HC Deb 07 March 1898 vol 54 cc897-943

Motion made and Question proposed— That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £2810, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1898, for Expenditure in connection with certain Public Works, and for improved Communications, and other purposes, within the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including a Grant in Aid.

Dr. G. B. CLARK (Caithness)

Before we can adopt this Vote I think we should be supplied with some information. I understand a new policy is to be begun, and that Parliament has had no information, as to this Vote. Before we vote this money we must know something about the body that is going to have the control over the money. There are two items—(a) Steamer Communication, £1,325; (e) Congested Districts (Scotland) Board, Grant-in-aid, £1,485. With reference to (a) I want to know for what special service you want this money; whether it will end in March. With reference to (e), I want to know, first, whether it will end in March, or whether you have reconsidered the question since the change was made last year, when the Vote was about £36,000. It was reduced last year £25,500, and this was one of the reductions. I suppose the new Body which is going to control this money has reconsidered the matter, and that they are carrying on for the rest of the financial year. I may say, Sir, I know what the service is, because, to a large extent, this money is used for supporting a monopoly, which is very bad for the Highlands. With regard to the second portion of the Vote—Congested Districts (Scotland) Board, Grant-in-aid—I take it, Mr. Lowther, that this is a sum devoted now to the Congested Districts of Scotland Board, because the Highlands and Islands Vote is not again to appear upon the Estimate. The body that has had the control of this and the other improvements is to cease to exist, and the new Congested Districts of Scotland Board are to take over the liability of the old Board. Now, I object to that. I will tell you why. Parliament has given sanction to the Grant, and for several years this Board—the old Highland Board—has been carrying out these improvements, and I am not at all sure that this £1,485 will complete this matter. Therefore I object to this Congested Districts Board taking over the liabilities of the old Board, and the reason why I object to it is this, because this Congested Districts Board is a Board for a special purpose, and when you vote this money, £15,000 of the money, at any rate, has to come from Scotland's own money, Scotland's share of the equivalent Grant. Now, I object to your transferring any further liability from the Imperial Exchequer to Scotland's share of the equivalent Grant, especially when you are now proposing to give £730,000 to Ireland. I object to any portion of the Scotch Estimates paid by the Imperial Exchequer being transferred, or any liability being transferred to this Congested Districts Board, because it has to get the larger portion of its money out of Scotland's own share. I want to know from the Lord Advocate—before anything further is done—I want to get some information with reference to the new policy, and, secondly, what has to be done—whether the new Congested Districts Board are going to take over all the old liabilities of the West Highlands Committee, and whether, out of this £35,000 (£20,000 voted by Parliament, £15,000 taken from our share of the Grant), that is to be paid for out of the Imperial source, is now to be paid for out of the middle source. Last year it was £25,500 plus this Supplementary Estimate, but last year it is £36,000, so that while you are giving us on the one hand and claiming to be very generous to the West Highlands of Scotland, you are writing off what was £26,700 this year and £37,000 last year. That is the way you treat Scotland generally; while you pretend to give her something on the one hand you are taking it back with the other hand. Now this Vote means that the liability of the old Highlands and Islands Commission is now to be turned over to the Congested Districts (Scotland) Board. I want to know from the Lord Advocate, before we vote this money, whether all the old liabilities and all the debts performed by the Highlands and Islands Commission are now to be transferred to this Congested Districts Board?


I certainly shall be glad to answer any question put to me upon this Vote, but it must be recollected that there is no question of general policy raised on this Supplementary Estimate. As far as the steamer communication is concerned, what happened was this: There was a steamer expenditure. There had been a reduction made of £10,800. In consequence of that reduction a promise was obtained from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Accordingly, there was another Departmental Committee appointed. In the meantime, in order that there should be no lack of the steamer service, it was considered better to go on with the old service. The whole question will be taken up upon the Report of the Committee. Then, as regards the other item, this again, so far as I can discover, has nothing to do with general policy. As to the Carloway Road, a sum of £15,000 was, as the hon. Gentleman knows, fixed by Act of Parliament to be spent out of moneys provided by Parliament, that was to say, year by year, sums were voted to be expended on this road. But, as the hon. Member also knows, there was an unfortunate miscalculation, and there were troubles with the contractor. I am glad to say that these troubles have now been, to a very large extent, met, and that the contractor has been settled with. This sum of £1,485 represents the unexpended portion of the amount voted for the Carloway Road; and, accordingly, as road-making has very much to do with the work of the Congested Districts Board, it has been thought convenient that the item should be transferred to that body. The note in the Estimates really explains the whole matter. The money is to be paid over as a grant-in-aid to the Congested Districts Board, who will undertake to spend the whole amount on the construction of the road. As to the question of policy—whether the Board will do more than spend that particular money—I will say nothing, but, at all events, this particular money will not be diverted from the special purpose to which Parliament intended that it should be applied.

MR. J. CALDWELL (Mid Lanark)

With regard to the money that is to be handed over to the Congested Districts Board, I agree that there is a question of policy involved, because the money is derived actually from a sum voted for a specific purpose by this House. We were told that the £20,000 which was given last year to the Congested Districts Board was given for the special purpose of endeavouring to meet cases of distress, but now it turns out that we are to give £20,000 with one hand, and that, on the other hand, there is to be deducted a sum to close the account for the Highlands and Islands, which this year amounted to £28,000.


I never said that.


But there is a certain amount which Parliament undertook to pay on the Carloway Road, and this is the balance of unexpended money which the Act of Parliament allocated for the purpose of finishing that road. There can be no question as to that.


The hon. Gentleman will pardon me for again interrupting him. He will see in the Act that Parliament promised to give £15,000 towards the Carloway Road, but he will look in vain in the Act for any obligation on the part of the Government to finish that road.


We know that that is all the money the expenditure of which was actually authorised, but surely the experience of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to public money is that the first sum named for a work like this is never sufficient, and that we always have to come back for more money to finish it. The right hon. Gentleman himself even gave us his reasons why the road would cost more than the original Estimate, for he told us that troubles had been met with after the starting of the road—troubles with the contractors, for instance—which rendered the undertaking a much more laborious one than had at the outset been contemplated. The right hon Gentleman has provided us with the very reason why the £15,000 first provided was not sufficient, and would not be nearly sufficient to complete the road; and, that being so, what is proposed? You propose to hand over to the Congested Districts Board the unexpended sum of some £1,500—and for what? In order that that Board may finish the road. But what is the use of laying out £1,500 to complete the road if it is not in a proper state to work? It is obvious that if the road is to be of use it must be finished, and finished in a proper manner. Now, what do you propose to do? The Secretary to the Treasury knows very well that this Highlands and Islands account is to be closed, and you propose to hand over your obligations, with the little balance you have in hand, to the Congested Districts Board. I venture to say that the people of Scotland would be very foolish if they were to accept money on these terms, yet these are the terms stated in that Estimate, which says we are going to close the Highlands and Islands account, and are going to hand over this remaining obligation. I should like to know from the Lord Advocate—and he ought to be able to tell us—what is the estimated cost of finishing the road; because if the road is to cost, as I believe it will cost, several thousands to make it of any use whatever, then what earthly good is if for you to hand over this small balance to the Congested Districts Board, and to lay upon that body the obligation of finishing the road? I say that the Government, having undertaken by Act of Parliament the laying out and finishing of the road, ought to lay it out and finish it; and I object altogether to their action in shifting the obligation to another body which was established for a different purpose altogether. We say, "Keep the balance in the hands of the Imperial Treasury, and go on and finish the road;" and I confess I do not think it any answer whatever for the Lord Advocate to say that by Act of Parliament the Government only agreed to give £15,000. I repeat that, as every per- son of experience in this House knows, works of this sort are never finished for the sum first fixed. Did you finish Peterhead Harbour, for instance—or any of your other works, for that matter—for the amount originally estimated? This money was meant for the special purpose of relieving distress in the Highlands and Islands, and yet you are attempting here to hand it over to the Congested Districts Board to do what it was never meant to do. It was meant for a different purpose altogether, and I say that out of Imperial funds you ought to go on and finish the road as you began it, and leave the Congested Districts Board alone to carry on their own work. I shall certainly vote against the transfer of this money to the Congested Districts Board.


