonged to the estate now in occupation of the Government, or whether they would erect laboratories in some place more remote from Waltham—were qestions which remained yet to be decided. They would have, however, a duplicate factory, and an endeavour would be made to build it somewhat beyond the range of danger of explosion. The authorities were also very happy to know that they could rely on the trade for the production of cordite according to Government specifications, and they had received very valuable assistance from the different manufacturers of the country in saturating the Government gun-cotton, by which means the element of danger largely disappeared.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
thought that the Government would see the great difficulty of introducing a Vote of this magnitude at such a late hour. There were many other questions remaining to 1457 be discussed, but, inasmuch as a pledge had been given of a day for general discussion, all he would ask now was with regard to the supply of cordite, and what was the position as to the supply of small-arm ammunition. This question of ammunition was very serious. Last year the right hon. Gentleman told the House that he was not satisfied with the supply of small-arm ammunition. He knew that the late Government were extremely anxious about the supply, and it was well known to the House what additions could have been made to the reserve since the late Government went out of Office. But the other night the Secretary for War told the House that—there had been developed in the country a wonderful facility for supplying small-arm ammunition, and it was unnecessary to keep any exaggerated reserve, as the War Office was advised that it had sufficient for its purposes now.That was a very strong expression to use, and it was, he submitted, going further than the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to go. The reserve was not only not exaggerated, but, unless the conditions had changed very much, it could not be called a reserve at all. The Japanese army was stated to have a reserve of 720,000,000 rounds of this ammunition. Cordite had for the last year or two only been produced in sufficient quantities to supply the current demand, and it was public knowledge that there could not be an adequate reserve of the ammunition depending entirely on cordite. The subject was so grave that he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would, before these Estimates were discussed again, take these matters into his personal consideration, and reconsider his extraordinary statement that—the War Office, according to their competent advisers, stood very well in this respect.He could not understand such a statement, which was at variance with all the advice received by the late Government.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, he quite recognised the intention of the hon. Member, and knew from what he had said on this and previous occasions how well he was informed upon this subject, in which he took great interest. It was rather a question to raise on the Estimates at large or the Vote for Ordnance. It did not arise on this Vote so much as on that for warlike stores. But he would look into the matter. He was 1458 not now prepared with figures, and would endeavour to satisfy the hon. Gentleman on the next occasion.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcester, E.)
said, it would be recollected that earlier in the discussion his right hon. Relative put a question in reference to the Corps of Armourers at the Small Arms Factory at Birmingham, and received an answer that no change was contemplated there. But he understood that afterwards some doubt arose as to whether the question had been understood, and if the answer represented the facts perhaps the Financial Secretary would make his explanation clear.
§ MR. WOODALL
said, he was indebted to the hon. Member for the opportunity of saying that he did not quite clearly comprehend the question put to him by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. He understood him to ask whether the plant which had been put into disuse at Bagot Street had been transferred to Woolwich. He found that the question really referred to the Corps of Armourers, and he had to explain that some important changes had been made in their organisation. Hitherto the men as required had been chosen from the ordinary ranks of civil life, and brought to Bagot Street to be instructed in the technique of small arms. It had now been determined, on the recommendation of a Committee and the approval of his right hon. Friend, that instead of armourers being selected from different regiments, they should be chosen from trained experienced workmen in Government factories recommended by the Director General of the Ordnance Factory, and, instead of necessity of learning of dealing with small arms at Bagot Street they would be sent to Aldershot, there to be perfected in military training until they were certified as having practical acquaintance in small arms. The right hon. Gentleman was wrong in supposing that there was a transfer from Bagot Street to Woolwich. As a matter of fact, those men sent to Woolwich and Bagot Street would be sent to Aldershot, there to go through military training, instead of going through training as artificers.
Vote agreed to.
Resolutions reported to the House.