HC Deb 29 March 1898 vol 55 cc1255-306

I wish to move at the end of Clause 1, line 7, to omit "two" and insert the word "one." I do so for the purpose of offering a few words of protest against this expenditure, as I think the sum proposed to be expended is an unnecessarily large sum of money, which, I am quite convinced, may be spent with very much greater and better results in other ways. Mr. Lowther, I do not deny for a moment that it is desirable that public buildings, such as these relating to science and art, should be largo and dignified buildings, but I do protest against the expenditure of this vast sum at the present time, when I am painfully aware of the fact that, for the want of expenditure of a comparatively small sum of money, there is, in the constituency which I represent, a very great deal of genuine distress at the present time. We are frequently asked in this House, why is it that, as Members of this Parliament, we do not take an interest, like other Members, in having magnificent buildings in this city, and keeping up the dignity of the capital of the Empire? I say that our first interest must be to those people that we represent in this House, and if justice were done to them in monetary matters I do not think there would be any objection coming from Irish Members to proper provision being made for public buildings in this city, but it must be borne in mind that while the Irish people will be asked to bear, in the ordinary way, a considerable proportion of the £2,550,000 asked for these buildings, they will get absolutely no return by way of labour, or by any other way, for their share of this expenditure in London. No doubt this money will circulate and give employment, and it will in that respect do the labouring class a certain amount of good, but absolutely not a shilling of this money will be expended for the direct benefit of the Irish people, and under these circumstances I think that English Members cannot be very much surprised if we offer a protest, such as the protest I am making now against the Irish people being called upon to contribute largely for matters which interest them very little. Now, I have repeatedly this Session asked the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as well, to make some small provision for the exceptional state of distress which now prevails in various portions of Ireland, and to some extent in the constituency which I have the honour to represent in this House, and I have never, in answer to my appeals, been able to secure the slightest concession from the Government, or the slightest promise that anything would be done really to alleviate distress or to meet the circumstances which exist at the present time £2,550,000 is an enormous sum of money, and I say that by the expenditure of a mere fraction of that amount a great deal more good could be done by bringing relief to the various portions of Ireland and giving employment to the people. At this moment, while you are spending this vast sum on public buildings in London, it does seem to me, Mr. Lowther, a most unfortunate coincidence that the particular time selected to ask Parliament for £2,550,000, to erect magnificent public buildings in London, that this very time should be the time also when very severe and exceptional distress is felt in many parts of Ireland. I do not know bow hon. Gentlemen feel about the matter, but to me it is a source, I must say, of pain and humiliation to read in the newspapers day after day of public meetings being held throughout the centres of large populations in this country, such as Manchester, Liverpool, and elsewhere, for the purpose of receiving funds from charitable people in England and Scotland to give employment in Ireland. To read of these meetings, and that money being subscribed, and to come here to the Parliament of the Empire, which is supposed to rule all parts of the Kingdom with justice and equity, and to find that, while private individuals are willing to make some provision for the unhappy state of things in some portions of Ireland, that Parliament will do nothing this year, but, on the contrary, it will spend £2,550,000 to build public buildings in London, at the very time when they refuse to give as much as £50,000 in order to give employment to the people of our country. I have no doubt that hon. Gentlemen, who do not know more about Ireland than they know about Japan or a place like Talienwan, must be from time to time tired of hearing Irish Members speak, by way of protest, on occasions such as this; but, after all, a moment's reflection would enable them to understand our position. I appeal to any hon. Gentleman opposite who has listened to me to-day if, in the constituency that he might represent, there were a great lack of employment, if there were the appearance of actual starvation and distress amongst the people who elected him; I ask him, under these circumstances, how can he feel in coming to this House and being refused any help in order to give employment to the people, who are actually in a state of starvation, and then, instead of anything of that nature being done, he be asked, as a representative of those people, to vote, in one lump sum, the enormous amount of £2,550,000 not for the purpose of alleviating distress, but for the purpose of making more magnificent public buildings for this great city? I say that if any English Members were in the position which some of us are in from Ireland they would take exactly the same course that we are taking now, and they would protest with all their might and main against this vast expenditure at the present time while distress existed, and particularly amongst the very people that they represented. Mr. Lowther, it appears to me to be simply a disgraceful state of affairs—and I really must call it a disgraceful state of affairs—to say that we in Ireland, who are able to show, beyond all shadow of doubt, that, for the want of a small amount of money from the Government of the day, the people are in danger of suffering from actual starvation, while there are, at the same time, millions of money voted away in beautifying public buildings of this great city—I say that the Irish people have every reason to feel disgusted with the system by which they are governed in this House. I say it is enough to drive the people of Ireland to acts of violence and desperation, when they rind that their appeals for help are listened to with a deaf ear by this House, and that, at the same time, money is lavishly spent on those works which may be desirable, but which cannot for a single moment be described as anything like so necessary or so pressing as those for which we from time to time ask for money in Ireland. It was only the other day that I asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland if he could supply £200 a year in order to open up communication in a portion of my constituency where the people are cut off from the markets, and where there is a great necessity for some means of communication. He refused to do anything of the kind, but said that there were not sufficient funds available. He may have been, and is, probably, quite in sympathy with the request which I put forward, but his reply was that there were no funds available in order to promote relief works in Ireland. Was there no money available to promote lines of communication in Ireland, through districts which everybody admitted ought to have lines of communication in their midst? No funds are available for these things, but with a light heart the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the authorities of the Government come down here and ask us in half an hour to vote two-and-a-half millions, in order to erect public buildings in this city! I, for one, shall refuse to do anything of the kind. I do not know whether there are present at this moment any Irish Members representing these constituencies—and there are a few, amongst them the hon. Member for East Mayo—where the people are actually pale and pinched in their faces from the effects of hunger; these constituencies where the employment that has been given has been so miserably inadequate that we hear of people literally working from morning till night for the bare necessities of life, for the miserable pittance of a few pence a day. There are such, districts in Ireland, and they are represented by Members in this House, and I say each and every one of those Members is bound to offer every protest in his power against the conduct of the Government in spending this vast sum of money in London, and refusing to Ireland the simple means of relief of which she stands in need. I know very well, for I have been 15 years in this House, Mr. Lowther, and I think I can prejudge and accurately gauge how English Members regard appeals coming from Irish Members. They say that we are in the habit of exaggerating the state of affairs in Ireland; they say that if there is the slightest distress we magnify it very largely, and speak in a most extravagant way of small indications of distress in Ireland. I know that that is their opinion, but that is not the opinion, allow me to remind them, of independent English and Scotch gentlemen who have taken the trouble to go to Ireland for themselves, and if the word of Irish Members as to the need of public works in certain districts is doubted, I do not ask hon. Gentlemen to take our word. If they do not believe us, let them apply to those gentlemen, who, from Manchester and other portions of England, have travelled through Ireland, and have reported what they themselves have seen, and, if you apply to these independent English authorities, you will find that it is beyond question or doubt, that there are districts in Ireland at this very moment when I am sneaking where there is the greatest difficulty in keeping the life in the body of men, women, and children. I assert that, and I defy contradiction. I say that it cannot be disputed; and under these circumstances I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has been to Ireland years ago himself as the Chief Secretary, and who may have some idea of how the people periodically suffer in certain districts, having regard to the unbiassed testimony as to the distress in Ireland, given by those who have been recently in Ireland—I ask him does he for one moment think that we can feel satisfied when we are asked to vote £2,550,000 for public buildings in London, at the very moment when we know that a few thousand pounds might make all the difference between life and death to hundreds and thousands of our countrymen in Ireland? We are told that we are always begging here in the House of Commons. I do not intend more than briefly to refer to the conditions which exist between Ireland and Great Britain on financial matters, but I say that the Report of the Royal Commission which was held is quite sufficient to defend Irish Members when they ask for money for their country from any charge of being beggars. It is an admitted fact that we pay in Ireland, for such purposes as this Bill to-day deals with, a great deal more than we are justly bound to pay in regard to the circumstances of our country as compared with Great Britain; and from that point of view we are quite justified in coming here and demanding that some of the money which has been wrongly paid by Ireland shall be restored to us, and that our people shall not be allowed to starve at the very same time that it is admitted upon all hands that our country is paying a great deal more than it is bound to pay in equity or in justice. Mr. Lowther, I have made this protest, and I venture to think that if any of the Irish Members who are here, or any other hon. Gentlemen, think there is anything at all in what I have said worthy of their consideration, I shall certainly go to a Division. I have placed on record a protest, while this enormous sum is being voted, against the shameful way in which our country is being treated in these matters. We are told, of course, that we should not hesitate to vote this money, because it is intended to beautify the capital of the British Empire, and that Irishmen are entitled to have the same pride in the magnificent buildings and grandeur of London as Englishmen or Scotchmen. Probably, under fair and just circumstances Irishmen to some extent might entertain that feeling, but I can say that in the present state of affairs;—I speak for myself perfectly candidly, without any attempt to Conceal my true feelings—we take absolutely no pride or interest in matters which tend to improve or amplify the magnificence of this city. I never walk through the streets of this city and see the magnificence of its buildings, and the signs of prosperity and wealth on every hand, without feeling embittered in my mind by reflecting how different the scene is here from the scene in the capital of my own country of Ireland, where there are traces of prosperity and magnificence and grandeur which existed not so many years ago, when we were allowed to enjoy the right of ruling ourselves in our own country. Since you have taken that right from us, I say that the more magnificence is displayed here, and the greater the evidence of your wealth, the more you embitter Irishmen with the thought that, while you are improving and going ahead in these respects, Ireland is practically decaying, and while London is adding to her magnificence Dublin is day by day falling into decay and practically into ruin. I ask you will it not be a fair arrangement, when you propose to spend two millions and a half of hard cash simply in beautifying public buildings in London, that you should at least allot some of that amount to be spent in Ireland? If you proposed some arrangement, of that kind I, for one, and I believe others, would see some sense in the proposal, but every penny and every farthing of this enormous sum will be spent in England. You will not give even £1,000 to be spent in Ireland to be used for the employment of the artisans and workmen of Dublin. We in Ireland have absolutely no share in it, and therefore we cannot be expected to have any great, interest in work such as you propose now, and for which you ask this enormous sum of money. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works will understand my meaning in speaking as I do to-day. There is not a class of people. I believe, inside this Empire, or in the world, more anxious than everything relating to the homes of science and art, for instance, should be in dignified keeping with their purpose than Irishmen are. We are proud of our public buildings in Ireland, and we are anxious that in matters of this kind full justice should be done. I do not speak in opposition to this Bill from the narrow-minded view which might prompt some politicians in this House who would grudge every penny that is spent in beautifying public buildings. I have heard in this House some Radical Members from time to time almost weeping in protest against anything at all being spent in maintaining ancient palaces or buildings with historical traditions. I never shared that opinion at all. I am quite in sympathy with everybody who wishes to see public buildings and historical monuments properly regarded and kept in good repair. It is a proper thing to do; it is a legitimate thing to do. I can understand the desire of English Members in this matter thoroughly, and to some extent I sympathise with it, and it is not through any sort of niggardliness, it is not because I think these buildings should not be erected, that I raise these objections, but it is because I believe it is a standing disgrace to any civilised country that the collection at South Kensington should be left neglected so long and so badly housed. In fact, I think it would make any Englishman ashamed, who was showing a stranger round, to bring him to the South Kensington collection, and to see how badly it was housed. No doubt you want these new buildings, and I sympathise with that desire, but, from the Irish point of view, I object, that while this money is being spent here, in Ireland we want a few thousand pounds to meet, in some instances destitution, and in some other instances starvation. I read no later than yesterday in the Dublin newspapers most heart-rending accounts of the misery and distress prevailing in certain districts of Ireland, and yet not a single farthing will be devoted by this House in order to relieve these people. Surely to goodness it is not the desire or the wish of a single Member of this House, no matter how strongly Unionist or Conservative he may be, that there should be real distress in Ireland, and that no attempt should be made by the Government to cope with that distress, or that for the want of a few thousand pounds there should be a great danger of distress prevailing in Ireland. I cannot think that any hon. Gentleman in this House seriously wishes that; and yet, when we warn the House again and again that there is distress in Ireland and that something should be clone, not a penny is given us, while two millions and a half are asked for to erect public buildings here in London. By all means have your public buildings, and, if you wish to do so, spend double the amount upon them; but I say, in God's Name, do not prove that this House is so utterly heartless as to spend this money while there is widespread distress in Ireland, where you refuse to give any relief whatever. Now, there are here some Members from Ireland listening to me who do not at all agree with me in my Home Rule opinions. There is, for instance, the right hon. Member for Dublin University. He knows perfectly well, and so do other Unionist Members from Ireland, that what I say is the fact with regard to the absolutely pressing necessity for a certain amount of money being at once applied to the relief of distress in Ireland. The right hon. Member for the University of Dublin knows very well that large numbers of those in Ireland, who hold his own opinions, and who support him, and who are anti-Home Rulers, are at the present moment out of their private purses subscribing as generously as they can to a public charitable fund, got up for the purpose of relieving distress in Ireland. He knows that that is true, and I challenge any hon. Member from Ireland to say that it is unreasonable for an Irish Member, when two millions and a half are asked for to beautify London, to get up here and remind the House that there is great need for a judicious expenditure of a sum of money in Iceland to give employment to the people. So far as I am concerned, I find that I really am incapable of giving to the House anything like an idea of the seriousness of the state of affairs which prevails in Ireland. Both hon. Members for Mayo represent constituencies in which there is distress, which they have repeatedly described to the House. I cannot say that in my constituency the distress is so acute, but I can say that there are portions of county Clare, and districts in the vicinity of my constituency in county Clare, where there is the most pitiable want in districts which, by a small expenditure of money, might be opened up and improved in a hundred different ways. With that knowledge in my possession, and in the possession of other Irish Members, it is almost heart- breaking to come to this House, and find that our requests for funds are flatly refused, and that, at the same time, before the echoes of that refusal have died away, a proposal is made to spend two millions and a half in beautifying public buildings in this city. I do not suppose that the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works has any such intimate acquaintance with Irish affairs as will warrant him in giving me a reply on these points. I am sorry that the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant is not here. Though he probably thinks I have no business to say a word in opposition to this Bill, he knows the perfect truth of what I am saying with regard to the great need that exists for relief in Ireland. Sir, it is a subject upon which I feel most keenly. Here we have the Lord Mayor of Dublin calling a public meeting of Catholics and Protestants, Home Rulers and Unionists, Nationalists of the most extreme sections, and men of every shade of opinion and of every position in life in Ireland, to come together for the purpose of collecting; and he has actually come to England to attend meetings for the same purpose, and from England hundreds of pounds have been sent to relieve the distress. What is the object of a Government if it is not to provide for cases of emergency, and to protect the people from absolute starvation, when it is shown that it is not their fault, and that it arises from circumstances over which they have no control? I say that the proper function of a Government, under these circumstances, is to do something for the people, and not leave the matter to private individuals. But we are in Ireland asked to be satisfied with the system, of rule under which we live, and yet we find that when there is exceptional distress, and when our people ask us as their representatives in Parliament to do something for them, when we come to this House, we are told that the Government have no funds for Ireland, though there are plenty of funds for objects such as those which are promoted by this Bill. Instead of the Government taking the lead, and doing what is necessary in connection with this distress, we find that they leave it to private individuals of charitable disposition, both in Ireland and in England, to subscribe money to provide that employment which is necessary to save the lives of the people, and which the Government refuses to give. I say, Sir, that in my opinion, the whole situation in Ireland to-day is a strong condemnation of the system of government of that country.


