HC Deb 18 April 1899 vol 69 cc1496-536

Motion made, and Question proposed — That in the opinion of this House the national expenditure is excessive, and is capable of reduction without compromising the safety or legitimate influence of the country abroad, or the efficiency of its home administration." —(Mr. Buchanan.)

* MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

Mr. Speaker, the Motion which appears in my name on the Paper has been reached at a somewhat unexpected time. The opportunity for this Motion being presented shortly after the Budget statement is, however, in some respects, an advantage. It enables me to spare the House a good many figures which I should otherwise give, because I am enabled to adopt the figures given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer while they are fresh in the recollection of the House. Now, who is responsible for the enormous increase of national expenditure? Who is to blame for it? Is the present scale of expenditure to be looked upon as a permanent one? Can nothing be done to decrease it? These are some of the questions which I desire to offer to the House for consideration. On Thursday last the right honourable Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that in the course of the last four years the expenditure of the country had increased by £19,000,000, an average increase of more than £4,000,000 per annum. He told us that the increase this year over last year was £6,000,000; that the year before there was an increase of £5,000,000; and that the year before that there was an increase of £4,000,000 so that not only have we this enormous increase in the expenditure during the past year, but a continuous rate of increase during the last four years. The right honourable Gentleman also gave us, in round figures, the aggregate expenditure for the year, namely, £120,000,000, which figure I, of course, adopt. I may take it that in the four years to which I desire to limit my remarks, the expenditure has increased from £100,000,000 to £120,000,000. Now, the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot be blamed for being reticent or silent with regard to the great increase of expenditure either this year or preceding years; for I think there is no Budget he has brought forward, from his first four years ago, in which he has not laid emphasis on the fact that the expenditure, or a very large part of the expenditure, was rapidly increasing, arriving, as I have said, at this result, that for every£500 that we were spending four years ago we are now spending£G00, the total aggregate expenditure for the year being no less than£120,000,000. I do not think it is possible to exaggerate these astounding figures, and I shall leave them to the consideration of the House, as they were given in the remarkable speech delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week. Now, Sir, what are the main branches of expenditure? If honourable Members look at the Statistical Abstract, they will find that the great branches of expenditure are divided as follows: —Service of the National Debt, naval and military expenditure, Civil Service Expenditure, Expenditure out of the Local Taxation revenue, and another item which I shall mention presently, namely naval and other loans. Well, I shall not, of course, on this occasion say much about the expenditure for the service of the Debt; that will be discussed on another occasion. But that is the only large branch of public expenditure in which there has not been an increase, but in which, as we know from last Thursday's speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, there is to be a decrease. Like many other honourable Members who spoke last Thursday, I regretted very much to hear the proposals of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is not, I think, a fact which will redound to the credit of the Government that the only matter in which they have attempted retrenchment during the four very prosperous years they have been in office, when surpluses' have been rolling in one after the other, has been in the redemption of the Debt. Now, Sir, I should like, in speaking of the subject of debt, to allude just for a moment to the last item of expenditure, namely the expenditure from loans, that is to say, from loans which are defrayed out of terminable annuities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made an interesting statement upon the figures of the past and current years; but if honourable Members look, as no doubt many of them have, at the Statistical Abstract, they will find that down to 1889 the expenditure under this head is an absolute blank. It was in 1889, when the Imperial Defence Act came into operation, that we first find an expenditure under this particular head. It was a comparatively small sum for the first few years, but in recent years, and particularly in the last three years, it has gone up in an astounding degree. In the year ending March, 1898, the total amount spent under this head was £2,750,000, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that the amount for the year just ended will be about£3,750,000. With regard to the future we have had a statement from the First Lord of the Admiralty that there will be an expenditure of £1,500,000 under the Naval Works Act, and there will probably be a further sum of £500,000 for military works. We have been told by the Secretary for War that there is to be a new Loan Bill introduced by the Government for barracks and other military works for a sum of£5,000,000. With regard to the other large branches of expenditure I wish, first, very briefly to give the figures under the various heads, and then make a few observations on each. As to the Navy, we have had an increased expenditure during the last four years of at least£7,000,000. The increase on the Army is£2,500,000; on the Civil Service about£2,750,000, and the increase in the same period in the payments out of the Local Taxation Fund amounts to about£3,000,000. On this subject I should like to go a little farther back than the four years to which I have hitherto confined myself. Of course, the House is well aware that payments into that account do not embrace the whole of the Imperial payments for local purposes. There are sums amounting to about£3,250,000 contained in the Estimates which are also grants from Imperial sources in aid of local expenditure. So far as I have observed that has been a constant quantity, at any rate, during the last four years, and, in fact, since the Local Taxation Fund was established. This fund was established some nine years ago by the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1890 the amount paid to the fund was just£5,000,000; it now amounts to over£10,000,000; that is to say in that period of ten years it has exactly doubled. The£5,000,000 increased when the Party opposite were in power between 1889 and 1892 to£7,250,000; it remained stationary when the late Government was in office, and then, when the present Government came into office, the£7,250,000 increased until, in the course of four years, it reaches over£10,000,000. Our Army expenditure has increased by£2,500,000, our Civil Service expenditure by£2,750,000, and our Local Taxation Fund by£3,000,000. Now, Sir, there is no doubt that for the bulk of the large increase in the expenditure on the Navy the Government can fairly claim that they have obtained a very large amount of support both in this House and in the country. If blame is to be attached to anybody it must be shared by most of the Members of this House, as the credit must be shared generally by the people at large. With regard to Naval expenditure there is this to be said in its favour, that, speaking generally, we have obtained value for our money. We have obtained value for our money in the sense that we have the consciousness of greater security at home and in the belief entertained among our possible rivals abroad of our preponderating naval power in the world. Now, Sir, these are undoubtedly substantial advantages, and I wish to fully recognise the fact that in taking the course the Government have they have undoubtedly obtained very general public support. It is, however, a remarkable fact that not only is the increase in naval expenditure by far the largest item that we have to consider, but the rate of increase has been the most rapid. The danger appears to be that the more we increase our Navy the larger the additions that seem to be needed. I remember three years ago in the Budget Speech of 1896 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking of the Navy Estimates, said that he was sanguine that the next year would show a decrease. Well, the hope has undoubtedly been disappointed. Only last year the First Lord of the Admiralty made a statement to the effect that he hoped that another year it would not be necessary to increase the Navy. That hope has also been disappointed. There are, of course, individuals inside and outside this House who are constantly clamouring, and will continue constantly to clamour, for indefinitely increasing our naval expenditure. Surely, however, we are now in such a position as regards our rivals that we can afford to take our own line in regard to naval defence and future naval construction. We have shown what ships we can build, and how much faster we can build them than anyone else. We have shown that we have no difficulty compared with other nations in getting men; that our standard of efficiency is much higher than other countries; that our fleet is much better and readier for immediate use than those of other countries; and, having got this start, surely it is within our power to keep it. I must demur to the practice of the First Lord of the Admiralty of coming down late in the Session and saying that the Department hear that a certain Power is going to build so many more cruisers or battleships, and that, therefore, he must have more money for a like purpose. Such a line is not a true basis for naval defence. It is certain