§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a further sum, not exceeding £2,111,500, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, of the Charges for the Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1894."—[See page 1102].
MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith)
I have two questions to ask of the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The first is, whether there is any truth in the statements that have appeared in the public prints as to the retrocession to the Sultan of Zanzibar of that portion of the territory situated on the mainland in the neighbourhood of Vitu? No Papers have hitherto been published upon the question or relating to that incident, and I should be glad to know whether the Government contemplate the publication of Papers on that special part of the question which is at present being discussed between Her Majesty's Government and the British East Africa Company? The second question is, whether the Government have any further information with regard to the alleged advance of Colonel Yanoff with a Russian force upon the Pamirs? The last time the hon. Member spoke of this matter, he said that the Russian Government had stated that they had no intention of sending any force upon the Pamirs beyond the ordinary reliefs for the troops stationed upon the Murghab. I should like to know whether since that time the Government have received any further assurances from the Russian Government upon the subject, or whether from any other source they have reason to suppose that the arrangement that was come to is still in operation, and that the Russian Government do not intend to advance their troops into the disputed territory on the Pamirs?
§ * THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Sir E. GREY, Northumberland, Berwick)
With regard to the last question 1211 raised by the hon. Member, I may say that there has been no change in the agreement as to the Pamirs, which is still in force. That agreement was that no new force should be sent except for the purpose of relieving the troops who had wintered on the Murghab. With reference to the particular rumours which appeared in the papers as to the new expedition under Colonel Yanoff, Her Majesty's Government brought those rumours to the notice of the Russian Government, and they have been assured that there is no truth in them, and that the reliefs sent to the troops were not under Colonel Yanoff, but under an officer holding a much lower position in the Service. Her Majesty's Government have no reason to suppose that the Russian Government have in any way altered their intentions on this point, for they have repeatedly stated that they still adhere in their entirety and in good faith to the promises they have given.
MR. J. W. LOWTHER
Has the Government received any information from the Russian Government as to the number of the troops that have been sent?
§ SIR E. GREY
No, Sir. Assurances have been given that the troops on the Murghab shall not be allowed to go into the disputed territory more than two or three together at a time, so that it will practically be a stationary force, and no active operations will take place. With regard to the other question, Vitu stands in a different position to the rest of the territory administered, or lately administered, by the British East Africa Company, inasmuch as it is a British Protectorate, while the rest of the territory is a sphere of influence. The British East Africa Company have announced that they do not intend to retain the Protectorate of Vitu, and Mr. Rodd has been instructed to go there and make arrangements for the administration of the Protectorate. That has been carried out, but the Government have not yet heard what the arrangements were. Papers with reference to this particular question of Vitu can be laid separately, but I think it would be more advisable to wait until the much larger questions have been decided upon, and also until the official Report of Sir Gerald Portal has been received from 1212 Uganda and a decision come to upon it by the Government.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said, he desired to point out that the British East Africa Company had undertaken the government of Vitu at the request of the British Government, and that that fact differentiated the case of Vitu from the other territory administered by the Company. The hon. Member would, therefore, see that any information with reference to Vitu might very well be given at once, without waiting for the decision of the general question raised by the withdrawal of the British East Africa Company from Uganda.
§ * SIR E. GREY
I have already admitted that Vitu differs from the other territories administered by the Company; but as there is a desire that it should be dealt with separately, the matter will be fully considered, and, if the hon. Member will ask the question later on, I will state definitely whether Papers will be laid or not.
* SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he had intended on the Colonial Vote to ask certain questions about Swaziland; but he thought that, after the answer given that afternoon, there was no need for him to follow up the subject. It were superfluous to remind the House that this territory, lying between the sea at Delagoa Bay and the mountain that formed the Eastern flank of the Transvaal uplands, has great capabilities, and occupies politically an important, almost a strategic, position. He recognised the interest that the Boer Republic would take in this tract, as it was their outlet to the sea. But England also had equal, or more than equal, rights and interests therein. As the Convention had been renewed or extended for a further period, it might be sufficient for him to express the earnest hope of those who sat on the Opposition side of the House that whenever fresh arrangements were made with regard to Swaziland, in which Great Britain as well as the Transvaal had considerable interests, the Government would take care that British interests were duly safeguarded, and that some share at least should be secured to England in the control of that important territory
§ * SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
asked for information respecting Papers on the subject of Newfoundland. In the Debate that took place in another place on a Motion of Lord Dunraven the Government promised that they would at once lay the Newfoundland Papers before Parliament. Negotiations were pending with France respecting the taking of lobster tins into Newfoundland without payment of duty, and a correspondence had been going on between Her Majesty's Government and the Newfoundland Government with regard to the legislation regulating the state of affairs on the French shore. Repeated Debates had taken place in the Newfoundland Legislature, and Despatches had been quoted which had not yet been laid before Parliament. He wished to know whether the earlier portion of the Papers could not at once be presented without waiting for the conclusion of the discussion now going on with France?
§ SIR F. EVANS (Southampton)
expressed a hope that the Convention entered into between the Newfoundland and the United States Governments respecting the free entry of bait would not be hung up much longer. Canada had tried to take advantage of the Convention to obtain advantages for herself without giving anything in return. He did not think she would succeed; but, at all events, she had prevented Newfoundland getting the benefit of the Convention. Inasmuch as the Convention would do more to alleviate distress in Newfoundland than anything else that bad been done, he hoped the Newfoundland Government would be allowed to act without reference to Canada.
BARON H. DE WORMS (Liverpool East Toxteth)
I wish to ask whether the hon. Gentleman can give us any further information relative to the Matabele raid in Mashoualand, and whether any further instructions have been given as the course to be followed in the event of Lo Bengula sending another impi? I should also be glad to know whether the Government contemplate releasing Dinizulu, and, if so, whether, before they take that step, an opportunity will be given to the House to discuss the whole question and to point out to them the danger that is likely to accrue to Zulu-land should he be released?
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
asked for any information that could be given respecting the decision that had been arrived at with reference to responsible Government in Natal. Whilst the House was making Constitutions, it might as well have all the information it could get with regard to this question. Would the hon. Gentleman say when Papers would be laid on the Table, and also what decision had been arrived at as to the powers of the Natal Government over the natives?
§ SIR F. EVANS
asked whether any information could be given as to a statement said to have been made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Madrid, that it was the intention of the Spanish Government to exact the payment of duties in gold?
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. S. BUXTON,) Tower Hamlets, Poplar
I have no information at present as to the last question, and I would ask my hon. Friend to put it to the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I had better take the other questions in order. With regard to the Natal Constitution, the late Government, after negotiation with the Natal Council, settled the terms of the Bill, which was then to be placed before the electors. The result of the elections has been that the Bill has been accepted by a majority, and, by an Order in Council, has been made part of the Constitution of Natal unamended. As to the natives, I am quite sure the people of Natal themselves wish that they should receive justice on every hand, whilst at the same time they are placed under proper conditions of control. As to Zululand, I have explained more than once in reply to questions that at present we do not propose to deal with or consider the question of the return of Dinizulu. The late Resident Commissioner having just retired, and Sir Marshall Clarke, whose appointment I believe met with universal approbation, having been appointed to succeed him, we shall await the latter's special Report before doing anything on the subject. I do not know that I can absolutely pledge the Government to allow a discussion to take place before Dinizulu goes back, if he does go back, because it is a hypothetical question. As to the recent raid in Mashoualand, we be- 1215 lieve that Lo Bengula has practically expressed his regret at the impi having acted in the way they did, and at all events their having crossed the imaginary line which has been drawn between his sphere of influence and that of the South Africa Company. Sir Henry Loch has expostulated with Lo Bengula, and in all probability a satisfactory answer will be given, when the incident may close. I do not wish to make any further statement on the question as to the future, but at the present moment I do not anticipate that further trouble will arise. As to Swaziland, I am obliged to my hon. Friend (Sir R. Temple) for refraining from putting any question on the subject at the present moment. While we shall in a short time be in a position to make a statement, we are still in negotiation with the South African Republic, and it would be undesirable to say anything under the circumstances at present. As regards the question of Newfoundland and the United States and the Treaty with regard to the free entry of fish, I think it will be remembered that the cause of the delay which has occurred in carrying out the Convention between Newfoundland and the United States is that Canada desired at the same time to make an agreement of her own with the United States. Her Majesty's Government considered that Canada should have a certain time in which to carry out this intention; but the period has been very largely prolonged, and I think I may safely say that our opinion is that no very considerable further delay ought to take place. If Canada is not able to come to terms with the United States Newfoundland certainly ought to be allowed to carry through a Treaty which will be of great advantage to her, and in which she has been able to give satisfactory terms to America. I have been pressing the Papers on as far as I can, and I was told to-day that they were in a forward state of preparation. I hope they will be circulated in a very short time. Perhaps I may express a hope that the correspondence which has taken place may lead to a satisfactory conclusion, and that Newfoundland may be able to see its way to carry through a permanent Act, so as to relieve Her Majesty's Government from the necessity of carrying an Imperial Act through the British Parliament. I ought to add with regard to Mashoualand 1216 that Sir Henry Loch has been in communication with his officers on the point with the object of providing that in case any danger did arise he would be in a position, as far as the Bechuanaland Protectorate at all events is concerned, to meet any raid that might be made over the British territory.
§ * SIR C. W. DILKE
I am sorry that my hon. Friend has concluded his otherwise satisfactory statement with the veiled threat of carrying a Coercion Bill through Parliament with regard to Newfoundland. I think it necessary to say that some of us would protest against such a course very strongly.
*MR. TOMLINSON (Preston) moved the reduction of the Vote for the Board of Trade by £100, in order to call attention to the question of railway rates. He said that within the last few days a Report had been issued by the Board of Trade as to its proceedings under the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888, Section 31. It would be remembered that a Committee had been appointed to consider the question of what further remedies could be applied. That Committee seemed to be going on indefinitely, and it appeared hopeless to expect that any satisfactory legislation could be carried out this Session. In the meantime, he should have thought that the Board of Trade would have carefully abstained from publishing anything which might be said to prejudge the question before the Committee. He was, therefore, surprised to find that in the concluding remarks of the Report certain principles were laid down on the subject. Perhaps hon. Members might not be altogether familiar with Section 31 of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act, 1888. That clause ran as follows:—
Whenever any person receiving or sending, or desiring to send, goods by any railway is of opinion that the Railway Company is charging him an unfair or unreasonable rate of charge, or is in any other respect treating him in an oppressive or unreasonable manner, such person may complain to the Board of Trade.
The Report of Sir Courtenay Boyle gave the result of the action of the Board of Trade and a reference to the cases which had been dealt with under the clause during the past year. It would have been possible, if the scope of the inquiry had allowed it, to bring evidence to show that several of these cases which were supposed to have been settled, more or
less, to the satisfaction of the complaints were settled much "less" than "more" to their satisfaction. But the Committee did not take evidence on those points, and when the Report of the Committee came before them they would have no light thrown on these cases. The Report of Sir Courtenay Boyle, on page 5, said—
My opinion as to the value of the clause has been strengthened by experience gained since the last Report. It affords a useful method of adjusting the less important differences, or, in other words, the differences not far-reaching in their influence, which, from time to time, arise between the Railway Companies and Canal Companies and traders. In certain cases it has been impossible for the Board of Trade to deal with the matter in dispute without an examination into a large series of circumstances collateral to the particular facts of the complaint, or to make a suggestion which would not have the effect of extending far beyond the scope of the particular issue.
He (Mr. Tomlinson) did not take exception to that, but he said that it showed that the operation of this law was very limited, and that it might often happen that cases arose, and where particular traders were interested which involved considerations which were much wider than could be taken cognisance of by the existing law. In paragraph 4, page 6, Sir Courtenay Boyle reported—
As I have already stated to a Committee of the House of Commons, the strength of the clause seems to me to lie in its weakness. Approached as it is at present, in a conciliatory spirit, by both companies and trailers; but if the Board of Trade had power to order the adoption of their suggestions, the procedure would have been made far more complicated, the willingness of either party to rely upon it would be seriously impaired, and the decisions of the Department would not only be so liable to external influence as to weaken its efficiency, but would also be so liable to review by the properly constituted wants of the country as to make the clause of very little service to either party.
It seemed to him (Mr. Tomlinson) that it was going beyond the duty of the Board of Trade, whilst this inquiry was pending, to pronounce as to the mode in which the Board ought to deal with cases coming under the clause. He held that in appointing the Committee the Board of Trade had handed over to Parliament a duty they ought themselves to have performed.
reminded the hon. Member that the Committee was appointed not by the Board of Trade, but 1218 in pursuance of a Resolution passed unanimously by the House.
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
said, that in one respect the House was unanimous—with the unanimity of despair. The traders, no doubt, had a grievance. Upon that the House was unanimous, but he denied altogether that there was unanimity as to the way in which the subject should be approached. Passing from that, he assumed that they would get some Report from the Committee which would indicate how the clause might be made more efficient. It would not be by leaving the clause weak, but by strengthening it that they would be able to deal effectually with the cases that arose. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had any figures to show the amount of work done by the Railway Commission this year. He ventured to think that the Commission had done very little work, for the reason that traders were of opinion that it was a cumbrous and costly tribunal, and that it was not worth anybody's while to bring his case before it in the hope that speedy justice would be done.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £11,000 for the Board of Trade, be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Tomlinson.)
§ * SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said, he had a difficulty in discovering the point of the hon. Member's criticism. If the hon. Member had followed the proceedings of the Committee he would have seen that they had taken the only course open to them. The Committee had heard a considerable number of witnesses presented on behalf of the traders complaining, with great reason apparently, of the rates inflicted on them, and it was only just after that to hear the defence of the Railway Companies. The companies had serious charges to explain and to rebut if they could, and the Committee had been engaged for only two or three days in hearing their case. The Committee desired that the question should be exhaustively dealt with, and in consequence some delay had occurred; but he 1219 was happy to be able to state that they hoped within a few days' more sittings to be in a position to commence the consideration of their Report, which he trusted would be valuable because founded on evidence. It was not impossible, indeed, that the Report might be made even during the present Session, and an opportunity given to the House of arriving at a judgment on this important matter. The hon. Member had expressed a hope that the Board of Trade would not prejudge the case, but the hon. Member himself had been the first to break the rule he said he desired to see observed. He (Sir A. Rollit) was in a position to say that the Committee had been doing its best to arrive at a just conclusion. They were anxious that all the facts should be dealt with in the evidence, and that ultimately a Report should be made which would be serviceable to the House. He only dealt with the other part of the subject, which would be referred to by the President of the Board of Trade, because he wished to vindicate the author of the Report from the strictures of the right hon. Gentleman. He did not agree with the whole of the Report, but he thought the prejudgment of the hon. Member had hardly been deserved, and he hoped the time was not far distant when he would have material for forming a better and more correct judgment.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, he had understood his hon. Friend and Colleague to criticise the Committee for not having more rapidly come to a conclusion on the main point as to whether it was possible to find some cheap tribunal which would be able in future to fix rates. Well, with that criticism he confessed he did not entirely agree, because he was of opinion that the Committee had wasted time by going into minute questions concerning rates and other matters largely dealt with by the Joint Committee of the two Houses on railway rates. They had been allowed to waste valuable time by going too much into details, which did not altogether, to his mind, affect the main issue. When his hon. Friend blamed the Board of Trade for not suggesting some tribunal to fix rates, he entirely differed with him, because he thought that the more a Government Department held itself aloof from matters of this kind the better. The hon. Member 1220 seemed to find fault with the Board, not in respect of their action as a Board of Conciliation, but for not definitely settling the question of rates very much as a Court of Law would settle it. He (Mr. Hanbury) was bound to say it seemed to him it would be a most serious matter indeed if a Government tribunal representing a Department of the Government, every one of whose judgments would be liable to be discussed in the House, were to take on itself the functions of a Court of law, and give final decisions in these matters. Their decisions would be constantly subjected to review in the House. But there was another vital objection. While the Board acted simply as a Board of Conciliation procedure was cheap; but directly the Board was constituted a tribunal with an ultimate decision the procedure would be made very expensive indeed. Counsel would have to be employed, and there would be no difference practically as compared with the present arrangement, so far as cost was concerned. As he understood it, what the Committee would have to do would be—if it were possible—to find a tribunal which, in the first place, would fix rates entirely without connection with a Department of the State, and which, in the next place, would be cheap.