I do not feel competent to enter into the merits of the road, or to say whether it ought to be finished, but I have a very much more serious objection to bring against item E in the Vote, which in effect raises the question whether this House has complete control over the public expenditure of the United Kingdom. If the members of the Committee will read the vote they will see that the £15,000 voted, year by year, under this head, will have been expended before the 31st March, 1898, with the exception of £1,485. It is proposed to re-vote this unexpended balance as a grant to the Congested Districts (Scotland) Board. The paragraph is frank, though, indeed, it is almost brutal in its frankness. It really means, of course, that expenditure for next year may be put upon this year, the reason being, as we may surmise, that this year there is a very large surplus, while next year there may be none at all. That, anyway, is the naked statement, that this £1,485 which we are now asked to vote will not be expended in the same financial year, that it will not, in fact, be surrendered—which is entirely contrary to the law—but that it will be handed over to next year for the diminution of the Estimates of next year. I have no objection whatever to this Vote if it had been brought forward, as it should have been, in the Estimate for next year; but I again protest against the Vote as it stands at present, and I trust I shall get a better answer from the Lord Advocate than I had the other night, upon a similar but less serious instance of this kind, from the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Let me lay down to the House—I am sure it will not be disputed—what is the financial practice of the House and the law of the land: That sums voted in one year must be either expended in that one year, or must, at the end of the year, be surrendered and applied in reduction of the National Debt. It is perfectly true that a grant-in-aid may be made in such general terms, that the purpose for which it is granted may be satisfied by the largest possible Vote to the Comptroller and Auditor General, when he asks whether the money has been directed to its special object, for it is an essential condition of every grant in this House that it shall be made for a particular purpose; and it is an essential point of the duty of the Comptroller and Auditor General to pursue the grant, and see that it has been expended for the purpose specified, and no other purpose whatever. The purpose specified is, of course, only to be gathered from the Estimates, and the terms used by them; and those are the terms which the Comptroller and Auditor General usually follows when he pursues an item. It may be that a grant-in-aid may be voted in terms of an Estimate in very general terms, but, on the other hand, a grant-in-aid may be so specific—so limited to particular purposes—that it is impossible that it should be applied to any other purpose than that for which it was intended, and in that case it is provided that if any balance remains over at the end of the financial year, that balance should be—and must be, under the Act—surrendered, and applied to the reduction of the National Debt. The Vote under discussion is for a specific purpose—it is for the making of a particular road—and I repeat that it is the duty of the Comptroller and Auditor General, when he comes to deal with this £1,485, to ask whether it has been expended upon that particular road in this particular year—that is to say, in the year ending 31st March next—and if not, it is his duty to see that any unexpended balance is surrendered to go towards the reduction of the National Debt. I am aware that the Treasury affect to take—for I cannot suppose that they really hold it—the view that there is some magic in the words "grant-in-aid," which differentiates such a Vote from any other. There is no more magic in the words, "grant-in-aid" than in the word "Consolidation." [Mr. HANBURY: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury signify his agreement with that statement by his cheer, and therefore I need not deal with that point further. A grant-in-aid, therefore, is subject to the ordinary rules, which are that a grant for a specific object must be followed by the Comptroller and Auditor General, and must be spent on a specific object in a specific year. Otherwise it is not appropriated by the Appropriation Act, and no one has any authority to spend money which is so unappropriated. It is, indeed, provided by Act of Parliament, that by the end of the year the Comptroller and Auditor General shall make out an account of the unexpended balances which have then to be surrendered, and must go in alleviation of the National Debt. The question, then, is whether you can carry over to one year an unexpended balance from the previous year. If there is any authority to do that under any Act of Parliament, I should like to know of that authority, but I believe that there is no such authority to carry over to next year a grant which Parliament has sanctioned for this year only for a specific object; and I go further. I say that if this practice is to obtain of asking for grants-in-aid, and of claiming the right not to expend them during the year for the purposes for which Parliament has allotted them, but to carry them over, and thus relieve next year of its proper expenditure at a cost of the present year, the control of Parliament over the expenditure of the country will be directly interfered with, and the full opportunity of control over the expenditure will be tremendously affected. I have stated the case, as I said at the outset, not on the merits of the Vote, but on the merits of the manner in which the money is asked for. I hold that if this £1,485 is not expended on 31st March, 1898, there is no legal power to keep it in hand beyond that date, but that it must be surrendered and go in diminution of the National Debt. If the right hon. Gentleman, having taken, as I hope he has taken, the advice of the Treasury on this matter, will give us the Treasury views, I shall be very glad.


I do not agree that the expenditure upon the Carloway Road is not a new departure in policy. It represents, at any rate, a partial resurrection of policy, because I understand that the Carloway Road was to be regarded as an abandoned undertaking. This sum of money will, after all, only add a very small portion to the existing road without carrying the whole work to a conclusion. But the road is, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, a matter of very great interest in the part of the world where it is situated, and we should very much like to know whether this grant to the Congested Districts Board is to be taken as an indication that the work will be continued.


said he could not answer the question as to whether the Carloway Road was or was not to be completed. The matter would have to be dealt with by the Congested Districts Board. What they were doing now was to hand over the last portion of the £15,000 which was promised by the Treasury. As to the point raised by the Member for King's Lynn, he had to say that the practice to which he referred was, as he understood from those who had been much longer in the House than he had been, entirely in accordance with the ordinary practice of the Treasury.


said he believed that the Lord Advocate was mistaken in that view. The item, instead of coming into this year's Estimates, really belonged to next year's expenditure. It was an improper proceeding, and it was not consistent with the financial control the House should exercise to take the expenditure of one year out of another. He felt so strongly on the point that he should move the reduction of the Vote by the amount of the item, £1,485.

MR. T. R. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

said that what he understood had taken place was this: that under ordinary circumstances the sum would have appeared as a re-vote in the Estimate of next year, under the Western Highlands Vote; it was proposed to do away with that Vote altogether; the Scottish Office had converted this Vote into a grant-in-aid. This was not in conformity with the decision of the Public Accounts Committee, and was a new departure in financial policy. He would like to have an expression of opinion from the Secretary to the Treasury as to that policy. Had it the approval of the Treasury?

MR. R. MCKENNA (Monmouth, N.)

said he thought the proceeding was indefensible. The analogy of the National Gallery grants did not, in his opinion, apply; the money paid to the National Gallery used to be expended year by year, and any that was unexpended was repaid into the Treasury.


said that in regard to the National Gallery grants, the Treasury admitted responsibility for what was a comparatively recent introduction. Formerly, a grant being made to the Trustees of the Gallery, the money had to be expended in the current year or returned, and in the result it was found that sometimes pictures were bought that never should have been bought for the Gallery. Then it was thought that if the money were allowed to accumulate there would be funds for the purchase of really good pictures when they came into the market.


Under what Act was this authorised?


replied that it was under the authority of Parliament in passing Votes for grants-in-aid. As to this particular grant-in-aid, it arose from the fact that there would be no further Highlands and Islands Vote, and it was the proper thing to hand over the balance to the Congested Districts Board, the successor to the present authority. The requirements of the Act would be carried out, and the expenditure would still be under the supervision of the Comptroller and Auditor General.


I do not think it is desirable to have two Divisions in this matter; we can support the hon. Member on other grounds than those he has raised, and also upon the merits of the case. I do not myself desire to move a reduction of the Vote, and, therefore, I shall support the Motion of my hon. Friend. I wish to do so partly on two grounds, but principally on the merits, of the question. It is perfectly clear now, from the answer made by the Secretary to the Treasury, that the reason why this is put in is for the purpose of preventing Parliament from discussing and considering the new departure taken by the Government. All through this Parliament you have the Class 7, Vote 3; all last Parliament you had Class 7, Vote 3; and in the Parliament before that you had another Class 7, Vote 3. Only two of the works performed, I see, are here mentioned. One is steamboat communication. I do not know who is going to take charge of the steamer; it will not appear in future in Class 7, but it may appear in the Post Office Vote, or it may appear somewhere else.


It will appear in the Post Office Vote.


Well, now, we have got here the only opportunity we shall have of considering the proposals of the Government, because the Government in this fashion are now proposing to get rid of the liability and to hand it over to another body. Now, how do matters stand? I say you have in this Parliament, the last Parliament, and in the Parliament before carried out for various reasons a series of improvements in certain districts of Scotland. You have voted during the present year, if this Vote is carried, £28,000. Last year there was about £37,500, and there have been various sums in various years, and there have been various Departments and various grants. Why, Sir, there was one very notorious grant of £4,000 from my own constituency, in respect of which I proposed an Amendment to throw it out; and it was thrown out, and I think it was the only grant that was ever proposed to my constituency. That was some seven or eight years ago. I thought it was a job, and as it was going to my constituency I opposed it, and it was thrown out. I may say that for political purposes my opponent who fought me in 1892 went to the Treasury, and though Parliament had refused the Vote, the Treasury gave the Vote afterwards. Well, what is the position of affairs now? This has been for several years a burden on the Imperial Treasury. During the present Parliament a Bill has been passed for the purpose of relieving the land—the Agricultural Rates Bill—and Scotland required half as an equivalent for educational purposes, and also when you passed your Bill financing County Councils from the Imperial Exchequer. But in each of those cases, beginning from 10 years ago, when the County Councils were assisted, the equivalent of the grant given to Scotland was used by Scotland for entirely different purposes. It seems to me that this last grant from the present Parliament of £15,000 is not to be used for the purpose of reducing rates, but of creating a Congested Board in Scotland, for the purpose of buying land and placing property on it, and doing various works of that kind. There was this proposal of £100,000 which is to run for five years, and the result will be that the Imperial Exchequer will gain by it, and Scotland will lose by it. You help us to do our work in Scotland, but you help us to do it at our own expense. There is actually a proposal to give £750,000 to Ireland for another purpose. Well, of course, it will be passed, because it will be used for the benefit of the landlords.