to be an irritating policy, and it often proceeds upon uncertain information. Now, it has often been quoted in discussions in this House and outside that Mr. Cobden expressed himself willing to spend£100,000,000 in order to secure our supremacy at sea, and in that I entirely agree with him; but it is generally forgotten that Cobden I think in the very same year in which he made that statement, strongly opposed the constant rivalry by which, if France, for instance, added three new ships to her fleet, we must add four to ours. Surely, in view of the present condition of Europe, and the fact that we are going to enter into the International Peace Conference at the Hague, which we all look forward to produce some satisfactory results, it is eminently desirable that we should not in increasing our Navy proclaim that we do so in competition with any single Power, or any pair of Powers. Now, the right honourable Baronet has an Amendment on the Paper with regard to the Navy, and therefore I do not propose to go further into that question, but I venture to think that the views which I have endeavoured, to give utterance to this evening are those which are very widely held in this House, namely, that whilst we are prepared in the future, as well as in the past, to maintain our naval supremacy, we believe that it should be maintained not in a system of competitive building with other powers, but on general consideration of what is from year by year necessary for our defence. Now, Sir, whilst public opinion is, I believe, substantially in favour of maintaining our naval strength as our great source of national defence, I do not think there is the same unanimity with regard to the increased expenditure on our Army. The honourable and gallant Gentleman the Member for Shropshire has put an Amendment on the subject of the Army, and he was kind enough to tell me of it last night. Well, I suppose we are all in favour of maintaining the Army in adequate strength and efficiency, but the point is as to what interpretation to put upon the word "adequate." Well, Sir, I shall endeavour to say a few words upon this increase of £2,500,000 which has occurred in the course of the past few years in the expenditure upon the Army. Of course, part of it is due to the increased pay and other advantages to our soldiers, of which we, I suppose, generally approve, and part of it is also due to the ever-increasing cost of armaments; but there is a considerable amount of expenditure which is not due to either of these causes. I do not profess to speak with any authority, but there is a pretty general opinion that in Army expenditure we do not get our money's worth. Everyone knows that our total military expenditure stands at a very high figure. But apart from that there are questions connected with the cause of this increase in our Army expenditure to which I should like to allude, and with regard to which, I am sure, there are differences of opinion in this House. I, for one, certainly do not think this great increase has been justified. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, both this year and last year, when he selected the particular items out which have caused the greatest increase of expenditure,. he mentioned the Navy, the Army, Africa, education, and Local Taxation grants. Now, the increased expenditure on Africa is largely, almost exclusively, military expenditure. Africa has been mentioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as one of his financial troubles, and now we have an expenditure essentially military going on in North, South, East, and West Africa. Opinions will differ, I dare say, as to the policy in connection with the whole of that expenditure. I wish to look at it from a financial point of view, and I will, if the House will allow me, give two or three figures. With regard to South Africa, in the Army Estimates of this year we find that there are in Cape Town and Natal in South Africa, 9,300 men at a cost of £709,000: whilst four years ago we had only 3,600 men there at a cost of £282,000. That is to say that there has been an increase of considerably more than double the number of men, and very nearly three times the amount of the expenditure in this instance within the last four years. It may be said that this increase in our garrison in South Africa is only temporary. Well, I wish it were; but so far as we have evidence to show it goes in the other direction. This is by no means the amount of money which is used for military purposes in South Africa, for we are having there a large and increasing expenditure for the purpose of building permanent barracks and other permanent works. I think that shows that this increase of our Army there is intended to be permanent, and that the increase of our armed forces in Africa is intended to be a reversal of the policy of Lord Cardwell as regards our military relations to our Colonies. I think we should go in the direction of withdrawing Imperial troops as far as possible from these Colonies and making them responsible for their own defence. That is by no means all that the Army Estimates contain with regard to military expenditure in Africa, for we are now raising Native regiments in West and East Africa, In British Central Africa the War Office is raising a regiment, and the Foreign Office also have troops in British East Africa and Uganda. The Colonial Office is also raising an Army of its own in West Africa, for which a large portion of the money is to be provided by the British taxpayers. Then, again, most of our grants in aid are continually increasing from year to year in the Colonies, particularly in West Africa. Some of these are for general purposes, but most of them are for police and military purposes, and in reply to a question by my honourable Friend the Member for Rushcliffe a few weeks ago the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that during the year just past the military expenditure in East Africa alone amounted to a million of money. I will give the House just one other figure illustrating this matter. Most of these charges are contained in Votes which are well known to Members of this House, namely, Votes 2 and 3 of class 5 of the Civil Service Estimates. Now, what has been the history of these Votes during the past four years? When the present Government came into office in the year 1896 the average normal amount of these two Votes came to about £236,000. In 1897–98 they ran up to £637,000, last year to over £1,000,000, and in the present year the total comes to £877,000, with the probability of large Supplementary Estimates. But do not let the House imagine that this will be the total expenditure for the year, because it is more remarkable in these Votes than in any other that invariably there are two sets of Supplementary Estimates, and they are generally much larger than the original Estimates. I think we shall be very fortunate indeed if in the present year these two Votes amount to less than £1,500,000. This is an enormous increase in our expenditure, and forms a considerable portion of the total increase in the Civil Service Estimates. Before I go away from this subject I should like to say that there is a very considerable amount of money being spent upon our West African and West Indian Colonies in order to promote the Colonial Secretary's scheme for the development of our Colonies by "improving our estates." No doubt, that sounds a very attractive proposal on the part of the Colonial Secretary, who is very astute in dealing with the objects he has in view, and he gets this House to commit itself in the month of August, perhaps, to some small Vote, and then he turns round and says, "You have sanctioned this initial expenditure, and you must not be surprised if I ask for more money." It is a very old argument, but it is no substantial argument at all. It may be a good argument that the Members of this House are not vigilant enough upon all occasions to take objection to the introduction of any initial or new expenditure that may be laid before the House; but so far as the Members of this House and the pub- lic outside are concerned it is absurd to allege that if in the early initial stages objections have not been taken to large schemes such as the Colonial Secretary's policy, we are pledged, and that the country is pledged, to proceed with it. For my own part, I think it is a policy which will in all probability not tend to be beneficial to this country, and it is a policy which, I hope, the successors of Her Majesty's Government, when they have the opportunity, will take steps to reverse. The Colonial Secretary has not been a very economical person in his administration, and many of us who were in the last Parliament know that he estimates legislation by its money value. On several occasions he found fault with the late Government and their administration, because he said that nobody by such legislation would be "a penny the better." I may say, however, that by the administration of the Colonial Secretary we are a great many pennies the worse. I should like to point to one or two other items of expenditure —namely, that dealing with aids to local taxation, and to show how we are in this respect very many millions of money the worse owing to the legislation of the present Government. Of course, the three great Measures of the Government which I allude to are the Voluntary Schools Act, the Agricultural Rating Act, and the Irish Local Government Act. Now, what have they cost the country, not merely for the present year, but for all years to come? The Voluntary Schools Act cost £635,000 a year; the Agricultural Rating Act £1,750,000 a year; and the Irish Local Government Act £750,000 a year. Now, what have been the objects of this legislation? Can they really be said to have been a response to a national demand, and have they been legislation for the purpose of general national utility? I do not believe that anyone can say that they have been. The Voluntary Schools grant is a grant given in