§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
I beg to move the Second Reading of this Bill. I certainly would have thought that a Bill which is of so purely a Departmental character, and dealing with a matter upon which necessarily the Scotch Office and 1010 the Treasury have what I may call semi-antagonistic interests, might have been allowed to pass without very much discussion. I believe that the Treasury, whose action in controlling other Departments we have heard so much of lately, would not have lightly lent themselves to a contribution to another Department, unless they felt the justice of the demand. But owing to the remarks that were made at the time when the resolution upon which the Bill necessarily proceeds was passed by the Mouse, I feel that I should allow the possibility of the policy and motives of the Scotch Office to be misunderstood if I did not, what cer- 1011 tainly would have been otherwise an unusual practice on such a Bill as this, make a speech in moving the Second Reading. The Lunacy Board of Scotland was constituted so long ago as the year 1857. Its duties were at once onerous and multifarious. In fact, the Board has the direction and regulation of all matters relating to lunatics and lunatic asylums in Scotland. Now, the constitution of the Board with its multifarious duties is as follows:‗There are two paid Commissioners, who are both members of the medical profession; two Sub-Commissioners also members of the medical profession; and there are three unpaid members‗one a lay member, who is the chairman, and two legal members. Besides these, of course, there is the secretary and a clerical staff. It is pretty clear as to what were the ideas of the Legislature in 1857, when the Board was constituted, as to what was the amount of work which would fall on the Board. The Act provides that there are to be two meetings during the year—one to be held in March and the other in November. With the amount of work necessary at that time probably these two meetings were sufficient. I may contrast that state of affairs with the state of affairs now, by dealing with the figures which I gave to the House already to-day in answer to a question of the hon. Member for Loss and Cromarty. In 1899, instead of two meetings of the Board, twenty-seven were held. There was a notion at the institution of the Board that perhaps after building the various asylums, and when the lunacy system had been put on a regular footing, there might be a possibility of economy by abolishing one of the paid Commissioners. Very soon, however, after the Board came into working order it was felt that that was quite impossible; and so long ago as 1870 a statement was made in the House of Lords in behalf of the Government of that day, which I may remind the House was not the predecessor of this Government. The Duke of Argyll said on 20th May, 1870—A vacancy happened the other day on the Board of Lunacy, and the Government, after full consideration of all the circumstances of the case, found it essential to fill it up. The work of the office could not have been done without its being filled up.Now, when I say that the staff of the Board and the constitution of the 1012 Board are precisely the same now as in 1858, then I think the House will begin to see how enormously heavy the duties placed upon the Board are as compared with the duties at the time of its original constitution. Originally the salary of the Commissioners was £1,000 each, but in 1878 one of them had his salary raised to £1,100. That £100 was not an extra amount provided by the Treasury; it was docked from the salary of one of the Sub-Commissioners. Since then the salary of the Commissioners has been £1,000, as before, but rising by increments to £1,200. With regard to the way in which the work is done I give the figures for the three periods—1858, 1878, and 1898. The number of lunatics in asylums in 1858 was 4,028, and in private dwellings 1804; total, 5,824. In 1878, in the asylums 7,604, in private dwellings 1493; total, 9,097. In 1898, in the asylums 12,139, in private dwellings 2,767; total, 14,906. Those figures show that at the present time there are nearly three times as many lunatics to be attended to, and the staff now is the same as in 1858. Not only are the medical Commissioners bound by statute to inspect thoroughly every lunatic asylum twice a year—and in connection with this point I may say there are seven royal, fifteen district, and five private lunatic asylums—but it is their practice also to make a visit to every single patient in private dwellings, That is done twice a year, which means that over 29,000 visits are made by the Medical Commissioners, or, taking the asylums separately, over 24,000 visits. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark called attention the other day to what he called the disparity between the work done by the Commissioners of England and those of Scotland. He said there were six Commissioners in England and 100,000 lunatics, and in Scotland 12,000 odd lunatics and four Commissioners. That is not the fact'; there are only two, and two Deputy Commissioners. The Deputy Commissioners have to visit the lunatics in private dwellings, to do which they have to travel through the length and breadth of Scotland. In 1858 their visits numbered 763; in 1878, 1,615; and in 1898, 3,690. Those visits take up the whole of their time, and it is impossible for them to do more than they do at present. They never have, and never will do any of the regular work of the 1013 Medical Commissioners. It is a system which has no analogy in England, and therefore it is futile to compare the number of men engaged in the two countries. It may be a question which of the two systems is the better, but so long as the Scotch system is the system, it is absolutely necessary to have perfect inspection, and