Order, order! These remarks of the hon. Member are the not relevant to the Bill.


Mr. Lowther, I quite agree with you. I quite admit that perhaps I have travelled too far from the Bill; but I must say that I do not like the Bill, and therefore I am glad to get away from it. But, in all seriousness, I make this Motion to reduce the amount in order to call attention to what I think is the negligent treatment of Ireland in this matter by this House; and I repeat that I make this Motion to reduce the amount, not because I at all disagree with the idea that the public buildings of this city should be proper public buildings and as magnificent as they ought to be. I do not, in the slightest degree, hold the view of some extreme Radicals that you ought not to spend a penny for any of these things at all. I hold the opposite view, and maintain that where you have great collections of art you ought to have them properly housed. Where you have Government offices you ought to have suitable offices, and I think you are right to spend money upon them. But I do object, from the Irish point of view, that this large amount should be thrown away at this time, when you might very well wait for your buildings. I do protest from the Irish point of view. It is, in my opinion, very unfortunate that this vast sum of money should be asked for for these purposes at the very time when there is dire distress in Ireland.

*MR. W. E. H. LECKY (Dublin University)

As the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has appealed to me in a personal manner, I hope the House will allow me to say a very few words. I do not rise to oppose this Grant. I have no doubt that most of the public buildings mentioned in the Bill are absolutely necessary, and I hope that the £800,000 which is to be given to the Science and Art Museum will at last remove what has for a long time been a national scandal—that one of the finest museums in the world is housed in one of the most grotesquely hideous of public buildings. At the same time, I must say, speaking as an Irish Member, I am sorry that such a very large sum should be voted this year for purely London purposes at a time when no corresponding grant is made for Ireland, and especially for Dublin. English Members can hardly, I think, be surprised that Irish Members should look upon this question a good deal in the light of the Royal Commission, signed or supported by the first financial authorities in England, which declared that we in Ireland were paying in proportion to our means, a very considerably larger amount of taxation than we ought to pay. A great many of us who do not want cheap whisky, and who do not believe in any fiscal division between the two countries, think that the only way in which this can be met is by a larger and more liberal payment from Imperial sources for purely Irish purposes. There is, for example, our agriculture, which is one of the worst in Europe, and there is an imperative necessity for some assistance being given to agricultural education. There is I he Congested Districts Board, which in spending about £40,000 a year in excellent work, but which, I believe, it is desirable to strengthen. There are a number of other purposes and industries mentioned in the Report of the Recess Committee to which public money might advantageously be given in Ireland. But of all our needs I think that of technical education is the greatest. Technical education is far more wanted in Ireland than in England. Now, we have here the great sum of £800,000 asked for for a Science and Art Museum in London, and a Government Committee have just reported that the College of Science in Dublin is entirely inadequate for the purpose of stimulating technical education. I am not going to divide against this Bill, but I must express my deep regret at finding that, while such very large sums are being given for Science and Art Museums in London, there is no sort of corresponding grant to this College of Science which is so urgently needed in Ireland.


I wish to support the view so admirably put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Clare. I did put my views upon the matter before the House on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I do not think it is necessary for me to travel over the same ground. I am exceedingly glad that the hon. Member for the University of Dublin has come to our rescue in this matter, thereby showing that on these questions at least the opinions of all sections of the Irish people are united. I venture to protest against this enormous expenditure of money. I come from a constituency in which a very large section of the population are face to face with actual hunger and want, and even if such a state of things did not exist as it exists in my constituency and other constituencies in the western districts of Ireland I should entirely agree with the hon. Member for the University of Dublin that we should be entitled to put forward a strong claim from Ireland on behalf of the city of Dublin that, when £2,500,000 are asked from the House of Commons for the housing of the art objects in South Kensington, the great buildings in Dublin ought to be taken into consideration. In view of the circumstance that it is a question of saving people from death, from hunger and starvation, I confess that I do not mind hearing the reproach that we raise this subject in season and out of season. It is our duty to do it, because there cannot be the slightest doubt that in the west of Ireland, even where the Government have moved and made some exertion on the authority of Committees representing all sections, and not any particular side in politics, where the supporters of the Government are strongly represented, we have it beyond all question that there are large bodies of people actually at this moment suffering from insufficient food. We are told that there have been no deaths from starvation, but, so long as there are large sections of the population suffering from the pangs of hunger, we do avail ourselves of every opportunity to insist that it is the first duty of the Government, before they lay out these millions upon public buildings in the City of London, to protect people from this dreadful visitation of hunger and starvation, and I therefore support the reduction put forward by the hon. Member for East Clare, and if he requires a teller I shall be glad to act for him.