The hon. Member is departing a very long way from the Carloway road.


Yes, Sir, I am taking a wide view; but to return to the Carloway Road. Apart from all this, it is an unknown and unexpected change which no Scotch Member, as far as I am aware, knew anything about until he got the Estimates yesterday. Now we know what the Government proposals are, and now we have heard stated in the usual blunt English fashion by the Secretary to the Treasury what is the position in which we are placed. You have got this Estimate without a word from the Lord Advocate. This road was brought up by Parliament seven years ago, and it has been ever since more or less a subject of discussion in the House. This Carloway Road is one of the many Measures proposed, not by this Government or by the late Government, but the Government before that, seven years ago. The original Estimate was to be £15,000. I do not know what the experience of the right hon. Gentleman is in reference to original Estimates, but if he looks at all of the original Estimates that we have had from the Treasury during that period, he will

find that in many cases they have been largely exceeded. The Estimate for Dover Harbour, for instance, was £1,900,000, but it jumped up to £3,600,000 in a year. I do not mean to go into details, but it seems to me to be very unfair to place a burden of this kind upon a new Board. It is perfectly clear £15,000 will not meet the case; £25,000 ought to have been voted. For these reasons I support the Amendment.

Question put— That Item E (Congested Districts (Scotland) Board, Grants in Aid) be omitted from the proposed Votes.

The Committee divided.—Ayes, 62; Noes, 135.

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Duckworth, James Price, Robert John
Allan, William (Gateshead) Ellis, Thos. Ed. (Merionethsh.) Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorg'n) Rickett, J. Compton
Baker, Sir John Fenwick, Charles Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Barlow, John Emmott Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Roche, Hon. Jas. (Kerry, E.)
Bowles, Capt H. F. (Middlesex) Goddard, Daniel Ford Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Brigg, John Holburn, J. G. Shaw, Chas. Edw. (Stafford)
Broadhurst, Henry Jones, David Brynmor (Swnsea) Shaw, Thomas, (Hawick B.)
Bryce, Rt. Hon James Kilbride, Denis Sinclair, Capt. Jno. (Forfarsh.)
Burns, John Lewis, John Herbert Stevenson, Francis S.
Caldwell, James MacAleese, Daniel Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Cameron, Robert (Durham) MacNeill, Jno. Gordon Swift Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)
Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton M'Dermott, Patrick Tanner, Charles Kearns
Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.) M'Kenna, Reginald Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Condon, Thomas Joseph M'Laren, Chas. Benjamin Wedderburn, Sir William
Crilly, Daniel M'Leod, John Williams, Jno. Carvell (Notts.)
Curran, Thos (Sligo, S.) Morton, Edw. J. C. (Dvnpt) Wilson, Fredk. W. (Norfolk)
Dalziel, James Henry O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Woodall, William
Davitt, Michael Oldroyd, Mark
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles O'Malley, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Donelan, Captain A. Perks, Robert William Mr. Gibson Bowles and Mr. Hedderwick.
Doogan, P. C. Pinkerton, John
Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden Bond, Edward Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Compton, Lord Alwyne
Baden-Powell, Sir Geo. Smyth Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Cook, Fred Lucas (Lambeth)
Bailey, James (Walworth) Brookfield, A. Montagu Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)
Baillie, Jas. E. B. (Inverness) Carlile, William Walter Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)
Balcarres, Lord Cecil, Lord Hugh Cotton-Jodrell, Col Edw. T. D.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.) Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Cubitt, Hon. Henry
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds) Chamberlain Rt. Hn. J. (Birm) Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc. S. W.)
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r) Curzon, Viscount (Bucks)
Bartley, George C. T. Charrington, Spencer Dalbiac, Col. Philip Hugh
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Clare, Octavius Leigh Dalrymple, Sir Charles
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E. Dorington, Sir John Edward
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristl.) Coghill, Douglas Harry Douglas, Rt. Hon A. Akers-
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Colomb, Sir Jno. Chas. Ready Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart
Fardell, Sir T. George Kenyon, James Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. King, Sir Henry Seymour Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Knowles, Lees Pryce-Jones, Edward
Firbank, Joseph Thomas Lafone, Alfred Purvis, Robert
Fisher, William Hayes Laurie, Lieut.-General Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Fison, Frederick William Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Rutherford, John
Flannery, Fortescue Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Swnsea) Seely, Charles Hilton
Forster, Henry William Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Seton-Karr, Henry
Galloway, Wm. Johnson Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Liverpl.) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.) Lopes, Hy. Yarde Buller Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)
Giles, Charles Tyrrell Lowe, Francis William Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Gilliat, John Saunders Lowles, John Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Loyd, Archie Kirkman Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Lucas-Shadwell, William Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Macartney, W. G. Ellison Stone, Sir Benjamin
Graham, Henry Robert Macdona, John Cumming Thornton, Percy M.
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Maclean, James Mackenzie Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Valentia, Viscount
Gull, Sir Cameron M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.) Verney, Hon. Richard Greville
Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George Malcolm, Ian Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Rbt. Wm. Marks, Henry H. Warkworth, Lord
Hanson, Sir Reginald Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Warr, Augustus Frederick
Hardy, Laurence Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)
Hermon-Hodge, Rbt. Trotter Milward, Colonel Victor Wharton, Rt. Hn. Jno. Lloyd
Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arth. (Down) Monckton, Edward Philip Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Hill, Sir Edw. Stock (Brist'l)
Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampstd.) More, Robert Jasper Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)
Howard, Joseph Morrell, George Herbert Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)
Hudson, George Bickersteth Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'd.)
Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.) Muntz, Philip A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Johnston, William (Belfast) Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grhm. (Bute) Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Kemp, George Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)

Question put, and agreed to.

On the Vote of £44,789, repayment to the Local Loans Fund,


With regard to this Vote, I should like to have some information with regard to Item 6. I see only £237 refers to Scotland. It is some time since these loans were made, and year after year we are writing off so much. The point I want to know is, what is the full extent at the present moment of the outstanding loans, and what assets have to come in in respect of them? Taking this Vote as a whole, we have an extraordinary state of affairs. We have a great many loans granted by the State which are now to be written off to the extent of £44,789. If it were merely a matter of writing off this year or in a series of years, one might pass the matter over without saying very much. But year after year we find we have to write off enormous sums. So far as Scotland is concerned, we find the amount is only £237; then there is an item of £3,600 for Aberbrothwick Harbour, which brings it to this, that upwards of £40,000 of what is to be written off relates to Ireland. Now, I think that is a very serious matter, because we find that local loans are granted by the State, and then the people who receive them are led to believe that if they do not pay, the whole amount will be written off by the State. Here we have to write off a sum of £40,000 for certain loans granted for the extension of public works in Ireland and improvements under the Land Acts. Now you can hardly expect people to pay up their loans when they find their neighbours, who are probably just as well able to pay as they are, do not do so. It is not the loss of the money. That is not very much to a nation which has £100,000,000 a year, and I do not think that any one would have a word to say on the matter if the money had been used to relieve people who were earnestly endeavouring to improve their position on their holdings, because no better application of money could be made; but unfortunately we find that is not so. We find that these sums are given to people who neglect their holdings and get into debt, and who could not in any possible way hope to benefit from the loans. I should like to know how it happens, that in the case of those persons who have holdings, these sums are written off in this manner, because these people have holdings which could be sold. In the case of the fishermen, I do not object to your writing off the loans but in these cases—


I would remind the hon. Member that last Session an Act of Parliament was passed giving power to write off these debts. The only question which arises now is whether the debts are accurately stated.


To an extent that is so. But I submit that when you come to the voting of the money it is quite competent to us, even now, at the last stage, to interpose our verdict. I submit that no Act of Parliament could compel this Committee this Session to vote the money if they were not disposed to do so, and I would ask that explanation from the Secretary to the Treasury.


I did not expect that I should be called upon to go into the particulars of this Vote, because as has been pointed out this is a matter which has been decided by Parliament itself. My hon. Friend is under some misapprehension when he assumes that the mere fact that those loans are written off, the Local Loan Fund causes them to be remitted so far as the persons from whom they are due are concerned. The liability of the persons who ought to re-pay these moneys is in no way affected by this Vote. We do not forego our rights against them in any way, and all steps that can be taken to recover this money we shall take, whether this money is written off or not.


We are quite accustomed to that explanation. We get it every time the matter comes up. But will the right hon. Gentleman tell me how much of the former loans have been actually recovered, because we never hear of any? I rather suspect that once an amount is written off it is writen off for ever. I would like to know if the debt is still kept open again the debtor, exactly how much has been received on former loans. I think that is hardly the explanation to give us when we are resisting a Vote of this character.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)

There is an item here with regard to the extension and promotion of the Birr and Portrunna Railway. I find it covers an item of £20,000 in respect of the railway which runs through a very poor district of King's County. I wish to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that if Parliament is willing to forego the repayment in respect of that railway the Treasury also should forego a claim of some £281,000 in connection with the same work for which they hold the guarantee of Baragbreer, which is not in a position to pay, owing entirely to the poverty of the district. Over the head of Baragbreer you are holding a charge which you could not possibly realise, which I think you might forego.