so long as you require to have that it is physically impossible to have less than two men. The time of the Commissioners is fully employed, and it is necessary to have more medical time, and the problem presented to us is how to get it. You may appoint another Medical Commission, but that would not be a more economical plan, because you could not get a Medical Commissioner for less than £1,000 a year. Then there is another objection, and that is the professional feeling of the medical profession, which is quite as strong as the professional feeling in the legal profession. No hon. Member who had an insane relative would like the relative to be entirely in the hands of a professional class. You would feel that you would derive some strength from what is called a lay element in the inspection. If a medical man were to be appointed the medical element would preponderate over all. The Medical Commissioners at the present, besides the visiting, attend once a month at the offices of the Board, where they are occupied in routine and administrative duties. If they could be relieved of those they would have more medical time available which could be occupied with these increasing demands. Now the lay element consists of a chairman and two legal members. So far as the chairman is concerned—the present chairman has occupied the position since 1888—he has attended meetings once a fortnight, and in 1889 he attended twenty meetings out of twenty-three. But his duties do not stop there; he is frequently at the office and has to deal with plans and sites of asylums and matters of that kind. In the same way the legal members have given excellent attendances at the board meetings, and if you are going to take away the attendance of the medical members the secretary must have somebody whom he can consult on matters of a quasi-legal nature. The hon. Member for Ross-shire suggested that the Law Officers of the Crown should do this, and suggested the raising of my salary 1014 for giving opinions to the Lunacy Board. But the Law Officers of the Crown are not meant to give advice of that kind. Their advice is available in matters of importance, but it is absurd to come to the Lord Advocate, who has to reside so many months in London, and expect him to act on the Lunacy Board in Edinburgh. That is the reason for this Bill. It is absolutely necessary that a greater provision of medical time should be made for this greatly increasing work, whether it is done one way or the other, and I personally and on behalf of my noble friend should be perfectly willing to throw that question on the floor of this House but for one circumstance. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark on the occasion when this question was last debated took upon himself to make a most offensive charge against my noble friend. I do not mince my words, because I think the charge was most offensive, and in order to show that I do not exaggerate I shall quote what he said—The hon. Member said he altogether differed from the Lord Advocate. The great object of the resolution was to provide salaries, not for the officials, but for certain of the Commissioners, who at the present moment by Act of Parliament were declared to be unpaid. Up to the present the work had been done gratuitously, and only now, when the chairman of the Board was a nephew of the Secretary for Scotland, did they propose to give a salary. This was the object of the resolution. He would not trouble the House with a division, but at every stage of this Bill it would be denounced as a job on the part of the Secretary for Scotland to give a salary to his own nephew, in a case in which public work had hitherto been done gratuitously."*So far as public opinion is concerned I have not much fear, because a charge of that sort is easily settled by comparing it with the character of my hon. friend. If the accusation were put in one scale and the character of my hon. friend in the other, I have no doubt as to which would kick the beam. But such a charge ought never to have been made unless the hon. Gentleman had been certain of his facts. Had the hon. Gentleman said, "This is a bad policy, and I object to give a salary to a person called an unpaid Commissioner; I would sooner have a paid man and have done with it," it would have been one thing, but that was not the charge. He said this was a* See speech of Mr. Caldwell, as reported in this volume, at page 142.1015 job to provide for a relative. It is just as well, when a charge of this kind is made against a gentleman, to see what the incentive is for which he is supposed to have sacrificed his honour. The provision in the Bill is that a sum might be paid by the Treasury, not to the Chairman alone, but to the whole three unpaid Commissioners, provided that in any year it does not amount to more than £500. Personally, I should have thought that a very inadequate sum to sell one's honour for in respect to a wife's nephew. But the point is, what right had the hon. Member to make any charge of that sort? It is all the more unfortunate when made by one who knows so well the forms of this House, that it was made on the Report, when the hon. Member knew that I had no right of reply. I am sorry to find myself obliged to make use of these expressions, because I recognise on many occasions the use that the patient industry of the hon. Member has been to the House. Why the hon. Member should have gone out of his way to make this personal imputation against the Secretary for Scotland, whose public life is as clear as anyone's possibly could be, I am at a loss to determine; but as it is, I put this Bill as a necessary measure before the House—necessary if we are to have a proper working of a very useful and efficient department.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read now a second time."—(The Lord Advocate.)
