HC Deb 04 August 1899 vol 75 cc1532-57

26."That a sum, not exceeding £6,099, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the House of Lords."


I desire to move the reduction of this Vote. This is an extremely important Vote, and I think that a fuller opportunity ought to have been given to us of discussing it, in view of the peculiar circumstances which surround it. It will be in the recollection of the House, that early this year a message was received from the Lords to the effect that it was desirable that a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament should be appointed to inquire into the salaries of the permanent staff of both Houses of Parliament. I should be out of order if I entered, as I should like to do, upon the course of the proceedings connected with the appointment of that committee, but I may be permitted to remind the House that in spite of repeated protests, especially on the part of Scotch, Welsh, and Irish Members, who had been mainly instrumental in bringing about the appointment of that Committee——


Order, order! I do not see how this is relevant.


I will drop that part of my observation, and direct my attention to the question immediately raised, as to whether the sum provided for the salaries and expenses of the offices of the House of Lords should be reduced. This Committee, appointed upon a motion made on the 27th of February, has only reported within the last week or fortnight. I have in my hand a copy of the Report. Some very remarkable facts, which I shall allude to in a few moments, have been brought out in that Report. But what is still more remarkable to me than the facts which have been brought out, is the absence of any reference to certain matters which I should have thought the Committee would have reported upon. There is an extraordinary difference between the House of Lords and the House of Commons in the amount of the officers' salaries, which must have certainly come under the cognisance of the Committee, and in reference to which I should like to put a question to the Secretary to the Treasury, who was a member of the Committee, viz., whether the question was considered of whether at least a portion of the salary of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod might not have been saved by the amalgamation of the office with that of Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Lords.


That question was ruled to be out of order by the Chairman.


That is an extraordinary condition of things. In 1869–70,when the discussions on this subject commenced, there were twenty-seven clerks in the House of Lords, drawing salaries to the amount of £16,770 a year. In 1889–90 the number of clerks was nineteen, and the amount £12,357; and in 1899 there is a further reduction to seventeen clerks, and the amount is now £10,730.So that in the twenty years since these annual discussions commenced a saving has been effected of ten clerks, the number having been reduced from twenty-seven to seventeen, and there has been a reduction in the total amount of the salaries from £16,770 down to £10,730, and thus a saving of £6,000 has been effected. All this has been achieved in face of the fact that if there has been any change in the amount of business it has been in the direction of an increase. This result is due to the industry and perseverance of those hon. Members who have engaged in these annual discussions, and it will act as a very great encouragement to us to persevere in this work, because, although much has been done, I am by no means certain that as much has been done as ought to be done. I do not intend to debate this question in all its bearings on the present occasion, but I desire to appeal to the right lion. Gentleman to put this Vote down earlier next session in order that it may be fully and fairly discussed. I desire very briefly to draw attention to one or two other points. It will be within the memory of everybody in this House that one of the points to which we have repeatedly drawn attention was the fact that the Clerk of Parliaments in the other House received £3,000 a year, while the Chief Clerk of the House of Commons only received £2,500. This reduction was strenuously resisted at first, but now the salary of the Clerk of Parliaments has been reduced to the same figure as that of the Clerk of this House. I have a strong opinion that in these matters the salary ought to bear some relationship to the amount and the quality of the work done. No doubt if that principle was carried out a great reform would take place amongst Her Majesty's Ministers as well as amongst the clerks in the House of Lords. I think all public offices which touch the honour of the nation and which set an example to the nation should be above criticism. I have never consciously adopted or supported the doctrine which, in my judgment, is the misfortune of America, and that is paying public men a grossly insufficient salary for public services; on the contrary, I believe it to be the cheapest plan, in the long run, to pay generous—and what might be supposed to be excessive—salaries, because you want to pick and choose from the best men in the country, and it is idle to expect that you can attract such men unless you give splendid salaries. But while the salary of the Clerk of Parliaments has been brought down to the same level as the salary of the Chief Clerk in this House, everyone will admit that the work of the Clerk of Parliaments is ridiculously small compared with the work of the Chief Clerk of this House. It is an old superstition which induced the House of Lords to resist with all its strength any attempt to level down the salary of the Clerk of Parliaments to the same level as that of the Clerk in this House, and it is a remnant of that old superstition which induces them now to hold out for the same salary. Under the present system a man who serves a higher assembly gets the same pay for about one-third the amount of work. I will give as an instance the case of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, and I think we all know what his duties are. Nobody will accuse me of introducing any personal considerations, and no human being in debating these matters dreams of ever injuring the vested interest of any individual. What I am criticizing is simply the system. Now what is the present state of affairs? The Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, when these Debates first commenced, had £2,000 a year and a house. That was a ridiculous and grotesque state

