The Amendment was, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
And we humbly represent to your Majesty that 25 out of the 44 Ministers of the Crown who constitute your Majesty's present Administration hold among them no fewer than 41 directorships in public companies, and that we consider the position of a public company director to be incompatible with the position of a Minister of the Crown, and that the union of such offices is calculated to lower the dignity of public life."—(Mr. MacNeill.)
Mr. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)
In resuming the discussion of this Amendment, I desire to disclaim the idea of any personal attacks on any honourable Member in this House. I simply rise to support this Amendment on grounds which have not been alluded to by any honourable Members who have as yet addressed the House on this subject. I assert that a difference exists between the different classes of directorships, I respectfully submit that when the element of competition enters into the concern, such as banks, insurance companies, limited liability companies, or trading companies, that constitutes a different class of company to the monopoly company, because the public have to a certain extent the means of protecting themselves by their own experience, or probably by their knowledge of the constitution of the board. On that point of the constitution of the 997 board, I should like to say that in my opinion it would be better and more reasonable if Members of this House did not accept, as a rule, such directorships. My own experience of these matters is somewhat extraordinary. I have been frequently offered a number of shares to qualify me to be a director in companies that were about to be started. On those occasions I was told that I need not attend meetings of the board, and that all they wanted was my money, but I have always refused, because I did not consider it would be an honest proceeding. I may here observe that, not being a Lord, I have had no offer from Mr. Hooley. There is another class of shares in companies that I consider should not be held by Members of this House, and especially by Ministers. I am not a Minister, and it is hardly probable that I ever shall be. I am not a millionaire, and, therefore, my services are not sought for in connection with these big companies; but I would respectfully urge upon this House to remember that in companies of great public utility which affect the mass of the people directorships should not be held by Members of this House, particularly with regard to State-protected monopolies. We have, Sir, various companies of various kinds. There are companies to which Government contracts are given. There are water works, telephone companies, telegraph companies, chartered companies, and so on, and these are a class of company that, in my opinion, the men who help to rule the Empire should not touch, because they are connected with the government of the country. Then there is another class, and that is really my main reason for speaking on this question—that class is the railway companies. Now the railway companies, as everybody knows, control this House of Commons honourable Members may scoff at that assertion, but everybody inside the House, and outside, knows perfectly well that the railway interest is the predominating influence in the House of Commons. Somebody said, some years ago, that if the State did not control the railways the railways will soon manage the State. In my opinion we have already arrived at that state of affairs, because the railways absolutely do control the State and the House of Commons. When I say 998 that, I mean this—that the Members of this House apparently forget that the great railway companies, and the members of the shipping interest, form such a powerful interest in this House that it is absolutely impossible to obtain any reforms which are demanded by the people outside. Therefore, I respectfully submit that Ministers of the Crown especially should not be railway directors. In regard to this question, it may be asked how does this work out? It works out in this way. Last Session we had a discussion respecting a matter connected with the London and North-Western railway. A Debate took place which lasted, as well as I can remember, between three and four hours, and the honourable Member who was concerned on this question absolutely stood up in his place and moved the closure. ["No! no!"] Yes, and it is true. I defy contradiction, and I say to the honourable Members who interrupt me that it is an extraordinary state of things that in this House of Commons, which is supposed to be the home of free discussion, an honourable Member should be allowed to move the closure on a discussion respecting a company in which he has a direct personal interest.
§ * Mr. SPEAKER
The honourable Member is departing now from the Question before the House, which is with ference to Ministers of the Crown holding directorships in public companies. The honourable Member is now discussing the propriety of Members taking part in the Debates of this House on matters in which they have pecuniary interest.
I bow respectfully to your ruling, and will endeavour to keep to the Ministers of the Crown. I think the honourable Member to whom I was referring was formerly a Minister of the Crown, and, therefore, I venture to think that what I said was germane on the subject. He was a Gentleman who spoke and voted on that question. He is, and was at that time, a Minister, and a Question of Privilege arose in connection with this matter; and as to whether the vote should be disallowed. I contend that, on the ground of expediency, and also on other grounds, that this Motion ought to be carried.
999 There is just one other point to which I wish to direct the attention of the House, and that is this, that, in the carriage of the mails, both shipping and railway companies have enormous sums of money given to them as subsidies. I contend, as a taxpayer, that this is a matter which ought to come within the public discussions of the House, and it appears to me, as a business man, to be an extraordinary state of affairs that Ministers of the Crown, who are also railway directors, should be empowered to have the management of the enormous subsidies which are granted through the Treasury for the purpose of carrying the mails. I know from experience of Treasury matters in Ireland that it is no very easy matter to get money out of the Treasury. The railway companies stand in a different position to that of ordinary individuals outside. I also wish to direct the attention of the House to one other matter in which I have had some experience, and it is this, that the discussion of these questions in this House is prevented by the controlling interest of the railways. It is owing to this state of things that discussions upon questions affecting the loss of life, which occurs on railways through defective couplings and things of that sort, are practically burked, and, therefore, on all these grounds—on the ground of economy, expediency, and humanity—I support this Motion, and I trust that the Mover of it will go to a Division, and that in any event we are educating public opinion. Public opinion outside cannot be disregarded even by Ministers, the Government. Public opinion is looking at this question as one that ought to be discussed, and I, myself, will lose no opportunity, either in this House or outside, to endeavour to end this system of the predominating railway interest, which is opposed to public utility at large.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
Before I give my vote in favour of this Amendment I should like to explain how it is that I find myself in opposition to the Government. In the first place, I wish entirely to disassociate myself from any idea of a personal attack on Ministers. It has been suggested that if this Amendment were carried it would amount to a vote of want of confidence in the present Ministry), but I cannot see 1000 that that is so. All it would amount to would be this, that if it were passed, in future those holding responsible offices under the Crown could not be directors of public companies. I think there is a very good precedent for that, because at the present moment no officer on the active list is allowed to be a director of a public company without special permission. You never heard of a Judge on the Bench being a director of a public company, and, therefore, why should a Minister who holds an important and great position under the Crown be able to do so? First of all, he has this great honour conferred upon him by Her Majesty, and next he is appointed for the purpose of performing certain duties, but, notwithstanding that, he finds time to occupy a position of a director of a public company. Well, Sir, Ministers are very hard-worked at the present time. Most Members of Parliament have very little leisure, because their time is so fully occupied in their Parliamentary duties, and if a Member of Parliament—an ordinary Member—finds his time so fully occupied, what must be the position of a Minister of the Crown, with all his duties as a Member of Parliament, and all his duties in his high office of State to fulfil as well? I cannot conceive that a Minister of the Crown can possibly have time to be a director of the, two, or three companies as well as perform the duties appertaining to his great office. There is another matter which I should like to bring before the House. No Member of this House is any dealings with A Member of Parliament cannot sell anything what-ver—it may be small or large-to the Government without vacating his seat; yet we find Members of Parliament occupying responsible offices under the Crown who are directors of public companies which have direct communication with the Government, as we were told last night. If it is wrong for an ordinary Member of Parliament to have any transactions with the Government, surely it must be wrong for a Minister of the Crown to be paid for managing one of these companies, which certainly has often direct dealings with the Government. I would instance the case of a magistrate on the bench. It may be that he is county magistrate, or a London 1001 stipendiary, but, no matter which, if he happens to be a brewer, and a licensing case comes before the Bench, that magistrate vacates his seat; and yet we find that a Minister of the Crown may be a director of a brewery company, and may take part in a Debate on licensing questions, and speak and vote in this House on such questions. Surely that must be wrong? I confess I do not understand such an anomaly myself. I think that if it is right, as I said, that a Member of Parliament should not deal with the Government, if it is right that a magistrate who is a brewer should not deal with licensing questions that come before his Bench, then it is certainly right that a Minister of the Crown, who takes an active part in the direction of any brewery companies, should not take part in any Debate or Division on such matters in this House. I wish at once, as I said at the beginning of my speech, to disassociate myself from any personal attack; I think, indeed, that everybody who has spoken has made that remark, and the Leader of the Opposition paid a most handsome tribute to the Members of the Government, and said that they were above suspicion, and that a more honourable set of men than those sitting on the Front Bench could not be found. But we want by this Amendment to express our opinion that in future it would be more prudent that Ministers should be above the slightest suspicion by not allowing their names to be advertised as being on the directorate of any public company. We do not wish to say that these great public companies —these railway and steamship companies—in any way lend themselves to wrong dealings. Far from it. Our great railway and steamship companies are in very high repute, but I cannot help thinking that when they want directors they had better choose them from gentlemen who do not occupy these high positions under the Crown. At any rate, a gentleman who happens to be a director of one of these public companies, and who has the honour of being selected to be a Minister of the Crown, should, during the time of his occupying that high office, vacate his directorship, and then take it up again if he can when that office is completed. I do not wish to make myself in any way a censor morum over honourable Members in the 1002 House. Members of this House are at liberty to do what they like. This Amendment is only framed with respect to those Gentlemen who hold these offices under the Crown, and who are, therefore, paid by the State, and who thereby make themselves public servants of the State. I do not see how a man occupying a position of that kind can with prudence, or with wisdom, or with benefit to himself or his company, occupy the position of Minister of the Crown, and at the same time the position of director of one of these companies.