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
I shall deal with the last point of the right hon. Gentleman first. I daresay that what the right hon. Gentleman quoted as the expression on that occasion used by me is correct, and I quite felt at the time that it was a pity in a matter of this kind that a change of policy should take place when a nephew of the Secretary of Scotland was chairman. At the same time, if there is anything offensive in the expression I used I shall be happy to withdraw it, because the learned Advocate will bear me out when I say there is no animus between me and the Secretary for Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to the great amount of work that has been done by the Board of Lunacy in Scotland, and he read the Act of Parliament pointing out that two meetings should be held during 1016 the year. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously mean to say that because the statute says two meetings shall be held in the year there shall not be more? I am surprised that the learned Advocate should have suggested such a thing. I think he overstepped the contention altogether when he compared the two meetings of the unpaid Commissioners in 1858 with the twenty-seven in 1898. When the two Commissioners were paid £1,200 you will find it was not contemplated that the work would increase after the five years, and the Commissioners' salaries were reduced to £1,000 when the Act got into working order. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the amount of work which had been done; all these things were done in England except the one small point of the visits to the individual patients. That is the only difference between the two Acts. Very well, suppose we knock out the two Sub-Commissioners altogether, what is the result? In England, with more than seven times the number of patients, you have six Commissioners; in Scotland you have two. In Scotland you have one-third of the Commissioners and one-seventh of the work to do. In Ireland, which is a little larger than Scotland, you have two Commissioners, and the net result is this. Scotland has proportionately more paid Commissioners for her lunatics than either England or Ireland. If, as the figures quoted by the Lord Advocate show, during a certain period lunacy has doubled, does it not show that you should, if necessary, have one paid Commissioner to do the work? Would anyone say that a layman could be of any service whatever in making these visits? And of what earthly use is his general knowledge of matters, compared with the technical knowledge that is required on visiting patients in asylums and in their own homes? The argument of the right hon. Gentleman is, you want more paid Commissioners, but employ people to do the work who have no qualifications whatever for the work. Then with regard to the proposals of the Bill. In Scotland there has never been any lack of men willing to perform public duties without seeking any consideration for so doing, and there is no comparison between the work done on the Lunacy Board and the work done by these gentlemen in other public services. The statute says there are to be 1017 two Commissioners at £1,200, and two Deputy-Commissioners at £600, and the rest are to be unpaid; but now the right hon. Gentleman appears to think that it would be more economical to give those persons £500 a year than to have another paid Commissioner at £1,000. It is a question not of economy but of efficiency, and the Lord Advocate has not shown that we can dispense with the two head Commissioners. Does not the right hon. Gentleman know that every hour questions arise which require the Commissioner to be at his office in Edinburgh to answer? It is absolutely necessary that he should be at his office to advise the Board. Instead of these Commissioners you are going to have three unpaid men who are under no compulsion to attend. When Parliament fixes the salary of a man to perform a duty, the principle is that he is getting his salary and must devote his whole time to the work. With regard to the chairman, if the question had been ventilated in Edinburgh, I venture to say there would have been no difficulty in getting a gentleman to fill that office and that of the Commissioners. There never was such a body of men as the Scotch to rise to the occasion of the performance of public service, and when they stand and take an interest in matters connected with the country, they retain the interest of the people by whose votes they are elected. It has not been shown that it is necessary to make a new departure of this kind, and I maintain that public duty is better performed by the man who acts from a sense of public duty than by the man who always looks for his fee for his attendance at the meeting. This Bill is not to give a salary to men to devote their whole time to these duties; they are to get a fee for their attendance, and they all go to the office and put their names down more for the purpose of securing the fee than from a desire to do the work. Now who are these Commissioners? One is Sir John Cheyne, a man who obtained his knighthood from the Tory party; he is Procurator to the Church of Scotland, and a man who gets every appointment going where there is any money attached to it. He is Sheriff of Renfrewshire, for which he gets £1,000 from the Consolidated Fund. Do you expect a man like that, an advocate in practice, a sheriff with £1,000 a year, and plenty of work for which he is highly 1018 paid, to give his services for nothing. The other Commissioner is Mr. Cowan, the county agent of the Liberal party, another one of the mercenary gang who, in the hope of getting into office again, makes no charge for his services to the Board. These are the men appointed to this Board, the chairmanship of which is to be brought down to the level of those of public and bogus companies. I object to this proposal on this ground, that it is not right where you have, as in the case of Scotland, two paid Commissioners and two Deputy-Commissioners, and a secretary at £600 a year, and a clerk at £320, to pay anybody else for advisory work. Lawyers are not needed there, because if the Lord Advocate is in London he is not the only