*MR. ERNEST GRAY (West Ham, N.)

I think, Sir, that there was no notice on the part of Irish Members that they intended to raise such a discussion as they have raised upon this Bill. This is, I believe, the second or third time upon which, this Session, the subject of the distress in Ireland has come before the House. It is not for me to pronounce any opinion upon the policy of initiating a Debate upon this subject; but I do venture to place before, the Committee the influence upon my own mind of such a proceeding. I, as a new Member, came into this House with every desire not only to listen to all complaints from Ireland, but to make all possible effort to redress every grievance from which Ireland has been or is suffering, and to deal, in fact, more generously with her than she might justly claim, but the constant reiteration of Irish claims upon legitimate and illegitimate occasions does weaken those desires and wishes with which I first came to this House. I do not wish to give offence to anybody, but it does seem to me somewhat peculiar and somewhat unreasonable that Irish Members should raise a Debate of this sort upon a Bill for public buildings in London. [Mr. W. REDMOND: We have to pay the money.] Irish people pay some of the money, and receive part of the benefit. [Mr. W. REDMOND: No. What benefit?] One would imagine that London was peopled entirely by Englishmen. But I believe there are more Irishmen resident in London than in the town of Cork itself, and everything that goes for the improvement of London, for the better housing of our national collections, is to the benefit of Ireland as well as to Great Britain. It does seem to me passing strange that Irish Members who should be interested in the welfare of Irishmen in London should try to delay the passing of a Measure so urgently desired as this. I again say I do not want to discuss the advisability of raising a Debate upon this subject. There is no one more anxious than I am to meet, fairly and generously, every legitimate claim that may be advanced by Ireland, but I must confess to having no knowledge of Irish distress, and that is why I am not going to continue this discussion upon that point; but if it were so exceedingly urgent some one might have taken the trouble to have put a Motion upon the Paper which would have given the Chief Secretary an opportunity of being present to answer the complaint, and, not have allowed the one side of the question to go throughout the whole of the country by means of the Press, and the other—the official side—given no means of giving an answer. [Mr. DILLON: There was an opportunity.] I do not consider that that is any argument in favour of bringing the subject up again to-day. It is manifest that the matter cannot be satisfactorily discussed in the absence of the Chief Secretary, and it simply enforces the argument I have already brought forward that this subject has been discussed within so recent a time as yesterday afternoon. It seems to me strange that on a Public Buildings Bill we should be met with a Debate on Irish distress. I have risen to ask for further information with regard to one or two lines in the first clause of the Bill, and one of the lines of the schedule. I am anxious to obtain more information as to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the buildings and land at South Kensington. There is a clause in this Bill which states that any land which may become available by the erection of new sites may be sold, and the proceeds distributed.


I ask whether the hon. Member is in order? Is he speaking to the Amendment?


The only Amendment now before the Committee is with regard to the sum which it is proposed to spend—whether it is to be £2,500,000 or £1,500,000.


Yes, and I submit that I am supporting the proposal of the Bill that £2,500,000 shall be spent, and not that we should be deprived of £1,000,000 of that in order that it may go to a sinking fund. I am speaking in favour of £2,500,000 being allotted for the purpose expressed in the Bill, and to that I wish to confine my remarks. There is a proposal here that any income derived from selling land rendered available for sale by the selection of new sites shall be expended in the liquidation of part of the National Debt. I want to know clearly whether it will be incumbent upon the First Commissioner of Works to sell the land which will become available on the transference of the Western Gallery to the eastern side of the Exhibition Road. There are many of us who feel strongly on this subject. If the whole of the science and art collection be transferred to the eastern side, the congestion which will exist there will be as serious as that which exists at the present moment, and consequently at a very early date it will be necessary to erect buildings upon the other side of the road, and if that site should then be sold an opportunity will be lost that the country may eventually very bitterly regret; and I want to have some assurance before this clause is passed that it will not be absolutely necessary for the First Commissioner to sell the land, but that he will hold it over for the purpose of its being used for museum purposes if it be required. I cannot help feeling that the House of Commons ought to have more information as to what the Government propose to do with the new buildings, the sites that they intend to cover, the land which will be available, and whether they are going to use the land upon which the residences now stand; are they going to transfer the official staff of the Museum Department to Whitehall, and use the land upon which their place now stands, and if so what will be the area of the land thus rendered available for museum purpose? Is it not possible to put a plan of the entire area in the Tea Room, so that we can know what we are about to do? It seems to me that having a sum of money available for that purpose, we are about to expend it without any clear idea of the way in which it is going to be expended—without any clear idea of the amount to be spent on land, building, and future organisation of the Science and Art Museum. I have been for many years familiar with the building at South Kensington. It was my privilege as a lad to work there year after year, and I cordially agree with the very apt description which the hon. Member for the University of Dublin just gave of these buildings. I am delighted that the Government are about to spend that money, but my joy at seeing the money spent does not diminish my desire to know that the money is about to be wisely spent, or my desire to know that the state of affairs in 10 or 11 years' time will not be as bad as that which exists at the present time. It will be a calamity if the priceless treasures of South Kensington were to be crowded together, and that they should not be displayed to the best advantage. I cannot help feeling that there is a proposal to part with a large area, and to cramp the existing collections in inadequate buildings on the eastern side of the road; and I do press the First Commissioner to take us a little further into his confidence. Reading between the lines of his statement, I cannot help thinking that he himself is still open to receive representations upon this subject. I am inclined to believe that the Treasury have not yet finally determined what shall be done with the old site. If that be the case, I would press the First Commissioner to tell us more fully what is to be done. The opinion I am expressing is not limited to myself; it is shared by my colleagues, who are members of the Museums Select Committee, and by the public outside who are interested in the proper housing of our national collection. South Kensington has a world-wide reputation. Its treasures are priceless, and cannot be replaced, and the whole artistic world demands that these treasures shall be properly housed, and properly displayed, and now is our opportunity for seeing that these things are done. I do urge the First Commissioner not to enshroud himself in any official secrecy, but to take the Committee into his confidence, and tell us what he is about to do.

MR. J. DALY (Monaghan, S.)

The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down wonders that Irish Members should protest against this large sum of money that is asked for being spent under this Bill; we protest because £250,000 of Irish money is to be devoted to ornamenting the streets of London and the public buildings of this city. No Irish Member, I am sure, has any objection to the Government spending English money in beautifying and ornamenting the streets of London, but when there is, out of this two and a half millions, a sum of £250,000 of Irish money to be devoted to this purpose, I think that Irish Members have every right to give the matter every possible opposition that lies in their power. The people of Ireland do not care a fig about South Kensington Museum, or the widening of Whitehall. The widening of Whitehall is a County Council business, and it is not the Government that should vote that Irish money should be taken for the purpose of widening a congested street, and, at any rate, so far as we on these Benches are concerned, it shall not be done without protest. It is rather a sharp move on the part of the Government to take this opportunity of widening Whitehall at the expense of the people of Ireland, and if the people of the City of London want to widen Whitehall they have lots of London money to do that work without asking the unfortunate and starving peasants of Ireland to vote money for that purpose. What a benefit this quarter of a million would be if scattered over the congested districts of Ireland where the people are starving! I moved the Second Reading of the Congested Districts Bill, and the Chief Secretary refused that one shilling of money should be voted from the Treasury for the relief of the congested districts, and we are now asked in the very next week to vote a quarter of a million for the purpose of improving the sites and buildings of this country. I am very pleased that my hon. Friend has moved a reduction in this Vote, and I have great pleasure in seconding the hon. Member. There is a Committee sitting upstairs with regard to the science and art question, and while the hon. Member opposite has mentioned that he will give this matter his entire support, I wish to say that I have given, and shall give, it my entire opposition. I have voted against any such proposition, and until justice is done to the Dublin Museum, of which Reports have been sent from Dublin to this House, to give an improved area for the art collections of Dublin, I will, as long as I am a member of the Science and Art Committee, oppose it in every way that I possibly can. Should I be in order, Mr. Lowther, in drawing the attention of the Committee to the fact that the keeper and the officials that are employed in the South Kensington Museum have nearly every one of them houses adjoining the area of the South Kensington Museum? They have free fuel and free light, and in Ireland the officials have nothing of the sort. The point that I have to stick to is with regard to this large sum of money that is going to be devoted to the purpose of buildings in this city, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to give an assurance—it is with your permission only, Mr. Lowther, that I put the question—that he will consider the advisability of enlarging the premises of the Dublin Museum. Of course it is only with your permission that I put the question.


I am afraid I cannot give that permission.


This Amendment has been proposed by my hon. Friend, and I hope that we shall be able to get the right hon. Gentleman to favourably consider that this money that is coming from Ireland shall be struck out of this Bill; if not, I am sure that my hon. Friends around me will give this proposal every opposition.


