HC Deb 29 March 1895 vol 32 cc497-521

*MR. J. G. TALBOT (Oxford University) moved a reduction of £500 in the salary of the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Acland), in order to call attention to a very grave departure from the ordinary practice of the Education Department. The matter to which he referred was connected with the scheme prepared by the Charity Commissioners under the Welsh Intermediate Education Act for a school in the parish of Berriew in the county of Montgomery. The School was founded in 1652 by Humphry Jones. In order to show the Church character impressed on that school when it was founded he stated that the founder conveyed lands and other property to trustees, among whom were two clergymen of the Church of England, and it was important to observe the date at which this was done. It was in 1652, and the two clergymen in question were Vicars deprived by the Commonwealth. In 1738, a clergyman was a master, and the children were instructed in the principles of the Church of England. In 1816, the school had got into a condition of some disorder, and a petition was presented to the Master of the Rolls. Under the authority of the Master of the Rolls a scheme was drawn up which confirmed the absolute Church character of the Foundation. It was used as a charity school for teaching and instructing children in the principles and the doctrines of the Church of England, and the children were required to attend church on Sundays and "other usual days" for Divine Service, unless their parents objected. The trustees included the Vicar of the parish, and they were to appoint such masters as were members of the Church of England, "of sober life and conversation." All the documents he had consulted showed this Foundation to have possessed a distinctively Church character, and yet the recent scheme of the Charity Commissioners proposed to alter the Church character of the school entirely.


said, the hon. Gentleman could not hold him responsible for the character of the scheme. The scheme came from the Charity Commissioners, and during the time it was in the Education Department his attention was not called to the subject by any objections; and he passed it on in the ordinary course. He did not receive any objection to it; and, therefore, he had none to answer.


said, it was a scheme about which Churchmen felt very strongly, because under it the Vicar of the Parish, who had always hitherto been a Trustee, was forbidden to give religious instruction. A Petition against the scheme was presented on September 14 of last year, signed by the statutory number of ratepayers. On November 23 a letter was read from the Education Department stating that 12 out of the twenty signatories had withdrawn their signatures before the statutory two months had expired. A letter had been sent to the Department pointing out that there was no provision in the Act for the withdrawal of such signatures. The scheme was, in consequence, not laid on the Table of the House. In his judgment, the Education Department had acted ultra vires in this matter. But supposing the Department had the power to allow the withdrawal of the signatures, he contended that they should have given notice to those who signed the Petition, in order that an opportunity might have been afforded to others to substitute their names for those who had withdrawn. A complaint had reached him to the effect that those who signed this Petition, and then withdrew their names, did so because they were told something which was not in accordance with the facts of the case. They said that the signatures had been withdrawn because a threat had been made to the effect that if the Petition succeeded the Endowments would be taken away from the parish and a School Board would follow. No such result could have possibly followed, and if the people were so informed it was an unwarrantable use of an improper argument.

SIR R. E. WEBSTER (Isle of Wight)

said that this question was of some constitutional importance. It was important that the House should know that the sanction of these schemes depended on an Order in Council, and when that Order had been made its effect and result could not be questioned in a Court of law. It was, in his opinion, clear that what had been done in this case was never intended should take place. The l5th Section of the Act of 1873 was distinct in stating that— If any Petition has been presented the scheme shall he laid before both Houses of Parliament; the procedure following the usual course when Parliament was not sitting. He asked the House to observe what a door was opened to possible collusive or improper action if any departure from established practice were sanctioned. The only protection the opponents had was the protection of petition; through a Petition they could present to the House any objections they had to a scheme. They were informed, rightly or wrongly, of what happened in this case. Let them consider, however, what might happen. A Petition might be presented by influential people; they might believe the matter was going to be discussed—but behind their backs, they knowing nothing about it; the Department informed Her Majesty in Council that no Petition had been presented because the signatures had been withdrawn. There was not the slightest suggestion anywhere in the Act of Parliament that a Petition should be withdrawn, still less that signatures should be withdrawn. That was, in some shape or form, the action of the Education Department, without the consent of the right hon. Gentleman, under a complete misapprehension of what the law was. The fact was, that those who had had bona fide objections to raise could not get them raised. With regard to this particular case, it appeared, on the evidence before them, that individual signatories were visited and different reasons given them why they should not oppose the scheme. The persons who had, bona fide, obtained a Petition to be presented had no means of knowing what was being done. The result of such action was, that the House lost for ever any chance of having the scheme investigated. When a question was put to the right hon. Gentleman, the other day, he said the Department had acted in accordance with the course taken by a previous Government in the Dauncy case. That case, he was sure, never came before the Law Officers. They did not charge the right hon. Gentleman himself with any dereliction of duty, but they protested against being deprived of the opportunity of discussing this scheme. If his hon. Friend was right as to the history of the Charity, and no doubt he was right, it was plain it was a case in which Parliament would have interfered. Whatever might be the excuse which the right hon. Gentleman might be able to give for the conduct of the Department in this case he hoped the protest to-day would make it impossible for anything of the kind to occur in the future.

*MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN (Montgomeryshire)

felt bound to intervene in the Debate in consequence of some remarks which fell from the hon. Member for the Oxford University (Mr. Talbot). The question of the Church character of the foundation was decided in the negative by the Charity Commissioners after a very full inquiry—an inquiry which lasted a long period, during which, if he rightly understood the procedure, everything which could possibly be brought forward was advanced before the Commissioners. The gift was simply and purely for a free school, without any declaration that it should he of a Church character. He must add, that the proceedings which culminated in the Chancery suit were material. They showed that the school had ceased to exist. If it was a Church school, which was entirely denied, a greater disgrace to the Church could not possibly be conceived. The funds were in the hands of a sole trustee, from whom they were with difficulty recovered, the school-house was in ruins, the scholars were non-existent, and the master was a man of bad character. Under those circumstances—and only under those circumstances—was the Chancery scheme passed. Lord Liverpool was Premier and Lord Eldon was Lord Chancellor, and, naturally, clauses were put in insisting on Church of England instruction. The point he wished to insist upon was, that the insertion of those clauses was a usurpation; not a confirmation of an existing Church character of the school. As regarded the scheme itself he was afraid he must ask the indulgence of the House while he went a little into the educational policy of which the scheme was part—the scheme being only one of a group of schemes. When it became the duty of the Montgomeryshire Joint Educational Committee to set the Intermediate Education Act in motion they naturally considered the question of the existing Endowments in the different parishes. Amongst them was the Endowment at Berriew. The Committee reported:— It will be noticed that the Proposals for the County Scheme deal only with the funds arising from the County Rate and Government Grants, and do not include any of the Educational Endowments of the county. The Committee believe that, with the exception of Deythur, all of these Endowments are at present employed in the support of public elementary schools. Inasmuch as the provision of Elementary Education is now a legal obligation on the owners and occupiers of property, and as in the coming Session large additional grants will probably be made for it at the public charge, the Committee suggest that advantage should be taken of the extension to them made by the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of the powers now vested in the Charity Commissioners and the Education Department, to re-organise these Endowments, and at the same time to secure them for the parishes to which they were originally given. Then they went on to say,— The Committee are of opinion that the interests of the parishes will be effectually protected by applying these Endowments in securing for the children belonging to them education in County Intermediate Schools; and they invite suggestions and information from the trustees or managers and all interested in the Endowments which may facilitate the task of preparing a schemes or scheme for this purpose. In September 1892 a meeting was held with the Berriew Trustees, by the Joint Committee, of which meeting the minute was as follows:— After full discussion the Berriew Trustees stated their willingness to concur in the Establishment of a scheme under the Welsh Act for the administration of the Endowment; such scheme to provide for the maintenance of an Upper Department in the Public Elementary School. The scheme included the clause to which hon. Members opposite took such exception, the one which required that the religious instruction should be given by members of the teaching staff only. That was a clause which was inserted in all Welsh schemes. Not a single official objection was taken to the scheme. There was some private discussion, no doubt, but not a single objection was taken officially to any of the provisions of the scheme, either before the Charity Commission or before the Education Department. The hon. Member for the Oxford University spoke of the withdrawal of signatures being obtained by misrepresentation.


said he did not intend to use those words; what he meant to say was that the signatures would not have been withdrawn but for certain representations made to the signatories.


understood the hon. Gentleman to go further than that, and to speak of improper influences.


said he stated that improper arguments were addressed to the signatories, and that if the case had been properly put before the people an entirely different impression would have been left on their minds. It was in consequence of improper arguments that the signatures were withdrawn.


said that, with regard to the fallacious arguments, he might say that the Endowment consisted of a sum which was in consequence of agricultural depression a little over £70 a year. The County Council gave an additional grant of £73 a year on the condition that an Upper Department was established in the School. This was in pursuance of the general policy of the Joint Education Committee to diffuse Secondary Education as widely as possible among the people of the country. The argument which was used to secure the withdrawal of the signatures from the petition was that the additional grant made to the foundation by the County Council was given on the condition and could only be given on the condition that the School was of an undenominational and not of a denominational kind, and that the endowment, if not used for the support of the School, would be applied for scholarships in other Schools. He was told at first hand by one who signed the petition that he would not have put his name to it had he not been led to understand that the passing of the Scheme would involve the parish in a very heavy expense, and it was on being assured that such was not the case—that on the contrary, it would mean the grant to the parish of a sum very nearly the amount of the endowment—that this particular gentleman withdrew his name from the petition. The grounds, therefore, on which he supported the Scheme, were that the endowment was not a Church endowment, and that the Scheme was one that would be most beneficial to the parish, and the withdrawing of signatures from the petition only expressed the general feeling existing in the parish as to what was right and fair on the subject.