* MR. MUNDELLA
said, it was not necessary for him to detain the Committee for more than a minute or two, because the hon. Member for Preston had been answered by his colleague. The hon. Member had taken the unusual course of criticising on the Estimates the action of the House in appointing a Committee to consider a mode of settling disputes between the Railway Companies and the traders, and had suggested that the Board of Trade ought to have taken upon itself the duty of providing a tribunal for settling these disputes. The Board of Trade could not come to the House and ask for judicial powers to enable them to fix rates, as some hon. Gentlemen seemed to expect. He hoped no Minister or head of a Public Department would ever have such a duty devolving on him, for if he had he was sure he would have a very bad time of it. He would be torn in different directions whenever a rate was considered too high by the traders or too low by the Railway Companies. A very different 1221 method of settling disputes must be adopted. Clause 31 of the Railway and Canal Traffic Act of 1888, which the hon. Member had criticised, was the only clause which provided a cheap and easy method of settling the difficulties which might arise between the trader and the Railway Companies. It happened to be his (Mr. Mundella's) own clause, and he had good reason to believe it had worked satisfactorily. Of course, he did not mean that everybody was satisfied, because traders as well as Railway Companies were sometimes unreasonable in their demands; and if the Board of Trade was to be useful in this matter, it must be impartial and judicial. He was bound to say, however, that on the whole the working of the Conciliation Clause had been good, and the House could hardly form an idea of the number of different cases in which it affected the trading community. A single case was a typical case, and when it was settled that such and such should be the rate of a certain article, that decision extended to all those who were concerned in that particular article, and to all parts of that particular line, and often to other lines also. He did not believe the Report of Sir Courtenay Boyle had prejudged the case before the Select Committee, because it only dealt with cases arising before the 1st of January, and did no! affect those which the Committee had to consider. He looked forward with a good deal of hope and satisfaction to the Report of the Committee as supplying a much-desired method of arriving at a decision. When a complaint was lodged with the Board of Trade the Railway Companies were invited to meet the traders at the Board of Trade Offices, and the whole matter was discussed around the table, and generally a satisfactory arrangement or a compromise was arrived at. He had seen numbers of letters since he had been at the Board of Trade thanking the Board, and expressing satisfaction at the awards made and the good understandings brought about. He hoped the hon. Member would not feel it necessary to press his Motion for the reduction of the Vote. The Board of Trade were doing everything they possibly could in the interests of the traders, consistently with the prosperity of the Railway Companies. From the Report of the Committee, which he hoped 1222 would be presented within a short time, the Board of Trade anticipated some guidance for the settlement of these vexed questions.
§ * MR. TOMLINSON
said, he had no intention of criticising the action of the Committee, which he did not think would be fair at the present time. The inquiry, however, contrary to the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman, instead of being a light and easy matter, required a large amount of time, and had necessitated the postponement of legislation, which had, to his mind, thrown a doubt on the recommendations under which the Committee was appointed. He would like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman expected the Report to guide the Board of Trade or the House in making the Railway and Canal Commission more effectual than it was at present? He would also like to know whether the Report would be issued in time to enable the Board of Trade to deal exhaustively with the matter?
did not think he ought to anticipate the Report of the Committee. The Committee had inquired into the working of the Commission, and he assumed they would report upon the evidence they had taken. He must accept thankfully whatever suggestions the Committee made, and must exercise his own judgment as to the steps he would propose to take in consequence of these suggestions.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said, he wished to bring under the notice of the President of the Board of Trade a very important matter. It had reference to the regulations issued by the Board with regard to the testing and stamping of weights and measures under the Weights and Measures Act, 1889. It was a question which affected London, Birmingham, and other places where weights and measures were manufactured. Under the Act of 1884 it was provided that the weights and measures should be tested and stamped in the district where they were used. Although weights and measures might have been tested and stamped by authorised Inspectors in the districts where made, they were rejected by the Inspectors of the districts into 1223 which they might be removed. The result was that the whole trade suffered through the rejection of tested weights and measures already approved by qualified Inspectors. It was a source of great annoyance and expense, and thousands—he might say, tens of thousands—suffered from the loss thus entailed. Especially was the inconvenience felt in the case of persons who resided on the boundary of two or three localities, where the weights and scales and measures were made and already stamped, and then removed only a short distance from one district to another. Although already tested where made, they were rejected by the Inspector. A shopkeeper who kept a certain number of weighing machines in his stock could not sell those which had been stamped by one Inspector into a district in which another Inspector resided. The whole thing showed the absurdity of the regulation. This grievance had been very much aggravated, especially by the old Inspectors appointed before the Act of 1889, who declined to receive scales tested and stamped in another district into their district, although they were perfectly correct. There was another point to which he desired to direct attention. In the Act of 1889 there was a definition of a weighing instrument or weighing machine, which was intended to apply to weighing machines fixed in the ground. But the Inspectors of the Board of Trade, by their definition of the Act, had made that provision apply to every portable machine used in a grocer's shop or private family. It should be provided that the weighing machines which were required to be stamped in the locality should be the weighing machines which were fixed; but when once these thousands and tens of thousands of smaller machines, which were self-contained, light, and portable, were stamped and their accuracy vouched for by an authorised Inspector, then the shopkeeper should have the right to sell them, no matter in what local authority the purchaser might be. Very often an Inspector refused to test and stamp these machines, although he had no right to do so. He (Mr. Jesse Collings) did not expect an answer about this matter at once; but he would ask the President of the Board of Trade to take the matter into his consideration and see if there could not be devised some means for 1224 alleviating or remedying this matter. In the matter of weights, apart from scales, the difficulty had been met, and they asked that it should also be possible, in the case of scales, that when they had been stamped as correct by an authorised officer in one district this test of their accuracy should be accepted in another district instead of their being required to be stamped again. This matter caused great inconvenience, and if some system could be adopted which would obviate it, it would be a relief not only to merchants and manufacturers in Birmingham, but to thousands of dealers throughout the country.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
remarked that the London County Council had insisted under bye-laws of the re-stamping of weighing machines made in Birmingham. This was a great inconvenience, and he ventured to submit for the consideration of the President of the Board of Trade whether that bye-law was not, in fact, ultra vires, having regard to Section 45 of the Weights and Measures Act, 1878? That section said—A weight or measure duly stamped by an Inspector under this Act shall be a legal weight or measure throughout the United Kingdom, unless found to be false or unjust, and not be liable to be re-stamped, because used in any place other than that in which originally stamped.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
would invite the right hon. Gentleman to point out in any subsequent Act a provision over-riding the section he had quoted. He must confess that on the face of it the bye-law as to re-stamping seemed to be ultra vires. Apart from that he ventured to submit to the Board of Trade it was a matter of the gravest inconvenience to large manufacturers in Birmingham, who manufactured weights and scales, and got them properly stamped, that they should be unable to sell their instruments in other parts of the country unless they were re-stamped in these other places. Surely this was au Imperial matter, and should not be entrusted to the Local Authorities. He contended that the provision in the Act of 1878 was good in principle, and ought to be acted upon by the Board of Trade.
said, if he had received any notice of this question he would have provided himself with the bye-law and the justification for acting upon it. As it was, he would promise his right hon. Friend he would look carefully into the matter. He knew that in regard to the question of weights the Board of Trade had done what had been asked of them, so that a weight which had been once stamped by the proper authority should be legal everywhere. At the same time, there was something to be said as to scales and weighing machines being required to be re-stamped. A weighing machine might be perfectly accurate when it was first put up; but there might be something which entitled the Local Authorities to see that it was a proper machine, and having done so and ascertained it was correct they put their stamp upon it. He could not go further than give the assurance that he would make inquiry into the matter at once. The Board of Trade, so far from desiring to hamper the traders of Birmingham or any other place, were desirous of doing all they could to facilitate trade and traders in every possible way; but, on the other hand, the consumer had to be protected, and the accuracy of the weighing machines was of the utmost importance.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said, it was not from want of courtesy that he did not give the right hon. Gentleman notice; but he did not want him to give an off-hand answer at the present moment, but to give the matter full consideration. When the right hon. Gentleman spoke of weighing machines, he must understand that there were thousands of articles technically known as weighing machines which were little things to weigh 4 lbs., 7 lbs., and 14 lbs., and other balances for precisely the same purpose, that were called scales and not machines. Through their being described as weighing machines they were confounded with those large machines used at railway stations and other places. The two should be kept distinct, and if these small portable articles had been once properly stamped they should not require re-stamping when sent to another district.
intimated that he should be glad to discuss the whole matter with the right hon. Gentleman at 1226 the Board of Trade, and no doubt they would be able to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
wished to draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the very unsatisfactory way in which the cost of inspecting weights and scales was treated. In Wiltshire, a few years ago, the inspection of weights and measures cost £150 a year, of which £50 was returned in fees. Since the passing of the County Councils Act, emanating, he was sorry to say, from his side of the House, the cost had increased to £1,200 a year, although there was no more inspection, and the work was no better done than before. He did not know whether this matter came within the purview of the right hon. Gentleman; but if it did, and he would take action, he might earn eternal glory by reducing from £1,200 to £100 the cost of the inspection of weights and measures in the County of Wiltshire.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT (Sheffield, Central)
wished to call the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the present depression of trade and the increasing want of employment in almost every industry throughout the country. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would inform the Committee what measures he had taken or intended to take to mitigate the enormous suffering which was entailed upon industrial workers in almost every district of the country by the present state of affairs. He was aware that it was not easy to find remedies, but he thought the country would be glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman's lips that the matter was engaging his most earnest attention, and possibly it would be able to derive from his reply to his (Colonel Vincent's) observations some idea of the line which he proposed to take in this matter. He proposed very briefly to call attention to what was the present condition of affairs, and he could do so in a very simple manner indeed by a paper which he held in his hands—namely, a speech of the President of the London Chamber of Commerce, delivered the other day. The President of the Chamber took the opinion of 60 Members of this House who were, in his judgment, best qualified to give an opinion.
, interrupting, asked the hon. and gallant Member how he thought this was a matter within the cognisance of the Board of Trade?
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said, the whole trade of the country, as he understood, was under the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade. It was the Board of Trade who issued Trade and Navigation Reports, and who issued The Labour Gazette.
said, that would not be in Order; the hon. Gentleman must bring the matter home to some administrative act of the Board of Trade.
* MR. MUNDELLA
said, he was sorry to interrupt the hon. and gallant Gentleman; but if he was only to ask what measures he (Mr. Mundella) would take to mitigate the sufferings of the people, he would say that was entirely a matter for the Local Government Board. It was true that Reports as to trade were issued by the Board of Trade; but that Board had no control over trade.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said, to put himself in Order he would move a reduction of the Vote by £50, so that he could call attention to the action, or rather the inaction, of the Board of Trade in not introducing some measure into the House which would enable—
That would be out of Order; you cannot make the President of the Board of Trade liable for his action as a Member of Parliament. The subject must distinctly refer to his administrative action, and must be brought home to the President of the Board of Trade with reference to some action he had done.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said, that on the subject of imposing a mark of origin on foreign goods the President of the Board of Trade received a deputation from all parts of the country; and if he did so it was to be assumed that that was a matter which was within the cognisance of the Board of Trade, and of the President of the Board of Trade.
* MR. MUNDELLA
said, he received the deputation because they wished to ask his support to a certain Bill; he did not see, however, that that came under the Vote of the Board of Trade.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
said this was a Vote for the Board of 1228 Trade, and if the President of that Board received a deputation upon this subject he should have thought it was a matter within the cognisance of the right hon. Gentleman, otherwise he would have declined to receive the deputation. As the right hon. Gentleman raised objection to this matter, he would confine himself to asking him what steps, if any, he intended to take as President of the Board of Trade to mitigate the suffering that now existed in almost every industry in the country by the want of employment at the present time and the enormous decline in exports during the past six or eight months. He would call attention to the Report of the Labour Correspondent at Sheffield, which said—Large numbers of workmen have not more than two to four days' work per week in many eases at reduced prices.That was the Report sent to the right hon. Gentleman as President of the Board of Trade by the Labour Correspondent in his own constituency, and it showed the condition of labour within his own constituency. He (Colonel H. Vincent) contented himself by asking what steps, if any, he intended to take to mitigate this state of affairs.
* MR. MUNDELLA
said, his hon. Friend asked him what steps he intended to take to mitigate the present state of affairs? He wished it was in his power to do something in the direction either of mitigating the distress that existed, or facilitating exports; but he could not see how the Board of Trade could do anything. He was only sorry that such a state of matters should exist. The hon. and gallant Member seemed to blame the Government, because the exports had been lower during the last six months than previously. Was the hon. Member aware how largely these exports had diminished since 1890? There was a great fall in exports in 1891, and in the first eight months of the year 1892 there was a further decline. Did the hon. Member hold this and the late Government responsible for that fall in the exports? If so, whenever there was a rise in the exports, it would be due to the Government, and whenever there was a fall it would be due to the Government; so that this very varying bulk of exports from month to month would depend in some way or other upon the action of the Government.
* MR. MUNDELLA
was really astonished at the hon. and gallant Gentleman. He could not have believed that he could have cheered the statement that the rise and fall of exports depended upon the act of the Government, or some Department of the Government. It would not be fair to hold Lord Salisbury's Government responsible for the decline in 1891.
* MR. MUNDELLA
Well, then, if they could create prosperity in 1890, and prevent a great decline in 1891, the conduct of the Government was still more reprehensible. If they had power to create prosperity, they must be blamed when they ceased to create that prosperity and allowed it to decline. He did not think his hon. Friend could intend to deal with this matter seriously. He must know the reason why there had been a fall in the exports. For the last month the exports were better, he confessed, than even he expected. The reason for the fall in the exports was that our customers had been in great financial difficulties all over the world. They had not had the money, and therefore could not buy. Let him point out to his hon. Friend what had happened in the last two or three years. He knew the state of things that had existed in South America—great financial difficulties, suspension of payments, and almost national bankruptcy. Only in the papers of this morning they read of banks failing, mills closing, and numbers of workmen being thrown out of employment in the United States. He supposed the Government was not responsible for that. There was great distress everywhere, and he was sorry for it, and he was afraid it would be some time before we entirely recovered. He would go further; look at some of our richest Colonies. What was the state of Australasia at the present time? Banks had been embarrassed, and there had been distress all round. He did not know whether his hon. Friend regretted the fall of imports, because he (Mr. Mundella) knew that when the imports were higher than now, his hon. Friend's complaint was with reference to the vast amount of imports. His complaint now was that in recent years there 1230 had been a falling-off in imports and exports. Of course, if there was a falling-off in exports and imports, the cost of imports paid for the exports—
* THE CHAIRMAN
said, he was sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but this only concerned the Board of Trade.
* MR. MUNDELLA
said, he was very much obliged to the Chairman; but he did not think this question was altogether in Order. His only desire was not to treat his hon. Friend and Colleague with discourtesy. That was the reason he gave him an answer about the fall in exports, though he really thought it did not fall under the Vote on Account.
§ COLONEL HOWARD VINCENT
wished to know if the right hon. Gentleman had been in communication with the President of the Local Government Board upon the subject of decreasing the number of unemployed as recorded in the Reports of his own Labour Department.
said, he had not; but he was quite sure the President of the Local Government Board would do his duty in the matter. He (Mr. Mundella) stated in answer to a question this afternoon that the Labour Department had now a Report in an advanced state of preparation, which dealt with the whole subject of unemployed labour, and the various agencies in operation for finding work or other relief, municipal or otherwise.
* MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said, he wished to draw attention to a few matters in connection with the Board of Trade Department; but, as they could not probably be so conveniently raised on the Vote on Account, as they were Departmental details, he would postpone them until the Votes were taken in their proper order. When that time came the President of the Board of Trade would not be able to say that he had got no notice of the questions. He, therefore, begged to give notice that when the Vote was taken in the ordinary course he would call attention to the appointment of Labour Correspondents, and the almost entirely one-sided political complexion worn by these persons, and he would further draw the attention of the House to the experiment in journalism embarked in by the President of the Board of Trade; and also to the appointment of a Committee to overhaul the 1231 Report of the Commission on Saving Life at Sea by means of electrical communication with light vessels. He made those few remarks now, in order that it might not be said when the subjects came on regularly that he had not given notice.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
asked whether the President of the Board of Trade would tell the Committee the intentions of the Government with reference to the importation of pauper aliens. These unsavoury foreigners were shipped from the Continent and landed at Tilbury amongst his constituents, and coming to London they depressed wages and swamped the market. If they were landed at Castle Gardens, at the other side of the Atlantic, they would not be allowed to proceed further; and he, therefore, failed to see why they should be allowed to land at Tilbury, and thence wander where they pleased over the country.
MR. J. LOWTHER
said, that was another of the subjects to which he would draw attention when the regular Vote came on.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he wished to ask the President of the Board of Trade a question on a matter to which he had on several occasions endeavoured to draw his attention. That was the rules of the road at sea. The right hon. Gentleman was no doubt aware that while the loss at sea from shipwrecks had decreased the loss from collisions at sea had increased; and his apprehension was that the adoption of the new rules of the road at sea, which were framed at the Washington Conference, would still further increase the danger of collisions. He had appealed to the right hon. Gentleman again and again for an opportunity for considering these rules; but the right hon. Gentleman did not seem to think the matter of any importance, for whenever the question was referred to the right hon. Gentleman—if he might use a nautical expression on a nautical subject—"tops his boom and pays us with his main-sheet." He most solemnly and seriously warned the right hon. Gentleman that the consequences would be most serious if he imposed these new rules of the road on British seamen without allowing one word of discussion on them in the House, or paying attention 1232 to the protests of seamen pilots and shipowners. The matter had become of extremely pressing importance within the last few days, because they had been told by an Admiral speaking judicially as President of a Court that when the Fleet was engaged in manœuvres the rules of the road did not apply. He put it to the right hon. Gentleman what was going to happen—what were sailors to*do when they met the Fleet? Supposing the right hon. Gentleman himself was at sea in heavy weather, close hauled and clawing to windward, and saw a Fleet bearing down at 14 knots on his weather bow. What would he do? Would he put his helm up? Would he put his helm down? Or would he half-horse his foresail, let her come to the wind and sing a little hymn while the Fleet sunk him?