Vote agreed to.

On the Vote of £45,000, Highland Railway Company,


This is a very important Vote which is moved for the first time in the Estimates, and it arises in consequence of the policy which the Government is pursuing in connection with the Highlands. So far as the policy of providing extra communications with the Highlands is concerned, I have always been a supporter of it. I believe it is a good policy for the Highlands that they should be opened up by extra railway communication, and I always find there is distress in the Highlands where there is no railway communication, and, therefore, this policy is one I actively support and approve, the more particularly because the movement in connection with these railway communications with the Highlands practically originated with myself. I was just remarking when the Chancellor of the Exchequer entered the House that there were two islands of Scotland said to be congested, the island of Lewis and the island of Skye; and any money spent in opening up a line of railway in a district not approached or served by a railway is a policy of which I cordially approve. But the Mallaig line had for its objective point the island of Skye, and it is a most important line serving the Island in a very important manner, that has been promoted under subsidies from the Imperial Government, and Lewis is better approached by a new line altogether. Those two lines open up new territories altogether. What is the position of this line. It is a branch of the Highland Railway line and is under the control of the Highland Railway Company, and I think there never was a greater waste of money than to give this £45,000 to the Highland Railway Company, because they would, in their own interest, have promoted and paid for it. I know perfectly well they were prepared to do so, owing to the competition they saw going on. They were prepared in self-defence to make a line from Strome Ferry, down to Kyle of Lochalsh, and for the Government to give them £45,000 to do that which they would have done themselves is an extravagant waste of money. The Government gives a subsidy of £50,000 to the Mallaig line, which is going through a new and very poor territory, and what is this £45,000 to do; to enable the Highland Railway Company to compete with a line which you subsidise. It is for that that you give them £45,000 to continue the line 10 miles further to the coast. At the place where Strome Ferry comes up, there is a very dangerous piece of coast where steamers and other vessels incur great risks, and it is to improve the line of service and extend it to Kyle of Lochalsh that you give this money. Why do you give £45,000 to a company which is paying a 6 per cent. dividend to carry its own line 10 miles further, and for the purpose of building a pier? I cannot conceive a greater waste of public money. So far as the Mallaig line is concerned, that opened up a new district altogether, and could not be made without assistance; nobody else could have made it, and that was a legitimate expenditure of public money; but this company were prepared, in their own interests and self-defence, to make this line, and I would never have given them a copper to extend their own line. What I would have done would have been to have said that, as compensation as regards the Mallaig Railway, I have no objection to your entering to a new line with an entirely new objective point, and if you do that we will give you a subsidy, as we did in the case of the Mallaig line. I think to grant money to enable them to carry their main line down to the coast, and build a harbour in order that they may compete with a new line that you are subsidising, is absurd. I do not think the Chancellor of the Exchequer would have done such a thing, and possibly it will be said that it was done by this side of the House. It might be. I do not recognise that all the virtues are on this side of the House, and all the vices are on that. I can vote with any Government if I think they are right; and if I think they are wrong I can oppose them. I do not like this bandying backwards and forwards. I do not care which Government did it, and if the Liberal Government had been in power when this money was granted I would have protested as strongly then as I do now. This is the only opportunity we have of expressing our opinion in these matters, and I do not think it is right for the Government to say they must follow their predecessors in this matter. They did not follow them in the case of Chitral. Another point I should like to be informed upon is with regard to this subsidy to build a pier at Kyleakin. Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer tell us whether, in his arrangements with the railway company, he has made any provision with regard to that pier; whether, in the case of the harbour, the fishermen can use it for a nominal charge, or whether the railway company, having got this enormous subsidy, can practically charge anything they like? Has any arrangement been made for the use of the pier for such of the general public as may wish to use it? I think it should suggest itself to us that if we are to give such an enormous subsidy as this, we ought to have some little recompense.


The hon. Member has told us rather a long story, but about five years too late. This scheme for the branch of the Highland Railway from Strome Ferry was sanctioned by my predecessor in 1892. At that time several schemes for railway extension in the Highlands had been under the consideration of a Committee and a Commission appointed for that purpose, and subsequently of two Governments, and this was one of the schemes which most commended itself to everybody. Anyone who has been to Strome Ferry will know that it is a very awkward place for the terminus of a railway, and extremely dangerous for fishing vessels and steamers coming in. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire made a definite promise to the Highland Railway Company in 1892, on the recommendation of those who had enquired into the matter, that if they would extend their line he would ask Parliament to grant them £45,000 out of a total estimated expense of £180,000. That promise was publicly known to be made, and if the hon. Gentleman opposite desired to take exception to the line he ought to have called attention to the matter long ago. What has happened since? The railway company have constructed that line, and now the hon. Member, in spite of that promise, desires to refuse the £45,000. I confess if I did believe, which I do not, that my predecessor was not justified in making this promise, I do not now think we ought to refuse to grant the money. I quite agree that it is no use grieving over spilt milk. Of course, the money might have been better employed. I think the First Lord of the Treasury, who appointed the Commission, had practically given a pledge in this regard to the Government. This has been before the House three or four times. It had all been previously arranged, and the right hon. Gentleman had to carry out what had been settled. Really the person, I think, who is responsible is the right hon. Gentleman the First herd of the Admiralty, who made all the arrangements and who appointed the Commission to carry out the matter. It is a very difficult question, indeed, to discuss, and I therefore think that this Vote is going to end, and that we may permit it to pass without a Division. The money has been spent, and it seems that though the present Government are ready to do things for the Highlands, yet I think they do not spend the money wisely and well. It was not £100,000, but nearly a quarter of a million, the interest of which we guaranteed for a certain number of years, and looking at the matter from a commercial stand point we have been foolish enough to spend a quarter of a million, and then put our hands in our pockets and give £41,000 to our opponents. Of course, it is undoubtedly a great boon to the Highland Railway. Undoubtedly a certain district got the benefit of that railway, because by it the distance to Glasgow was reduced by nearly 120 miles; instead of having to go by way of Inverness. I quite admit that the money has been spent, but I say that the Commissioners who were sent down heard only one side of the case; they made a report, and the Government then in power put down the items without knowing anything about the real facts. I may point out that before these rash promises were made we, who know the circumstances, might have shown the Government a better method of spending their money. We are told that this Vote shall disappear, and that there shall be no more grants under it, that is that Vote 3 of Class 7 shall not appear again. A Vote was proposed of £5,000 to provide the Company's piers, while two miles from it there was a Public Trust wanting money to finish its work of public improvement. But the Commission fell into the hands of certain parties, and £5,000 was given to the Company to add to their dividend, and so the Public Trust has lost the benefit of the money. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is to blame, but his predecessor, the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the late Liberal Government, who carried it out. The work is done, and now we have to pay the piper. The money has not, perhaps, been wisely spent, but, as it will do some good, I for one think we ought not to divide against the Vote, because the present Government are not to blame in the matter.


I do not say we ought not to divide against the Vote. Of course, I recognise that, the railway having been finished, the money ought to be paid. At the same time I do think that too much is made with regard to one Government coming in and taking up the work of their predecessors. We are told that this matter was agreed to in 1892. While it is evident that the matter was arranged in 1892, there can be no doubt that on the change of Government the new Government would have been influenced by the officials who would have communicated the position of the matter to them. So that they were in that matter influenced a grea deal by the report of those who were appointed by their predecessors. I think it is hardly fair that we should not pass the Vote. I have no objection to giving money to benefit Scotland, but I hope it will open up an entirely new district. At the same time I say that, if we give money for a purpose which is not required, it stands in the way of our getting money for a more profitable purpose.

Vote agreed to.

On the question of a Vote of £23,938 for the Relief of Distress (Ireland) Estimate of the amount required in the year ending 31st March, 1898, for certain expenditure, including sundry grants-in-aid in connection with the Relief of Distress in Ireland,

*MR. M. DAVITT (Mayo, S.)