§ * SIR J. LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)
I do not desire to occupy the time of the House for any lengthened period, but I cannot give a silent vote. I understand the question to be whether a Cabinet Minister or a Member of the Government can hold a directorship at the same time as he is in the service of the State. I am not willing, indiscriminately, to condemn this condition of things, if it exists, and to lay down a hard and fast rule upon the matter. I do not know that there are any facts in existence from which I could properly argue that this combination has ever led a Cabinet Minister (being a director of a company) to take unfair advantage of the dual position. My knowledge of, and my belief in, the high character of Members on both the Treasury Bench, and the Government Opposition Bench, is so great that I do not believe it is possible that such a state of things could happen. But if it should happen that a Cabinet Minister should in any way compromise himself by favouring a company of which he is a director, public opinion is so strong that it would be impossible to conceal his offence, and an exposure on such a subject would mean, as it ought to mean, both political, private, and social ruin. There is always a suspicion—that is perhaps rather too hard a word to use—so I will say there is always a feeling of distrust and uneasiness about the dual position which Cabinet Ministers occupy when they are both servants of the State and directors of companies. Let us take one or two examples. I hate personalities, and the House of Commons hates them, too, and so I will not indulge in anything of the kind. My illustrations are, therefore, merely supposititious. Take the case of a 1003 great steamship company which receives subsidies from the Government. Is it not a fact that the public mind may be disturbed that Members of the Government should be directors of such a company. It is not desirable, because it is obvious that the dual position, may load to risk of losing public confidence in the Members of the House of Commons, which, as has been truly said, is the greatest asset which we possess. Again, take the case of a great shipbuilding company, a director of which is also a Member of the Cabinet or the Government. Such a company may be retained by the Government in the building of battle-ships or torpedo boats. It is possible that the public mind may be directed in a suspicious line towards the Admiralty in regard to the giving out of contracts to such a company. Take the case again of a colliery company who are selling, perhaps, a large quantity of coals to the Navy. Again, although perhaps there is no suspicion, still a rather strong and uncertain feeling of discontent may be aroused in the minds of the people of the country. I, therefore, venture to think it would be far better that Members, when they occupy such distinguished positions as Cabinet Ministers or Members of the Government, should resign such directorships at once. Sir, there may be some directorships which, although looked at in this dual relation, do not on the face of them appear to be as bad as those of which I have spoken, but which yet may lead to public sentiment of the same kind. Take, for instance, the case of an insurance company. Where the insurance company deals only with life policies, I can fully understand that people would think that the possibility of using the position of Cabinet Minister to benefit the company of which he was a director would be reduced to a minimum. But suppose the company deals with fire insurance, and the Government have buildings—it may be works—which they may desire to protect against the risk of fire by insurance policies, here again, there is the danger if the business goes to the company of which the Minister is a director, that suspicions of undue preference would be 1004 aroused in the minds of the people. But, Sir, there is the case of directorships— and I can give an example in which, although perhaps it would be beter that they should not be held by Cabinet Ministers and Members of the Government, I can imagine that an enforced resignation might be a hardship. But there must be hardships in all these matters. Take the case for instance of Lancashire and Yorkshire, where men are employed in great businesses. I remember very well 15 or 20 years ago when limited companies were not so common as they are now, large manufacturers in Lancanshire and Yorkshire found great difficulty in making testamentary dispositions to their families. Where a family consisted of sons and daughters, the custom had been to leave the business to the sons, and to charge it with the shares of the daughters, They took up the Limited Liability Act to form their businesses into private limited companies for the purpose of protecting their families and their business, and to leave their children shares in the company, which each —whether son or daughter—could keep or sell, as was desired. It has happened, and I hope may happen again, that successful Lancashire and Yorkshire business men find their way to one or other of these Front Benches, and it would be very hard to say that the directorship of such a company should be given up. But hardships must be borne, and it is because I feel that the example set by the front benches is likely to be followed, and followed to the general public detriment, by Members of this House, who are not content with one, or two, or three, or four or more directorates in various companies, with the result that their constituents who chose to send them here to represent them, and who trust them as Members of Parliament, invest their money in companies not always sound, that I think that no encouragement should be offered to this dual position. I shall, therefore, vote for the Amendment.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
The honourable Member who has just spoken seemed to think it would not be possible to draw any hard and fast line on the subject. My impression is that a hard and fast line must be drawn, and that it is the only line that can be drawn; otherwise you will be setting up a Cabinet Minister as a court of review as to the solvency of a company. Now, Sir, I do not know why this Resolution should be considered a Motion of want of confidence in Her Majesty's Government, except that it is following a tradition which has been set up by the successive occupants of the Front Bench, who have found difficulty in answering the arguments in support of such an Amendment, and in order to secure the support of followers who would otherwise waver and possibly go into the Lobby against them. Sir, I hold this is the only method open to any Member of raising this question. You cannot raise it by a Question to a Minister. I have endeavoured to do that myself. In August, 1895, I addressed a Question on the subject to the First Lord of the Treasury—in point of fact, I believe, I was the first mover in the matter—but I received practically no answer. Even if we succeed in introducing a Motion for the reduction of the salary of that Minister who was a director of a public company, you would then not achieve your object. What you want to cut down is directorial duties. The Estimates won't do it. I therefore submit, Sir, that this is the particular occasion, and the only one, upon which a matter like this can be raised. Now, Sir, I wholly agree with the view expressed in this matter. And what is the view I Not, as has been suggested, that Ministers are corrupt— nobody would believe that—but that it is improper for Gentlemen in the high position of Cabinet Ministers, and I limit my remarks to Cabinet Ministers —and charged with the Government duties that appertain to those posts, to be at the same time active participators in trading companies. We say that no man can be a public servant of the State and at the same time, and consistently with the dignity due to that position, be a true servant to the said companies. 1006 That is the view expressed in the Amendment, and it seems to me that the impropriety of the double positions is so manifest that I really myself cannot understand anybody defending it. Just consider how it lowers the dignity of great Ministers, of State to descend to the consideration of some petty question in competition with some other company, a company as equally entitled to the respect and consideration of the Minister as the one which he is engaged in running. I say perhaps it is improper, furthermore, because day by day the State is taking further interest in, and is more and more interfering with, companies of this description, especially railway companies. Why, Sir, the interference of statesmen in railway companies is almost daily extended to almost every act that the railway company can perform, and I submit it is altogether improper, incongruous, and hard, that the President of the Board of Trade should have to call to account the action of the Home Secretary as director of a railway company, or a First Commissioner, for the misdeeds—and they are many—of the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. Well, Sir, this is a very great objection. There is a very serious danger, quite apart from the natural suspicion that is engendered in the minds of the public in other ways, of the two duties clashing—the duty of the Minister of the State and the duty of the director of the company; and there is the great and constant danger of a man, finding himself in a false position, of having to defend in the one capacity conduct which in the other capacity he is bound lo condemn. But, Sir, I claim—and I shall show—that the First Lord of the Treasury is perfectly sensible of the importance of this question, and very much inclined to take—I think I may claim he does take—the same view which I take myself, because in reply to the Question which I addressed to him on the 16th of August, 1895, he told the House that out of the 60 held by Members of the Government a large number had already been resigned, and more were about to be resigned. Well, Sir, it now appears from the figures cited in the Amendment before the House, and which have not been denied, that at present there are only 41 directorships divided among the Members of the 1007 Government. Nineteen, therefore, have resigned, and consequently I think that the First Lord of the Treasury is sensible of the inconvenience of a directorship being held, and that he has, through the action he has taken— or the Government have taken— brought about a reduction of the number. But are these 19 upon whom the Tower of Siloam fell greater sinners than the 41 who kept their directorships? I do not know. This, Sir, brings me to the defence made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who I am glad to see in his place; a defence, I think, characterised by a certain inadequacy, and by a certain, levity. He says—There are companies and companies; there are directors and directors.Well, that suggests, if anything, that some companies are good, and therefore a Minister may be a director of them, and that other companies are bad, and therefore the Minister should not be a director of them. Does not the right honourable Gentleman see how invidious the position is that he takes up? Does he not see how extraordinary it is to say that the Government, or the Minister, shall decide between the merits of the various companies, and that they shall cast into outer darkness 19 of them, leaving the other 41 within the Ministerial fold? Who is to be the judge Who has been the judge? Is it the Government, or is it the Minister himself Are you to leave it to the Minister himself to say that the company of which he is a director is a good company or a bad company? If so, you put him in a very invidious position, and you make him a judge in his own cause. If, on the other hand, you are going to put it to the Government, then, as I suggested before, you are making it a court of review of all the companies in this country, some of which may be desirous to obtain the services of a politician so eminent, or, what is more important, so dangerous, that he is likely to be called into the next Ministry. I think that is a position which shows the falsity of the present practice of Ministers seeking directorships when they have to perform the invidious task of settling which company is good and which is bad. Now, if it 1008 is true that there are companies and companies, directors and directors, it is also true that there are Ministers and Ministers, and it might possibly be held by the Government that while one Minister might hold a position in a company, another should not. Is the Cabinet to review the directorial capacity of its own members? It appears to me that that is a most important precedent. The truth is, no distinction can be made; either you must allow every Minister to be a director of any company he chooses, or else you must make the rule, which I believe we ought to make, that no Member of the Cabinet should, be a director of any company whatever. Well, the Chancellor of the Exchequer avowed that he himself is a director of a mutual insurance company, which he says he directs in the time that he would otherwise devote to recreation, and adds that the First Lord of the Treasury plays at golf while he plays at mutual insurance. The right honourable Gentle man also said that he had great private interests in that society, and that no ore can tell how an insurance society is going on unless he is within the charmed circle. Well, Sir, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not the only person who is interested in this society. But how about those who are outside the charmed circle? I do not know how this mutual assurance society will take what is, I think, the somewhat damaging admission of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that in order to be safe one must be within the charmed circle. Then, again. Sir—and here I tread upon ground which has been already occupied, but only for a minute or two—there is the fact than the Duke of Devonshire is a director of the Hematite Iron Company [Cries of "No."]
Well, Sir, that is what I understood; the Duke of Devonshire is not a director of an armaments company, but is a director of the Hematite Iron Company. I think that is very unfortunate, as hematite iron is, I believe, the only sort of iron that is used for making the steel that ships are made of, considering that the Duke is a member of the Committee of Council on 1009 National Defence. I think I may say that no one would entertain the idea that any improper motive would ever influence the Duke of Devonshire; at the same time, I do say it is inconvenient, and is not dignified for him to occupy both those positions, the more so at this moment, because other processes are arising which may drive hematite iron out of the steel trade. Well, Sir, one word further. The Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to suggest—I think he could hardly have meant it—that this Amendment involved a charge of corruption. No charge of corruption whatever is involved in this Motion, and if this were a charge of corruption, the Motion would not be introduced as an Amendment upon the Queen's Speech; a Motion for Papers would be made on which to found an impeachment. There is, therefore, no justification for saying that the Amendment involves a charge of corruption. The only charge amounts to this—that it is inconvenient and incompatible with a Ministry of the Crown that Cabinet Ministers—and I limit myself to them—should hold directorships. I think, however, that subordinate Ministers may hold them, as they do not take part in the final judgment on great questions of State, and are not Ministers in the strict sense of the term. For instance, I will take the case of my right honourable Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He, I believe, holds two directorships, and, considering that all he has to do is to give the answers to Questions that are put into his mouth by the Minister, I do not see why he should not continue to hold those directorships until, in the inevitable course of human affairs, he is made a Viceroy. Sir, in the case of Members of the Cabinet, there is no excuse for their holding these directorships. The directorships bring fees, but these can be no temptation to Ministers of the Crown. Sir, Members of the Cabinet have salaries, and those salaries are adequate, because there are always a dozen or two of Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House prepared to accept them. But I would remind the House that they are also large. The 19 Members of the Cabinet divide between them £93,000 a year, and consequently it must be a matter of no importance to them to add the few hundreds, or few thousands, they may obtain from fees as 1010 directors. Well, Sir, one thing I must admit—I must admit that this Cabinet has peculiar temptations in the way of directorships. No abler body of men were ever at the head of the Departments of State than the 19 Gentlemen who fill those positions at the present moment—the testimony is undeniable, it is the testimony of the First Lord of the Treasury in a speech at Manchester—and the inevitable result is, of course, that companies are extremely anxious to get their services as directors. That should be borne in mind in the language we use about them, and in excusing any little delay—because I believe it is only a delay—that may have occurred in bringing this matter forward in its proper form, and remedying the present state of things. Well, Sir, my conclusion is this—that while the subordinate Members of the Government should be allowed to hold their directorships—[Cries of "No."]—I am only expressing my opinion, but I am endeavouring to put my reasons for it before the House— Gentlemen occupying the high position of Cabinet Ministers should not hold any directorship whatever, whether good bad, or indifferent. My belief is that the First Lord of the Treasury, and, consequently, the Cabinet in general, is much inclined to entertain the same view as I entertain myself. I observe that the First Lord of the Treasury has already made a movement in the direction of this Amendment by getting rid of 19 directorships. I should be very sorry to vote for this Amendment, and I hope I may be relieved from doing so by a declaration on the part of the First Lord of the Treasury that the Government will take this delicate matter into consideration, and will persevere in the path on which they have already entered. Such a step, I am convinced, would be received with no more satisfaction on the opposite side of the House than on this side, because there are many Members on this side who hold with me that it is inconvenient and incompatible for Members of the Government to hold these directorships, and if, as I trust, the First Lord is able to make some statement to that effect, I believe it will be received with the utmost satisfaction on both sides of the House.