The hon. Members have attacked the Government from a very peculiar point of view. In their opinion there is very great distress in the west of Ireland—distress which ought to be relieved by a vote of this House. [Mr. W. REDMOND: Not only in our opinion, but in everyone's opinion.] And very naturally and properly they have brought the subject before the House on several occasions. The matter has been fully discussed, and my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary has expressed the views of the Government with regard to it, and given the reasons why we are unable to accept the views of hon. Members below the Gangway and deal with the question in the manner they desire. Now, on this ground they oppose this Bill, which is a proposal to spend a certain stun of money, a large one I admit, not in beautifying London, but in providing public buildings which are urgently required for the proper conduct of the public services of the State, especially in departments in which hon. Members have at least as much interest as we have. With regard to the War Office, the Admiralty, and South Kensington Museum, they are of as great consequence to Ireland as they are to us; and there are a very large number of Irish in London, who will certainly be employed in the progress of the works. I take it that this is a matter urgently required for the public service for the proper conduct of the business of the Department to which it relates. Why do hon. Members for Irish constituencies oppose this Vote? They seem to imagine that this proposal to spend £2,500,000 on public buildings in London will interfere with certain grants for Ireland. I can assure them it will do nothing of the kind. We have never refused to deal with the distress in Ireland on the ground that we had no means—never.


Will the right hon. Gentleman excuse me for saying I have repeatedly asked for necessary relief works to be instituted, and I have always been told there were no funds?


Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to tell him that when I asked the Secretary of State for Ireland to extend the industrial school system in Ireland he told me he had no funds?


Of course, that is the fact. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland has not a bottomless purse at his disposal in these matters. He has no purse whatever. But if Her Majesty's Government, upon the advice of my right hon. Friend, consider that a certain policy was essential to the necessities of Ireland, the Government being satisfied that the policy of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary was a right one, the expenditure necessary to carry it out would be obtained from this House. Therefore the hon. Members have no right to urge these views against the expenditure proposed by this Bill. If this Bill were not brought forward at all, and if this money was not spent in these building operations, there would be no idea on the part of the Government of spending a single penny more in Ireland than they are doing at the present moment. The hon. Member who last sat down referred to some extension which may be required in the public buildings of Dublin. That matter has not been brought before me, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I have some knowledge of the public buildings of Dublin, and the expenditure during the last 20 years in the improvement and extension of the Science and Art buildings, I do not think, gives him any real cause for complaint. It may be that more is required, and if it is I shall be just as ready to meet them in that matter as I am in meeting this matter in London. I think it is quite right that provision should be made for the proper arrangement of science and art museums for Dublin for the education and improvement of the people, but I cannot consider that question until it comes before me. At the present moment we have before us the question of new buildings for the College of Science in Dublin, and the difficulty with regard to that is whether the College shall remain, as it is now, under the control of the Science and Art Department in London, or whether it shall be set up afresh under some independent Department in Ireland. I think that is a question which everybody will allow deserves the very fullest consideration. I hope and trust that hon. Members, having expressed their opinion on this matter, as they have every right to do, will be willing, without much further delay, to allow the Committee to come to a conclusion upon the Amendment.


I merely rise for the purpose of explaining in one word to the hon. Member for West Ham why no notice of Amendment on this Bill appeared in my name. I was not aware that this Bill was to be taken in Committee to-day, and when I became aware of it the time was so short that no notice of Amendment was given by me. The hon. Gentleman will allow me, without the slightest desire to be offensive to him, to say that the speech by which the Amendment was opposed is the characteristic kind of English speech which Irish Members feel to be so offensive in this House. The hon. Gentleman seemed to say the Irish Members had no right to refer to the position of their country when matters of this kind were under discussion. He said, as a new Member, he was tired of the reiteration of the Irish Members in this House. He is a new Member; I have for 15 years in this House represented Irish constituencies, and I can assure him that we cannot get anything for our country except by reiterating again and again and again that which, we consider the country desires. The right hon. Gentleman says this money should be expended because it would be beneficial to the Irish people in London. I say, if he has any concessions to give to the Irishmen they will be only nominal. The Irish people ought not to be called upon to spend a farthing on any such works so long as there is admitted distress, as there is, in their own country. What we object to is that this money is being spent at a time when there is such suffering in Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman says that even if this money were not spent on public buildings no more would be spent in Ireland, and that may be, but if it were not to be spent the Irish people would not be called upon to pay such an amount of money at a time of enormous distress in their country. The hon. Member says the views of the Irish Members are on this subject somewhat exaggerated, but he knows there cannot be the slightest doubt as to the distress there is now in Ireland, and that adds to the pain which I feel on occasions such as this in asking for something to relieve that distress. When an English Member gets up and says he has not much information about Irish distress, that may be an objection to giving relief, but if he had that information which I possess before him he would, I am sure, be quite in favour of doing something to relieve us, but because he is without information he will do nothing to mitigate the sufferings of the Irish people. I put the question in this way: Suppose he demanded from his constituents, as we have done, or suppose there existed in and near his constituency anything like the absolutely stark distress that exists in Ireland, would he hesitate about coming to this House and taking every opportunity which presented itself of pressing upon the Government of the day the claims of his constituents? Of course he would not, but he finds fault with us for so doing because he represents a well-fed London constituency, whilst we represent constituencies where there is actual and enormous distress. I say, I will press my Amendment to a Division, and I also inform the House that I would not have troubled them with the observations that I have made had it not been for the uncalled for lecture which the hon. Member for West Ham read to the Irish Members for bringing this question up.

DR. G. B. CLARK (Caithness)

The Amendment moved by my hon. Friend is in the interest of the Irish taxpayer, but if that Amendment is carried the only result will be that the money will go in reduction of the National Debt, and the Irish taxpayer will not be benefited in the slightest degree by the carrying of the Motion. So much for the argument used by the hon. Member for the relief of the Irish taxpayer. Now we have had a very amusing discussion, and one can see now what may be called the "plan of campaign" the Irish Members are going to carry out. We have it on this side of the House, and on the other we have it from the right hon. Member from the University of Dublin, whom, I regret, I do not see in his place. I am not going to say anything upon the subject of Irish distress. I think Irish Members are quite right in endeavouring to urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to do something for them; but as regards the plan of campaign, which, so far as it is possible, they are going to carry out, I think it is unjustified by the facts. What I would suggest to the right hon. and learned Member for the Dublin University is, that he would read the Estimates, and I do not think, if he did, that he would ever make such a speech as he did to-night. Everything Ireland has asked for she has got. The hon. Gentleman says Ireland pays too much, but she does so by drinking too much whisky.


The hon. Member is getting rather wide of the subject-matter.


I quite agree, Sir. Now, we are asked to reduce this grant for the purpose of giving other grants to Ireland. The first thing the hon. Gentleman wants is technical education, and we are told there is a college of science and art which you are going to further extend. There is another thing they want in. Ireland—a new college building—and you are asked to spend money for that. Now, not a single penny has been granted to Scotland for such a purpose. We have to pay for whatever buildings we put up, and you have no right to ask us to pay the cost of our buildings and also to pay a portion of theirs. If the hon. Gentle man had taken the trouble to read the Estimates he would have discovered that education is more endowed in Ireland than it is in England. We have a dozen Votes for Ireland to one for anywhere else. We vote model farms, and we vote teachers of agriculture £1,200 for 50 agricultural—


I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to go into particulars, though he is entitled to state his general objections to the grant.


I do not object to this grant. I think it is a very good thing that the money is to be spent now. We have not spent it on the Fleet, and I prefer that the money should be spent in this way than in reducing the National Debt. I was only replying to the arguments brought forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, that this money should not be spent in erecting public buildings in London but should be spent by another Bill, for certain purposes in Ireland. There are other purposes for which you vote money for Ireland annually, and there are still others for which you vote money for England and Ireland, but never for Scotland. I protest against the plan of campaign which is being adopted by the hon. Members who represent Ireland in this House.

DR. C. K. D. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I rise to make a very few observations. I am in perfect accord with my hon. Friend the Member for West Clare, and I think the alternative plan which he has pointed out with regard to this Vote, that, instead of this money being spent upon public buildings at a time when there is such great distress in Ireland, the money should be devoted to the alleviation of that distress, is a plan which is worthy of

the greatest consideration. I could not help rising in support of my hon. Friend in this matter, having regard to the dire distress which prevails among my own constituents. If hon. Members on both sides of the House knew that these unfortunate people are absolutely dying of starvation, they would, I am sure, agree with me, not that money should be taken from this particular Vote, but that money should be provided by some means from somewhere or other for the purpose of relieving the distress and alleviating the sufferings of the Irish people. I hope my hon. Friend will go to a Division, and that on every opportunity we will voice the claim of our constituencies, who help to pay the money in taxes, which go to raising those buildings. In doing so I think we are only doing our duty, and endeavouring to relieve and mitigate the sufferings of the people of Ireland.

The Committee divided—Ayes 294; Noes 31.

