§ £272,887 for superannuation and retiring, compensation, and compassionate allowances.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
I desire to know whether this is a Home Office or a Foreign Office matter, and whether it could not have been classed with Vote 1. I see that there is also an additional and supplementary Estimate.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
According to the Notice Paper, we should be con- 105 sidering Vote 1, Class 3, and you are now taking Vote 1, Class 6.
If the honourable Member will look at page 12 he will see that we are taking them exactly as put down.
§ MR. DILLON
It is not exactly as put down, because it says—including additional and supplementary estimates.Therefore we should be taking Class 3, Votes 1 to 9.
§ At this stage MR. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) took the Chair.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I should like to know what the arrangement with the House of Lords is. I should like to know why this small sum of compensation allowance should appear on this Vote, and why the House of Lords did not deduct that sum themselves in the usual way before handing it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Another point which I desire to call attention to is the enormous disparity between the superannuation allowances in the case of England, Ireland, and Scotland. The total sum here in the case of Ireland is £17,000, and when we refer to the corresponding entry with regard to Scotland the amount is only £15,000. Therefore I think that we are fairly entitled to ask for some little explanation why there exists this enormous disparity of £17,000 for Ireland and only £15,000 in the case of Scotland. There is another item to which I wish to call attention, and that is the allowances with regard to the police courts of London. Everyone knows that, so far as police courts are concerned in the country, they are maintained as a local charge; take Glasgow, 106 Manchester, and everywhere except the Metropolis in the United Kingdom, and we find that the local ratepayers provide their own police courts and pay the expenses of their magistrates. Well, I do think that it is most unreasonable that in the case of the Metropolis, which is the wealthiest portion of the Empire, it should have nearly £5,000 a year out of the Imperial funds for the purpose of superannuating the police and magistrates within the metropolitan area. I venture to say that that is a matter which should not be allowed. We objected, in the case of the metropolitan buildings, to the salaries of magistrates, and expenses of the metropolitan police force, and these matters were then moved off the Estimates, and we all know how it was done. Unfortunately, there is still a feeling with regard to these Estimates that the sum of £5,000 a year for the metropolitan police courts should not be allowed out of the Imperial funds. Well, I think we are clearly entitled to point out in matters where Scotland comes into collision with the Imperial Treasury that here you are taking out of the Imperial funds a sum of £5,000 a year for purposes which, in the case of Scotland, and every other provinical town and city in the Empire, is paid out of the local rates. Well, there is another matter to which I would direct the attention of the Committee more particularly, besides what I have already stated, and that is the great disparity between the superannuation allowances in the case of Scotland as compared more particularly with the case of Ireland, or with the case of England generally, and it is only by calling attention to these matters upon the Estimates, as they are passing through our hands, that we can really impress upon the House the importance of these Votes and the importance of this fact, that in the case of Scotland we are getting nothing like our fair share of the Estimates out of the Imperial funds, whereas, on the contrary, in the case of Ireland, you are giving £17,000 and only £15,000 for Scotland; and whilst the cost of the police in Scotland and other places is paid for out of the local rates, in London you are paying £5,000 a year for that purpose out of Imperial funds. Now I think that we ought to have some explanation of this matter, and whenever these 107 matters come up I shall always call attention to this great disparity so far as the Imperial Treasury is concerned.
§ MR. DILLON
I again call attention to the extraordinary rule of your predecessor in the Chair this evening, because I think that Vote 1, Class 3, should have been taken first; but, of course, I bow to the superior judgment of the honourable Gentleman the Member for the Bordesley Division, and I will now take this opportunity of raising a point of great importance on this particular Vote. I allude to the sums which, are set down under the head, of retiring superannuation allowances for certain resident magistrates in Ireland. I confess to a certain amount of ignorance on this subject, because I do not know under what regulations the resident magistrates' salaries are fixed in Ireland. I do not think that they come under the regular rules for service, and, judging from the amounts at which some of these superannuation allowances are fixed, they must come under a much more favourable scale than the one which is generally adopted. Now, the two points which I desire to raise are, first of all, the general point that it appears to me that the superannuation allowances are much too high in proportion to the number of years of service and the amount of their salaries; and, secondly, I wish to draw attention to some extraordinary discrepancies which appear to me to be impossible to account for in the superannuation allowances of certain individuals. I take one as an instance: that of Sir 0. R. Slacke, a divisional commissioner. His years of service are 29, and his age is only 60. His salary was £1,000 a year, and his retiring allowance is £650 a year. I will suppose for illustration that £650 is the very utmost and fullest retiring allowance that could be allowed if he had served his 40 years, or whatever the full term of service is which entitles a civil servant to the full amount of his pension. Well, as I have stated, at 60 years of age he retired, and he got a pension of £650 a year upon a salary of £1,000 per annum, which, I believe, had only been recently increased. Now, I compare his case with that of another official. In another case a man retires at the age of 65, after 24 years service, and he gets £382 10s. 108 a year, which appears to me to be considerably small. Another still more remarkable case is this. Take the instance of MR. G. MacCarthy, another resident magistrate. He retires at 65 years of age, and he has 41 years' service to his credit, which is the full amount of service which entitles him to a pension. His salary was £675 per annum, and he gets £403 6s. 8d. as a retiring allowance. He also has a pension of £22 a year out of the Constabulary Vote. Now, a retiring allowance of £403 a year bears somewhat the same proportion to a £675 salary as £650 does to £1,000. Now, I want to know upon what principle these retiring allowances are made up. Why should a man with only 29 years' service and at 60 years of age get the same proportion of retiring allowance as a man at 65 with 41 years of service?
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I desire to ask a question with regard to the amount of £700 put down for compensation. It was originally, I think, £449, but the amount put down now is the same this year as last year, namely, £700. I would like to ask if all this money has been required, and is it necessary to have this grant now in view of the applications that will be made under the Act. I should like to know if the right honourable Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury can give us any information as to whether the Government will make any provision this year for claims that may arise under the Workmen's Compensation Act, or if the Government intend to take any steps with regard to it.
§ MR. HANBURY
In reply to the honourable Member for Islington I believe that this amount of £700 for Compassionate Fund grants payable by the Treasury as a matter of fact in most years has 109 not been exhausted. I am not quite sure how much was spent last year or the year before, but if the honourable Gentleman will put a question on the Paper 1 will give him the fullest information an the subject, but I cannot, be expected to carry about with me the amount which has been spent in previous years. Already a Workmen's Compensation scheme has been drawn up by the Treasury, but, as the honourable Member is aware, such schemes have to receive the approval of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and we have not yet received his sanction. Of course, when that is received, the matter will be fully considered.
§ MR. HANBURY
No; they will have the choice of either taking compensation under the Act, or under the Treasury scheme.
§ MR. HANBURY
No. The honourable Member also asked a question with regard to the superannuation of certain resident magistrates in Ireland. Now, the superannuation of these magistrates depends on what principle their salaries are fixed, but it does not fall upon the British Treasury, and it is rather a matter for the Irish Office. But with regard to their pensions I can say that the same principle is adopted as in regard to the rest of the Civil Service, and the amount of pension depends entirely upon the number of years which they have served. If they have served 40 years, them they are entitled to 40–60ths of their salary. No doubt, Sir 0. R. Slacke's pension seems large in proportion to what he should apparently receive in relation to the number of years of actual service. But in the case of Resident Magistrates in Ireland, I may point out that there is power to add 10 years to their service on account of professional qualifications. With regard to the question raised by the honourable Member for Mid Lanark as to the charges for the metropolitan police courts, I think he is aware that there has been a change with regard to the payment of the annual expenses by these metropolitan 110 police courts. They were very largely cut down, and the charge now on the Imperial Exchequer is very much smaller than it was. That change took place last year. Of course, it is only right, as the Imperial Treasury were liable for these salaries up to a certain date, that it should bear the cost of the pensions of the men who are pensioned before that date, and that is all which now appears on this Superannuation Vote. Naturally as the salaries of these officers and officials have bean, as a rule, with the exception of Bow Street, transferred to the rates, no future pensions will be chargeable in this respect upon this Vote. Then the honourable Member for Mid Lanark has complained as to the unfair proportion of superannuation allowance drawn by Scotland as compared with Ireland and England. Again, I may point out that these superannuation allowances are all given upon a definite basis, but that is not a question which arises on this Vote. It may possibly be raised on other Votes, where actual salaries are involved, but all that this Vote deals with is the question of superannuation to those persons who have been receiving certain salaries. The way in which this Vote works is entirely automatic, and I do not think it is in order here to discuss how many officials there should be in Scotland or in England. This is merely a question of the pensions which follow naturally upon those salaries, and I do not think, as I have said before, that a general discussion can be raised upon this matter.
§ MR. DILLON
The answer given by the right honourable Gentleman does not meet the difficulty I am in, and he did not attempt to answer my question. The right honourable Gentleman seems to have failed to master the peculiarities of Irish administration. These pensions to Irish resident magistrates were given on the same system, we assume, as was the case in the Civil Service in England. Now, Sir, what I complain of is that it is plain upon the face of these Estimates that that is not the case. Let us examine again this Estimate, and it will then be manifest to anybody that it is not the same system as that of the Civil Service in this country. In point of fact there appears to be no system at all on 111 which these retiring allowances are fixed. First of all, take the case of Sir O. R. Slacke. He is only 60 years of age, and yet he is set down in the column giving the cause of his retirement as "age." Now, I never heard of an official retiring at 60 years of age. There was the case of a man retiring at 56, but he was in the Supreme Court of Judicature, and the cause of his retirement was ill-health. I find no other entry on account of age. I find one man's age is put down at 81, but all those who have retired on account of age, with this one exception I have mentioned, are about 65 years of age. But Sir O. R. Slacke has retired on account of age, and his service is only 29 years and his salary was £1,000. Now, I put it to the Secretary of the Treasury, what would be the retiring allowance of a man, under the Civil Service system in this country, with a salary of £1,000 and 29 years' service? I assume that it would be under £500 a year. Now, why does this particular gentleman get £650?
§ MR. DILLON
I think the Attorney General for Ireland might have replied if he had been in his place. G. MacCarthy has given 41 years' service, but he gets a less retiring allowance on the same scale, although he is 65 years of age. Now, if he had got his proper retiring allowance for 41 years' service he would have received £492. So that Mr. Slacke, who has only half the service of Mr. MacCarthy, has got a pension on a much higher scale than the man who served 41 years. That appears to me to be a great injustice, and it is a system of payment which is not in accordance with any rule; and what makes it to me more obnoxious and disgusting is that these gentlemen are judges in the service of the Crown. If the Executive Government have been surveying the careers of these gentlemen in Ireland and have been portioning out their salaries according to the extent to which they have made themselves agreeable to the executive, then I say that it is a most monstrous system. I intended to take a Vote upon this question, but as the right honour- 112 able Gentleman says that he will investigate the case I will not do so under the circumstances.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I have not gathered from the right-honourable Gentleman what is the age at which a person is allowed to retire.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Then everyone, whether ill or not, has a perfect right to retire at 60 and take his superannuation allowance. Well, I do think that that is a very bad system, and I think that the age ought to be somewhat higher. Is the amount of his pension depending upon the number of years of his service?
§ MR. BANBURY
Yes; but I believe that at 65 he can retire, but the longest period he is allowed to serve is when he is 70 years of age. Most of these cases have arisen in regard to the Law Courts; and both in England and in Ireland the Treasury have very little control over either the salaries or the pensions of these officials.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I hope the right honourable Gentleman will look into this matter of the pensions, because 60 years of age is a somewhat early age to receive such a large pension. One officer retires at 60. He has been getting a salary of £2,400 a year, and now he gets a pension of £1,300. Surely some inquiry ought to be made into this case. Well, now, with regard to what fell from the right honourable Gentleman with respect to the London police courts. The right honourable Gentleman said that it would not be fair that the pensions granted before the change was made, by which the expense was thrown upon London, should cease to be paid by the Treasury. It seems to me, however, only natural that, after we have an arrangement by which the salaries should no longer be paid by the Treasury, the same arrangement should also apply to the pensions.
§ MR. HANBURY
These pensions refer to the class of officers who are still in the pay of the Imperial Treasury. As the honourable Member well knows, we 113 are still going on paying salaries in certain cases in metropolitan police courts.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Now, there are half a dozen chief clerks, and I should like to know if we pay them. I would also point out that this pension of £1,000 a year to Mr. Newton has been given since the change referred to was made. Surely, if we have come to an agreement by which these police courts should be thrown upon the rates of London we ought not to grant a pension of £1,000 per annum to that gentleman. I do not quite see the point raised here by my honourable Friend. I could understand it if the gentleman was suffering from ill-health, but there is no allegation of that kind in this case.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I do not think that the answer of the Secretary to the Treasury is at all satisfactory with regard to these police courts. He would lead the Committee to believe that these charges are no longer to be put upon the Imperial Estimates, and that there are no charges now upon the Imperial Estimates with regard to these metropolitan police courts except the residue of these pensions. I suppose that the Secretary to the Treasury will not deny that the present salaries of these magistrates are paid by the Treasury at the present moment. He will not deny that although there has been an arrangement made whereby to some extent these charges have been taken off the Estimates, on the other hand, however, by a little circumlocution these charges appear again on the Estimates, and the police are now charged separately and a certain amount of the Imperial Exchequer is now paid into the Police Fund in relief of these police courts, which are not changed one whit from what they were before. Now, the argument of the Secretary to the Treasury is that these charges in the future had to be borne by the metropolitan rates. Now, if that were a sound argument it would also apply to these pensions. Merely because for the past number of years we have been paying money that we ought not to have paid, because we have been paying pensions that ought to have been paid out of the local rates, you now adopt it as a principle and an argument for continuing these pensions 114 here, that because you have paid them in the past you must go on paying them in the future.
§ MR. HANBURY
I do not think that the honourable Member can have looked at the Estimates. He has stated that all the figures in the Estimates as pensions are actually paid by the Treasury, but it is nothing of the sort, for many of them have been transferred to the Police Fund. The figures show a decrease of £141 in the amount paid by the Treasury. If the honourable Member will look closely at the Estimates he will see that they are not actually being paid out of this Vote, but they have to be put down for reference to a previous year, but they have all been transferred.
§ MR CALDWELL
On page 449 the Committee will see all the salaries for 1889, 1887, 1888, but the exact amount makes no difference, for the principle is the same. I lay no stress upon the amount, but it is a question of principle that I am contending for. I say that, so far, you have admitted the principle, although in practice you have not carried it out. You have only made half the transfer so far as the Imperial Treasury is concerned, but in principle you have admitted that these charges are to be local in London in the metropolitan area, as they are throughout the provinces. Merely because the Imperial Parliament last year and years previously paid a sum which it ought not to have paid, simply because we have paid these superannuation allowances in the past, that is no argument why they should continue to pay that unjust sum, whatever the sum is.
§ MR. HANBURY
The whole thing is very clear. The honourable Member is perfectly right in saying that all these salaries of the metropolitan police courts this year, or the year before, foil upon the Vote. With regard to the new arrangement which, is to be made, it was felt that to a great extent these were local courts, the charges for which ought 115 to fall upon the rates, and all that we are paying for now are charges in respect of two or three courts, such as Bow Street, for instance, because there is a good deal of extradition business done there. It is only the courts where matters which may be fairly described as Imperial questions are tried that are now charged upon the Treasury.
§ SIR J. LUBBOCK (London University)
The London members had no notice that this question was going to be raised; in our judgment London has been somewhat hardly dealt with in the matter of the police courts. The Committee will remember that the subject has had very careful consideration, and as the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton pointed out last year on the same Vote, the matter has been thoroughly gone into and settled as satisfactory. Under these circumstances I hope the Committee will support the Government in this matter.
§ MR BRIGG
I do not know whether this is the ordinary way in which this House conducts its business so as to pass on this pension of £1,000 a year. I would like to draw the attention of the Committee to this fact, because I do not know how far we are prepared to allow these pensions. I think we ought to be careful to see that the Treasury is not saddled by pensions which ought to be paid by the local authorities.
§ MR. CALDWELL
There is one question which arises, and that is, that the gum included under this Vote is not necessarily all for the Civil Service according to the scale. There are other pensions granted which are not under the Civil Service Vote. These are matters which at another time may be the subject of comment. I believe there is practically no obligation on the part of the Treasury to give these allowances, and increased allowances, by the Department, except upon the recommendations of the Treasury. I make that observation with reference to the point under discussion, because Scotland does not get her full proportion according to the Civil Service Estimates, because these 116 amounts for the police are not granted to Scotland; that is why I call attention to the disparity existing, because the feeling I have is that in Scotland we are made liable for these metropolitan pensions and superannuation allowances, although we are not near enough to London to derive any advantage from it. We have not the same facilities for getting pensions as you have in the case of England and Ireland, and that is why the disparity is so much greater.
§ Question put.
§ Vote agreed to.
That a sum not exceeding £2,630 be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum for Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions.
§ Question put.
§ Agreed to.
That a sum not exceeding £793 he granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st of March, 1899, for certain miscellaneous charitable and other allowances in Great Britain.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
There are really several very remarkable charges in this Vote. For instance, we are asked to pay to the Corporation of Berwick £90 for the repairing of a bridge. Now, Northampton is considered to be a very respectable town, but we do not come and ask Parliament to give us an allowance for repairing our bridges. The next item I see is one of £89 to the Bishop of Sodor and Man, which is to be distributed amongst the schoolmasters and incumbents of the island. Now, one of the charms of the Me of Man is that they enjoy full Home Rule at the present moment. If so, then why are they to come here to us and ask us to pay £89 to their incumbents? It is a monstrous thing that Parliament should pay £89 to be distributed in this way. Then there is another item of £175 per annum granted as a compassionate allowance to the Corporation of London for the loss of the Middlesex shrievalty. 117 Now, what in the name of goodness does this mean? Why are we called upon to pay this wealthy and corrupt Corporation of London £175? All these little things creep into the Estimates, and nobody takes the trouble to look into them. I think that we ought to oppose these sort of grants, and I desire to have some explanation of these three items for the borough of Berwick, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, and the Corporation of London.
§ MR. BRIGG
There are some very curious questions involved in this Vote. I wish now to ask my question relating to the foreign refugees, to whom we are paying £60. I do not know whether these refugees are still living, but these pensions have been kept alive up to the present time, and I should like to have some information about them. Well, I am astonished to hear that there are five children still in existence receiving £130 a year. I fail to see the connection here between these five children and the British Army. I have been looking up my history, and I find that the last time our Army was in Spain was in 1812. Now, why cannot these "children" be sent to earn their own living? At any rate, I think it is desirable that there should be some inquiry into the matter.
§ MR. HANBURY
I confess that some of these Votes are of a rather peculiar nature. With regard to these foreign refugees, I must say that when I was in opposition I was much struck with a good many of these pensions, and I made a point of looking into them, because I had great doubts whether many of those persons were alive. I have had careful inquiry made, and have satisfied myself that they are actually alive. Take the first case, that of the Polish refugee. I find that he is 85 years of age, and lives at Londonderry. He has received his allowance since 1837. We are bound under the regulations to give him his pension. Of the other five persons who are mentioned—the distressed Spaniards—they are not so old. There again, there is no doubt of their existence; and their ages vary from 66 to 70. Very careful inquiries have been made, and there is no doubt whatever that they are entitled to this pension. I will tell the honour- 118 able Gentleman exactly how this item occurs. My information is this: that the charge for the relief of the Spanish refugees was first made in 1824; in 1825 considerable additions were made; and in 1826 the allowances amounted to over £1,500 per month. Subsequently, in 1832, the charity meted out to the refugees became less, as they began to return to their own country, until now the present recipients of those pensions receive, two of them, from £2 8s. to £3 2s. per month. So much for the history of the distressed Spaniards.