I suppose all the hon. Gentleman wanted was the opportunity to let off his humorous speech, and he has got it. I may tell him I have nothing to do with the Fleet, and as for the rules of the road, the matter has been referred to a Committee, consisting of the best and ablest navigators, as well as Admiralty lawyers in the country, who will hear every objection to the rules, consider these objections with the greatest care, and report the result to the Board of Trade.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, he did not know there was such a Committee sitting. If the right hon. Gentleman had told him some time ago that there was such a Committee it would have greatly relieved his anxiety. He trusted they would have the Report of the Committee in time to save the right hon. Gentleman's salary.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E.R., Holderness)
said, the rules of the road had been adopted by International agreement at a Conference held at Washington. Supposing the Committee—of which he, like his hon. Friend the Member for King's Lynn, had not heard before—reported adversely to the conclusions arrived at at Washington, what would happen?
The general principles were arrived at by the Conference at Washington. Upon those principles the rules were drawn. The rules were laid on the Table of the House, and then referred to this Com- 1233 mittee, who will hear opinions from all quarters, collect the suggestions laid before them, and report to the Board of Trade.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL
asked whether the other Powers which had taken part in the Conference were agreeable to this reconsideration of the rules?
There will be no reconsideration of the rules. There will be a reconsideration of the regulations for carrying out the rules. I shall be happy to give the hon. Gentleman the exact Order of Reference to the Committee.
MR. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
said, he understood that the rules of the road at sea were settled by an International Conference at Washington. Now there was a Committee appointed to revise these rules and alter them if necessary. If the Committee did think it necessary to alter the rules, would the other members of the International Conference accept the decision of the Board of Trade; and, if not, would another International Conference have to he held?
That is not so. Certain broad principles were laid down at the Maritime Conference, and on these the rules were framed. The Committee is to consider suggestions made in reference to these rules. So far we have been acting in consort with all the Powers.
* MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said, it was not the fact that the Maritime Conference agreed only to the principles. They worked out the rules themselves; discussed every word of the rules, and laid down the rules themselves with the utmost nicety. The right hon. Gentleman was entirely under a misapprehension. He held that it was absolutely unnecessary to have this Conference. The usual result had followed. The Conference had made a muddle of maritime affairs which they did not understand. The right hon. Gentleman had said that objections were to be entertained by the Committee. If that were so, and if proper weight were given to the representations laid before the Committee, he would be delighted. The Committee would then be in a position of throwing over the Maritime Conference at Washington, and probably there would then be another Maritime Conference to throw them over.
§ * SIR J. LENG (Dundee)
The President of the Board of Agriculture will not be surprised that I take this opportunity of bringing before the House the continued prohibition of the importation of live cattle from Canada. He knows that there is widespread dissatisfaction, and active agitation in Scotland against that prohibition. When in November last he issued what is known as the Slaughtering Order, it was regarded as a very strong step made on very weak grounds. At that time Scottish agriculturists and Scottish veterinaries unanimously disputed the existence of infectious pleuro-pneumonia in the Monkseaton and Hurona cases. That there were some cases of pleuro was admitted, but it was not admitted that it was pleuro of an infectious type. The operation of the Slaughtering Order was postponed to admit of the cattle then shipped or about to be shipped from Canada being lauded. Fourteen thousand Canadian cattle were so landed before the end of the year, and not a single case of pleuro was found in them, showing that at the end of the season Canada was perfectly free from pleuro; and those 14,000 were dispersed all over the country without spreading infection. Early this year, soon after Parliament met, a very large deputation of Scottish agriculturists and others interested from different counties and districts in Scotland waited on the President of the Board of Agriculture and strongly urged the revocation of the November Order on the grounds that both Canada and Scotland were free from pleuro, and that it would be a serious injury to both countries if the Order were maintained. The right hon. Gentleman, however, declined to withdraw the Order. He stated his intention to establish for a probationary period a system of examining the lungs of the cattle slaughtered at the port of debarkation, and expressed a hope that this would justify the withdrawal of the Order. There was some dubiety as to the right hon. Gentleman's expressions. The probationary period was very protracted. Then there was a rumour that some suspicious lungs had been detected; and, finally, it was declared that, one lung had all the symptoms of con- 1235 tagious pleuro; that the special examinations would be discontinued; and that the Slaughtering Order in the meantime must be upheld. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, this has caused great agitation in Scotland. Another large deputation has waited upon him, and largo meetings of farmers, cattle-dealers, and others have been held in Arbroath, Brechin, Montrose, Laurencekirk, Aberdeen, and Dundee, and others are to be held within the next few days within the Counties of Perth and Fife. The reason for holding these meetings is that unless the Order for the slaughtering of all Canadian cattle at the ports of debarkation is promptly revoked, it will be fatal to the most important branch of the importations—that of young cattle for feeding purposes—for the remainder of the present year, as the season for shipments from Montreal closes early in November. In the early part of the season the cattle brought are almost entirely fat cattle, and the principal harm done so far has been in depressing the markets, more particularly in Glasgow, by killing meat in large quantities when not required. From this time forward, however, when the young cattle from Canada are desired, and would be welcomed by our Scottish farmers as the healthiest and most profitable cattle they can put into their fields and byres, they are to be prevented obtaining them. And what is the pretext?—the fear of importing infectious pleuro-pneumonia. If I thought that fear was well-grounded, I should not utter a word of complaint. Do not let it be supposed that anyone, and, least of all, the intelligent farmers of Scotland, desire anything that would facilitate the introduction of such a scourge to their fields and steadings. Such a pestilence as infectious pleuro is too well known to them. Of all men, they have the greatest interest in keeping their herds and their byres healthy. They are the last to wish the business on which they so much, depend for their livelihood to be imperilled or destroyed; but they do not believe that any real case of infectious pleuro has been imported from Canada. There were two supposed cases last autumn, and there has been this year this single supposed case from the Lake Winnipeg. But Scottish farmers, supported by several of the most eminent veterinary experts in Scotland—than whom none stand higher in veterinary 1236 science and experience—do not believe that these were infectious cases at all. There are in animals, as in men, diseases and diseases. There are diseases which have very similar symptoms, but which are essentially different in their nature. There are endemic and epidemic, noninfectious and infectious disorders, and, judging merely from post-mortem examinations, it is sometimes difficult to detect the one from the other. Now, the prevailing—I may say the universal—view in Scotland is that not one of the cases in these Canadian cattle has been a genuine case of pleuro-pneumonia contagiosa, and I will briefly state the reasons for holding that view. From the beginning distinguished Scotch veterinary surgeons have declared that microscopic examinations of the lungs have shown the characteristics of the disease to be those not of contagious pleuro, but of broncho-pleuro or "cornstalk disease," which is neither infectious nor contagious, and they quote the authority of M. Nocard, the celebrated French veterinary, in support of their positive statements. Second, there is no infectious pleuro in Canada; the Dominion is singularly free from it, and on the principle ex nihilo nihil fit infectious pleuro cannot come from a country where there is no infection.
§ * SIR J. LENG
The authority for that statement is the High Commissioner for Canada. Sir Charles Tupper, in a statement made by him lately, says—It did occur in the quarantine grounds at Quebec once; but Canada attaches so much importance to the necessity of being free of pleuro-pneumonia that they slaughtered the whole of the large and valuable herd of blood stock there at the time—a herd of the most costly character, numbering over 100—and all the animals in the quarantine station were slaughtered, and all the animals for five miles around it were slaughtered.That is an illustration of their determination to exterminate pleuro-pneumonia if it appeared in the colony. But that was the only time it did exist in Canada, and it never got beyond the quarantine station. I know it is insinuated that cases of infectious pleuro may dribble into Canada from the United States; but the Canadians, to prevent this, have established and carefully enforced a quarantine of 90 days for all cattle 1237 coming from the States. It is a matter of the greatest moment to protect and preserve their home-bred cattle from infection, and they have succeeded. Sir Charles Tupper says—We ourselves had veterinary surgeons—for nobody was more interested in a wise and just solution of the question than the Government of Canada—we had those experts sent all over the country. The colony was searched from end to end, the districts from which those cattle came was specially investigated, and not a trace of pleuro-pneumonia was found in the whole colony, simply because it did not exist there.According to the testimony of all who have purchased young Canadian stores, as well as of the butchers who have killed the fat cattle, they are the healthiest that come into the market, the most free from all kinds of ailments. It would be very desirable for this reason to have them to improve our own breeds. The history of the animal brought by the Lake Winnipeg, whose case decided the Board of Agriculture to continue the Slaughtering Order, is well known. It did not come from the United States. It came from Pilot Mount, Manitoba. It came a distance of 1,500 miles, along with 250 others, closely packed in railway trucks, to Montreal. Then it came between 2,000 and 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in a steamer to this country in close contact again with others, under conditions most favourable to the propagation of infection if it had existed. If this animal had had infectious pleuro, it must have infected those with which it was in contact in the train or in the steamer. It is contrary to all experience that there should be a solitary case like that said to have come ex the Lake Winnipeg. An infectious disease is known by its spreading infection. Like small-pox, it cannot be hidden. Do what you may, it will spread and make itself known, but it has not spread in Canada or in this country. According to the President of the Board of Agriculture, the United Kingdom has not been so free from disease for many years as it is now. Although 14,000 Canadian cattle were dispersed all over the country last autumn after the restrictions were first announced, and although the lungs of 25,000 Canadian cattle have been inspected this year, those of only one animal have been condemned for supposed pleuro. This part of the case may be fairly summed up 1238 in the words of the resolution passed at a large meeting of agriculturists in Dundee, on Tuesday, protestingAgainst the continuance of the restrictions on the importation of cattle from Canada, being of opinion that neither was their imposition nor is their continuance warranted by the circumstances of the cases on which they were founded, as it has not been proved that contagious pleuro-pneumonia has ever existed in Canada or been found in this country as having been communicated by Canadian animals; that, therefore, a great injustice has been done to Canada and the agriculturists and general community of this country by the injurious and uncalled-for interference with an important and growing industry, vitally affecting the meat supply of the country; that the effect of these restrictions, if maintained, will be to increase instead of diminish the risk of the dissemination of disease through the exclusion of Canadian cattle, which are the healthiest that can be imported; and that the interest of Canada and of this country demand that these restrictions should be at once removed, and free entry and distribution alive throughout the country again allowed to cattle from Canada.Coming now to the question, what ought to be done? I recognise that the Board of Agriculture is the creature of Statute, and that its procedure is regulated by Statute. The Act of Parliament which governs it in this regard is 41 & 42 Vict., c. 74, and the Fifth Schedule of that Act declares that "foreign animals"—defined to be all animals coming from a country out of the United Kingdom—are to be landed only at a part of a port defined by Order in Council, and "are not to he moved alive out of the wharf." The rule is, therefore, that all animals imported from abroad shall be slaughtered. Up to last year Canadian cattle had such an excellent character that they were excepted from the rule; but in November last, as already explained, the exception was revoked, and they came under the common prohibition, and are not allowed "to be moved alive out of the wharf." It is against this that the fanners and dealers in Scotland, as stated in the third resolution of their meeting at Dundee, protest—Being of opinion, first, that the imposition and continuance of the restrictions were due entirely to the mistaken and disputed diagnosis and course of procedure of the veterinary advisers of the Board of Agriculture, whose investigations are conducted in secret, and are not subject to review; and, second, that as the Board of Agriculture is practically its President for the time being, and as by the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act it is provided that the Board shall allow the importation of cattle from any country if it is satisfied that that can be 1239 done so as to afford reasonable security against the importation therefrom of diseased animals, while it does not prescribe any particular means by which the Board is satisfied, the decisions in regard to suspected cases of infectious or contagious diseases should not, as hitherto, rest solely with the Board's present veterinary advisers without the right of appeal, but that the President should avail himself of the best skill and advice to be had either in this or other countries.There is undoubtedly a strong feeling that, however able and experienced the Departmental advisers of the right hon. Gentleman may be, he has placed himself too much under their control, is too subservient to their opinions, and has not sufficiently exercised his own independent judgment. It is proverbial that doctors differ as much as others. There are two sets of opinions held by two sets of veterinaries with respect to these cases of pleuro; but the President of the Board of Agriculture has shut his eyes and closed his ears to all hut one set—those held by his own subordinates. In serious cases of life and death in the human subject the most eminent physicians and surgeons are glad to meet others in consultation. The question before us involves the life or death of the trade in live Canadian cattle. It seriously affects the agriculturists both of Scotland and of Canada. The almost universal opinion of both countries is that the veterinaries of the Board of Agriculture are wrong, and yet the right hon. Gentleman will not give the slightest heed to any but them. There are well-known instances in which the advisers of the Board, both with regard to cattle and horses, have been proved to have made mistakes. I received a letter this morning from one of the best agricultural authorities in Scotland. He says—In regard to your Motion re Canadian cattle trade, I have not seen any speaker give any prominence to the fact that the Veterinary Inspectors of the Board have in the past made some very glaring mistakes. Thus at the great Yorkshire show at Bradford, in 1891, two of these Inspectors condemned Mr. Graham's famous Clydesdale horse MacCash on the ground that the animal was affected with ringbone, whereas it was proved within a fortnight thereafter up to the hilt that the animal was absolutely clear of any such disease, and the exposure of these facts caused a great sensation at the time. In the previous year, 1890, Mr. Cope also ruled a well-known horse, Cedric the Saxon, out of the prize list at the same show on the ground that he was affected with hereditary disease, so that the second prize-winner was raised to the premier place; but apparently he did not know 1240 that only some few weeks before he had condemned Knight Templar on the ground of being affected with hereditary unsoundness; and it was also proved up to the hilt within a week of the show that Cedric the Saxon was perfectly free from any hereditary unsoundness. You may also remember that a section of the famous 'Deptford lung,' which the Board of Agriculture Inspectors in 1891 condemned as being affected with pleuro, was secured by Principal Williams, of the New Veterinary College, Edinburgh, who pronounced it a case of non-contagious bronchial pneumonia, and his diagnosis was confirmed by M. Nocard, who is leading veterinarian of France. The case of Texas fever referred to by Sir Charles Tupper in his recent speech to the Scottish deputation furnishes another proof of the notorious fact that the Board of Agriculture Inspectors are far from being reliable.Yet the President accepts the views and declarations of his advisers as infallible, and, under the enormous powers with which he is invested, virtually issues in the Slaughtering Order a death warrant against the Canadian cattle trade. No wonder that both in Scotland and in Canada a feeling, not only of irritation, but of exasperation prevails! Adverting for a moment more to the Act of Parliament, it seems to me perfectly clear that, having regard to the whole of the circumstances, the Board is entirely free to act in cancelling the Slaughtering Order. Note the words of Clause 2, Section 4, of the Fifth Schedule in relation to foreign animals—If and as long as from time to time the Privy Council (in whose place the Board now is) are satisfied with respect to any foreign country.Here observe what they are to be satisfied of—That the laws thereof relating (1) to the importation and exportation of animals, and (2) to the prevention of the introduction and spreading of disease, and (3) the general sanitary condition of animals therein are such as to afford reasonable security against the importation therefrom of diseased animals.Then, by Order in Council, the animals may be landed without being subject to slaughter or quarantine. There is nothing in that clause justifying the stoppage of the trade, because in 25,000 lungs examined one supposed case of pleuro has been found. There is nothing demanding that every animal in 25,000 or 50,000 landed on this side shall be demonstrated to be in a perfect condition of health. Nowhere on the face of the earth can you get thousands of animals without some of them being in a more or less 1241 sickly state. Of course, if any considerable number of these Canadian cattle were sickly, prejudice would be justified; but all who use them concur in testifying that they are the healthiest cattle that pass through their hands. Mr. E. Anderson, Balbrogie, speaking on Tuesday, said—He could not understand how Mr. Gardner was not convinced before this of the failure of saying that pleuro-pneumonia existed among Canadian cattle. He had had Canadian cattle every year since they were imported into Glasgow, and he had not yet had a Canadian bullock but what went away on his own feet, and that was a thing which could not be said of English. Irish, or even Scottish cattle. They were the hardiest cattle they had ever got to feed, and it was hard to them in Forfarshire and in Perthshire that they could not get Free Trade in cattle.MR. Alexander, Ballindarg, a recognised agricultural authority in Scotland, well known to the Solicitor General (Sir J. Rigby), speaking with respect to this point, also asked—Where could they find cattle as healthy as Canadian cattle? Let them go through the whole universe, and he would defy them to find any place so free from disease of any kind in cattle as in Canada. Ireland of late years, the only place before the introduction of Canadians to which they could resort, had rather decreased in its supply of store cattle, and at the same time Ireland was a country, not he believed the worst under the sun, but certainly one of the worst in regard to disease. He thought it sheer folly on the part of any Government or any Department of a Government, to schedule a country so clean as Canada, and to allow cattle—he supposed they could not prevent it—to come in from Ireland. If they were restricted to Ireland for their cattle they were certain to have disease, and disease of an infectious kind called pleuro. Only the other day they had in Dundee a case of undoubted pleuro. Did that case come from Canada? No. If the Harbour of Dundee had been open at this time for Canadian cattle it was very possible that this case of contagious pleuro in the city would never have happened, as it was more than likely that the dairyman would have gone to the depôt and purchased a Canadian cow. But he was obliged to go to the Dundee Cattle Market and buy a cow imported, as he understood, from Dublin. He thought that fact proved up to the hilt the statement in the resolution that instead of tending to diminish the risk of disease in this country the policy of the Board of Agriculture actually had a tendency the other way.The Act mainly regards the state of matters in the country from which the cattle come. Are the laws and regulations of that country for securing the health, and isThe general sanitary condition of animals therein such as to afford reasonable security 1242 against the importation therefrom of diseased animals"?Mark the phrase "reasonable security." Not a security admitting of mathematical demonstration—not a perfect and absolute, but a reasonable security. As I observe the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford (Mr. Chaplin) in his place, I think it would be well if he would explain how it was, when he received a Report of a certain number of Canadian cattle having been suspected of pleuro at Deptford, that he did not issue such a Slaughtering Order as was issued last November by his successor. The right hon. Gentleman opposite has lately received great credit in Scotland for what he did on that occasion in refusing to be misled, as the Scotch people think, by his advisers. They were speaking very much to the disparagement of his successor because he had not followed the example of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ * SIR J. LENG
I confess to being at a great disadvantage in dealing with this question in consequence of the delay in presenting the Reports and Papers which the right hon. Gentleman promised some weeks ago to lay on the Table of the House. Those Papers may throw unexpected light, on the case. If so, why have they been held back? Why have we been kept in the dark so long? As it is, the agitation in Scotland seems to call for the fullest explanations the right hon. Gentleman can give to the House. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £1,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £1,300, for the Board of Agriculture, be reduced by £1,000;"—(Sir J. Leng.)
* THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr.H.GARDNER,) Essex, Saffron Walden
I think it may suit the convenience of the Committee if I reply at once to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee. I agree with him in regretting that the discussion should have taken place without the Papers which I had promised a deputation I would lay on the Table, and had my hon. Friend been able to delay the discussion until the time for the ordinary Estimates had arrived the House would have been in possession 1243 of those Papers. The Papers in my Department are perfectly ready, and the delay has taken place at the desire of the Canadian Government, who wish to have some further Papers on the subject included in the correspondence; and I feel it would be unfair that the facts of the case on the Canadian side as well as on our own side should not be set before the House. I welcome this discussion. I have always courted the fullest investigation into this matter, and I am glad of the opportunity to lay before the House and the country the real and true facts of the case. My hon. Friend said he and his friends in Scotland wanted information. I shall do my best to give it. Nobody can have regretted more deeply than I have the position in which circumstances have unfortunately placed us. Nobody recognises more fully than I do the advantage which the trade with Canada has been to Scotland. Nobody wishes less than I to put any limitation on so loyal and friendly a country as Canada. I quite recognise the reason why my hon. Friend has brought the matter forward, and why he will be supported by the hon. Member for Perth. Both represent districts deeply interested in the trade, and are anxious to bring the matter forward on behalf of the Local Authorities, as well as of the agriculturists. I want to draw attention, first, to what the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts have done. Those Acts have practically eliminated pleuro-pneumonia from Great Britain; they have protected this country from the ravages of disease, and have saved the agricultural interest millions of pounds. The reason why the most recent of them—the Pleuro-pneumonia Act—has been so successful is because you have transferred the duty of suppressing disease from the Local to the Central Authority. When the Local Authorities had to do this duty the interests of the locality were over and over again brought into conflict with the interest of the country as a whole, and the consequence was that the interests of the locality triumphed to the great loss and detriment of the agricultural interest at large. An analogous case is found in the present instance. Under statutory obligations, and in pursuance of my duty to the country as Minister of Agriculture, I have been obliged to withdraw the 1244 privilege of the free entry of Canadian cattle, to put portions of Scotland—including Dundee—to what I hope may be a temporary inconvenience and temporary loss, and it is very natural the inhabitants of those localities should agitate by every means in their power to have this temporary inconvenience and loss removed at once. I agree with my hon. Friend that the normal condition contemplated by these Acts is slaughter at the ports, and that free entry is only to be permitted when, in the opinion of the Government of the day, it will take place without endangering the flocks and herds of this country. But I have to disagree with my hon. Friend in his history of the case. He says, in the first place, that the present situation has been brought about by one solitary case in many cargoes. That is absolutely not so. The present restrictions are consequent on a sequence of events which began in the autumn of last year. My hon. Friend said there were only two cases last year. As a matter of fact, during last autumn four cases of diseased Canadian cattle were discovered. In the first case, the lungs were examined on October 13, and found to be affected with pleuro-pneumonia, having not only consolidation of the lungs and extensive pleurisy, but also marked interlobular exudation, which, latter is the most prominent lesion in contagious pleuro-pneumonia. In the second case, the lesions in the affected lung were more marked, though perhaps not of quite so long standing as in the former case. In the third case, the lesions were identical with those found in No. 1 case, but judging from the changes which had taken place in the disease structure of this lung, we believe the animal to have been infected as early as, if not prior to, No. 1 case. In the fourth and later case, the morbid appearances were those of pleuro-pneumonia in the early stages of the disease. There was one case in which a Scotch animal caught the disease from the Canadian cattle after their arrival. In this case only a small part of one lung was implicated, but the lesions were those of pleuro-pneumonia in the early stage.
§ * SIR J. LENG
I suppose the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the belief is that it was the Scotch animal that infected the Canadian cattle.
* MR. H. GARDNER
Considering that the experts of the Board said the case of the Canadian animal was one of long standing, and that in the case of the Scotch animal the lung was so slightly affected that they said it was one of the most recent cases they had ever seen, I hardly think the interruption of my hon. Friend serves his case. That was the beginning of our difficulty. It was then that I most reluctantly found myself obliged to prohibit free entry. In consequence of representations I received from Canada, that that country was free from disease, I instituted a special and costly examination, in order, if possible, to find some basis on which we might open our ports. That examination took place, and unfortunately we found ourselves face to face with the disease again. On the 29th May, portions of the diseased lungs of an animal which had been landed at Deptford ex ss. Brazilian from Montreal were forwarded to the Department by the Board's Veterinary Inspector, and it was found on examination that a small portion presented appearances identical with those of pleuro-pneumonia, although the chief lesions were due to broncho-pneumonia and tubercle. On the 31st May, two sets of lungs were received from the veterinary officers of the Board at Liverpool which had been taken from cattle landed from ss. Lake Winnipeg, also from Montreal. In one instance the diseased portion of the lung was very limited in extent, and there were well-defined indications of broncho-pneumonia in addition to those which are characteristic of pleuro-pneumonia. In the second specimen two lobes of the right lung, one behind the heart, were consolidated, and there were distinct marks of pleurisy, and on section the typical signs of pleuro-pneumonia were apparent. My hon. Friend will see that, having thus been unable to satisfy ourselves of the sanitary condition of cattle in Canada, obviously we could not, remembering our statutory obligations, say that there was a reasonable and just case for admitting animals from Canada. But the sanitary conditions are not, as my hon. Friend pointed out, the only conditions. We have to look at the laws relating to the importation and exportation of animals to and from Canada, and at the measures taken 1246 to prevent the introduction and spread of the disease in Canada itself. It does not for a moment follow that we are bound not to schedule a country because disease does not exist in that country. There are at present countries in Europe where disease does not exist which are scheduled because of the laws of the countries with regard to the admission of animals from countries which are infected. We have to schedule these countries because we cannot allow any country to be the channel through which disease may reach us from other infected places. It seems to be the opinion of the hon. Member and others that the Board of Agriculture is, as it were, a party to the suit, and that there should be some appeal to another tribunal. But we are not a party to the suit. We are the judges in the suit. It is for those who come before us to prove that the country from which they wish to import animals is free from disease, and that the laws of that country are such that we may safely allow the cattle to come into this country. My hon. Friend says the disease cannot be concealed. I am afraid he has not studied this particular disease. It is true that foot-and-mouth disease and rinderpest are at once to be seen, but pleuro-pneumonia is an insidious but not violently contagious disease. It is a disease which lies latent for a lengthened period. It has been known to lie latent in an animal for six months and longer, and then develop itself and cause contagion in other animals. It very often does not affect healthy animals, but attacks those predisposed to disease. The hon. Member, referring to the animals from the Lake Winnipeg, said it was an extraordinary thing that the other animals were not infected by the obviously diseased animals that came over in that ship. I would remind my hon. Friend that from the date of their leaving Manitoba until their landing in Liverpool only 23 days elapsed, so that it was extremely unlikely that the animals should have communicated the disease to the other animals brought in contact, with them on board ship. Again, the experts said the disease, in the most advanced case, was concentrated chiefly in one small lobe of the lung lying behind the heart, and that the quantity of matter eliminated would be insignificant in comparison with that which would come from the lungs when the whole or 1247 the greater part of the principal lobe of one or both lungs were infected. Under these circumstances it was highly improbable that the disease would spread among the cargo to any appreciable extent. But it is noteworthy that a companion ox, of the same class of old oxen, had well-marked indications of pleuro-pneumonia quite as advanced as might be expected if the infection had been taken from the more developed case soon after leaving Manitoba. With regard to the 25,000 animals which he said came over here, and among which so few cases were found, I would remind my hon. Friend that before these animals left Canada the cattle were examined by Veterinary Inspectors of the Canadian Authorities, and that certain animals were rejected. Those rejected were probably old oxen similar to those which we found diseased over here. It is admitted by the Canadian Authorities that cases in which the morbid appearances are identical with those we have discovered have, in fact, come before them at intervals in the last few years. The Canadian Authorities and my hon. Friend say that the disease indicated by those morbid appearances is not pleuro-pneumonia. What we want to know is, What is the disease?—and we shall be very glad if the Canadian Government will assist us in finding out. So far as our experts are concerned they say it is undoubtedly contagious pleuro-pneumonia, but that there is a slight differentiation between it and the pleuro-pneumonia of this country. But they also say that in all the cases of contagious pleuro-pneumonia that have come from the United States the symptoms have been identical with the symptoms of those which came from Canada. The differentiation is just the same, and, as we all know, that disease is recognised as contagious pleuro-pneumonia in the United States, and the United States have spent large sums of money in trying to eliminate it. My desire is, if we could see our way—if Canada was free from disease—to restore the privilege of free entry. Having this in view, we have ventured to make certain recommendations to the Canadian Government, and we hope for some reply. We are agreed that there is a disease in Canada. The Canadians say it is not contagious pleuro-pneumonia. 1248 We say it is. What we have asked the Canadian Government to do is that they should act as we on this side would act if we were placed in the same position. We ask that they should examine the lungs of the animals rejected in these cargoes—that they should trace, if possible, any animals they find affected with this special disease, and find whether among the animals that have been in contact with them any disease exists. In fact, we ask them to come into council with us—not to say of their own ipse dixit that no disease exists, and to attack our officials, and say they do not understand the case, but to make inquiry and tell us the result. Let them make such inquiry in Canada as we should do in similar circumstances. We should then be in a position in which, I think, we should be able to start on a very favourable basis. I gather that my hon. Friend and the Scotch farmers, who are longheaded men, are not opposed to the Acts. They are in favour of keeping disease out of Great Britain. The whole foundation of the charge is that the officers of the Board of Agriculture are incapable of performing their duties. I must deprecate very strongly the attack on the officials of my Department—permanent officials, who are not able to defend themselves in this House. I am responsible for this action, and I alone, and I accept the responsibility for the whole matter. In regard to these officials they are three in number. One of them is a Scotsman. I should have thought my hon. Friend would have been satisfied with that as a proof of ability. They are the three men who perhaps in the whole world have had the most experience in this particular disease. They have examined thousands of lungs, and I do not suppose my hon. Friend wishes for a moment to impugn their good faith. They have no interest in the matter one way or the other. They come to each case with a judicial mind, and give an opinion in good faith from their experience and knowledge. My hon. Friend said the examination of these lungs was conducted in secret. Why, Sir, I myself invited the Canadian Government to send one of their Representatives to be present when the lungs were examined. I would also remind him that the examination took place at the Veterinary College, 1249 not only in the presence of experts of the Board of Agriculture, but in the presence of Professor MacFadyen, Professor M'Queen, and other veterinary authorities. I do not propose to go outside my three advisers for any advice in this matter; but I would refer my hon. Friend to any of the eminent authorities with whom my advisers had the advantage of speaking. Let my hon. Friend find what the opinion of these authorities is as to whether the cases were contagious or not. It has been said— certainly not by my hon. Friend, but by certain newspapers in Scotland—that my action was taken in order to favour importation from Ireland. I do not think that is an observation I need notice, except to draw the attention of the Committee to what took place earlier in the Session. It will be in the recollection of the Committee that at the beginning of the Session a Resolution was brought forward by an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway, and supported by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Chaplin), for closing the whole of the ports for ever, except for slaughter. I resisted that Resolution on behalf of the Government. I believe in the principle of Free Trade. If it is of advantage to Ireland to keep out Canadian cattle, how much more would it be to prevent cattle coming in from any country except Ireland? The Irish Members, by their vote, resisted that proposal. How, then, is it possible to say that it is on account of pressure from the Irish Party that this action was taken? By this action no single individual in Scotland or elsewhere has been injured in the smallest degree in regard to the purchase of store cattle. If there be a doubt on the subject, to whom should the responsible Government give the benefit of the doubt—to another country, even one of our own colonies, or to our agricultural interest? I recognise the inconvenience that has arisen; no single man would welcome more heartily than I a return to the original state of things, but I am bound to protect the flocks and herds of this country from disease. What would the country say at a moment like this, when agricultural distress is at such a pitch, if the Government of the day were so lax as to allow disease to be imported? We have made recommendations on this matter to Canada, and we 1250 are awaiting their reply. I hope that reply will lead to such a state of things that we may look forward with hope to be able once more to allow Canada the privilege of free entry. I would read the concluding paragraph of the letter which was addressed to the Government of Canada on 21st July—The Board have expressed their views thus frankly and fully because they approach the whole subject with a real desire to find themselves in a position to sanction the resumption of unrestricted trade between the Dominion and the Mother Country at the earliest possible moment, and they earnestly hope that the Canadian Government will on their part recognise the obligation attaching to the Board under the Statute, and govern their action accordingly. In the opinion of the Board the interests of both countries will be best consulted by the interchange of the fullest possible information on both sides. If this be done, and the Canadian Government will at once institute the special measures proposed for tracing the disease, if it exists, and will also communicate to the Board any information in their possession as to its past history, the Board will not hesitate on their own part to do everything in their power to facilitate the resumption of free entry.I will say this, in conclusion—Sir Charles Tupper has argued with great skill on the part of Canada. My hon. Friend and others have put forward the case on behalf of the locality which is affected at the present moment by this Order. I have to look at the case from the standpoint of Great Britain, and I am bound to say I think I have proved on the facts before me that there is nothing left for us but to maintain the prohibition.
§ * MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
If I may be permitted to say so, I would wish to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman upon the attitude of resistance which he has taken up against the proposal of the hon. Member for Dundee—a proposal which, I am satisfied, if it were accepted, would lead to nothing but the re-introduction of disease into this country. I was heartily glad to hear the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman, which has left little for me to say. Ninety-nine out of every 100 agriculturists in the country will feel grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his speech, and for the decision arrived at. The hon. Member for Dundee said there was a widespread feeling in favour of his Motion; but, as far as my knowledge goes, I must give to that statement an emphatic contradiction. [Sir J. Leng: Scotland.] That may 1251 be in Scotland, but even then it must be limited. So far as I know the feeling elsewhere, I must give the statement the most absolute contradiction in my power. What are the grounds upon which the hon. Member asks us to accept this proposal? The hon. Member said that the season for importing store cattle was coming to an end. So it is; but what of that? There is any amount of store cattle to be had from Ireland; and if his proposal were adopted it would be to the injury of the farmers in Ireland. He says that the action of the right hon. Gentleman has depressed the price of meat in Dundee. I had thought the hon. Member for Dundee was a Free Trader, and represented a largely-populated burgh in Scotland, and I had imagined that the last thing on which he would have founded a complaint against the Board of Agriculture was that their action had resulted in a reduction of the price of meat for the people he represents in Dundee. The hon. Member said, on the authority of the High Commissioner, that Canada was absolutely free from disease. Well, after my experience of similar statements made to me when in office by the Representatives of the United States, I am obliged to take these rather interested assertions cum grano. My experience is that those statements are almost without exception incorrect. The hon. Member has challenged me to explain some actions of mine two or three years ago, and I am glad of this opportunity of doing so, because it gives me the opportunity of replying to a speech delivered by the Commissioner for Canada some short time ago, and which has only been brought to my notice since this Debate commenced. The High Commissioner is reported to have said that when Mr. Chaplin had the responsibility for dealing with this matter, the experts of the Board reported, in October, 1890, that four cases of undoubted pleuro-pneumonia among Canadian cattle had been found. I desire now to give the most emphatic contradiction to that statement. No such statement was made to me. The High Commissioner then goes on to say that two years after I declared at the Chamber of Agriculture that pleuropneumonia had never existed in Canada, and that Canada had always been sup- 1252 posed to be free from pleuro-pneumonia, and that under previous Administrations Canadian cattle had been allowed to come in. That was my opinion then, and it is my opinion now. It is the duty of the officials to report every case of the disease, and if there were four undoubted cases introduced into Great Britain from Canada in 1890, unquestionably they would have been mentioned in the Veterinary Report for that year. There were no such cases mentioned, and, therefore, I think I have satisfactorily met the challenge of the hon. Member for Dundee. Three or four years ago I was able to induce Parliament to sanction measures for extinguishing the disease. Enormous sums have been spent to stamp out the disease, and we are now within measurable distance of the complete extirpation of it from the United Kingdom. But last October the disease was re-introduced into Scotland by Canadian animals, with such results that it spread to some 70 or 80 centres in Scotland, and was only got rid of by an expenditure of £10,000 or £12,000. After all the money that has been spent, and the success which has been achieved, are we to throw away the results by re-admitting these cattle into this country upon the demand of the hon. Member for Dundee? My own experience on this question has greatly disappointed me in regard to the attitude of the Scottish farmer. When I proposed first to deal with it by Act of Parliament, there was no part of the country from which I received more effusive promises of support than from the Representatives of Scottish farmers. But when the Act came to be put into operation, and I had to impose severe restrictions on the movement of cattle, and do other necessary things to make the Act effective, there was no part of the country from which I received so much opposition, or in which so many difficulties were thrown in my way. Although I did succeed in practically extirpating the disease, there are very small thanks due for any assistance I received from Scotland. The question seems to me to resolve itself into this: Are the Member for Dundee and the Scottish farmers to decide what is or is not contagious disease, or are the experts of the Department to do so? These farmers are interested; the experts are not.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
The hon. Member has named two Scotch Veterinary Authorities who differ from the experts of the Board of Agriculture; but between these two gentlemen and the experts of the Board there has always been something like a war of opinion on this point. But, as has been pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gardner), the decision of the experts of the Department, is supported by the great weight of authority received from the Royal Veterinary College; and I believe that, with the exception of these veterinary surgeons in Scotland, there is in the profession absolutely no difference of opinion on the subject. There is also no doubt of the existence of the disease in the United States, and with the enormous frontier which Canada has to the States it would be impossible for any Government to prevent the passing of animals from the one country into the other. So long as that is the case there must always be risk of the disease making its way into Canada. For these reasons, I would venture to offer to my right hon. Friend a word of warning in his communications with Canada. The first and most important thing is the interest of agriculturists in this country; and now that we have advanced so far towards extirpating the disease, we should adopt every guarantee that it shall not be re-introduced. I do not believe that for a long time to come it will be safe in any circumstances to admit animals from the Continent of America. I think it is not altogether fair that the head of the Government Department should have the responsibility of having this duty placed upon him. The responsibility should be taken by Parliament itself; and, therefore, the best and wisest course of all would be to prohibit for the time being by legislation—it would be easy to repeal it whenever it is safe to do so—the importation of animals into this country, except for the purpose of slaughter, from any country in the world.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
said, he would like to say a few words in order that the Committee might be put in possession of what was the real contention of the agricultural community of Scotland on the subject, because an attempt had been made by 1254 the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin), and also by the President of the Board of Agriculture, to attribute to them motives by which they were not actuated. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) told them that the Scottish farmers wanted to be persons who should decide what was disease and what was not. In the same way the President of the Board of Agriculture said that the Motion was an attack on the scientific advisers of his Board. He (Mr. Buchanan) disclaimed any such ideas on the subject. The agricultural community of Scotland had no desire to attack the permanent officials, still less did they claim that the farming community, and not experts of the Board, should determine what was disease and what was not. Nor were those who were urging forward this Motion making any attack on the Contagious Diseases Acts themselves. That was entirely foreign to the view held by the great body of Scottish farmers. The farming community in the East and North-East of Scotland shared with the Harbour Authorities and other Bodies interested in cattle shipping the desire that the restriction should be removed. What the contention had been, and what had been the subject-matter of the resolutions moved at the recent meetings in Scotland, was that accepting, as they did, the decision of the Board of Agriculture, in the circumstances which induced them to pass this Order as justifiable in every way, and that the cases were clear cases of contagious pleuropneumonia, they held that from that time till now the President of the Board of Agriculture had not taken such opportunities as he might have taken to keep the country fully informed of the progress of information on the matter, and of the grounds upon which he still continued to enforce this restrictive order against the importation of the Canadian cattle. What they had been desiring to ascertain was what action had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman to see whether precautions, if they were necessary, could be taken in Canada to prevent the migration of disease from the United States, and also to make a more strict inspection of cattle before being put on board vessels in Canada itself. The right hon. Gentleman had said that out of 25,000 or 30,000 beasts inspected pleuro-pneumonia had only been discovered in two of the 1255 animals. These cases, it was said, occurred in a single week, at the end of May. What they (the Scotch Members) had been desiring to ascertain was what action had been taken by the right hon. Gentleman to see whether precautions, if they were necessary, could be taken in Canada to prevent the migration of disease from the United States, and also to make a more strict inspection of cattle before being put on board vessels in Canada itself. The right hon. Gentleman told them that on the 21st July the Department had addressed a Resolution on the subject to the Canadian Government. The gravamen of the charge at the meetings held at Dundee, Aberdeen, and other places was that the right hon. Gentleman had laid before the country no information at all as to the grounds upon which he sought to maintain the restriction enforced against Canada, nor had he informed the House until this evening what action had been taken in conjunction with Canada to secure the free importation of these cattle. What the President of the Board of Agriculure directly stated was that he thought Canadian cattle should be put on the same basis as the United States cattle, and they were prohibited. What they wanted to ascertain was that the right hon. Gentleman was endeavouring to carry out what they believed was his desire—that a speedy method might be obtained for restoring the importation of Canadian cattle into this country, so long as it did not endanger the health of the cattle in this country. One other question he should like to ask. He understood that some time subsequently to this Order animals arriving in this country from Canada and slaughtered here were subject to special inspection, and that had been discontinued. In answer to a question on the subject before, the right hon. Gentleman said Canadian cattle were put in the same category as regards inspection as United States cattle. That was just what they did not want. They wanted Canadian cattle to be kept separate from United States cattle. They looked upon this inspection of slaughtered Canadian cattle as a wise precaution by the Board of Agriculture with the view of testing the reality of the existence of disease amongst Canadian cattle, and as showing direct evidence of the right hon. Gentleman's desire to withdraw the restriction 1256 as soon as possible. They would like to know why that special inspection had ceased, because there were no acts which he could point to which led them to believe that even by next season, or at an early date, the restriction upon the importation of Canadian cattle should not be removed. He thought the Scottish agricultural community in this matter, so far from being impatient, had been exceedingly patient. He (Mr. Buchanan) was present at a deputation in January or February last, and they then learned from the right hon. Gentleman that he would do his utmost to see whether means could not be found for permitting the importation of Canadian cattle. But now they found, in answer to another deputation a few weeks ago, that very few steps had been taken, and that the removal of the restrictions was further off than ever. It would not, therefore, be wondered at that men who were so sorely afflicted should get a little restive at what they thought was an inordinate and an unreasonable delay. This opportunity having been obtained of discussing the matter in the House of Commons, they hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them credit that they had none of the nefarious objects in view attributed to them by his predecessor—namely, that they were disposed in any way to advocate the Board of Agriculture embarking in any course that would involve the risk of introducing this virulent disease into this country, but they did not want that a large trade should be grievously injured and that a large agricultural interest should be also grievously injured, when with safety to that interest the importation of Canadian cattle might be continued to the benefit of the whole community.
SIR J. CARMICHAEL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
wished to say a few words on this subject, as he had been a member of the two deputations which had waited on the right hon. Gentleman. On the second occasion the right hon. Gentleman had told them—as he had told them tonight—that he approached the subject with an earnest desire to abolish the restrictions, but that he had found facts brought to his notice of such great importance that he could not but feel justified in continuing the restrictions indefinitely. The right hon. Gentleman had gone further, and had said that he 1257 was sure, when the Papers were before the House and Members had seen them, they would agree that he had acted rightly and would endorse his action. That was an appeal which he (Sir J. Carmichael) had heard with confidence, and he had thought it right to wait until they had the information. But that was now several weeks ago, and he had hoped that to-night the right hon. Gentleman would have been able to tell them on what date they might expect to see the Papers. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that some delay had been occasioned in regard to Papers from Canada, and that the fault did not lie with his Department. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could not give them Papers from his Department as an instalment? A correspondence had been commenced with Canada, and no doubt it would continue for some time; but the House might lie made acquainted with so much of it as was in the possession of the Department, so that hon. Members might form an opinion on the matter before the Session closed. He agreed very much with what the last speaker had said. A good deal of the irritation existing in Scotland was due to the fact that they had no information before them. He had every confidence in Her Majesty's Ministers, but he thought the President of the Board of Agriculture would help them a great deal if he would give them some idea as to the date upon which he would put the facts before them.
* MR. W. WHITELAW (Perth)
remarked that the question of the importation of Canadian cattle was a very serious one, not only for Scotland, but for other parts of the United Kingdom. Nobody wished to have unhealthy cattle brought into the country, and the whole reason why he and others objected to the exclusion of Canadian cattle was that they were convinced that they were the healthiest cattle that could be obtained. It had been proved to the satisfaction of those who had dealt both in home-bred and Canadian cattle that the latter not only paid better, but were more healthy than the former. With regard to the case of the Scotch cow which was supposed to have been infected by a Canadian cow, the hon. Member for Dundee (Sir J. Leng) had suggested that it was the Scotch cow that had given the disease 1258 to the Canadian cow, whilst the President of the Board of Agriculture had said it was the Canadian cow which had infected the Scotch cow. In his (Mr. Whitelaw's) opinion both these views were wrong. He did not believe that either of the cows ever had pleuropneumonia at all. He believed they had both suffered from bronchial pneumonia. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. H. Gardner) that this was not the place in which to make an attack on the Veterinary Department of the Board of Agriculture; but he did wish to test those opinions by the facts and by practice as opposed to science. Last March he (Mr. Whitelaw) contended that time had proved that the disease was not pleuro-pneumonia, and that argument held good more than ever now. Had it been pleuro-pneumonia the disease would now have been prevalent in Canada, for it could not be supposed that every animal that was suffering from it had been imported into Great Britain. However eminent the veterinary experts were, they might possibly have made a mistake. The Committee would remember the very great mistake that was admittedly made by the veterinary advisors of the Board of Agriculture two or three years ago in a case of supposed Texan fever. The right hon. Gentleman had told the deputations he had received that he would be very glad to receive suggestions. At the request of a very competent agricultural authority he (Mr. Whitelaw) had made a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman the other day. It was to the effect that several cargoes of Canadian cattle should be landed and kept, alive in quarantine under the strict supervision of the Board of Agriculture. It had been said that such an experiment would occupy too long a time. No doubt it would take a long time to prove that there was no pleuro-pneumonia; but if pleuro appeared, the cattle need not be kept a very long time. If a considerable number of the cattle had pleuro, it would, in all probability, show itself in a short space of time. The right hon. Gentleman said it would not be a sufficient test. Could the right hon. Gentleman say what would be a sufficient test? He would press on the right hon. Gentleman the urgent necessity of returning to the system of 1259 special inspection. The people of Scotland did not want other cattle if they could get Canadian—and if those cattle were really healthy. They were being made to suffer very largely for the sake of the country just now, and he thought that whilst that was the case any expense to which they were put through this special inspection in what at the best was only a very doubtful case should be borne by the country. There was reason to believe that there had recently been a case of undoubted pleuro-pneumonia in Ireland. If that were so, he should like to know if any steps were to be taken to treat Ireland in the same way as Canada bad been treated? He knew the right hon. Gentleman was inclined to say that Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom, and should be treated in the same way as England and Scotland. But when they in Scotland were told that they did not need Canadian cattle, and could go and buy English and Irish, their reply was that their experience was that a large percentage of English cattle had got tuberculosis and that there was pleuro-pneumonia in Ireland.
* MR. W. WHITELAW
said, he had a letter from an agriculturist in Scotland saying—Now that Ireland is again the centre of a genuine case of pleuro-pneumonia, we shall watch with interest to see whether Mr. Gardner's advisers will show sufficient impartiality to counsel him to act with the same stringency towards importations from Ireland as towards those from Canada.The statement was not that pleuropneumonia was in Ireland, but in a cow which had come from Ireland, which was the same thing. If there was any danger of the importation of the disease into Scotland from Ireland, he held that Ireland should be treated in the same way as Canada. It was said even if there was no pleuro-pneumonia in Canada it was in the United States, and could be imported thence into Canada, and they were told that it was impossible for Canada to prevent United States cattle from crossing the frontier. If there was smuggling from the States into Canada it must be done by either Canadian or American dealers. But he did not think it was possible that that could be done across the frontier by the American dealers, because, in order to make the 1260 trade pay, it appeared to him that the smuggling would have to be carried on on a scale which would make it certain that it should be found out. He was of opinion that few American dealers did any smuggling. But his reply to the allegation that anything of this kind was done for the purpose of trade was that it was hardly conceivable that any dealers would risk the complete destruction of the trade of importation to this country by a step such as that which had been suggested. If the Canadian dealer did it he was cutting his own throat; and he did not think that that was a policy that any dealer was likely to pursue by choice. He had heard the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to the motives for keeping these restrictions in force. He did not think there was anyone who would seriously suppose that his object was to increase the trade of the Irish farmers. That idea, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman, received very little support from the Scotch Members. He was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he was taking steps, however, in relation to the matter, and he was sure he would be only too 'glad to act in any way that would sustain the proposition he had laid down. He hoped the negotiations would soon come to a conclusion, and that they would have some definite information as to these steps, and as to whether there was reasonable security for the restrictions being removed and cattle from Canada being brought to this country. Until they had a full Report before them they could not judge, but he trusted the Report would soon be in their hands.
* MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Wood-bridge)
said, he would only detain the Committee for a very few minutes. He was anxious to express the feeling of the agriculturists of England with regard to this question, and more especially that of those in the Eastern part of the country. They bought most of their cattle in the Eastern Counties, and were always glad to get them, not caring where they came from, so long as they paid their money. They got many of the Canadian cattle, and were perfectly well satisfied with them; but he desired to say that they were most jealous with regard to the introduction of diseases. They were grateful for the legislation that had taken place in regard to contagious 1261 diseases. He well remembered the difficulties they used to suffer from the foot-and-mouth disease, and its communication to their flocks and herds; and he could say that those for whom he spoke favoured anything that tended to guard against the introduction of such diseases. The result of the legislation he referred to had been that there was an increase in the supply of meat, and that prices had been lowered. He hoped that the Minister for Agriculture would stand firm in this matter. He was perfectly willing that he should open the ports again so soon as he was thoroughly satisfied that there was no danger; but he hoped he would stand his ground firmly and not open the ports until the means at his disposal assured him that it was safe to do so. Strong pressure would, no doubt, be brought to bear on him, not only by gentlemen interested in importation, but also by those who would have it that there was something in the action of the Minister which was in the nature of Protection. He thought the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was resisting the proposal, in these circumstances, to throw open the ports, was one entitling him to the thanks of the agriculturists of the country. He was glad to think the right hon. Gentleman had backbone, and would not admit cattle until he was assured that there was perfect safety in admitting them.
§ MAJOR RASCH
said, he would like just to say a few words, after what had been said by the present Minister and the late Minister for Agriculture, and also after what had been said by the hon. Member for Dundee. The only object of the Amendment was to open the ports for the introduction of pleuro-pneumonia. [Cries of "No, no!"] That was the way it occurred to him. Fourteen years ago they opened their ports to foot - and - mouth disease, and the result was a cost of many millions of money to the people of this country. If store cattle were wanted he would like to say that they down in Essex had a good supply, and that hon. Members from the North should come down and buy them. They had a supply and could not dispose of them. Hon. Gentlemen who supported this proposal seemed to him to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. For his part, he believed that the right hon. Gentleman, in adopting his 1262 present policy, had earned the salary which the country granted him, and, if he came down to Essex, though they differed from him on other points, they would show him that they were grateful for what he had done.