of things, and yet it was defended with almost desperation, and when we criticised this state of things we were looked upon as little short of rebels against the constitution of this country, and we were told that the House of Lords was, like the island of Cyprus, a profitable institution to the country, which gave to the Treasury more than they got back, as if there was any force in that argument. In 1888, when these discussions commenced, the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod had £2,000 a year and a house, but now his salary is £1,000 a year and no house. I think everyone will admit that even £1,000 a year for his functions is preposterous, and my contention is that duties of this kind could be discharged by the Serjeant-at-Arms, and that would effect a very substantial saving. I think that is a matter which ought to be investigated. I had intended to move a reduction of this Vote, but I think I shall better express my feelings by voting against it, and as no opportunity has been given us to adequately discuss this important matter at this stage I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us a fair opportunity next session.

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House divided:—Ayes, 104; Noes, 41. (Division List, No. 360.)

Arnold, Alfred Coghill, Douglas Harry Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Johnston, William (Belfast)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Man.) Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford) Kimber, Henry
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds Curzon, Viscount Knowles, Lees
Barnes, Frederick Gorell Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham) Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Doughty, George Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)
Beach, Rt Hn Sir M. H.- (Bristol) Drucker, A. Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry
Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'nsea
Bigwood, James Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Bill, Charles Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Blundell, Colonel Henry Firbank, Joseph Thomas Long, Rt Hn. Walter (Liverpool
Brassey, Albert Fisher, William Hayes Maclure, Sir John William
Bullard, Sir Harry Flower, Ernest M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Burdett-Coutts, W. Galloway, William Johnson Malcolm, Ian
Butcher, John George Gedge, Sydney Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)
Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin) Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St.Albans) Monk, Charles James
Carlile, William Walter Gilliat, John Saunders Moore, William (Antrim, N.)
Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbysh) Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh.)
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Goldsworthy, Major-General Morton, Arthur H A (Deptford)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Gordon, Hon. John Edward Murray, Rt Hn. A. Graham. (Bute
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St. Geo,'s Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Charrington, Spencer Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Nicol, Donald Ninian
Clare, Octavius Leigh Gull, Sir Cameron Pierpoint, Robert
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm. Purvis, Robert
Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W. Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand) Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk) Williams, Jos. Powell (Birm.)
Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset) Wyndham, George
Russell, T.W. (Tyrone) Stanley Lord (Lancs.)
Savory, Sir Joseph Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard Strauss, Arthur
Sharpe, William Edward T. Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire) Valentia, Viscount
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale- Randell, David
Atherley-Jones, L. Healy, Timothy M. (N. Louth) Steadman, William Charles
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Hedderwick, Thomas C. H. Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Hogan, James Francis Wallace Robert
Caldwell, James Horniman, Frederick John Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)
Cameron, Robert (Durham) Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'land Whiteley, George (Stockport)
Channing, Francis Allston Lewis, John Herbert Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal) Macaleese, Daniel Williams, John C. (Notts.)
Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.) M'Leod, John Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Dalziel. James Henry Maddison. Fred. Wilson Jos. H. (Middlesbrough)
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Moss, Samuel Yoxall, James Henry
Donelan, Captain A. O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Dillon and Mr. Kilbride.
Gourley, Sir Edward T. Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Griffith, Ellis J. Pirie, Duncan V.

Resolution agreed to.

27."That a sum, not exceeding £15,269, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses in the Offices of the House of Commons."

28."That a sum, not exceeding £59,300, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900,for the Salaries and Expenses in the Department of Her Majesty's Treasury and Subordinate Departments."

29 "That a sum, not exceeding £96,868, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and Subordinate Offices."


On a former occasion when this Vote was taken we had a full Debate on the Factory and Workshops Department, but we had no Debate at all upon anything else which is included in the Home Office Vote. I should like to draw attention to the insufficiency of the inspectorate in the Mines Department. I cannot put the matter better than it is put in a letter by a working miner in Scotland, who seems to have made himself thoroughly acquainted with the present state of things, and his view confirms what I hear from my own constituency and from other parts of the country. One of the strong points of the administration of the Secretary of State for the Home Department is that he has succeeded in making a considerable increase in the number of factory and workshop inspectors. I may point out that the work of the mining inspectors has been heavily increased by the inspection of quarries, which has been recently thrown upon them. I will now read a few lines from this working miner's letter which puts the case in a nutshell. He says: What concerns us most is the fact that we rarely see the mine inspectors only when an accident happens. No complete inspection of a pit is ever made, and the fact is that no new inspectors have been appointed for Scotland since 1892, although the inspectors now have to look after the quarries as well as to attend all accident inquiries. No time is allowed for the proper inspection of collieries, and the inspectors only visit them once a year. Would you ask the Secretary of State to appoint more inspectors? The factory inspectors have done a great deal to prevent accidents by seeing that the Acts were carried out, and I think more mine inspectors would have the same effect. I think that letter puts the whole question in a nutshell, and I very much doubt whether the Secretary of State will deny the statements made in that letter. All I ask is that he should feel that the Committee will support him in any demand he should make upon the Treasury for the increase of the mines inspectorate. With regard to the Vote gener- ally, the grounds upon which we took exception to this Vote on a former occasion have not been weakened in the least degree by the Home Secretary's explanation. We complained most bitterly, and we shall complain again next session, of the extraordinary delay in the issuing of that most valuable document, the Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops. We always used to get that Report in the month of May, but it has recently been postponed till July, and this year till December, and we see no special reason for that delay.

* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)

I avail myself of the opportunity afforded by this Vote of expressing my disappointment at the failure of the Home Secretary to introduce a measure relating to burial law reform, which the right hon. Gentleman told us a considerable time ago had actually been prepared. I would remind the House that had the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill, he would have done so under circumstances of a highly favourable character, inasmuch as the Committee appointed last session and the session before, at the instance of the Government, not only came to a unanimous conclusion that a Bill should be introduced consolidating and amending the burial laws, but they were also agreed with singular unanimity as regards the particular changes which ought to be made. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman had the advantage of knowing that this measure would not have been of a highly contentious character, and would have received support on this side of the House as well as on the opposite side. No explanation has been vouchsafed as to the failure to introduce the measure, and I hope we may receive from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that it will be introduced early next session. He knows, as well as I do, that the matter is pressing, for every year fresh churchyards are being closed and new cemeteries are being opened, and as long as the law remains in its present condition there will be bitter contention with regard to matters which should be wholly free from anything of so painful a character. I hope I shall receive from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance which will allay the uneasiness which prevails out of doors, and which will also make it unnecessary to adopt steps which may otherwise become incumbent upon those who desire to see an alteration in the law.

MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)

I desire to again make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in reference to the case of two seamen, named William Jones and John Lynch, who were sentenced in 1897 to seven years' penal servitude for an offence for which, if they had been proved to be absolutely guilty without any doubt, I venture to say six weeks would have been a very severe sentence. It will be necessary for me just to go through the facts of the case very briefly. In 1897 there was a seamen's strike in the port of Cardiff. A number of men were congregated near a ship, and a dispute took place with regard to the amount of charges that three of these men had signed on board ship. After they had left the ship one of the three men used a knife, with the result that one of the men got two or three cuts on the head, given to him by some person with a piece of wire rope. The two men, Jones and Lynch, were arrested for this offence. They were committed to the assizes, where the judge sentenced them to seven years' penal servitude. In the case of John Lynch, there were very grave doubts indeed as to whether the man was guilty. There were only two witnesses in a position to swear that Lynch was present; but some nine or ten other witnesses swore on oath that at the time this fight took place Lynch was nowhere near the spot where the fight occurred; and yet, in spite of that, he was convicted. With regard to the case of Jones, judging from the evidence given, he was near the spot, and the policeman, who was the principal witness against Jones, swore that he found a large piece of wire rope in his pocket. This policeman was afterwards charged with perjury, and he was tried at the Cardiff Assizes, where he was acquitted. A number of witnesses, who were called in defence of the two men, were very clear on the point. They were perfectly independent witnesses, and were not connected with the dispute in any way. All these witnesses testified on oath that the policeman, who was the principal witness against Jones, had sworn falsely about this piece of wire rope; and another policeman swore that he found this wire rope in a field, and handed it over to a police constable. I think that point was made very clear at the trial in Cardiff; but, nevertheless, those men had to go back to finish their sentences. Since then the sentences have been reduced, and three years have been taken off, which shows that the judge was very extravagant in his sentences, and did not exercise that discretion which he ought to have shown.


Order, order!


No doubt it is out of order to discuss the sentences passed by judges, but there are grave doubts indeed as to the guilt of these men. The man Lynch had received very serious injuries to both his legs, and had been very badly scalded, and I was present with this man at the shipping office at Penarth waiting to interview the second engineer of the vessel on which he had been scalded. I am thoroughly convinced that in the case of Lynch he is an innocent man suffering an unjust sentence. Admitting that the men were guilty without a shadow of doubt, I venture to say that the sentences were the most severe that have ever been passed on any men in this country, because the injuries which the man complained of having received did not incapacitate him from following his work. The fight occurred about one o'clock in the afternoon, and the injured man was doing his work next morning, and he would have gone on a voyage had not a policeman taken him on shore to prosecute him. That was in itself evidence that no serious injury was inflicted upon this man, and yet, in spite of that, this terrible sentence was inflicted.


Order, order! The hon. Member is not in order in commenting upon the conduct of a judge in passing a particular sentence.