support, not so much of the improvement of national education as in support of a certain, class of sectarian schools, and that class who are interested in those schools are those who were the main supporters of Her Majesty's Government at the last election. It is not only a sectarian, but an electioneering grant, and I think we find that when the interests of education come into conflict with the interests of the Voluntary schools it is easy to see, from what happened last night, which is likely to go to the wall. This principle prevails in the Voluntary schools grant, and this £635,000 is not a grant for this year alone, but it is to be paid for all years to come. The Agricultural Rating Act provides 1¾ millions a year, which is given to aid a certain class of ratepayers in this country. That money is not given as part of a general scheme of rating or financial reform, but it is given to a class of ratepayers in this country who largely supported Her Majesty's Government at the last election. With regard to the Irish Local Government Act, what are we to say about the £750,000 which is to be paid now and henceforth for the working of that Act, which is a larger sum than was proposed to be given to the Home Rule Parliament of Ireland? This sum was given out of the Imperial taxation undoubtedly to induce the Irish landlord supporters of Her Majesty's Government to accept that Act. I do not know whether, seeing the results of the first election under that Act, the landlords might not think that they ought to have asked for a little more money. That is the object with which this money was given, and I say that all these cases which I have cited show that the objects of this legislation have not been general national objects, but they have been class and sectarian objects and they have been brought forward in discharge, if I may say so, of electoral debts contracted largely by the Government of 1895. It may be said, however, that the country is very rich, and does not feel this heavy expenditure. We have heard quite' recently from the Chancellor of the Exchequer a warning on that subject. For he told us that not merely this year, but in previous years, the expenditure of the country is increasing, not merely at a greater rate than our population, but even at a much greater rate than our revenue and wealth. It only needs common observation to see that with these circumstances before us we are pretty sure to have, as we have had in the past, in our industrial prosperity, ebbs as well as flows. This expenditure will have to be met not merely in times of prosperity, but also in times of adversity. I believe that when the nation in times of trade depression or stagnation has to pay the increased taxes or the new taxes necessary to meet these various kinds of expenditure incurred within the past four years it will by no means bless the conduct of those who were the authors of the legislation that entailed these extra expenses. There is an argument often used by speakers in defending the Government policy, that this increased expenditure after all is mainly for the purposes of defence, and mainly in aid of a strong Navy, and that the majority of the country has supported the Government in that policy, and that there is nothing more to be said. Granting that the present Government had known and were conscious of the large increases of naval expenditure which were coming upon them, surely as prudent financiers it would only have been wise of them not to have saddled the country, if they could have avoided it, with such additional expenditure as I have alluded to, which is also of a permanent character. The Chancellor of the Exchequer warned us of this danger, not merely last Thursday, but also on previous occasions, for in the year 1896, in his Budget speech, after referring to the enormous expenditure which we had patiently borne, he told us: I wish to put before the Committee the present condition of our financial system. I wish to ask them to consider at their leisure what the position may be of a Chancellor of the Exchequer who, in some future year, may have to meet a continuous and enormous increase of expenditure under this system of taxation; and I wish to ask them whether they are quite sure that, in such circumstances, our present financial policy can be maintained? I do not answer that question to-night, but I should have failed in my duty if I had not done my best, in view of the increased expenditure of the present year, even in this time of prosperity, to place before the Committee what I think to be a cause of great anxiety. Well, what was true then is still more true now, and the Chancellor of the Ex- chequer has emphasised this fact by the words which he used the other night, with which I shall not detain the House by quoting. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has seen and pointed out the danger, and he has recognised that this danger applies not only to the present but to future years, and yet he has provided no substantial remedy for it beyond the present year. He takes his two millions from the Sinking Fund to satisfy him for the present year, but as for the future he leaves it to take care of itself. I do not think such a policy is quite fair to the financial interests of this country, because, after all, the right honourable Gentleman is in the position of a trustee for our financial prosperity, not merely for the present year, but for the years that are to come, and he cannot fairly throw off the responsibility upon other shoulders. I remember last year he complained, as Chancellors of the Exchequer are apt to do, of the conduct of the House of Commons. Well, I do not think he can, in regard to the items to which I have referred, lay much of the blame of those increases upon any strenuous pressure on the part of the House of Commons. We may, perhaps, not have been vigilant enough in our criticisms and in our opposition to new expenditure, but it is very easy for a Chancellor of the Exchequer to oppose any proposal in the House of Commons for increased expenditure. Now, if he had put the blame, not upon the House of Commons, but upon his colleagues, then I am bound to say he would have had a stronger case. There, again, he is the person who is responsible to us for what his colleagues do as well as himself, and he is the only protection we have inside the Cabinet against their rapacity, and if he is not able to prevent them from picking his pockets he must be the person who is responsible to us. It may be said, "What is the good of a general Resolution such as this?" Well, I know the value of abstract Resolutions that have often been discussed in this House, and the estimate which has been formed of their value is one which depends very largely upon which side of the House you are sitting. I have very little doubt that the First Lord of the Treasury could, and I daresay may have in past times made equally good speeches on one side or the other of that question. During the whole of this century Resolutions have been, from time to time, moved of a similar character to this when expenditure has very largely been on the increase. Even in the early part of the century, before the Reform Bill, very important Resolutions were moved similar to this in 1817 and 1827. There was a similar Motion moved by my right honourable Friend the Member for Monmouthshire in 1873, and there was another in 1883, and that also was brought forward within two or three days after the introduction of the Budget. It may be said that these Resolutions do no good. Sometimes, however, they do result in Committees and Commissions which have led to substantial reductions of expenditure, and sometimes this has been achieved by the action of the Government and the Ministers themselves. Anybody who has been reading, as I have been during the recent weeks, the life of Sir Robert Peel, will have seen how, throughout his political career, he was always taking up this subject and urging it upon the attention of the House and his colleagues. In the year 1828, and in 1835, 1839, 1841, and 1844, he publicly took the matter up and he accomplished great results by his work. In 1841, in a letter he wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I should like to read to the House, he wrote: Pray consider the following suggestion. Let us employ in downright earnest the services we have a right to command from the British Treasury. The bulk of the expenditure to which I have alluded is, no doubt, due to the policy and the legislation with which the Government have identified themselves during the last four years, for which they are responsible, and for which when the election comes round they will have to stand or fall, and which the country will have to declare its opinion upon. The country could easily have borne all the expenses necessary for the purposes of naval defence. It is because of the extra expense that has been put upon the country in this time of exceptional prosperity for African and Colonial speculative enterprises, and for objects which are not objects of general national utility, but are sectarian and class objects; it is because the Government during the past four years have added to the permanent expenditure of the country for these purposes a sum of no less than five millions of money that I think we are justified in making and pressing this Resolution. There is no doubt that these increases in our expenditure are attracting attention in the country more and more, and will do so even to a greater extent as the pressure is felt by the taxpayer. I am very conscious of the imperfect way in which I have raised this subject and the unconscionable amount of time I have taken, but I feel that the discussion of this question in the House of Commons is demanded in the interests of the country and is called for by a large section of the people outside this House. That has led me to make this Motion, and I trust that this discussion will in the end lead to useful results. I beg leave to move my Resolution.