Before the Committee votes this money I should like to have some information with reference to the plan by which it was expected to meet this distress on the west coast of Ireland, by means of such a paltry sum of money. I contend, Sir, that the smallness of the relief offered to the unions by the Chief Secretary was more a mockery of distress than an earnest desire to grapple with the seriousness of the evil which prevailed during last winter. I would also like to have from the right hon. Gentleman some explanation as to why such a large percentage of this sum of £23,000 was expended in salaries of inspectors, etc. I venture, respectfully, to suggest to the Committee that £5,000 by way of expenses is altogether disproportionate to the £15,000 extended to the unions by the Government of Ireland as a means of arresting destitution in these districts. I trust that English Members will not listen with impatience during the next half-hour if we bring this matter of distress under the attention of the Committee. I feel sure they will agree with me that Irish Members have some cause of complaint when they find, in the face of the emergency in this district, public money—which is Irish money as well as British money—doled out with miserly reluctance; while on the other hand, with regard to British interests, we find both British and Irish money shovelled in millions for the reorganisation of the Army, the completing of new battleships, and expeditions, dispatches, no one knows where. Our contention is that if the right hon. Gentleman had in the early months of the winter, when he knew from the reports of the inspectors, that severe distress was anticipated, if from the information in his possession he had expended a larger sum of public money, I think distress would have been arrested in its intensity, and it would not now occupy the alarming amount of public attention which has to be given to it in Ireland. Sir, I contend that that is not the view of the Irish Members alone. Englishmen and Englishwomen, to their credit be it said, are trying to do by appeals to the public in this country on behalf of the starving people in Ireland, what the right hon. Gentleman and his Administration have failed to do during the past few months with reference to this distress. There are, I believe, at this time about ten committees in various cities and towns in England, as well as several committees in Ireland, endeavouring to perform for these poor people the duty which I respectfully contend the Chief Secretary, as responsible for the Irish Government, has failed to perform during the winter months. Now, Sir, I do not intend upon this occasion to raise the general question of distress in Ireland, and were it not that we on these benches feel that the distress is growing in intensity and spreading in area every day, we would not occupy much of the time of the Committee on this matter. But, Sir, the reports that are appearing from day to day from various districts on the western coasts of Ireland, will bear out what I say that in consequence of the neglect of the Administration in Ireland to take proper steps to apply an adequate sum of money, we are face to face with a crisis which we would not otherwise have had to confront. I believe I am right in my belief that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say, when he replies, that successful efforts have been made by his officials in Ireland to take relief to Tory Island. With reference to Belmullet, the Chief Secretary will, I hope, attempt in the course of this short Debate to give some information to the Committee with reference to a letter which was addressed to Canon Doran in the name of the Chief Secretary. I do not myself put the interpretation upon that letter that others have placed upon it; I allude to it only to support my argument. If a larger sum of money had been devoted to this purpose, and the right hon. Gentleman had had a free hand given him in the matter, we should not now be troubling the Committee. Again I call his attention to the great increase of distress in the poorest of all these congested districts in the west of Ireland, and the great increase of outdoor relief that has taken place there. You should apply the proper remedies at the proper time. The Clerk has stated that, whereas there were only 519 cases of outdoor relief last year, there are now no less than 1,200 persons compelled to seek assistance in that way from the Government. Well, Sir, I am glad to know, from reports in the public Press, that the Guardians of that Union have accepted the terms of the right hon. Gentleman, and that to carry out those terms for that locality the Guardians are now applying the labour test, and giving employment to those people, who, I respectfully contend, should have been put to similar work earlier in the winter mouths. Well, Sir, on this subject I would call the Chief Secretary's attention, if he has not already seen the letter, to a letter which was addressed to the Swinford Union by the Mother General of the Foxford Convent, in which she stated that, by means of £300 or £400 sent to her by the Manchester Relief Committee, she was enabled to give employment to two or three hundred poor people in that district. Without desiring to say anything harsh about the Chief Secretary, I think he ought to feel a little self-reproach, as being responsible for the government of Ireland, when reading that letter, for here we have the charitable people of Manchester sending money out to the west of Ireland to the poor people who do not want to be pauperised, but who are suffering from distress. We find these cottiers and others getting employment and relief, not from what is extended to them by the Government of Ireland, but on account of the donations of his fellow-countrymen here in England. With reference to the distress in the portion of the constituency which I have the honour to represent, I believe I am right in saying, that none of that £15,000 has gone to the Ballinrobe Union. Of course, I do not say that that is altogether the fault of the Chief Secretary. I believe he would have extended a dole towards the relief of distress there, if the Guardians at Ballinrobe had only taken similar action to the Guardians elsewhere, and applied for the labour test; but I believe the Guardians of the Ballinrobe Union have followed the example set them by the Chief Secretary, and have been exceedingly reluctant to increase the rates, even to the extent of twopence or threepence in the pound for relieving these poor people. Well, what I would like to know from the Chief Secretary—when he comes to reply to this—is whether he intends, in consequence of the inaction of the Ballinrobe Guardians, to continue to refuse to send any assistance to the poor people whom I represent? I hope he will bring pressure to bear on the Guardians to apply the labour test, and thus follow the example of the Swinford Guardians in that respect. Now, Sir, I do not intend to delay the Committee beyond a few more minutes with what I have got to say, but the Chief Secretary will, perhaps, allow me to mention the fact that I received a letter this morning from another district in South Mayo, warning me that unless some local relief works which were necessary in the locality were started at once one-third or one-half of the total population of 4,000 in the Kilvine district will be compelled to seek outdoor relief before the 1st of May. I believe, in years gone by, upon occasions similar to this, public works were started, and have been left incomplete, and I would be satisfied if the Chief Secretary would direct one of his inspectors to go to this district of Kilvine, on the borders of Roscommon and South Mayo, and I am sure that if he will do so what is said by my correspondent will be fully borne out by investigation. There are one or two other places along the west coast of Ireland, where, I am informed, intense distress prevails in connection with which distress nothing has yet been said in this House. For instance, there is Loop Head, a district running out from South West Clare, into the Atlantic, an exceedingly poor locality in the best of times, which has a population of about 5,000. I am informed that the village valuation in that locality is under £2. The condition of the people there now, is, I believe, as bad as in any part of Mayo, and I hope, if the Chief Secretary has not already directed an investigation into the condition of the people there, he will take steps to do so before the winter. I am informed that the potato crop was a greater failure there last season than even in any part of Mayo, and I have read a statement made by the Rev. Father Maze, which I will not trouble the Committee with, but which certainly reveals a deplorable condition of things amongst the poor people. Now, I would also ask his attention to statements that have appeared in the public Press, with regard to certain places in the county of Kerry. These places were overlooked in the Debate which took place upon the Address, not through any desire on the part of those who were present to overlook the claims of those poor people, but simply because we were anxious not to prolong the Debate on that occasion. Now, I have nothing further to say, Mr. Lowther, but to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of at once investigating these public statements with reference to the districts to which I have referred. And, again, I must be permitted to protest against the inadequacy of the provision which the Chief Secretary has made during the winter to meet this condition of things along the Western seaboard of Ireland, and I trust he will not continue his niggardly policy in this matter; that he will bear in mind that he is using Irish money as well as British money; and that the necessities of the case need extended relief.

*MR. T. D. SULLIVAN (Donegal, W.)