I only wanted to call attention to this very severe sentence. The Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress made an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to reduce the sentence, but he declined to do so, and I am again compelled to take this opportunity of appealing to the right hon. Gentleman. These men have now suffered two years and two months of this sentence, and I do not think any harm would be done if, as a matter of mercy, the remainder of the sentence was remitted. Jones is an American citizen, with a wife and child dependent upon him living in the United States, and I understand that his people do not know his whereabouts. Jones does not care to have the fact sent to his wife that he is in prison, and at the present time she does not know where he is. Taking that into consideration I hope the right hon. Gentleman will seriously consider whether he cannot now liberate these men. With regard to the man Lynch, whom I have said all through is an innocent man, he is well advanced in years, and probably when he is liberated from prison he will not be able to follow his employment as a fireman on board ship. As a matter of mercy, seeing that there is some doubt about the guilt of these men, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will liberate them.


I strongly deprecate the bringing forward of criminal cases for review before this House, because it is quite impossible, however great may be my own shortcomings, that this House can be a competent judge in such matters. Therefore I decline to follow the hon. Gentleman in some of the details which he has put before the House. When this case was first brought to my notice I gave it careful and anxious consideration, and as the result of that consideration I was able to advise Her Majesty to remit three years of the sentence which had been imposed by the judge who tried the case. I did my best to take a lenient view, and I respectfully decline to go any further in that direction. I have done a great deal in the direction which the hon. Member wishes, and I think he ought not to press me to go further. With regard to the question of the Burial Laws, my hon. friend knows perfectly well that I was as anxious as he and his friends are to bring forward a measure which, as the hon. Member opposite has said, has been drawn mainly upon the lines of the recommendations of the Select Committee. I thought this was a good opportunity which might have been taken of settling some of the difficult questions connected with this subject; but, unfortunately, time has been against me, and it did not appear to the Government a desirable thing to introduce a Bill of that character which, under the pressure of other business, it seemed absolutely impossible to pass into law. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman any definite assurance or promise, but it will be a disappointment to myself if I do not take an opportunity of presenting the Bill to Parliament next session, which I have already drafted. As to the question of the insufficiency of the number of inspectors of mines, I have received no such complaint as the right hon. Baronet alludes to. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that the Government inspectors ought to take charge of these mines, but that is not our idea of the duty of a Government inspector. I think it is extremely desirable that the inspectors should be fully cognisant of all that is going on in their district, and that they should not appear only in cases of lamentable accidents. They should upon all occasions know exactly what is going on and be able to give advice when their advice is sought. I can only say that if any representations are made to me to increase the number of inspectors, I shall be perfectly ready to consider them. This is a question which I have addressed more than once to the inspectors of mines, and I have received answers which are not altogether in support of the view of the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Baronet has also alluded to another subject which he brought forward when this Vote was before the Committee of Supply. In regard to the delay in issuing the Report of the Inspector of Factories, I am not prepared to give a definite undertaking as to when the Report will be produced, but I will take note of the fact that there is an evident feeling in the House that the earliest possible information should be given on these matters, although I do not think it will be possible early in the session to present an exhaustive and full resume and criticism of the various Reports given by the Chief Inspector in the same volume. I think it will be possible to present, at an early period of the session, the Reports of the various inspectors. At all events, I have got the consent of the Treasury to an increase of the staff of clerks in the Factories Department, and with regard to the bringing out of these Reports, I hope with this increased strength I may be able, to some extent, to satisfy the demands of the right hon. Gentleman.

Motion made, and Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

The House proceeded to a Division, and Mr. Speaker stated that he thought the Ayes had it; and on his decision being challenged, it appeared to him that the Division was frivolously claimed, and he accordingly directed the Noes to stand up in their places, and seven Members having stood up, Mr. Speaker declared that the Ayes had it.

30."That a sum, not exceeding £49,482,be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."