§ MR. WOODALL (Hanley)
Before the right honourable Gentleman leaves this question I would like to ask him if he is satisfied of the identity of these pensioners.
§ MR. HANBURY
The inquiries have been very carefully pursued, and, while it is more difficult to discover the identity of a Spaniard than that of an Englishman, still there is no reason to suspect the identity of these Spaniards. The honourable Member for Northampton has asked why we should pay this sum of £90 9s. to the Corporation of Berwick every year for the repair of the bridge. Well, we are obliged to do it in consequence of an Act passed in the reign of Charles II., who was good enough to make a grant of £100 to the Corporation. In the reign of George IV. there was a transfer of the grant to the Votes executed, and what followed was that we have been bound ever since to contribute the cost of repairing this; bridge; but the Treasury, with a view of future economy, refuses to pay this £90 9s. unless it is proved by the Corporation that they have spent the 'money on the bridge. Accordingly, the Corporation send a return showing exactly what amount has actually been spent on it; and what they have spent we refund, within the maximum grant. The honourable Member for Northampton was also curious as to this payment to the incumbents and schoolmasters in the Isle of Man. Well, there again, we have to thank the benevolence of Charles II. for that sign of his favour. He charged the Civil List £100 "to be employed and disposed towards the maintenance of such poor ministers in the Isle of Man as shall be found to stand in most 119 need thereof." Four-fifths of that amount goes to 11 ministers, and one fifth to certain schools. In 1831 the charge was transferred to the Votes; and the Bishop of Sodor and Man is responsible to the Treasury for its proper distribution. Now we come to the question of compensation for the loss of the Middlesex shrievalty. The Local Government Act of 1888 took from the Corporation of Middlesex the right of electing the Sheriff of Middlesex. It was an ancient right, going as far back as Henry I., in consideration of a, certain fee farm rent of £315 per year. Here, again, Charles II. reappears; he sold the annuity to a person whose representatives still enjoy it. When the Local Government Bill was in Committee an alteration was proposed by Mr. W. H. Smith, so that no injustice should be done to the City in being deprived of its rights of election. The City claimed £1,500. Mr. Smith offered as a settlement that the Government should relieve the City to the extent to £175 annually, and this offer was eventually accepted, and provision for it was made for the first time in the Estimates of 1894. We have to pay this compensation once every year. I trust this explanation will be satisfactory.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I have heard this story at least a dozen times. The number of these pensioners was at one time 50. Now that 50 during the last 10 years has gone down by one-half, due, I believe, to the action of one of the predecessors of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Leeds. Thus they have wiped out about three-fourths of our responsibility, and I trust the right honourable Gentleman will do something towards wiping out the remainder.
§ DR. CLARK
They pay about £300 a year on charges of a similar character that used to come on the old Scotch revenue, and it was eventually decided that a person could only become a pensioner on the Civil List on certain specified conditions, and the result is that they have been wiped out year by year, and by and by—say in a few years—there will not be a single penny to 120 pay. As far as this bridge is concerned— and which was built in the reign of James I. of blessed memory—and this Vote of £90, there are one or two things which I suggest should be carried out. After a number of years we might purchase it, for instance, after due notice had been given to them. Some there are who might require compensation, and others would require no compensation at all. As to the five "children," they were children 60 years ago; and I do not see why you should continue these grants perpetually. What you should aim at, so far as these people are concerned, is to give notice to them every five or seven years—give them some compensation, but, finally, wipe them out of the Estimates altogether. These pensions, appearing, as they do, from time to time with unfailing persistency, only show how foolish you have been. It is the same with the grant to the Isle of Man. The people who derive the benefit of the ministrations of these clergymen ought to support them. As to future years, therefore, I suggest that we should move a reduction of these Votes, and take a Division. As to the Middlesex shrievalty, of course, there is compensation to be made them. I remember a Motion by Mr. Bradlaugh for a Select Committee with a view to a reform of the Civil List; it was discussed very fully; and it was then decided that all these grants in aid, these tributes to Charles II. of pious and blessed memory, should be ended. The Committee recommended that that should be done; it was thought it was done; but here we have this burden of the blessed monarch still upon our shoulders, I hope, therefore, that the right honourable Gentleman will do something for his own sake to extinguish these charges on the Estimates.
§ MR. HANBURY
I fully concur with what the honourable Gentleman has just said, and I remember that I seconded the Motion of Mr. Bradlaugh, but I hope the honourable Member will not press the matter to a Division. He has referred to the system of purchase for which the rate is fixed at 26 years, but we cannot enforce that. At the same time, it may be possible to come to some arrangement with these persons in the future on some such lines as have been suggested.
§ MR. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
In regard to the discussions on the amount to be distributed amongst these poor ministers, I do not know what definition is to be attached to the word "ministers." I do not know that it can be held to apply to ministers of one denomination only. I for my part do not understand why a grant of this kind should be continued at all. I should like to ask the right honourable Gentleman whether this grant is made in accordance with the original terms under which it was made.
§ MR. WARNER (Staffs, Lichfield)
I think, if the Government brought sufficient pressure to bear, there
§ would be no difficulty in devising a scheme for 25 or 26 years' purchase, and they would have the whole House behind them in any effort in that direction.
§ DR. CLARK
Well, Sir, I move the reduction of this Vote by £89. It is a thing which Parliament need not vote unless they think proper. With regard to the other annuities, we are in a different position. They were paid, not by Parliament, but out of the Consolidated Fund. I move, therefore, that this year you do not grant this sum.
§ Amendment put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 117.—(Division List No. 275.)123
|Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.)||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Souttar, Robinson|
|Asquith, Et. Hon. H. H.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles S.||Spicer, Albert|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Joicey, Sir James||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire)||Lambert, George||Strachey, Edward|
|Billson, Alfred||Lough, Thomas||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Brigg, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Ure, Alexander|
|Broadhurst, Henry||McEwan, William||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||McLaren, Charles Benjamin||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Caldwell, James||Maddison, Fred.||Warner, Thomas C. T.|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Maden, John Henry||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Cawley, Frederick||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Williams, John C. (Notts)|
|Colville, John||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, Charles Henry (Hull)|
|Cozens-Hardy, Herbert Hardy||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Crombie, John William||O'Brien, J. F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro)|
|Davitt, Michael||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Woodall, William|
|Dillon, John||Paulton, James Mellor||Woodhouse, Sir J T(Hudd'rsf'ld)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Woods, Samuel|
|Doogan, P. C.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Duckworth, James||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Dr. Clark and Mr. Herbert Lewis.|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (S'th'mpt'n)||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Roche, Hon. J. (East Kerry)|
|Aird, John||Bond, Edward||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Arnold, Alfred||Bousfield, William Robert||Drage, Geoffrey|
|Arrol, Sir William||Brassey, Albert||Drucker, A.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Bullard, Sir Harry||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cavendish, E. F. (N. Lancs)||Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r)|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbysh.)||Finch, George H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manc'r)||Chaloner, Capt. E. G. W.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Chelsea, Viscount||Flannery, Fortescue|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Flower, Ernest|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Brist'l)||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fry, Lewis|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cooke, C. W. E. (Hereford)||Garfit, William|
|Bethell, Commander||Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Gilliat, John Saunders|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Godson, Sir Augustus F.|
|Bill, Charles||Doughty, George||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||McKillop, James||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Malcolm, Ian||Stephens, Henry Charles|
|Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Milton, Viscount||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Heath, James||Monk, Charles James||Strutt, Hon. Chas. Hedley|
|Helder, Augustus||More, Robert Jasper||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Brist'l)||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Holland, Hon. L. R.||Myers, William Henry||Verney, Hon. Richd. Greville|
|Hornby, William Henry||Newdigate, Francis Alex.||Warkworth, Lord|
|Howard, Joseph||Nicholson, William Graham||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Hozier, Hon. J. H. C.||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hutton, John (York's, N.R.)||Pryce-Jones, Lieut.-Col. E.||Williams, Joseph P. (Birm.)|
|Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. L.||Purvis, Robert||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)|
|Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Cornw.)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Llewelyn, Sir D. (Swansea)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Lowles, John||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sharpe, Wm. Edward T.||Sir William Walrond and|
|Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|McArthur, Chas. (Liverp'l)||Smith, Jas. P. (Lanarks)|
Question put and agreed to.
§ The Vote was then agreed to.
§ The Vote for £793 for certain miscellaneous and charitable allowances was agreed to without discussion.
§ On the Vote to complete the sum of £143,653 as a, grant in aid of pauper lunatics in Ireland,
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, S.)
Sir, I rise to direct attention to the extraordinary increase in the grant for pauper lunatics in Ireland within the last year, and I do so for the purpose of renewing my protest against the provision in the Local Government of Ireland Bill as a substitute for this grant. It has been growing on account of the rapid increase of lunatics in Ireland, and in view of that increase the provision in the Local Government Bill as a substitute is altogether inadequate. The increase has been from £138,643 to £143,653, and the amount realised for licences under the local taxation account only £1,000 or £1,500 per annum; but to meet this enormous charge, growing at the rate of £5,000 or £6,000 a year, there is really no margin, as I contend, to meet the growth of this charge except the growth of local taxation. I know that there is a surplus of £30,000 a year in that, but that surplus has been entirely provided for under the Local Government Bill for the better treatment of the 4,000 paupers in the workhouses, and that will, in my judgment, more than swallow up 124 the surplus. Probably within the next two or three years we will be £14,000 or £15,000 to the bad. I have no desire, Sir, to move the rejection of this Vote, but I feel bound on every occasion that presents itself to warn the Government that they will have to deal with this question by and by, and in the meantime we will not sit by without protesting.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I wish to ask a question with regard to this Vote. I want to know why this sum for pauper lunatics in Ireland is in the Imperial Estimates, when the corresponding sum in England and Scotland is borne off the equivalent grant. Of course I am not going to discuss whether Ireland ought or ought not to have this money, but we want to ascertain the fact whether this amount is extra.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
This amount is not extra at all, and under the Irish Local Government Bill of the present year it will in future be borne as are the corresponding amounts in England and Scotland. With regard to what the honourable Member for East Mayo has said, I think the complaint is rather hard, considering that: Ireland has received quite as much in the way of surplus from the existing grant.
§ MR. CALDWELL
It is quite true that in the case of England in 1888 and, in Scotland in 1889 these Estimates for 125 pauper lunatics were taken off the Imperial fund and the amounts were placed on the probate duty grants given to England and Scotland.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Why was it not taken off the Imperial Estimates when, as I understood at that time, Ireland got her corresponding equivalent grant from the probate duties?
§ DR. CLARK
I take it this is the last occasion on which this special grant will appear on the Estimates, and that in future Ireland will be in the same position as England and Scotland. I quite agree with what my honourable Friend has said in reference to exchanging a constantly increasing grant, because the sum necessary for the charge is constantly increasing, for a grant which is practically fixed. Last year, as my honourable Friend pointed out, the increase was £5,540. Now that we have passed Bills for the three countries, I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will consider it desirable to have an inquiry into the working of the change which we made 10 years ago. It was made experimentally, and I think it is very desirable we should have an inquiry as to how it has worked in England and Scotland.
That a sum not exceeding £17,576 be granted to Her Majesty to defray the necessary charges for the year ending 31st March, 1899, connected with Hospitals and Infirmaries, and certain Miscellaneous Charitable and other allowances in Ireland, including sundry grants in aid.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I call attention to this Vote, not so much because the payment is made to Ireland, but in order 126 to raise the question as to whether something of a similar nature should not be done for England and Scotland. We have here on the Estimates a sum of money for various hospitals in Ireland. I have not the least doubt that the money is necessary, and that perhaps-more is required; but I think we have now come to a period when we must really recognise the question that hospitals ought to be put on some permanent footing, and also whether Imperial aid should not be given to hospitals, which play such an important part in the economy of the State. These payments have been made to Ireland because she has been notably the poorest part of the kingdom, but the question is now pressing itself as regards England and Scotland; and I think it is well worthy of consideration whether, in order to put the hospitals on a proper footing, we ought not to extend the grant now given to Ireland to England and Scotland. The public generally would reap the benefit, for hospitals keep down disease. They are universally recognised, for even the poorest give a subscription. But when they depend on voluntary contributions, alone the result is very unequal, because those best able to give do not give, and others give in a proportion greater than their means. If we pay a sum out of the Imperial Exchequer or out of local rates, the effect is that you impose a burden equally on all classes of the community. I think the time has come when the hospital charges should be borne equally by all classes in proportion to their means and when a subsidy should be given out of Imperial funds or local rates. I do not find fault with this grant to Ireland. I have no doubt it is a reasonable and necessary payment, but it raises the question how far this treatment should be extended to England and Scotland.
§ MR. BRIGG (York, W.R., Keighley)
In the matter of hospitals in Ireland the arguments of my honourable Friend are worthy of recognition, still more when we consider that the allowance was made by Parliament in 1855 and not reconsidered since. I think the time has now come when the matter ought to be reconsidered. There is a very curious coincidence m the amount of the grant and 127 the amount of the deficiency in each of the hospitals every year. Although the grant was first given in 1855, all through the intervening period, all through the changes which have taken place, through good years or bad years, whether there were patients or not, the deficiency has been remarkably near the grant obtained year after year. It really seems to me one of those questions calling for inquiry. There is one hospital—the Westmoreland Lock Hospital—which should be specially considered. I believe all such institutions are now placed entirely upon Government pay, and, if that is so, it is a further reason for the inquiry which we now ask for. Some of the hospitals are better off than others, and I think there is good ground for fresh consideration, in order to put the matter on a better footing than it is at present.
§ DR. CLARK
Sir, 25 years ago the value of money was less than now, and if any revision is required it will be for the purpose of raising the sum you give. In this case, and in some of the oases relating to Scotland, it is carrying out the practical arrangements that were made 200 years ago and 100 years ago, when these various Governments united. There were certain burdens upon the old Scottish Parliament which were by agreement placed on the Imperial Parliament, and I say you are still finding the same money, though its value has decreased. This, if I remember rightly, is one of the burdens you took upon yourselves at the time of the Union. These were burdens that were upon the old Irish Parliament. You have revised them once or twice, and if you revised them again it will have to be in the direction of increasing the amount that you spend in Ireland. If you are going to raise the question of the fair amount Ireland should pay in that revision, you have got to consider what you have to repay back to Ireland in consequence of the burdens you took on at the Union.
§ Question put.
§ Vote agreed to.128
§ On the Vote of £2,924 to pay certain miscellaneous expenses,
§ MR. CALDWELL
said: I wish to get one or two explanations upon this, Sir, as to the Lyon King of Arms, the point of the Irish duties, and whether there are any means of recovering, these miscellaneous expenses and these further expenses.
§ MR. HANBURY
If the honourable Member will look at the Vote he will see that the gross fees are appropriated.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Well, of course, I do not consider the Lyon King of Arms is necessary. I am very glad indeed that we have this fact brought out, that, as regards the expenses here, these sums relating to Scotland amount to very much more than the Imperial expenditure. Then, with regard to some items here on page 491, professional charges of law agent and clerk to the Bible Board; I do not know why these charges should be continued. I do not know why they should have a clerk to advise the Bible Board in Scotland. Then as to the allowance to the Bible Board for the services of a printer's1 realer, I have no doubt a man should keep up his knowledge of the Bible well, out I do not see why it should be on these terms. Another item I would refer to is that for the Royal Company of Archers as Queen's Body Guard. I do not see why we should give fees to them. There is a fee for the Royal Company of Archers as Queen's Body Guard, but then you have further down that the Queen's expenses in Ireland come to a very considerable sum of money. These matters, of course, have been brought before the House before. However, I wish to get an explanation with regard to this Bible Board.
§ MR. HANBURY
The charge in connection with the Bible Board is in respect of a clerk who prosecutes the printers who have infringed the conditions of their licence—that is to say, who have printed Bibles and made mistakes, even of a word. My honourable Friend knows this Board is responsible also for the proper printing of the Acts of Parliament, Royal Proclamations, and so on, and they naturally have to 129 employ a clerk, and also a reader, to see that these documents are printed in accordance with the rules.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I think there ought to be some chance of recovering expenses of that kind, because there is no reason why the country should be at any expense. If anyone is authorised by Her Majesty, by Royal authority, to print the Bible, and there are expenses incidental to that—the expenses of a reader—obviously there ought to be a certain charge made, with a view to meeting any expenses of that kind. And I do not see any reason for employing a clerk on the Bible Board.
§ MR. HANBURY
The Bible Board has got to do with a good deal of printing besides the Bible—Acta of Parliament, Proclamations, etc.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Perhaps the right honourable Gentleman will tell us how many prosecutions he has had in the last 20 years.
§ MR. CALDWELL
It is quite evident that this charge, which is simply a sum of £80 a year, is being given practically as a pension. If there was really any amount of work to be done for it, I would not object. But this is practically a sinecure; this amount is drawn on the Estimates yearly—£80—nominally for advising that board, but there are neither prosecutions, nor anything else that could be done for it. Any charge of revising, of seeing whether the Bible is correctly printed or not, would be a proper charge to make from the person who receives the Royal Licence to print the book. Therefore, I would call the attention of the Secretary to the Treasury to the fact that this sum is just an annual allowance given to a man for doing practically nothing.
§ DR. CLARK
This is an old arrangement, made, as I understand, some years ago, and which is to come to an end. The old Bible Board—and this is one of the old charges on the hereditary revenues of Scotland—the Bible Board did the work 130 that is now practically done by the Secretary of State for Scotland. I do not know whether the old Bible Board still publishes the proclamations or not, but I think, under the Acts of 1885 and 1886—the Act increasing the powers and functions of the Secretary of State for Scotland—we transferred all that work to the Scotch Office. I understand that this is a temporary arrangement, and that when the present holder of the office ceases to hold it a new arrangement will be made. I agree to that course, because the Treasury, when making a change of that kind, generally do it in the form of a pension, which is as bad as in the other form. I think the best system will be to let this die out altogether. I want to know how we stand with regard to these miscellaneous expenses. Practically speaking, as, far as the Kings of Arms are concerned, though we are voting money for them now, we are getting more from them than we pay; we raise a certain amount of revenue—we make a certain amount from the vanity of people who want arms; but I think we ought to know how each country stands. We ought to get the expenses of each, and how much you get from each in fees. The whole sum is about £7,000, and the cost is about £4,000 or £5,000, so that there is £2,000 or £3,000 available; but we ought to know how much comes from each of the three countries. I hope in the next Estimate the Secretary to the Treasury will put in a form, so that we can see.
§ SIR C. DILKE
There is a subject I should like to mention on this Vote. It is one to which all trades unionists in this country attach the highest importance. It forms a virtual breach of the Fair Wage Resolution. The salary of the printer's reader of the Bible Board of Scotland is in this Vote, and I should like to mention on the Vote the grave complaints there are at the rates of wages paid for the printing of Bibles in Scotland, in connection, in particular, with the firm of Collins, in Glasgow. I believe the questions which have been asked in this House concern that one particular firm. It is a question how far the Government can apply the Fair Wage Resolution to bodies which, as it were, if not under 131 Government control, yet come very near to it—bodies like the Bible Board for Scotland, and the Commissioners of Irish Lights, the Trinity House, and the Commissioners of Northern Lights. The trades unionists of this country attach importance to the necessity of bringing those bodies, which are Government, as it were, in another form, under the operation of the Fair Wage Resolution. If the Secretary of the Treasury could tell us it would be possible to take any steps in that direction it would be welcome news to the trades unionists of this country.