said, there was no doubt that the question raised by the hon. Member for Oxford University was really of serious importance. The Berriew Scheme in due course reached the Education Department. Not a single objection was made to it while it was in the Department. If those who had got up the petition against the scheme at a subsequent stage had made any objection to it while it was in the Education Department he should have investigated the matter. However, he had submitted two questions in regard to the Scheme to the Law Officers. The first was whether, when a petition had been lodged, signatures to it could be afterwards withdrawn. To that question the Law Officers had replied in the negative. The great mistake was in allowing the signatures to be withdrawn. There was no intention, of course, on the part of the Education Department to do any wrong in the matter. But it was believed that it was a very old tradition held by the Department that if those who signed petitions asked to have their signatures withdrawn, their request should be complied with. The hon. and learned Member for the Isle of Wight referred to the precedent of the Dauntrey Charity. The facts of that case were these: The first Dauntrey Scheme was rejected in the House of Lords, because as he was given to understand, there was no time to debate in the House of Commons. The second Dauntrey Scheme was believed to be a scheme agreed upon by nearly all the parties interested; but a petition was lodged against it at the Educational Office, at the instance, as he was informed, of the hon. Member for Walworth (Mr. Saunders). It was pointed out to the hon. Member that his petition was partly based upon a misunderstanding; and shortly afterwards a request was sent him by a large number of the signatories asking that the petition should be withdrawn. The petition, therefore, in that case, which would otherwise have laid the scheme, before Parliament, was withdrawn. It mattered very little from the legal point of view whether the reasons for which the petitioners made their objection were adequate or not. He understood they were all agreed that in no future Corporation or Governing body, a body of petitioning ratepayers, should not be allowed to withdraw any petition to lay a scheme before Parliament, even though they discover that they had made a mistake in presenting the petition. If they had made a mistake, the mistake must be explained within the walls of Parliament and nowhere else; and that in any case Parliament should have the opportunity of discussing the scheme. But the Berriew Scheme had now become law and, therefore, the second question he had submitted to the Law Officers was whether there was any means for bringing a scheme which had passed again before Parliament. The Law Officers had asked for some little time for further consideration before they answered that question. He could only say that if he could devise any reasonable means, even by an Act of Parliament itself, by which this Berriew Scheme could be brought before Parliament for such discussion as it ought to have received, he should be very glad to adopt that means.

Amendment by leave withdrawn,

MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

called attention to the appointment of Mr. Sadler as Director of Special Inquiries and Reports to the Education Department, a new office which had been created by the Vice-President of the Council. There was a salary of £650 rising to £800 a year attached to the office, and, therefore, it was one of the best appointments in the Education Department. On inquiring what were the duties of this newly created official, he had been informed by the Vice-President that they were to collect and report on such information on educational matters at home and abroad as the Department was constantly in need of. He wrs not going to say one word against Mr. Sadler, but he asked, in the interest of the public service, whether it was right or fair that the 93 Inspectors, the 51 Sub-Inspectors, the 162 Assistant Inspectors, and the whole staff of the Department, numbering nearly 500 officers, should have been passed over, and a young man, who had never been in any branch of the public service, brought in and placed in this good position at a salary about the seventeenth largest in the Department. He knew an Inspector, who lately retired, who had been for forty years in the Service, and it was only recently he got a salary of £600 a year. This gentleman was retired after forty years' service, his maximum salary having been £600; and now he saw a young man, a little over thirty, appointed at a higher salary than he himself was able to receive after forty years' good work in the public service. What was the effect of this on the public service generally? There was a debate in that House in 1877 on a celebrated appointment to the Stationery Office, and they had wonderful speeches from Mr. Childers and the right hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who until recently occupied the position of President of the Board of Trade, in which they laid down the law most emphatically. Upon that occasion Mr. Childers said:— At a time when they were doing their very best to improve the status of Civil Servants it would be an unfortunate course to adopt a new departure from that sound principle, and in practice have to say to men who had nearly reached the top of the tree: 'No matter how long your service or how great your efficiency, you will not be promoted to the headship of your department, but we will take a junior clerk, or another officer, and put him in.' In that case there was a junior clerk put in; but this case was worse, because this gentleman was not even in the public service, and yet he was put over the heads of all the officers. He was not going to say one word against Mr. Sadler personally, but what he condemned was the practice which had been adopted in this instance of bringing in a complete outsider and passing him over the heads of men who had spent twenty, thirty, and forty years in the public service. This was not the only case, for last year he had to call attention to another instance, whilst one of his hon. Friends intended to call attention to the promotion of a Mr. Levy over other officials of long service.