I desire to avail myself of this opportunity to call attention to the failure of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to make a declaration to his Imperial Majesty the Czar in respect of the abrogation of the change which has been recently affected in the constitution of Finland. I am sensible of the extreme difficulty of dealing with what seems to savour of intervention in the internal affairs of another empire, although there have been numerous precedents for such a thing, and representations have been effectively made in this respect, even when there was no intention of forcing them by armed intervention. I will promise to deal with this matter very shortly, because it is not a convenient period of the session to debate a question of such magnitude, but my justification for bringing it forward now is the total absence of previous opportunities. There are no treaty obligations on the part of Great Britain in relation to Finland, but there are treaty obligations in relation to that country of which Finland prior to the year 1808 was an integral part; and when the arrangement of 1808 was entered into it was understood that there was a recognition of the fact that the constitution of Finland as it existed in the time of its connection with Sweden was to be maintained. That constitution has been maintained ever since 1808 up to the present year, and upon the accession of each Czar to the throne this has been confirmed by a constitutional declaration. The constitution of Sweden is remarkable for the fact that almost free autonomy has been enjoyed by the people of Finland. They have their own legislature consisting of a House which represents the four States of the realm, and they have a Cabinet in many respects something of the nature of a Second Chamber. The Cabinet is composed of persons constitutionally selected, for the most part by the Imperial Government. In dealing with this matter I cannot help making a passing reference to a fact which seems to my mind to accentuate the gravity of this subject—I allude to the Peace Conference, the object of which is to secure the reduction of armaments. Immediately after the issue of the famous manifesto in which the Czar intimated his desire to reduce armaments, he introduced into the Diet of Finland a law by which the standing territorial army of the Duchy of Finland—which under no circumstances short of actual war was to be required to pass beyond the boundaries of Finland—was to be increased from 5,000 soldiers on the active list to about 36,000 men; and the reserve, which should be somewhere about 35,000 or 36,000 men, was to be increased with those on the active list to such an extent as to make it a force of 100,000 soldiers. The immunity which the army of Finland enjoyed from serving in any other parts of the Empire was also removed, and various other disabilities which I will not particularise now were imposed upon the people of Finland. The result of this measure was that a strong feeling of indignation was aroused among the people of Finland against serving in outside territories, and their opposition led to the famous rescript of February last, in which the Czar declared that henceforth it would lie within his sole discretion to decide whether or not any law which he chose to promulgate was one which should be applicable to the Duchy of Finland, and if he came to the conclusion that such a law affected those subjects of his outside the Duchy of Finland, then, whatever might be the attitude of the House of Representatives of Finland, and whatever might be the attitude of the States, that law should ipso facto come into force. That law was a direct infringement and violation of the constitution of Finland, and undoubtedly amounted to an abrogation of that constitution. I need not point out to the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that the passage of that law, and the issuing of that rescript, has produced a most profound exasperation not merely in Finland, but throughout the Scandinavian Peninsula. There is not only this feeling of exasperation, but there is a feeling that the increase of the army of the Czar by practically 100,000 upon the frontier of Scandinavia constitutes a menace to the peace of those regions and to European peace, because, as the right hon. Gentleman no doubt fully recognises, the trend of the policy of Russian Czars has been to seek to appropriate by force portions of what geographically is Scandinavian territory. I will not dilate upon the actual danger this would be to the peace and security of Europe, but that feeling of exasperation has found its echo in the general sympathy which has been extended to the people of Finland by all the civilised countries of Europe, and representations have been made to the Czar from various quarters to this effect. I feel the disadvantage under which I labour in appealing to the right hon. Gentleman upon a question of this kind, but at the same time I cannot help reflecting that it is scarcely in consonance with the best traditions of statesmanship in this country that the people of a great free State should quietly regard with indifference—and I might almost say with contempt—the extinction of the liberties of a people united to us by so many common ties.


I rise to order. I wish to ask you, Sir, whether it is consistent with the practice of the House that an hon. Member should initiate an elaborate discussion on the Foreign Office Vote in matters over which the Foreign Office has no control?


Up to the present I have not found in the hon. Member's remarks anything that is relevant to the Vote before the House. I was waiting to see whether he was going to put himself in order by referring the same action on the part of the Government.


Inasmuch as I have practically reached the close of my remarks, the right hon. Gentleman's intervention is somewhat inopportune. On the point of order, I may say that I am not aware, subject to your ruling, that it is in any sense contrary to order for any Member of this House to challenge the conduct of a responsible Minister of the Crown for failure to intervene—I mean friendly intervention—in matters of this character, and those who may challenge that statement will find a precedent in the case of Poland in 1863, when a similar protest was made. Without further trespassing upon the time of the House, I will ask the right hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the Government have made any representations to the Czar of Russia with respect to the increase of the Army in Finland, and whether any communications have been received from the Russian Government in respect thereto.


I should not have risen at all had it not been for the questions put to me by the hon. Member opposite, because I consider that the whole scope of this discussion which the hon. Member seeks to raise is absolutely beyond the purview of the Foreign Office Vote. The hon. Member has brought forward a variety of questions which may be of great importance, but, as far as the British Parliament is concerned, we have nothing at all to do with them. The hon. Member asks whether any representations have been made to the Russian Government in regard to the change in the constitution of Finland. Undoubtedly no representations of the kind have been made, because, as a Government, we have no concern whatever with these matters, nor have we any locus standi to make any recommendations. No communications on the subject have passed between us and the Government of the Czar, and we have no intention of addressing any such communications to the Russian Government. I would remind the House that, with regard to this matter, as a country, we have nothing whatever to do with an improvement in the state of affairs in Finland. We have given no guarantee to Finland, we are not by treaty involved in the affairs of Finland, and we are not prepared to undertake to interfere in the affairs of that country. I do not think that such a discussion on the part of an assembly which has no concern in the matter is useful for the purpose which the hon. and learned Gentleman has in view, nor do I think its continuance will be in accordance with the traditions of the British House of Parliament.