* MR. SOUTTAR (Dumfriesshire)

In rising to second the Motion which my honourable Friend has brought forward, I note the Party tone which he imparted into some of his utterances. Of course, I understand his points and arguments in that regard, but, for myself, I feel that the broad question of retrenchment is not altogether a Party question. I should wish that it were a Party question. Before I came into this House I had the impression that if Liberalism meant anything it meant a reduction of expenditure, it meant retrenchment. But I am afraid that my opinion has been somewhat altered, because of my experience here. At the same time, also, I would like to say that I do not altogether blame the Government for the bloated expenditure. I do not know how it may have been with regard to other Governments, but in connection with this one I have seen enough to realise that the Govern- ment would be very often economical if it could be economical, and that expenditure is very largely the result of pushing on the part of Members. And with regard to that also I have to say that our own side of the House is not free from blame. We have, unfortunately, Liberal Jingoes as well as Conservative Jingoes, and wherever there is Jingoism I can see increased expenditure. At the same time the question is a very serious one. The expenditure of this country has risen to a tremendous pitch. Now, this question has been discussed before at various times, when the expenditure was nothing at all compared with what it is to-day. In 1850 Cobden made a speech advocating retrenchment. At that time the expenditure was £55,000,000. In 1873 the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth made a speech advocating retrenchment, and at that time the expenditure had risen to £78,000,000. Now, in 1899, the expenditure of the country has risen to £112,000,000 per annum. The worst of it is that nobody seems to care; at least, very few seem to care what the expenditure of the country is. Some honourable Members devote their energies to criticising the Estimates on Friday nights, but they do not make their speeches in the hope of reducing these Estimates. That is a task beyond their powers. They criticise them in order to air their grievances, which is justifiable, and, possibly, to prevent jobbery. That also is justifiable. They do it sometimes, I am afraid, to prevent legislation; and that is not so justifiable. A good many of them do it in order to run up Divisions. I remember one Friday night, I do not know what was the subject of discussion, when there were 19 Divisions. I would not have minded that, but, unfortunately, I was not present to share in those Divisions. There are very cogent reasons why we should care for the expenditure of the country. The revenue is not booming as it used to do. At times, when the revenue is elastic and going up and up we would not mind so much the increase of expenditure. But the last Budget rather showed that the revenue is not so elastic as it was, and the consequence is that taxation has been increased. The very highest authority in this House on financial questions once said that "no Government was worthy of the name unless in times of peace it could remit taxation." In the second place, we have seen a tampering with the Sinking Fund. I do not use the word "tampering" in an offensive sense, but I do not know any other word to employ. The enormous increase in expenditure is specially alarming when we realise the source from which the money is drawn. I have heard many discussions in this House on the incidence of taxation. Taxation on property is generally resisted by many honourable Members, but I wonder if honourable Members realise that there is no taxation that is not levied on the work of the toilers of the country. There is no money that is spent by the Government that is not the result of the sweat of the brow of the working people. There is not any other source of wealth but the work of the working men. The estates of honourable Members would be perfectly valueless if the ground was not tilled: our coal mines would be valueless if we had not the men digging the coal. Of what use would our factories be if we had not spinners and those who worked at the loom. Take any kind of wealth you like, and trace it back to its origin, and you will find it in the toiling multitude. That is the reason why we should be so careful lest we should increase too much the expenditure of the nation. Honourable Members of Parliament forget these things. As a general rule we are pretty well to do, and we do not think much about increased expenditure, because many of our friends are interested in increased expenditure —I do not mean in an offensive way. We have friends in the Army, and in the Navy, and are glad that a million or two more should be spent upon them, forgetting that it is at the expense of the toilers of the country, who have to earn every penny of it. Two or three weeks ago an honourable Member made a remark which went to my heart. He spoke of the great rental of London, which he said was £20,000,000 per annum. "People say," he said, "surely you can put an extra penny on the £ without feeling it. But what if the men who pay these £20,000,000 are the men who also pay the extra penny in the £."That is precisely the case with the expenditure of the country. The men who earn every penny of the expenditure of the country are the working men. It is just so much more sweat wrung out of their brows. My honourable Friend in the course of his speech has spoken widely. I do not intend to speak widely. I shall confine my remarks to two points —the expenditure on the Army and the Navy. I am not anxious about the Civil Service expenditure. Indeed, I think that in many departments of the Civil Service it would be better if there were an increase in expenditure. I like to see plenty of money spent on education, and for law and justice, for I think these are items of productive expenditure. But as regards the Army and the Navy, the expenditure is unproductive in the ordinary sense of the term, for much of the money you spend on the Army and Navy in times of peace, roughly speaking, might as well be thrown into the sea. But the expenditure in a broader sense is unproductive, because the more you spend on the Army and Navy the more they demand should be spent upon them. Some years ago the right honourable Gentleman the Member for West Monmouth said that if you told a Government that it must defend the country for £20,000,000, the Government would find a way to do it. But because we can afford to pay £50,000,000, the Government demands that £50,000,000 should be spent. There is a very striking illustration in connection with that in Cobden's speech in 1855. Cobden at that time made a proposal of a very remarkable character. He said — There are only four ships at present in the French navy that are clad with iron, whilst we have six or seven ironclads fit for war. "Why," said he, "cannot some statesman go across to France and try to make some arrangement by which our fleets should not be increased, seeing that the proportion of four to six was just as good a proportion as 40 to 60. Now that, of course, was common sense, but no statesman went across to France, and our fleets have steadily increased until we have, as a consequence of this mad race for naval armaments, the miles of ships which we saw in the Jubilee year. This mad rush for naval armaments has ended in the practical bankruptcy of various European nations, yet the race is apparently no nearer its end. "But," it will be said, "what can you do?" Well, I would like to propose something practical before I sit down. What are the Army and Navy for? Some will say, "Oh, to defend the island." I do not believe that any military man, would get up and say that any large proportion of the Navy was needed for the defence of the island. The island can in a great measure defend itself. It is a very long time since anyone tried to invade our island, and when they did try, although they were in proportion very much more powerful than we were, they were not so successful that they were likely to try it again. It is ridiculous to talk of our inflated Navy being necessary for the defence of our island. If anyone takes the trouble to read the Debates they will see how Chancellor of the Exchequer after Chancellor of the Exchequer has come down and sat on these benches and spoken with bated breath about some danger from France. For the last fifty years that has been the song of the Chancellors of the Exchequer and the leaders of the Government, and in the name of danger from France vast sums have been demanded from the House and the country. Why, I heard "danger from France." spoken of from that bench opposite a few days ago. In the name of danger from France the great bulk of the expenditure has been heaped upon the nation. It is 800 years since the Normans tried to invade this country. Well, honourable Gentlemen may laugh, but perhaps those who laugh do not remember the date of the Norman Conquest. It is 800 years since the Norman Conquest, and it was a conquest not by Frenchmen after all, but by our cousins, and we would not, even then, have been beaten but for our forces being drunk the night before the battle. Some honourable Gentlemen say, "Oh, we need £50,000,000 for the Army and Navy for the sake of defend- ing our trade." That is just as ridiculous as to say that we need £50,000,000 for the defence of the island. If our trade was confined to one or two countries perhaps it might be attacked. But as a matter of fact our trade is so diffused all over the world that no country could really attack our trade and no fleet could defend it. The fact is, that trade is its own defence. Three-fourths of our trade is with foreign countries, and each one of these foreign countries is interested in its own particular branch of trade not being interfered with. We know that no merchant wants to quarrel with his best customer, and England is the best customer the world has. If we live peaceably and beware of aggression our trade is the most gigantic bulwark we can possibly have. Then it is said. "Oh, our Army and Navy and the expenditure on them are needed to defend the Empire." That is the great argument in these latter days. I do not hesitate to say that nine out of every ten statesmen who get up on the floor of the House would say that this enormous expenditure is for the defence of the Empire. It is time that there was a clear understanding as to what the defence of the Empire implies. I do not mean to say that India should not be defended, or that the Crown Colonies should not be defended, or that those other parts of the Empire from which we have taken the means of self-defence should not be defended. Perhaps we may look upon it as our bounden duty to make the provision absolutely necessary for the defence of the shores of these countries. But, beyond these, there is the defence of our Colonies. We defend Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Cape. If you look into the subject you will find —and military experts will agree with me —it is because we have to defend Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Cape, and not for anything in connection with the defence of our island, that our Army and Navy are inflated, and that we incur this great expenditure. It is for these that our working men are bearing their enormous burdens. I do not think that the working men of this country should be any longer called upon to bear the defence of the working men in Canada, in Australia, in New Zealand, and the Cape. Is there any moral obligation upon us which demands that we should defend our free Colonies for ever and ever? There is a moral obligation on a parent to look after his children until they are big enough to look after themselves. But our Colonies have been long ago big enough to defend themselves. Well, is there any material reason why we should defend these Colonies? Not at all. Our Colonies do not show a single spark of gratitude for what we have done for them. They protect against us as severely as any foreign country. They keep out our own workmen. I have known men go to Canada and be told that Canada was kept for the Canadians, and be forced to return to this country. It is the same in Australia. Canada and Australia will take our farm servants and our domestic servants, but, as to artisans, there is not a Colony that does not shut the door against them, not because they do not need artisans, but because the working men there have formed a clique, and want to keep the work in their own hands and to maintain a high rate of wages. I have travelled in America, and I am convinced that an English working man has more chance of getting on in the United States than in Canada or Australia. But it is said that we trade with these great Colonies. But we would trade with them just the same if they were foreign countries. If honourable Gentlemen will look at the statistics of trade they will find that our trade with the United States amounts to £140,000,000, or £20,000,000 more than the trade with all the Colonies put together. We could afford to lose the trade of every one of our Colonies rather than the trade with America. Then our trade with France amounts to £70,000,000, or more than the trade with Australia, New Zealand, and Canada; and our trade with Germany is £62,000,000, or more than our trade with Australia and New Zealand, and three times as important as our trade with Canada. If we defend the Colonies because of our trade with them, why don't we defend the United States, and Germany, and France for the sake of our trade with them? Apart from that altogether I am really convinced, as a matter of principle, that it would be infinitely better for our Colonies that they should defend themselves. Just now these Colonies are being utterly spoiled by the mother country. I read a speech the other day by an Australian Premier, who said that "England cannot spend too much on our great Empire. "What does that mean? It means" she cannot spend too much on us." I saw lately that one of the Colonies was willing to pay the expense of two ships for the Navy as long as we spent the money in the Colony itself! The fact is that the advantage at present existing between the Mother Country and the Colonies is altogether on the side of the Colonies. We no longer monopolise the trade of the Colonies or job their patronage. We get no help from the Colonies to defend our shores, but we are bound to defend them. We get no fair treatment from them for our manufactures or our workmen and there is absolutely no reciprocity between the Mother Country and these Colonies. If our Colonies want to go, I believe there is not a Member of Parliament who would suggest that a sword should be drawn to prevent them. The Colonies have been allowed to drift into an exceedingly humiliating position. A great statesman has said that "no community which is not permanently charged with its own defence is a real community, and the burdens and privileges of freedom are inseparably associated." Our Colonies have the privileges of freedom; why should they not bear the burdens? Whatever else we may say about economy, this at least is clear. The time has come when it is consistent with sound statesmanship that the Colonies should take the duty of their defence upon themselves, and thus relieve the working classes at home of a burden of expenditure which they have borne far too long a time.