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)
Aird, John Bethell, Commander Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wor.)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry
Allen, Wm. (Newc.-under-L.) Bill, Charles Charrington, Spencer
Arnold, Alfred Billson, Alfred Clark Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)
Arrol, Sir William Blundell Colonel Henry Clarke, Sir Ed. (Plymouth)
Atherley-Jones, L. Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middx.) Coddington, Sir William
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Ln.) Coghill, Douglas Harry
Bagot, Captain J. FitzRoy Brassey, Albert Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse
Bailey, James (Walworth) Broadhurst, Henry Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready
Baillie, Jas. E. B. (Inverness) Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Colston, Chas. Ed. H. Athole
Baird, John George Alexander Brookfield, A. Montagu Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)
Balcarres, Lord Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Cornwallis, F. Stanley W.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Grld W. (Leeds) Buchanan Thomas Ryburn Cotton-Jodrell, Col. Edw. T. D.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. J. B. (Clackm.) Bullard, Sir Harry Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H.
Banbury, Frederick George Burns, John Cox, Robert
Barlow, John Emmott Burt, Thomas Cripps, Charles Alfred
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Buxton, Sydney Charles Crombie, John William
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Caldwell, James Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj. Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson- Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton)
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bris'l) Causton, Richard Knight Cruddas, William Donaldson
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Cavendish R. F. (N. Lancs.) Cubitt, Hon. Henry
Beckett, Ernest William Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.) Curzon, Rt. Hn. G. N. (Lanc S. W.)
Begg, Ferlinand Faithful Cawley, Frederick Curzon, Viscount (Bucks.)
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh
Dalkeith, Earl of Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J'n H. Priestley, Sir W. Overend (Edin.)
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Kenrick, William Pryce-Jones, Edward
Davies, M. Vaughan (Card'gn) Kenyon, James Purvis, Robert
Denny, Colonel Knowles, Lees Rankin, James
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Lafone, Alfred Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lambert, George Renshaw, Charles Bine
Doughty, George Laurie, Lieut.-General Richardson, J. (Durham)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lawrence, Sir Edwin (C'rn'wl) Richardson, Sir Thos. (Hartl'p'l)
Doxford, William Theodore Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverp'l) Rickett, J. Compton
Drage, Geoffrey Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir Matthew W.
Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. T'ms'n
Dunn, Sir William Legh, Hn. Thomas W. (Lanc.) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Ellis, Thos. Edw. (Merionethsh.) Leng, Sir John Rothschild, Baron F. James de
Evershed, Sydney Llewellyn, Evan H. (Somerset) Royds, Clement Molyneux
Fardell, Sir T. George Llewelyn Sir Dillwyn (Sw'nsea) Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chelt'n'm)
Fenwick, Charles Lloyd-George, David Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith) Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Rutherford, John
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Man.) Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Finch, George H. Logan, John William Savory, Sir Joseph
Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesh'm) Schwann, Charles E.
Fisher, William Hayes Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Liverp'l) Seton-Karr, Henry
FitzGerald, Sir R. U. Penrose Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Sharpe, William Edward T.
Fletcher, Sir Henry Lowe, Francis William Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Foster Colonel (Lancaster) Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Foster, Harry S. (Suffolk) Loyd, Archie Kirkman Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfars.)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Lucas-Shadwell, William Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Fry, Lewis Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Smith, James Parker (L'n'rks.)
Galloway, William Johnson Macartney, W. G. Ellison Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Garfit, William Macdona, John Cumming Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Gibbons, J. Lloyd Maclean, James Mackenzie Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)
Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (S. Albans) Maclure, Sir John William Stevenson, Francis S.
Giles, Charles Tyrrell M'Arthur, William (Cornw'll) Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Tag'rt
Goddard, Daniel Ford M'Ewan, William Stirling-Maxwell, Sir Jno. M.
Gold, Charles M'Kenna, Reginald Stone, Sir Benjamin
Goldsworthy, Major-General M'Killop, James Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Maddison, Fred Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Malcolm, Ian Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Ox. Uni.)
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Marks, Henry Hananel Tennant, Harold John
Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir Herb. E. Thorburn, Walter
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Mellor, Rt. Hn. J. W. (Yorks.) Tritton, Charles Ernest
Greille, Captain Melville, Beresford Valentine Valentia, Viscount
Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Gull, Sir Cameron Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Haldane, Richard Burdon Milward, Colonel Victor Warkworth, Lord
Halsey, Thomas Frederick Monckton, Edward Philip Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord Geo. Monk, Charles James Warr, Augustus Frederick
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm. Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Wayman, Thomas
Hanson Sir Reginald Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)
Hayne, Rt. Hn. Chas. Seale- More, Robert Jasper Webster, Sir R. E. (Isle of W.)
Hazell, Walter Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carm'rth'n) Wedderburn, Sir William
Heath, James Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose) Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord Arthur (Dn.) Morrell, George Herbert Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Hill, Rt. Hn. A. Staveley (Staffs) Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptf'rd) Wharton, Rt. Hn. Jno. Lloyd
Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Mount, William George Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Holden, Sir Angus Mowbray Rt. Hon. Sir John Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Holland, Hn. Lionel Raleigh Muntz, Philip A. Williams, John Carv'l (Notts.)
Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Grhm (Bute) Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)
Howell, William Tudor Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry) Willox, Sir John Archibald
Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle Myers, William Henry Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
Hozier, Mr. James Henry Cecil Newdigate, Francis Alexander Wilson, John (Govan)
Hudson, George Bickersteth Nicholson, William Graham Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks)
Hughes, Colonel Edwin Nicol, Donald Ninian Wodehouse, Edm. R. (Bath)
Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Northcote, Hn. Sir H. Stafford Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. Lawies Nussey, Thomas Willans Woodall, William
Jacoby, James Alfred Oldroyd, Mark Woods, Samuel
Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Owen, Thomas Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Ed. Paulton, James Mellor Wvlie, Alexander
Johnston, William (Belfast) Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Joicey, Sir James Pender, James Yoxall, James Henry
Jones, David Brynmor (Swn'sea) Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Powell, Sir Francis Sharp TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U. Price, Robert John Sir William Walrond and
Kemp, George Priestley, Briggs (Yorks.) Mr. Anstruther.
Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Connor, James (W'kl'w, W.)
Carew, James Lawrence Flynn, James Christopher O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Crilly, Daniel Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H. O'Kelly, James
Curran, Thos. B. (Donegal) Hogan, James Francis O'Malley, William
Macaleese, Daniel Redmond, John E. (Waterfd.)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) M'Ghee, Richard Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Daly, James M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.) Tanner, Charles Kearns
Davitt, Michael M'Hugh, Patrick A. (Leitrim) Young, Samuel
Doogan, P. C. Molloy, Bernard Charles
Engledew, Charles John O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Esmonde, Sir Thomas O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Mr. William Redmond and
Farrell, James P. (Cavan, W.) O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Mr. Dillon.

Resolution agreed to.

*MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

An Amendment I desire to propose is to leave out the words "£550,000." I do so to call attention to a point that was briefly touched upon in the previous Debate. I understood from the First Commissioner of Works that the Westminster site was to include only one side of Delahay Street. I desire to point out that that arrangement is likely in the long run to be not only most inconvenient but most costly to the country. I should like for a moment to draw the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to this matter from the purely financial point of view. My right hon. Friend the First Commissioner of Works went so far as to say that it would involve the outlay of an additional million of money if the alternative scheme were carried out. Of course, I conclude that when the First Commissioner spoke of a million he included the cost of the buildings covering a larger ground than now contemplated. On the ground of economy alone I should like to suggest the plan of the Government acquiring the site—not necessarily pulling the houses down and commencing building, but at any rate obtaining control of the site rather than to carry out the idea sketched out by them in the discussion the other day, namely—to acquire only the smaller area at first and to so lay out the new buildings as to admit of their eventual extension up to St. James's Park. Now, Sir, I do earnestly hope my right hon. Friend, instead of dealing with the question in a piecemeal fashion, will face the whole matter at the present time. The buildings on that site are of a very inferior character. As a matter of fact, I had occasion to be there recently, and I noticed that several houses had been removed, and that there are vacant spaces at the present time. It stands to reason that if that site could be acquired now it could be procured to the country at a very much less cost than must inevitably be involved if the matter is delayed a considerable time, and a scheme is formed for acquiring the site, perhaps by speculators, who may force it on the country on terms more acceptable to themselves than advantageous to the country. I have another suggestion to make, which likewise tends in the direction of true economy, and that is that the Government should seriously consider the question of the Post Office buildings in St. Martin's-le-Grand. I think it stands to reason that as the existing site has proved itself unsuitable to the purpose of extension, and the Government have given up the idea of extending the Post Office buildings in the neighbourhood of the existing site, and have had to seek refuge in another part of London for the extensions they require, it is high time to consider the whole question of the Government buildings in the City, with a view to their being sold at the very high values which prevail in that locality, by which means a large profit might accrue to the State. I, therefore, move as an Amendment to omit the words £550,000.


I can hardly understand why my right hon. Friend has moved his Amendment. He does not want to reduce the proposed expenditure; on the contrary, he desires very largely to increase it. My right hon. Friend suggests that in addition to the large site which we now own up to Delahay Street, including this side, we should obtain the houses between Delahay Street and St. James's Park. It would be a very expensive matter, but the Government will give it their fullest consideration.


Under these circumstances I withdraw the Amendment. I am quite ready to accept my right hon. Friend's assurance.

Amendment by leave withdrawn.

MR. THOMAS LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said he thought the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer should have an opportunity of explaining why the new method of finance which had been adopted in this case had been fixed upon. The Government, as he understood it—and he hoped he understood it rightly—proposed to take £2,550,000, or a larger sum, out of the surplus of this year, and place it at the disposal of the First Commissioner of Works. At first this seemed a convenient proceeding, and a friend of his who was discussing it with him said this would save the purchase of Consols with the surplus as soon as the Auditor General had ascertained what the surplus was. But he found, on looking at subsection 2 of this clause, that the Commissioner of Works himself would have to invest this money until he required it for the purpose set out in the schedule of the Bill. Now, this was an entirely new method of finance. He thought, himself, that the principle adopted in the Naval Works Bill and other Loan Bills should have been adopted. That principle was that, when the rough amount was sanctioned by the House, the moneys necessary to carry out the work from time to time—every three months, six months, or 12 months, as the case might be—should be drawn out of the Consolidated Fund. That seemed to be convenient, because it avoided opening another account. But they were now adopting a new principle. Under this Bill an account was to be opened for the very large sum of £2,550,000 by the First Commissioner of Works, and not only was the interest to accumulate for an indefinite period, but he was authorised to sell sites and buildings, and thus a great deal more money might come into his hands. The interest alone would amount to something like £80,000 a year, and this would be stretched over a good many years, so that a very large account would be opened. It seemed to him to be an entirely new principle, and while he did not like at once to say that he was against the adoption of the principle, he certainly thought before such an important step was taken in the finances of the country that they ought to have some explanation from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to why that principle had been adopted before the Committee sanctioned it. It opened another account, rendering it hard to see how the accounts stood, and he therefore thought, if it were possible, they should avoid opening two accounts.