§ * MR. E. W. BECKETT (York, N.R., Whitby)
Sir, I think this question 1011 can be discussed without the gibes and jeers at Ministers to which the honourable Member who has just spoken has resorted. Of course, we all know that Ministers are honourable men; none of us, I think, would be disposed to cast the slightest shadow of doubt upon their absolute integrity. But, Sir, there seems to be a pretty general concurrence in favour of the principle involved in this Motion. That principle seems to be twofold. The first point is that Ministers should not be connected with any company which in any conceivable circumstances can bias their judgment or influence their action as public servants of the Crown, and the next is that Ministers should not lend the prestige of their name and position to any undertaking, financed with public money, with the detailed working of which they are not familiar, and to which they are unable to give their constant care and attention. The practical application of this twofold principle would exclude nearly all Ministers of the Crown from taking directorships; but, at the same time, I feel with one speaker, that it is quite impossible to draw an absolutely hard and fast line. I think there are some cases in which it is conceivable that, for the public advantage Ministers should remain, for a time at all events, in the position which they have occupied. I am inclined to think that the case of the Duke of Devonshire is one in point, and that for the successful working of the company his continuance in that position was certainly almost essential for the time being, and I think the shareholders would have been very much dissatisfied if he had withdrawn from it. Again, take the case of the late Mr. W. H. Smith. He built up a business, and he was entirely associated with that business, and if, when it was turned into a public company, he had been obliged to retire from it, the shareholders would have been greatly displeased. This will show that the best of principles should not be pushed too far, and that you should not in all cases prohibit Ministers from holding directorships, but at the same time, as a general principle, I think it would be well for Ministers of the Crown to resign their seats on a Board when appointed to office. The Colonial Secretary and the First Lord of the Admiralty must have felt 1012 cause for rejoicing when they were signalled out and held up to the world as being models for all office holders in the future; and I thought when I heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, admirable as his apologia was, it might have been better if he had not had to make it at all. The Chancellor of the Exchequer as everybody knows, is a man of the highest character and absolutely unimpeachable integrity and great financial ability, and any company would derive advantage from his connection with it; but the question is, has he derived advantage from his connection with any company, or can any Minister do so? When I look at the life of Prince Bismarck, I am very much struck with the emphasis he laid upon this point, that when he was Minister, and others were under him as Ministers, he insisted upon it that they should have no connection with any public companies whatsoever, and he carried this idea so far that he absolutely refused to invest any money in any stock upon the value of which his political actions might possibly have some influence— this, Sir, because he knew, strong man as he was, the weakness that human nature is liable to when private interests are concerned. When we have Ministers sitting upon the boards of public companies it is conceivable, it is possible, that questions may arise touching their departments which also touch upon their private interests, and in such a case it is quite impossible for a man to be an absolutely free agent. It may not be probable that this contact should be established, but it is always possible, and certainly, it seems to me, it would be better if Ministers were to do away with temptation entirely, and remove themselves alogether above suspicion. Reference has been made to the rule that prevails in the Civil Service in this country. May I say that with regard to private concerns the same rule holds to a very great extent. In private banks no partners are allowed to take directorships in any other companies without the consent of the other partners, which is very rarely and very reluctantly given, and the reason is to prevent any partner deriving any private advantage by pledging the prestige of the name of his firm. And if that applies to such humble individuals as partners in private banks, 1013 surely it applies much more to such high uplifted individuals as Ministers of the Crown. They are eminent persons; a fierce light beats upon them; they all have their admirers and followers, who attribute to them almost Papal infallibility in virtue of their position; and a Minister's good name is public property, and a Minister's reputation is a financial asset, which company directors and investors are well aware of. And we know that the integrity of our public men, the purity of our public life, is a great public gain, and this knowledge imposes upon Ministers a duty, and that duty is this: it is to see that, so far as they can help it, no wrongdoing is done under the cloak and cover of their name. But, Sir, they cannot see to this: it is impossible; they have neither the time nor the adequate knowledge. It is not easy to learn a business; anybody who has been practically concerned in business knows it perfectly well. Take the business in which I am engaged, that of banking. I venture to say that no man can thoroughly understand that business unless he has worked at it day after day for four or five years. But there are Ministers of the Crown holding banking directorships. I know as a matter of fact they can have no possible real control of the work of those banks. The work is done by the man on the spot, and no effective control can be possibly exercised by anyone who drops in either in the way of recreation or for any other purpose whatsoever. And why is it that business men so seldom give their names to any companies with the business of which they are not familiar? In the first place, they do that to guard the reputation of their own names, and in the second place, because they recognise the extreme difficulty of managing the affairs of a business to which they have not been trained and educated. There is at this present moment far too much readiness and facility in the way that gentlemen assume directorships. It has in some cases reached the proportion of a public scandal, and I am glad to see there is a prospect of a legal remedy being applied. I have ventured to express my opinion upon this point, and with that I rest content. Under our present system, the rejection of these Amendments to the Address is as essential to the status, to 1014 the life of the Ministry as the rejection of a vote of censure. Therefore, Sir, while I declare adherence to a general principle, I must say that I do not think the assertion of that principle is of such essential importance that I am prepared to sacrifice a Ministry for it.
§ * SIR J. BRUNNER (Cheshire, North-wich)
Mr. Speaker, I will not detain the House long, but there are one or two observations I desire to offer. I agree with the honourable Gentleman who has spoken last in the view he took of the speech of the honourable Member for King's Lynn. That was not a speech which recommended the Motion before the House to the acceptance of Ministers. I have very seldom heard a speech more calculated to arouse irritation against a just cause than that which came from the honourable Member. I do not agree, Sir, with the honourable Member for King's Lynn in that he desires to exempt Secretaries and Under-Secretaries from the operation of this wholesome rule which the honourable and learned Member wishes to impose upon Ministers. Why, Sir, the fact that a man receives a small salary is by no means an argument, he being in the service of the State, in favour of allowing him to take directorships. The smaller the salary the greater the temptation; and the wholesomeness of such a rule is recognised by the Government in that they have made it an absolute and inflexible rule that no member of the Civil Service, no matter what his position, may hold a directorship of a public company. Mr. Speaker, I want to add to what has fallen from my honourable Friend the Member for Accrington this warning, that if this House does not impose a rule upon Ministers of the Crown, what is going to become of town councils and city councils throughout the country? If a bad example is set here, it will inevitably be followed by inferior governing authorities, and unless successive Governments make strict rules in this matter we shall have a flood of corruption over the country, which will be terribly regretted by us in time to come. The fact is, Sir, that it is the new development in the management of business in this country which makes a new rule necessary. The old rule was that no man should have deal- 1015 ings with the Government who was a Member of Parliament, and no Minister of the Crown should have dealings with himself as a man of business. Sir, we all of us now are men of business in one form or another, open or disguised, and it is the fact that so many of us are now in business, and so many of us are now directors of companies, that makes this new rule necessary. We know that officialdom is always slow to move, officialdom is always slow to recognise a new order of things. I agree with every Member who has spoken, that this is not a vote of censure upon the Government, but it is a vote of warning, and the warning is this, and may be put in this way—that Ministers must recognise that a new state of affairs requires a new rule. It is because I am a loyal servant of this House that I desire that its honour should stand high, and it is because I believe that the honour of our administration ought to be in our minds the greatest of our national aims, that I shall certainly vote with my honourable Friend.
§ * COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
I confess that I am not in sympathy with any of the speeches that have been made from either side of the House, when they have gone so far as to state that Ministers of the Crown, or Members of the Front Benches, ought not to be allowed to hold directorships. That this Amendment is unnecessary and inconvenient has been shown as the speeches have gone on by the fact that each succeeding speaker has found himself in a fresh difficulty as to where to draw the line, and as to what Ministers may hold and what Ministers may not hold directorships, whether it should be Cabinet Ministers who may not hold directorships, or whether only Under-Secretaries should be allowed to hold directorships, or whether, indeed, the rule should not apply to any Member of the whole House. The truth is, Sir, as I cannot help thinking, that the honour of a Minister of the Crown is no dearer to him, and no more precious to him, than is the honour of every single Member here, and if you are to make a rule that no Cabinet Minister is to hold a directorship of any sort, I think it would be much more convenient that the same rule should be applied to every single Member of the House. The honourable 1016 Member for King s Lynn declared that while he would not allow a Cabinet Minister to hold a directorship, he would allow the Under-Secretaries to do so, and stated that his reason for that was that the salary of an Under-Secretary was not sufficient.
§ * COLONEL LOCKWOOD
Perfectly true. The honourable Member for King's Lynn went on and stated that he could not perceive why this was to be made the subject of a Vote of Confidence. He knows a great deal better than I do—because he studies constitutional points much more closely than I do—that if once the Government was to begin to allow Amendments, however innocent, to be moved to the Address in reply to the Queen's Speech, we should have, following a terribly bad example set us some years ago, to produce a fresh Address to be passed by the House. Then the honourable Member for King's Lynn was unable to find that any question of interest had appeared to have influenced a Minister's decision. And as to the fees paid to directors, the honourable Member must be aware that unless Members of the various Boards attend the meetings they did not get any fees at all. A good deal of false sentiment has been imported into this Debate, but the House seems generally to have recognised the fact that it is not prepared to charge any single Member of either Front Bench, I am happy to say, with having been influenced by the interests of a private company in the discharge of his public duty. That has never yet been the case. Why, then, should we look forward to its immediate arrival? I do not for a moment believe that a Cabinet Minister who holds a directorship of a large railway, or of a great undertaking of that sort, is the least likely to be influenced in his decision by the fact that he is the manager of a private company. We must allow the Front Bench to have the credit for a small amount of intellect—I confess that, perhaps the back Benches sometimes think they have more—but surely they can exercise an ordinary degree of intelligence which would prevent them accepting a directorship of any company likely to throw discredit upon their high office, or to in- 1017 duce them to prejudice their opinion. Now, Sir, the House having fairly acknowledged that no question of interest has in the past exercised any power over the decision of a Cabinet Minister in any public Department, there remains still the question of time—whether a Cabinet Minister especially, who is a very busy man, has any right to use a portion of his time for the direction of a public company; and it was adduced as a reason in that argument that no civil servants were allowed to accept directorships. Sir, the reason for that is very easy to see. The civil servants of the Crown are employed all day at their offices. That is not the case with a Minister of the Crown. He has certainly some leisure; and there is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has explained that he takes his leisure in a different way from that of other Cabinet Ministers. When it comes to this question of a Cabinet Minister not being allowed to have any spare time to himself, but he must devote the whole of his time to the exercise of his public functions, I would ask the House to consider this: Has the House never heard of a Cabinet Minister on either side writing articles for reviews, or even books, for which he has received large sums in payment? Surely the writing of essays on grave subjects for reviews, or the writing of books, would take up a great deal more time than that which he would occupy in acting on the directorate of a large public company. I cannot believe that the House can perceive any inconvenience arising from Members of this House being engaged on the directorate of large public concerns, such as railways or works of that sort. It is different altogether from a small commercial and trading business, with which I do not believe any of them are connected. We know that all public companies are more or less trading companies, but surely the House would never for one moment compare the Great Western Railway Company, of which the right honourable Gentleman the Minister of Agriculture is a member, with a small trading company, or a company likely to cause ruin or distress to thousands of people. There must be a distinction drawn, and when the House tries to draw that distinction, and when it tries to draw a line between what companies may be accepted and 1018 what companies may not be accepted, when honourable Members try to draw a line as to what Ministers should hold directorships and what should not, they will see in what a difficult position they would place themselves if they passed an Amendment of this description.