Question put.

Amendment proposed — To leave out the words' in the opinion of this House,' and insert the words' while this House is anxious to provide for the maintenance of the Navy in its existing relative strength, it is of opinion that,' instead there of." —(Sir C. Dilke.)

* SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

I will not follow the Seconder of the Resolution into the researches he has made in the history of naval warfare in this county. I believe there is a plate in a famous comic history of this country which represents Julius Caesar disembarking on our shores from a penny steamer —a plate with some figures which give some colour to the view which the honourable Member has put, that on that occasion the British Army was not in a condition through a want of self-control to repulse an invasion. Possibly the honourable Gentleman may have confused the landing of the Norman forces with the landing of Julius Caesar. I will not describe the unsuccessful attempt at invasion, which the honourable Gentleman has passed over without the slightest allusion —I mean that of Napoleon Bonaparte, which some few of us at any rate believe was prevented by the existence of the British Navy. I think the honourable Member the Mover of the Resolution made a very serious contribution indeed to the history of this finance question as it has been from time to time brought before the House of Commons. If I say something by way of criticism as to want of clearness in the main portion of his speech that does not prevent me expressing my profound admiration for the last part of his speech, with much of which I concur. The honourable Member used somewhat confused language, which I vainly tried to take down, with regard to what ought to be the position of this House and the country towards the expenditure on the Fleet. He appeared to try to meet the views of those in the House who are in favour of the maintenance of what he himself called the preponderating naval power. He said that there is this to be said in favour of naval expenditure, that we get value —a statement which is, generally speaking, true of naval expenditure, and more true in regard to our naval expenditure than it is in regard to the naval expenditure of most foreign powers —but he appears to object to the standard on which that expenditure has been made. Now, that standard is not the standard of any one Government; it is the standard adopted deliberately by two Liberal Governments and by two Conservative Governments. It has therefore a backing of very high authority in its favour. I submit that if the honourable Member for East Aberdeen, while accepting the general argument of the necessity of a, preponderating naval power on our part, is going to reject the standard which successive Governments of each Party have set up, he ought to have explained what he wants to substitute for that standard. I would also point out that while the honourable Member for East Aberdeen is clear in his record on this subject. and consistent in regard to the views he has expressed here to-night as to the preponderating naval power on our part, he is not in the same position as the honourable Member for Dumfries-shire, who seconded his resolution, no doubt at his wish. That honourable Gentleman voted in the present Session for a reduction of the number of men in the Fleet —a reduction which, I think, cannot be defended by any argument which the honourable Member for Dumfriesshire addressed to the House, and which is wholly inconsistent with the speech and the opinion of the honourable Member for East Aberdeen. The honourable Member for Dumfriesshire would defend his vote because he seems to think that the British Navy exists for the benefit of the officers of the Navy, and this House votes an increased expenditure on the Navy in order to please our friends. Even his trip in Jubilee Year to see miles of ships does not seem to have changed his views on the Navy, and therefore he voted in favour of a reduction of men for the Fleet. The honourable Member for Aberdeen has told the House that he has largely based his Motion on the Resolution which was moved by Mr. Stansfeld in 1862. The terms of the two Resolutions are very nearly the same, but the honourable Member attaches no importance, apparently, to the fact that the situation in Europe, so far as naval matters are concerned, has greatly changed since 1862. We have had, for example, that reign of iron in Europe which has led to an enormous increase, not only of armaments, but in the rapidity of the preparation of armies for war which did not exist at all in 1862. The latter period was almost like Napoleonic times so far as slowness of preparation is concerned. We must remember, also, when considering the necessities of our position as a naval power, the spirit in which foreign armaments have been used, at all events in warning to this country —the Bismarckian spirit in foreign affairs. We must remember Bismarck's celebrated phrase, "In the modern European fishpond there are pike and carp, and pike eat carp." Carp means nations that are not actively prepared for a defensive war, for a tight from that point of view must be regarded as defensive. Our Fleet is not necessitated by the Colonies, but necessitated by our position and trade apart from the question of whether we possess these Colonies or not. I entirely concur that it would be immensely advantageous to this country if these Colonies should make some sacrifice for naval defence. We all agree with that, and if anything prevents our speaking out very strongly on this matter it is from fear that that would do more harm than good. When some of the Colonies are already moving in that direction, to press the matter too rapidly might retard rather than advance the cause we all have at heart. But the vast bulk of the naval preparations here is for ourselves, and for our own trade, and would be required whether we possess these Colonies or not. Another consideration which cannot be left out of sight is the extraordinary rapidity of Russian naval preparation during last year. Every slip in France on which war ships can be built, in private yards, is at this moment occupied by the Russian Government, and the ships being built there are to be complete next year. The First Lord of the Admiralty has said publicly to Russia, "You cease this rapidity of construction, and we will at once respond to your concession." I do not see how we can make a positive reduction in advance, or go beyond that declaration. May we not lay it down as a maxim on which the great bulk of the House and the country are ready to take their stand, that we are to have what the late Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable Member for West Monmouth, in defending the Spencer programme, called the predominant fleet; and what an honourable Member for East Aberdeen called the preponderating naval power. No doubt the Seconder of the Resolution would not agree to that, but if the Mover were to form an administration he would not think it would be possible for him to reduce the standard of preparation which had been agreed on by the two sides of the House of Commons. When I say "standard," I mean the relative strength that we desire the country should possess in our Fleet; that is, a Fleet in material strength equal to the Fleets of the next two Great Powers. The honourable Member for East Aberdeen, while admitting this general maxim, says we are not to clamour for indefinite increases, but that we must keep the start we have obtained. No one wants to do more, and that is the whole object of the Amendment which I have placed on the Paper and which seems to me justified by the terms of the speech of the honourable Member, and also by the want of clearness in his own mind as to what is the standard of preparation. The question before the House in the Resolution of the honourable Member for Aberdeen is this: it, has been generally felt that the expenditure of this country is now extremely great, and it has been largely admitted that in some respects it is too great for the return we obtain from it. But where can we either save or get more value for our money? Now, what are the greatest increases which have been pointed at by the honourable Member. One is the new expenditure. But another of the greatest increases is on education, on which most honourable Members will agree we do not wish to save, and on which the democracy of the country desire that more rather than less should be expended. The democracy are much more favourable to getting value for their money than to cutting down expenditure. There is some education on which some of us may think that our money is not so well spent as it might be, and if the right honourable Member for Cambridge University sat for a different constituency we might have it better spent than at the present time. Then there are the grants towards local expenditure which many of us think are extravagant grants. The money spent under the Agricultural Rating Act is, as regards some of the constituencies, positive robbery, because it has increased the charges, on the collieries and the tin-works and the properties of small freeholders and decreased those on persons who in the West of England are better off. Then