Mr. Levy is not outside the office.


acknowledged that Mr. Sadler's case was the worst, for he had been taken from outside the public service and passed over the heads of a great many deserving men. If time had permitted he would have gone into the question of whether this appointment was really needed. The other day the Member for South Manchester asked the right hon. gentleman whether he was aware that the appointment of Mr. Sadler had not received the general approval of those interested in educational questions.


Those were not the words he used, and that is an exactly opposite interpretation. What he asked me was whether it was not the fact that the appointment had been received with universal approval.


said he would read what passed from "Hansard":— Sir HENRY ROSCOE: May I ask the right hon. gentleman whether he is aware that the appointment of Mr. Sadler does not receive general approval from those interested in educational questions? That was the statement which appeared, not only in "Hansard," but in every newspaper which reported the matter. He contended that there was no necessity for making this appointment. The work of collecting these reports and so forth was already done by the Education Department, and if there was anything further to be done there were scores of officials who could efficiently do it. Again, all the officers of the Education Department, from the inspectors downwards, had to submit to a competitive examination, and, commencing at a low salary, had gradually to work themselves into a better position. Mr. Sadler, however, commenced at the top, he had had no experience in the work like these other officers had, but they were told he had acted as secretary to the University Extension Society, and was a student of Christ Church. These no doubt were very important offices, but there were men connected with the Education Department who had taken a keen interest in the work of education, who had done much without fee or reward for the extension of University teaching, and he said they were perfectly competent to carry out the work which Mr. Sadler had been appointed for. If the appointment was needed, and Mr. Sadler was most competent, still there was no justification for appointing him, unless he was the only man who could possibly discharge these duties. He challenged the right hon. Gentleman to get up in his place and say that there was no other person in the Education Department competent to do the work, for he must know there were many men who were not receiving nearly as much as it was proposed to give Mr. Sadler, but who were thoroughly competent to fill this office. When they found that this was an entirely new office that had been, created, that the gentleman who had been selected to fill it was a supporter of the Government, and that he had been picked out from outside the public service, it naturally made people suspicious. The right hon. Gentleman would probably say that it was a great loss to Mr. Sadler to take this appointment. If so, it was a pity he took it; there were a great many men in the Education Department who would be glad of it, and he himself was very suspicious of gentlemen who sacrificed themselves for a good appointment of that sort. It was important in the interest of the public service to teach those who had been induced to enter that service by the competitive system, that worth and merit would not be passed over; but they would absolutely do away with the esprit de corps and energy of the public service if young men were to be taken, from the outside, and passed over the heads of men who had given the best years of their life to the service of the State. As a protest against the course that had been adopted in this matter he should move to reduce the Vote by £650. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would be able to carry the Vote, but he would be making a precedent which some day would be seriously used against him, and hon. Gentlemen opposite who supported the Vote would find they were undermining the whole of the public service by this system of importing persons from the outside. Now that they had the competitive system of entering the public service these special appointments should be reduced to a minimum. Of course he recognised that it was sometimes necessary to import an outsider in the case of an appointment of a technical character. But this was not a technical appointment, and there were at least fifty men in the Department who could fill it equally as well as Mr. Sadler. They ought to strive to maintain the stability of their public service by preventing that service being endangered by political intrigues, or by any jobbery which might creep in. He did not say that this was a case of political jobbery, but if it was not it had the look of it, and it was for the right hon. Gentleman to prove that it was not. He begged to move the reduction of the vote by £650, and intimated that he should press the amendment to a division.

SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston),

formally seconded the Amendment.

*SIR J. MOWBRAY (Oxford University)

desired, before the right hon. Gentleman replied, to say a few words on behalf of the individual whose name had been mentioned, and by whose appointment it seemed to be considered a job had been perpetrated. Mr. Sadler had never been a political supporter of his and was never likely to be. How far political views had influenced his appoint- ment he knew not, but he wished to say this of one he had known for many years. Mr. Sadler's career at the University had been a most distinguished and successful one, and his qualifications for the post to which he had been appointed were rare. As an Undergraduate at Trinity he had taken the highest honours in Moderations and Final Classical School. He had then been elected a student of Christ Church, and had rendered valuable service to that great House for many years. He had long been Secretary to the Delegates for University Extension. By his writing, his speeches, and his personal intercourse, he had, in a remarkable way stimulated and promoted that important movement. Everybody who had the pleasure of his acquaintance knew him to be a man of high abilities, genial temperment, and great activity in bringing University teaching into connexion with the masses of the people. He felt that the Department was to be congratulated on having acquired the services of a man of such special qualifications for the post to which Mr. Sadler had been appointed.