§ MR. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I do not agree that there is any false sentiment in regard to this matter. What we have really in our minds is that every Minister ought to be, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion. The honourable Member has said that the reason why the rule is imposed as regards civil servants is to be found in the question of time; that they ought not to be allowed during their office hours, to enter into business besides. I do not believe that is the reason at all for the limitation which is imposed upon their liberty. It is not a question of time. Civil servants, in many offices at all events, are not so much over-worked that they could not undertake other business as well. It is because we feel—and the State feels—that there ought not to be any conflict of interests, that they are prohibited from taking part in any public companies. The honourable Member must feel that the whole point turns, not so much upon whether a Minister will have time to devote to his duty or not, but what we all feel—what is felt on both sides of the House—is that there ought not to be any suspicion or any idea that any conflict of interests can come in connection with these matters. The honourable Gentleman endeavours—rather as, I think, one or two other speakers have done—to turn this matter on a two-sided issue, one as to whether there ought to be any line drawn between one company and another, and the other as to whether there ought to be any line drawn between those in the Cabinet and those holding subordinate positions. I feel myself very strongly that in the first case no line can be drawn, and consequently that no line ought to be drawn; because, as regards one company and another, what possible line can be drawn between the right of a particular Minister to remain a director of one company and the right of another Minister to remain director of another com- 1019 pany? It is perfectly clear that you cannot discuss the matter and show that one company is better than another company, or that one company is in a better financial position, or less likely to come into conflict with the official duties of a Minister at some time. It is obvious that there is no court of Appeal as regards the matter, and if you allow any line to be drawn at all, each Minister must be judge for himself. It seems to me that it would be a very serious matter in the formation of a Government if some directorships were to be relinquished and some retained by Members of the Government; it would be surely an undue advertisement for certain companies, and an undue depreciation of those whose directorships had to be relinquished. I do not think it is possible, if this matter is to be dealt with at all, for any line to be drawn between one company and another. And I am quite sure that no line can be drawn, as one honourable Member, at all events, endeavoured to do, between Members of the Cabinet and those holding subordinate offices. I entirely agree that Members of the Cabinet have greater responsibilities to the Queen and to this House and to the country, than have the subordinate Members of the Government. I think it was the honourable Member for King's Lynn who said in his speech that the younger and subordinate Members of the Government have not to decide the great questions of State. But it is not the great questions of State in which this matter is involved at all; it is in small matters of administration where the conflict of time and the conflict of interests may come into play; and I should say myself that it is more likely that a subordinate Member of the House would be able to influence a contract unduly or unfairly than a Member of the Government, who may, perhaps, as Secretary of State or head of a department, have nothing to do with it, as it would never come before him at all. I think that if the rule is enforced, it certainly ought to apply to subordinate officers as well. I think the House will feel that this matter has been discussed, not only very temperately, but perhaps with good taste, and that we all desire not to pass any vote of censure on the Government, not to pass any personal reflection in regard to this Government or the other, but to be 1020 allowed to express our opinions in a forcible way, that in the future the Members of the Government ought to be free from any suspicion of being directors of companies. It was stated last night, and I think it is clear, that the late Government of Mr. Gladstone did set a good example in this matter, and practically he did say to those who' joined his Government that he considered it was inconvenient and incompatible for them to retain their directorships and be Members of the Government, and I believe, as was stated last night—
§ MR. BUXTON
Lord Loch never held office under Mr. Gladstone. He never held a directorship while he was High Commissioner at the Cape, or so long as he was Governor of any of our colonies.
§ * COLONEL LOCKWOOD
I did not mean that. When he was at the Woods and Forests Department, was not he under the Government?
§ MR. BUXTON
Lord Loch never held office at all under Mr. Gladstone—he never held political office, and when he held office under the Colonial Office he was certainly prohibited from being, and never was, a director of any company. I only say a good example has been set, and I think it is to be regretted that the Members of the present Government do not follow that example. I trust that after this Debate—in which, as I have said, we desire that no reflection shall be thought to be cast on the Government—they will see their way to adopt that course, which, I believe, is in the opinion on both sides of the House, and I am quite sure in the opinion of the country, the right course, and put themselves in such a position that no suspicion of any sort, can be cast on the Government, and retain at the very highest level the feeling of purity throughout our Civil Service and public life.
§ * MR. GEDGE (Walsall)
Of course, it is impossible for me to support this Amendment, as it represents to Her Majesty that 25 Members of the Government are acting improperly; but apart 1021 from that, the Amendment seems to me to be a great deal too wide when it speaks of the position of a public company director as incompatible with the position of a Minister of the Crown, and calculated to lower the dignity of public life. I think that the Mover of the Amendment must have forgotten that we are most distinctly a commercial nation. There is hardly any one amongst us who is not more or less engaged in trade or commerce or business of some sort or other. No doubt, if we were a number of Spanish Hidalgoes, who thought that any contact with trade soiled our fingers, I could understand such an Amendment being put before us, but having regard to the fact that I have mentioned, that we are all more or less interested in matters of this kind, and that public companies were invented a short, time ago—a few years ago—in order to give everyone an opportunity of engaging in commercial transactions, and of reaping some of the benefits which they produce, I think people make a very great mistake in running amok as they do against public companies, as if they were in themselves wrong, or discreditable to people who had anything to do with them. I should like honourable Members to tell me how they would differentiate between a member of a firm and a member of a company. In many cases we know that great industrial firms are being turned into public companies. No one has ever objected to any member of such a firm holding office in Her Majesty's Government. No one ever has suggested that for him to do so is lowering to the dignity of public life, and that it is incompatible with the possession of office. There are in business houses active partners and sleeping partners, and there are in all companies active partners, or directors, and sleeping partners, or shareholders. Then with regard to the question of time. I think as regards the shareholders, they may be left perfectly well to take care of themselves. We are not bound to protect them. If they find that a gentleman who is a member of their board has taken office under the Government, and cannot give so much time as he did before to the management of the affairs of the company, they can take the matter into their own hands, and they 1022 can get rid of him if they like. But when this question is raised on the ground that a Cabinet Minister has not time to attend to his duties as a Minister, it seems to me to be very absurd. With regard to ordinary civil servants, no doubt they are engaged to work for a certain number of hours a day; they do ail the work they can in these hours, and these hours are generally those during the middle of the day, when members of the boards which direct public companies meet. Therefore they cannot possibly attend to both duties at the same time. But Cabinet Ministers have no limit of hours. They work for eight, 12, or 16 hours. Cabinet Ministers do their work whatever time it may take them. They are not our slaves; they undertake for proper remuneration, and for the position which their office gives them, to serve the public. They do their work, and if they do not they are answerable for that to this House. Now, with regard to a conflict of interests, I would point out this; though you cannot possibly draw a line between companies that Ministers ought and ought not to be directors of, every Minister can very properly draw that line for himself. Take a Minister who obtains office as Secretary of State for the Colonies. He might very well, if he happened to be, a director of a great English company—say the Great Western Railway Company or the London and North-Western Railway Company—remain so; but if he had been a director of the Transvaal Mortgage and Land Company, or any other South African company, obviously he could not properly remain so. But I wish the House to see that the interests which conflict are pecuniary interests, and they do not arise between the Cabinet Minister and the director, but between the Cabinet Minister and the shareholder. If there is to be any conflicting interest, why, it is not because a Minister is director of a company, but because he is a large shareholder of a company, and, therefore, to be of any use, the Amendment ought to say that no Cabinet Minister should be a shareholder of any company. Whether he is a shareholder or not is a very difficult thing to discover. Members of both Front Benches may be shareholders in a vast number of companies, and we have no 1023 means of discovering it. But when they are directors we know it, and, therefore, if any of them improperly took a part in this House against the interests of the State on behalf of a company his improper motive would be known at once. The private interests of us all conflict with those of the State. We want to get as much as we can, and to pay as little taxes as possible. It may be necessary, perhaps, to have a rule that no company of which a Member of this House is a director shall take a Government contract, and it may be well to debar a Company of which a Member of the Government is a director from having anything to do with a Department of which he, as a Minister of the Crown, is the head. If such a rule was passed then the effect might be that any director of such a company who joined a Cabinet would resign his directorship. But a Rule such as is proposed, that no Member of the Government should hold any directorship, is unreasonable. We all, of course, should agree that we should not wish a Member of the Government, or, for the matter of that, a Member of Parliament to allow his name to go out on a prospectus in order to obtain money to start a new company. But the Resolution hits Gentlemen who, having been directors of a company, choose to remain in that position when they become Ministers. Take the profession of the law. My right honourable Friend opposite, when he was a Member of the late Government, had, as Home Secretary, the command of the whole of the Bar. He had a large number of positions in his gift, but that does not prevent him the moment he is out of office from going back to the Bar and practising with those of whom he was once, and may be so again, the patron. When I was solicitor to the London School Board it was proposed to cut down my modest emolument. A lady member opposed the motion because she said we all knew very well that lawyers got on very badly in the next world therefore they had better have what they could get now. That shows you that no profession escapes attack. The legal profession is often the object of attack, and so you will arrive at a point when there will be no profession or trade from which you will be 1024 able to select a Member of the Government, and you will be dependent upon those who have their property in Consols Practically, you will lose all the men of business, or who have any business attributes or aptitude, and you will therefore not get the business training and experience which has first raised them to the position of directors and then to that of Minister. It will be a bad thing to limit in this way the Queen's choice of Ministers.
§ * CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
Mr. Speaker, In the few remarks which I am about to make to the House, I am perfectly well aware that I am treading on very delicate ground, but I hope I shall do so without wounding the tender susceptibilities of the sensitive gentlemen who occupy the Front Benches. I may as well remark at the outset that I am not and never was in the position of being a director of a public company, because having no business connections, or business training I never offered myself for that office. I do not approach this subject in any way from the fox and the grapes point of view, but because I believe there are few questions upon which the country feel more strongly at the present time than this. Of one thing I am certain, that the working-men in London feel very deeply upon this particular question. They look at everything as regards money, in connection with this House, as something which directly affects themselves, and they think it is only right that those who occupy a proud position in this House should make some sacrifice for the work of politics. They feel that they themselves are debarred to some extent, but by making great sacrifices they are enabled to place their representatives in this House, and they naturally say to themselves—If we are obliged to put our hands into our pockets to elect our representatives and pay their expenses, and to maintain them whilst they are in the House, the very least that the Ministers of the Crown can do who receive payment for their services is to make some sacrifice in their own emoluments.Furthermore, and this is a point which is not raised by the working-man himself, but which I wish to raise here. The labour Members themselves when they enter this House make sacrifices; they are men who, if they had remained at 1025 their trades or callings, had reason to hope that they would have amassed considerable wealth, or at least have placed themselves in very comfortable circumstances. They come to this House, and after having devoted their time and talents to the bettering of their fellow men, after they have succeeded in adding materially to the comfort of their fellow workers, they arrive at a time of life when they have not the same power or energy, and they cannot earn the money they could before at their occupations, and they find that the man who by means of a public company has amassed wealth, or who through keeping his seat in this House has either amassed wealth or increased it, goes down to the workman's constituency and by means of that wealth defeats the working man who is the elected of that constituency. Therefore the working men feel this very acutely. In the first place they, at a great sacrifice, place men in this House, and then when, in order to keep up the reputation which every representative of a constituency in this House should hold, they resist the temptation to connect themselves with companies which do not bear a high reputation, they are turned out by the very people who have joined these concerns, who are not so scrupulous as they, and who drive them out at an advanced period of life when the workmen who originally placed them in Parliament are not at the workshops to lend them a helping hand. We find most painful instances of men, turned not only out of this House, but being obliged—I will not say to seek the charity, but to depend upon the liberality of their friends in order to "husband out life's taper at its close." They make all these sacrifices and they say, If we make these sacrifices then those who occupy the Front Bench, who are paid by the State, should be at least prepared to make sacrifices equally as great as the sacrifices which we have made. Why do the workmen feel so strongly upon this point? Because of the possibility of making money. A large number of working men were closely connected with a certain representative who, I regret to say, was a man on this side of the House, a Member of a large building society which brought ruin to thousands and hundreds 1026 of thousands. You cannot get round the fact that a certain position in Parliament has a certain interest attached to it. It may not be so in certain cases, but a working man does not argue in that way. He says, if it is possible to make money by that position, that condition of things should be put an end to. He is not in a position to distinguish one honourable Member of Parliament from another. Look at the state of affairs in a neighbouring country, through such practices having occurred. There is not one man in 20 who can be persuaded that there is any honesty in public life. I say it is the duty of this House to the country to make this sacrifice in order that no injurious inferences may be drawn as to the state of things which exists. I say there ought to be no hesitation between self-interest and duty. I should like to make some remarks as to companies. I do not deny that there is a great difference between a man who is a director of an industrial company which has grown out of a large and successful business and the directors of the other class of company, but we cannot draw a line between company and company, and the Members of the Cabinet and other Members of the Government, certainly ought to make the sacrifices which are asked of them. It is patent to all that unless this question is put upon such a basis that there cannot be the least possibility of suspicion, the tendency will be to cause the public of this country to get into the same state of excitement and distrust as the people of France. Such things will not add to the dignity of the House. There should be some esprit de corps in this matter. What has brought this country to the position which it occupies is the esprit de corps of the people in every phase of public life? You see it in public schools, you see it in commercial life, you see it in the trades unions and societies connected with the different trades, and you ought also to see it here. The duty of every Member of this House is to jealously guard the dignity and high position which he holds, and it is the first duty of those who are ornaments of this House—and nobody asserts that any honourable Member who occupies the Front Bench has been guilty of anything upon which the reople can look with suspicion—to make the sacrifices which are asked of them.