MR. T. C. T. WARNER (Stafford, Lichfield)

May I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in answering that question, what objection there is to the money being left to the management of the Treasury to keep it until it is required, or to invest it in paying off temporary loans or something of the kind, as it would when large sums of money are invested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Taken in the ordinary way, I do not think it is a separate account. It does seem to me, therefore, that this separate account complicates the whole matter, and it is not only complicated, but it is also a new process which mystifies the public and makes the expenditure of next year appear very different from what it really is. It would be better if it is shown at once how much is wanted this year and how much is wanted next. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer could see his way to retain the money in his own hands, and give it out year by year, so that the statement would show what money was going to be drawn out each year, it would be very much easier to understand the accounts.


I would point out that the money has to be invested under the direction of the Treasury. Under the Naval Works Act and the Military Works Act the sums devoted to the purpose of naval and military works are left in the balances at the Exchequer. It is impossible to tell beforehand how long it will take to expend those sums. It depends on the progress of the works. The result has been largely to increase the balances of the Exchequer—on which the Treasury receive no interest—to a point far beyond the ordinary amount, which is neither economical to the country nor satisfactory from a financial point of view. Therefore, having to deal with this additional sum of £2,250,000, I think it better to open a separate account in which it can be placed, so that, pending the expenditure of the money, the country may be richer by the interest accruing, and the balances of the Exchequer will not be augmented. So far as the control of the Treasury is concerned, it is entire. In either case, no money can be taken out of the fund for expenditure by the First Commissioner of Works except by permission of the Treasury. Further, the second clause of the Bill provides that the money shall be devoted to the purpose stated in the schedule, and the account audited in the usual manner by the Auditor General, and presented from time to time, so that Parliament will be as completely acquainted with what is done as if the money remains in the Exchequer.

MR. H. BROADHUEST (Leicester)

I will not enter into any of the questions just mentioned by my hon. Friend, but I am anxious to have some assurances from the First Commissioner of Works as to whether adequate means will be taken to see that we get our money's worth after the works are let out in the contracts. Now, that has not always been so with Governments, any more than it has been with private individuals, but in the case of Governments, I think I have seen more evasion of specifications and conditions than I have in any case of private undertaking. Now, the first question I want to address to the First Commissioner of Works is, whether good care will be taken in the selection of the stone of which this building is to be made up; and, whether it will be a grit stone, or whether it will be a lime stone. I should like to have an assurance, before any preliminary contracts are made, that the material shall be produced within the United Kingdom, and that the execution of the work itself—the stone work—shall be done within the London boundaries. There are good reasons for these questions. At the present moment thousands of pounds of British taxpayers' money have been expended in a foreign country to dress the granite for British docks—namely, at Devonport. I do not believe that the First Commissioner will be guilty of any such blunder as that of consenting to allow contracts to be carried out in foreign countries while British workmen are standing idly by watching foreign work brought in here, and when, moreover, they could do it much better and cheaper, and obtain better material at home. Now, if the Portland quarry should be selected as the place from which the material shall come, I hope that not only will it be closely scrutinised on its arrival in London, but that the Government will for once make a new departure—and I think it would be a very wise and economical departure—in the shape of seeing that no blocks are despatched from those quarries for use in the Government work until the inspector has put the broad arrow, or some other mark, on that material to show that it is of the right quality. Now I can assure the First Commissioner of Works that I am speaking of a matter with which I am perfectly well acquainted, and where I have seen the money of the British taxpayers most improperly misapplied for the want of more supervision and inspection. If you allow the contractor—I was thinking that you had a contractor there—to import whatever material he thinks proper, and once he gets that material on the wharf and near the building, it is exceedingly difficult to find a clerk of the works with sufficient backbone in him to refuse such material, because such refusal would mean bankruptcy to the contractor. I sincerely trust that the First Commissioner will make a new departure in that respect. May I make a further suggestion?—this is a technical matter, and it is important that we should have correct information upon it. If I remember aright, when the Foreign, the Colonial, and the India Offices were in course of erection there, was only one, or two at the most, clerk of the works engaged in the interests of the Government to watch the construction of those great buildings. Now I worked on those buildings for nearly two years, and I know exactly what took place in an enormous number of instances. Now I am not going to entertain the Committee by the exposure of trade secrets, although it is to the best interests of trades unionism that they should be exposed, but it is sufficient for me to say that if the Government had had six clerks of works on that enormous block of buildings when they were being erected, concurrently, there would not have been one too many to keep an eye on the depredations of the contractors, the sub-contractors, and the men engaged in piecework under the subcontractors. On buildings of that kind it is impossible for any one man to exercise any approximate and effective supervision or control over the quality of the work, or of the material used for the execution of the detailed parts of the work. Now, may I go for a moment to the Law Courts? The right hon. Gentleman, who was First Commissioner of Works in the Parliament of 1886, admitted in this House that there were grave defects in the structural arrangements, and safety of some parts of the roofing of the new Law Courts, in which so many valuable Members associated with the work of this House are often confined. I have trembled for the safety of my right hon. Friend below me, and many other learned Members in this House, when I imagine that one day or other the world may be robbed of some of its brightest ornaments because of the incapable and negligent manner in which the Government supervised the construction of that great building. With regard to that I have this to say, and I say it without fear of contradiction, that there were thousands of tons of materials used in the construction of that building which never ought to have been used, which at the time had been condemned, and which were shovelled, and ultimately got into position. The consequence was that very grave defects were found in that building. The First Commissioner of Works will remember this, for he was a Member of this House, and was engaged as a Member of the Government at that time, and he will remember how careless was the Government of that day in this instance. This is not a fault of a Tory or Liberal Government in particular, but it is a question of the ignorance of Governments generally as to the best means of letting public contracts. On that occasion the contract was let to a man, and for a price for which it could not possibly be executed according to the specification and in a workmanlike manner. The consequence was the erection of a building with condemned material, and the utter bankruptcy of the contractor before he had concluded his work in connection with, that building. Now, I want that to be avoided in the future. I want the Government to give an assurance that they will be most careful in the future in the selection of the contractor who is to execute the work, and, above all, let there be some reality and seriousness in the conditions inserted in all invitations to contract that you do not bind yourselves to accept the lowest, or any tender. Well, now I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some assurance on these points. Now with regard to the clerk of works. May I suggest that he should consult on all the points I have raised—and I am perfectly willing to abide by the advice given by this gentleman upon the suggestions I have made—Sir John Taylor, one of the distinguished gentlemen who serve in the office over which the right hon. Gentleman presides, and a more trusty, capable, faithful, and more valuable public servant there is not in the Civil Service of this country; for he possesses such wonderful knowledge and such fairness of mind, that I am perfectly willing to accept any advice or decision that he may come to in these matters. And now, Sir, may I ask one other assurance in connection with these clerks of works? First let there be sufficient of them. I do not mean each one having complete authority to reject or to condemn structural defects, but let there be one chief, and let there be two or three subordinates; let each of these be instructed to call the attention of the chief presiding over the whole building, who has the official authority to approve or condemn either the material or the quality of the workmanship being executed. There is still another point with regard to clerks of works. Now, my next point is rather a personal matter, and I make no reflection upon any clerk of works with whom I am acquainted; but, in their own interests, in order that they may be above suspicion of collusion or connivance in the execution of the works, I do wish the right hon. Gentleman would insert in the agreement a clause that under no circumstances shall a clerk of works accept the man service of any person in the employ of the contractor. I have known as many as two men constantly in attendance personally upon a clerk of works, men who are in the employment of the contractor, and whose wages are regularly paid by the contractor. Now if there is one man to clean his boots, and another to brush his clothes, how is it possible for that clerk of works to exercise an independent judgment as to the quality of the material and the workmanship? If clerks of works need personal attendance of this kind, let us pay them a sufficient, wage to enable them to provide it for themselves. At any rate I do hope that he will insist upon there being no connection whatever of any kind between the clerk of works and those in the employ of the contractors in these great new Government buildings. Now I am entirely in favour of this Bill, and I am not going to move any reductions. I would agree to even a larger sum, so long as we can have some assurance that we shall not in the past as in the future—[laughter]—I was striving to think of the name of the stone of which this House is built for a special reason, hence this slip. I mean that in the future we should have better value for our money than we have had in the past. If the right hon. Gentleman could tell the Committee that he was going to have these buildings done in grit stone or if he was going to have them in Church Auston stone, of which this House is built, which does not require one-tenth of the supervision, because you cannot what is commonly called "thick it up," like you can limestone. Here everything is on the face and no man can cheat you. In limestone you can be cheated, unless you are an expert, and cheated while you are looking at it perfectly easily. Now, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not receive these criticisms, or look upon them in any unfriendly spirit whatever, because it is in the best interests of himself and his department, in the interests of the public, and in the interests of the taxpayers, that they shall have their work done with the material bargained for, and in the best workmanlike manner.