we come to Africa, which my honourable Friend puts forward as being the main new expenditure. And so it is; but my honourable Friend has not been quite consistent with himself. He voted in favour of the chief Votes for that expenditure. There are some of us who have voted from the first on every Division against it, but my honourable Friend supported that expenditure on occasion after occasion. The honourable Member for Dumfriesshire was no more consistent, for he voted in favour of the £600,000 which is now being spent annually on the Uganda railway. Honourable Members are often told that they ought not to advocate expenditure unless they are prepared to pay the bill and to share the unpopularity of that expenditure when the bill comes to be paid. These are the main new expenditures, apart from the military and naval expenditure. As the honourable Member for East Aberdeen has pointed out, our war expenditure is not now only on the Army and Navy Votes; it is very largely an increasing expenditure on Africa and in the Civil Service Estimates, or an expenditure of loan money. One of the severest remarks that has been made in regard to the finance of the country at the present time is the confusion which is being produced in the public mind and belief that the expenditure is less than it is, because it is muddled up in this way between the Army and Navy Votes and the loan account. We have had an attack on the African expenditure by the Treasury itself. In the last general statement issued by the Treasury upon that expenditure it is stated — My Lords note a great increase in military expenditure in the Colonies and abroad, and they point to Egypt and South Africa as being the cause of that increase. But we have also in the Civil Service Estimates Uganda, British East Africa, West Africa, and Central Africa; and in regard to all this African expenditure, many of us entirely deny the possibility of showing that it gives any return to this country for the cost that is now going on. We do not believe that the opportunities of trade offered to this country by this gigantic expenditure will ever give any adequate return for it. The Government themselves are now hesitating with regard to this African expenditure. Probably, in the long run, the least unfertile and unproductive portion of Africa towards which their attention has been directed in recent years is the district of the Bahr-el-Ghazel; but at the present time they have not been able to make up their minds not to hand over that territory to the Congo State. Well, the Government have also reduced the payments by the Colonies for military expenditure. The repayment by the Straits Settlement was recently reduced. That, to my mind, is a step in the wrong direction. Why should we tax India for all the money spent in its military defence, and yet the rich Colonies like the Straits and Ceylon, which are Crown Colonies in the immediate neighbourhood of India, are not charged at the same rate as we charge India? I think that cannot be defended. But, on the whole, we are to consider what the cost of this enormous naval and military expenditure is, and whether there is some chance of making a saving upon it. I have a suggestion to make to the House. It is that it is far more possible that we may be able to make that saving on the Army than upon the naval expenditure. It is impossible to discuss this matter at length and be in order under this Resolution; because it would not be in order to discuss the military expenditure in India. And yet it is impossible to separate between the military expenditure at home and that in India, for it is the same Army as far as the white troops are concerned. The total expenditure for the naval and military services at home, in the Colonies, and in India in the present financial year will be, if you take the rupee at the ordinary rate of exchange, £72,000,000 sterling; or £76,000,000 sterling, taking the rupee at what the Treasury says that it is really worth when spent in India. Now, of this enormous figure we spend on the Navy £29,000,000 sterling (and if we take the whole of the expenditure for naval bases and coaling stations, we spend £31,000,000 on the Navy), as compared with £43,000,000 at one rate of exchange and £47,000,000 if we take the other rate of exchange, which we spend on the land forces and fixed defences. The answer is always made that our Army is enormously costly because we have not conscription. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the Colston Banquet, speaking with the fullest authority and knowledge on this point, answered that argument. The right honourable Gentleman said — Conscription enters into the account, but does not at all fully account, or even mainly account, for the cost of our Army as compared with foreign armies. And that is true. As regards the Fleet, in spite of the fact that conscription enters into the question, our Fleet is cheap as compared with the fleets of foreign countries, and very cheap as compared with the fleet of France. In Russia the charge for the personnel of the fleet is difficult to get at, but as regards material, our Fleet is very cheap compared with that of Russia; and as regards both personnel and material our Fleet is very cheap as compared with that of France, and that in spite of conscription entering into the account. While I should not be in order in dealing with the Army Service of the country, I would once again suggest to the House that it is on the Army that the House must fix its eye if it wishes to make any great saving in the national expenditure. We have enormously increased the Army expenditure in the last few years, but we have not increased the striking strength of the Army in those years —in fact, we have actually reduced it. The actual numbers of our Regular Army in war must be drawn from our Regular Army, Militia, and Reserve, and the total strength of these bodies has not increased between the 1st of January 1895 and the 1st of January 1899, with all the increased expenditure. The total force at home has, indeed, been greatly diminished since 1895, and yet it is from that force at home that the Army would have to be drawn in order to be sent abroad. My belief is that the safety of the country will lie on the lines of a different system for the Home Service and the Indian Service. The change might be one which would give us a shorter service, which would give us an Army at home reminding us both of the Line and Militia and of the Volunteers, but not exactly one of these —a single short-service Army instead of one based on these three complicated systems. Having discussed this matter in full detail, I am persuaded, and I know that many military officers of very high authority are persuaded also, that if this country were to tackle this problem of army reform, instead of merely moving Resolutions of reduction, there is a possibility of a very great saving of money with no loss of efficiency, as contrasted with our present system. Well, can this be done with the Navy? Can there be a reduction of the expenditure on the Navy apart from any consideration of the standard of the strength of our Navy compared with any other Powers? When the present Government came into office we were promised that there would be a joint consideration of our whole scheme of defence, and that a Committee of the Cabinet would be appointed to consider what the combined system should be. The Cabinet Committee has never really exercised the authority which we hoped it would exercise as regards watching the total defence of the country, Army and Navy together; and there has still been in the Estimates a tendency that when the Navy gets an increase of expenditure, the Army wants an increase on the old lines. The increase as regards the Navy has been very different to that on the Army; and in regard to that you can put your finger on tangible results, such as the enormous advantage of having men with longer training. The increase of expenditure has been steady and not spasmodic, since the time of the Spencer programme; it has been consistent, and, whether we like it or not, we can point to tangible results. But the increase of expenditure on the Army has been to some extent spasmodic, and not automatic; it has not been necessitated by what has been done before; there have been increases in the dark without a definite strengthening of the tangible forces of the country. And it is clear the Mover, rather than the Seconder of this Motion, must be followed by the great bulk of honourable Members in regard to the view enunciated as to the Navy. It would be a most dishonest practice if we issue pamphlets recommending candidates to the constituencies on the ground that they supported the Spencer programme and then refuse to pay the bill, and go back from the necessary result of the Policy we then approved. As regards the Army we are in a wholly different position. There we have never seen definite tangible results of the increase of expenditure; we were not parties to that increase; we never accepted it except in a most unwilling way. We were always asking for definite measures of reform, and have suggested what those measures should be. I therefore submit the Amendment which stands in my name.

* MR. ALLAN (Gateshead)