I should like to put a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I moved a reduction of the Foreign Office Vote on the first occasion on which it came before the House. In the latter part of that Debate the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a reply on the specific question on which a reduction was moved, namely, the claim against the Government of France in connection with the Waima affair. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether any progress has been made in this matter. Considering that it occurred in 1893, it ought not to be allowed to drag on until next session.


I am afraid I am unable to add anything to what has been said by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

Vote agreed to.

31. "That a sum, not exceeding £64,070, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of certain Services transferred from the Mercantile Marine Fund."


I think I will be in order on this Vote in bringing to the notice of the House a question with reference to Lascar seamen. For some considerable time I have been asking the President of the Board of Trade to enforce the law with regard to the accommodation provided for seamen on board ship.


Perhaps the hon. Member will satisfy me as to how this subject is connected with the Mercantile Marine Fund.


Certain surveyors are paid out of this fund to survey ships.


The hon. Member is complaining, not of the conduct of the surveyors, but of the conduct of the Minister who has charge of these matters.


It is part of the duty of the surveyors of the Board of Trade to see that ships provide accommodation for seamen.


The mode of performing that duty is regulated by the Board of Trade, and the hon. Member cannot bring it forward on this Vote.


Then I give notice that I will bring it forward on Monday.

Vote agreed to.

32. "That a sum, not exceeding £6, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for meeting the Deficiency of Income from Fees, &c., for the requirements of the Board of Trade, under the Bankruptcy Acts, 1883 and 1890, and the Companies (Winding-up) Act, 1890."

33. "That a sum, not exceeding £28,919, be granted to Her Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Agriculture, and to pay certain Grants in Aid."


I do not wish to challenge this Vote to-day on Report, as I took a Division upon it last night, but I desire to put a question to the President of the Board of Agriculture on a matter which has been repeatedly brought before the House. I wish to enter my protest against the policy adopted by the President of the Board of Agriculture with regard to the essential point of the recommendations of the Tuberculosis Commission. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman yesterday to a question on the subject was apparently that until the whole of the agricultural community were agreed in demanding that the special recommendations of that Commission should be carried out he saw no reason for giving effect to them. This question is of very great importance in view of the health of the whole community, as well as in the interests of agriculture, and I think it is a very serious step on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to make his decision on this question dependent on the demands of the landowners and farmers whose immediate interests might be affected by carrying out the policy suggested by the Commission, and also consequently may take short-sighted views. I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his promise to consider the question of distributing literature in order to bring before the agriculturists of this country the results obtained in other countries by the adoption of scientific methods for stamping out this disease. But I must enter my protest against his repeated statements that the action of his Department is to be based, not on the opinion of men of science, but on the wishes of the agriculturists of this country. We have not only the opinion of the Royal Commission, the opinion of the most eminent veterinary surgeons in the country, and the opinion of the whole of the greatest medical authorities, unanimously demanding this action. We have a right to demand that the Board of Agriculture should not take a narrow and limited view of the subject, and should not wait until a number of agriculturists pronounce an opinion upon it. As a practical justification for insisting on this question, I may point out that the Estimates for the present year show a decrease of £2,500 in connection with the Diseases of Animals Act. That would be about half the sum required for initiating the Danish system of stamping out tuberculosis in this country, and I think we have a right to complain of the lack of sympathy with scientific methods which is displayed by the right hon. Gentleman on the subject.


There is one question which I have been requested to raise on this Vote by some of my constituents, who feel very strongly indeed the restrictions with regard to the removal of swine. During the last five years £724,000 has been sanctioned by this House for this purpose, and the question I should like to ask is whether the country has had anything like an adequate return for that enormous sum. My own impression is that it has had very small effect, but perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be able to enlighten the House on the matter. All I know is that in the districts with which I am best acquainted the restrictions are as severely felt as ever. Apparently no progress has been made towards the extermination of the disease, and the hardship on the farmers and small cottagers has been very great. Another difficulty arising from the matter is the obtaining of licences for the removal of swine. When I brought this question before the House on a previous occasion the right hon. Gentleman said, I have no doubt quite correctly, that magistrates will not convict in cases of this kind. The magistrates know all the local circumstances, and the hardship which these regulations inflict; but whether they do their duty or not, it is evident that these swine Orders are very difficult to enforce, and unless they can be enforced with greater strictness, I would ask whether the immense sum of money spent on them may not just as well have been cast into the Thames. I am not laying responsibility on the right hon. Gentleman, because the House, by its own action, has imposed on the Board of Agriculture the duty of maintaining these restrictions and of spending this money; but I think the right hon. Gentleman will be responsible so far as the future is concerned, because we look to him for guidance in this respect; and I should like to know whether, in his opinion, it would not be better to sweep away these restrictions altogether, rather than that they should be inadequately enforced, as they arc at present. The result does not appear to me to be commensurate with the enormous amount of money which has been spent and with the great hardship which has been inflicted on farmers and cottagers. The right hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, understand my action. I do not approach the question in a spirit hostile to himself; I am sure he has done his very best to carry out these swine Orders with the least possible hardship, but I do ask him whether the time has not now come when these restrictions should be more severely enforced or swept away altogether. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to take this question into his very serious consideration, and to give the House some guidance which would enable it to arrive at a more satisfactory state of affairs one way or the other than exists at present.