Crown officer, and the Solicitor General is at Edinburgh at the Crown Office, and he is much better qualified to give advice than an advocate like Sir John Cheyne or a county agent. If you come with a new Commissioner and ask for the money for his salary we will support you, but we will not establish such a precedent as this. Such a system once established will not end with this Board; once you give effect to this principle you cannot prevent it extending to everybody in the county councils, and so forth. If a crofter, for instance, has to travel many miles to attend a meeting—assume that he has to spend £1 and travel for three days—ought you to give that poor man, who is glad to do his duty without seeking support from the State or ratepayers, something for his expenses? The First Lord of the Treasury was asked the other day whether he intended to extend the principle to the county councils, and he said no; but once it is begun you will have it creeping into every part of Scotland. How could the Lord Advocate come here and ask for this without touching the question of the secretary's salary? For shame's sake he could not have done so, and he sweeps away by his action the old-standing clause that the salary shall not exceed so much, and leaves it to the Scotch Office to give as much or as little as it pleases. The secretary of the English Board gets £1,000, and the secretary of the Scotch Board £600; but in England the secretary has seven times the work to do, and he must be a barrister of seven years' standing, and is qualified to take the position of law adviser. In Scotland you have 1019 a man who is not a barrister at all, but who has risen in the Civil Service, and £600 is ample salary for him. If you made it compulsory that he should have legal training and be qualified to take the position of legal adviser, I would not object to your raising his salary; as it is he is overpaid, and ought to be satisfied. But we should never have heard of the increase in his salary had it not been for the fact that this £500 is to be divided amongst this mercenary crowd. I think the House should say let them go. Let the Board be filled with men of public spirit, and let Sir John Cheyne and the whole gang go. I beg to move as an Amendment that the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
, in seconding the Amendment, said the House had been invited to accept the Bill as a Bill of a departmental character without discussion, but it should be one of the duties of Scottish Members in this House to watch and if necessary criticise the work of the Scottish Office. They were sent by their constituents for that purpose, and not to please the Lord Advocate, however much they desired to do so. Compared with the work of a county councillor, the work of the paid Commissioners was very light. The House was informed that the paid Commissioners had to attend to complaints and listen to grievances, but members of the county councils had to do the same, yet they asked for no remuneration whatever. He would be sorry for Scotland if she had sunk so low that she could produce no patriotic man to fill the position of chairman to this Board without what was termed by the right hon. Gentleman payment by fees, but which he preferred to call tips. He did not believe Scotland had fallen so low as that, and he would be glad to know what means had been taken to obtain a chairman. Plenty of men would have come forward if proper announcements had been made in the press. The two unpaid Commissioners were lawyers, and if their tips came to £200 each, only a miserable £100 was left for the chairman, who was expected to devote much of his time to the business. If the work had so much increased then another man should be found, who should be paid a salary for the work he was expected to do. If this proposal were once adopted 1020 it would have to be extended until in the end all the members of every public body in Scotland would have to be paid. An objection to the scheme was the amount of other work which these proposed Commissioners already had to do. Sir John Cheyne is a sheriff, and it is said he is also Procurator of the Church of Scotland. He might be engaged in connection with either of these positions at the very time when his assistance was required on the Board. The principle was entirely wrong, and if work was required to be properly done, the only system was to pay a salary to a suitable man to do it. He opposed the Bill, which in its present form he contended ought to be scouted by every Scottish Member.
To leave out the word 'now,' and at the end of the Question to add the words 'upon this day six months.'"—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ SIR J. STIRLING-MAXWELL (Glasgow, College)
This is not a very important measure, but I rise to say that I shall not be able to vote for it. The Bill has been denounced as a job, and it has been pointed out that if anything in the nature of a job were contemplated something more heroic than the present proposals should have been brought forward. But no one who knows the Secretary for Scotland would for one moment suspect him of jobbery. Unfortunately, however, there are people who do not know the Secretary for Scotland personally, and to them this Bill must wear something of the aspect of a job. But it is not on that ground that I oppose it, but on the ground that the provision which is made for a change in the department concerned does not seem to me to be of a thorough character. Officials holding the important posts mentioned in the Bill should be either paid or unpaid, but this measure proposes to create an official who is neither the one nor the other. If, as the Lord Advocate pointed out, and I think he made out his case, there has been a great increase in the amount of work with which the Department has to deal, that is a strong ground for creating another paid post in the Department, and I, for one, should have been very glad to vote a sufficient salary 1021 for the purpose. But the present proposal to give some £300 to the Chairman and £100 to each of the unpaid Commissioners seems to me to be giving £500 where it is not wanted, and so far as I can see is not likely to bring any adequate return.
