HC Deb 20 February 1900 vol 79 cc555-8
MR. HOLLAND () Yorkshire, W. R., Rotherham

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether any of the members of the Committee appointed by the Government to inquire into the administration of the Patriotic Fund are themselves Patriotic Commissioners.

MR. T. P. O'CONNOR () Liverpool, Scotland

Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask if there is any precedent, in the constitution of a Committee of this kind, for omitting the name of the hon. Member to whose initiative and investigation the action is due? I refer to my hon. friend the Member for Devonport.


The hon. Gentleman who asks me that question is confusing a Parliamentary Committee with the sort of Committee which I have attempted to frame. I have carefully excluded those who took a prominent public part in the debates on this question. There are friends of mine on this side of the House who took an active part in the debates, and would have been glad to serve, but I thought it would be far better that this Committee should, as far as possible, be outside the controversy, and for that reason I have been glad to obtain the services of so distinguished a Chairman as Lord Justice Henn Collins. With regard to the question on the Paper, the suggestion is that two members have been placed on the Committee who have an interest in keeping unchanged the constitution of the Royal Patriotic Fund. The Lord Mayor is only an ex officio member serving for his year of office, and I believe the only occasion on which he appeared at a meeting of the fund was in order to explain how, under the existing management, the fund was so unpopular that contributions to his fund would not willingly be paid over to the management of the Patriotic Fund. As regards Mr. W. Lidderdale, he is a reformer in this matter, and is by no means wedded to the existing system under which the fund is administered.

MR. JOHN REDMOND () waterford

Arising out of this answer, may I ask whether it has come to the knowledge of the right hon. Gentleman that there is some dissatification at the constitution of the Committee, as announced by him, felt by some; of the persons interested in the matter. It is in the knowledge of the light hon. Gentleman that a large portion of the funds referred to are invested for the benefit and education of Catholic children? I do not know whether he would permit representations to be made to him as to enlarging the Committee by the addition of other names.

SIR R. T. REID () Dumfries Burghs

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us if he has made any arrangements for filling the place of Lord Justice Henn Collins during the time he is occupied on this Committee, having regard to the fact that the Court of Appeal is quite unable to overtake its work?

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, having regard to the fact that three members of the body whose actions are impugned are on the Committee, it would not be desirable that one gentleman at least of those associated with the criticism of the fund should also be on the Committee.


I have already explained that the Members who have defended the fund have also been excluded. With regard to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Dumfries, I presume that as Lord Justice Henn Collins has been good enough to accept this office he sees no difficulty in combining it with his judicial functions. If the hon. Gentleman will put a question on the Paper I will consult with the Lord Chancellor, with whose department the matter rests. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Waterford as to the powers of this tribunal, as I believe it to be a thoroughly impartial tribunal I am sure that any re-presentations made by the hon. Gentleman with regard to any evidence he may have to give, either on the subject about which he asks a question or any other subject connected with the Patriotic Fund, will be attended to by the Committee.


The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood my question. I did not ask whether evidence would be received, which I take for granted, but whether the constitution of the body would be so altered as to meet objections entertained by certain classes.


I do not think that any alteration of the body would meet the criticisms. If I altered the body to meet the wishes of the hon. Gentleman I would also have to alter it to meet the wishes of other hon. Gentlemen who have asked me questions. There is no conceivable way of framing a Committee which will command absolute assent on every side of public opinion. I have endeavoured to frame an impartial tribunal. There are only two ways of constituting such a Committee as this. One is to have represented on it all the various supporters of various questions brought before the Committee, and the other is to establish an impartial tribunal. Both bodies are effective in their way: but I have chosen the latter as the better one to deal with this particular matter.

MR. BAYLEY () Derbyshire, Chesterfield

May I ask whether this Committee will have power to call for persons and Papers—


Order, order I think notice should be given of that and all other questions relating to this matter.

Mr. P. O'BRIEN () Kilkenny

Perhaps you will allow me to ask the right hon. Gentleman—


Order, order! The hon. Member must give notice.


I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether any German official conveyed a warning to any official of Her Majesty's Government that Germany had reason to believe some act of aggression was con templated on the part of British subjects against the Transvaal, shortly prior to the Jameson raid.


The only reference to this subject with which I am acquainted will be found on page 550 of the appendix of the Report of the South African Committee.