MR. JEBB (Cambridge University)

said that as one who was associated with Mr. Sadler on the Commission of Secondary Education he felt it would be a matter of fairness to bear testimony to his peculiar fitness for the post. Mr. Sadler had devoted long and thorough study to the principles and methods of education as understood in this country and in other countries also. The treatment of education as a science was a movement of comparitively recent origin. It had a large and growing literature of its own. In that science Mr. Sadler was a specialist, and an eminent, specialist. The promotion he had received was not to an office of the ordinary kind at the Education Department, but a special office for which he had special attainments, and he believed the right hon. Gentleman had been thoroughly happy in his choice without implying the slightest disparagement to be distinguished men who form the ordinary staff of the Education Department.


said the hon. Member for Islington had persisted in saying that he had only raised one question. He demurred to that, because more than one question had been raised in connexion with the distinguished office over which he was now placed. The hon. Member had said that there was a great flavour of jobbery about this appointment. He had said that Mr. Sadler—and he was grateful to the right hon. Member for the University of Oxford and the hon. Member for the Cambridge University for bearing testimony to that gentleman's distinguished character and record—was a supporter of the Government, but as Mr. Sadler's educational qualifications had been spoken to by opponents of the present Government he need no go into that. The hon. Member asked whether it was a fact that Mr. Sadler was appointed a bursar of Christ Church—[Mr. SWIFT MACNEILL:"Christ Church 'College'"]—in succession to him. He could not conceive what bearing it had on the matter that Mr. Sadler was appointed by the governing body of Christ Church a bursar of Christ Church when he ceased to act ten years ago. If the question meant anything, it seemed to imply some insinuation against himself. The hon. Member mentioned the case of Mr. Levy, who had received a small addition to his salary of £100. Would it be believed that one Member of the House of Commons more than once addressed him on the question of promotion for some of the senior clerks in the office, that he received petitions from two or three of these gentlemen, of whom Mr. Levy was one, and, considering the great skill which he had in a particular direction in connection with the school accounts and registers, he, with the sanction and approval practically of the Head of the Department, gave Mr. Levy £100 more, and in doing so he was trying to meet what he was asked to do by an hon. Member opposite. He was asked—Did he know that Mr. Levy was a Member of the National Liberal Club? Supposing when he was a private Member he had asked about Mr. Milner, an old friend, the distinguished Head of the Inland Revenue, whether he was a Member of a Unionist Club and whether he had been Secretary to the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, and why that man had been appointed Head of the Inland Revenue? He should have deserved and should have received the scorn and indignation of the general body of Conservative Members. And so far as belonging to a Club went, he supposed the great bulk of the Civil Service belonged to some Club or another Sir George Kekewich, for example, belonged to the Junior Carlton, and he frequently lunched with him there. He had had to appoint five Examiners in the Department. It had also fallen to his lot to appoint a large number of inspectors, including science and art inspectors. As to the whole of these men he had no more idea of their politics than the hon. Member had himself. As to Mr. Sadler, he believed it would be of the highest value to the Education Department to have a small branch, presided over by a man specially qualified, to mak inquiries at home and abroad, into education at large. The idea was to get somebody who would bear the same relation to the Education Department that Mr Llewellyn Smith, who was appointed from the outside, and who was already a distinguished member of the Civil Service bore to a particular Department of the Board of Trade. They wanted a gentleman who would be able to make inquiries somewhat on the same lines. They took Mr. Llewellyn Smith's appointment as an analogy. His salary was the same, and he would add that, notwithstanding what he had often said as to the distinguished talents of members of the Education Department, he thought that Mr. Sadler was the fittest man for the post. And as to the objection of his being appointed from the outside, he would point out that Dr. Middleton, one of the most distinguished antiquarians in this country, was appointed to be the head of South Kensington Museum as a pure outsider; while nobody had complained that outsiders, from the point of view of the office, had been appointed heads of the Home Office and Post Office. In establishing a small, new branch like this, he submitted it was quite fair and reasonable, after careful consideration, to choose a man who, as had been acknowledged by the representatives of the Universities, was the fittest for the post.

*SIR W. HART DYKE (Kent, Dartford)

pointed out that the Education Vote had reached the enormous sum of £6,785,000, and that out of that sum no less than £70,567 went for expenditure on the office in Whitehall. The question the Committee had to consider was, whether they were justified in spending £2,000 a year more for the purpose of making inquiries on the subject of education. What was the exact position of the educational question today? The system of elementary education in this country was one of the most expensive that human ingenuity could devise, and therefore he felt bound to ask in what direction would this special inquiry tend? He assumed it would tend chiefly in the direction of secondary or of technical education. But they had a Commission sitting now at great cost to deal with the question of secondary education. He should like some more information as to what really this gentleman's duties were to be. Whatever his abilities might be, this, at all events, might be urged, that he was a young man. He would have to deal with very technical and very difficult questions, and he ventured to urge, in regard to these matters of education, on which Mr. Sadler would have to supply information, that there were gentlemen who had passed more than half an official life in the Education Office who, with much greater facility, would be able to procure the same. He should support the hon. Member in the Division, not in any sense as a condemnation of the right hon. Gentleman's choice, but because he thought and believed, with his knowledge of the Education Department, and knowing also the enormous sums they were now spending on education, and with a Commission sitting with regard to Secondary Education, and with the vast amount of information they had brought together, this extra expenditure ought not to be incurred.