I do not in any way wish to oppose the proposition before the House, or to delay the proceedings, but I desire to suggest to the Chief Secretary that, in dealing with matters of this kind he might make a more liberal estimate of the requirements of the people than he has done in the present Vote. I consider that the sum he proposes to allocate for the relief of distress in Ireland is very inadequate to the purpose in view. It seems to me that the Government, when any report of distress in certain parts of Ireland comes before them, look upon these statements with a certain amount of suspicion. They are inclined to think that they are exaggerated, and, after some delay, they send some of their officials to inquire into the truth of the reports that have been made to them. I am inclined to think, Mr. Chairman, that the tendency of these officials is, and perhaps not unnaturally, to minimise the facts, and in no way or in no degree to exaggerate them. So far as my knowledge extends—I can speak positively for one constituency, and I believe it is the case with regard to the others that are from time to time afflicted in this way—there is no desire amongst the people, local and Parliamentary, to exaggerate the state of distress prevailing in these parts, or to cry out for relief before the occasion and the necessity arise for so doing. Now, Sir, there can be no doubt that at the present time there is a state of grievous distress and destitution in a great many of the extensive districts along the western seaboard of Ireland. I went, before the opening of the present Session of Parliament, amongst my own constituents in one of the poorest districts on the western coast of Ireland—I refer to Western Donegal—I went amongst the people, and inquired of the priests how matters stood in this respect, in order that I might be able to make a full and true statement of the facts, if occasion should require it, in the House of Commons. I inquired, as I have said, of men who know the facts of the case, and I found amongst them, one and all, priests and people, no desire whatever to put a bad aspect, or a worse aspect than was absolutely necessary, upon the facts of the case. There was distress amongst these poor people, there was poverty amongst them, but they did not see occasion to make any public outcry for the present, at all events, in reference to these matters. Of course, as time goes on, if matters should grow worse, it would be their bounden duty to make the facts known, and claim such relief and assistance as this Government and this Parliament is in duty as well as in honour bound to afford them. But in one part of that constituency I was informed that dire destitution and possible starvation did exist. That part is the Island of Tory, on the coast of Donegal. I asked a question in this House, founded upon information that I received as to the perilous condition of the poor people in that island. I make no complaint of the action that the Chief Secretary took, subsequent to my asking him that question. On the contrary, I think the Chief Secretary acted promptly in the matter, and did the best he could. He directed that an inspector should go to this island and look into the facts of the case. The inspector did go to the island as promptly as he could get there—for it is not easy to get into Tory Island, and when people do get there they often find it difficult to get back again—and he looked into the facts, and found them quite as bad as they had been represented to be. He, I believe, had to remain there for a very much longer time than he had intended, for tempestuous and stormy weather prevented him from getting back again for some time. But the peril was even then growing, the destitution was increasing, and he telegraphed to the mainland asking that a supply of provisions should be sent to the relief of the poor people in the island. However, it was one thing to telegraph for this relief and another thing to get it, for the weather was so stormy that the vessel conveying it was weather-bound for several days and could not get near the island; and, meanwhile, the destitution was becoming still more severe. The vessel did ultimately arrive, and relief was afforded—some meal and flour, I suppose, and other food of that kind was distributed. Yes, but that will not last long, and what I wish to know now is whether the Chief Secretary has directed that any steps shall be taken for the opening of relief works for giving employment to these poor people upon this remote island, so difficult to reach and so difficult to get away from. These provisions, as I have said, will be used up in a few days. What is to carry the people on for the weeks and weeks to come? Money they have none; food there is none in the island except the small quantity brought by this steamer; and the local traders can be but very few, for it is a small place, the whole population numbering only about 320 souls. I again ask the Chief Secretary what is to be done for these people. Will he not open up some sort of relief work?—for work and wages are what they want, not doles, gifts, or charity, either from at home or abroad. We are not, I think, making a very extravagant demand on the Chief Secretary, or upon the British Parliament is asking that when perils of this sort arise in our country they should be met promptly, and in a generous spirit by this Imperial Parliament. I used the word "generous," but after all, it is only returning to us—if we get it—a little share of our own money, and therefore I ought not to call it British generosity. We only want a liberal administration of our own funds to save our own people from the misery, suffering's, and starvation to which they have been brought by the long course of maladministration imposed upon them by this country and this Parliament. Every three months £500,000 is taken from our country in excess of our proper proportion of taxation. The amount that is taken from us in six months would very largely, and amply indeed, meet the requirements even of exceptional seasons and exceptional distress such as the present. I have in my hand, though I shall not detain the Committee by reading it, as probably the Chief Secretary has seen it, a letter which appeared in this morning's Dublin newspapers from the Catholic priest who resides in Tory Island. I shall say but very little upon it, because I think what I have already stated brings the general facts sufficiently before the mind of the right hon. Gentleman, but I wish to impress upon him these few points taken from the letter of the Rev. Mr. McGroarty, the curate residing in Tory Island. He says that he believes about £400 would carry the people through the period of distress that they are under-going, and that is still before them. Their industries have failed them. They are not an idle people; they are hardworking, brave, and industrious fishermen, all their lives toiling and moiling in order to make as much money as will enable them to pay their way, and to live on a very moderate scale of comfort indeed. Their fishing-boats, however, are small, and in stormy weather they are unable to face the perils of the deep. Why, one of Her Majesty's gunboats—the Wasp, I think—was wrecked on this same island not many years ago; and in bad weather what chance have little frail fishing boats, such as are used upon that coast, of braving the stormy deep and procuring for their owners the means of subsistence? The kelp industry, which they also carry on, has proved a failure, the market, for reasons which I do not understand, having fallen away enormously, causing a tremendous loss to these poor though hardy and industrious people. Under all those circumstances, I think the Chief Secretary might have dealt more liberally with this Vote; but, at all events, I want to know what share of it he means to go to the relief of these poor people. I tell him once again, and I tell the Committee, that they do not want gifts or doles. They want work and wages. Money can be beneficially expended in the island; and it is a hard thing, if in this House, where we Irish Members sit and listen night after night to the voting of millions and millions, a few hundred pounds cannot be devoted to the relief of these poor subjects of Her Majesty on the coast of Ireland. It strikes us that a country which can with so lavish a hand spend money in the remotest corners of the earth, might well deal a little more fairly, conscientiously, and liberally with these poor people in the distressed districts of Ireland.

MR. D. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)

I only wish to add a very few words to what has been said by my colleague in the representation of Mayo and my Friend the Member for West Donegal. I do not desire to import any temper into this discussion, because I know, as the right hon. Gentleman himself knows, that this is only a vote of indemnity. I know that last year several of the Irish Members pressed the right hon. Gentleman very strongly as to the situation in Belmullet, and he took upon himself, as he will remember, the duty of expanding the sum asked for to bring relief to the people of North Mayo, especially in the Belmullet Union. As a consequence of the promise he made last year, we now find in the Supplementary Estimates a grant in aid of the rates of the Belmullet Union—a grant of £3,038. Now, I do not want to attack the right hon. Gentleman, for I do not think he deserves to be attacked, and in anything which I say, I say to him not as Chief Secretary for Ireland but as President of the Irish Local Government Board. What I have to say is this—that this coming to the House to ask for this £3,038 is only another proof of the utter breakdown of the officialdom of Dublin Castle. The right hon. Gentleman sits here as Chief Secretary for Ireland, but he also sits here as Chairman of the Local Government Board of Ireland. Now, as Chairman of the Local Government Board, he promised me last year that in relieving the distress in North Mayo he would do certain things. What were the two things he promised to do towards relieving the distress in North Mayo? One was to establish a line of steamers between Belmullet and Achill Island. The pressure was so great at that time that he himself—and I admit that no one feels more sympathetically in matters of this kind than the right hon. Gentleman—realised that these poor people must be relieved from the suffering they were experiencing; but what has been the consequence? A month after he had given the promise, and a little time after this House had risen, that line of steamers between Belmullet and Achill Island ceased to run. Are those steamers running now? They are not. I only put this forward as an illustration of the fact that when once this House of Commons ceases to sit, and once the Departments at Dublin Castle get control over Ireland, then the poor people in the west and north-west of Ireland may suffer as they like. The right hon. Gentleman himself, as he knows, fills many offices in Ireland. He is the Chairman of the Local Government Board, he is the Chairman of the Congested Districts Board, and he is the Chief Secretary. I do not say that he is not able to fill these offices, but I do say that he is not able to administer affairs in Ireland as we desire that they should be administered. The hon. Member for Donegal has instanced the case of Tory Island. I can instance the case of the Island of Inniskea, if I may be allowed. I have known times when the Island of Inniskea could not be approached. I am a very good sailor myself, but I have known times when it has been utterly impossible to get a boat into Inniskea. I remember that, on the occasion of the recent outbreak of fever there I wished to see what had been happening, and I found that it was utterly impossible to go there. The right hon. Gentleman, as Chairman of the Irish Local Government Board, is responsible, in a large extent, for that, simply because in details of that kind they have not developed the country as they might have done. I have no desire to go through the details. I do not want to give any pathetic, isolated case. I arraign the right hon. Gentleman on the whole broad question. I say it is impossible for him to be, not in Ireland, but in this country, to administer the large amount of the social and personal life of Ireland that is covered by the operations of the Irish Local Government Board. Let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman that it is now nearly nine months since I asked him some questions about the situation in North Mayo. What is the consequence of the right hon. Gentleman's administration? Although I here, as the Member for North Mayo, have been asking him questions time after time in this House, pointing out to him time after time by questions and otherwise that this distress has been existing in North Mayo, the people in North Mayo have got the same complaint to make to you here in this House to-day. The same state of things still exists in North Mayo to-day that existed 12 months ago. I am not going to give any long quotation, but, as Member for the division covering the Belmullet Union, I feel that I am entitled to call attention to this fact, that, although 12 months ago I called attention to the state of affairs existing in Belmullet, nothing has been done, if we can accept the testimony of the people of Belmullet themselves. Our people anywhere in Ireland are not bankrupts. We do not ask for your money for pure charity's sake. We attack your administration. In England Scotland, and Wales the people are able to develop their own resources, but although 12 months ago I put questions to the right hon. Gentleman, what do we find to-day? A meeting was held last Friday, nearly 12 mouths to a day from the day on which I called the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the distress that existed. At this meeting Monsignor Hewson, the parish priest of Belmullet, said— Recently he had to report that there was on meal or flour or bread in the locality, and received from the Chief Secretary the humane reply, 'Let the traders lay in greater stores in future.' That is represented by the parish priest as being a quotation from a telegram received by him from the right hon. Gentleman. I can scarcely conceive that the right hon. Gentleman sent such a telegram. I can only say that if he did it is it pitiable exhibition of callousness and want of foresight. I blame the officials of the Irish Local Government Board for their neglect to cope with this distress. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, and not merely to him, but to every man of humanity in this House, not on the score of charity, but on the ground of manhood, to establish some system by which these people in the west of Ireland may be placed on an equality with the people of this country.


The hon. Gentleman has complained that since he called attention 12 months ago to the distress in North Mayo nothing has been done. I may say that, whereas 12 months ago the Union of Belmullet was deeply involved, its debt has now been cleared off by the kindness of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. Member is labouring under one very curious misconception. He says that last year I promised a steamer service between Belmullet and Tory Island, but that the only effect of it was that the steamer service ceased a month, after Parliament was up.


I was in Belmullet in October; the House rose in August.