The two speeches to which we have just listened were very interesting. The hon. Member for East Northamptonshire started this Debate by suggesting that it was my duty, as the head of the Department, to stamp out the disease of tuberculosis in animals There is no necessity for the Department to act when the evidence we get from practical people shows that they can get tuberculin cheaply and readily. There is no tittle of evidence to show that the supply from the Veterinary College is not excellent and perfectly suitable to the work carried out by the veterinary surgeons. The hon. Gentleman talks about the disease having been stamped out abroad. I am not going to detain the House now, but I entirely dispute the assertion that Denmark has suceeded in stamping out this disease. Cattle exported from Demark, when tested by the tuberculin test, show practically the same tendency to tuberculosis as other cattle, and there is no evidence to show that the adoption of these methods in Denmark has led to the extermination of the disease. In this country public opinion has been aroused, and meetings have been held, to call attention to the desirability of preventing the spread of tubercular disease from animals to human beings. In the present state of the discovery of tuberculin I absolutely decline to make myself responsible for any attempt to enforce on the stock-owners in this country a system for eradicating tuberculosis, for which, undoubtedly, a great deal is to be said, but about which I am confident there is still a great deal to be learned. So far as the supply of tuberculin and the work of the veterinary surgeons are concerned, I believe there is very little room for improvement at the present time. That being so, I am not prepared to offer tuberculin which is not asked for, or to suggest that we should pay the fees of veterinary surgeons, a request which has not been made in this House. It is better to let the work proceed as it is proceeding now, and not force upon the people a system which, if it were very general, would involve very great inconvenience and possibly loss. With regard to the swine fever regulations, the hon. Member for the Flint Boroughs called attention to the very heavy expenditure incurred in connection with them. He suggested that those regulations should be more severely enforced or swept away altogether. It is not easy, however, to reduce the expenditure, because pressure is always put on the Department to pay generously and even lavishly for animals slaughtered in the public interest. It is no doubt desirable that such animals should be paid for at their full market value, otherwise it is quite evident that we cannot carry with us the people whose co-operation is necessary to make the operation of the regulations successful. We have sought to lessen the expenditure by reducing the number of animals condemned to be slaughtered and by carrying out in a larger degree the policy of isolation, and I hope that by the adoption of those means we shall not in any way diminish the success of our operations, while at the same time they will very sensibly diminish the cost. I do not think that we can impose more severe restrictions than exist at present. The inconvenience is now as great as it possibly can be, and no doubt to the small owner the loss of money and the disturbance of business are very severe indeed, and no one regrets it more than I do. But the House must recognise there is no middle course in dealing with this disease. It can only be stamped out successfully by the imposition of carefully arranged but rigorously enforced and sufficiently strict regulations. That has been our policy, and the hon. Gentleman will find that we have been more successful than he is inclined to give us credit for. If he will look up the statistics he will find that swine fever has decreased by nearly one half. But we have not yet succeeded in entirely clearing it out of the country. Still I am hopeful that we will meet with even greater success, as recent figures show a decided improvement. Twelve months ago I was quite hopeful that we had succeeded in stamping the disease out; but it broke out again. However, it is now showing signs of decrease. I do not admit that the money has been wasted. The loss to owners and consumers would have been greater if the disease had been allowed to run riot throughout the length and breadth of the land. I do not think there is any other point to which I need refer. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I accept his remarks in the spirit in which he made them. I fully understand that he made them with a desire, if possible, to limit the area of the disease, and secure a clean bill of health for the country.

Vote agreed to.

34. "That a sum, not exceeding £132,732, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board."