In seconding this Amendment I should like to say a few words upon some of the expressions which have fallen from the honourable Member for Dumfries-shire. It came upon me as a surprise to hear a Scotchman, of all men, say that the money spent on the Navy is as money flung into the sea. Such an expression as that, coming from a countryman of my own, savours somewhat of an absurdity. The honourable Gentleman places no value whatever upon our mercantile marine. Ships and trade, according to him, may take care of themselves. It is all very well to say that, but surely we have some duty devolving on us in regard to the matter. The honourable Member said he would like to see the money spent on education, law and justice. That is a very strange expression again, for if money is spent ran anything at all, surely it should be first applied to the defences of the country. The honourable Member also urged that we should do nothing for our Colonies. Now, Australia and New Zealand are largely peopled by my own countrymen. I believe they defend themselves. Unless I am mistaken, we have not a single red-coat in either Australia or New Zealand. They have their own volunteers, they are paying their way, and they are showing a substantial balance of revenue over expenditure almost every year. That, I think, is highly creditable for Colonies hardly 50 years old. To talk about letting them stand or fall as they like is ridiculous. They have no enemies at all, and our duty is certainly to support them until they grow stronger. There is another point I should like to dwell upon. The House must be aware that warships, nowadays, are very costly things indeed. We must keep steadily before us the fact, that at this moment we cannot build a battleship with her iron plates, engines, boilers (of a kind), and her armaments, for less than a million of money. We must also remember that these ships get obsolete, and, going down to Portsmouth, Plymouth, Devonport, and Chatham, one may see ships built 10 or 20 years ago lying in dozens, totally different in type and design, as well as in arrangement, from the vessels of to-day. This country must naturally move in line with scientific progress. It is very possible that, within the next five years, the ships built to-day will have become obsolete, and, therefore, if you intend to keep abreast of the times, it is impossible to reduce the naval expenditure. I am proud of the honourable Member for Aberdeenshire. He spoke like a grand Scotchman. He said we must have a preponderating Navy in order to ensure security at home and abroad. I remember, too, a remarkable expression at Manchester, by the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Montrose, to the effect that we must not only have a powerful Navy, but an all-powerful one. I agree with that. I was pleased to hear the proposer of this Resolution speaking about our ships in such a healthy manner, and I was very sorry indeed to hear the honourable Member for Dumfriesshire giving utterance to the ideas he did. He spoke also about a drunken Army. Well, the only instance I know of in which a drunken army won a victory was at the battle of Bannock burn. The night previous to the battle the Highlanders were served with a pretty good dose of what is commonly called whisky, and the next day they did their work well, and were not defeated. As a supporter of a strong Navy, and as one who believes that the security and the strength of this Empire rest upon the Navy, I heartily second the Amendment moved by the right honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean.


Nobody can deny that the question of the expenditure of this country is one of transcendent importance for this country and for Parliament, and therefore I should be the last to say that the Resolution is not one which, so far as the subject-matter is concerned, deserves our most earnest attention. But the very importance of the subject really militates against the utility of this discussion. In view of the enormous number of topics it embraces, the enormous number of interests it touches, the enormous number of controversies it inevitably suggests, it is perfectly impossible within the compass of an evening, or even of a dozen evenings, adequately to discuss the Motion. Even waiving such garnishments of debate as the battles of Bannockburn and Hastings, and the historical controversies arising between two honourable countrymen of my own as to the condition in which soldiers ought to be in order to safely repel the invasion of their country, consider the number of subjects which have already been raised by the four speakers who have already addressed us, all from the other side of the House. The right honourable Baronet has adumbrated his solution of the expenditure difficulty by raising not in detail, but in general outline, an enormous scheme of Army reform which would' entirely alter the mode in which the Home Army should be raised, and so radically change the mode in which the Indian Army is raised. That alone is a topic of enormous importance and complexity; and when an honourable Gentleman gets up in the House and says that the problem of expenditure, and problem of economy, is to be solved by carrying out this particular scheme of Army reform, when that scheme is of so complicated and drastic a character as the right honourable Baronet's, surely it renders the adequate discussion of that topic almost impossible within the range of an ordinary Debate. The honourable Member for Dumfriesshire started theories of taxation which alone might occupy —I will not say profitably —a considerable time, because he laid down broadly the proposition that all taxation, of whatever kind, however imposed, and whoever the nominal payer might be, fell directly upon the working classes. That is a new view.




Well, Sir, I never heard that even that view was accepted by any recognised economist. But in any case an ardent supporter of the Finance Act of the late Government ought not, I think, to destroy the great scheme put forward by the framers of that financial Measure, and ought not to explain to the country that, although nominally the taxes are put upon the rich, in reality there is only one class who pay them, and that is the class who are engaged in manual labour. The honourable. Gentleman also gave us a general view of our Policy which certainly must have been a sur- prise to the House. He told us these islands could defend themselves. Whether he meant the geological structure of the islands or the undisciplined, unpaid inhabitants of these islands, I do not know. Not content with that proposition —sufficiently startling from the military point of view —he said our commerce could defend itself. That is surely a new and startling proposition. It is perfectly true he developed that theory by saying our commerce was so useful, not only to ourselves, but to the nations with whom that commerce was carried on, that they would have every intention and desire to maintain it unimpaired. But the honourable Gentleman, however, is of opinion that it floats the seas in perfect safety. Not that he supposes aggression impossible; not that he takes the view that human nature has reached such a, pitch of perfection that no nation will attempt to prey upon any other. He does not hold that view. He thinks that every nation in the world is pacific and unaggressive except one, and that is ourselves. If we abstain from aggression, he says that no other nation will attack us. He therefore thinks aggression possible; indeed, I hold he imagines that we ourselves are the aggressors, that it is only the immoral inhabitants of this country who are capable of making any assaults on our neighbours' property and territory, and if they abstain from these illicit acts they need not have any fear that other nations will imitate their example, or that the manifold temptations offered by defenceless shores or a rich commerce will ever prove too much for the virtue of our neighbours in other lands. I have nearly come to the end of the topics raised in this Debate. Of course, it is manifest, and, indeed, it is not denied by the Mover of the Motion, that in order to consider the question of national expenditure, you must go through the items of that national expenditure. He accordingly went through them —the naval and the military expenditure, the loan expenditure, the expenditure upon Voluntary schools, the expenditure upon the Irish Local Govern- ment Act, and the expenditure upon the Agricultural Hating Bill. Is it possible that the most famished House of Commons should not be gorged by a bill of fare of that kind? Is it possible we could with advantage attempt to deal with an array of subjects such as the honourable Gentleman put before us? And if we only touch upon them as he did, just upon the surface of the subject, what advantage is gained, what lessons are learned, what profit comes to us in our future Debates? With regard to two or three of the topics, such as the Voluntary school expenditure, the Irish local government expenditure, and the agricultural rates expenditure, the honourable Gentleman repeated to us all the ordinary, commonplace platform platitudes of his Party to be found in all the leaflets which are circulated by his Friends. Of course, I could give replies to all these comments which we think satisfactory. They have often been given before, although the honourable Gentleman and his Friends have not been convinced by them. But is there any gain to this House or the country to be obtained by saying that the Irish expenditure was a dole to the landlords for their acquiescence in Irish local government, that the Voluntary schools Measure was entered into for sectarian purposes, and that the agricultural rates expenditure went as doles to the landlords? These are the current calumnies upon these three topics. I could refute them, I think, with the brevity with which I have stated them. But is it worth while, in a Debate like this, going into the relations of the Voluntary schools and our system of education, and the immense loss to that system of education and to the ratepayer which would in inevitably follow, as we think, upon the destruction of the Voluntary schools? Is it worth while pointing out to the honourable Gentleman with regard to the expenditure upon the Agricultural Rating Bill that in our view, right or wrong, the old incidence of rates upon agricultural property was very unjust, and that if that injustice was to redressed it must be redressed without cost to the other ratepayers, and we thought, taking all the circumstances of the case into account, that it was far better that that injustice should be redressed at the cost of the general exchequer? That is our view. Is it worth repeating in this Debate? And yet, if these facts are not repeated, how can we make an adequate survey of the subjects raised? Again, is it worth while reminding the honourable Gentleman with regard to the Irish expenditure that that expenditure was an integral part of the plan of giving local government to Ireland? When that plan was first sketched by me in this House, a year before it was carried into effect, with a full statement, or, at any rate, an adequate statement of the financial conditions by which it was to be accompanied, honourable Gentlemen opposite —perhaps in a momentary enthusiasm of which they have repented since —regarded it as a statesmanlike proposal.




I beg pardon; the Leaders of all sections of opinion in this House hailed the sketch of the plan with a chorus of general approval. I daresay the honourable Baronet the Member for the Cockermouth Division of Cumberland, who I think was the dissentient who interrupted me just now, objected to the plan.


I spoke against it.