§ MR. ELLIOT (Durham)
This matter has now been before the House for some time, and it may possibly be thought has been discussed at sufficient length, but I should just like to put to the honourable Member who moves the Motion the position in which the matter now stands. He has brought before the House an enormously great problem. It has been discussed, and we have had several important statements on the subject from the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. Now we stand at present in this position, that the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made a speech which practically amounted to this—the right honourable Gentleman will himself one day in the future probably be engaged in forming a Government, or taking a position m one, which will be formed by the Opposite Party, and, considering the high position he now holds, he is entitled to speak upon the subject—he declared from his place in this House that he deprecated altogether Members of the Administration being in any way connected with directorships of public companies. Now this is a matter in which I gather he has not been unsupported. He has been supported by the honourable Member for the Tower Hamlets, and I think we may now say that the Party opposite is identified in the proportion that when it comes to their turn to form an Administration they will entirely deprecate the system of introducing directors into it.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Pardon me one moment. I might, perhaps, inform my honourable friend that the Party with whom I am connected has done it before. Actually, Members of it have resigned their directorships.
§ MR. ELLIOT
I am delighted to hear the statement from the right honourable Gentleman, but I do not think he is strictly accurate. I would recall to his mind the fact that four leading Members of the late Government were directors of companies. That statement was given to the House upon the unimpeachable authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is a statement which cannot be denied; but I do not care how virtuous you may have been in the past —what I care for is the virtue of the future. Let us now distinguish a little 1028 between the positions of the two Front Benches. It is not a very difficult matter to be virtuous in regard to a distant and contingent future. Contingent virtue is one thing, but virtue which is to be acted upon at the present moment is quite another and different thing. And what I would humbly venture to suggest to the Ministers of the Crown is that they also, like the right honourable Gentleman opposite, should rather fix their eyes on the future than on the present, and consider, as time goes on, whether they might not see their way to examine into this subject, and perhaps in time even enter into competition in rigid virtue with the right honourable Gentleman opposite. I would respectfully ask, has there not been really a remarkable unanimity of opinion among Members speaking from different parts of the house? I deprecate the statement of the honourable Member for King's Lynn that this is a convenient way to decide the question before the House. I think it is most inconvenient, because a division will not, and cannot, reflect the opinion of the honourable Members. On the merits of the case, I would ask the honourable Member the Mover of the Amendment whether he has not gone far enough for his purpose. He has brought his proposition before the House, and it has been discussed at great length. As it is on the paper, it is on the face of it a vote of censure that the Government have acted in a particular way, and honourable Members who sit opposite, and who are going into the division lobby with him seem inclined to enforce its character as a vote of censure, and it being so I say I have no hesitation whatever in going into the same lobby as the Government. But I appeal to my right honourable Friends on the Front Bench as to wheher it is not possible under the circumstances to avoid a division upon this- question, which must cause a very great deal of misconception in the mind of the country. Of course, if a division is taken, it must be carried by a considerable majority upon the side of the Government, which will go to prove to the majority of the public that the more directors there are on the Government Benches the better. That would be a most unfortunate misconception, and therefore I do trust that the honour- 1029 able Gentleman who moves the Motion will be able to come to some arrangement so as to avoid such a misconception, being entertained by the country, land avoiding such an unfortunate result.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
The moral of the honourable Gentleman who last addressed the House appears to me to be that virtue is a good thing if we cultivate it in the future and not the present, and in this particular instance he advocates that they ought to cultivate virtue when his friends go out of office and their opponents come into power. For my own part I am not a director of any company. I am not a director, not on any high and lofty principles, but because I have seen directors as a rule get more kicks than halfpence. They do get the halfpence, but they get the kicks in a larger quantity. If the company goes on well, they get no thanks, and if it does not, then everybody abuses them. I was very much surprised to see so many Members get up on the other side of the House to express their views upon the subject of this Amendment, but I have now discovered the reason. They are in favour of the Amendment, and they have spoken in favour of it, but they are not going to vote for it; they have spoken one way, they are going to vote another. The only Member who absolutely supported this Amendment was the honourable Gentleman the Member for Walsall, and the reason for this I have also gathered. He explained that at one time he had accepted some position in some public department, and they had cut down his modest emoluments. Now I gathered from the honourable Member for East Lynn—I beg pardon, I mean King's Lynn—that he suggested that some distinction should be made between Cabinet Ministers and those Members of the Government who are not Cabinet Ministers. I do not know whether I was right, but I thought I heard the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House cheer that observation. But if the right honourable Gentleman intended to make that proposal, I am bound to tell him that I do not think it will be satisfactory, at any rate, to many Members on this side of the House. There are obviously cases in which right honourable Gentlemen who are not Cabinet Ministers, but 1030 who are Members of the Government, who ought not to be directors of companies. Take the case of the Postmaster-General. Sometimes he is in the Cabinet, but sometimes he is not in the Cabinet, as is the ease at present. Now, there are many cases in which the head of the Post Office might find himself in a position, equally with a Cabinet Minister, in which he would have a difficulty in deciding between the interests of some public company and that of his Department and of the public.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
My honourable Friend says the telephone company. Well, we know perfectly well it is a public company and a bad company. That company has brought in Bills this Session, and, undoubtedly, supposing that the head of the Post Office—the Duke of Norfolk—were a director of that company, though I cannot conceive how he could be a director of a telephone company, he would be placed in an entirely false position in deciding on the course to be adopted in connection with these Bills. Take another case by way of illustration. I have the highest respect for Lord Selborne, and I am certain he is an honest and an upright man. But he is Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and is at the same time a director of the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company. We know very well that that company have subsidies from the Government for carrying mails, etc., and that naturally the time will come for the discussion of the renewal of the contracts with the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company, and the increase of their subsidies. But these questions would come first before the Colonial Office, and then the Under-Secretary of State in the Colonial Office would have some sort of say in the matter.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
In any case, if the Colonial Office adopted a certain view of the subject, Lord Selborne would have to defend that view in the House of Lords, where he now is. I point to these two cases to show that, if we attempt to draw a line of distinction between Cabinet Ministers and Ministers who are not in the Cabinet, it would not be satisfactory. Another line is suggested to be drawn—a line be- 1031 tween companies and companies. Then are, it is said, some companies which it is reasonable that Members of the Government should belong to, and there are other companies of which it is not reasonable they should be directors. I perfectly admit that there are a great many companies which a Member of the Government might without any great objection belong to, but I defy anybody to draw a distinct line, and lay down a rule by which it can be said, "You may belong to this company, but you may not belong to that." Take insurance companies. If you were to say that Members of the Government ought to be allowed to join the directorate of insurance companies, I do not see any great objection; but still I would have a difficulty in saying that they should belong to this company, but should not belong to another. Again, take banking companies. In a banking company there are most important considerations involved, and in order to keep things safe the directors must thoroughly know what is going on. Now, I ask, is a Member of the Government to be a member of a banking company, and not to be a member of any other company? There was the case of Mr. Mundella. Nobody thought of accusing that right honourable Gentleman of any dishonourable conduct, but he was so occupied by his office that matters seemed to have gone wrong in the board while he was only nominally a director, and he had to resign his position as a Minister. We know perfectly well that if a Minister pays attention to his office, it would be impossible for him to pay that attention to the affairs of the bank which the shareholders have a right to demand a director should pay. I venture to make a suggestion. It has been said on the other side that we are anxious to divide. We do not want to make this a Party question. I really believe that if it were not put as a question of confidence in the Government, we should have as many honourable Members on that side of the House as on this voting with us. We are not very anxious to divide. But we do want to lay down the general principle that the Members of the Government ought not to be directors of companies. And I admit that we must divide if we cannot get this assurance. The division would not be a satisfactory one, because the Mover 1032 of the Amendment would not have the advantage of the votes of many honourable Members on the other side of the House. Under these circumstances, if the Government would accept our fullest assurance that we do not wish in any direct or indirect way to impute any bad motives to the Members of the present Government. If the First Lord of the Treasury would get up and say that in future he would adopt the rule laid down by Mr. Gladstone, that declaration would, I believe, be satisfactory to the collective opinion of the House.