§ DR. CLARK
Sir, there is one more point. I do not know whether the Irish Members are willing to have a change made in it; it is a very old affair. It is these Queen's plates in Ireland. There used to be the same in England, but now—I think very wisely—in England, instead of money being spent by being given to races, it has been used through the Royal Commission on Horse Breeding in giving premiums on horses. The money given for that purpose, and for prizes at the various shows has done more to increase the value of the breed of horses than these plates which are given for merely one class of horses in Ireland. In England we have come to the conclusion that instead of giving plates at horse races we will use the money for better purposes; and I think it is very desirable that the same change should be made in Ireland, and that this money could be very much more profitably used in sending round some good entire horses to the counties of Ireland, and giving prizes ft the various cattle shows in Ireland for the result of the breed rather than spending it for only one class of horses in Ireland in this form of a special plate. I do not know what the Irish Members—the honourable Member for Mayo is the only one I see present—think, but I do think it is desirable we should not patronise these races in Ireland, but should use the money for the purpose of increasing the stamina.
§ MR. DILLON
Sir, I hope my honourable Friend will not "rush in where angels fear to tread." The questions of horse-racing and the breeding of horses in Ireland at present is a matter which is dividing Ireland into two camps, and I 132 would warn the honourable Member that I think, if he interferes in the matter, he will only bring a hornet's nest about his ears.
§ MR. WARNER
I should like, Sir, to ask a little more information about this item. It is not very clearly stated what we spend on the Heralds' office?
Order, order! The Heralds' office is not in question, except as to the Scotch and Irish.
§ MR. HANBURY
I doubt myself whether there is any power whatever to put these semi-official bodies in any way under a Resolution of this House, but it is an important point which the right honourable Gentleman has brought up, and I will do my best to meet his wishes.
§ SIR C. DILKE
Perhaps the right honourable Gentleman will help us in an arrangement already partly made, and, say that the Government will receive a deputation upon the subject.
§ The Vote was then agreed to.
§ Upon the Vote of £20,000 as a grant to the Congested Districts (Scotland) Fund,
§ MR. DILLON
I want to say one word upon this Vote, and that is this: I wish to make a suggestion which I think the Secretary to the Treasury will agree is a reasonable one. With regard to the Scotch Congested Districts Board, the Vote is a separate one, but the Vote for the Irish Congested Districts Board has been for a very long time taken with a considerable number of other items in which other honourable Members are interested. As the Irish Congested Districts Board is a very much older board than the Scotch, and one upon the Vote of which there may be considerable discussion, I think the right honourable Gentleman would agree that it would be convenient to take it. as a separate Vote, and thus get rid of the inconvenience of not being able to bring up the question of that board without bringing in a lot of questions in which other honourable Members are interested.
§ MR. HANBURY
I think the Public Accounts Committee might perhaps complain if it were done without their consent, but, at the same time, I think the suggestion of the honourable Gentleman is a very good one. No doubt, honourable Members for Irish constituencies are anxious to get a discussion upon this matter, and in order to arrange this we are at present obliged to put down the whole Temporary Commissions Vote. I think the suggestion is a good one, and I will recommend it to the Committee.
§ DR. CLARK
Since this board was first constituted we have had no information as to how it has worked, and what it has done with the money it has received. It is a branch of the Local Government Board of Scotland, and we have the Report of the Local Government Board of Scotland, dated January, 1898, and there is not one single item of information with reference to this subject. Under these circumstances, I move a reduction of this Vote by the whole sum, because, unless we are to receive information of what is being done and how the money is being expended, I do not see why we should grant the money. When this board was created I moved that there should be some representation upon it from the Congested Districts Board, and we were promised that there should be representatives upon the board of those whose interests were affected, and those who knew what was required. I regret to say that even now we have not that representation. I understand that one Gentleman has been appointed to the board to represent Sutherlandshire, and that is the only district represented; but that is the smallest of the six counties, and there is no congested district in Sutherland-shire at all. There is no representative for the great counties of Inverness and Ross, and it is those two counties where you have the Congested districts, and where work has to be done. The island of Lewes is the most congested portion of the Highlands, and I would be glad to hear from the right honourable Gentleman the Lord Advocate why they have not appointed someone to represent those districts who is well acquainted with the facts, I should also like him to explain what they have done with the money Parliament has voted. Have they carried out 134 in any shape or form the conditions laid down in the Act, or done the work? Have they bought any estates and settled the crofters upon those estates, and what has been done since the Act has been passed? I think it is very wrong that the Local Government Board, in their Report dated January this year, do not say a word as to what has been done order this Act, and how the money which this House has voted for this Congested Districts Board has been dealt with.
§ MR. CALDWELL
We have now got a congested districts board, but when we come to look into it we find we had, on an average, £30,000 a year upon another Vote, which has now been taken away, and upon the Congested Districts Board Vote we get £20,000. Now, it was understood at the time the grant of £15,000 was given to Scotland out of the agricultural rates that that was supplemental to what had been hitherto received by Scotland, and the liberality of the Government was pointed out when they gave the £15,000 to the relief of the congested districts. It has been stated in regard to that money now that it is to come off Scotland's share of the agricultural grant, so that, instead of its being supplemental to what had been already received, it seems that that £15,000 is to be taken out of Scotch money, and by that means it goes to the relief of the Imperial Exchequer. We v, ant to know whether this £15,000 is in addition to the £15,000 granted to the Congested Districts Fund, which, when added to the £4,000, goes to make up the total of £20,000. What I want to know from the Lord Advocate is this: is this £15,000 over and above the £15,000 granted under the Agricultural Rates Act; whether it includes the sum, or whether it is to be supplemental to the money granted under that Act? I want to know why the Government is giving Scotland less now than she received before. We desire to know what are the purposes to which this money has been applied, as to which we have no information whatever. It is most unusual to give us an estimate without saying what the money is for. In the Estimates formerly we used to have the expenditure set out, but now we get a large total without a single item of expenditure. It is not a 135 satisfactory way of giving Estimates. It is most unsatisfactory to have a large total put before us without a word of explanation as to how that money is expended; and we are obliged, in consequence, to ask at the present moment what money has been expended and what it was expended for. There is no explanation in the Estimate, nor is there a word of explanation in the Local Government Board Report. I also wish to ask the right honourable Gentleman what the Local Government Board is doing, and how they are going to spend the money during the ensuing year. We are absolutely without any information, and know nothing, so far as the Estimates are concerned; and we wish to know from the Lord Advocate whether the amount of money in this Estimate is in addition to the £15,000, and what are the works the Congested Districts Board propose to carry out, and whether they have done anything at all during the last year. This Bill came into operation in 1897, and since that time to the present there has been an opportunity surely of knowing what these boards have been doing.
§ The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
I think the honourable Gentleman will find the reply to his question in the Vote on the Estimates. If he will look at that Vote he will see that in addition to this Vote the Congested Districts Board received annually £15,000 from the Local Taxation Account.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Well, if the honourable Member said it, I do not understand why he asked me the question, unless it was in the hope that I should not be able to answer it.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Honourable Members opposite know what was the policy of the Government in this connection, and on the present occasion it is not my business to defend that policy, but to answer questions of administration. The honourable Member for Caithness reminds me of the intelligent child who wanted to dig up his flowers two 136 days after they had been planted. The-Congested Districts Board has only just been started, and I think I have answered questions more than once during this Session on the subject. First of all, we have had to consider what are to be the congested districts, and then we have had to appoint Committees. Since that time, these Committees have been receiving views and propositions for the distribution of the money. I have had no positive information on the subject, but I do not believe that a great deal of the money has been spent.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
Well, I cannot say, as I had no information that the question would be raised to-night. If the honourable Member desires, I shall be most happy to find out and tell him privately when I get the figures. My latest information is that very little money has been spent. Some money, I believe, has been spent in Votes for piers, but, generally speaking, the board has not got beyond the preliminaries of directing their attention to such schemes as have been put before them. Of course, in all this class of work it is quite obvious that there are a good many competitors for the money; and it is obvious also that if the board go too hastily to work, others will come to the board and assert that they have not had an opportunity of being heard, and of putting forward their claims. I do not think that good administration will be helped by undue haste at the beginning. As a matter of fact, I do not believe that any land has at present been bought. I really think it is too soon to ask for particulars of the work of the board, or to ask for anything more than what I am willing to give, which is an assurance that the board have gone about matters in a workmanlike way, and that they are trying to weigh the various claims and to consider the wants of the various neighbourhoods in order that the money may be spent to the greatest possible advantage. As regards the personnel of the board, there are the members mentioned in the Act, and three that are to be appointed by the Secretary for Scotland. In selecting the latter, I think the Secretary for Scotland has done his 137 best by taking these members, roughly speaking, from what I may call three classes, one being a landowner, one a crofter, and one a gentleman of great experience on four Commissions, who represents what I may call the professional valuer. Obviously, such a man is a valuable member of such a board, and, so far as the selection is concerned., since the Secretary for Scotland has only three places to fill, I think no better choice could have been made. But, as this matter is new, I think we must wait until another year before we can have a tabulated account of what the board is doing.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
I beg to ask the Lord Advocate whether he thinks Parliament will give more money without any further information being supplied. This is the same Vote which we have had for 10 years.
§ DR. CLARK
Yes, Sir but you are only changing the name; it is really an old Vote. What you did last year was merely to transfer the liability from the old board to the new. For 10 years this Vote has been upon the Estimates. At the beginning of the Session I moved an Amendment to the Address, and the First Lord, in reply, pointed out that all the work was being done by the Congested Districts Board. Well, now, at the end of the Session, we hear from the Lord Advocate that the Congested Districts Board has practically done nothing. They have not bought a single estate, or established a single croft. Well, I shall move an Amendment of the same character at the beginning of next Session, when I hope to get a more satisfactory statement from the Government as to the facts of the case. As to the constitution of this board, when I moved an Amendment to add to the number, I pointed out the desirability of having both the landlords and the crofters represented on it. I very much regret to find that another Sutherlandshire crofter has been appointed who knows nothing at ail about the congested districts. Sutherlandshire already has its full representation, and Sutherlandshire is probably the 138 place where the least congestion has occurred.
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
I do not wish to leave the slightest dubiety about this matter. There has been a Report of the Highlands and Islands Commission, which proposed that £120,000 should be spent on works in the Highlands. That has all been spent, and accordingly, so far as the Treasury promises are concerned, the matter is at an end. Then came the Congested Districts Board set up on the Local Taxation Account, and upon a further sum, voted by the Treasury as recently as February or March of this year. It is, therefore, not an old matter.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
asked the Lord Advocate whether it was his intention to issue an annual report giving full details of the work done in the congested districts?
§ MR. GRAHAM MURRAY
The Act requires that the Commissioners shall once every year make a report to the Secretary of State for Scotland, which will be presented to Parliament; but the Commissioners have not yet had a Parliamentary year of existence.
§ MR. CALDWELL
There are one or two points to which I desire to draw-attention. You ask for this money without giving the slightest detail as to how the money is going to be spent, You have got a certain 139 sum of money to spend upon Carloway Road, and how are they going to spend it? Is that road going to be a burden upon the Congested Districts Board? Here we are, voting £20,000, and there is no explanation given us as to whether the sum is required. I do not wish to press the matter, but I would like to know if the Congested Districts Board imagine that they can come to Parliament and get this £20,000 voted without a word of explanation. While we may pass the money without a Division, you must not think that the matter will not be brought up again.
§ DR. CLARK
This is one of the Votes which do not come under the general rule of unexpended balances. It does not go back to the Treasury, but remains for the purposes of next year. We have got no means of knowing how the money is going to be spent. If we look at sub-head B we are to get £15,000 as expenditure under the Act, but we get no details whatever. The only information we get under the sub-head is that one of the clerks is to get £150 a year to act as secretary, and that £150 is to be paid to another clerk in the Exchequer. The thing is very unsatisfactory. However, it will pass for this year, and I hope next year we will have full opportunities of knowing what work is to be done and how they propose to spend the money they are asking Parliament for.
§ Question put.
§ Agreed to.
§ The Vote of £6,018 for the repayment of the Civil Contingency Fund, etc., agreed to without discussion.
§ Vote of £79,280 to defray the salaries of the Law Officers' Department, the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Solicitor for the Affairs of Her Majesty's Treasury, the Queen's Procter and Director of Public Prosecutions, the costs of prosecutions and other legal proceedings.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
This is a matter of some importance, and I propose to move the reduction of the salary Of the Attorney General by £100. The 140 the question turns upon the action of the Public Prosecutor. I have nothing to say against the Public Prosecutor as an individual, because he entirely acts under the Attorney General; but it seems to me there is a large feeling abroad—I think it is a growing feeling—that the power of the Public Prosecutor is not used as it ought to be used. There have been many notorious cases in which the Public Prosecutor might have properly interfered—cases that came before the public in matters of companies. For instance, there was that celebrated case of the hotel property. Nothing happened at all in cases of perjury. I think there is a feeling that in these cases the action of the Public Prosecutor ought to be introduced. I do not limit my remarks to one class of but many of them require the consideration of the Attorney General, who could decide whether proceedings should be taken. There is a particular class of case which was dealt with by an Act of Parliament we passed a few years ago. In 1892 that Act was passed, and there was no Debate; it was such an obvious Act to pass that there was no opposition. It went through without any difficulty, and there was hardly anything said about it at all. That was the Betting and Loans (Infants) Act of 1892, which was intended to do away with an iniquitous state of affairs, the sending of letters to boys and young men just entering upon life inciting them to borrow money. During the last year or two we have had an inquiry into the subject of money-lending. There may be a difference of opinion as to whether adult people should be protected from their own folly, and there is a great deal to be said against it, there is a great deal to be said on both sides, and it might be said that the borrower is not much better than the lender. But in the case of young people there can be no difference of opinion that the system of trying to incite boys and young men just entering upon life to borrow money from these usurers is a crime which ought to be put down. It was thought so in 1892 when this special Act was passed. In clause 2 it says that anyone sending, or causing to be sent, to a person known to be an infant a notice, or advertisement, or letter, or telegram, or other document, inviting 141 the person receiving it to borrow money, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, liable to be convicted on indictment and sentenced to imprisonment for three months or a fine of £100, or both fine and imprisonment. That was an Act which we thought did credit to the Government that passed it, and it was thoroughly approved of at the time. We thought it ought to be of use when carried into effect. I think I am not far out when I say that this Act is practically a dead letter. I do not know in how nany cases it has been put in force. It was passed to put a stop to what is an obvious iniquity, and yet it has practically never been made use of, or made use of to a very small extent indeed. Of course, the difficulty which the Attorney General will at once point to is that the Act unfortunately has words to the effect that the lender must know the person to be an infant. That is got over in another clause. It does not apply to a good number of cases. There are many cases in which the circulars are even sent to boys at school and college, and yet no action is taken in any way by the Attorney General in putting the law into operation. There is a difficulty, no doubt, in proving the age, and the money-lenders try to get over that in this way, by saying in the circular that if the person is under age the letter does not apply. That is a mere evasion of the Act altogether. If a person sends a letter asking a boy or a young man to borrow money, and puts in some clause of that sort, I do not think it would absolve him from the penalties of this Act. There are many others who send circulars to very young men. I have one here sent to a boy at college offering loans of £50 and upwards; I won't give his name. I have got another, sent to a young man in the same way. Of course, the terms on which the money is lent are not to exceed 10 per cent., but we know what that means. What I complain of is that the Attorney General, though these cases are brought before him, does not take action against the persons who entice those young men to borrow money. I have the case of a young man who has just got into a cavalry regiment, and I mention it because an objection raised was that it was difficult to prove the age. I point out the fact that in the case 142 of this young man going into the Army his age was absolutely known. No sooner does he obtain a commission than he is at once inundated with circulars as much as a few years ago before this Act was passed. According to the regulations of the Royal Academy at Woolwich youths must be 16 to 18 years of age, and it must be obvious that the age of this young man was under 21. There fore I venture to think that there was clear evidence that this person ought to have been brought within the law. I do not want to burden the Committee with a long speech, but all who have young sons know perfectly well that when they go to universities or enter any other line of life, no sooner are they launched than these circulars follow. I do not go into the question whether it is right or not to stop it; but we have passed an Act unanimously—there was never a Division. These bloodsuckers fasten early on the life of a young man, and begin the canker-worm of ruin by asking him to borrow money, and the passing of the Act clearly shows there was a determination to put them down. We ought to see the Act put in force. The Attorney General should move the Public Prosecutor in the matter, and if the Act is not strong enough some few words should be put into it to enable him to take action. Drafted as it was by the present Attorney General it is not likely that it was intended to be of no use. Having passed the Act, I call upon him to put it into force, so that young men may be stopped from this serious temptation, which we all know is often so fatal to them. I move that the salary of the Attorney General be reduced £100.
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir R. WEBSTER)
I sympathise as strongly as anybody can with the object of the honourable Member's speech and, as far as I am concerned, if this House is willing to pass an Act to strengthen the law in this respect and enlarge the scope of this clause I shall be glad to give all the support I possibly can. No amended legislation has been proposed with regard to this Measure. The complaint of the honourable Gentleman is that I do not direct the Public Prosecutor to take action. I assure him he is entirely in 143 error. I have communicated with the Public Prosecutor as soon as I have seen a good many cases. The honourable Gentleman sent me one case. I can assure him that in every single case in which there seems to be the probability of obtaining a conviction proceedings are taken. I am sorry to say that the proceedings have not always been successful. The real difficulty is that under the existing criminal law the onus of proof rests upon the prosecution. There are two difficult matters. One is to prove that the man is a party to sending the circular, and the second is that he knew the person was an infant. It is quite possible that in an exceptional case it might be assumed that a young man entering a regiment is under age, but so far as I know there is nothing to indicate primâ facie that a young man entering the Army is under age, or even in the first two or three years after having left Woolwich. The clause provides that if any such circular be sent to any person at any university, college, school, or other place of education, and such person be an infant, the person sending it, or causing it to be sent, shall be liable to conviction. I do not think my honourable Friend has any reason to complain of want of courtesy or attention. He has never sent me any circular sent to' infants at colleges or universities. Had he done so I would have directed the Public Prosecutor to take proceedings. I come to the case which the honourable Gentleman was good enough to send me in the early part of the year. It was a circular addressed to a gentleman in the Army, and the presumption was that it might be proved that he had not very long passed through Woolwich. I need not remind you that it is a very different thing sending circulars to officers in the Army and sending circulars to boys at school. When he asked me to take proceedings and prosecute in the case', all I knew was that at the time the young man left Woolwich he was under age. After considering the matter most carefully I felt that there was not a primâ facie case to take up. The Committee will pardon me if I point out that we want to succeed in these prosecutions and not to fail in them. The honourable Member has put it in this way, that lads must be between, 16 and 18 years 144 of age, and they are two years at Woolwich, and possibly may be under age after leaving. In my opinion it would be very rash to proceed without evidence to show; we must have primâ facie evidence on which we can rely, I went into the case most carefully, and I should have prosecuted if I had any hope of getting a conviction. I came to cue conclusion that the only evidence being tending circulars to an officer there was no primâ facie case. I do not think the House will be of opinion that in that case I have shown any great dereliction of duty. Both the Public Prosecutor and myself have been anxious to secure convictions. We have had every case investigated, and I must say it is not until this moment that the honourable Member suggested that he furnished me with a circular to colleges or young men at the universities. Had he done so he need only have mentioned the case in this House, and proceedings would have been commenced.