I thought so. He always does object to these transactions. I say the Leaders of opinion, the Irish and English Opposition, as well as those Gentlemen who usually support the Government, were all agreed that the proposal was a good one. These are three items of Civil Service expenditure which are not of an automatic character, and having defended these briefly, what more is there to be said? There is only one thing more, and that is, perhaps, a relevant observation. If the honourable Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen and his Friends, if the Party opposite, speaking generally, object to the expenditure, it is in their power, when they next have to give as a Party their programme of the future Policy, of the country, to lay down as one of the first things they mean to do the fact that they mean to deprive the Voluntary schools of the grants, to deprive Ireland of the £700,000 a year that is given to her, and not to renew the Agricultural Rating Act. We can test the earnestness and sincerity of the Party opposite with regard to these three items of Civil Service expenditure by seeing what line they mean to pursue when it comes to their turn either to direct the affairs of the country, or, at all events, when they challenge the constituencies with a view to obtaining the direction of affairs. I think I may defer to that time any further arguments upon these subjects. There only remain the Army and the Navy. As regards the Army, all that has been said is that there has been an increase, and that we have not got a sufficient amount of national advantage out of the increase we have had to pay. I do not agree with that. I am not going into details of the Army expenditure, but I think the increase of that expenditure was absolutely necessary. I do not see how in the present state of our affairs we could go on permanently maintaining the immense disparity between the regiments at home and abroad, and I entirely deny that our action in South Africa is in any sense a reversal of what the honourable Gentleman described as Lord Cardwell's policy. I leave the Army and go to the Navy. The honourable Gentleman himself gives up the case against the Fleet. He admitted, at all events, that the House and the country were agreed that the country were right in their expenditure on the Fleet, and the only criticism which I could collect from him was that in determining the number of ships which we ought to build we ought not to have regard to the principle now so often laid down and so long acted upon of main taining our Fleet on a level with any two other Powers; but we ought, as he said, to look round to see what combina- tion might be possible against us, and frame the strength of our Fleet upon such a survey. I do not see how the standard set up by the honourable Gentleman differs from the standard which we have maintained, except for the worse. Our standard is a plain and simple one, and can always be maintained by making ourselves acquainted with the building programmes of other nations. But, Sir, the possible alliances with us or against us are necessarily fluctuating, and it is absolutely impossible for any Government to put them up as a, fixed standard. If we were to settle what combinations we might conceivably have to fear we should have to arrange from year to year an annual Budget which would enable us to deal effectually with the matter. Under these circumstances, I do not think any advantage can be gained by discussing the Army. The increases in the Civil Service expenditure are either automatic, or come under the three heads I have discussed. That being so, I confess I do not see that any great advantage will be attained by the House passing either any Resolution in favour of economy or an abstract Resolution confirming the Votes which they themselves have given in past years or this year in Committee of Supply. It would be extraordinary for the House to condemn in the gross that which it has granted in detail. Every shilling of expenditure has been submitted to it. This House has every shilling of expenditure shown to it, to which it assents before that expenditure takes place, and

it is really absurd when it has sanctioned that expenditure item by item to come down here and say it objects to the total thus obtained. I hope, therefore, the House will not think it necessary to prolong this discussion. We, of course, cannot assent either to the Resolution in its original form or in its amended form. The right honourable Baronet proposes to exclude the Navy; my honourable and gallant Friend behind me has an Amendment on the Paper to exclude the Army from the proposal. In my opinion the comedy would be complete if some honourable Gentleman would get up and propose to exclude the Civil Service. Then I think we might very properly conclude that the total expenditure of the country was, indeed, too great, but that we were not spending too much on the Army, the Navy, or the Civil Service. That would be a happy commentary on the discussion, and really I do not think any more useful result is likely to be attained.

Question put — That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.

Agreed to.

Main Question put — That, in the opinion of this House, the national expenditure is excessive, and is capable of reduction without compromising the safety or legitimate influence of the country abroad, or the efficency of its home administration." —(Mr. Buchanan.)

The House divided: —Ayes 69; Noes 133. —(Division List No. 85.)

Allison, Robert Andrew Davitt, Michael Lambert, George
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Dillon, John Langley, Batty
Baker, Sir John Donelan, Captain A. Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land)
Bayley, Thos. (Derbyshire) Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark) Leng, Sir John
Broadhurst, Henry Ellis, John Edwd. (Notts.) Leuty, Thomas Richmond
Burns, John Fenwick, Charles Lewis, John Herbert
Buxton, Sydney Charles Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir Henry Lloyd-George, David
Caldwell, James Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbt. J. Lough, Thomas
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Gourley, Sir Edward T. Macaleese, Daniel
Causton, Richard Knight Hayne, Rt. Hn. C. Seale- McArthur, Wm. (Cornwall)
Cawley, Frederick Holden, Sir Angus McDermott, Patrick
Clough, Walter Owen Holland, W. H. (York, W.R.) M'Ghee, Richard
Curran, Thos. (Sligo, S.) Horniman, Frederick John Maddison, Fred.
Curran, Thos. B. (Donegal) Kinloch, Sir John George S. Maden, John Henry
Molloy, Bernard Charles Reckitt, Harold James Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Richardson, J. (Durham) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Moss, Samuel Rickett, J. Compton Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)
O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)
O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Hud'rsf'd)
Oldroyd, Mark Shaw, Chas. E. (Stafford)
Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland) Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Souttar.
Pease, Jos. A. (Northumb.) Steadman, William Charles
Pickersgill, Edward Hare Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Pirie, Duncan V. Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Power, Patrick Joseph Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Arnold, Alfred Gilliat, John Saunders Pollock, Harry Frederick
Arrol, Sir William Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Goldsworthy, Major-General Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edwd.
Balcarres, Lord Gordon, Hon. John Edward Purvis, Robert
Balfour, Rt. Hon A. J. (Manch'r) Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John E. Pym, C. Guy
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds) Goschen, Rt Hn G J (S. George's) Rasch, Major F. Carne
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Rentoul, James Alexander
Beckett, Ernest William Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson
Bethell, Commander Hare, Thomas Leigh Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Heath, James Royds, Clement Molyneux
Blakiston-Houston, John Heaton, John Henniker Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hermon-Hodge, Robert T. Rutherford, John
Bolitho, Thos. Bedford Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead) Sharpe, William Edwd. T.
Brassey, Albert Houston, R. P. Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John Howell, William Tudor Sidebottom, Wm. (Derbysh.)
Cavendish, R. E. (N. Lanes.) Johnston, William (Belfast) Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Cavendish, V. C. W. (D'rbyshire Jolliffe, Hon. H. George Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Smith, A. H. (Christchurch)
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East) Keswick, William Smith, J. Parker (Lanarksh.)
Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich) Kimber, Henry Stanley, Edwd. J. (Somerset)
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Lafone, Alfred Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Chamberlain, Rt. HnJ. (Birm.) Lawrence, Sir E.D. (Cornwall) Stewart, Sir M. J. M' Taggart
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Lawrence, W. P. (Liverpool) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Strutt, Hon. Charles H.
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset) Sutherland, Sir Thomas
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Livrpool) Thorburn, Walter
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lowe, Francis William Thornton, Percy M.
Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole Loyd, Archie Kirkman Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Macartney, W. G. Ellison Usborne, Thomas
Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Maclure, Sir John William Valentia, Viscount
Cranborne, Viscount Mc Arthur, Chas. (Liverpool) Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H.
Cripps, Charles Alfred McKillop, James Warr, Augustus Frederick
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) Marks, Harry H. Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of Wight)
Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham) Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Whiteley, Geo. (Stockport)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Middlemore, J. Throgmorton Whiteley, H.(Ashton-under-L)
Doughty, George Milward, Col. Victor William's, J. Powell (Birm.)
Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers- Monckton, Edward Philip Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Doxford, William Theodore More, Robt. J. (Shropshire) Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)
Fardell, Sir T. George Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E. Mount, William George Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J (Manc'r) Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Finch, George H. Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)
Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne Nicol, Donald Ninian TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Fisher, William Hayes Parkes, Ebenezer
Forster, Henry William Percy, Earl
Giles, Charles Tyrrell Pierpoint, Robert
On the return of Mr. SPEAKER, after the usual interval,
Attention having been called to the fact that there were not 40 Members present, the House was counted, and 40 Members not being present—
The House was adjourned at forty-five minutes after Eight of the clock.