§ THE FIRST LOUD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
Mr. Speaker, I think all who have listened, as I have listened, to this Debate, must have been struck by two things. One is the care which all the speakers on whatever side they sit, or whatever opinions they hold, either on general politics, or on the particular question at issue, have anxiously shown to make no attack upon the personal honour of any single member of the House. And the second fact is, that there has been on all sides expressed a most anxious desire that in every respect the purity of English public life should be kept up to the high standard which I am glad to think has now for many generations been maintained. As long as that earnest feeling, that earnest desire exists in this House, and as long as it is reflected, as I believe it always will be, outside, I, myself, have no fear as to the future character of the Administrations which from time to time will successively hold office in this country. But, Sir, while I recognise with pleasure the first of these points, and associate myself in the fullest manner with the aspirations which have been expressed, on the second point I do think that in certain respects a large number of Members who have spoken on this question are really directing their attention to a false issue. I think they have got in certain respects—and I shall clearly point them out to the House—they have in certain respects got on the wrong rails. They are aiming at an object which all desire to attain, but they are aiming at it by means which have some intrinsic disadvantages, and are not likely, however rigidly enforced, to carry out the common desire of Gentlemen sitting in every part of the House. There is one fundamental confusion visible all through the speech, at all events, of the 1033 honourable Member who moved the Amendment. He laid it down—or, if he did not lay it down in so many words, it was evident from all his observations that in his view a director was ipso facto engaged in something of a questionable trade. He regarded the slang phrase, "guinea-pig," as equivalent to director, and he rightly deduced from that, that not only no member of the Government ought to be what he would describe as a "guinea-pig," but he might have made the further deduction that no Member of the House ought to be. But I do not think that a worse service can be done to the commercial morality of this country than by this indiscriminate attack upon directors. I may, perhaps, be allowed to speak clearly and unequivocally on this matter, without any suspicion being attached to myself, for it so happens that I have never in my life drawn a shilling as a director of any company, public or private. But surely we must all recognise more and more, from year to year, almost from day to day, that the vast enterprises in this commercial country are being carried on by joint-stock companies, and the only method at present recognised of governing a joint-stock company is by means of a chairman and directors. And it would be the most fatal of all mistakes to brand the office of director in ordinary parlance, in common speech, with any tinge of discredit, for there would be no more certain method of driving out of the directorships men of capacity and honour, and of leaving these offices to men little qualified to adorn the position, which for questionable objects they have sought to attain. I think we ought to regard the office of director as we regard the office of trustee, as in itself, carrying with it no dishonourable implications, no trace, even the faintest, of discredit. And, as there are, unfortunately, fraudulent trustees, without the fact of being a trustee carrying with it any implication, so, while regretfully admitting that there are self-seeking and fraudulent directors, still, the office of director in itself is one which carries with it an implication of honour rather than of discredit and dishonour. So much I "had to say, not only because really a great deal of the plausibility of the speech of the mover of the Amendment arose from his confounding the discreditable director with the creditable director—the man who merely sells his 1034 name—a shocking and a scandalous operation—who sells his name and his honour to bolster up some rotten concern, with the man who devotes himself in the ordinary course of his everyday avocations, to the responsible, sometimes laborious, and often thankless task of carrying on the business of these great joint-stock concerns. Therefore I may, perhaps, preface what I am going to say by dismissing altogether from our consideration in this Debate the question of the fraudulent and discreditable director. He does not come into our account at all. One of the honourable Gentlemen speaking this afternoon—I am not quite sure, but I think it was my honourable Friend the Member for Whitby, Yorkshire—said that company promoters well understood the value of a Minister's name. Well, Sir, the company promoter does understand the value of a Minister's name; but I do not think a phrase like that should be dropped, even in the heat of Debate.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Unless it can be shown that a single Minister of the Crown, either in this Government, or any other Government, has sold his name and his honour to bolster up one of these concerns. No such suggestion, I am sure, was in the mind of my honourable Friend; I doubt whether even the ardour of the honourable Member for Donegal would in his quieter moments seriously support such a suggestion. I would therefore argue the point, as I have a right to argue it, upon the supposition merely that solid and reputable companies are concerned. I have a right to so argue, and it will be for the convenience of the House thus to narrow the issue. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is laid down in so many words by the right honourable Gentleman opposite that under no circumstances whatever ought any Member of the Government, whether in the Cabinet or otherwise—I am not sure whether he went the length of saying any Member outside the Cabinet—at all events he laid it down that no Member of the Government ought to be a director of any company however excellent and reputable that company may be. And the right honourable Gentleman laid down the proposition in the first place by the analogy of the Civil Service. And I think my honourable friend sitting behind me, the Member for 1035 Hampshire, brought forward this afternoon a similar case, that of Army officers when on active service. The right honourable Gentleman said, with regard to the Civil Service, and my honourable Friend the Member for Hampshire said in regard to officers on active service, hat by the rules of their professions they were not allowed to be directors of public companies, and both speakers regarded this as a conclusive reason or a strong argument from analogy for extending the ride to the Ministers of the f Crown. I think that that argument, that analogy ought to be dismissed at once from our consideration. A man entering the Civil Service enters on what is to be his profession for life—a profession from which there is, practically speaking, no expulsion, and in which the State has therefore the right to lay down certain rides of service, which are intended to imply, at all events, that what he has chosen as his profession shall be his profession. There is not, and there cannot be any parallelism between such a case and the case of a Minister of the Crown, entering office, it may be, for a few months only, and then retiring again into private life, and returning as far as he can to his own vocations. It may, or it may not be right for such a man to continue to hold a directorship, but if it is wrong, it is not wrong because of the reasons which justify the rule in the permanent Civil Service of the country. I therefore dismiss that analogy, and in order to test how far this rigid rule ought to be laid down for this Government, I ask the House to consider with me certain cases—I could go through all the cases in turn, if necessary—but certain cases of directorships held by some of my colleagues. Now, Sir, I take the Duke of Devonshire, who, I believe, is one of the worst offenders. I believe he holds three directorships. He is, I am informed, a director of the [...]arrow. Hematite Iron Company; he is a director of the Barrow Railway Company, and he is a director of the Eastbourne Water Works. Now, Sir, the great industries of Barrow were, if not created, to a great extent called into being, by the immense energy and expenditure of the late Duke, who invested vast sums in developing what is now one of our great industrial and manufacturing centres. The great interests which are for the general benefit of the country were thus created by the late 1036 Duke, have descended to the present Duke of Devonshire, and the management of these great interests, these companies, are as much part of of his private concerns as is the management of Chatsworth or of the Eastbourne estate. The Eastbourne Water Works, I need hardly say, is on a precisely similar footing. I think he is the only interested person—interested that is to say as a capitalist. I presume that even the right honourable Gentleman opposite would allow the Duke of Devonshire to go on managing his own estates. Is it possible, if possible is it right, to lay down a rule that, to the great detriment of his own personal property, and to the great detriment of those who are the other shareholders in these great concerns, the Duke of Devonshire shall divest himself of directorships out of which he gets nothing whatsoever, or, if he does get anything, it is an amount which in his case would be of no account? I confess, Sir, that I can see no answer to that. I personally could not consent to the laying down of a rule so absolute in its terms that it would either drive the Duke of Devonshire out of public life, or compel him, to his own detriment, and still more to the detriment of those who have invested in these great concerns, wholly to separate his connection from them. Another case which has been brought forward and mentioned in this House is that of my right honourable Friend the Home Secretary, who is a director of the North Eastern Railway. I asked my right hon-honourable Friend what were the circumstances connected with that directorship, and I see no reason why I should not repeat to the House what he told me. As a large landowner in the county of Northumberland, and one, therefore, interested in the North Eastern Railway, and as an excellent man of business, my right honourable Friend was urgently pressed some years before he joined the Government to become a director of the railway company. When the Government was formed, my right honourable Friend desired to divest himself of his directorship, and he was earnestly pressed by the chairman of the company, who is a Member of the Party opposite, and by his fellow directors, not to do so. My right honourable Friend said that, of course, it would be quite impossible for him to attend the Board meetings while he was in office, and they said that, 1037 nevertheless, they would be very grateful to him if he would consent to remain a member of the Board.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I fail to understand the force or reality of the interjection. I believe that my right honourable Friend's emoluments from his position in that directorship are about £150 a year, and I do not know whether honourable Gentlemen opposite think that that is a sufficient consideration which is likely to have any undue weight with the pre sent Home Secretary. But, in my opinion, there can be no objection what ever to a man who is thus pressed by his colleagues to remain on the Board, after stating that, of course, the public ser vice will stand first with him, and that he will not be able to give them much of his time—there cannot, as I conceive, be any objection to his acceding to such a request so made. I could go through in a similar way the other directorships to which attention has been called. But I want the House seriously to consider the moral which we must draw from the cases I have given. I will take, if you like, the very case of my right honourble Friend, the Home Secretary. The House thinks, apparently, or, at all events, some speakers on both sides have indicated that the reception of £150 a year—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
I do not say in the case of the present Home Secretary that the reception of £150 a year throws suspicion on him.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
At all events, that the reception of a fee prevents him classifying himself, as am honourable Member said, with Cæsar's wife. And I understand, that in the view of many honourable Gentlemen who have spoken, to be a director of the North Eastern Railway and to receive £150 a year in fees—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Then it is the reception of £150 1038 a year and a connection with the railway company while he is a Member of the Government—
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY
Which throws such a degree of suspicion on him as to make such a combination of offices undesirable. Very well. Suppose that instead of being a director my right honourable Friend had £100,000 in the ordinary stock of the North Eastern Railway. The £150 a year which he derives from his directorship does not vary with the success of the North Eastern Line; nor does it vary with the view which the North Eastern Railway Company take of the legislative enactments of the Government with regard to railways; nor is it in any way subject to variation in connection with any duty which my right honourable Friend has to perform. Take the interest on the £100,000 which is in the company's ordinary stock. Then his interest from half-year to half-year would be directly bound up by the pecuniary success of the company; and way legislation which modifies the success of that company in the smallest degree may alter and may make no immaterial difference even to a wealthy man in the amount which he may receive. So you strain at the infinitesimal gnat of an unvarying £150 a year, but these pecuniary interests, which any of us are allowed to have without criticism or discussion in any industrial concern whatever, pass without notice. I really think that honourable Gentlemen ought to cultivate their minds a little on this aspect of the case. Now we have been obliged to mention names in the course of this Debate, and I will do honourable Gentlemen opposite the full justice of saying that when they have mentioned the names of Gentlemen on this side of the House they have done so without any animus, or any sign of personal hostility. Well, I hope that when I mention a corresponding case on the other side of the House to illustrate the point I am row upon, they will equally think that of personal hostile reference is intended, especially as the Gentleman I am about to refer to is a personal friend of my own. I am informed that Lord Tweed-mouth—I believe this is public property, or I would not mention it—when he joined the late Government, gave up his directorship in Meux's Brewery, and he 1039 gave it up in deference to the rule laid down, I think, by Mr. Gladstone, which has received such endorsement from the right honourable Gentleman who now leads the Opposition. But Lord Tweedmouth did not give up —he could not give up, and should not be asked to give up, and never was asked to give up, and ought not to be asked to give up—his vast interests in this concern of Meux. He had those immense interests in this concern, and he had them legitimately, and he was right to adhere to them; but what folly to say that public purity requires that the directorship should be given up, but still permits the shares to be held. St oh powers of logic as I am gifted with wholly fail me to see what reasonable contention exists in such an argument, and I would venture to go much further, and