said, that when this question was first asked with reference to Mr. Sadler's qualifications, the hon. Member for South Manchester got up and asked the Vice President of the Council whether it was not a notorious fact that Mr. Sadler's appointment had given universal satisfaction in educational circles. That was his recollection distinctly, and if "Hansard" had put in the word "not" it was only one of many instances of "Hansard's" carelessness in printing the Debates of this House. He should certainly take the opinion of the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Oxford and the hon. Member for Cambridge with reference to Mr. Sadler's qualifications, and should support the Minister of Education against the proposed reduction. He was glad there were two such Gentlemen in the House—on that side of the House—as the representatives of these Universities who had come forward in a matter of justice between man and man and thrown the shield of their protection over a gentleman who had been represented to be the protégé of a gentleman who had perpetrated a job. He did not know Mr. Sadler personally. He knew him by reputation, and it gave him great pleasure to know that he had been appointed to this office.


said, he desired, as a matter of personal explanation, to say he made no imputation against Mr. Sadler. He had said nothing against Mr. Sadler. His argument was that it was unfair to put him over the heads of 97 per cent. of the people in the Government Department.

MR. T. W. LEGH (Lancashire, S. W., Newton)

said, that as the right hon. Gentleman had not mentioned the name of Mr. Levy, he desired to know whether he was entitled to go into his case now, or should he wait until the Division on Mr. Sadler's case had been taken?


said, it would be more convenient to have this case settled first.


said, he should go into the Lobby with his hon Friend, not on the merits of Mr. Sadler, for the merits of that gentleman had nothing whatever to do with the question, but for this reason. Here was a Department spending stupendous sums, and costing about £250,000 a year for administration, and, at a given moment it came to this House with the confession that it was not competent to do its own work, and it must have an entirely new office, with an entirely new officer and assistants, at a cost of something like £1,500 or £2,000 a year. He protested most vehemently against such a system. He did most strongly protest against this House being constantly asked to vote extra sums for new offices and officers to do the work the Department ought to do itself. If this Department was not competent to make such inquiries as were referred, what was it good for. This system of first of all setting up great public Departments with enormous salaries, and then of the head of one of the Departments coming to the House and confessing they could not perform the duties for which they were established, and asking the House to appoint, extra officers with high salaries, was perfectly monstrous.

The House divided:—Ayes, 207; Noes, 71.—(Division List No. 37).


said the case to which he wished to draw attention was one which, despite the disclaimer of the right hon. Gentleman, bore a strong family resemblance to that of Mr. Sadler. It was that of a certain Mr. Levy, who was until recently one of the first-class clerks in the Education Department at a salary of £500 a year. This gentleman was recently promoted over the heads of four senior first-class clerks. He has been dignified with the somewhat pompous title of Examiner of School Accounts and Registers, and £100 a year has been added to his salary. In answer to a question which he put the other day, the right hon. Gentleman stated that the duties of the new post were of a more extended and more important character than those formerly performed, and that Mr. Levy was selected because of his special acquaintance with the kind of work involved. He added that the appointment was strongly pressed upon him by the heads of the Department. If that was the case he presumed there was a minute to that effect, and that the right hon. Gentleman would produce it. If there was no minute, he thought he was justified in assuming that this alleged demand from the heads of the Department was of somewhat liberal interpretation. Hints from autocrats like the right hon. gentleman were invariably accepted in the same spirit by their subordinates, and if the right hon. Gentleman expressed a wish to make a particular appointment he would find his subordinates ready to support it.


I can only say that in this case that is not true.


said the appointment was justified because this kind of work had increased. Was he prepared to demand an increase of salary for every official that had increased work to do? But whatever the work was it was not of an extraordinarily absorbing character, because Mr. Levy was a prominent and energetic member of the National Liberal Club, and he was given to understand that he spent a great deal of his time during official hours in that institution. He occupied an important position as a member of the club, and was described as hon. secretary of the political economy circle. It was a great relief to know that political economy was studied at all at the National Liberal Club, because he was under the impression that the new Unionism and the new Radicalism had banished political economy to Uranus and Saturn, if not further. But the right hon. Gentleman must not be surprised if he pressed for an explanation of this appointment. There was a very strong analogy between this case and the last. Both gentlemen held extreme Radical views. There were two distinct principles involved. One was the promotion of an official over the heads of his senior colleagues; the other was the creation of a new office at the will of a Minister, and the consequent addition to the public expenditure. He desired to protest against the difficulty in bringing matters of this kind forward. On Supplementary Estimates they were forbidden to discuss the policy of the department in Committee, on the Vote on Account they were asked to confine themselves to questions of importance; on Report they could not take a Division, and if they waited till the Estimates came on nobody was present to listen to what they had to say.