§ SIR T. GIBSON-CARMICHAEL (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
I did not have the pleasure of hearing the Lord Advocate's defence of this Bill, but I have gathered from subsequent speeches the line he took. I listened with delight to the eloquent speech of the hon. Member for Mid Lanark. He elaborated certain points which pleased me very much. He said he did not know very much about Scotch affairs, but he proceeded to show that he knew a great deal about the affairs of the Lunacy Board. I was Chairman of that Board for some years, and although I may know as much as, or more than, the hon. Member claims to know of Scotch affairs, I will not claim to know so much of the affairs of the Lunacy Board. What knowledge I have, however, comes from personal experience, whereas his knowledge, as far as I can make out, comes from hearsay. With regard to this Bill I may say at once that I differ from the hon. Member for Mid Lanark in one matter. He said that what this Bill is intended to carry into effect was never desired until the present Government came into power. I was not appointed Chairman of the Lunacy Board by a Tory Government, and certainly there was no idea that any part of my composition was Tory, but I may say that at that time it was the feeling of members of the Board that something in the nature of the first clause of this Bill was most desirable. I think the clerical staff might be improved, although I do not believe the individual members of that staff could be bettered. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark suggests that an advocate would be better as Secretary of the Board. Perhaps I do not know so much about advocates as he does, but my own opinion is that we are very much better off with a man who is not an advocate. Our secretary has always discharged his duties most efficiently, but it always struck me 1022 that the clerical staff were very much I over-burdened in the way of work. The Act under which the Board was formed was passed in 1864, and the work has increased very much since then. At the time of my chairmanship there was a report wanted with regard to the increase of lunacy in Scotland. Apparently the Members of this House wanted to know whether the increase of lunacy was due, as was said in the case of England, to the increased consumption of whisky, or whether, as was said in the case of Ireland, to the increased consumption of tea. It was not long before the members of the Lunacy Board made up their minds that it was due to neither the one nor the other, but in consequence of the clerical pressure it was some time before we could supply the report in the form in which this House required it. I believe that the Government by passing the first clause of this Bill, at any rate, would be doing a good thing for Scotland. But why is that clause, together with the third, confined to the secretary and the clerks? There are other persons belonging to the Lunacy Board, such as the paid Commissioners and the Deputy Commissioners. They may be adequately remunerated—possibly they are; if the Government tell me so I shall believe it. But their work has increased quite as much as that of anyone else. In the year 1864, when the present system began, these Commissioners had to visit the lunacy establishments of Scotland as they do now. They then paid 4,930 visits in the year. That was the work remunerated as Parliament thought fit in 1864. In 1898 these men for the same remuneration had to pay 15,671 visits. If you make a change at all, one class should be treated the same as the other, and, perhaps, it would be better to leave them to the tender mercies of the Treasury to provide whatever remuneration was thought proper. As to the second clause, which, perhaps, is, after all, the important clause, as it is not proposed to be retrospective, I do not feel very much affected by it. I believe the lawyers, the sheriffs, and the Crown Agent are extremely useful. They used to turn up at the meetings and give advice on technical matters, which I certainly could not have given to the medical members of the Board. There was no compulsion on them to attend the meetings; but I, as chairman, I should have been very sorry if they had 1023 not come. I cannot say, however, that I ever heard them complain about not getting a salary. It has been asked why they should be paid, seeing that the legal members of the Prisons Board are not paid. The position is quite different. The legal members of the Prisons Board are ex officio members of that Board, and therefore it is part of their duties as sheriff or Crown Agent. If the Lord Advocate assures us that the lawyers of Scotland are not willing to discharge these duties without payment, I suppose we must swallow the clause. You must have lawyers on the Board, because matters arise which only a lawyer can deal with. But with regard to the chairman, I confess I do not feel so happy. I mean to vote for the Second Reading of this Bill, but I am not convinced that the chairman should be paid. When I was invited to occupy that position the motive which actuated me in accepting the office was that I thought it an honour to be connected with the administration of Scotland. I think it would be a pity if that tradition were broken, and I therefore hope the Government will reconsider the point so far as the chairman is concerned. You can hardly give these lawyers less than £250 apiece, or if you cut them down to £200 you have only £100 left to be given, as has been said, in occasional "tips" to the chairman. I do not think you will obtain a better chairman by that means. On the contrary, it is my firm belief that on either side of politics you will always be able to get men to do work of that sort without pay.
§ MR. RENSHAW (Renfrewshire, W.)