MR. FURNESS (Hartlepool)
said, he had listened with great interest to the speeches which had been made by the late Minister and the present one. He felt greatly interested in this matter, because he was the first who introduced store cattle from Canada to this country. He decided many years ago to send out a well-known expert to furnish a report upon this question. He had instructions of a specific nature, and the result of his visit to Canada was that cattle were brought to this country from Montreal. He (Mr. Furness) distributed these animals amongst the farmers of the North of England, and the result was to justify the continuance of the trade. Although he was not in the trade himself, he was glad to see it extend, not only among the farmers of the North of England, but also among those of Scotland. The development of the trade was so great that it had reached gigantic proportions, and that it was now receiving the attention of this Committee. He was bound to say that he had heard nothing in the statement of the Minister for Agriculture which could justify him in interfering with that trade, fie could quite understand that a Protectionist like the right hon. Gentleman the late Minister for Agriculture (Mr. Chaplin) would like to destroy the trade; that was practically what his speech to-night showed he was anxious to do; he had made a demand of that kind. In this matter the interests of Canada, as well as those of the enterprising North Country farmers, had been ignored entirely. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford was not prepared, when in Office, to prohibit the importation of cattle; and why? Because he knew he would not be supported in his action. It had been stated to-night that there was not a case of pleuro-pneumonia in Canada at the present time. The hon. Member said his authority was the High Commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to accept the authority of Sir Charles Tupper for the fact that there was no contagious pleuro-pneumonia in Canada at the present time; 1263 but they had the evidence of gentlemen interested in the trade that, out of the large number of cattle imported this year, only four cases had been found, and that went to show that there was no justification for depriving the North Country and Scotch farmers of Canadian store cattle, and carrying out a reactionary and Protectionist policy. The late President of the Board, in his speech in November last, said that Canada was always supposed to be free from this disease. He did not know how the right hon. Gentleman justified himself in face of this statement. He fully admitted that the Contagious Diseases Law had done much for the country; but he was no believer in infallibility, and neither, he thought, was the farmer; in a matter of this kind he maintained their right to be heard. They were told that the Veterinary Department of the Board of Agriculture were to be the judges, but the trade of this country would never have been built up to its vast dimensions if it had been at the mercy of the officials of any Government Department. He was sorry that the Minister for Agriculture should be allowed to satisfy the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford by encouraging him in his views; and he did trust that, although the Session was coming to a close, they would yet be able to persuade the Government to reverse the policy that had been pursued for the past 12 months.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
said, they were all, of course, greatly interested in their flocks and herds, and, in his opinion, the Board of Agriculture deserved the thanks of the whole community for having so well kept out disease from their shores; whereas, if the views of certain hon. Gentlemen opposite were carried out, cattle would be at once admitted about which there was great suspicion. Of this the veterinary surgeons of the Board of Agriculture had no doubt. There was no hardship in slaughtering at the ports of debarkation, because the meat came into the country all the same, and excellent meat it was; and, moreover, it was a mistake to suppose that agriculturists were thereby deprived of store cattle. There were plenty of store cattle in England and in Ireland; and if there was a scarcity in Scotland, which he was surprised to hear, why did not 1264 Scottish feeders proceed to England or Ireland and buy store cattle where they were a perfect drug in the market? It was an entire mistake to say that the Amendment was in the interests of agriculture; the whole aim of agriculturists—English, Irish, and Scotch—at present was to keep their flocks and herds free from disease, and the only way to do that was by placing power in a Central Authority. What had been accomplished in this way was the most successful thing the Board had ever done. With regard to what had been said by the Member for Dundee, he would ask him to tell his farmer friends to come down to the South of England before the winter came on and they would get store cattle in any numbers at very low prices indeed.
§ MR. CAMERON CORBETT (Glasgow, Tradeston)
said, it seemed to him that the best way to satisfy the Department as to the origin of this disease was by adopting the proposal of Sir Charles Tupper—namely, that experts should be sent out from the Department to Canada, at the expense of the Canadian Government, to inquire for themselves and see whether the disease existed there. The President of the Agricultural Department promised the deputation that he would take the suggestion into consideration. It would be interesting to hear from the right hon. Gentleman whether the suggestion had been considered, and what course he proposed to take in regard to it. There was one remark made by the right hon. Gentleman to which he should take exception. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to labour under something like a Fair Trade fallacy, because he said the consumer had not been affected by the restrictions placed on the importation of Canadian cattle. It was an axiom with Free Traders that you could not put any restriction on the import of our food supply without the consumer being affected. It was possible that the price of a commodity might not rise; and even if it fell, it fell less than it would otherwise fall on account of the restriction. The one fear in the large towns was that the right hon. Gentleman would necessarily give more consideration to the demands made by certain agriculturists than he was likely to give to the interests of consumers in the large towns.
§ MR. H. R. FARQUHARSON (Dorset, W.)
said, that the agriculturists of England wished to support the President of the Agricultural Department in the action he had taken in this matter. The hon. Member for Dundee had brought forward this Motion, and had been supported by hon. Members for Perth and Glasgow. He did not suppose that there were half-a-dozen farmers in any one of these constituencies. In fact, as the remarks of the hon. Member for Glasgow had shown, this was, to some extent, a question of town against country—a question of cheap food. It had been shown over and over again that the question of the importation of live stock could no longer be considered a question of food supply, because food could be brought over much more easily and cheaply, and in a better condition than in the shape of frozen meat. With a few exceptions he should like to see the import of live stock put a stop to on account of the cruelty with which the trade was carried on. Most hon. Members had read a pamphlet in which Mr. Plimsoll described the cruelties and horrors of the shipping trade in live cattle. The Motion had been entirely supported by hon. Members, speaking not for agriculturists, but for cheap food—a matter which did not enter at all into the question. He felt certain the farmers of Scotland could not be so selfish as to wish to run the risk of importing disease into this country. The Scotch farmers had had an exceptionally good year. In England, on the contrary, everything was very bad; and if the President of the Agricultural Department was so foolish as to fall in with the desire of the towns and permitted disease to be introduced things would be worse still. The live stock of the farmers of England was the best in the world. Never had live stock been so cheap as it was at present in England. Farmers hardly knew what to do to keep their stock alive through the winter, and they would only be too glad to sell to the farmers of Scotland at very low prices.
§ MR. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
said, the hon. Member who had just sat down had stated that this was a question solely between the towns and the agricultural districts. As representing a purely agricultural constituency contain- 1266 ing many dairy farmers, he desired to support the position taken up by the hon. Members for Dundee, East Aberdeenshire, and Perth. As the matter had already been fully discussed, he would content himself with asking the Minister for Agriculture a question. The light hon. Gentleman had made a plucky speech, but it would not altogether give satisfaction in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had said that this restriction should be temporary. His constituents wished to know what chance there was of the restriction being removed? and it would give them some satisfaction if a hope could be held out that it would be removed at no distant date.
COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
said, he believed this question was really between the whole country and the shipping interest. The whole force of the movement came from shipping owners who wished to make some money, very naturally, out of the importation of Canadian cattle. It was very natural, too, that hon. Members representing ports should advocate the importation of cattle. But let them look at the position of the farmers. The farmers had to pay very heavy rates to have the disease stamped out, and they had to pay heavy taxes to the Central Authority to keep up the cordon against the disease. That policy, he was glad to say, had been thoroughly successful. He wished to say, in conclusion, that there was a little place called Ireland, having 4,000,000 of cattle, which ought to be considered; and as the Irish farmers did not wish to see disease admitted into the country after the expense that had been gone to to stamp it out, he hoped the Minister for Agriculture would continue to add lustre to his name by keeping their cattle free from disease.
* MR. H. GARDNER
said, it was evident from the Debate that this was not a Party question. Advocates and opponents of the Motion were found together side by side on both sides of the House. There were only one or two matters on which it was necessary to supplement his previous statement. He regretted as much as anyone that the Papers had not been laid on the Table before. So far as his Department was concerned, the Papers were ready; but the delay was unavoid able, as on the day on which he intended to lay the Papers on the Table he was 1267 informed by the Colonial Office that a long communication had been received from the Canadian Government which ought also to be included in the Papers. As to his following the advice of his own veterinary advisers, it must be remembered that no other veterinary experts were equally responsible for the advice they gave. They were told they had made mistakes. The result of those mistakes was that the country was absolutely free from disease. As to the trade of Canada, Returns showed that its exports of cattle continued to increase. Nothing would give him greater satisfaction than to be able to remove the present prohibition, and he should welcome the day when that was possible. He appealed to the Committee not to prolong the discussion, which had now lasted along time, and to the hon. Member for Dundee not to press his Amendment.
§ * SIR J. LENG
said, in view of the appeal made to him by the Minister for Agriculture, he did not propose to press the matter to a Division. Regretting as he did that the Committee had not the Reports to which allusion had been made, he was also sorry that the President did not take the opportunity three or four weeks ago, when the second deputation from Scotland waited upon him, to offer the explanations he had now given. It would have had the effect of modifying the views of Scotch agriculturists in the matter. He thought the Agricultural Department would do well to follow the example of the Board of Trade, by issuing a monthly publication containing information of this kind for the benefit of the country. It had been said that this was a question of town against country. He could inform hon. Members that, though he was the Representative of the City of Dundee, he was the mouthpiece, to a great extent, of a meeting held on Tuesday last in Dundee, at which there were a larger number of agriculturists than had ever gathered together in the city before, and by which the views he had conveyed to the Committee had been vigorously expressed. One excellent effect of the discussion would be to put an end to the political aspect of this question in Scotland, for it had shown that the question was not a Party question. An endeavour had been made in 1268 Scotland to show that the action of the Government in prohibiting the importation of Canadian cattle was done entirely in the interests of Ireland. They had evidence, however, that night that the preponderating interest in the matter was not the Irish interest, but the interest of the English agriculturists. He begged leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
* SIR R. TEMPLE (Surrey, Kingston)
said, he merely wished to ask a question whether the report in the newspapers with regard to a modification of the Charity Commissioners' plans as to St. Paul's School was correct?
§ MR. H. R. FARQUHARSON
said, he desired to call attention to the action of the Charity Commissioners in connection with the foundation of Christ's Hospital. In the new Scheme put forward in 1890 by the Charity Commissioners it was laid down precisely to whom the presentations of the scholarships in the foundation should be given. The Commissioners only left to the Governors 40 of the presentations, which were to be reserved for the sons of naval officers in poor circumstances, and others distinguished in Literature, Science, Art, and the service of the Crown. Immediately on the publication of the Scheme the Admiralty wrote to the Charity Commissioners pointing out that for 100 years presentations had always been reserved for 50 sons of naval officers. The correspondence which followed showed that the Charity Commissioners had stated that to give these 50 presentations to the sons of naval officers would entail an expenditure of £2,000 a year, and in order to get that money they had applied to the Almoners of Christ's Hospital for a grant out of certain sums of money which had not been taken into account in the original Scheme. The matter had been going on now for years. He had asked several questions in reference to the matter, and had always been told that financial difficulties stood in the way. But that was not the point. There was a great number of presentations in the foundation at the present time, and what was urged was that as in 1269 the past so in the future 50 presentations should be maintained for the sons of naval officers, these presentations to be in the gift of the Governors of Christ's Hospital. Never before was there the likelihood of a greater number of widows and orphans of naval officers in poor circumstances, and it would be a great boon if free education was given to the children on the foundation of Christ's Hospital.
§ THE PARLIAMENTAKY CHARITY COMMISSIONER (Mr. T. E. ELLIS,) Merionethshire
I wish I could give the hon. Member a more satisfactory answer in the sense of doing this service to the sons of naval officers. I should like just to point out that the Scheme was promulgated and discussed in the Public Press, and during that time no notice of objection was received by the Charity Commissioners with regard to the provision for the sons of naval officers. The Commissioners were bound to consider the Trust, and the Trust alone; but they are still willing to make provision in the new Scheme in the direction which the hon. Member and others desire. A modern endowment of £3,000 could not be touched at the time of the Scheme; but that matter is now in the hands of the Law Officers, and the Charity Commissioners trust before long to be able to deal with that sum. I think I can promise the hon. Member that when the new Scheme comes up the claims of the sons of naval officers will be considered. It would mean the addition of nearly £2,000 to the expenses of the Christ's Hospital Charity, an expenditure which they cannot possibly meet at present. I hope, however, that the new Scheme will meet all the requirements, and that the sons of the naval officers of the Victoria will be given the larger share of the 40 presentations at the disposal of the Governors. I trust the same will be the case with regard to St. Paul's School at Hammersmith, and particularly in respect of the disposition of the money for the raising and maintenance of two schools— one for boys and one for girls—in accordance with modern requirements.
§ MR. H. R. FARQUHARSON
said, he hoped they would hear no more of the financial difficulty, and that the 50 presentations should in the future as in 1270 the past be retained to the sons of naval officers.
§ COMMANDER BETHELL (York, E. R., Holderness)
said, the hon. Gentleman had given them no explanation of the reason that induced the Charity Commissioners altogether to lay on one side the long-established claim of naval officers to have those 50 presentations to Christ's Hospital. The hon. Gentleman said they had no right in law to this. He (Commander Bethell) did not know the period of time which would give them a right in law, but for a very considerable time they had been accustomed to make these presentations, and the Charity Commissioners in making their new Scheme ought not to have set aside these gifts to naval officers. The hon. Gentleman held out some hope of a revised Scheme being placed before the public and being considered, but he failed to say when he thought the revised Scheme was likely to be taken into consideration, and when, therefore, some of the older customs would be re-established. Naval officers, naturally, had felt themselves much aggrieved on finding this taken away from them. To a poor profession like the Navy, in which officers were in great straits to get their children educated—this was a most desirable boon. He regretted that it had been taken away, and he also regretted that the hon. Gentleman had not stated more definitely what would be the proposal of the Charity Commissioners, and whether the profession might expect that the scheme would take effect shortly, or was a scheme that would be again postponed. If the hon. Gentleman, in half-a-dozen words, could tell them whether the scheme was likely to come into operation shortly, he was sure it would do much to relieve the anxiety of naval officers, who, for several years, had naturally felt much aggrieved.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY CHARITY COMMISSIONER (Mr. T. E. ELLIS,) Merionethshire
said, he thought that the Committee would hardly expect him to apologise for or defend the conduct of the Charity Commissioners in 1890; and as three or four years had passed since then, hon. Members had had every opportunity of raising the question. He was sure that a large number of 1271 persons, both inside and outside the House, would be glad not to hear any J more about the financial difficulty; hut children could not he educated without finances. There were 700 children already in Christ's Hospital, and the Governors found it as much as they could do to educate and clothe these with the finances at their disposal. He had already said that the Commissioners were doing their utmost to secure the £3,000 which was now accumulating and lying idle, and as soon as they could secure that an amended scheme would be proposed. In that scheme he could promise, on behalf of the Commissioners, that every possible consideration would be given to the sons of these naval officers. More than that he could not promise, and more than that the Committee would not expect him to say.