*MR. J. F. X. O'BRIEN (Mayo, S.)

wished to call the attention of the Chief Secretary to the proceedings of one of the inspectors recently appointed to inquire into distress in the West of Ireland. He referred to the inspector who had reported that there was no exceptional distress in portions of South Mayo. This inspector was a man who had no previous experience qualifying him for the duties of the post, and if he made visits to certain districts his visits were of so cursory a character that none of the chief inhabitants knew he made them. The priests of two places had written saying the inspector had not, to their knowledge, visited their districts. The reports of this gentleman were therefore entirely impugned, and the Chief Secretary was making a great mistake in relying upon his reports. The reports showed that this gentleman had applied certain tests of his own to elicit whether exceptional distress prevailed in particular districts or not. One of his favourite tests was the extent of the out-door relief, and another whether seed potatoes had been applied for or not. These were not reliable tests as to the prevalence of distress. One of the first duties of the inspector would have been to have visited the priests, for they could give him more reliable information, and without doubt they were most deserving of being consulted in such matters. On previous occasions the poor people had paid very heavily for the seed potatoes, which afterwards turned out to be entirely useless, and therefore they were very shy of applying again. Neither the number of applications for outdoor relief nor the number of applications for seed potatoes was a proper test as to the existence of exceptional distress. He had applied another test. Meeting a crowd of persons asking for employment, he asked them would they be willing to work for seven shillings a week. He evidently thought they would be disgusted at being offered such meagre payment, but evidently he was surprised when he found they were willing to accept employment at seven shillings a week. He contended that persons willing to work for such a low rate of wages must be in a condition of distress. Another mode of procedure by this gentleman was, that when he found in any particular district that the out-door relief was not high, and that seed potatoes had not been applied for, he ruled out such a district as having no exceptional distress; and in other places where those tests fitted in his reports were identical. There was one matter of importance, to which he desired to draw the Chief Secretary's attention. For ten years he represented South Mayo, and this was absolutely the first occasion on which he had to make an appeal for assistance, and he asserted there could be no stronger proof that exceptional distress exists in the constituency. He had ventured to point out to the Chief Secretary a certain district in which a local work of vast importance, an unfinished Government work, might be completed for a small sum. It would be of great service there for the purpose of relieving distress, but apparently the Government, through their officials, objected to carry out this useful work. He (Mr. O'Brien) was aware of the system under which relief works had been carried out in Ireland, and, to put it briefly, the system was that these relief works should be good for nothing. He would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that he went to Ireland to administer the affairs of Ireland as Irishmen themselves would administer them.


To try to.


ventured to say, that if that was the Chief Secretary's intention he was far from realizing it, because that was not the way Irishmen would relieve distress in their own country. The Chief Secretary should remember he was dealing with a most unfortunate country, which never had the benefit from two bodies which always contributed to the prosperity of other countries, namely, the landlords and the Government whose great expenditure fosters and encourages industries while between the Government and the landlords Ireland was depleted and impoverished. The money raised in Ireland was actually carried away from Ireland and spent in England and elsewhere. The right hon. Gentleman ought also to consider that he was the Chief Executive Officer of a Power which persists in exercising their rule over Ireland, and insists upon exploiting the resources of Ireland. According to the best authorities Ireland was over-taxed one hundred per cent., yet, notwithstanding this, the taxation of Ireland goes on increasing year after year, while none of it is spent in Ireland. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would turn over a new leaf, and that in future he would deal more humanely with those poor people than he had done.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

said, he had listened with much attention and some concern to one portion of the hon. Member's speech in his criticism of the appointment of Mr. Levy, and if the hon. Member could substantiate what he said he should be pleased to go into the Lobby with him. One of his statements was that Mr. Levy had been appointed to a superior position, over the heads of two or three colleagues, and that Mr. Levy spent part of his official time within the precincts of the National Liberal Club. If the hon. Member could prove that Mr. Levy spent any portion of his official time in the Club or anywhere else when he ought to be discharging his official duties, then he saw no reason, why he should not be dismissed from the office he now held.


said, what he said was that Mr. Levy used to spend part of his official time in the Club. He did not feel called upon to give the names of his informants.


did not think the hon. Member had improved his position. If the charge could not be proved it ought to be withdrawn in an unqualified manner. He gathered from what he said that the hon. Member was ignorant of the economic, social, and political views of Mr. Levy. If the hon. Member could not prove his charge now the matter should be deferred, to give him an opportunity. Then they had Mr. Sadler objected to because he was an outsider. He was in favour of inside promotion. In the other case objection was taken to the promotion of an insider. Not only had a charge of favouritism been made, but it had been said that this gentleman had been promoted entirely for political reasons. He had always believed that the English Civil Service, fairly speaking, was the best Civil Service in the world, and as a rule Civil Servants had been promoted from the inside where they were qualified for promotion, and where they had not been appointed, there had been fairly good reasons for going outside. He hoped that in this case the Vice President of the Council would either disprove the charge which had been made against Mr. Levy, or defer the appointment until the charge had been enquired into.