§ MR. BARTLEY
I am quite satisfied with the explanation of the Attorney General, and beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment withdrawn.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanark, Mid)
I raise a general question, which I am sure the Attorney General will not consider personal; it is the important question of the salary of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General. This has been a contested point for a good many years. There has been a changed arrangement within the last few years. By the Minute of Privy Council of 1892 the brief fee was not to exceed 150 guineas, and 30 guineas afterwards. There was a certain limit with regard to the maximum fee to be paid to law officers when acting for the Crown. In 1892 there was an arrangement made that the law officers should devote their whole time, with the exception of having the right to plead in the House of Lords and before the Privy Council, to their official duties. The arrangement was, I think, at that time that they were to be paid a salary, and also to be paid for contentious business on the part of the Crown.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Yes, so it was. Then under the same Government the other arrangement was made, that the Attorney General was to receive a salary of £10,000 a year, I think, and the Solicitor General £9,000, a difference of £1,000 between them, and that was to include the whole of their services, both for the contentious and non-contentious business of the Crown. The arrangement now made is of a different character. The object that the Liberal party, at any rate, had in view—because, really, it is a party question, to a certain extent—was this: that the law officers should devote their whole time to the interests of the Crown, whether in contentious or non-contentious business, for a certain fixed salary, which most people in the country assumed to be a, pretty large one, though I quite grant it is not up to the amount of the fees which individual counsel do receive at the Bar. That was the desire, so far as the Liberal party was concerned; that a fixed salary should be paid, of £10,000 in the case of the Attorney General and £9,000 in that of the Solicitor General, and that they should devote themselves entirely to the business of the country. When you consider the extent of the business that the law officers have to perform—for they are the legal advisers to the various offices, the Home Office, the India Office, the Colonial Office, and the Foreign Office, and the Attorney General is also responsible for the conduct of criminal prosecutions and other matters, and the attendance it is required they should give at this House—it is obvious that the duties to be performed are such that it is impossible for the law officers to undertake more than these duties. Well, the arrangement has been changed. Instead of a salary of £10,000 a year in the case of the Attorney General, the sum on the Estimates is now £7,000 a year, but then, in addition to this sum, the Attorney General has a right to charge the Crown in the case of contentious business. What I wish to ask is, what has been paid in the past year to each of the law officers in respect of contentious business? And, as regards that matter, I 146 would point out this, that the arrangement that law officers should charge for contentious business is not a very suitable arrangement for this reason: that counsel very often get briefs, though they do not personally appear in the case, and still the brief fee is allowed to them. I think the Attorney General will know that that is often the case, that counsel get brief fees where they may be expected, to attend, though they do not give personal attendance. Then, again, there is this difficulty. I wish to know who fixes the fees of these law officers. In the Minute of 1889, to which I have referred, there was a maximum limit of 120 guineas.
§ MR. CALDWELL
That, of course, is the explanation I desired to get, that there is a maximum limit, and that the limit is imposed at the present time, as it was under the 1892 arrangement. Then we have this difficulty, again, that in the case of these briefs for contentious cases, while, practically, the Attorney General is head of the Department he has a certain amount of influence in determining what contested business shall go to him, because these subordinates are more or less under the Attorney General's care. What was the view of the Attorney General on this matter? You will find his words in "Hansard," page 431, upon the law officers' salaries, and I will quote them here—I cannot help thinking that some future law officers will be in the position of demanding and of receiving briefs in that considerable part of Government business which is now done by permanent counsel.
SIR R. WEBSTER
I was not Attorney General then. May I be 147 allowed to say that was with reference to a proposal then being made which I objected to, not the existing state of things.
§ MR. CALDWELL
Well, it had reference to this fact. Of course, the honourable Gentleman was not Attorney General then, and he was opposed t6 the arrangement of the Attorney General of that day; but the remarks had reference to these contested cases, and I only quote the words as far as they bear upon the case, because they are the Attorney General's own words. Those words apply if the Attorney General is to receive brier fees for contentious cases on behalf of the Crown, so that the words apply to the case I am referring to. Now, it is, of course, important to the Bar, because there are cases which, if the Attorney General, or the Solicitor General were not feed, would necessarily go into the hands of the permanent counsel, who would receive these particular briefs. D the Attorney General is to go in and compete, he practically is the head of the solicitor who has charge of the cases, and he, therefore, is in the position, in the Attorney General's words, of demanding and receiving briefs which might go to other counsel at the Bar. That is one of the objections we take to this kind of arrangement. The Attorney General will see that this argument comes quite naturally from this side of the House, because, when the Liberal party were in power they gave a fixed sum—£10,000 a year—to the Attorney General, to include everything, so that the question of competition with other counsel did not arise. The amount of the fees will make the salary of the Attorney General, of course, enormously greater than the £10,000. It is not a question of amount, but it is a question of impropriety of the principle of paying partly by salary and partly by fee in contentious cases, and in order to give effect to the view held, at least, on this side of the House, upon an arrangement of that kind, I move the Amendment which stands in my name, to reduce Item A by £2,000 in respect of the salary of the Attorney General.
§ MR. LEWIS
It is here solely a question of principle that is involved. That question of principle has been discussed in this House over and over again. Arrangements have been made, and those arrangements have been altered, and the alterations have been changed again of late. Under these circumstances, I am sure, the honourable and learned Gentleman will readily acquit us of the slightest want of respect towards himself when we raise this question in the House of Commons.
§ MR. LEWIS
The principle at issue is a very simple one. The late Government fixed the salary of the Attorney General at £10,000, and the salary of the Solicitor General at £9,000. As to the adequacy of the amount, I should imagine there could hardly be any question, at least on this side of the House. A judge will give up a practice which is worth £10,000 or £15,000, or £20,000 a year in order to take a seat on the Bench, with the honour that that implies, sacrificing the salary he has been making, and will accept a salary of £5,000 a year. I venture to think the honour attaching to the positions of Attorney General and Solicitor General in the Government is quite as great, if not very much greater—greater in regard to its actual position, and greater also in regard to the potentialities of that position—than the position of a judge, who receives £5,000 a year. There would be no lack of suitable candidates for positions, so highly remunerated as those of the law officers of the Crown, the holders of which receive £10,000 a year and £9,000 a year respectively. It was also thought desirable that there should be, as in the case of all public offices, a degree of fixity and permanency in the salary, which would enable the taxpayers of the country to know exactly how much they were to pay for the services rendered 149 by the Attorney General and by the Solicitor General, as by other public men who serve the, State. But, unfortunately, with the accession of the present Government to power the arrangement that was arrived at by the late Government was altered. I am not laying the whole of the blame upon the present Government, because, under a system which was adopted in 1892, I believe by the late Government, the salaries both of the Attorney General and of the Solicitor General ran up to very high figures indeed. In one year, I believe, the salary of the Attorney General amounted to something like £20,000—that is to say, including the allowance for clerical assistance, which had not been paid before.
§ MR. LEWIS
Without it, I daresay. It ran up to that enormous total, and then it was thought, very properly, that the system ought to be altered, and that a fixed amount ought to be paid. I think I am, perhaps, only anticipating what the honourable and learned Gentleman will say in reply upon the particular point, We do not say that the late Government was altogether immaculate in this respect, but certainly I do not think the present Government has taken the right course. We do complain that when that arrangement had been arrived at, which gave a just and liberal amount to the law officers of the Crown, the old system should have been reverted to. I do not know what are the figures which the honourable and learned Gentleman is about to give to the House as to the amount which these services have cost the country in 1896 and 1897, but whether they are or are not above the £10,000 and £9,000 which I have quoted, that, after all, does not affect the principle. I think it is the right way to pay a definite, fixed sum for the services given during the whole time by the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, and I think that, having regard to the liberal scale of payment which the House sanctioned under the late Government, it would only have been right and proper that that scale of payment should have been adhered to. It would be very useful—I wish the Financial Secretary to 150 the Treasury were present—if the House could have a Return from year to year of what the extra charges in respect to contentious business are.
§ MR. LEWIS
I can only say this afternoon I made most careful inquiries upon it, and I was told that the Return for 1895 was the last Return which had been issued on that subject. It was distinctly promised in 1896, I remember, and in 1896 I strongly pressed the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to allow the figures to appear upon the Estimates for the current year, so that we might know what had been paid in respect of the past year, and therefore what, under ordinary circumstances, we might expect to be paid during the next year. I take it from the honourable and learned Gentleman that the Return will be issued as soon as possible, if, indeed, he is not prepared to give the figures to the House now. We await the explanation of the honourable and learned Gentleman, and I shall be only too glad if he will agree to the desire expressed upon this side of the House, that the arrangement sanctioned in 1894 should now be reverted to.
SIR R. WEBSTER
I can assure the Committee that I do not regard this at all as a personal question. I have received great courtesy from honourable Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and should be the last to make an observation of that kind with regard to their attitude. I hope they will believe me when I say it is not a matter of money with me at all. The particular matter in question, to which I am coming directly, the question whether contentious business should be paid by fees or salary, is a matter upon which I have the strongest opinion, in the interests of the public service, and I will explain my reasons to the House. Now, first with regard to the Return, it is not my fault that it has not been issued. I have nothing to do with the Return. I should be only too glad if it can be issued. Unfortunately, the figures up to the 30th April, 1898—that is, for the financial year—have not yet been made up; that is not my fault. But I can give the honourable Member a statement, so far 151 as I am concerned. It has been incidental in connection with the previous year, that the system to which reference has been made, of payment by a fixed sum for contentious business, has produced very considerable arrears. I do not make any complaint against anybody, but it has been the fact. During the last three years we have had the good fortune—I speak now from a professional point of view—to have extraordinarily heavy Government litigation. We have had enormous arbitrations with respect to the building of ships, which, I am glad to say, terminated successfully for the Government. We have had the Maxim powder actions, enormously expensive, which went to the House of Lords. We have had difficult cases under the Finance Act, and other very heavy work. As I stated to the House, I think this time last year, I knew that the Attorney General's fees for the next two or three years would be considerably over £3,000 a year for contentious business. Now, I do not wish to refer to the very high figures, to which reference has been made. There were exceptional circumstances; but the figures since. I have been in office are the following: in 1895–96 I received for contentious business £3,916, and for 1896–97 £6,039. The Solicitor General was not in office in the early part of the first year, and therefore that makes a difference. He received, for 1895–96 £691, and for 1896–97 £3,365. Perhaps the House will allow me just to state why my fees were so extremely high in the first years. In the first place, I had the whole of the Balfour prosecution, besides very heavy cases at the Old Bailey, and, as I have mentioned, I was in Admiralty arbitrations, which involved work of a very heavy description. The honourable Member for Lanark's recollection is not quite accurate as to the changes which have taken place. When, in the Liberal Government, Sir Charles Russell was Attorney General, and private practice was first done away with, he stipulated that the law officers should be paid, not only the ordinary fees which law officers had previously been receiving for contentious business, but fees as large as any other Queen's Counsel would receive in similar business, and the consequence was—I do not at all complain of the arrangement—that very high fees 152 indeed were paid for contentious business during that time. I had to consider this matter very carefully, and I am quite satisfied that it is against the public interest that contentious business should be paid by salary. I do not look at it at all from the professional point of view. If I did, of course it is perfectly obvious that there are reasons against it. I am speaking from the public point of view, and I am sure, if the House will only be good enough to give impartial consideration, they will see my point in a moment. Government business involves many different kinds of business—criminal work, charity work, very often most important foreshore cases, Admiralty work, and it also involves scientific work and questions of Government contract. It frequently happens that, in order to get the best assistance which the Government ought to have, they require to have a person specially qualified in that particular line of work. It is no discredit to my distinguished predecessors in my office—such great lawyers, for instance, as Lord Davey or Sir John Rigby—that they have never been in the Admiralty Court in their lives; and it would have been perfectly ridiculous if a Government ship should come into collision, that the Government should call on the services of the law officers. I hope my Friends on the other side trust their law officers as I am trusted by my chiefs, and I hope that nobody will suggest that my honourable and learned Friends opposite, if they felt they were not the best persons to conduct a case, would hesitate to employ somebody else. It has happened to me more than once in the course of the many years I have been privileged to be Attorney General, to have to point out that I was not the best person to conduct a case; I have had no brief, and I have asked that other counsel should be instructed. The honourable and learned Member for Dumfries, I have known, has requested Members of this House, and distinguished members of the Bar, to appear either with him in cases, or without him in special cases. The proper view is that on a moderate scale of fees—not fees which Queen's Counsel in large practice could command, but on a moderate scale of fees—the Government should get the services of the best men for particular cases. For instance, when we have 153 some great litigation, such as we had over the Maxim powder, involving half a million of money, it would have been perfectly ridiculous that we should not have had the services of a gentleman like MR. Fletcher Moulton, if he had not been on the other side, or the honourable and learned Member for Haddingtonshire, who was put into the Maxim case by my honourable and learned Friend the Member for Dumfries. The Government have had to pay that extra expenditure. I make no complaint, but that is the kind of case I refer to. Take the Admiralty oases. Fortunately, I have had very large experience in shipping contract cases, and I was able to put at the disposal or the Government my experience on that occasion, but if I had not had that experience I should have said, "Have the very best man you can get." There are very many foreshore cases involving enormous interests—for instance, Constance v. the Board of Trade, which has been going on for 20 years. Very often the Government requires special learning on ancient documents. I have had myself to direct that individuals with special knowledge should be engaged. Now, if you have got your law officers at a salary, the country will at once say, "Let the law officers conduct all the cases, because they are being paid a salary, and the Government ought not to incur extra payments. Call upon them to appear in every case." I say that from the point of view of the work being well done, and from the point of view of the Government getting the best men at moderate prices, it is better that contentious business should be paid for at a moderate scale of fees for work done. I need only say I would never take the office of Attorney General on any other terms. Now, the honourable Member for Lanark imagined that restrictions would be done away with. Not only have they not been done away with, but—I take no credit for it—in 1896 a Minute to which I not only consented, but which was, practically, framed by myself, re-imposed restrictions. In the first place, it was left to the responsibility of the Attorney General as to whether both law officers should be instructed. When the honourable Member for Lanark talks of the Attorney General taking briefs for himself, and taking them away from per- 154 manent counsel, and having the direction Mid distribution of briefs, so that he could give them to himself, he knows—he will forgive me for saying so—very little indeed of the spirit which actuates those who have got into that position. The honourable Gentleman has not quoted my words rightly. He has quoted one sentence out of my speech in connection with a proposition which vas made from this side of the House when I was in Opposition. I never applied those words, or anything like them, to the existing system. However, I have made my protest, and I pass from that. We have restricted the number of cases in which both law officers should be engaged. We have restricted the cases in which they should be employed. They are considerably less. We have given the law officers no rights to demand briefs which have been demanded by previous law officers; and with regard to the standard of fees, we established a scale of lower fees than previous law officers had accepted. The "refresher" was limited in all cases to 30 guineas, and cannot be increased under any circumstances. The brief fee is limited to 150 guineas maximum, unless the Chancellor of the Exchequer allows a larger fee. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has-been good enough to consider this matter, although I have not always been satisfied with his views. He exercised his discretion from his own point of view, and the business of the country stands in a better position in respect of the fees paid for contentious business than it ever has stood in during the time that the law officers have been paid for by the extent of their business. The honourable Member for Mid-Lanark said something about law officers taking briefs or fees in cases to which they could not personally attend. Now, law officers have never done that. I am not aware of any cases having come to my knowledge during my tenure of office in which a law officer's brief has been handed over to other counsel to do. We hear a great deal about these matters, but formal briefs have been abolished for many years, and law officers get no fees except for cases which they personally conduct. With regard to some members of the profession——
SIR R. WEBSTER
It did seem to me that they had no relation to this question. Well, let me say one word with regard to the power of the direction of business. I believe the Government have been in the habit of extending to their law officers the confidence which I know they have extended to me, and for which I am very thankful. Now, some person must be responsible for saying whether or not cases are fit and proper for the law officers to attend to. I do not know on whom that responsibility is to be cast, if not upon the Attorney General, and if you cannot trust the Attorney General to carry out those duties he is certainly not fit to occupy his post very long. It will not be judicious to give to the heads of departments the right of determining whether they should be represented by the law officers in litigation, because they will all wish to be represented in that way. I can tell the honourable Gentleman that the cases of the heads of departments will, under all circumstances, be argued by law officers of the Crown. I can also assure honourable Members opposite that the heads of departments are quite like other people—they are apt to think that their own cases are the most important to be brought before the courts, and as Ministers press their own views in this House, so Ministers press their own cases forward. All I can say in conclusion is that the experience of a great many years has satisfied me that to revert to the system under which a salary was paid in the case of contentious business—I do not care about the amount one bit, except under exceptional circumstances—would not be for the interests of the country. I am satisfied that you ought to be able to get the work done on a moderate scale of remuneration, and not upon a fancy scale—not on the scale you pay some of the honourable Members of this House who appear at the Bar. I hope and trust, and. I think, when you go fully into the matter, you will agree with me that this is the best system, and I am quite sure those who succeed me will apply the same principles in the interests of the country.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
I feel very much relieved at the declaration of the learned Attorney General, that nothing which has been said on this occasion shall be taken by him as personal. This is an indication of the spirit in which the learned Attorney General has entered into this discussion. A short time back we had a very earnest discussion of the payment of the emoluments of another law officer of the country, and therefore I think those who took part in that Debate are perfectly justified1 in doing so upon this occasion. With regard to what the learned Attorney General said about employing specialists for special cases, and, above all, to have the very best talent that can be engaged, I entirely agree with him. I do not think anyone will dispute that for a moment. I should not for a moment, even in my state of ignorance, suggest that a criminal lawyer should be sent into the Admiralty Court to argue matters connected with marine life. At the same time I think it would be possible to so arrange the business that the law officers and the Solicitor General might have salaries allotted to them to do all the Crown work that comes within the possible scale, and in cases like those which the learned Attorney General has so well illustrated provision should be made that the law officers in cases of that kind should advise the Government in special cases as to whom they should employ. What the taxpayers think is this, that we ought to get our law at a cheaper rate than what we are getting it done for now. We are paying probably £22,000, or £23,000, or £24,000, or £25,000 a year to the Solicitor General and to the Attorney General between them., The taxpayers think it is too much. I am not saying this particularly of the present learned Attorney General, for I think that he is entitled to as high pay as any other Attorney General that ever occupied the position, and probably whoever will occupy that position; but that is not the point, which is, whether we think that we are paying more than is necessary, and paying more than we ought to pay, for our legal advice. You have to remember that while the salary given to the present Solicitor General and Attorney General 157 is perhaps not more than they might earn at the Bar, if they were not Members of this House, or if they were not officers of the Government, but private persons have a perfect right to pay whatever fancy price they like out of their own pockets, in order to adorn their cases with the highest learning and the greatest skill which can be supplied by advocates, but when we are employing these officers, we generally take an Attorney General and a Solicitor General for five or six years. It is a pretty certain thing that both the present law officers of the Crown will have a five years' term of office, and, of course, five years' constant salary at a very high rate indeed. It will probably be for six years, as an enthusiastic supporter of the Government behind me says—he believes they will be in office for six years. Now, I think that £10,000 a, year is quite high, enough, in all conscience, for the law officers of the Crown, in addition to which he always has in front of him the prospects of still greater promotion, and that should be a reason why the salary paid should not be an extravagant one. Take the present Attorney General. I do not suppose there is an office in the gift of the Government that he could not claim whenever it became vacant—any judgeship—the Lord Chief Justiceship, or any other appointment. The present Attorney General could take any of them if he so wished. If, unhappily, the Lord Chancellorship should become vacant, nothing could stand between the present Attorney General and the Lord Chancellorship—if he took the usual course, and went through the usual channel to make it known that he desired to have it.