I think the hon. Member himself will see that he has made a mistake. What I said last year was that the Government hoped to establish a, steamer service between Belmullet and Tory Island, but that difficulties had arisen with the Midland Railway Company, and that if those difficulties proved insuperable, the Government would endeavour to establish a service between Sligo and Belmullet. The steamer service is not subsidised by the Government, but by the Congested Districts Board. The difficulties which I foresaw actually did arise, and instead of establishing a service between Belmullet and Tory Island it is our intention to establish a service between Sligo and Belmullet. The Company who are running the occasional services asked at the beginning of this year whether the Congested Districts Board was prepared to give them a subsidy, and the Board did not feel that they could do so. The hon. Member will see that so far as regards any promise made by the Government last year, the Government are perfectly ready to carry out their promise, but this particular steamboat service between Tory Island and Belmullet could not be established. The hon. Member also referred to the difficulty of reaching the Island of Inniskea. Hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to hold the Irish Government responsible for everything that occurs on the west coast of Ireland, including the weather. The hon. Member has told the House that he is an excellent sailor, but, notwithstanding that, he found it absolutely impossible to reach the Island of Inniskea. Sir, others besides the hon. Member have found it impossible, but I do not know whether he suggests that we should provide a steamboat service between Belmullet and Inniskea, Island. I now come to the speech of the hon. Member for South Mayo. In the Debate on the Address. I explained very fully what the policy of the Government was in connection with the distress which unfortunately has visited the west of Ireland during the past year. The policy of the Government was on that occasion sanctioned and approved by the House, and I do not understand that the hon. Member for South Mayo disapproves of that policy. What he complains of is that the amount that we have given is too small. Now, I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member must have been under the impression that the amount in this Vote is the total amount voted for the relief of distress during the whole course of the present season. That is not so. The amount of £15,000 which appears on this Vote is a grant-in-aid of the Relief Works executed by Boards of Guardians in distressed unions, and it is an amount intended to cover any expenditure up to the 31st of March. The sum of £5,000 for salaries and expenses of Inspectors and others employed under the Local Government Board appears a large sum in proportion to that, but the reason is that it includes practically the whole of the expenses in connection with the organisation necessary for meeting the distress. The hon. Member complains that charity is endeavouring to do the work which the Government has neglected. I entirely and absolutely traverse the position. I maintain that the Government had done, and is doing, its duty, but it may well be that there is also room for the exercise of private charity. At the present time at Belmullet the Board of Works is carrying out operations in connection with the establishment of this steamer service between Sligo and Belmullet, but would it be fair to say that on that ground the Board of Works is doing work which the Government ought to have done out of this money? If that cannot be maintained, how much more true is it to say that because private charity has stepped in for the relief of distress that proves that the Government has neglected its duty? Now I come to the case of the scarcity of provisions at Tory Island and Belmullet, and here again I cannot help thinking that there is some strange confusion in the observations of the hon. Member for South Mayo and the hon. Member for Donegal. The scarcity of provisions of Tory Island and the scarcity of provisions of Belmullet might have arisen in the most prosperous years. It has simply arisen from the fact that, in consequence of a long spell of bad weather, these places have been practically unapproachable from the sea, and therefore the provisions have run out. The hon. Member has referred to the letter written by me to Monsignor Hew-son, the parish priest of Belmullet, and that same letter has been referred to by the hon. Member for North Mayo.


I quoted from the Freeman's Journal of Saturday.


As a matter of fact, the message which was sent by my direction to Father Hewson was sent by telegram. It was in reply to a telegram which was sent me by Father Hewson from Belmullet, which, was in these terms: "No meal or flour, no bread, no railway." The House will see that the style cultivated by Monsignor Hewson is of a somewhat rhetorical and emotional character, but, of course, I quite understand the practical point that Monsignor Hewson aimed at. What he desired to obtain was a railway to Belmullet, a work which would cost probably some £200,000 or more of public money. I did not like to leave Monsignor Hewson's telegram entirely unanswered, and I did think it desirable to suggest that the scarcity might be provided against by the shopkeepers laying in larger supplies of provisions. Father Hewson, writing to the Freeman's Journal, comments upon that as "a heartless, callous, cruel production." Well, Sir, those seem to me to be rather strong epithets to apply to what I confess appears to me to have been a very innocent production. I quite admit that, in comparison with the rhetorical effusion of Father Hewson, my letter is rather jejune and prosaic, but I do maintain that it is business-like, and I do maintain that that is the proper cure for such inconveniences as have been suffered. I have only, in conclusion, to say one or two words in reference to the speech of the hon. Member for South Mayo. He complained of the fact that the Ballinrobe Union had had none of this grant of £15,000. I understand that the Board have done what they could to persuade the Guardians to adopt the labour test, and that the Board are prepared to pay a considerable proportion of heavy expenditure incurred by that union. I repudiate altogether the insinuation that the Board are niggardly in their policy, and I can only assure the House that every effort is being made by the Board to grapple with the position.

MR. J. G. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)

The right hon. Gentleman has made very merry over the comments of Father Hewson upon his telegram. I do not think it is possible that the right hon. Gentleman realises the position. If he had been only two days in one of the distressed districts of Ireland, the telegram he sent, and the speech that we have just listened to would have been entirely impossible. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Can you blame the English Government for the failure of the potato crop?" No; but we say you have reduced these people to their present unhappy condition by your deliberate misgovernment. You English people are accustomed to praise yourselves, and to say that all you think of is doing good to mankind, without any regard to money at all; but look how you behave towards Ireland. If you would allow us to manage our own affairs, we should be able to rectify the consequences of your mismanagement. Under an Irish Parliament you would not find the poorest districts of Ireland the most densely populated, and the most flourishing districts given up to the few and favoured. That is the result of your government. You say—and you say with justice—how can you improve the position of the people on these miserable patches of ground, where no profitable crops can be got? Again I say it is you who have put them there. You have taken the government into your own hands, and you are responsible for these people. When you destroyed these people's trade as you did, when you deprived them of education as you did, you were sowing the seed which has; brought this crop of destitution and misery in Ireland. You talk of your kindness and generosity; why, your own experts have told you that you have been robbing the Irish people. I can prove that from documents of your own. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the charitable contributions which have come from America to the assistance of the Irish people. I charge the Irish Government with deliberately trying last, September to paralyse the kindly hands who were giving those subscriptions. Yes, I say that they endeavoured to keep back these contributions. A gentleman who has described himself as the very head of the Irish Government, sent this telegram in reply to a telegram from the correspondent of an American newspaper, the New York Journal, asking him whether there was any distress. This is the telegram— In reply to your telegram, the Lord Lieutenant desires me to say that the reports which you characterise as most alarming, and predictions of famine in Ireland which yon mention, are, in his Excellency's opinion, unjustifiable. The whole object of that telegram was to destroy charitable contributions from America.


Nothing of the kind. The hon. Member knows it was simply in order to check exaggerations, and rightly so.


The telegram was dated the 7th September. When that telegram was sent the Government had reports from their own Local Government Board inspectors as to the imminent distress in Ireland, and I say again that that telegram was sent in order to paralyse the arm of generosity in America, in order to leave the people in distress, and to leave them at the mercy of the English Government. I know it is a shocking and a horrible imputation to make, but, Sir, it is true. It is only part of your system. I could find, if I went into the library, ample proof that in Sir Robert Peel's time you deliberately destroyed the crops of the Irish people, in order to bring about a famine. However, Sir, I will keep to this Vote, and I want to show what has been the course of conduct of the present Government in connection with the distress in Ireland, with which I am specially interested. I do not wish to say anything personally unkind of the right hon. Gentleman. If he would come and spend three or four days among these people, and go into their hovels, look at their little children, with their poor little faces pale and flabby for want of animal food—if he would see for himself the absolute misery and despair in which these unhappy people live, he would, I am sure, not be slow in dealing with the distress. However, Sir, I think I have said sufficient upon this matter. I hope that we shall hear some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman as to this telegram sent out from Dublin Castle, in order to check the contributions of benevolence.


The hon. Gentleman has asked for a reply. I must respectfully decline to make any reply whatever to his speech. Sir, that speech answers itself. The speech of any hon. Member who deliberately gets up in this House and says that it is the object of the English Government to bring about distress in the west of Ireland, in order to bring the people under our power, requires no further notice to be taken of it.

MR. D. KILBRIDE (Galway, N.)

I desire to point out to the right hon. Gentleman and to the House that it is not alone on the West Coast that distress prevails. In portions of Eastern and North-Eastern Galway, and in the county of Roscommon, the people are reduced to a very distressed condition indeed. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman, when he is considering the general question of distress in Ireland, to pay particular attention to the condition of the occupiers in the Barony of Iveagh, in county Kerry. In this connection I would press upon the right hon. Gentleman the importance of extending the Great Southern and Western Railway to Waterville; that would be a work which would give a great deal of much-needed employment, and I feel sure that, if the Government intimated to the railway company their willingness to assist in the work, the company would be quite prepared to undertake it.


I would take the liberty of suggesting to the right hon. Gentleman, that he himself should go to this district of Ireland that we are referring to, and see for himself the condition of the people there.


I have been there.