§ MR. S. WOODS (Lancashire, Ince)
rose for the purpose of calling attention to the Stationery and Printing Vote. The case to which he referred was of a very grave character, where the right of people to combine, and also their right to receive fair wages, had been seriously interfered with by their employers. The particular case to which he referred was the case of Messrs. M'Corquodale and Co., who, he found, held contracts with the Government to the extent of £37,000 per annum. He might say this matter was brought under his notice about six weeks ago, and there was a feeling and a very natural desire that a matter of this kind ought to be settled by personal interview with gentlemen representing the Department of the Treasury. He at once entered into communication with the right hon. Gentleman, and since that time he placed several questions upon the Paper of the House. The letter which he sent to the Secretary to the Treasury would explain the case, perhaps, in more explicit terms than he was able to do to the Commit te and was as follows:—8th June, 1893. To the Eight Hon. Sir John Hibbert, M.P.—I am desired by the Typographical Association, Wigan Branch, to bring before your notice the following case of apparent injustice to the printers of Messrs. M'Corquodale and Co., printers, Newton, who appear, from documents, to do a portion of the work for the Government, and before taking any further action in the matter I would esteem it a favour if you would inquire into the following allegations and let me have your reply. 1272 The allegations made are (1) that a number of the employés of Messrs. M'Corquodale joined the Typographical Trade Union at the beginning of this year, over 50 in number; (2) as soon as that fact became known to the manager of the firm, Colonel Wood, between the 21st March and the 6th April last, 10 of the most prominent men were discharged and the others got notice to leave, but rather than be discharged they signed an agreement that severed their connection with the Society. The other members of the firm in the houses at Leeds, London, and Glasgow were allowed to join the Printers' Typographical Association. I should be glad if you would make full inquiry, and, if possible, remedy the grievance of which the men complain.To that letter, he believed, the right hon. Gentleman gave his full attention; that he entered into correspondence with the firm, but the reply the right hon. Gentlemen was only able to send him was of the most unsatisfactory character. He then put a number of questions on the Paper, but the right hon. Gentleman was not able to give any better reply to them. He now wished to explain to the Committee what this meant. Messrs. M'Corquodale and Co., as they all know, were very large printers and paper manufacturers. As he had already stated, they held contracts with the Government to the extent of £37,000 per annum. Early in this year members from the Typographical Union of Wigan, it appeared, went to Newton and formed a branch of their Association there, which was joined by some of the employés of the firm of Messrs. M'Corquodale. Immediately that came to the knowledge of their employers 10 were discharged and 50 others were intimidated, with the result that at the present time they had no Union at all at Newton. What was the effect of that upon the men? First of all, these men worked longer hours than the average hours that were worked in the Lancashire towns, and their wages were less. He had a list of the wages paid in 14 of the Lancashire towns surrounding Newton. At Ashton-under-Lyne the men were paid 33s. for 52 hours; Blackburn 31s. 6d. for 54 hours; Bolton 33s.; Burnley 30s.; Bury 30s.; and so on with the rest; but at Messrs. M'Corquodale's they received 28s. per week for 54 hours. The average pay of the 14 towns in Lancashire was £1 12s. 1¼d., whilst Messrs. M'Corquodale's was 28s. per week. He might say that for a long time the 1273 Typographical Association had been trying to form a branch at Newton. He believed that 10 years ago an effort of the kind was made, and Mr. M'Corquodale, his son, and others of the firm promised the men should have full liberty of action with regard to combination for self-protection; but immediately the men took action means were taken to intimidate them by discharging some of the men. The common impression, especially amongst the printers, was that the object of thus acting with the employés of this firm was, first, to intimidate the workpeople; secondly, to keep down the wages below their normal rate; and the third object of the firm was to underestimate in public contracts all the other printers in the country, so that the other printers, whether in London or the Provinces, had not the slightest chance, in offering for contracts, to compete with this firm. The discussions that had taken place, and the Resolutions carried by the House in the past, justified him in believing that hon. Members would not allow any firm to have exceptional privileges and opportunities, such as this firm had, to drive out of the market all the respectable printers in the trade. Whilst he had the greatest possible respect for the right hon. Gentleman in charge of this question, unless he received a satisfactory answer to the effect that these men would get their legitimate rights, he should feel bound to move the reduction of the Vote by £700, and, as a protest, to take a Division upon it. He felt sure that hon. Members, whether interested on the side of capital or on the side of labour, would lie disposed to do justice to these working men, who were asking for nothing but what was right—namely, fair wages, reasonable hours, and fair treatment. He therefore begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £700.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Item of £80,000, for the Stationery Office and Printing, be reduced by £700."—(Mr. Woods.)
* THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Sir J. T. HIBBERT,) Oldham
I do not complain of my hon. Friend bringing forward this question, because I know full well he is not satisfied with the answer I was able to give him on the 1274 subject. But I rise as representing the Stationery Department to reply to my hon. Friend, and I have no object in this matter except to ask that there should be fair play upon this question. 1 do not want to take sides either on behalf of the Trades Unionists or on behalf of the non-Trades Unionists; what the Treasury has to do is to see whether they are carrying out the law, and whether this is a case in which they have a right to interfere. The fact is that this house belongs to M'Corquodale and Co., and is situate at Newton, in Lancashire, which is a country place, not a town, and, therefore, cannot properly be compared with the other towns named by my hon. Friend. I merely state that as one matter in the consideration of the question. The M'Corquodales have had this house in operation at Newton for 47 years, and during the whole of that time it has been what is called a Non-union house; at this house they employ 700 workpeople. Of these 700 workpeople, men, women, and children, there are only 80 who are compositors, and who are brought within the terms of the charge of my hon. Friend. When this question was first brought to my notice I asked the firm to give me an explanation of what had taken place with respect to the dismissal of these men. I was told by the firm it was perfectly true that they had discharged 10 men who belonged to the Typographical Association at Wigan. The firm say that their house having been for this long period of time a Non-union house, when they discovered that these 10 men belonged to the Typographical Association, and that they were agitating with the other men employed there, they, in their desire to continue this house as a Nonunion house, were driven to the necessity of giving notice to these 10 men. There were some 40 other men who also joined this Union, and they were not dismissed for being Unionists. There is another point I ought to state on behalf of this firm. They say they had representations made to them by their oldest and best workpeople that they desired the house should not be made a Union house. ["Oh, oh!"] I am stating what the firm told me, and I am obliged to believe they would not state what is not the truth, and they say that they were advised by 1275 their oldest and best workpeople not to consent to the house becoming a Union house. I do not want to say one word against Trades Unionism. I myself am a great admirer of Trades Unions, and of what they have done for the country. I acknowledge their efforts have been of the greatest value; that they have raised the rate of wages, and reduced the number of hours for work in this country. Whilst I acknowledge that, I, at the same time, must express my great regret that it should not be possible for Union and Non - union men to work together comfortably in the same place. I express that regret the more strongly because I think, from what we have seen in various parts of the country, that when strikes have taken place they have generally been on the question of Union and Non-union men; and therefore, on looking at this question, I have to look at it as affecting the interests of -.both parties, and as in this case the Non-unionists are the strongest, their interest is deserving of consideration. But in saying that, I do not wish to say a word against the Union men. I regret, as I have said, that action was taken to dismiss and send away those 10 men. Personally, I should have preferred to see the two sets of people working together in harmony. Now, my hon. Friend has said there was a question of lower wages and of longer hours. The hours are the same at Newton for the work of the whole firm as are the hours in London of Union houses; and I may say in passing that Messrs. M'Corquodale show they cannot have very strong feelings on this subject, as they have a house in London that is Union and a house in Leeds that is also a Union house. I would say that if they have the right of liberty of action in having a Union house in London and another in Leeds they have just as much right, if they think proper, to have a Non-union house at New ton. My hon. Friend quoted Blackburn, Oldham, Wigan, and other places. I admit the wages are larger there, but they are all towns, and Newton is a local place—almost a village. I have known it almost as long as I have lived, and you cannot deal with Newton the same as with one of the populous towns of Lancashire. And I would like to draw attention to this point. I 1276 have a book issued by the Typographical Society which gives the hours and wages of every place under their own Rules. I find that the wages at Newton are 28s. for 54 hours, which are lower than they are in London. But at Aylesbury—a place under the Society's Rules, the wages are only 26s. for 58 hours, four hours more than are worked at Newton. At Exeter, which is a town, the wages are only 24s., and they work 52½ hours, or one and a-half hours less than at Newton. At Kendal, a town in Westmoreland, the wages are 25s., and they work for 55½ hours, or one and a-half hours more than at Newton. At Maidstone, in Kent, the wages are 28s. for 54 hours, the same as at Newton. I say if it is fair for the Typographical Society to fix these wages and hours in these places which are under their own control and Rules, I do not think there is much to complain of in the hours worked at Newton and the wages paid there. I would mention as an argument in favour of this firm that at this place very little printing is done. My hon. Friend says they have contracts for £37,000. That is perfectly true, but they are not for printing; the only contract they have for any printing is in respect of envelopes and Savings Bank Deposit Books. I have a statement from the firm that during the last 12 mouths the amount under contract for envelopes paid by the Government was £55 17s. 5d., not a very large amount when you take into consideration the contract for £37,000. The amount for the binding contract was £3 11s. 6d., and I have not the amount with regard to the Savings Bank Deposit Books. Though I regret, as I said before, that it was necessary on the part of the firm to dismiss these men, though I regret that action as strongly as my hon. Friend does himself, I say this firm has a right to conduct its business in the way it thinks best for its own interests. But while I say that I do not want to say we have not the power, as a Government, if we make contracts with houses like this, of interference. Let me read to my hon. Friend what the Resolution is that was passed by this House—That, in the opinion of this House, it is the duty of the Government, in all Government contracts, to make provision against the evils recently disclosed before the Sweating Commis- 1277 sion, to insert such conditions as may prevent abuse from sub-letting, and make every effort to secure the payment of such wages as is current for competent workmen.I say this house is not a sweating house; there is nothing to show that any of the work has been sub-let, and the Treasury are of opinion—and I agree with the view expressed by the Treasury —that this Resolution does not enable us to interfere with this house. And while I say that, I say, on behalf of the Stationery Department and the Treasury, that they have always, to the best extent of their power, carried out that Resolution. The Stationery Department have issued Circulars to every contractor where tenders were asked for, stating the provisions of that Resolution; they have been placed in the contracts, and therefore I think I may say they have loyally carried out the Resolution passed by this House. I have laid the facts before the Committee. I do not wish to take a strong line on one side or the other. I regret what has taken place with regard to the dismissal of these men; but I say we have no right to interfere in this case in the way suggested by my hon. Friend.
§ * MR. WOODS
said, his right hon. Friend had admitted that the men had been discharged when they had been only carrying out the law of the country, which gave them the right to combine to protect themselves. He could quote from the Circular of the Typographical Association of 10 years ago that the same thing took place, and that the average hours worked were 54, and that the workmen had to work five hours' overtime before they were paid overtime wages. He did not consider the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman at all satisfactory; and if he withdrew his Amendment he should consider he had made a humiliating surrender of the rights of the workmen.
* MR. AUSTIN (Limerick, W.)
said, after the explanation given by the Secretary to the Treasury he thought the observations of his hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. Woods) must command a good deal of sympathy in that House; and if the hon. Member pressed the matter to a Division he (Mr. Austin) should go into the Lobby with him. He desired to bring forward the question of Government printing in Ireland, which 1278 was a subject that had agitated the printers for a considerable time. Questions had been put to the Secretary to the Treasury on several occasions during the present Session, without, however, any satisfactory result. A deputation had waited upon the Chief Secretary for Ireland some time ago on the same subject; but again no good result had followed. He wished to draw attention to the firm known as the Queen's Printers in Ireland, which was a house conducted on the boy labour system. They employed something over 100 men, and they had 67 apprentices and 21 unskilled workers at machines. These employés got very low wages. There were some Society men employed by this firm, which only gave them work when it was driven to the necessity of employing them; and, of course, if a Society man could get work elsewhere, he would not accept work from the firm referred to under such conditions. The Dublin Typographical Society had waited upon this firm time after time; but their representations had been totally ignored, and the Society thrown overboard altogether. The Rules of the Society were never recognised by this firm, and the system under which the printing work was executed could not be paralleled in any part of the United Kingdom. The answer that had been given by the right hon. Gentleman (Sir J. T. Hibbert) showed more than ever the necessity for the working men to organise if they were to have justice done them. Another matter he wished to mention was the intermediate education printing. This printing was never put up for competition to the other Dublin houses, and it was now being executed entirely by unskilled labour. The only portions of that printing that were put up to competition were the result sheets, which came to a very small item. He thought it was the duty of the Government, when they were giving out contracts, to put them up for public competition. No particular house should have a monopoly; and if any monopoly had existed for years it was high time to do away with it. Coming to the advertising, he wished to point out that the Government advertised in an Irish newspaper which was produced almost solely by boy labour. Four men were employed by this parti- 1279 cular newspaper, who were required to work for a lower rate of wages than was recognised in Dublin. He thought it should be the duty of the Secretary to the Treasury to inquire into these matters at once, and see that Government advertisements were not given to a journal conducted on such a principle. The same observations applied to the bookbinding trade. Not a single book used in the national schools in Ireland was produced by Unionist labour. Every book turned out was produced by boys, with the aid of unskilled labour, and these boys, in the end, were turned out as very indifferent workmen. They, in most cases, afterwards emigrated to England, where, as well as at home, they were able to command a very small figure in the labour market. The work which they were able to turn out, as he had said, was of a very indifferent character; and the result was that ultimately they found themselves thrown on the ratepayers for their support. That was the result of the system pursued with regard to Government printing in Ireland. He might mention that the information in his possession came direct from the Typographical Society, of which he had been a member for over 20 years. He knew the circumstances under which the work was being executed, and he could vouch for the accuracy of everything he had stated. He, therefore, hoped lie would have some more satisfactory answer from the Government than that which had been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury on this important subject.
§ MR. FENWICK (Northumberland, Wansbeck)
said, he regretted that his right hon. Friend should have undertaken the defence of this Company, especially after his admission that 10 of their servants were dismissed really for having joined a Trade Union. He deprecated as much as his right hon. Friend did workmen resorting to force to compel unwilling fellow-workmen to join a Trade Union, because he considered that the efficiency of a Trade Union rested on the voluntary character of the Association; but he equally deplored similar pressure being put by employers on their workmen to compel them not to join a Trade Union when they wished to 1280 do so. If employers dismissed men for joining a Labour Association they did so-with perfect immunity; but if workmen refused to work with Non-union men and intimidated them they made themselves amenable to the law. He would give the right hon. Gentleman a case in point. Two years ago a number of Trades Unionists in Glasgow intimated to their employer that unless certain workmen of the firm were made to join the Trades Union they would cease to work for him —meaning, of course, that they would tender legal notice to terminate their contract. The employer immediately sued these men in the Sheriff Court, and got a verdict against them, and the men were sent to prison simply because they told their employer if such workmen were not dismissed or made to join the Trades Union they would cease to work for him. That case clearly showed there was one law for the employer and another for the workman. He strongly deprecated any force exercised by workmen to compel their fellow-workmen to join the Union against their will; but he equally deplored and condemned the action of employers who forced their workmen out of employment for the simple reason that they had joined a Trades Union. His-right hon. Friend had also admitted that the wages paid by this firm were less than were paid in the cases referred to by the Member for Ince; but he said that the firm of M'Corquodale and Co. was not a fair comparison with other firms, because the work was done in a small country village. But his right hon. Friend ought to remember the effect of low wages paid by the firm in the district of Newton, because it was a fact that these low wages kept down the wages in the same industry in the neighbourhood. He maintained that the work of the Government ought to be done under the best possible conditions, and for fair remuneration; and that was clearly not done in this case. Again, in London, three firms — Harrison, Darling, and Pigott—were doing Government work, and were paying their workmen 2s. a week less than other firms were paying —36s. instead of 38s. a week, the latter being the acknowledged rate of wages. How was it possible for good employers, who desired to pay their workmen fair wages, to compete for Government work 1281 if such firms as he had mentioned were permitted to pay 2s. a week less than the standard rate of wages? Messrs. Harrison and Darling were doing most confidential work for the War Office and the Admiralty, and their workmen ought to receive proper remuneration, so as to place them beyond the strong temptation of making improper use of the information that came before them.
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
, interposing, said, that these three firms had contracts which were in operation before the House of Commons Resolution was passed. But when these contracts were again open for consideration the representations that had been made would be considered.
said, he was aware of that; but one of the points that he complained of strongly was that the Government made such long contracts, that they were not able to conform to the ever-changing conditions of the labour market; and in these cases three years must pass before effect could be given to the Resolution of the House of February, 1891. He sincerely hoped the Treasury would press this matter on the attention of those who were favoured with Government contracts, and would see that in every case fair wages were paid, and reasonable conditions of employment guaranteed to the workmen.
§ MR. BURNS (Battersea)
said, he had listened with great surprise to the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman in defence of the untenable position he had taken up in the light of the Resolution of February, 1891, and again unanimously confirmed at the commencement of the Session of this year. He contended that the vagueness and generality of that Resolution certainly did permit a Government at all unscrupulous in dealing with labour matters to get out of what he considered the moral and economical obligation that that Resolution, read in the most generous sense, put upon any Government or Minister that had work to do under it. He maintained that the offences of which the firm of Messrs. M'Corquodale had been admittedly guilty brought them within the scope of that Resolution. The Resolution sought to make provision against the evils disclosed before the Royal Commission on the 1282 Sweating System; to prevent the abuse arising from sub-letting, and to make every effort to secure the payment of such wages as were generally accepted as current for competent workmen in each trade. This was not an attempt on the part of a Trade Union to dictate that none but Union men. should be employed; it was not a case in which a Trade Union asked for a fancy rate of wages and used its power to impose conditions of labour; but this was an attempt on the part of 10 men out of 700 to exercise the right of combination in order to prevent the firm perpetuating those abuses which before the Royal Commission on Labour and on the Sweating System were proved to follow when workmen had not an undisputed right to combine. What did the Royal Commission on the Sweating System prove? It proved that, where boy labour existed work was bad, and scamped work prevailed; that unskilled labour lacked the power of organisation, and did not receive the wages that would support it; that where the power to form a Union did not exist there sweating prevailed; and that where a Union had been formed and had been abandoned the rate of wages fell in proportion to the intimidation and pressure on the part of the masters to induce men not to belong to Unions. In these cases they had it proved by the right hon. Gentleman that Messrs. M'Corquodale did dismiss 10 men for joining the Union; and it savoured of the pre-factory days to have the right hon. Gentleman get up and say he thought they were within their right to do such a thing. What would be thought of a Union that had its members working under a Government firm if they struck and intimidated their men to the extent that this Government printer had intimidated Union men? The fact that only 10 men were dismissed proved that the men had some justification for belonging to the Union. These men were the sentinels of Labour, and were determined to have the Government conditions complied with; and the firm dismissed them on the plea that it was not a good thing to have Union men and Non-union men working together. He was positively convinced that the men were dismissed because the firm knew that they would find out the 1283 weak spots in their arrangements and prove them guilty of the offences the House had on two occasions decided to put down. Not only in the case of this particular firm, but in London and in Ireland, firms that did printing for the Government imposed conditions on their workmen that would have deserved the condemnation of the Sweating Commission. It was absurd to say that because the work was done in a small country town like Newton the men should not be paid the same rate of wages as those in other largo towns. After the admission made by the right hon. Gentleman, he did not see why the firm of M'Corquodale should be kept on the list of Government printers, unless they at once stipulated that they would give no preference to either Union or Non-union men, and that if the workmen desired to combine they should be permitted to do so. The only real way out of this sweating difficulty was for the Government to follow the example set by the Governments of France, Germany, the Colonies, and America, by establishing printing works of its own, where the work would be done under the Trade Union conditions by employés directly engaged. The profits of the middleman ought to be eliminated. Hail-way Companies who had a large amount of printing to do were doing it themselves, and thus eliminating the middleman, whilst Local Authorities also recognised the wisdom of eliminating the middleman and doing their own work under decent conditions; and if the same thing were done by the Government, the sweating evils would disappear altogether. The only way to save the time of the House from periodically discussing these Trade Union grievances was for them to insist in future that their work should be done under the conditions insisted upon by the Resolution of that House, and not according to those desired by a section of bureaucratic permanent officials, who wanted the contract system against the wish of the House. Until they took these permanent officials metaphorically by the scruff of the neck they would never solve this Labour problem, and the evils of the sweating system were sure to crop up.