§ MR. BROADHURST
Those channels are better known to the Attorney General than to myself. What I want to point out is this: that all the great prizes and gifts are within the reach of the law officers of the Crown, and those things should be taken into consideration when we are fixing these salaries. I do contend that, even making allowance for what the Attorney General pointed out as to the necessity of employing lawyers in special cases who have devoted their attention to that special 158 branch of the law, notwithstanding that we should fix a salary for the law officers, and we should know what we are paying each year, and the country and taxpayers should know what they are paying exactly. I do not think we are paying an extravagantly high price; in fact, I am sure that if those offices were put up to competition, we should get them filled for less than half the money. I am not, however, proposing to put them up to competition, but if they were put up to competition, we should have swarms of aspirants.
§ MR. BROADHURST
No, because in proposing to do that, I know we should not have the present Attorney General applying, who is such an ornament and an official of great value to the nation, but we may not always get such a good one. But I do not want to pay the same price to a bad man as to a good man. I believe that in the interests of the taxpayers—in the interests of the great mass of the working people of this country, we are paying far too high a price for legal advice in Government matters. It is very seldom, and never except on this occasion, and on the occasion of the discussion of the previous Vote for another great law officer of the State, that I enter into the Debates on this question, because, as a rule, our Ministers and officials are well worthy of the money we pay them. That is my own personal opinion, but in a case of this sort, when we run into £12,000, £15,000, £18,000, or £20,000 a year for legal advice, I do think that that is a heavy bill indeed to be paid, and we might get it equally well done if we paid the present Attorney General £10,000 a year, and barred his special fees. I believe we should get the work done equally as well under those circumstances. I object to special fees, and to all kinds of "extras," whether in Imperial matters or in local matters, for it always occurs that enormous bills are run up which are higher than is necessary, and much money is spent in this way that might have been saved. I hope that the learned Attorney General will not construe a 159 single word I have said in anything like a personal sense.
§ MR. BROADHURST
I have said these things simply because I believe that these large sums of money are extravagant, and I am bound, as one of the representatives of the taxpayers of this country, to enter this protest.
§ MR. BIRRELL (Fife, W.)
I do not believe that the taxpayers as a class take a very deep interest in the salary of the Attorney General. I think it is rather disappointing that we do not get the amount of his salary in Whittaker's Almanack, as we did the salaries of previous Attorney Generals.
§ MR. BIRRELL
Well, I learn for the first time to-day, from the lips of my right honourable Friend the learned Attorney General, that during the year 1896–97 he made an additional £7,000, which is a very satisfactory sum. He evidently thought it so himself, and he has also had £6,039 for contentious business, thus making up his salary to £13,039. I think it would be desirable to know what the salary of the Attorney General was, and I am therefore rather sorry that there should have been a departure from what I always understood was fixed by the Treasury Minute of 1894, which fixed the salary of the Attorney General and the Solicitor General at a fixed sum. I do not know what the history of that transaction is. If the Attorney General will tell me the various Minutes when he had the usual practice for the first time interfered with, I shall be greatly obliged.
SIR R. WEBSTER
Early in the seventies the salary of the Attorney General came to about £14,000 or £15,000 a year. Now, in 1874, when Sir Henry James was the Attorney General for the first time, the salaries were fixed at £7,000 for the Attorney General and £6,000 for the Solicitor General, with fees for contentious business; that system prevailed up to 1892, when Sir Charles Russell agreed to give up private 160 practice, with exception of the House of Lords and Privy Council, and to fix the salaries at £7,000 and £6,000, with fees for contentious business at as high a rate as other counsel would be paid for similar business, with this result: that there was a considerable increase in the amount paid under that head. When the honourable Gentleman the Member for Dumfries and the late Sir Frank Lockwood for the first time came into office, the salaries were fixed at £7,000 and £6,000, with £3,000 added to each for contentious business. I myself refused to accept office on the same terms for contentious business, and when the matter had been carefully considered, it was acknowledged that I had made out a good case for an alteration of that system. The only other alteration is that made at the time by Sir Charles Russell when his private practice was taken away. It was usual to pay out of his own pocket for his clerks, but there was an allowance made for two clerks, one at £500 a year, and the other at £300 a year.
§ MR. BIRRELL
I think most people will think that these figures are most satisfactory. I pointed out that he was well advised in objecting to the £3,000 a year for contentious business, seeing that during the years 1895–96 his fees for contentious business have exceeded that amount by £916, and during 1896–97 by more than double that amount. I do not for a moment dispute, and I should not pretend to do so, these amounts, and I entirely agree with the argument which the Attorney General produced, showing that it is desirable very often for the Crown to have the benefit of other lawyers and eminent persons in special cases. Of course, in employing these specialists it is no reflection on those gentlemen, and it is desirable that the Crown should be able to obtain the services of those who are best fitted to conduct the particular kind of cases which need to be conducted; but I am not at all sure that the market value of an Attorney General and a Solicitor General is not too highly estimated by the remuneration which they now receive, and I should like to have the opinion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as to whether he thinks my right honourable 161 Friend sitting next to him is worth £13,000 a year or not, but I cannot help thinking that the £7,000 for non-contentious business might advantageously be reduced. I am bound to say that I do not think it is a matter in which the country takes the least interest, for it delights in paying leading men of the Bar most enormous fees. It takes a positive pleasure, and gloats over the fact that these gentlemen have received such enormous sums, and I think a litigant thinks that it adds to his importance when he has employed a counsel to whom he has to give 500 guineas before he will open his mouth. I do not think my honourable Friend will make much out of this before the country. What I do think, however, is most important, and it is that we should have some means of knowing what the law officers are making; and I think, as the Financial Secretary happens now to be in his place, because his Department is responsible for this, he might give us his opinion on the subject. However, the Attorney General has, in a most manful manner, made a clean breast of it, and I am sure we are all very much obliged to him for giving us the information which we stood so much in need of.
§ MR. LOUGH
My honourable and learned Friend has hinted that the only object one has on a question of this kind is to make something out of it before the country. Well, that is a some what low view of the duty which. Members on both sides have to discharge. Our eye is not continually on the country, but we have to try and maintain a good arrangement if we can, and by criticism we might possibly improve such arrangement. We have heard with the greatest interesi—and I join with everything that has been said of the Attorney General— the statement that he has made, and on the ground of mere figures there is not much to be made out of the argument that has been urged from this side of the House. But we do not always, I think, get the most important side of the question by figures. After all, the Attorney General only gave us one reason against the 1891 arrangement. The reason which the Attorney General gave was that occasionally the Crown might require special service. 162 Sir, I think there is very little weight in that argument. There is no reason why the specialist should not be employed. It may involve extra payment, it may involve an extra payment of £1,000 or £2,000 in a particular year, but there is an extra payment under the system which the Attorney General himself advocates, and therefore I think, there is no reason for assuming that the system of 1891 necessarily excludes the Government from securing the best service of any counsel upon any particular occasion. I will submit one argument, which I think will appeal to the honourable and learned Gentleman, for a return to the old arrangement of 1891. It is this, that it would put an end to these discussions in this House—an absolute and. The honourable Member for West Fife says that people would satisfy their curiosity, and he says he would like to see the amount in Whitaker's Almanack, which would enable one to see exactly what the figures are, but we cannot get at the figures under this arrangement. The honourable and learned Member has, kindly told us all he knows, but tie has not given us the figures for 1897–98, and we have not had the return for the last two years, and no return whatever since 1895–96. I think, Mr. Lowther, the old arrangement had this advantage. It is not pleasant to discuss these matters of salary before the honourable and learned Gentlemen who are interested in them, and the arrangement of 1891 put an end to these discussions, it fixed an amount which was a final matter. It was a very delicate matter to handle, but it was skilfully handled, and I chink it was a very satisfactory arrangement, and I think it is a great pity that it was not maintained and that we should have gone back to the old arrangement, which appears to be the result that has now arisen. While I quite agree with the disposition to discuss this, not in any personal sense, but in a perfectly friendly way to the occupants of the Front Bench, yet I think the Government is greatly to blame for having gone back on the arrangement of 1894. The last time we discussed this question we were assured that the new arrangement would not be more costly. For these reasons, I think, the matter ought to be reconsidered, and we 163 ought to go back now to the exact arrangement of 1894 as one that would be in all respects more satisfactory than the present system.
§ MR. LEWIS
May I draw the right honourable Gentleman's attention to the fact that there is one point with which he has not dealt? Under the 1894 arrangement no complaint of any kind, so far as we have heard, was made with regard to that arrangement in any shape or form. I do not know whether all the learned Gentlemen who held office under that arrangement were perfectly satisfied with it, but, at all events, we heard no complaint whatever on that score, and with regard to the attitude of the public to which the honourable and learned Gentleman referred, lie said that if the law officers were paid by fixed salary the public would demand that the law officers should take every case themselves; but the public made no such demand under the 1894 arrangement, and it was left to the law officers of the Crown. We have had some very interesting figures placed before us, but I do not propose to repeat them further than to say that in the first year, in 1896, £1,000 more than the 1894 arrangement was paid to the Attorney General, and in the following year £3,000 more was paid. The honourable and learned Gentleman has told us that that increase has been in consequence of special and exceptional circumstances. Well, I venture to think that in the sphere so ably presided over by the Attorney General these special and exceptional circumstances constantly crop up. The questions with which he has to deal are of such great importance that it is very easy for him to say that in a particular year it is a special and exceptional year. The honourable and learned Gentleman made a very clear and lucid statement, from his own point of view, but I am bound to say that on this question of having a fixed salary for both the Attorney General and the Solicitor General I feel very strongly.
SIR R. WEBSTER
The system of 1894 was only in force for nine months in the year, and both from the Department point of view and from the point of view of getting through the work it certainly was not satisfactory.
§ MR. CALDWELL
This Motion is moved on the ground of principle. We certainly on this side of the House hold that the Attorney General's salary should not exceed for all purposes of the Crown the sum of £10,000 If, on the other hand, you adopt the theory of the Attorney General that he is to be paid by a fixed salary and also to be paid for contentious business, then we put the Attorney General in that case on the same footing as if he got his £5,000 a year, and then let him have his fees for other business. The sum is £7,000 a year. Now, if we give the Attorney General the same salary as the Secretary of State and allow him to have contentious business, that has the effect of the reduction that I move. We have nothing to do with what income may be made at the Bar. Take Sir Charles Russell: he goes upon the Bench, and he takes a position on the Bench, and takes it at half the salary he would make at the Bar. What is made at the Bar is no criterion of what ought to be given for an office. We are not bound to go into the legal profession and bid and take the man with the highest reputation, but we have to say, "What is the price which the State is prepared to give for the work which he is to be called upon to perform?" It is not to the interest of the State or the legal profession either to make the position of the Attorney General too much to be coveted for a long period by one man. It is the prize of the legal profession which they wish to pass round. They do not wish one Attorney General to monopolise the position so that other eminent men at the Bar may not have an opportunity of having a round at the same office. I think it is not right that we should make the position so comfort able that one would remain there instead of taking his promotion and passing it round, and letting other people have a chance of holding a position of that kind. I maintain, at any rate, that the salary we give for the work of the Attorney General should be fixed, and that it should have no reference whatever to the fees that are made at the Bar, but should be treated on the same analogous lines as the case of judges. We never pay the judges what they get at the Bar; we do not do it because the position of a judge carries such weight with it that all 165 pecuniary considerations are not taken into account. In the same way with the Attorney General, his position is coveted on account of the position without reference to the special emoluments to be given. With regard to the matter of specialists, I quit understand, supposing the Attorney General's salary was to include both contentious and non-contentious business, that he would only do those duties in a reasonably expect would be in his own particular sphere as the Attorney General. We would not wish him to take special cases. We think that these matters ought to be given to other counsel, and not added to the Attorney General's salary, and the Motion has no reference to making the Attorney General and the solicitor General to do all the work. We only expect them to appear in certain cases, but we mean that the amount to be paid by the state
§ shall not be more than £10,000 a year. We do not say so many hours here and there, but a, reasonable amount of work; and in certain cases they may employ a specialist to deal with special cases. The argument the Attorney General uses with regard to appearing in cases in which he is not acquainted with the special subject, does not apply to our arrangement am more than to his, and we do not expect him to appear in such cases, but the principle we contend for is that £10,000 a year is ample to pay for his services, both for contentious and non-contentious business, and I must therefore press this Motion to a Division.
That the Vote be reduced by £2,000 in respect of the salary of the Attorney General.
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes 44; Noes 122.—(Division List No. 276.)167
|Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.)||Doogan, P. C.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs)|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Duckworth, James||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Hogan, James Francis||Stuart, James (Shoreditch)|
|Birrell, Augustine||Holden, Sir Angus||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Labouchere, Henry||Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)|
|Brigg, John||Lough, Thomas||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Macaleese, Daniel||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Burns, John||McLaren, Chas. Benjamin||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Clark, Dr. G.B. (Caithness-sh.)||Maden, John Henry||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro')|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Woodhouse, Sir JT (Hudd'rsf'ld)|
|Colville, John||Moss, Samuel||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Mr. Herbert Lewis and Mr. Caldwell.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Arnold, Alfred||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Manc'r)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Finch, George H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J. (Manc'r)||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Banes, Major George Edward||Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Flannery, Fortescue|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Foster. Colonel (Lancaster)|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l)||Colomb, Sir John Charles R.||Fry, Lewis|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cornwallis. F. Stanley W.||Gedge, Sidney|
|Bill, Charles||Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Curzon, Rt Hn. G.N.(Lanc, SW)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Denny, Colonel||Goschen, Rt Hn. G. J. (St. G'ag's)|
|Bucknill, Thomas Townsend||Doughty, George||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Cavendish, V C.W. (Derbysh.)||Drucker, A.||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Greville, Captain|
|Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.||Monk, Charles James||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Heath, James||More, Robert Jasper||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Hornby, William Henry||Morrison, Walter||Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.).|
|Hozier, Hon. J. H. C.||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Myers, William Henry||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Kenyon, James||Newdigate, Francis Alexander||Strauss, Arthur|
|Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Corn.)||Nicholson, William Graham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Verney, Hon. Richd. Greville|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur||Warkworth, Lord|
|Llewelyn, Sir D. (Swansea)||Pierpoint, Robert||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Pollock, Harry Frederick||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Williams, Joseph P. (Birm.)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Purvis, Robert||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R. (Bath),|
|Lowles, John||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.||Wyndham, George|
|Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|McArthur, Chas. (Liverpool)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|McKillop, James||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Malcolm, Ian||Round, James||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
That the sum of £39,282 be granted to Her Majesty for the expenses of the Law Officers of the Crown.
§ Question put.
§ Agreed to.
That the sum of £30,800 be granted to Her Majesty for miscellaneous legal expenses and grants in aid of the expenses of the Incorporated Law Society.
§ MR. HANBURY
I shall be glad to tell the honourable Member the detailed items in the contribution to the sheriffs which are responsible for that increase.
§ DR. CLARK
I understand that the high sheriffs have had a certain amount of expenditure in connection with dining. Now, we have got to pay a portion of this, and when it makes such a very serious increase we really want to know the reason why. In England you have got gentlemen like Mr. Hooley, and millionaires of that kind, who are anxious to be high sheriffs, and to them these expenses do not matter. Now, if they are going to give very nice dinners to these gentlemen, and then ask Parlia- 168 ment to pay the bill, I do not think it ought to be allowed to take place.
§ MR. LEWIS
The question is what has really made this very large-increase. It is so great that we thought the right honourable Gentleman would be able to tell the Committee what it consisted of, but I understand that he is unable to give us any information. I have risen for the purpose of drawing attention to the expenses of the Railway and Canal Commission. Last year the right honourable Gentleman, the Member for Wolverhampton drew attention to this question, and suggested that some inquiry should be made into the work dome by the Commission and the amount that it cost the country. The Commissioners have been appointed under 51 and 52 Vic, and they have received the maximum amount of salary authorised to be paid by that Act. This, Mr. Lowther, is a well-paid Commission, and of that there, can be no doubt whatever, and I am always puzzled when I look over a Report of the Commission for the previous year to understand how it is that so very few cases have been heard, and that there are such a large-number of actions pending. Last year, or rather in the year 1896, the last year for which we have a Report, only IS' cases were heard, 28 eases had been settled out of court, or the application in respect of those oases was withdrawn, and 169 the number of cases pending—for how dong they were pending I do not know, but it seems to me that they must be carried on from year to year—makes the astonishing total of 91 oases, that is to say, only 18 oases had been heard, and no less than 91 cases were pending. Now, it is a well-paid Commission, and also a very expensive Commission; the fact that so few oases have been heard by the Railway and Canal Commission shows that it is extremely difficult for the trading world to approach it. There are a vast number of cases arising in relation to railway rates all over the country which would properly be the subject of investigation on the part of this Commission, but traders are discouraged from approaching the Commission from the fact that it is an extremely expensive thing to fight a railway company before a Commission because the fees are so very heavy, and moreover the Commission has not, judging from its annual reports, that character for the despatch of business which would encourage the ordinary commercial man to approach the Commission with his brief. I think, Mr. Lowther, that it would be far better if it were possible to appoint a number of Sub-Commissioners, because the Sub-Commissioners are paid at a considerably lower rate than the Commissioners, who are paid at the rate of £2,000 a year, and these Sub-Commissioners would be able to deal with the small cases arising all over the country. I think if that were done it would be possible to effect a great deal more work by -the Railway and Canal Commission. As it is, we have very few cases tried and decided before it. We pay the Commissioners a very handsome salary, and we receive, it appears to me, a very inadequate return for that salary, and I would 'like the honourable and learned Gentleman to explain how it is that ultimately so very few oases come to be heard before "this Commission, and these cases, no doubt, are oases between very large traders or bodies of traders and the principal railway companies of the country. It is one of the most necessary functions of the Government to see that the trading community have fair play in regard to railway rates. If they come to this House for the amendment of their rate, they have to face the prospect of a long 170 and expensive fight in a Committee upstairs. Unless the interests concerned are of an extremely powerful character, able to rely upon a very heavy purse, their chance of asserting their just claims is a very small one. Theoretically, every one has a right to appear before a Committee of this House and to press his claim to justice in regard to railway rates and a number of other matters, but practically the unfortunate result is that the enormous expense attending the appeal to the Committee is so great as to put it practically out of the question, except in a very few cases. Theoretically, too, we are allowed in this House to raise these questions, but we are always met by the reply that this is a question which ought to be thrashed out in the Committee upstairs. It therefore appears to me that the tribunal to which is committed the task of determining questions of this kind should be an efficient, speedy, and inexpensive tribunal. I do not make any complaints of the inefficiency of the Commission. I do not know anything about that one way or the other, and I daresay it is an efficient tribunal. It certainly ought to be having regard to what we pay for it, but what I do say is that the record of its proceedings do not appear to show that its procedure is of a speedy character, however efficient it may be. I should like to see a very much larger number of cases tried before this tribunal in order that a greater number of traders throughout the country might be able to receive justice in the important matter of railway rates.