The right hon. Gentleman may have been there, but if he would only go at this time, and see the condition of things that actually prevails, I am sure he would take a different view of the responsibility of his Government in dealing with this distress. Of course, we do not blame the Government for the failure of crops, or for troubles caused by exceptionally bad weather on the coasts, but we say it is a disgrace that along the west coast of Ireland the original inhabitants should be driven into reservations like the aborigines of America. The right hon. Gentleman, in the telegram that the has been referred to, suggested that the distress in Belmullet might be met by the shopkeepers taking in a larger supply of provisions. He should not forget that these shopkeepers have to give credit and probably get their own supplies largely on credit. Sir, I do not wish to prolong the discussion, but I cannot refrain from saying that, much as the right hon. Gentleman thinks of the generous policy of the Government as exhibited by these grants, it is not by temporary doles that the distress now prevailing can be relieved; it is only by extending the powers of the Congested Districts Board, so that the people may be removed out of these congested districts and restored to the fertile lands from which they have been driven.

MR. P. C. DOOGAN (Tyrone, E.)

While I do not impute to the right hon. Gentleman that he would knowingly take any steps which would tend to stop the flow of charity in relief of the distress in the west of Ireland, I must protest against his ignoring all responsibility in the present position of things. So far the people of Ireland have had no power over their own affairs; you are about to introduce a Bill in the present Session to give them local self-government, but up to now the responsibility has remained in the right hon. Gentleman and his Department. I want to state, once and for all, my very distinct opinion that all these grants in aid, that have been repeated over and over again, will be fruitless and ineffective until the Government adopt measures which will enable the people to support themselves, instead of being pauperised by periodical doles. The people of Ireland and the people of this country will hold the Government responsible until the Irish people are placed in a position to maintain themselves without the intervention of charity at all. Without the aid of the Government the people living in the west of Ireland will never lift themselves out of the condition of chronic distress that they are in. One bad season suffices to leave them absolutely helpless, except for private charity or Parliamentary grants. I should be sorry indeed to believe that the Chief Secretary, or any other Government official, wilfully ignored the duty that is imposed upon him to endeavour by every means in his power to improve the condition of these people. The poverty, the misery existing in Ireland is a disgrace to any State, and it is a positive danger to society. Oppression and starvation led the people of France to a revolution which had a terrible effect not only upon society in France, but among all the peoples of Europe; and I warn the Government to consider what must be the outcome of a continuation of the present state of things in Ireland, where the standard of living is the lowest in Europe. Yes; that was stated in 1817, and it is as true to-day as it was then, from my own knowledge. I hope the Chief Secretary and the Irish Government will see that, however beneficial and generous these grants may be, it is not temporary doles that the Irish people require; they want to be placed, and it is the duty of the Irish Govern- ment to place them, in such a position that they can maintain themselves independently of any charity whatsoever.


I rise to ask a question of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary with regard to two of these items. Two of them are called "Grants-in-Aid"; the third is not specifically called a grant in aid; it is "Salaries and Expenses of Inspectors and others specially employed under the Local Government Board." At the bottom of page 18 there is this note— The expenditure out of the above Grants in Aid will not be accounted for in detail to the Comptroller and Auditor General, nor will any unexpended balances be surrendered. Now, I want to ask whether my right hon. Friend has considered what a vicious system of finance is this. It is exactly analogous to the case cited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the Grant-in-Aid for Bechuanaland. He says— In my report upon the Giant in Aid under this sub-head for last year (paragraph 9), I drew attention to a payment of £30,000 which had been made to the Crown Agents for the Colonies on the last day of the financial year 1895–96, which payment was admittedly made with the object of avoiding its surrender, and of enabling it to be applied in reduction of the amount to be submitted for vote by Parliament for the ensuing year. This case, I submit, is exactly on all fours with that. I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary to the Treasury to the grave responsibility the Government are taking, as against their own officer, the Comptroller and Auditor General, in adopting this vicious system, by which a Grant-in-Aid is to be handed over, and, if not expended, is not to be returned. The Comptroller and Auditor General, in the case I have referred to, points out that— the payment to the Protectorate in the year 1886–97 of the full amount of the Grant in Aid (£30,000) was clearly not necessary, and, in my opinion, was not justified. I am accordingly unable to report, under the provisions of sections 27 and 32 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act, 1866, that the amount so charged against the Grant 'has been applied to the purpose for which such Grant was intended to provide.' This, as I say, is an exactly similar case, and I think it right to call the attention of the Treasury to the matter now. When the Estimates are before us, I shall not fail to take the opinion of the House as to the desirability of sanctioning a system which, as I have shown, is condemned by the Comptroller and Auditor General, and which I regard as an altogether pernicious system.


When I read the note that has been referred to by the hon. Member for Lynn Regis, I naturally asked myself whether there was any duty on the part of the Treasury to account for these Votes in detail, and I found, or at all events. I gathered, that there is a statutory duty imposed on the Treasury. I understand the Treasury to take the view that in the case of Grants-in-Aid there is no such duty; but, if that be so, why is this note put on the Estimate? There is no mystery about a "Grant-in-Aid," and I think if the Committee will refer to the Statute they will find that every item has to be accounted for in detail, and that any balance unexpended must be surrendered at the end of the financial year. If the right hon. Gentleman does not take that view, I would ask him why he wastes stationery, printing ink, time, and labour, by putting this useless note at the foot of the Estimate?

*MR. T. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

I am rather afraid the Committee will think that this discussion has gone on long enough, but I should like to ask the indulgence of the Committee to make one or two observations on the speech we have listened to from the Chief Secretary for Ireland. I exceedingly regret the absence of sympathy, and the general hardness of tone which characterised that speech. I will take one instance to show how the right hon. Gentleman utterly fails to grapple with the real facts of the situation. He is asked about the scarcity of provisions in Belmullet, and his reply is—"Let the shopkeepers lay in a larger supply of provisions." Well, shopkeepers, of course, do not lay in stock at the bidding of a Cabinet Minister; they only lay in provisions as they are able to buy them. In a famine-stricken district the shopkeepers are poor, and it is preposterous that the right hon. Gentleman should shirk out of his responsibility by saying that they should keep larger stores. Then, the right hon. Gentleman said that the idea of hon. Members on this side (he included all of us) seemed to be that the Government should be held responsible for anything and everything on the west coast of Ireland, "even the weather." Sir, I contend that the Government are undoubtedly responsible for the vital conditions which govern the lives of these unhappy people. A great deal has been said to-night about generosity, but I regard this Vote of a miserable £15,000 as a mere condonation of the fault of this House and this country in establishing a condition of things under which these people cannot live. Last year the largest amount ever collected in taxes was raised from these people. An endeavour has been made to trace this distress to the failure of the potato-crop. I do not think it can be traced to that at all. The cause of the famine is this: that the people are reduced to such a low state of subsistence by the heavy burden which this House lays on them that they cannot bear that temporary lapse from the normal produce of a crop which an ordinary agricultural community can bear. Now, Sir, this subject is a very grave one. This is the first Vote that has been before the House this Session dealing with the famine in the west of Ireland, and I say that the fact that this state of distress in that portion of the kingdom should exist reflects infinite shame on the Government, and on this House. A book was published in the year 1896 by Mr. O'Brien, one of the Inspectors of the Irish Local Government Board, in the third chapter of which there is a list of the famines which have occurred in Ireland throughout the century. During the eighteenth century there was only one outbreak of famine—in the year 1789—and this was tided over without the Irish Parliament making any grant or taking any special measures. But during the nineteenth century we have had altogether 13 famines. The first serious visitation occurred in 1821, and it was succeeded by five others before the great famine of 1846–7. Then there was an interval of 30 years, but in 1879–80 we had an outbreak worse than any previous except the Great Famine, and the abnormal distress which we are considering to-night makes the sixth famine Government has had to relieve since that period. Every three years a grave situation of this kind arises. All the conditions tend to show that we are drifting again towards a terrible calamity such as occurred about 50 years ago. The situation is much more serious than it was at that period. During the early famine, there was no Poor Law, but now we have a Poor Law system in the country established to deal with eight and a-half millions of people, and we find it incapable of meeting the demands of four and a-half millions. We have established a Congested Districts Board, built labourers' houses and light railways, but all these resources do not enable us to grapple with the distress, and I believe that no cure for it will be found except by abolishing those heavy taxes which we now extract from every one of these famine-stricken homes. I am so out of harmony with the spirit in which this Vote has been submitted that I am almost disposed to move a reduction, in order that we might take the feeling of the Committee; but I am unwilling to take that extreme course. But, Sir, I say that this state of affairs in Ireland is a disgrace to our Government—I do not say to our present Government in particular, for I believe that this Government is, in some respects, better than the Government which preceded it; but this state of affairs is, irrespective of Party, a disgrace and a slur upon the people of this country.

Resolutions to be reported.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That a sum not exceeding £20,000 be granted to Her Majesty to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March. 1898, for a Grant in Aid of the Expenses of the Royal Commission for the British Section at the Paris International Exhibition, 1900.

Whereupon Motion made, and Question, That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Strachey.)

Resolutions to be reported upon Wednesday; Committee also report progress; to sit again upon Wednesday.

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