I rise for the purpose of expressing the hope that the Government before this debate is brought to a conclusion will give us some further light upon the proposal in the second clause of the Bill. The speeches which have been delivered to-night have been principally addressed to the provision in the second clause. There is almost unanimity in regard to the first clause. We all wish to see the paid officials of the Lunacy Board, whether they are paid Commissioners or Deputy Commissioners or clerks, given adequate remuneration, and I am quite sure 1024 that all who represent Scotland in this House will feel that there is much to be urged in favour of the first clause of this Bill. It is only when we come to discuss the provision of the second clause that there seems to be ground for difference of opinion. What I regard as the unfortunate feature of the measure is that it seems for the first time to propose the partial payment of those connected with public offices in Scotland. It is unfortunate, not only in regard to the specific proposal in the second clause, but also because of the effect it will have upon the whole of our representative system in Scotland. What we want to secure for public offices throughout Scotland—a large proportion of which are unpaid—are the very best services that can be obtained in the country. Even in regard to the proposal itself, the £500 is so inadequate, having regard to the duties to be performed, that in place of being a benefit to even the three gentlemen who have been alluded to to-night, it will be absolute injury, and especially will it be a great injury having regard to the manner in which it will affect the whole question throughout Scotland. I hope some member of the Government will tell us, before a division is taken, that in Committee some proposal will be made, either to change the form of the proposal and to appoint another assistant Commissioner—because that seems to be what really is needed—or else to get rid of one of the legal advisers. I have no doubt that two legal advisers to a public board of this kind are rather a stumbling block than otherwise. Doctors differ, and no doubt legal gentlemen differ as well. If you removed one of the legal officers from this Board and put another medical officer upon it you would make a desirable change. I enter my protest, so far as this clause is concerned, against this proposal for partial payment. I think it is the most serious feature of the Bill, and on that ground I would urge the Government to reconsider this portion of their measure.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)
I venture to say that this proposal has placed the whole of the Scotch Members in a very difficult position. As 1025 the hon. Member has just remarked, there seems to be very little difference of opinion with regard to the first clause. There is practical unanimity in regard to the increased payment for the overworked clerical staff at present engaged. It certainly puts us in a somewhat ungracious position that we should feel ourselves forced to vote against the measure, because such a course of action may be interpreted as being in a sense adverse to those officers whose services we desire heartily to commend. But I cannot help thinking that the second clause is the whole point of the Bill. The proposal is a great administrative change. It proposes to introduce into Scotland a new system, but we have had no proof whatever from the Government that such a change is required. The statement which has more than any other affected me with regard to the course I should take in the division is the statement of the hon. Member for Midlothian, who was, as we know, a most able, industrious, and efficient chairman of a Lunacy Board in Scotland. No one more able ever occupied that position. We have his testimony on the floor of the House of Commons that a salary for that office is not required, and that you can get public men who will gladly devote themselves to to that sphere of usefulness without fee or reward, and that he sees no distinction between serving the State in that capacity and serving the State as chairman of a county council. This Bill proposes to make this great administrative change, but I am bound to say that I think his testimony was completely against the suggestion. I desire to add one remark with reference to another officer on that staff—namely, the sheriff. He at present holds the position, practically, of constant or occasional adviser in administrative matters. The point I desire to make is that the sheriff is a fairly highly paid official already, and I look with some apprehension upon a proposal to make offices of this kind, which at present are subsidiary to the administrative functions thrown upon the sheriffs, a ground and occasion for adding to their salaries as sheriffs of counties. The chairman does not require this salary; the sheriffs are paid already; and with regard to the third officer I do not know the grounds upon which the change is proposed. 1026 Therefore, while I have every sympathy with the officers mentioned in the first clause of the Bill, I feel myself bound, in face of this large administrative change, to vote against the measure.
MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanarkshire, Partick)
I am very glad that on the occasion of the discussion of this important matter we have the presence of the First Lord of the Treasury. It seems to me that a large question of principle is involved. I need hardly say that I entirely repudiate all the suggestions of jobbery or of improper motives which have been made. I am certain there is nothing whatever of the kind. But it is an entirely new principle which is being introduced in this proposal for the partial payment of a man who takes an honourable position connected with the public service. For many of the affairs of life this system of partial payment is doubtless an admirable system. In regard to companies, where the directors are only expected to give a small amount of attention to the concern, I think the payment of a reasonable amount of remuneration ensures that attention being given. I do not know any precedent for this system either in Scotland or in England of paying such salaries to men who only give a certain amount of time to the work. I hope the Government will pay some attention to this matter on larger grounds than merely Departmental considerations. I do not want to vote against the Second Reading, but I hope the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give this point their careful attention when the Bill comes on for discussion in Committee, because the second clause raises an important point to which I am not prepared to assent.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
The hon. Member for Partick has called attention to the unusual character of the payment proposed to be made to these men. I should like to know from a representative of the Treasury whether there is any precedent in the public service for payments of this character. There is the sum of £500 a year to be 1027 distributed amongst three gentlemen in accordance with rules to be laid down by the Treasury, and it is to be distributed in any proportion which the Treasury may choose. They may fix upon the custom prevailing amongst public companies if they like, or they may distribute it as they please. As far as my knowledge goes there is no precedent for any such mode of payment in the public service, and I do not think that this is a desirable innovation to introduce into the public service. I agree with hon. Members who have spoke in favour of Clause 1. If it is the case that the Departmental work has considerably increased in recent years, then I think there should be more clerks employed. Since the Lunacy Board was instituted in Scotland in 1864 it has had only four chairmen. The first chairman was Mr. Forbes Mackenzie, who held office for about six years; he was followed by Sir John Don Wauchope, who was succeeded by the hon. Member for Midlothian; and then came the present chairman. All those gentlemen who held office down to the present time discharged their duties most ably and without any remuneration, and without ever making any demand for remuneration. I remember that when the administration of this Board was inquired into in 1870 Sir John Don Wauchope stated in evidence that when he was invited to become the chairman he was told that there was no remuneration, and that he might attend to the duties just as he pleased. He discharged the duties of chairman very ably for a great number of years, absolutely without any remuneration whatever. Is there any reason whatever why a chairman should now be paid, when during all these years this Board has discharged its work so admirably—for it has been one of the most admirably managed Boards in Scotland for administrative purposes? I do not know the gentleman who has been offered this appointment, and I have no doubt he will discharge his duties well. But there is no demand that he shall do more than his predecessors, and the same argument applies to the other unpaid members of the Board. My hon. friend has stated that we are introducing a substantial alteration into the constitution of this Board, and the Prisons Board has been alluded to. The Fishery Board contains one paid member, a sheriff, and a scientific 1028 member, and also one or two others to represent the local fishing interest. The sheriff, who has as much legal work as is proposed to be given to legal members under this Bill, does his work free, and no demand has been made either by the present holder or any of his predecessors for remuneration for legal work. I understand that the Lord Advocate stated that the two legal members of the Lunacy Board said they could not continue to discharge their work unless they were paid.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
Upon that subject I am left somewhat in the dark, for I understood the hon. Gentleman to say that there would be great difficulty in getting these legal duties discharged unless they were paid for.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
I explained that a very great increase of work had been cast upon certain members of the Board, and the only way to meet it was to rearrange the work. This rearrangement will cast an increased amount of work upon the legal members, and it is for that increase that we propose to make this payment.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that explanation, for it makes the alteration proposed on the Bill greater than I anticipated. I understood that there was a difficulty in getting efficient legal members to discharge the duties of the Board, and I do not believe, as a matter of fact, that there are not members of the bar in Edinburgh eminently capable of discharging these duties who would be willing to discharge them, like their predecessors, entirely free of remuneration. The Lord Advocate now says there is going to be an alteration in the distribution of the duties and the administrative functions of this Board; the duties discharged by Assistant Commissioners in future are to be discharged by the legal members of 1029 the Board, and for that they are to be paid. I venture to say that this does not appear to me to be an improvement of the distribution in the administrative functions of the Board. If the ordinary work of the Board has increased the proper way to deal with it would be to appoint a new Assistant Commissioner or a Commissioner. These are the men who really do the work, and if the work has increased why not appoint another man of the same calibre and qualifications to do the increased work and not throw that work upon legal gentlemen and pay them a very inadequate salary? The First Lord of the Treasury might possibly be able to respond to the appeals made from his own side of the House and from all quarters. Whilst we are all in favour of taking any steps and voting any money to increase the efficiency of this Board, we are not prepared to commit ourselves to a Bill framed in this way which will give remuneration to gentlemen who, in past times, have discharged those duties without salary, and we are not prepared to agree, without further inquiry, to the suggestion of the Lord Advocate that increased administrative duties are to be put upon the shoulders of men who are not specially qualified to discharge them. I think we ought to have some intimation from the First Lord of the Treasury, or from some member of the Government, that they do not intend to proceed with Clause 2 as it stands, and that they are willing to modify it to meet the general views which have been expressed.