§ SIR A. ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
The complaint made by my honourable Friend opposite is one which is very frequently made in this House. No doubt this tribunal is to be respected, but it does fail, many of us think, to meet the commercial wants of the day. The business transacted—some 19 cases I think —is already, to my remembrance of the Report, about the average; on the other hand the cost of the tribunal, according to the amount which appears in the Estimates to-day, is the very disproportionate sum of somewhere about £300 per case heard in court, which is incomparable in all senses of the term with the cost of tribunals of a co-ordinate 171 character. Now, Sir, the court seems to many of us to be too cumbrous, to be too costly, and to be one in which those who take exception to railway rates and conditions imposed find it practically impossible to appear before. The only way of doing so is to obtain the services of some railway or commercial association, and even under these circumstances the expense incurred is so great, the length of hearing is frequently so great, and the ultimate satisfaction so small, that really the tribunal is one that may be spoken of as almost useless. It has been said that individually the composition of this Commission is not open to reproach. I should say that there is a very strong feeling that the court ought to have a more commercial character. If it was composed of those more conversant with the ways of traders and the manner in which traffic should be conducted, I think it is impossible, in the interests of trade and the industries of this country, to overrate the importance of having a good tribunal for the revision of railway rates. Those rates are very frequently less in foreign countries than in our own country, and that means a diversion of traffic from our own people to those in other countries, and I hope that at no distant date this tribunal, against which we have protested almost year by year in the interests of the commercial community, will be revised, and that there will be placed at the disposal of the traders a tribunal which will have in itself members who have an acquaintance with the demands of trade, and that it will be unnecessary to call expert and other evidence at great cost, or to employ counsel under conditions which make the court absolutely deterrent to the traders of the country. I heartily support this proposition.
§ DR. CLARK
This money is really wasted by Parliament in keeping up this Commission, because we are utterly unable to get any change, and the railway companies are still able to charge, as they are charging, these differential rates. I see the Minister of Agriculture here, and I daresay he has got any number of complaints from agriculturists all round about, that the railway companies are charging more carriage for a distance of 20 or 30 miles in this 172 country than they are charging for bringing goods over from other countries. It is cheaper for goods to be brought from Normandy by boat and railway to. London than to bring the same goods; 20 or 30 miles in this country. We have got a Railway Commission to do the work. It is recognised that the Land Commission in Ireland has been readjusting fair rents. It is only right, therefore, that this Commission should determine what are fair rates, and that where they find unfair rates being charged they should have those rates revised. We had a general revision of the rates, and we expected that it would assist the trade of this country, and especially assist agriculture; but this general revision, instead of assisting agriculture, had the opposite effect, and increased the charge which agriculturists had to pay. So far as traders are concerned, they are entirely dissatisfied, and agriculturists alike are entirely dissatisfied. I do not see any reason why this Committee sits except for buttressing up the present, railway system, which is a monopoly, and the Commission has not been of any value to anybody who was supposed to have been benefited by it.
§ MR. LOYD (Berks, Abingdon)
I desire to say a few words in favour of some Assistant Commissioners being appointed well acquainted with local needs, who might bring satisfaction to the minds of the traders in the locality. Apart from the important and intricate questions which come before the Commissioners, there are smaller matters of reasonable dealing which can never bear the expense of proceedings before the Commissioners. I refer to such question as the reasonableness of the charges and of the conditions imposed upon the farmers engaged in the milk trade. Short of a case before the Commissioners there should be some method of settling fair terms in a matter so vital to the farmers. But, at present, if they are not prepared to go before the Commission they must take the terms the companies insist on. I am not one of those who would ever join in any unreasonable attack upon the railway companies, because I am aware of the difficulties under which they carry 173 on their traffic and the high standard of speed and comfort which is required of them. But it does seem to be placing the public in a rather awkward position when questions of this kind have to be decided practically by the companies, and not by any impartial tribunal to whom the traders can appeal.
SIR R. WEBSTER
It is perfectly true that very often there are a good many cases pending before the Railway and Canal Commission, but, as a matter of fact, I may state to the House that in previous years it not unfrequently happened that the decision given in one case governed a number of other cases. Therefore it is not necessary to take all those cases here. With regard to the amount of work, I do not conceal from the House that the work done by this tribunal is not commensurate with its cost; but I would remind the House that a great deal of the work done by the Commissioners does not appear in the contentious cases at all, such as settling agreements between railway companies and other matters, which are very necessary and which require to be settled by some tribunal. I should like to tell the House that in one of the years complained of I was informed that Sir Frederick Peel had attended every working day during the sittings. Therefore the work of the Railway Commission is not represented by the contentious cases. I am willing to admit that the expenses are high in regard to the number of cases heard. As I said last year—and I will repeat it now—I think a great mistake was made in the interests of traders when, in 1894, the late Government were induced to pass an Act by which traders were not allowed to have their costs unless the Commissioners were of opinion that the claim was frivolous or that the defence was frivolous or vexatious. I am perfectly certain, and I have never hesitated in expressing my opinion on this matter, that it was a great mistake. I appeared in the great bulk of the cases, more often for traders than for the railway companies. I. was on both sides, and I say that invariably if traders had any case 174 at all they always got their costs. I am perfectly satisfied that the section ought to be repealed and the trader ought to get his costs against the companies. It is obvious that the company can afford to fight the case better than the trader. That is one of these Amendments brought in in the interests of the traders, and I am sure it would reduce the expense. It was introduced at the instance of the traders in the belief that it would reduce the expense, but it has had quite the contrary effect. I hope, if we are to make this tribunal successful, we shall bring in some Bill to simplify the procedure and give them the costs in the ordinary way. I do not think that Sub-Commissioners would be a satisfactory way of treating the subject, because we are not dealing with light railways now. The questions which arise should be dealt with by this tribunal, and I am sure the results will be very well worthy of the time spent upon it by Parliament.
§ MR. LEWIS
The support that my honourable Friend has received on both sides of the House has been of an influential character. I was glad to hear what the Attorney General has just said. The Member for Islington speaks with peculiar knowledge and authority upon this question. He has been the president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of the United Kingdom for a considerable time, and he is now the president of the London Chamber of Commerce. Traders throughout the country feel that they have in the constitution of this tribunal a very, strong grievance. We have had some kind of intimation from the honourable and learned Gentleman that, in his opinion, there ought to be amending legislation. I had intended to move a reduction of £1,000 in this Vote. I did not do so when I first rose because I thought some other honourable Gentleman might have a reduction to move; but if the right honourable Gentleman will say that the Government will introduce legislation upon this subject——
opportunity of expressing their views. I beg to move—
That Item E be reduced by £1,000, in respect of the salaries of the Railway and Canal Commission.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 28; Noes 118—(Division List No. 277.)175
|Allen, W. (Newc.-under-L.)||Hogan, James Francis||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)|
|Bayley, T. (Derbyshire)||Macaleese, Daniel||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Billson, Alfred||McLaren, Chas. Benjamin||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Maddison, Fred.||Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)|
|Caldwell, James||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)||Woodall, William|
|Clark, Dr. G.B. (Caithness-sh.)||Moss, Samuel||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Clough, Walter Owen||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Rickett, J. Compton||Mr. Herbert Lewis and Mr. Brigg.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Duckworth, James||Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)|
|Arnold, Alfred||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Fisher, William Hayes||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Bagot, Captain J. FitzRoy||Flannery, Fortescue||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Flower, Ernest||Myers, William Henry|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Fry, Lewis||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M.H. (Brist'l)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bill, Charles||Gorst, Rt Hon. Sir J. Eldon||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Goschen, Rt Hn. G. J. (St. G'rg's)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. E.|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Purvis, Robert|
|Brassey, Albert||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Bucknill, Thomas Townsend||Greville, Captain||Robertson, H. (Hackney)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robt. W.||Round, James|
|Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W.||Heath, James||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Helder, Augustus||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hornby, Wiliam Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Hozier, Hon. Jas. Hy. Cecil||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)|
|Clarke, Sir Edw. (Plymouth)||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Sidebottom, W. (Derbysh.)|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Jenkins, Sir John Jones||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Kenyon, James||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)|
|Collings, Rt Hon. Jesse||Lawrence, Sir E. D. (Corn.)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles R||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Strauss, Arthur|
|Cornwallis F. Stanley W.||Llewelyn, Sir D. (Swansea)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. L. H.||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Verney, Hon. Richard G.|
|Curzon, Rt Hn. G.N. (Lanc., SW)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Warkworth, Lord|
|Curzon Viscount (Bucks)||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)||Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)|
|Denny, Colonel||Lowe, Francis William||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Doughty, George||Lowles, John||Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)|
|Douglas Rt. Hon. A. Akers,||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Drucher, A.||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Wylie, Alexander|
|Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||McKillop, James||Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc.)||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Field, Admiral (Eastbourne)||Monk, Charles James||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Finch, George H.||More, Robert Jasper|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Morrison, Walter|
§ Upon, the return of the Committee, after the usual interval, on the Vote to complete the sum of £326,251 for such of the salaries and expenses of the Supreme Court of Judicature as are not charged on the Consolidated Fund,
§ MR. BRIGG
I notice that there is here an allowance to the present Serjeant-at-Arms of £97 a year, in respect of the payments made to him formerly out of Hanaper fees. Those fees are now abolished, but it seems that although the fees are abolished, yet £97 still remains in place of Hanaper fees, and is paid to the present Serjeant-at-Arms. Now, if the Hanaper fees are abolished entirely why should this amount of £97 be put in place of them? "Why should it not be abolished, too? It is only a paltry sum, but I fail to see why it should remain. I am not complaining of the amount of £97, which the Serjeant-at-Arms receives in place of the Hanaper fees he used to receive, but I do put to the Committee the desirability of doing away with this thing. The Hanaper fees having been abolished I do submit that this last remnant should be abolished also.
SIR R. WEBSTER
If the honourable Gentleman had followed this matter a little further into former years he would have seen that some years ago, when the Hanaper fees were abolished, the present Serjeant-at-Arms was in office, so that it was not possible to abolish the fees without giving him some compensation. This figure, which is less than the fees amounted to, was taken to represent them, and the country derived great benefit by paying it in lieu of them.
§ MR. CALDWELL
There is another point in this Vote upon which I should like to say a word. The appointment of the judge's clerk rests, as I understand, with the judge himself, and they put their own friends, or persons in whom they have some interest, into these positions, quite apart from the consideration as to their suitability for public ser- 178 vice. Now, appointments of late years made in this House have been on the ground of special fitness. Of course, I quite recognise, with regard to matters connected with the law and the courts special fitness is required, and it is not possible, perhaps, to introduce the Civil Service system in making those appointments, because under that system there is no special training. The training must, of course always occur in the courts of law and in private practice, but that is no reason why a judge should have the appointment, and nominate persons, practically, without reference to special qualifications. These matters have been referred to upon previous occasions, and what we want to know is whether the Government are prepared to introduce a change in the system of these appointments and see that the appointments shall be made having regard to the special fitness of the person appointed. I should submit that an office of that kind should be made by means of a competitive examination, and not by nomination, and by and by, when these offices become vacant, men who are barristers, who have not been successful at the Bar would compete, and you would then, by that means, improve and add to the dignity of the position. We are shortly going to have a Commission as to the appointments to this and the House of Lords, which have always been made by nomination, which it is admitted to be a wrong principle; and it is suggested that these appointments should be competitive, and I think that that is the principle which should be adopted with regard to the judges' clerks, and I hope any future appointments will be subject to competitive examination.
SIR R. WEBSTER
So far as the clerkships to the lord justices are concerned, they are always filled by competitive examination, but a, judge is in an entirely different position. The judge's clerk is the personal attendant to the judge, and has to look after his robes, and he also looks after his notes. He is a private clerk to the judge, and the practice has invariably been, and could not be altered without great inconvenience to the judges, that on the appointment to the bench, the judge immediately appoints his private clerk. The honourable 179 Gentleman is labouring under a misapprehension; this clerk is in the position of a body clerk.
§ Sir C. DILKE
It is not the fact, is it, that the body clerks are the only persons exempt from examination?
SIR R. WEBSTER
The only other persons exempt from examination are persons who, by reason of their legal training, are excused from examination.
§ MR. BRIGG
May I ask a question with regard to the record office of the Supreme Court? I notice there are several offices there—the Master, the Queen's Remembrancer, and the Registrar of Crown Coroners, and other registrars— the offices, two of which we are told tonight will be swept, away upon the next vacancy. I wish to know why the others should be retained if these two are to be swept away?
SIR R. WEBSTER
There are a very large number of duties connected with the Exchequer which are now performed by the Queen's Remembrancer, which are extra duties, and which used to be performed by another officer, who was paid the considerable salary of £1,800 a year. I might be allowed, perhaps, to say, that there has been steady and consistent economy going on in these offices for many years, so much so that I think we have reached the low water mark, and if we make a new departure, I am not certain that it will not have to be the other way.
§ MR. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
I beg to ask whether the Treasury are prepared to pay the cost of the translation of Welsh wills into the English language? A number of Welsh people make their wills every year in that language—it is the language which is largely used in Wales in the ordinary course of life—and it is felt unfair that such a charge as is now imposed should be made.
Sir R. WEBSTER
I understand that during the past two years there have been no complaints, and that no extra charge is made for translation. Sir B. Webster.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ A Vote of £206,251 for Salaries and Expenses of the Supreme Court of Judicature, not charged to the Consolidated Fund, was agreed to.
§ On the Vote of £5,285 for the Salaries and Expenses of the Land Registry,
§ MR. CALDWELL
With respect to this Vote, I think the fees charged are altogether out of proportion to the expenses of the office. We do not expect a profit to be made out of such an institution. It ought to be self-supporting and no more.
§ MR. LEWIS
I am sure the Attorney General is desirous, as we all ought to be, that people should have as much encouragement as possible to register their titles. It is quite evident that land registry is a money-making business, and the fees appear to be very much too high in proportion to the work done. It is right that fees should be charged and that persons who derive advantage from the existence of an institution of this kind should be prepared to pay something towards its support, but the amount derived from fees is nearly three times the cost of registration, according to the figures which we have before us. I should be glad if the Attorney General would state what effect the new system of land registration now adopted for the County of London will have upon the Middlesex Land Registry. There is also 181 another question connected with this subject which was raised by the honourable Member either last year or in 1896. It is the existence of two land registries, one belonging to the Woods and Forests Department and the other to the Middlesex Land Registry. For the sake of economy, would it not be desirable that the Land Registry of the Woods and Forests Department should be amalgamated with the Middlesex Land Registry?
SIR R. WEBSTER
I am very glad to find that the criticism upon this Vote is different from what it has been on previous occasions. Hitherto the complaint of honourable Members has been that the office does not pay. The total business of all kinds done is represented by the following figures:— in 1893 it was £18,336; in 1894, £18,078; 1895, £21,579; 1896, £27,412; and in 1897, £29,209, or an increase of something like 40 or 50 per cent, in five years. I am very glad to say that—slowly, I admit—the public are recognising the value of the registration of deeds. Reference has been made to the registrar's salary, but it appears to be forgotten that it has come down from the time of Lord Westbury. It will, however, be revised when the next appointment is made, with reference to the question put to me by the honourable Member below the Gangway, I am not able to say anything about the future work under the Land Transfer Act of last Session, because the Order does not come in force until the latter part of the year, or possibly later. But I think I may state that the work is going to be conducted at one registry, and, as far as I know, we have every reason to believe that the scale of fees, though moderate, will be such as will more than pay the expenses of the official staff required. I believe that as a result of the amalgamation of two offices there will be one registry, as far as Middlesex and London are concerned, at which all the work will be carried on.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I think the Attorney General has given a very satisfactory explanation, but there is one point to which I desire to draw attention. In framing the fees I think regard should be had to the value of the property; 182 there should, in fact, be an ad valorem fee corresponding to the value shown on the deed.
§ MR. GEDGE
I should like to ask, before we pass this Vote, when the rules will come into force under the Land Transfer Act of last year, and whether provision has been made in the estimates therewith for their coming into force on November 18th The Land Transfer Act simply states that these rules are to be submitted to this House, and the House has 40 days within which to pass a Resolution approving of them. Now, these rules were sent to this House on the 19th of July, and therefore there will not be 40 days between the 19th of July and the end of the Session——
Order, order! The honourable Member is raising a question of the procedure of the House. That cannot be discussed on this Vote.
§ MR. GEDGE
If you will allow me, Sir, on a point of order, I will endeavour to explain that I am finding no fault with the procedure of this House, I merely wish to know whether any provision has been made for the rules coming into force on the 18th November, or 40 days after the commencement of the Session next year. I am making no comment on what has been done—that would arise at another time—but I want to know whether the Attorney General will tell me whether these rules will come into-force on the 18th November, or 40 days after next Session?
SIR R. WEBSTER
The Vote deals with the Middlesex Registry as it stands, and it does not contemplate any extra expense in respect of any increase of staff due to the Land Transfer Act. I gather that, if the question of extra cost arises, it will have to be a matter for a Supplementary Estimate.
§ Question put.
§ Vote agreed to.183
§ On the Vote of £28,810 for salaries and expenses connected with county courts,
§ SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
Last year, with the support of the honourable and learned Member for Dumfries, and the opposition of almost every other lawyer in this House, I raised the question of imprisonment for debt in England. In Scotland the system of imprisonment for debt has been abolished, but in England it still exists, and I venture to suggest to the House that it is a great hardship upon a certain section of the community. The other question which I then raised rather concerns the Secretary to the Treasury, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, than the Attorney General. I have taken some active interest in the matter in consequence of the communications I have received, and I am convinced that the amount of the fees in many of the smaller cases really amounts to a denial of justice. It keeps people out of the court, who would otherwise go into court. It presses most severely on the poor classes, and the smaller commercial class in particular, and it has become a public scandal. I am sure if the facts were placed before one Committee they would wish to put an end to it, but they cannot put an end to it, nor can the Attorney General put an end to it; it is a question for the Treasury. I have papers in my hand which have been prepared by two friends of mine, them-selves county court judges of considerable experience, who hold very strong opinions on this point; and they show conclusively that in many of the smaller cases the fees are materially heavier than in the superior court. There are cases, Indeed, where they are between four and five times as much as they are in the superior court. That does seem to me to be a public scandal, and I think it ought to be called attention to in this House until some attempt has been made to remedy it.
SIR E. WEBSTER
There are two subjects which have been brought before the Committee. In the first place, with regard to the imprisonment for debt, I think that anyone who has studied this question will agree that, while un- 184 doubtedly there may be cases of hardship, the question has certainly another side to it. The Debate which took place last year called attention to the subject, and I therefore think the right honourable Baronet may be justified in not pressing this matter on the present occasion. Furthermore, I should like to say that the question has received a remarkable contribution in the outrage on that distinguished county court judge, Judge Parry, and it has already engaged the attention of the county court judges and of the Lord Chancellor. Now, with regard to county court fees, there has been a considerable reduction, and although there are exceptional cases in which the fees are higher than in the superior court, yet rules are not made for exceptional but for ordinary cases. I can assure the honourable Member that the Lord Chancellor and the county court judges are not at all insensible to the necessity of reform; but, as I have said, it is a very large question involving a great deal of consideration, and you have to deal with average cases. I assure him that what the right honourable Gentleman said shall be represented to the proper authorities, and there shall be an endeavour to make a scale of fees which will commend themselves to the general community.
§ MR. CALDWELL
I may mention that in Scotland we have a small-debt scale for debts under£12. For about 3s. or 4s. you can obtain judgment under decree of the court for debts under £12. It is a very cheap procedure; and it may be worthy of consideration whether a scale applicable to England might not be introduced.
§ MR. LEWIS
I thought it was necessary to amend the statement. At 185 all events, we have listened with great satisfaction to the statement that the scale of fees is now being revised. I hope that revision will be of a pretty thorough character. It may be made in the interest of cheapening justice to the working classes. There is one remission of fees that has been properly made, and that is in the case of the Workmen's Compensation Act, which provides that there shall be no fee? payable until the actual hearing. I am sure everybody will approve of that. I hope the Government will, in accordance with the statement of the right honourable Gentleman, grant a remission of fees.