§ MR. S. BUXTON
desired to say a few words in this Debate, as he had a personal, and he might say a paternal, 1284 interest in the matter under discussion. The object of the Resolution of February, 1891, and of other Resolutions of that House, was to settle once and for all that the Government, as an employer, ought to set a good example to other employers of labour. It was pointed out, when the Resolution of 1891 was under consideration, that in a large number of cases Government contractors were induced by circumstances to sweat their profits out of the wages of the employed, and that Trade Unionists were not able to work under these contractors, because they did not pay what Unionists held to be the fair rate of wages of the House desired to establish as a principle was that there ought to be no bar to prevent Trade Unionists from doing work under Government contracts. He should certainly consider it would not be carrying out the spirit of the Resolution of the House if an employer dismissed men from his service simply on the ground that they were Trade Unionists or wished to become Trade Unionists. The Government would consider that any preference given to a Non-Unionist against a Unionist in regard to Government printing would be, to a large extent, against the principle of that Resolution. As regarded this particular contract, he had been authorised to say that this was a running contract, and six months' notice was required to terminate it; and that when notice was given of the termination of the existing contract, the question of Unionists and Non-Unionists would be taken into consideration, and one of the terms and conditions of the renewal of the contract, if it were renewed, or in giving it out to another contractor would be the insertion of a clause that no preference should be given as between Unionists and Non-Unionists. With regard to the question of wages, the Secretary to the Treasury would give his best attention to any facts which his hon. Friend could bring before him with a view to seeing whether the statements made by Mr. M'Corquodale on the subject were correct. But, assuming the figures quoted to be correct, the rate paid was practically that recognised by Trades Unions. If, as the hon. Member contended, Messrs. M'Corquodale, because of the low wages paid by them in the village of Newton, were able to compete 1285 unfairly with employers in the largo towns and to obtain a large amount of Government work, that would, in his opinion, be entirely contrary to the principle of the Resolution of the House. His right hon. Friend would be guided solely by the Resolution of the House; but he could not go beyond it. If the House wished to extend the Resolution, he, for one, would not oppose that. But the extension of the Resolution was another matter. He did not think the hon. Member would improve the treatment of the question by going to a Division in which he would be beaten; and ho, therefore, hoped be would rest satisfied with the assurances that had been given.
§ MR. S. BUXTON
bogged pardon. With regard to the other questions raised, they would receive the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury. He assured the Committee that the Government were desirous to carry out both in spirit and in letter the Resolution of the House of 1891.
§ * SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
said, the hon. Gentleman hail climbed down from the position taken up by the Secretary to the Treasury, who might be supposed to have fully inquired into the circumstances of the case, and who had given them to understand that his information convinced him that this was not a case for interference. He denied that the Resolution had been imperfectly acted upon by the late Government; on the contrary, he felt convinced it had been most strictly acted upon in every Department of which they had control. If the House went beyond the Resolution of 1891 and inquired whether men were Union or Non-Union, and whether rates of wages were such as the Union approved, it would be going further than Governments had ever gone in times past and would be sotting an inconvenient precedent for the future. There was still a lingering regard for the taxpayer in this House. Was the Government of the day not to make the best terms it could on behalf of the public whom it represented? He submitted that those old-fashioned rules ought not to be forgotten and banished to another planet. Depend upon it such a departure from 1286 sound political principles would come back to them in an awkward shape when the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to impose fresh taxation, which would be the inevitable result. This country could not compete with other countries; employers could not compete with their rivals abroad, and the great industries of this country could not be maintained if they artificially interfered with trade matters, and were no longer to buy in the cheapest market. Though the Government had not stood to their guns, he would, nevertheless, support them. It was the duty of those who had been in Office to stand by those who were in Office in defence of the taxpayer.
§ * SIR C. W. DILKE
said, the extremely old-fashioned support which the right hon. Gentleman had given them would convince the Government of the wisdom of accepting the extension of the principle of the Resolution of 1891, as contended for by his hon. Friend. The House was a little behind the best Local Authorities in its action upon this question. He himself belonged to more than one Local Authority which would undoubtedly interfere in a case such as had been presented to the House, and some at least of those were Local Authorities with a Conservative majority. The point, then, was, what would the Government do when this case came before them again? The Under Secretary rather expressed a personal view than pledged the Government, and before the Motion was withdrawn be would ask for a more definite promise on the subject.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
said, he thought the House would hardly be satisfied with the statement made on behalf of the Government. They had not heard from the Government that it was their intention to act upon the principle of the Resolution passed by the House. It was through the Trade Unions and through the action of purchasers alone that the practice of sweating could be got rid of. The duty of the Government was clear in the matter. It was that the Government should prefer Union firms to Non-Union firms. [Cries of "No!" and "Hear, hear!"] Well, how were they to meet the practice? He did not think the statement made by the Government was all that was wanted. 1287 It was personal rather than official, and he would like to have a further assurance.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said, the House had for many years pronounced in favour of Trade Unions, and, therefore, where a firm turned away its men because they belonged to a Trade Union they ought not to be employed by the Government, because they were violating the law of the laud. The question of wages in a particular trade in a particular district was regulated by the Trade Unions, and, therefore, the Government should accept the rate of wages ascertained by the Trade Unions as the proper rate which they ought to pay.
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, some more definite promise had been called for, He had said that he believed all firms had a right to deal with their own workpeople, but he could not help regretting that a firm in the employment of the Government should have discharged 10 of their workpeople because they were Union men. In his opinion, Government work should not be given to firms who were not prepared to deal equally with Unionists and Non-Unionists. He would undertake that the question would be reconsidered, and reconsidered in this way: that the Government would be justified in refusing to enter into contracts with firms who were shown to have acted as this firm had done.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Surrey, Guildford)
said, consequent upon what the right hon. Gentleman had said, he should like to ask whether firms which had been boycotted by the Trade Unions would be refused Government employment?
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, it might often happen that firms employed by the Government would employ Non-Union men, and he wanted to be quite clear on the point whether these firms would be in any worse position than other firms— those employing Union men. It was clearly the intention of the last Government that wages current in the district should be paid, whether that happened to be the Union rate of wages or not. He did not know whether there was any change now.
§ MR. BRODRICK
said, he merely wanted to be clear as to the preference to be given in such cases as he had mentioned.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
asked whether the Government would do an act of justice by urging upon M'Corquodale and Co. to reinstate the 10 men whom they had dismissed for joining a Trades Union for protective purposes. He understood that other men in their employment had been threatened with similar treatment for doing the same thing. If the Government did not give a pledge to use their influence with this firm to get them to reinstate the men, he trusted that the hon. Member would divide the Committee on his Motion.
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
I certainly cannot give any such pledge. I have no objection to make favourable representations to the firm, but I do not think myself justified in taking the course suggested.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
asked to have a definite statement as to what the position would be if that or any other firm took the same action in similar circumstances? Would the Government be content, as they had been in the present instance, to accept the explanation of the firm, or would they at once communicate with the firm and inform them of the Resolution of the House, and use their influence to prevent the carrying out of any injustice to their Trade Unionists?
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
If anything such as the hon. Gentleman indicates were done it would be a breach of contract on the part of the firm. I see no difficulty in carrying out the suggestion made by the hon. Member.
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said, he wished to draw attention to a point the Government had overlooked. An hon. Member opposite had said that certain firms were boycotted by their own men. As he (Mr. Howell) understood, the Resolution would not touch a case of that kind at all, that being a matter altogether between the men and the firm.
§ MR. WOODS
said, he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury for the answers he had given to inquiries made from various parts of the House. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that when 1289 the present contracts terminated, unless M'Corquodale and Co. withdrew the prohibition, the contracts would not be renewed.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would give six months' notice to the firm?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ MR. DALZIEL
There is another matter upon which I wish to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury. I desire to press him for a declaration as to the intentions of the Government with respect to the Report presented by the Committee appointed to consider the question of the Parliamentary Debates. For the information of hon. Members who may not have given attention to the Report, I may say that the main points of it are these: First, that in future all speeches shall be reported in full instead of a discretion being left in the hands of the contractor as under the present system. Another recommendation is that the reports of proceedings in the House shall be issued on the day after they take place and be available for Members in the Vote Office, and that they shall be issued on the second day along with the Parliamentary Papers. The Report recommends that the right of revision which has hitherto been enjoyed by Members shall practically be taken away. They will, however, have the opportunity on the day following the proceedings of referring to the report in the Vote Office, and in the case of any obvious error they will be able to make a representation to the editor of the Debates on the subject. The Report also recommends that better accommodation should be provided for the official reporters; that the contracts in future for printing and reporting should be completely and entirely separated; that an official should be appointed by the Treasury to superintend the printing of the Debates; and that lie, in turn, should be under the control of a Committee appointed by the House. 1290 These are the several features of the Report, and I now beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury as to how far the Government are prepared to go in carrying out the recommendations?
§ MR. J. BURNS (Battersea)
said, he wished to call attention to another point in connection with the Stationery Vote. He happened to be a member of a Public Body which had recently been advertising for candidates for certain posts, and on one occasion they had received answers from 157 candidates. The testimonials and applications of 50 or 60 of these candidates were written on Government foolscap paper from different Government Offices. It seemed to him that the House of Commons had no right to supply foolscap paper for every one of its clerks and officials who were anxious to improve their position. Further, he had learnt from a constituency not 100 miles from the constituency he (Mr. Burns) represented that note-paper bearing the House of Commons stamp had been used in 14,000 circulars addressed by a Member of Parliament to his constituents. He put it to the House that, generous as the British taxpayer was, a protest should be made in his behalf against this wholesale employment of Government stationery. Such employment of Government stationery was a mean and shabby action, and he trusted that the Government would put a stop to it.
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
I would suggest to my hon. Friend (Mr. Dalziel) that at this late hour (11.45 p.m.) he should not request us to consider the Report of the Committee on Parliamentary Reporting. The subject is one of great importance, and it is one upon which, I think, we ought to have the benefit of the views of the Leaders of the various sections of the House, and of hon. Gentlemen in all quarters. I would venture to suggest to the hon. Member that the discussion should be deferred until the Stationery Vote conies on in the ordinary course. By that time hon. Members will have had an opportunity of maturing their views. This Report recommends very large changes and alterations in respect of the reporting of the Debates. It recommends for instance, that a full report should be given of the speech of every hon. Member, and that the report should be in the 1291 nominative case—that speeches should not be reported in the mode hitherto adopted. That would be a considerable change. The whole matter was threshed out by a strong Committee upstairs, who were unanimously in favour of the principles recommended in the Report. But I do not think it would be right to make that change without giving hon. Members a full opportunity of considering it, and without allowing the Treasury time to consider how far the state of the finances will allow of its being carried out.
§ MR. DALZIEL
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it is most important that we should hear from all quarters of the House an expression of opinion as to this Report, because I am inclined to believe that the recommendations contained in it are likely to carry us much further than most hon. Members are aware. I must, while agreeing with the right hon. Gentleman generally, ask him if he will be prepared to give us an opportunity of considering the Report this Session in time, if necessary, for that Report to be acted on, and for notice to be given to the present contractors?
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
That is quite necessary. With regard to the matter raised by the hon. Member for Battersea, I must say that the custom alluded to by the hon. Member is most reprehensible, and I hope that it will not be continued.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
said, he desired to call attention to the arbitrary exercise of its rights by the Crown in the New Forest. The matter arose in this way—the Crown sold some timber in the New Forest, and the purchasers placed two steam engines in one of the glades to cut the timber up—in the Holmesleigh Lawn Glade. Great damage was done to the pasture; and so agistors of the forest took out a summons against these men for damaging the pasturage belonging to the commoners to be heard in the Court of Verderers, who were the representatives of the commoners. Upon this the Crown, reviving an almost obsolete Statute, called upon the verderers within 10 days to answer certain interrogatories requiring the production of deeds and maps. It was impossible for this to be done in the required time, and he asked that a little more grace should be 1292 given to the verderers. He could not expect the House to take very great interest in this matter, but he had always found that there was amongst Members rather an affection for the New Forest as one of the best open spaces in the Kingdom, and he had been asked to place the matter before them on behalf of the commoners. He would ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether he could allow the verderers a little more time to reply to the interrogatories? They might be able to do so in a month's time, but even then it would involve considerable labour. If further time were not given they would prefer to drop the action rather than attempt to do that which was impossible.
SIR J. T. HIBBERT
said, he was not acquainted with the particulars of the case, but he would consult those officials who were familiar with the facts, and, if possible, would give the hon. Member a reply to-morrow.
* DR. MACGREGOR (Inveruess-shire)
said, he was anxious to direct the attention of the Committee to one or two cases of hardship in the administration of the law in the Highlands. He could not go fully into the case at this late hour, but he would appeal to the Secretary for Scotland whether he could not temper justice with mercy in the case of the four men, constituents of his (Dr. Macgregor's), who were now suffering punishment out of all proportion to the offence they had committed? He had already called attention to the matter, but the Secretary for Scotland had not seen his way to liberate the men. The case was one of great hardship which should not be tolerated. Who were these Highlanders? They were men who deserved well of their country. For the last century and a half there had not been a war or a battle in which they had not taken a brave and heroic part, and in that way had helped to promote the renown and prestige of the Empire. Why, then, should they be denied a little bit of ground to grow potatoes, which, indeed, had been promised them? It was in the effort to obtain this bit of laud that these men technically broke the law, and for this they were sent to prison for two months. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a highly eulogistic description of the Highland character 1293 two years ago, which the hon. Member read to the House; moreover, the mother of the Prime Minister was a Highland woman, and the Secretary for Scotland himself was half a Highlander, and other occupants of the Treasury Bench had Highland blood in their veins. Blood was thicker than water, and a little sympathy should be shown to these men. They were not criminals, but respectable, decent people who had made a mistake in the law, and were now suffering for it. He was sorry to say that on former occasions the Sheriff Substitute of the district had been guilty of oppressive conduct. Only a few years ago a fisherman was found going home with a salmon accidentally caught in his net while pursuing his occupation in the open sea. For that alone he was sent three weeks to gaol. Unless he (Dr. Macgregor) got a definite promise from the right hon. Gentleman that he would reconsider the matter and liberate these men he would take the first opportunity to-morrow, if possible, of calling attention to the case again.
THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Sir G. TREVELYAN,) Glasgow, Bridgeton
said, that in regard to the last case, whether the salmon was caught accidentally or otherwise, the Government would support an Amendment on the Fishery Bill to come before the House which would place the Scottish population on the sea coast in the same position which the English and Irish population enjoyed now. The panegyric which the hon. Member had quoted could not, however, he was afraid, be allowed to affect the decision of a Minister whose duty it was to exercise the prerogative of mercy. The very serious fault committed by the four men was one it was absolutely necessary, in the interests of justice and public order, to severely punish. It was no chance riot, but a piece of preconcerted lawlessness. By what might be described as the sort of piracy that used to go on in the Highlands, a man who had taken a farm was treated by these men with violence which not only put him in danger of his life, but deprived him of his lawful rights.
SIR G. TREVELYAN
said, there was; but, in all the circumstances, he was quite unable to diminish the punishment.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (Manchester, E.)
said, he understood that the Government were quite prepared to give some opportunity to-morrow to discuss certain Irish questions which ought to be discussed on the Vote on Account. They would, he understood, be prepared to allow a couple of hours towards the end of the Sitting, and would move the Adjournment before 5 o'clock to-morrow, if necessary, for the purpose. Under those circumstances he would not recommend that any opposition should be offered to the taking of this Vote.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow, at To of the clock; Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.