I desire to draw the attention of this Committee to a matter raised by the third subsection of this clause. I know it is a difficult point to rule upon, and I am well aware that our financial system, which has been established by successive Acts of Parliament, has been too often widely departed from. This sub-section proposes a departure from our system, and affords a remarkable instance of what I may call financial profligacy. The financial system of this country is established by Acts of Parliament. Everybody knows what it is when there is a surplus; it only means a miscalculation; that either more has been received than was expected through the taxes having been levied too high, or the expenditure has not been so high as was anticipated. It is a miscalculation, and provision in the financial system of this country has been made for dealing with such miscalculations. That provision is this: that in case a surplus in the receipts over expenditure should arise, that surplus should be used for the redemption of the National Debt. Well, now, Sir, £2,000,000 and over has been taken away from the Surplus in the way of Supplementary Estimates, and it is now proposed to take a further £2,550,000 from its proper destination, making altogether £4,550,000. Now this £4,550,000, if the Acts of Parliament now in force had been adhered to, would have gone to the diminution of the National Debt, but it is proposed by this sub-section that instead of being so applied, in conformity with the Acts of Parliament, it should be dealt with differently, and it is to be taken away and held up by the Treasury in a sort of suspense account, to be invested as provided by the sub-section. The outcome of it is to be this, that instead of being applied to the diminution of the National Debt, as it should be, it is to be held up and partly applied for these buildings, and the balance not required is to be spent as the Treasury may think fit. Well, now, Sir, I am afraid it is a hopeless task to protest, against these proceedings, but I cannot allow this subsection to pass without once more raisins; my voice on behalf of the financial system as laid down and embodied in Acts of Parliament. I have received a little encouragement to do it because I observe that the system of interception which I have too often denounced has, in this year for the first time been abandoned, in the case of the Irish Local Government Bill, and I flatter myself that the arguments I have used, and the protests I have made, have had some effect upon the stony mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But, whether or not this protest of mine is to have any effect, I do feel bound to make it. Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has indeed, I think in the Committee on this Bill, tried to justify the course of diverting his £4,550,000 from the redemption of the National Debt, by this argument, which is the only one used. He says:— Were I to take this £4,550,000 and buy Consols, the price is so high, being something between £111 and £112, that I should make a bad bargain for the country. Now, first of all let me remark that if that is to be a conclusive argument, it may be an argument for ever against carrying out the financial system of the country. There is every probability, I think, of Consols remaining high, because artificial methods are in existence whereby the Savings Bank enters into the market with a limited supply of Consols which positively raises the fire against itself. It is unwise to buy enormous quantities of this limited stock, but we cannot escape from the liability to buy them. Well, I believe they will continue to be artificially high, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer's argument is good and is accepted by this House, we are committed to this for ever until Consols fall below par; and year after year, when you have a surplus, you will be reduced to this device of disobeying Acts of Parliament and asking Parliament pro tanto to repeal it, and not apply the money to the purposes laid down by the Acts. Sir, I must say that I think this method of dealing with the surplus, so large as it is—a surplus itself being a miscalculation—really means to add misapplication to miscalculation. It would be much better that there should be no surplus at all, and then the accounts of the year would speak for themselves, but on this method of dealing with the surplus there is, I submit, a very serious departure of the financial system, and even from the Acts of Parliament of the country, and I would call the attention of the Committee to this fact, that this very Sinking Fund Act of 1875, which is still left in existence, is not dealt with as it should be dealt with. I submit that this sub-section 3 does not treat this Act of Parliament with that respect which it should receive. It does not repeal that Act, it only partially repeals it for this particular purpose in respect of these particular surpluses, and that, I think, is an extremely objectionable method of dealing with Acts of Parliament. When it suits you, you are to let the Act work, and when it does not suit you, you are to repeal it as far as it suits your purpose. That policy is very much open to question and to severe criticism. The infraction of our financial system, and the infraction of Acts of Paliament which have constituted that system, are made obvious by this sub-section. I do trust that the House will realise what is in this sub-section, because it is proposing to make a very serious and important infraction upon the financial system of this country. I have no hope of producing much impression upon the mind of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but I hope that these few simple words at some future date will prevent him from misapplying some future surplus.


Mr. Lowther, my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester has referred to a number of interesting matters, but he seems to have forgotten that we have survived the stone age and reverted to that of bricks. One of the items of expenditure is for the completion of the new Admiralty buildings. I would like to ask the First Commissioner of Works whether the plans for that completion are already prepared, and, if so, whether they are of the same style, elevation, and material as the building recently erected near the Mall. If they are to be in harmony with that building, then they cannot be in harmony with the other buildings about to be erected. It is assumed, and I suppose correctly, that they are to be of stone, but if the frontage of the Admiralty building in Whitehall is to be of brick and stone, then it will be utterly out of keeping with the rest of the buildings on the west side of Parliament Street, and when we come down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square we shall have buildings which for some years will be ruddy red, but which in the course of time will collect soot, and will be dark and dim, and utterly unworthy of the position in which they are to be placed. On a former occasion the right hon. Gentleman said that we were not to judge the building to be erected in Whitehall from that already built. I hope that is so. I hope that the frontage in Whitehall will have more dignity, and will not be so mean and so insignificant as that facing in the other direction. I hold, Sir, that State buildings ought to have some stateliness. That has not been kept in view in recent years, and, notwithstanding the criticisms in which some artists recently indulged in connection with remarks made in this House, I do hold that four-fifths or five-sixths of all who pass by these buildings would condemn the modern style of New Scotland Yard and the new Admiralty extension. I think there is no use in disputing on matters of taste. That certainly is the opinion which I have formed, and which men who have spoken to me on the subject also expressed. But I think, after the mixture of brick and stone and the particular style which has been indulged in, there will be common agreement that the large sum of money now about to be spent should be spent in a manner that will give some evidence of the purposes for which the buildings are to be used, and that the buildings themselves should be in dignity and proportion equal to the buildings in the neighbourhood in which they are to be placed. For myself I have great confidence in the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works, and would rather support him in the line which I believe he is inclined to take than otherwise. That is the reason why I have made these observations.


Mr. Lowther, I will not detain the Committee for more than a couple of minutes, but I should like to ask the First Commissioner of Works a few questions. With reference to item 25 he says that that is the estimated cost. I should like to know if these estimates have been made up, and if tenders have been supplied for the various buildings it is proposed to erect. I should also prefer seeing the amount payable for the site and the amount payable for the buildings divided instead of being lumped together. I just merely wish to refer to another point. I entirely endorse the remarks of the hon. Member for Dundee. Coming across the Horse Guards Parade I have condemned that building ever since it was erected. The new Admiralty is the most unsightly building in London, and I hope the First Commissioner will not employ the architect of that building for the new buildings. Why, he could not have the brain of an oyster, or he would not have erected for the Government of this country, on such a splendid site, such a hideous and unsightly building as this combination of stone and brick. I sincerely hope that the First Commissioner of Works will not allow such a hideous building to be put up in London again.


The hon. Member for Leicester has made an appeal that we should be careful in the selection of the stone to be employed in the new building. It is the intention of the Government to employ Portland stone, as we believe that is the most suitable for our purpose. We shall take the greatest possible care that this stone is properly selected, and we shall, also take care to carry out the suggestion made, in the most friendly spirit, by the hon. Member for Leicester, that a sufficient number of clerks of works shall be employed. As I was able to tell the House last night, we have concluded an arrangement with Sir John Taylor, who has already rendered great services to the State, to remain for a further period and supervise the carrying out of these buildings. That he will be in charge of them will satisfy the hon. Member for Leicester that the work will be properly carried out. The hon. Member for Dundee asked me whether the now plans for the Admiralty extension had been prepared. No plans have yet been adopted. He alluded to the new Admiralty building facing Whitehall. It is the old Admiralty building which is in Whitehall. The new building faces the Horse Guards Parade. With regard to the question of architecture, I agree that the style adopted in New Scotland Yard would not be suitable for the new buildings, which will be erected in Whitehall. Severe strictures have been passed on the architects of the Admiralty extension, but I must say that the House ought to remember the circumstances under which those plans were adopted. Plans for the joint Admiralty and War Office of 1884 were adopted after public competition. The architects who won the competition were employed; but their designs were eventually rejected by a Committee of the House of Commons, and they were instructed in lieu thereof to prepare plans for a building to match the then existing Admiralty. Under these circumstances I think it ought to be said that they had a very difficult task to perform, and we ought not to blame them entirely for the very unfortunate production which has been the result. I have now answered the questions which have been asked, and, as we are most anxious to get the Pill to-night, perhaps the Committee will allow the clause to pass.


The right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question regarding the estimated cost.


No estimates have yet been got out, as we were not in a position to do so until we had the sanction of the House for the employment of this sum of money. The estimate is a rough estimate based on the building area, and, of course, not a careful estimate such as we would employ if we were asking for tenders. The estimate is, however, I am quite certain, an outside estimate, and has been carefully prepared so far as a rough estimate can be prepared.

MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether the statement made by the hon. Member for King's Lynn that the money which is taken is taken contrary to law is correct?


No, Sir; certainly not. Anyone who heard the explanation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer just now will not agree with the suggestion made by the hon. Member for King's Lynn. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been listening to the Debate the whole of the afternoon, but was called out of the House while the hon. Member for King's Lynn was speaking, or he would at once have replied.


It is just on this point that we have a strong objection on this, side of the House. We object to sub-section 3 because of the very serious innovation it proposes. What the hon. Member for King's Lynn has said is perfectly true. It is introducing a new system, which enables the Government to carry out something contrary to law. This is the provision we object to, and, as we cannot move to leave out this sub-section now, I propose to vote against the whole clause, as a protest against this innovation. Instead of putting the money into the Consolidated Fund, and paying it out year by year as required, they keep it in a general account.