§ Question put.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Vote to complete the sum of £55,107 for police in England and wales agreed to.
§ Votes of £604,696, for prisons in England, Wales, and the Colonies agreed to.
§ Vote to complete the sum of £262,698 for reformatory and industrial schools in Great Britain.
§ LORD H. CECIL (Greenwich)
I desire not to detain the Committee at any unreasonable length, but to draw attention to a matter which has occupied a great deal of the consideration of churchmen, and that has drawn upon them the very unfortunate, but, I hope, not deserved, hostility of the Home Office. The Committee is aware that under the law which regulates industrial schools, denominational education is intended to be given in all cases in which the religious persuasion of the children can be properly ascertained. It provides that not merely parents, but children's friends, may withdraw a child from any school and move it to another one in sympathy with the religious persuasion to which they belong. It provides also that in the orders of detention the religious persuasion shall be specified; also that ministers of religion ought to have access to the schools for the purpose of giving denominational religious instruction. About the law there is no dispute. The Home Office 186 have admitted that the law intends that denominational education shall be given, wherever it is possible. I do not rest our case on a matter of law. We certainly draw attention to the fact that in the case of children who are either themselves criminal, or come, at any rate, from, the worst surroundings, it is of enormous importance that religious instruction should gain a hold of the affections of, the child. Without denominational education it is impossible to gain any lasting, religious impression on a child's mind, for the reason that religion is, as a matter of fact, organised on denominational lines, and unless a child is attached to one or other of these organisations when it leaves, school it has no religious surroundings. It may go on the streets, or any where else—which is of a strictly undenominational character. I say that it is not merely a matter of law; it is a matter of policy, a matter of the very highest importance. Inquiry has shown that the law is very imperfectly observed. In the first place, the magistrates do not observe the law which requires them to state the religious persuasion with which the child is connected. They are content with such general terms as Protestants and Catholics. In the category of Protestants are included Church of England children Nonconformists, and even Jews. The-Home Office twice recognised this evil, and issued a circular to the magistrates; calling their attention to this matter. I think that further steps ought to be taken?, and that schools ought to be instructed to refuse admission to any child whose religious persuasion is not stated, unless the magistrate expressly states that he has endeavoured and has failed. Unless some step of that kind is taken, it is obvious that the magistrates will go on, ignoring the provisions of the law. After the children get to school they are often very improperly taught. Inquiry was made in the province of Canterbury, and they found that in regard to religious instruction 47 schools stated that no difference was made in the religious instruction between the Church of England and Nonconformist children. In one case superintendent declared that he was taking steps to have the children prepared for confirmation, because he was in favour of it, but his predecessor had not been in favour of it, and therefore had 187 taken no steps of the kind. The customs of some industrial schools are little Letter than scandalous, if the facts are as reported. Mr. Holliday, a very able and learned critic of the direction of industrial schools, summed up the matter by saying that in many schools it was ingeniously arranged that every child should be taken in turn to a different place of worship from that mentioned in the order for its detention. In one school the children were divided into two divisions, one of which went to chapel on one Sunday and the other to church, while on the succeeding Sunday the first division went to church and the second to chapel. In another school the children went to church in the morning and to chapel in the afternoon. I think that is a scandal. None of these things happen in the great majority of cases of Roman Catholic children. They are brought in a proper way under the control of their priests, and receive denominational instruction. They are brought in due course to confirmation. All we ask is in the great majority of cases given, to Roman Catholics, and I heartily approve of that. I do not wish to diminish in the least degree the facilities that are given to the Roman Catholics to properly bring up children according to their faith. I believe that not only is it the case that in a very large number of cases the Roman Catholics are very much better treated than Church of England children, but it is even the case that in a large number of schools which are allowed to receive Church of England children the trustees, contrary to the law, expressly forbid denominational instruction to be given. I nave here the names of a few schools in which this is alleged to be the case; there are West Ham, North London, Sheffield, Oxford, and Wolverhampton, besides the case of the Field Lane school, to which I shall refer later at a little more length. All have trustees who prevent religious instruction of a denominational character being given to children in these schools. Sir, in connection with this matter I observe that a large share—I am not sure it is not the largest share—of the blame attaches to the. Church of England and others who have neglected their legal rights and have not taken the trouble to go to the schools in accordance with the Act and draw the attention of the Home 188 Office to these abuses. I freely admit that; but it is obvious that if a reform in this respect is to be introduced, as I hope will be the case, the Home Office must assist, private endeavour by giving the fullest information. It is very difficult to trace out by private means every particular case of this fault, or of that fault, to discover whether the law is in all oases observed as it ought to be. Therefore one of our great desires is to induce the Home Office to give us all the information that bears on this subject year by year, so that we may be able to see whether an improvement is made in this direction or not, and to trace out whether particular schools do or do not conform to the law and give proper religious instruction. With a view to eliciting information, I asked the Home Secretary to consent to a Return which exhaustively sets out all the points on which we required information. I asked for the number of children now in reformatory, industrial, and other schools, classified according to their religion persuasions. I asked the number of children in such schools now actually receiving instruction in the principles of then religion by or under the supervision or control of a minister of the Church of England, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Wealeyan, or any other Protestant Nonconformist body. I asked for cases of illegal trustees, and I asked for the figures of the number of children who, before leaving the school, had been brought to bishops of the Church of England for confirmation. But that Return was refused. I have never been able to understand why it was refused, and I am obliged to tell the Home Secretary that he really stands in the position of a prisoner, under the Evidence in Criminal Cases Bill, who has refused to go into the box. The inference is that he or his office could not have given an answer which would not have exposed the scandalous way in which these schools have been managed in the past. That is the inevitable inference that must be drawn. We have not so far received any assistance from the Home Office in, the matter of information, and I do very earnestly express the hope that that attitude will be modified in the future, that we shall be told all that the Home Office can tell us on the subject, and that whereas 189 statistics of a most elaborate character are prepared in the Annual Blue Book About what happens to children after they leave school, and the like, a little expense and a little trouble will not be spared to give us a little information on this point of the period spent in these schools—the most important of all—in the interests of the children. This matter, always a grievous scandal, has been brought to a head by the singular circumstances that took place in connection with the Field Lane Ragged School, which is one of the schools under the management of the London School Board. That school has, I believe, for a very large number of years, been going on, as regard rules, in a very slipshod manner, and indeed has had no producible or discoverable rules. But about a year ago the London School Board, taking the matter up, proceeded to try and obtain rules for this school. They, as I understand, sent in to the Home Office rules which, in regard to this matter of religious instruction, conformed to the general rules which the London School Board has been in the habit of proposing for industria schools to which they sent their children. Those rules were drawn up by the Moderate majority, and were in every respect satisfactory rules. They provided that no child should be required to attend any religious instruction or observance, or be taught the catechism or tenets of any religion to which the parent or guardians objected, or other than that which was stated in the order of detention, and so on. That is the rule as it was proposed to the Home Office. The Home Office were, for some unknown reason, unable to assent to that rule, and they sent down in place of that a rule which is not merely much more unsatisfactory than the one it replaced, but much more unsatisfactory than the model rules which the Home Office have been in the habit of laying down in past times. The rule they sent down stated that instruction in religion and religious observance should consist of prayers, hymns, and the reading of the Bible, with such explanations and instructions in the principle of religion and morality as were suited to the capacity of the children; and no attempt should be made to attach 190 children to, or detach children from, any particular denomination. That is, we say, general religious education was to be given, and it is plain that that is undenominationalism in its most aggravated form. We say that the very first thing any religious education ought to aim at, and is to aim at, is to attach children to a particular denomination. To state that there is to be no attempt to attach to a denomination, and that that is to be made the standard of religious education, is, we say, a great grievance. Then there is another clause, that on one morning in each week it is provided that the vicar of the parish, or some clergyman of the Church of England, may attend the boys' school, and at another time the girls' school, for the purpose of giving instruction to children described in the order of detention as belonging to the Church of England. Now, that is religious instruction of a denominational character on one day a week. If the trustee of the school is obeyed, then that cannot be taught in the shape of any definite catechism or in accordance with the Prayer Book, because the trustee forbids any catechism of the kind. However, the Home Secretary indicated, in an answer he gave the other day, that he believed the trustee was not obeyed. I am aware that the Home Secretary gave us the explanation that this was intended to enforce denominationalism by providing a particular mechanism for its being given. All I can say is that, while I do not doubt at all that the Home Secretary intends that the: law shall be faithfully carried out in this school, as in every other school, the drafting of that rule is, to say the least, singularly unfortunate. Anyone who reads it would imagine that it was the intention of the Home Office that all the children should receive religious instruction of an undenominational character, and that, in some exceptional cases, some denominational religious education ought to be given. That is the impression that would be left on any ordinary person's mind by the rule. If the Home Office does not intend that impression to be given, surely the, simplest course is to insist on the rule being revised, and to issue what is their real intention clearly stated in the form of a new rule. This is of importance, 191 because, not merely have the Home Office sent out this rule, but they have since actually suggested that it should be the model for all other schools with which the London. School Board is connected. Therefore we are face to face with this prospect: whereas there was a perfectly satisfactory settlement made under the late School Board which did ensure denominational education being given, the Home Office have quite gratuitously upset that arrangement, and are preparing to* extend their undenominational system to all industrial schools connected with the London School Board. If that is not the intention of the Home Office, I hope they will make it quite clear, so that this shall not be quoted as a precedent—as an apparently unanswerable argument in favour of un-denominationalism all over the country. We do press in the strongest possible way for the clear and express withdrawal of this rule, so that no Home Secretary hereafter shall be able to point to it as a precedent in favour of undenominational teaching in these schools. I think that is a concession which the Home Secretary ought to make. I do not desire to detain the Committee any longer, but I am sure that this is not the last occasion on which the matter will be heard of if we cannot get satisfactory redress. It is a matter which is of very great interest to many Churchmen; it is a matter which affects, as we believe, the spiritual interests of a great number of children, and therefore it is to us a matter of most solemn duty to enforce it upon all and on every occasion.
§ MR. FLOWER (Bradford)
I desire, as a Member of the London School Board, to offer one or two observations on this Vote. I desire to do so as one of the Members who wish to banish from the discussion of the subject what is called the religious question. I feel sure that this desire animates the majority of the London School Board. It was not until the Home Secretary, when the Conservative party had been largely elected on this question of denominational education, took his unfortunate and, as I think, ill-advised action, that the religious question was reintroduced into the London School Board. The position of the School Board on this question is not the 192 position laid down by the Education Act of 1870, but under a rule laid down in 1866 dealing with the religious instruction of children, and stating that, in determining on the school, the magistrate shall endeavour to ascertain the religious persuasion to which the child belongs, and shall, if possible, select a school conducted in accordance with such religious persuasion or order, and shall specify such religious persuasion. Furthermore, it is provided that the minister of the religious persuasion specified in the order of detention as that to which the child appears to belong may visit the child at the school on such days as are fixed by the regulations made by the Secretary of State. In former days, so far as I am aware, in connection with industrial schools, that rule has worked exceedingly well. Had it not been for the letter of the Home Secretary it would not have been necessary to trouble the Committee with this question to-night. I must say at once that I, for one, do not approach this question in a sectarian spirit. I am anxious that children of parents of fill denominations under the Industrial Schools Act shall receive religious education according to the principles of the denomination of their parents. I would ask for the children of the Church of England what I cordially recognise is; already given to the children of Roman Catholics. I should be glad to see it extended still further to the children of Nonconformists, because I believe that the only sound basis of a religious and national system of education is the one which is in accordance with the deliberate wishes of the parents of the children. In this connection we have more than one matter of importance to bring before the Committee. I should like, in the first place, to mention the question of the classification of the children in regard to these orders of detention. In the Blue Book Returns front year to year the Home Office inspector-only recognises as distinct from Roman* Catholics the children of Protestants Well, "Protestant" is an elastic phrase, and what I would like to ask is that the phrase should be further and definitely analysed, and that we should be told to what particular denomination the child belongs. The word "Protestant," as the noble Lord the Member for 193 Greenwich said, is even stretched so far as to include Jewish children. Now, the Jewish community have always exercised the strictest regard with reference to the education of their children. I venture to hope that we shall have from the Home Secretary to-night an assurance that these rules are not going to be adopted as the standard rules adopted by the Home Office for industrial schools throughout the United Kingdom. I don't ask the Home Office to describe the condition of the children—that is a matter for the parents, and it is, the duty placed upon the justices under the Industrial Schools Act of 1866. I want to see that provision more thoroughly carried out. I want to see equal justice to the children of the Church of England and the children of Nonconformist parents as is enjoyed by the children of Roman Catholics.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
I know very well the feeling entertained by the noble Lord who opened the discussion and those who act with him m the matter of denominational education in our industrial and reformatory schools; but, what I have been trying to discover from the beginning of this discussion which has taken place is where the alleged injustice, or the alleged change of policy, lies on the part of the Home Office. Allusion has been made to the Field Lane School, where it is alleged some neglect existed. On that point there has been some misunderstanding. The noble Lord says very properly that the Industrial Schools Act contemplates the case of children taken away from their parents, who are of a class who do not take so much interest in them. The Act of Parliament contemplated, in the first place, the description by the magistrates of the religious persuasion of the children who were being sent to one of these schools; in the second place, that they would send them, if possible, to schools of their own religious persuasion; and, in the third place, that there should be free access to ministers of religious denominations, to these schools. That is what is the intention of the Act. Now, what is the intention of the school rule to which allusion has been made? Field Lane School was certified by the Home Office 194 28 years ago. It is an excellent, school doing very good work; but there came this question of religious education, and it was brought before the Home Office. There was a difficulty, as the noble Lord fairly says, in the trust deed, which I may incidentally say has nothing to do with the Home Office. All I have to see is that the Act of Parliament is carried out, as, I informed a deputation the other day when the question was brought before me—see the enforcing of the 25th clause of the Act of 1866. I said that managers must understand that so far as the Secretary of State is concerned all he has to do is to see that all the requirements under the Industrial Schools Act are complied with. The regulation must remain fixing the time in which the Church of England clergyman may visit the children. The school is of an undenominational character in its foundation. The noble Lord, in some of his observations, can hardly have been aware that it is not the business of the State, nor has the State any power, to teach any denominational religion in these schools; and, further than that, it is not its business to insist on any denominational teaching. Its business is to insist that the children allotted to this; particular school are described as of a particular denomination, and that when those who are responsible for them desire denominational education they should have an opportunity of getting it. From beginning to end that has been the sole intention of the rule. The rule seems to depart from the rule which Field Lane School demands. It was desired to enforce precisely the right of the Church of England children to receive denominational education in that school. But there is no distinction between one body and another. Therefore the noble Lord seems to think that some stretch of favour was shown to the Roman Catholics. I do not know how he can discover such a fact. If gentlemen concerned in the matter let the Home Office know that there is any difference between the religious denominations, Christian or non-Christian, it will be the duty and the intention of the Home Office to put it right. The real truth is, as the noble Lord has said, that there has been more activity on the part of the Roman Catholics than on the part of some others. 195 Complaint has been made against the magistrates that they have been lax in the description of the denomination to which the children belonged. I think the honourable Member for Bradford said that. I think it is not disputed that it is the duty of the magistrates, who send these boys and girls to industrial schools, to ascertain as nearly as they can the religious persuasion to which they belong. That is not always an easy task. A circular was sent from the Home Office asking them to give a more precise definition in the order of detention. The orders of detention have been something like 20,000 a year. I have given instructions that these orders of detention should express as clearly as possible the religious persuasion of these children, and should be scheduled and separately filed at headquarters in London, where they will be available for affording information such as the noble Lord desires. I quite agree that it is very desirable we should know what is the faith of the children belonging to these institutions. Well, Sir, the noble Lord has made some charges against the managers of some of these schools, because he says they have not carried out the intentions of the Act, and have given a kind of very liberal—in one sense— education, by taking the boys and girls at one time to church, and at another to chapel. That may be the case. These schools are not all of them denominational in their origin. I do not see that there is anything wrong in using those means of worship which may be handy to a particular school for boys and girls, always remembering this— and I do not think the noble Lord is quite fair to the authorities when he does not mention the fact—that the Act expressly indicates that upon objection being taken by parents, or those responsible for the children, they are not to be taken to any place of religious worship other than that to which they belong. Having made some inquiry into this matter, I am not aware that I have had a single complaint——
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
I am telling 196 the noble Lord, upon that particular point, that I have not had any complaint from parents. I feel it my duty to see that no children are taken to places of worship to which they do not, according to the order of detention, belong, if any objection is made. I will grant such information as I can possibly get for the noble Lord, but, of course, we all know that there are many cases—I myself know of one particular case—where undoubtedly the boys were taken to a place of worship to which they did not belong by the order of detention, but on objection being taken that was at once put a stop to by those responsible for the children. What I beg to remind the noble Lord—who tried, I think, to press this question a little too far—is that what I am responsible for is the carrying out of the Act of Parliament. The Act of Parliament does not prevent managers taking the boys to such places of worship as they find handy, always providing there is not to be proselytising, and that if objection is taken the authorities shall be enabled to say, "You shall not take children there." The noble Lord says he wants more information, and he has given expression to two or three points upon which he would desire more. I could not give the noble Lord the very exhaustive Return that he asks for, because much of it is impossible to get, and much else would require a very laborious and long process to be gone through, but I will endeavour to collect information from every possible source that I can. I am not responsible for the trustees of these schools, and certainly I am not able to tell the noble Lord how many children of the Church of England in any particular year were confirmed, or were not confirmed All the duty of the State—I say it with all respect to the noble Lord—is to see that opportunity is given to ministers of the Church of England to train the children for the rites of the Church of England, in the same way that ministers of all other denominations may train their children, and that is taken care of by the children being taken to the parish clergyman by special arrangement. I do not know that I need labour the point. I can assure the noble Lord, and the Committee, and all those interested in this particular question of 197 religious education, that the Home Office in this matter have not departed one inch from the policy they have always pursued—and which I conceive to be the right policy—to carry out the spirit of the Act of 1866. And if the trustees of a school prevent, on the face of it, the Act of 1866 being properly carried out, then the trustees must go to the wall. That is the case of the Field Lane School, and it is obvious that it is right and proper that it should be. I do not think the accusation brought against the Home Office, of having neglected to carry out the Act, is one which is at all borne out by the facts. I can assure the noble Lord, as I assured the deputation which waited upon me, that I have no intention—neither by this rule nor by any other rule—of deviating from my duty to see that religious education is provided for as directed under the Act.
§ MR. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
I cannot help thinking that the right honourable Gentleman, who has just spoken fails to understand what is the real grievance that we have against the Home Office. There was no grievance against the Home Office in the days of the late Administration. They carried out the Act of Parliament in the letter and in the spirit, and there was no complaint. The late London School Board dealt with this question, and dealt with it in the spirit in which the Home Office directed that it should be dealt with—in a spirit strictly in accordance with the law. Now, what happens? I call the attention of the right honourable Gentleman to a speech which was made by Mr. A. J. Shepherd, one of the Protestant dissenting deputation, and the Chairman of the Reformatory Committee of the London School Board. What does he say? What I repeat—that the present Administration has done more for undenominational education than any Government which preceded it. That is not what the present Administration was returned to do; and I hope the right honourable Gentleman noticed that the only cheers which greeted his speech came from gentlemen on the other side, the bulk of whom are pledged to undenominational and unsectarian education.