say that the directorship, quits apart from the fact that a pecuniary amount is involved, is insignificant, and that the pecuniary interest in Government legislation may be insignificant also. I would point out this, that it has this immense advantage over shares and stocks—that the directorship is known and the shares are not known. A man who has a directorship is known to everybody; the industry of the honourable Gentleman—the very small amount of industry—is all contained in a printed volume which will show every Member of this House that the man is a director. It is not only known to himself, but to everybody else, how much he gets for his directorship, and he exercises his vote in this House in the full light of the knowledge that he is a director of that company. He may own an overwhelming number of shares in any concern he likes in the world, but that is not known to the public, and ought not to be a matter of public criticism. And yet, if there be a corrupt motive possible under any circumstances, that corrupt motive will arise out of the shares and not out of the holding of the directorship. Sir, let me go further, and let me point out to the House that if we are to argue upon these principles we shall find ourselves much further than some honourable Members suppose. There is my honourable Friend the Member for Hampshire, who made a speech against the Government earlier in the afternoon, and who said that even on the Bench of Magistrates a brewer is not 1040 allowed to vote upon a question of renewing a licence. "How much worse," said he, "to allow a Member of the Government, to allow a Minister, who has to deal with legislation and Measures about breweries, to be a director of a brewery company!" My honourable Friend is a landlord. Now this House deals with land questions also. Not only does this House deal with landlords, but my honourable Friend, in common with many others of us on this side of the House, have openly, and most falsely, been accused by honourable Gentlemen opposite of favouring legislation which puts money into the pockets of landlords. [Hear, hear.] There you are. I hope my honourable Friend will take warning by the cheers which he has just heard, and will remember that, after all, a man may be, in the course of his private occupation, interested in some business which can be touched by the legislation of this' House without, therefore, being open to the faintest suspicion of corrupt motives. But there are other people in this House besides landlords and brewers. I should like to cross-examine, for example, the Leader of the Opposition himself. I have not the least conception in what securities, or what kind of property, the right honourable Gentleman's assets are invested, but I will engage to say that if they are invested in anything in this country, they must be more or less affected by the legislation, or much of it, which is proposed in this House. However absolutely he may be above suspicion—as we all know that he is—still his pecuniary interests must be more or less affected by the legislation proposed in this House. I do not care whether it is in mines, or land, or railways, or leaseholds, or freeholds, or town or country property, or banks, or property of any kind in this country, it must be affected by legislation. You may go through the entire list of securities, and if the investment be in this country—[AN HONOURABLE MEMBER: "Or abroad."]—yes, I might say if it is invested in securities abroad, but most certainly if it is invested in this country, 'it is liable to fluctuation with the chances of peace and the dangers of war. Then the personal interest comes in in each case, though so very faintly, in the case of these directors, and surely we do not want, by accepting a proposition of this kind, to reduce either the 1041 Members of the Government or the Members of this House to a position of persons with no property whatever anywhere, or, at all events, no property in this country. There was a phrase very much in fashion at one time, but which is now rather discredited and rather abused. Nobody was supposed to be capable of administering the affairs of this country who had not what is called "a stake" in this country. I have no doubt that phrase was overdone; but even those who hold that view would, I presume, agree with me that we do not wish to rush to the opposite extreme and have a no-property qualification before we allow anybody to take part in the government or the legislation of this country. And, observe, how extraordinarily arbitrary your proposed rule would be. I take the case of my late Friend, Mr. W. H. Smith. He was at the head of an immense industrial concern, which he had largely built up by his own efforts. Now, if his share in that concern had not remained as it was, but instead of being a private concern it had been made a joint stock concern, either he would not have been allowed to remain a director, or else he would not have been allowed to be a Leader of this House. Is not that an absurd proposition? Are we going to take men of the quality of the late Mr. W. H. Smith, and put to them this alternative —either you must desert your business or cease to have any ambition with regard to a political career in the House of Commons? This is not a position which can be sustained in argument for one moment. And yet to allow the leader of a great private concern to be a Minister, and the head of a great joint stock concern not to be a Minister, is a distinction so absurd that I really cannot believe that the House will deliberately and permanently embody it in any resolution. I want the House to go with me one step further. An allusion has been made to-day—it was made, I think, by the honourable and gallant Gentleman who spoke a short time ago below the Gangway-—to the events which, a yea;' or two ago, took place in France, and which produced a general feeling of distrust of the probity and incorruptibility of public men in these matters. I, of course, have not had any personal experience of this kind. But what was the kind of accusation which, rightly or 1042 wrongly, was then brought against these public men? It was not that they were avowed directors of companies, of well-known companies, and that they used their powers as directors of those companies to modify the policy of the Government, but it was that they took bribes, and that they used information of a confidential character to manipulate the Stock Exchange to speculate, and by that speculation to give themselves gain. I take it, Sir, that it is in those directions that the real danger of public corruption lies. My right honourable Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty—though, indeed, many of my colleagues are in the same position— is responsible, as the head of his Department, in the last resort for contracts for millions sterling a year. If a suspicion were possible that in England public men derived profit out of these great State contracts, then the danger would be indeed upon us. But that would not be stopped, it would not be touched, in the remotest degree by any rule of this kind, and the last thing a man who desired to mix himself up with these infamous transactions would do, would be to advertise the fact to all who were concerned that he was a director of any company which had anything to do with such contracts. Again, Sir, I am glad to think that no public man in this country has ever been open to the suspicion that he used the confidential knowledge which, from day to day, he obtained from our Ministers abroad for any Stock Exchange purposes. That, I am informed, is a serious danger in some countries, and a danger which they have not wholly escaped. May we always be as free from it as, I thank Heaven, we have been now for many generations. But that, again, you do not touch, and cannot touch, by any rule of this kind. As I have said before to the House, a directorship is an open fact proclaimed in the light of day in printed books, and there is no doubt about it whatever; but these underhand dealings on the Stock Exchange are not proclaimed in books. These are the secret wounds which bring a political society to the ground, and which cause the secret and disgraceful sore from which it untimately perishes. It is not that which is public or that which is known history, on which the light of day beats, from which we have anything to fear. It is the possibility 1043 that, at some remote time, there may creep into our political system some small trace of the poison which is absolutely destructive to communities less fortunately situated than ourselves. Three is one other point which I think I ought to mention before bringing this somewhat lengthy speech to a conclusion, and it is one which has not been alluded to by any speaker in the course of the Debate this afternoon. There are, and there must be, men of small private means whose perfectly legitimate and honourable profession is to do, as directors, the work of some of these joint stock companies. Such a man may well make a great success in the House of Commons. He may, by universal consent be eminently fitted to serve the Government, his Party, and the State in some office. His Party come in under circumstances which make it doubtful whether their tenure of office may be more than a comparatively small number of months; and, indeed, the tenure of even the most solidly constituted Government is not one for which any sensible man would, in any circumstances, give a very large number of years' purchase. To a man so situated you put the alternative of either depriving himself of a very large fraction of his living for the rest of his life, or of giving up the hope of a successful political career. Supposing that, moved by an honourable ambition, he chooses the second alternative, and sacrifices his business in those directions to the alluring chances of political advancement. Well, Sir, you put that man not upon his directors' fees, but upon his official salary, and, in my judgment, it is worse to feel that everything must be sacrificed to stay in office, because to come out of office means beggary and starvation; it is worse to put that temptation in a man's way than almost anything else you can do. It is suggested, "Oh, why does he not give up his directorships, and resume them when he comes out of office again?" Sir, that suggestion, I am informed by those who know more about these things than I do is not one that can be carried out. If a man cuts his connection with one of these excellently managed industrial concerns when he is in office, his place is filled up, and naturally it will not be vacated when he leaves office again. I am not sure, there- 1044 fore, that in the best interests of this House, it is desirable to require that every man who takes office shall henceforth depend either upon his own very small means of livelihood, or upon the precarious chances of an official salary. One of our best traditions is that the official salary is but the smallest of all the motives which induce politicians to take up the heavy burden of public political work, and I should be very sorry to see anything done which should make that motive incomparably stronger in the breasts of the particular class of which I have been speaking. Therefore, I hope the House will not, by any resolution that they may come to, either on this or upon any subsequent occasion, commit itself to the hard-and-fast rule in this matter applied to every case and to every office alike. I admit—and nobody admits it more readily than I do—that no Minister has a right to sacrifice even an instant of the time which he has dedicated to the public in managing the affairs of a company, or even in managing his own affairs; but as it has undoubtedly been found incompatible with public life that statesmen should, at any rate, keep a supervising eye upon their own private affairs, so it is not improper that they should, under proper circumstances, and if they take proper precautions, do a certain amount —it cannot be too much, it must be very small—in connection with the management of public companies. But each case must be judged upon its merits. My right honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer read from a statement of mine which, I confess, I have forgotten, certain broad principles which should govern our action in this matter—principles which I laid down, I think, after consultation with the Cabinet in the year 1895. I am sorry I have not got them here, and I forget their exact tenour. But at all events it is clear that, in the first place, no man ought to do anything, hold any office, of which there is the slightest suspicion that his own integrity of purpse, by which his own straight, direct line of conduct in the public interest will be deflected by a hair's breadth either to the right or to the left. In the second place, he has no right to hold any office, other than his political office, which will trench upon the time he should give, and which should properly be given, to 1045 his official work. When you laid down these two broad principles, they should not be only universally obeyed, but they should be interpreted in the most rigid sense. I think whenever there is a doubt as to whether a man should hold a directorship, he should decide against holding it; whenever a thing appears to be in question, I think he ought to decide against his apparent interests, and not for his apparent interests. I do not think that if anybody chooses to examine the directorships held by any members of the present Cabinet, they will, for one moment, think that any of those directorships are likely to violate either of the two great canons of action which I have laid down. What we have to depend upon for the integrity of public life, and the purity of public morals is, in part, the great tradition which we have inherited in this matter, and in part, the public opinion which is the product and the outcome of that tradition. It is on these I rely, and not upon any small technical rules, in many cases inapplicable, in some cases pernicious, which honourable Gentlemen attempt to lay down on this occasion. I hope they will take the broader and more rational view of what constitutes purity in public life. I hope they will see from what quarters the real dangers are likely to assail public life. I hope they will keep the most vigilant watch upon all questions connected with the two great sources of public corruption, namely, Stock Exchange gambling and public contracts. If the two dangers connected with the Stock Exchange and public contracts are wholly avoided; if we maintain in those great essentials the standard of public life which we have maintained; if we never allow any Committee of this House to act from any but the highest motives; if, in our own conduct, we do our best in giving our votes to make abstraction of our private interests, which in some cases must be affected, do what you will as private members; then, I think, we shall succeed in maintaining the high level of integrity which it has been our pleasure and glory to attain. But I shall be very sorry if we conceive ourselves to be paying a tribute to the great principles of purity by laying down a technical rule, the practical effect of which must be, in some cases, pernicious, and in all cases must be in- 1046 significant, and then go away laying the flattering unction to our souls that we have done something to maintain the high standard of public life in this country. You will not have done that. You will have satisfied the honourable Gentleman the Member for Donegal, but you will have, no doubt, made it impossible for any Minister, under any circumstances, again to hold a directorship in this country; and you will have done nothing to maintain intact the real foundation of public morality, while you will have certainly done something to render the public career of deserving men on both sides of the House more difficult, more laborious, and more full of temptation.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fife, E.)