On the Question "That Clause 2 stand part of the Bill,"


Mr. Lowther, I am very sorry the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here. The matter I wish to mention is important. I handed in a rather formidable Amendment, which I do not wish to press if the right hon. Gentleman accepts its spirit. It is with regard to the contracts to be given under the Bill. We have never had a money Bill without requiring that a most careful account should be presented to this House, and without requiring that that account should show the total amount of money to be spent and the amount of money voted to each head in the schedule. An excellent model of the account we ought to have is given in the Naval Works Bill, passed in 1896. The form used in this Bill is just the same as in the Naval Works Bill, except that the three heads of account in the latter Bill are omitted. Now I want to suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that these three heads of account should be given in this Bill. They provide (1) that the aggregate amount of money expended for any purpose under the Act should be shown, and the purpose for which the money has been expended, distinguishing the expenditure under each of the heads mentioned in the schedule; (2) the aggregate amount of money borrowed, and the sums, on occasions I would say, standing at interest, in order to provide for the peculiarities of the Act: we are about to hand over about three millions to the First Commissioner of Works, and the accounts should show how much money is standing at interest; (3) the balance, if any, unexpended. They are taken from the Naval Works Bill, and they are exactly in the same form in the Military Works Bill. We have never had money granted before in the way proposed in this Bill, and I certainly think the old form to which we are accustomed should be included in this Bill also, as otherwise it is impossible to see what money has been expended and what balance remains. If the right hon. Gentleman will consent to the spirit of these remarks, perhaps I need not move the Amendment.


I cannot make any promise in the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There is no intention of keeping Parliament in the dark as to what we are doing, and I know that the Chancellor of the Exchequer shares the view that the fullest account should be given. Perhaps the hon. Member will accept my assurance that the fullest information shall be given to Parliament of the way in which the money will be spent, and of the amounts standing under the various heads mentioned by the hon. Member.

[The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER having re-entered the House—]


Perhaps the Chancellor of the Exchequer would kindly consider the point. As I understand it, there is really no difference in principle between us. The right hon. Gentleman says he will give every information practically in the same form as it is given in the Naval Works Bill. That is information showing the total amount of money expended and the amount under each of the heads in the schedule, the amount standing, at interest, and the amount of money unexpended. Those are the three heads mentioned in the Naval Works Bill and the Military Works Bill, and if I understand from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that those particulars will be given it will not be necessary for me to press the matter.


That is my intention.

Clause 2 was agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

On the Schedule,

MR. J. H. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

In moving the reduction of the amount allocated for the purposes of the building at South Kensington from £800,000 to £700,000, I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do not grudge South Kensington a single penny. I fully endorse everything that has been said this afternoon with regard to the necessity for this expenditure at South Kensington. The present condition of the buildings and the collection there is a disgrace to the nation, and I am glad that this disgrace is soon to be removed. My object in formally moving this reduction is to draw attention to the method in which these grants for buildings for educational purposes are distributed, and especially to draw the attention of the Government and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—whom I am glad to see in his place—to the fact that in Wales we have no provision similar to that which exists in Scotland and Ireland for museum purposes. The question has been raised in the House before, and Members of the Government have approached the matter, I am bound to say, in a very sympathetic spirit; but so far nothing has been done in the direction I have indicated. I might quote an expression of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself during the Debate on my Amendment to the Queen's Speech—an expression in which he fully recognised the exceptional position we in Wales occupy in some respects, and stated that the Government were considering to what extent they would meet our requirements. The request we make is a very small one and a very modest one. The right hon. Gentleman knows that we have now a system of education which is our own—intermediate and University education. We require as a corollary to that system the erection of museums and art galleries. A few years ago, when Ireland attained a system of intermediate education, buildings were erected for these purposes almost without asking. A splendid building was erected in Ireland for that purpose. I say we do not begrudge any expenditure for that purpose in Ireland, and that whatever further expenditure may be necessary for the purpose of education in Ireland, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated this afternoon in an accommodating spirit, will be met. What we ask is that, in Wales we should have a, storehouse for our national art treasures, and that our system of intermediate and university education should receive its necessary complement by the erection of a museum. We have been doing our best to help ourselves in regard to this mutter—I do not mean to say help ourselves out of the British Treasury, but to help ourselves in regard to the completion of our educational system. Great efforts and great sacrifices have been made in Wales, and I venture to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, who has expressed his sympathy with us on more than one occasion, to do us justice in this regard. I do not propose to take up any more of the time of this House on this question. The only difficulty that has been raised so far has been, as I understand, the want of a capital in Wales. We only ask the Government to deal with us as the Government of 1880 dealt with us when a similar question was raised with regard to our University colleges. If the right hon. Gentleman will take into serious consideration the question of making the grant, we, on our part, will undertake to provide him with all that he requires in regard to the conditions I have referred to. A grant was made first in 1882, the site of the colleges was selected afterwards, and through making it in that way a great stimulus was given to public liberality. As I stated at the commencement, I do not really attack this Vote in any shape or form, but anyone who takes an interest in education must rejoice that at last provision is being made in South Kensington for the educational needs of the country, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman in making this large provision at South Kensington, and in making great provisions for public buildings elsewhere in London, will not forget that there is a small country which receives absolutely nothing from the British Treasury, whose system of education requires for its completion an expenditure of what to the Treasury would be a very small amount, but what would be to us a very great benefit.


We are only anxious that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should give a little more money for Wales. Hon. Members may be aware of the fact that when I had the honour of passing the Secondary Education Bill for Wales through this House we were all delighted to see the zeal shewn for education in the Principality. We now in England are pining for an educational system as good as they have in Wales, to fill up the gap between our schools and the Universities. We do not begrudge Wales her schools. Sir, I rise to say one or two words in regard to this Vote at South Kensington of £800,000. For a long period of years this space has been a standing disgrace in the midst of London. South Kensington has been called the Brompton Boilers, and it is marvellous that for the last fifty years Englishmen could have stood such a disgraceful state of affairs. This huge collection has been valued over and over again at two millions of money, and I think the time has at last arrived when Parliament should grant the educational demand of South Kensington. We should have a clear indication from the Government that some scheme is on foot for the proper housing of the collection. As hon. Members are aware, this collection is scattered on the east side and the west side of Exhibition Road, and what I am anxious to know is whether the First Commissioner and his colleagues have fairly thought out a design whereby they will secure the proper housing, not only of the Art Section, but of all these educational exhibits at South Kensington. I should like to hear from my right hon. Friend if any scheme has been considered, which shall secure that this shall be an educational success. There is one word I wish to impress upon my right hon. Friend. We shall require a handsome building, at a high price, no doubt, in which to house this splendid collection of works of art—a collection which is constantly extending for the good of the education in our midst, and which is of enormous value—and, considering the miserable climate of this smoky city, it is very essential that we should have a good top light for the exhibits. It is of immense importance, too, that the collection should not be crowded, and those who go to look at them, for instance, on a dark November afternoon, should be able to see them. This, I venture to say, is a practical suggestion. I hope my right hon. Friend will be able to assure us that, if this has not been done, he will see to it in the future, either by some Departmental Committee, or by a consultation with the vice-presidents. I hope that he will look into the matter, and see that the building is not only worthy of the Metropolis, but one which will be of substantial use and educational benefit to the great masses of our working classes.

MR. H. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

We are all anxious that these buildings should be enlarged, and I would make a suggestion, whereby the collec- tions would be well housed, and whereby this Vote would also be reduced. There is a building in the neighbourhood called the Imperial Institute. Now, Sir, I should imagine that that Imperial Institute could be very cheaply acquired, for it seems to me to be a "white elephant." I observe that the Colonies have entirely declined to subscribe towards the building, which is now probably used as a species of music hall. Nobody has yet understood what the object of the Imperial Institute was. I hesitated, I confess, to subscribe to it at the commencement, and I am bound to say that I did not subscribe, and I do not contemplate subscribing, any sum of money for the building; but I feel for those who have subscribed, and it seems to me we would benefit ourselves, and at the same time give them a little trifle in return for what they have laid out. I suggest the propriety of the right hon. Gentleman entering into some sort of communication with the leading members of the Imperial Institute—I do not know who they are—and asking whether they might not be almost inclined to give it as a gift. In any case we ought to get it for about £20,000. I believe it has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. It would cease to make the Colonies ridiculous if this plan were adopted—I am talking of the Imperial Institute as a music hall—and we should ourselves obtain a fine building where we could house a great many of those objects of art with sufficient dignity and sufficient space to meet all that the hon. Gentleman opposite requires.


I have great sympathy with what has been urged by the hon. Member for Flint with regard to a further sum for purposes of science and art in Wales, and I am glad to find, that though he spoke very strongly in favour of such a grant, he did not really oppose the Vote of £800,000. Though we strongly sympathise with his views, the Government cannot do as he wishes. In regard to South Kensington, it is the intention of the Government to deal only with the eastern side of Exhibition Road. It was last year decided to remove the official residences, which were a source of danger from fire, and those residences have been removed; the temporary buildings have also been removed, and thus we have more space at our disposal. It has also been decided to erect the new buildings on the eastern side of Exhibition Road, which, in the opinion of the Government, will be sufficient to house not only the art collections, but such of the science divisions as are now found in the existing buildings on the west side of the road. The hon. Member for West Ham asked me with regard to the plans. Well, Sir, the particular allocation must, in our opinion, be largely in the hands of the Science and Art Department. It is proposed that a Departmental Committee should be appointed to deal with the allocation. We are assured that there is ample accommodation for both the art and science collections on the eastern side of the road, using, of course, the galleries of the Imperial Institute, which are leased. An hon. Gentleman has asked me whether the vacant space is to be sold. No, Sir, it is not the intention to sell it; or at present come to any decision with regard to its future. The buildings will first be erected, and it will be for the Government at some future date to decide whether the land is to be sold or not. I do not think any other question has arisen on the Schedule, and I trust the House will allow the Schedule to be passed and the Bill to be proceeded with.


Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my question with regard to the Imperial Institute?


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I quite forgot his question. I understand the owners of the Imperial Institute are not willing to dispose of that building; but even if they were, I am not at all certain that we are in a position to purchase the building. At all events, they are not willing sellers, and it is not the intention of the Government to ask Parliament to give them powers of compulsory purchase.


Mr. Speaker, as the right hon. Gentleman has given me such a sympathetic reply, it is quite unnecessary for me to press the matter further. I beg to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn, and Schedule agreed to.

Bill passed through Committee without Amendments.