§ COLONEL DENNY (Kilmarnock Burghs)
said he desired to associate himself with the objections which had been raised in regard to Clause 2. If this Bill was carried out in its entirety it would initiate a new method of paying officials which would be unsound finance. They were perfectly willing to pay well for services which they got, but they had also taken a pride in Scotland in doing their public business in an economical way. He hoped the First Lord of the Treasury would state exactly what he intended to do to meet the objections which had been raised, and spare them what was always a disagreeable task, 1030 namely, that of voting against the Government.
§ CAPTAIN SINCLAIR (Forfarshire)
I am sorry that no member of the Government has found it necessary to respond to the appeals which have been made from their own side of the House. I should like to pay a tribute to the Scottish lunacy administration, which is not excelled by the lunacy administration either in England or Ireland. Both in England and Ireland they have followed Scotland in the many improvements which the Scotch Lunacy Commissioners have carried out. Experts have come over from America to see our Scotch lunacy administration, and they have testified to its success. If this administration is to be strengthened, it should be done in a proper manner. I feel sure that if the first clause of the Bill were to be put to the vote it would be agreed to unanimously. The Lord Advocate, on behalf of the Scotch Office, has said that it is necessary for the efficient administration of this Board that the salaries should be increased, and that if we wish further to strengthen the administration we ought to do it in the way suggested by the hon. Baronet opposite and others, by increasing the expert branch of the Board. The Lord Advocate said the number of private patients had doubled within the last few years, but it is not the slightest good sending these patients anything but experts who can give evidence and report upon the condition of these patients. The Board ought to be strengthened in its administrative capacity, and the money should be paid to secure the best men that can be got. In Scotland we are under a considerable disadvantage as compared with England in the way our medical officers are paid. In Scotland the salaries of medical officers were limited by statute in 1864, but so recently as 1890 the medical officers under the Lunancy Commissioners in England were placed in a different position by statute, and there is now no restriction to their salaries in England. Though the grievance is not touched and does not arise specially under this second clause, we are in Scotland under considerable disad- 1031 vantage in respect to payment given to the medical officers who are employed by the Lunacy Commissioners. Exception has been taken to the second clause on the ground that it introduces the principles of payment for public work. My objection does not take quite the same form as that which has been expressed by some hon. Members who have spoken in this debate. My view is that if you cannot get men without paying them you ought to pay them well. As a matter of fact, I am not sure that we should be doing a useful public service by introducing this system of payment by a far greater degree. The payment proposed under this clause is entirely inadequate, for the proper payment of gentlemen who are to discharge the duties of Commissioners is certainly not £500 a year. No one can contend that this is either adequate or proper payment, and on the ground that it is too small there is a valid objection to the proposal made in this clause. If the Lord Advocate had come to us and said the administration had broken down, and that there should be a radical change of system approximating to a Government department, it would have been a different matter. If you once depart from the principle hitherto adopted with regard to the Lunacy Commission, you will have to go a good deal further than is now proposed, and you will have to pay the members of the Fishery Board and other Boards in Scotland. In my humble judgment this proposal is not warranted by the facts, and I hope the Government will not insist upon passing the Bill with this very objectionable clause in it. After the appeals which have been made to the First Lord of the Treasury and the Government by hon. Members opposite—to which there has hardly been a dissentient voice—I think it is a very great pity that more respect is not paid to the experience and to the opinions expressed on both sides of the House.
§ MR. A. GRAHAM MURRAY
When I made my statement in support of this Bill there were very few Members in the House. I explained that an enormous amount of increased work had devolved upon the Board. I said that I thought my noble friend the Secretary for Scotland would have been perfectly willing to 1032 leave it to the House of Commons to determine whether there was a case for having a new official in some form or other, or whether we might not pursue what would be a more economical plan, by so rearranging the duties as would fix more work upon the unpaid members. I also explained that really our hands had been tied by the attacks which had been made upon my noble friend. I was glad to see that the hon. Member for Mid Lanark expressed some regret that he did make use of the words he used in attacking my noble friend, and I am glad to notice that any charge of that kind has been conspicuously absent from this debate. Of course, that puts the matter on a very different footing. If I understand that the views to which I have alluded do not in any way prevail, then I am quite sure that I am not doing too much when I say that I will take upon myself the responsibility of bringing before my noble friend the views which have been generally expressed upon this question as a matter of principle. I am perfectly willing to do that, and in the light of the remarks which have been made, my noble friend will consider the situation, and see if it might not be more prudent to provide for the extra assistance in another way. Upon that understanding I hope the House will grant the Second Reading, because, whatever the ultimate decision of the Secretary for Scotland may be, hon. Members will have another opportunity of challenging it. Undoubtedly there is much in this Bill upon which we are absolutely unanimous, and I hope the House will now agree to the Second Reading.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main question put, and agreed to; Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.