Mr. Speaker, the right honourable Gentleman has made a very interesting and a very ingenious speech, and I think I shall be expressing the sentiment that prevails largely on both sides of the House when I say that, while he has said a great deal with which we must all agree as to the dangers which threaten the purity of public life and the difficulty of guarding against those dangers, he has not suggested to this House any solid or tangible ground upon which they should resist the comparatively moderate instalment of reform which this Amendment asks. The right honourable Gentleman tells us that there is more risk to public purity in the power which Ministers have, of giving away contracts and by the acquisition of early information and speculating on the Stock Exchange, than in their holding any number of public directorships. I agree that those are dangers, dangers which in other countries, and at other times in our own country, have proved formidable to the integrity and independence of public life. But because we cannot deal with those dangers effectually—because they are too insidious for anything but the vigilant conscience of the nation and the high tone of public life to guard against— is that any reason why, in a comparatively small matter like this, we should not preserve the atmosphere and the area of our public life from even the possibility of danger? The right honourable Gentleman, at the beginning of his speech, seemed to think that some of us, at any rate on this side of the House, were associating ourselves with 1047 a general attack upon directors of public companies, as if they were persons who, from the very fact of holding these positions and pursuing that profession, were unworthy of public confidence, and in some way insidious enemies to the public welfare. That is not an opinion, I need not say, which is held in any quarter—certainly not on this side of the House. We recognise quite as fully as the right honourable Gentleman himself that in the altered conditions under which industrial enterprise is now carried on, with large aggregations of capital and upon an extensive scale of operations, the application of joint-stock principles is essential; and, of course, where you have a joint-stock company and the concern is too large for the system of private partnership, you must have directors, and the position of a director is then not only a legitimate, but an honourable, one to hold. But that is not in the least degree the point now before the House, and I want, in the two or throe sentences I am about to utter, to bring back the attention of the House to the real point at issue. The right honourable Gentleman got rid, in an airy way, of the analogy of the Civil Service. It is admitted that everybody who goes into the Service, just as everybody on active service in the Navy and Army, should be prohibited from holding any of these directorships. And why is there this prohibition? Not, as the right honourable Gentleman suggests, merely or mainly because that is a permanent vocation, but it is prohibited upon two simple and sufficient grounds —namely, that by entering the public service, by putting on him the Queen's livery, and taking the Queen's shilling, he binds himself to consecrate the whole of his time and energy to the Queen's service; and, in the second place, because it is absolutely impossible to predict or forecast beforehand in what particular conjuncture the collision between public and private interests which is so likely to occur may arise. Therefore it has been found as a matter of practice that although in ordinary probability, judging by the ordinary standards, a case might not occur once in ten, fifty, or a hundred times, yet it has been found as a matter of practice essential to lay down a hard and fast, inflexible, and uniform rule to which all members 1048 of the Civil Service are expected to conform. I have been at the head of a public Department, and supposing, when I held that position, I found that one of my subordinates had been engaged as a director of one of these companies, and during office hours attended to the business of that company, what would be my duty as head of the Department? It would be to censure him, and possibly dispense with his services. How could I perform that duty, with clean hands and a clear conscience, if I were myself a director of a company, and were doing as head of the office the very thing I would not allow my subordinates to do? I think that no one says the cases are identical, but I think the analogy of the Civil Service is a most useful and valuable one. We then come to that which is the main staple of the right honourable Gentleman's argument, one of the most amusing paradoxes which has been recently presented to the House of Commons. What is his argument? He says every man who sits in this House—private Members and Members of the Government alike—is interested more or less pecuniarily, either as a shareholder in a company, as the owner of land, or as carrying on the different businesses which make up the complicated industries of the country, in every question of legislation or administration that comes before the House. So he says that if you are going to apply your principle of purism you will have to disqualify from taking part in public life every man except those who have no stake or pecuniary interest in the country. That is a fallacy which certainly does not impose upon the right honourable Gentleman, and which certainly does not impose upon the House. I agree, of course everyone must agree, that, more or less consciously or unconsciously, more or less directly or indirectly, everybody who is even a taxpayer in the country has an interest, which might conceivably be measured in terms of money, in the legislation and administration of Parliament. But to contend that that indirect, shadowy, diffused interest shared by everybody which in its different aspects neutralises itself—to contend that that has any analogy whatsoever with the position of a director, who is charged with managing the affairs of a particular concern, is surely to impose 1049 upon the intelligence of the House of Commons. I will indicate what the difference is. In the first place, the director gives his name publicly to the concern with which he is connected, and that name becomes in the eyes of the public a guarantee for the integrity of its management, and of the skill, honesty, and assiduity with which the Board conducts its business. No one can deny that if a company of this kind has the advantage of being able to hold itself out to the world as containing on its Board of Directors gentlemen who have attained high positions of honour and distinction in the State, to that extent they are giving the public, through the name of the Minister, a special guarantee of that particular company which other concerns of a like kind do not enjoy. But the matter does not stop there. The director not merely gives his name to the public as sponsor for the respectability and the good management of the concern as director, but if he does his duty he is bound to give his time to the management of the affairs of the concern, and the interest which any ordinary shareholder has in any particular undertaking cannot be compared to the interest of the director who does his duty and who, if he accepts his responsibility in a serious spirit, is bound to identify his time and interest to a large extent with the prosperity of the company whose affairs he has undertaken to control. I say, therefore, the position of a director is totally distinct from that of the ordinary shareholder, and that different rules and different criteria should apply to the one case and the other. One word more as to the final argument of the right honourable Gentleman. He says it is impracticable to carry out this rule, and that if you do so you will either prevent men, otherwise well qualified for the service of the State, from entering public life, or you will provide a temptation to men already in the Government to continue there by illegitimate means in order that they may not have to face the prospect of starting again the battle of life without any pecuniary advantages. But, Sir, those are alternatives which are presented to everyone engaged in public life at all. I doubt whether there is a man in this House who has not at one time or another had to face, to a 1050 greater or lesser degree, these two alternatives. The answer is solvitur ambulando. We do get a sufficient and adequate supply of able and honest men to serve us in the various Administrations of the State, and when those Administrations come to an end, and the men who have sacrificed positions of great emolument and value in order to take an honourable part in the service of the State have to resume the struggle of life, I venture to say that in 99 cases out of 100 they do so under comparatively favourable conditions, and without any reasonable fear for the result. I venture to submit to the House that in the existing system—which I regret very much that the right honourable Gentleman has felt it his duty to defend—you have two elements which are absolutely inconsistent with the principles upon which any well regulated public service ought to rest. These principles are, first, that every man who enters the service of the State should give his whole time to the service, and, next, that no man who enters such service should place himself in a position in which by any conceivable or reasonable possibility his public duty and private interest shall come into collision the one with the other. Upon these grounds we support this Motion. We should have been very glad indeed to arrive at a practical concordat with both sides of the House on a matter which does not divide Parties at all, and as to which, I venture to think, the right honourable Gentleman will find there is behind him quite as strong a body of opinion in this sense as there is on these benches. Since we cannot come to that opinion, I think my honourable Friend has no alternative but to press this Amendment to a division.
§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
Mr. Speaker, I listened with great attention to the clever and forcible speech of the right honourable Gentleman, the First Lord of the Treasury, but I must say that it was by no means a convincing speech. The right honourable Gentleman said that commercial interests would suffer if Ministers of the Crown were no longer directors of public companies, but he did not inform the House that directors are required to give time to the affairs of the various companies with which they are connected. I object strongly to gentlemen 1051 on the Treasury Bench, who are in receipt of salaries from the State, devoting their time to the business of public companies. I question whether it is an honourable or creditable thing to do. One company, of which a distinguished Member of the Front Bench was a director— the English Bank of the River Plate—went to smash and brought disaster to many persons, and I venture to think that if the directors of that bank had attended to the business of the bank as they ought to have done, the bank would never have collapsed in the way it did. I am not surprised, when I remember that the Lord Advocate is a director of the Bank of Scotland, that the affairs of my country fare so badly. This bank has a governor, a deputy governor, twelve extraordinary directors, and twelve ordinary directors. The Lord Advocate is an ordinary director and is supposed to attend to the business of the con-
§ cern, to look after its management, and to see that things go on alright. How can he attend in Edinburgh to the affairs of a huge business concern without neglecting the affairs of Scotland in Parliament? I wish to lodge my protest against this system, which allows Ministers who are paid large salaries to undertake this outside work. If the salaries they are now receiving from the Crown are not enough why—God bless me!—let them form a union and go on strike. But I contend that the position of a director of a public company is incompatible with the position of a Minister of the Crown.
That those words be added to the Motion.
§ The House divided: —Ayes 143; Noes 247.—(Division List No. 10.)1055
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Ffrench, Peter||Maddison, Fred.|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Field, Wiliam (Dublin)||Maden, John Henry|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand|
|Ambrose, Robert (Mayo, W.)||Flynn, James Christopher||Molloy, Bernard Charles|
|Asher, Alexander||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Montagu, Sir S.(Whitechapel)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Gibney, James||Morris, Samuel|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Gilhooly, James||Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Moss, Samuel|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C.B.||Gold, Charles||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Billson, Alfred||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Murnaghan, George|
|Blake, Edward||Hammond, John (Carlow)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn)||Harwood, George||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Healy, Maurice (Cork)||O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Burns, John||Healy, Timothy M. (ST. Louth)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Burt, Thomas||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||O'Keeffe, Francis Arthur|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Palmer, George W. (Reading)|
|Caldwell, James||Hogan, James Francis||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Pinkerton, John|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Jacoby, James Alfred||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Power Patrick Joseph|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Joicey, Sir James||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Colville, John||Jordan, Jeremiah||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kay-Shuttleworth,Rt. H. Sir U.||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Crombie, John William||Kearley, Hudson E.||Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||Kilbride, Denis||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||Kinloch, Sir John G. Smyth||Richardson, J. (Durham)|
|Daly, James||Labouchere, Henry||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lambert, George||Roche, John (East Galway)|
|Davitt, Michael||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cum'land||Samuel, J. (Stockton on Tees)|
|Dilke, R., Hon. Sir Charles||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Dillon, John||Leng, Sir John||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lloyd-George, David||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Duckworth, James||Lough, Thomas||Sheehy, David|
|Dunn, Sir William||MacAleese, Daniel||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Ellis, Thos. E. (Merionethsh.)||M'Dermott, Patrick||Souttar, Robinson|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||M'Ghee, Richard||Spicer, Albert|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Kenna, Reginald||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Steadman, William Charles|
|Stevenson, Francis S.||Tully, Jasper||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Strachey, Edward||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)||Wilson, J. H. Middlesbrough)|
|Tanner, Charles Kearns||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Woods, Samuel|
|Tennant, Harold John||Wedderburn, Sr William|
|Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)||Weir, James Galloway||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Williams, John Carvell (Notts)||Mr. MacNeill and Mr. Birrell.|
|Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F.||Donkin, Richard Sim||Lafone, Alfred|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Ambrose, William (Middlesex)||Doughty, George||Lawrence,SirE.Durning-(Corn|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Doxford, Willam Theodore||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Lea, Sir Thos. (Londonderry)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dyke Rt. Hon Sir William H.||Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H.|
|Bagot, Captain. J. FitzRoy||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(S'sea)|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Fardell, Sir T. George||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn. A. J. (Mnch'r)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mnc'r||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Long, Col. C. W. Evesham)|
|Banbury Frederick George||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Long, Rt Hon. W. (Liverpool)|
|Barnes, Frederc Gorell||Fisher, William Hayes||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Barry,RtHnA.H.Smith-(Hunts||Flower, Ernest.||Lowe, Francis William|
|Barry, Sir F. T. (Windsor)||Folkestone, Viscount||Lowles, John|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Forster, Henry William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Beach, RtHn.Sir M.H.(Bristol)||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lubbock, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Beach, W. W. B. (Hants)||Galloway, William Johnston||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Beckett, Ferdinand William||Gibbons, J. Lloyd||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithful||Gibbs, Hn.A.G.H. (C. of Lond.)||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gilliat, John Saunders||Maclure, Sir John William|
|Bethell, Commander||Goldsworthy, Major-General||M'Arthur Charles (Liverpool)|
|Biddulph, Michael||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||M'Calmont, H. L. B. (Cambs.)|
|Bigwood, James||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh,W.)|
|Blakistown-Houston, John||Goschen,RtHnG.J. (StGeorge's||M'Killop, James|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Graham, Henry Robert||Marks, Henry Hananel|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn W. F|
|Brassey, Albert||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Milbank, Sir Powlett C. John|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Brown, Alexander H.||Gretton, John||Milner, Sir Frederick George|
|Butcher, John George||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Monk, Charles James|
|Carson, Rt. Hon Edward||Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Murray, Col. W. (Bath)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Montagu, Hon. J. S. (Hants.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G.||More, Robert Jasper|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Hanbury, Rt Hon. Robert W.||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hardy, Laurence||Mount, William George|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Heath, James||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Clarke, Sir Edw. (Plymouth)||Helder, Augustus||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Hill, Rt. Hon. A. S. (Staffs.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Hill, Sir Edward S. (Bristol)||Myers, William Henry|
|Coddington, Sir William||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Newdigate, Francis Alexander|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)||Nicholson, Wi|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Holland, Hon. Lionel Raleigh||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Hornby, Sir William H. Tudor||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Howard, Joseph||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Howell, W. T.||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)|
|Cooke, C. W. R. (Hereford)||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Pender, Sir James|
|Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D.||Hutchinson, Capt. G.W. Grice-||Pilkington, Richard|
|Courtney, Rt. Hn. Leonard H||Hutton, John (Yorks. N.R.)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cruddas, William Donaldson||Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Plunkett, Rt. Hon. H. Curzon|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edinb'h)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Pryce-Jones, Lieut.-Col. E.|
|Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Purvis, Robert|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H.||Pym, C. Guy|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Kenyon, James||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Denny, Colonel||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Knowles, Lees||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph|
|Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.||Stanley Hon. A. (Ormskirk)||Webster, R. G. (St. Pancras)|
|Round James||Stanley, Edward J. (Somerset)||Webster, Sir R.E. (I. of Wight)|
|Russell, Gen. F. S. (Chel'ham)||Stanley, Henry M. (Lambeth)||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Stanley, Lord Lancs.)||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-|
|Ryder, John Herbert Dudley||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Sandys Lieut.-Col. T. Myles||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.|
|Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.||Stock, James Henry||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Savory, Sir Joseph||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Williams, Jeseph Powell|
|Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard||Strauss, Arthur||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Seton-Karr, Henry||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier||Wilson-Tood, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Shaw-Stewart, M.H. (Renfrew)||Sutherland, Sir Thomas||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chechester)||Wyndham, George|
|Simeon, Sir Barrington||Talbot Rt.Hn. J. G.(Ox. Univ)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Thorburn, Walter||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Thornton, Percy, M.||Younger, William|
|Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks.)||Valentia, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Ward, Hon. Robert A. (Crewe)||Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Spencer, Ernest||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
§ Main question again proposed. Debate arising.
§ And, it being after half-past Five of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.