Mr. A. J. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

said he knew more of Mr. Levy than probably any other person in the House. When he went, to the Education Department, in 1880, Mr. Levy served under him for five and a half years, and he had also been in the Department during Mr. Forster's time, and he knew no public servant who was more loyal, industrious or useful than Mr. Levy. He was therefore astonished to find that any hon. Member should attack that gentleman because he happened to be the Secretary of a Political Economy Society which met at the National Liberal Club. Mr. Levy was highly qualified to deal with these questions, and he was sure that the hon. Member for Newton would regret the introduction of Mr. Levy's name in this discussion. Civil servants were not present to defend themselves, and a man who rendered loyal service to the public ought not to be attacked by name in the House, no matter what his politics might be. What would be said if Members supporting the Government were to attack members of the Civil Service who belonged to the Carlton, or other political clubs? He was introduced to Mr. Levy by the late Lord Sandford, who spoke of him in terms of unqualified approval and admiration, and as being one of the ablest men in the Education Department. He was sure that the late Vice President (Sir W. Hart Dyke) would bear testimony to the services of this admirable servant, and he would be the last man to neglect his duty. Mr. Levy's promotion had been exceedingly slow in the Department, probably because he did not enter with University credentials. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would withdraw the statement he had made.


called attention to the differential and preferential rates on English railways. It was a matter of great importance to the agricultural districts. Preferential rates on English railroads were a millstone round the neck of the English farmer and English producer. In his county he was told that it was cheaper to send shrimps over to Russia and get them back by sea, and onions over to Holland than to send them by rail 25 miles to London. Why did not the Department put a stop to this state of things? They could dt so by means of the Railway Regulation Act of 1873, under which the Board of Trade were empowered to appoint a person to bring a case before the Railway Commissioners The President of the Board of Trade might say that he had no money to do this, but the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888 empowered the Department to act as conciliators, and as opponent in preferential charges. Again, in the Railway Servants' Hours Act of 1893, the Department was specially enjoined to act as conciliators if necessary, am also as opponents to the companies on behalf of the railway servants. He was sure that Parliament never granted to the railway companies this absolute monopoly in respect of the trade of the country in order to crush out English enterprise and give the whole benefit to the foreigner.

MR. W. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

said the subject was of more importance than perhaps the majority of hon. Members imagined. Preferential rates amounted to a bounty for the foreign exporter. As a member of the Select Committee on Railway Rates and Charges, he attempted to bring the question forward; but the evidence was difficult to obtain from those brought forward as witnesses. The President of the Board of Trade rushed a Bill through which did not adequately protect the native producer, and he trusted that the subject would receive the attention it deserved.

MR. A. F. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)

called the attention of the President of the Board of Agriculture to the heavy bounties given, not only in foreign countries but in the colonies, on farm produce sent to this country. Could nothing be done to mitigate the hardships of the English farmer's lot, not only on account of the preferential railway rates, but also on account of the heavy bounties on the produce sent here? The Canadian Government, in order to stimulate the export of butter, had made temporary advances equivalent to 20 cents in the £1, and they had also provided cool storage chambers for the butter. Victoria had sent 20,000,000lbs. of butter to England between July 25 of last year and February 16 of this year. He asked whether the Railway Companies could not be asked to give English farmers cheap carriage for their produce to the towns—say, at the same price as the foreign butter and eggs were carried. He thought the railway companies might give preferential rates for butter and eggs. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give some assurance that the matter had not escaped his attention, and that, if possible, something would be done in the interests of the farmer.


said this was a matter which was not within the discretion of the Board of Trade, but was one proper for determination by the Railway Commission. The hon. Member was, no doubt, aware that there had been an important case, in regard to this matter argued in the last few days before the Railway Commissioners, and a decision given. So far from the Board of Trade having jurisdiction over the Railway Commissioners, they were absolutely powerless, and could bring no force whatever to bear upon the Railway Commission to induce them to lower these ratings. If hon. Members wished the railway companies to be dealt with they should go before the Railway Commission.

THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir W. HARCOURT, Derby) rose in his place, and claimed to move "That the Question be now put:"

Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution," put accordingly, and agreed to.