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)

said that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board, when referring on a previous occasion to the Sheffield Scattered Homes, was reported by The Times to have said that "the Local Government Board were always willing to give a full and fair trial to the Scattered Homes, but he could say that the reports received from Sheffield with regard to them were not encouraging. "In the official Report they found words even stronger, for there he was made to say, "In regard to Sheffield we have some very unsatisfactory Reports indeed." It was very natural that the Sheffield guardians should feel rather startled by those strong terms of indignation, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give some explanation of them, if correctly reported. When opening the Scattered Homes in Sheffield he had been particularly struck with the success of the guardians in perfecting that beneficent system, and pleased with the appearance of health, contentment, and general good condition presented by the children. A Report made in 1896 pointed out certain directions in which the scheme might be improved, but he could not understand why, after the system had been in operation in Sheffield for so long with such success, the words which had been attributed to the right hon. Gentleman should have been used. If there were any complaints with regard to the system, they should be ventilated in the House, and the Sheffield Guardians would be glad of any information which would enable them to make the system more perfect. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell the House how far the reports of his previous speech were inaccurate, and he felt perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to water down all condemnations of a system which, if carried out generally, would go very far to improve the condition of the poor children of the State, by eradicating every indication of poor law administration, and enabling them to grow up with self-respect and confidence and independence.

MR. MADDISON (Sheffield, Brightside)

, as a Sheffield man, deprecated the statements which had been reported as having been made by the right hon. Gentleman. They had caused great annoyance to the Sheffield Guardians, who had approached him (Mr. Maddison) to raise the question on the Appropriation Bill. When, however, he found so well-informed a gentleman as the hon. Gentleman who preceded him was going to raise it, he gladly left the matter to him. His object in rising now was to enable the right hon. Gentleman to inform the House as to what he did say on the former occasion. The Sheffield Guardians had inaugurated a new departure in poor law administration, and nobody could deny, whether they agreed with the scheme or not, that the guardians had thrown themselves heartily into the scheme and had worked very hard to make it a success. There were always difficulties in the way of reforming the poor laws, but these gentlemen had succeeded in reforming them, and the consensus of opinion in Sheffield was that the money which had been spent by the guardians on these Scattered Homes was well spent. He did not see that the Report of 1896 would justify the somewhat harsh words the right hon. Gentleman had used, because, although many little defects were pointed out—and minor defects were always existent in the experimental stages of any great scheme—the Report on the whole was favourable to the scheme. In conclusion, he asked the right hon. Gentleman to kindly tell the House what his views were upon the Scattered Homes, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman's statement would be such as to encourage, and not discourage, the Sheffield Board of Guardians in the great work which they had undertaken.


wished to say, and he said it with perfect frankness, that if on a former occasion he said anything which had caused offence to the Sheffield Guardians he unreservedly withdrew it. Nothing of the kind was intended on his part, although it might be possible that, speaking as he did on the spur of the moment and entirely from memory, and having a recollection of some reports upon the question, he might have said—he could not charge his memory at this moment, as he had been invited to do by the hon. Member opposite, with the exact words he used on that occasion—something to the effect referred to. But if he had said anything offensive or injurious to the Sheffield Guardians, he entirely withdrew it. He thought it might be that he was referring to the Report to which the hon. Member had referred, in which it was stated that some improvements might be effected, and he thought he said that there had been Reports which were not so satisfactory as they might have been; but he was speaking entirely from memory and without seeing the Reports for many months; and now with the knowledge that he had since acquired and the researches that he had made into the subject, he could only say that he was in all probability entirely misled. He said that now, and he had been in correspondence with the Sheffield Board of Guardians upon the subject and had referred them to statements which he had previously made in the House of Commons, where he had referred to them as the pioneers of a movement which, in his opinion, ought to be encouraged. If he had known that his hon. friend had visited these places himself, or had been reminded of it in the Debate, he should certainly never have dreamed of passing any reflection upon them. He did not think there was anything more that he could say on this point except to express his regret that, in speaking as he did from memory, he said anything hurtful or offensive to the Sheffield Board of Guardians upon this matter.

MR. H. J.WILSON (Yorkshire, W.R., Holmfirth)

as a Sheffield man thanked the right hon. Gentleman for his kind, friendly, and frank expressions, which would remove a misrepresentation that had caused great dissatisfaction in Sheffield.

Vote agreed to.

35. "That a sum, not exceeding £13,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for Her Majesty's Foreign and other Secret Services."

36. "That a sum, not exceeding £16,169, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Fishery Board in Scotland and for Grants in Aid of Piers or Quays."

37. "That a sum, not exceeding £8,000, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board for Scotland, and for Expenses under the Vaccination Act, Infections Disease Notification Act, Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1889, Burgh Police (Scotland) Act,1894,Public Health (Scotland) Act, and Poor Law (Scotland) Act."

38. "That a sum, not exceeding £28,782, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Offices of the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin and London, and subordinate Departments."

39. "That a sum, not exceeding £27,479, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1900, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board in Ireland "

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