§ MR. RICHARDS
Well, I make you a present of him. I can quite understand that he sides with Mr. Kensit, and, therefore, is not in favour of denominational education. I wish to speak to the subject, and to point out to the right honourable Gentleman the Home Secretary the way in which this matter has been dealt with by such bodies as the Field Lane School. After the statement of Mr. Shepherd, whom I regard, and whom I am sure the honourable Member for the Mansfield Division would regard, as a very high authority, when he says this Government have done what their predecessors would not, it is clear they have gone out of their way, as I venture to say, to upset the spirit with which the Reformatory Act was being carried out. I have read every word of what has taken place at the Field Lane School; I have read what is in the archives of the London School Board, of which I was for many years a member; and I have followed the work of reformatory schools, in which I have taken a part. The Field Lane School from the first, till the attention of the Home Office was brought is bear upon it, defied the Act of Parliament. They say they have a trust deed which does not permit denominational education being given. Then, Sir, the right honourable Gentleman says, "What can I do?" We do not ask him to alter the trust deed. We do not ask him to treat Nonconformists unfairly. All the Home Office has got to do is to withdraw the certificate from that school for Church of England children. I say that no Church of England or Roman Catholic child ought to be sent there. I am very glad to think the Roman Catholics have no injustice to complain of. They ought to know well enough that gentlemen who sit upon this side would be the very last to ask for injustice to be done to Roman Catholics because an act of gross injustice is being done to members of the Church of England. The Home Secretary has said that a circular is being issued. It is months since this matter was brought before us. I understood the right honourable Gentleman to say he was prepared to send out a circular to each of those schools—a circular to ascertain the number——
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
No, no! 199 What I said was this, that the orders for detention should be all scheduled and filed, and should appear in proper order in the bureau.
§ MR. RICHARDS
We accept that as a concession, which, if carried out, will give us an opportunity of reviewing the whole matter. What I believe has happened is this: it is not the Home Secretary who has fallen into this mistake, but it is somebody at the Home Office who has been wrought upon. [Cries of "Name!"] I only wish I knew the name; but I feel perfectly certain, by the way in which the matter was presented, that the Home Secretary himself would have been the last person to have gone out of his way to alter these rules. What we want to know is, by whom, and when, were these rules altered—rules which had worked well under the late Administration; rules which received the approval of the majority of the London School Board, when that majority was not a denominational majority—by whom, and why, were these rules altered, and what I may call this Thursday-morning rule put forward? It really seems to me that there is one denomination in this country, and one denomination only, which can always be treated with injustice, and that is the Church of England. If this had happened to any Presbyterian Church we should have had, and rightly, an army of Scotch Members protesting against proselytising of any shape or kind. If it had been a case of any Roman Catholic child, I am happy to think there are a number of Roman Catholic Members who would have taken care to see that justice was done. But because it is the poorer children of the Church of England we are laughed at and derided for bringing this matter forward. I say that the Government should see to this matter, and the Home Office should also see that the justice which, was given by the late Government is given by this Government as well.
§ MR. BIRRELL (Fife, W.)
I do not think it is the intention of the Government to capture all the derelict children for the Church of England. The Act of Parliament provides that in all cases where the parents exhibit the least anxiety to have their children brought 200 up in the religion of their denomination they are enabled to do so. In a great number of these cases the parents have no feeling at all. All this talk about bringing up their children in the faith of their parents is the most arrant nonsense. If the children are removed from them the law provides that they should be brought up in their own religion. Very often the parents have no religion at all. If they take any interest in religion, they have no difficulty in securing it for their children. I challenge the honourable Member to prove any instance where a parent wanted the principles of the Church of England taught, and had any difficulty in having his child brought up in that faith. This is simply a proselytising attempt.
§ MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
In saying that this is a proselytising attempt the honourable Gentleman has done my noble Friend an injustice in regard to his moderate and well-reasoned remarks. He was merely asking for the carrying out of the Act. of Parliament. That, surely, is a demand anybody may make on the floor of the House of Commons, which knows no distinction between one party and another. The honourable Gentleman says that the children belong to no denomination. If they do not belong to any denomination my noble Friend, of course, has no case, but what he says is that the Act of Parliament requires that the religious denomination of a child in the order of detention shall be specified, and if a child is so specified we demand that he shall be brought up in the faith of that denomination. That is surely not a great demand to make, which would justify the honourable Member in casting the slur on my noble Friend which he has done. We do not ask for the slightest favour in this matter. It is not because the Church of England is established, and has certain privileges in connection with the State, that we ask for any special treatment in the case of reformatory schools. We only ask for exactly the same favour which the law allows every other denomination.
§ MR. DILLON
I rise to make some observations in response to remarks that have been made. I am no enemy of the Church of England. I have no hesitation 201 in defending the cause of denominational education, in which I thoroughly believe. I cannot fail to remember what took place in the discussion on the Voluntary Schools Act. Those who are now championing the Church of England were extremely eloquent as to the right of every child to be educated in the faith of its fathers, and be protected from even the danger of proselytism. But when the Nonconformists on this side claim some right over the children in the rural districts of England they receive no support whatever, and no consideration from anyone sitting on these benches. I should always support Nonconformists in the attempt to obtain for their children the same religious rights as we give to the Roman Catholic children and the children of the Church of England; and I trust that if the question of education ever comes again before the House of Commons, in whatever shape it may be, the noble Lord, whose earnestness everyone recognises on this occasion, and those who think with him, will agree to the devising of some scheme which shall do justice to all children.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I have watched with legitimate dismay the extension of this Debate from a discussion of the particular action of the Home Secretary in respect to a particular school into the illimitable tract of theological discussion. I hope the Committee will restrict the discussion within its narrow and legtimate limits. I do not mean to intervene in the Debate, but I can say on behalf of my right honourable Friend, and on behalf of the Government, that not only may we surely with some confidence lay down the general proposition that we are not otherwise than friendly to denominational education—that fact I should have thought would not require demonstration—but, putting that on one side, it is our intention and desire to carry out the letter and the spirit of the Act of Parliament which it is our business to administer. The general principles which govern our conduct and the conduct of the Home Office are such that I am sure my noble Friend and my right honourable Friend the Member for Oxford University would agree axe not only pursued by this Government, but, to do 202 right honourable Gentlemen opposite justice, have been pursued by them. I do not venture to ask that this Debate should be brought to a conclusion, but I do ask that it should be confined within its legitimate limits, and that if we are asked to discuss anything it shall be the merits or the demerits of my right honourable Friend's conduct in respect of a particular school, and that we should not wander away into a discussion of the whole theological question.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
I think that what my honourable Friend the Member for East Mayo has said is deserving of the attention of the House and the country. That ill-used denomination which always suffers from injustice, and of which the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich is the champion, has put forth to-night a doctrine which we are glad to hear from those benches and from the party with which the noble Lord acts. It is that care should be taken and means provided for the education of every child in the religion of its parents. We accept that doctrine, and we hope that the noble Lord and his friends will take measures in all the Voluntary schools in all rural districts that that principle shall apply to the children of Nonconformists. I hope that before this question arises again the noble Lord will devote himself to some plan by which, in all Voluntary schools, that ill-used denomination, which has received a grant of something like £600,000 a year, will take care that ample provision is made for the children of Nonconformists who desire to have religious education for their children and do not care to have the religious education of the Church of England.
§ LORD H. CECIL
I am afraid the right honourable Gentleman opposite has not accepted the suggestion of the Leader of the House to keep this discussion in a relevant line. I do not think the Leader of the House will have regretted the right honourable Gentleman's interposition. It throws a most interesting light on what is to be the education policy of the right honourable Gentleman's next Government.
§ LORD H. CECIL
I will only make a single observation. The right honourable Gentleman tells us that he accepts the proposition that every child must be brought up in the religion of its parents. As to the information asked for by my honourable Friend, information of the most elaborate kind was given on the health and discipline of the children. If you can ascertain whether a boy stole, it can be ascertained whether he has been confirmed. How are we to co-operate with the Home Secretary in inducing local Churchmen to exercise their rights and do their duty—as my right honourable Friend thinks it their duty—in making religious education efficient if the Home Office will not give us information to show in what cases it was inefficient? Therefore we do request that information, and I hope the right honourable Gentleman will ensure that the magistrates obtain that information.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
I understood that every information had been given that could be given, but I daresay it is quite easy to say how many boys and girls have been confirmed, and, if it is possible to give the information, the noble Lord shall have it.
ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)
I wish to draw the attention of the Committee away from this controversial subject, although it is a most important subject, and my sympathies are with the noble Lord, and I am thankful to see so much interest stirred up on behalf of the reformatory and industrial schools of the country. I only wish I could get as much support for what is really of even greater importance; I allude to the training ships under the Home Office, commonly called the industrial school ships. The Estimates, I contend, ought to show the number of ships under the Home Office, instead of their being included in the bald statement, "Training ships 6s. per head, so many boys," I think the Estimates ought to give us the number of training ships and reformatory ships, separating them one from another. Now, my complaint of the Home Office is this: I obtained more assistance in this matter from the right honourable Gentleman's predecessor than I got from the Unionist Government that preceded 204 the last Government. I got the age raised from 10 to 11; it is still too low; but my point is this, and I will put it very shortly: these ships are practically State ships. The other day the President of the Board of Trade offered a concession to the shipowners in the shape of a relief from light dues on the understanding that they should take boys to sea. Now, these school ships are practically State training ships, mainly supported by Treasury grants, and, if they were properly handled on a proper system, they would do an important national service in helping to redress the waste of life in the mercantile marine, and to improve the morale of that mercantile marine, upon which our Navy ought to be able to lean in time of war. The late Home Secretary appointed a Committee who went thoroughly into this question, and they dealt with all the conditions that I am sick of dealing with, because I have been dealing with them year after year with very little result. The Committee reported in favour of all the points that I have been urging year after year in order to make these ships efficient. The industrial school ships will accommodate 2,700 boys in all. According to the last Return, I find that the figures are 2,700 in the industrial school ships, and 770 in the reformatory school ships, or a total of 3,400. Now, how stands the case in regard to these ships? In the five years, ending with 1895, the industrial school ships have discharged 3,700 boys. How many of those went to sea? This is the gravamen of my charge against the management of the Home Office. Out of 3,700 boys, only 1,866 went to sea. Well, Sir, that is a miserable result, and it is sufficient proof that the system is rotten from beginning to end. It must be borne in mind that the training of boys on board these ships is the most expensive that you could invent. If you find that the bulk of the boys do not go to sea, then you had better keep them on shore altogether, because on moral grounds, and on every other ground, it would be infinitely better. I might go on to point out how these ships could be properly worked. The Committee supported all my contentions on this point, but nothing has been done. I suppose the fact is that the Home Secretary is so overworked that he has no time to go into 205 this Report. These ships ought to be affiliated to the land schools. Out of the money by which these boys are supported—6s. per head you pay to the school ships. If they were affiliated with the land schools, you could pick out for the school ships just those boys who would be willing and fit to go to sea. What the Home Office ought to do is this: when they find that these ships only turn out for sea 1,866 boys out of 3,700, they should threaten to withdraw the grant. When you have the whip hand of the school committees in this way, it does seem to me a pity that a public Department should not be alive to its duties. A great many boys are sent by magistrates to these ships who are not fitted for sea life at all, and they ought not to be sent to the ships. My contention is that no boys ought, to be sent to the ships at all except they are fit for sea life. I hope the Home Secretary will put his foot down and assert that as a principle for the guidance of magistrates, and do his best to work out the system which was recommended by Colonel Inglis and all the witnesses before the Committee. I ask that some attention should be paid by the Home Office to the Report of their own Committee, and that these State training ships, which cost over £50,000 a year from the Treasury alone, should be placed on a proper basis. The land industrial schools, which are also State schools, should be affiliated to the school ships. The total cost to the country of this reformatory system is £262,000 a year. Then, I say, in the name of common sense, why rot make this system useful, so that healthy lads should be invited to go to sea and be trained to fight our battles in the future? The President of the Board of Trade is at last waking up to the defects in our mercantile marine and offering subsidies to our merchant ships in return for their taking boys to sea. I feel sure that if you affiliate the land reformatory and industrial schools with the reformatory and industrial school ships, and have a system of interchange between the one and the other, you will have excellent results, and greatly strengthen the efficiency of our sea-power.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
The honourable and gallant Member has raised this question in this House to-night not for the first time——
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
It is a question, at any rate, with which we are all familiar, although I do not think it is less worth our attention. I quite admit that it is most desirable that the reformatory and industrial school ships, no less than the land schools, should be made more efficient than they are, but the honourable and gallant Gentleman seems to infer that they are no good at all. I join issue with him in that matter. I can show that a very considerable proportion of the boys trained on these ships do go to sea now. My honourable and gallant Friend knows very well that it is not a question upon which the Home Office could make any new departure without fresh legislation. The question of the compulsory transfer of boys from land schools to the school ships, or vice versâ, is not a matter for the initiative of the Home Office. The honourable and gallant Gentleman has spoken of these as State ships, State schools, and so on. To a large extent they are, of course, controlled by the State, but to a large extent, especially with reference to some of these ships, they are maintained by voluntary subscriptions and managed by private committees, so that they are not, in the strict sense of the word, State institutions.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
The ships are inspected by naval officers, and the last Report received was extremely satisfactory. The health of the boys is good and their physique is even better than on the occasion of the previous Report. I should like to give the honourable and gallant Member the figures of the number of hoys that have gone from one of these ships. In the case of the Empress 125 boys were discharged during the year, and 68 went to sea and only two 207 into the Army. In the case of the Formidable 87 boys were discharged, 62 went to sea, and two into the Army. In the case of the Wellesley 77 boys were discharged in the year, of whom 67 went to sea, and four into the Army.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
I am not disputing the proposition that it might be desirable to affiliate them, but I was taking exception to the suggestion of the honourable and gallant Gentleman that these schools are doing no good. I think these figures altogether dispel that illusion, because when I find that out of one ship 167 boys were discharged and 67 went voluntarily to sea, that is proof that, as regards that ship, at all events, it is doing some good work, not only as regards the boys themselves, but as regard the future of the mercantile marine. I can only assure the honourable and gallant Gentleman that the Report of the Committee to which he has alluded has taken up a great deal of my time, but, unfortunately, there is hardly any unanimous recommendation in the Report. However, he will be glad to know that we are working very much upon the lines suggested by him.
§ MR. BILL (Staffordshire, Leek)
I had hoped that some opportunity might have been found during the Session of considering some scheme of superannuation for the superintendents and matrons of reformatory and industrial schools. The House has been for the last two days engaged in passing a very large and important scheme of superannuation for certificated teachers in elementary schools, and it is time that we considered some scheme of superannuation for assistants in reformatory and industrial schools. This is no new question; it is a matter which was pressed upon the right honourable Gentleman the late Home Secretary, and it has also been pressed upon his successor. I think I may say that the representatives from the reformatory and industrial school teachers were most sympathetically received by the late Home Secretary. There can, I think, be no comparison between the responsi- 208 bilities of certificated teachers in elementary schools and those of the superintendents and matrons of the reformatory and industrial schools. It is impossible to imagine duties more exacting and involving greater strain. When this matter was considered by the Departmental Committee appointed by the late Home Secretary, that Committee came to a unanimous recommendation that some system of superannuation should be provided, and I maintain that to object to a superannuation scheme for this class of public servants, while adopting a scheme for certificated elementary teachers, is straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. I do press that this subject should be considered sympathetically by the Home Secretary between now and next Session, and that, if possible, he will provide some remedy for this grievance.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
The subject to which the honourable Member has called attention is one that has been engaging the attention of the Home Office for some time. A deputation from the reformatory and industrial school teachers placed several proposals before the Home Office, and they have been carefully considered by the inspector of reformatories, and a scheme has been prepared and submitted for the consideration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with what result I know not. The claim of the male and female teachers to superannuation is undoubtedly a strong one, and it is not a very large financial question. I can assure the honourable Member that I am in thorough sympathy with his views in the matter, and I have made a representation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon the subject which I hope will be successful.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ £22,251, to complete the sum for Broad-moor Criminal Lunatic Asylum.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
I desire very briefly to bring under the attention of the Committee the claims of the attendants at this Broadmoor Asylum. I had, a very short time ago, certain facts brought before me which I think demand attention, first of all, with 209 regard to the hours of work, and, secondly, with regard to an increase of their superannuation allowance. I cannot expect that right honourable Gentlemen will be prepared to go into all the facts of the case with regard to the grievances which the attendants brought before me when I had the opportunity of hearing what they had to say, but I see the honourable Member for South Berks opposite, and I am sure he will agree that there was a very strong feeling as to the number of hours worked by these attendants. I am within the facts when I say that the average is 15 hours a day, and that they only get one day off in a month. I think that is a very strong case indeed. The duties are very arduous, and these men are bound to be men of intelligence. With regard to the superannuation allowance, I think the allowance at present is a great deal less than that applicable to other classes of attendants employed in the same asylum. All I want to do is to ask the Home Secretary if he will, irrespective of anything that has taken place in the past, himself receive any fresh statement that these men may have to bring under his notice, with a view of redressing their grievances if they make out a good case.
COMMANDER YOUNG (Wokingham, E.)
I heartily support and endorse the remarks that have fallen from the honourable Member opposite. I do not desire to detain the House by going into the facts, but I hope that the Home Secretary will give this question of the Broadmoor Asylum assistants his attention. I have received a most sympathetic response from the right honourable Gentleman to a letter that I addressed to him on the subject, and I am sure we may rely that the matter will receive from him careful and prompt consideration.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
The question of the grievances of the attendants at Broadmoor is not a new one. It is true that these men occupy very arduous and responsible positions, and undoubtedly they deserve to be very well treated. I am not aware that the question of hours has been brought so prominently before me, but unquestionably the subject of pensions and superannuations has been 210 brought before me, and not very long ago. That subject was discussed in connection with that of allowances to prison warders by the Committee of 1891, and certain proposals were made to the Treasury at that time which were not accepted in their entirety by the Treasury, but a considerable advance in wages and otherwise was given. What are the particular points to which at present my honourable Friend alludes I do not know, but I can only assure him that any petition or memorial setting forth any new facts shall have my immediate and earnest attention.
§ MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)
I desire to support the appeal that has been made by the two honourable Gentlemen who have spoken on the subject. This question of the hours of labour of the asylum attendants is one of the greatest importance. The right honourable Gentleman has given us no answer as to whether the honourable Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs was right in saying that these men were engaged on an average 15 hours a day.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT
I followed the example of the honourable Gentleman himself is not going into details. What I said was that I did not remember getting a complaint about the hours. No doubt the hours may have been incidentally mentioned when the case was brought before me as to superannuation. I purposely did not go into that question, because I was not in a position to do so.
§ MR. MADDISON
Without reservation, I give the right honourable Gentleman credit for desiring to do what is right in the matter, but it does seem to me almost an incredible thing that these attendants should be working anything like 15 hours a day. My information was that they did work a great number of hours, but I scarcely thought that they worked so many as 15. I shall be content with the assurance from the Home Secretary that if he finds that the hours are anything near 15 hours a day he will consider that to be too long, and will take steps to reduce the hours to a reasonable number. I should have been glad if the Home Secretary could have given us some idea what the number of hours is, and certainly next year, if it turns out that the hours worked are 211 anything like 15 a day, it will be our duty to go further into the matter.
§ MR. DALZIEL
I just rise to thank the right honourable Gentleman for his reply. I think, on the question of hours, he will find that my information is pretty accurate, but at any rate, I am pleased that he has promised that he will personally go into the matter.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported.