§ 1. £51,299, to complete the sum for Treasury and Subordinate Departments.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said that as the salary of the Chancellor of 796 the Exchequer was one of the items in the Estimate before the Committee he supposed it was competent for him (Mr. Bartley) to refer to the arrangement for the collection in certain special cases. With regard to the Jamaica Railway the Committee would remember a special arrangement was entered into with the colony, by which a certain sum was charged on the debentures of that railway. An arrangement was made by which if there was any failure in the payments of interest colonial bonds were to be given, and that when any default took place certain contingencies should arise. The railway to a certain extent failed, and was taken over by the colony, and certain means were taken to-give it financial assistance, and certain payments were made. The debentures were largely held by trustees, no interest was paid for some time, but after a considerable delay of three years the interest which should have been paid every year was paid, with the result that the increased income tax was charged instead of the income tax which should have been charged if the interest had been paid at the proper time.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said he thought it was a matter of direction, that it was collected by the Board of Revenue by the direction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS BEACH, Bristol, W.)
said the collection of Revenue was not a matter of direction at all. It was a matter of law.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said he was not prepared to pursue the matter further if it was ruled out of order, but he was under the impression that this was the only occasion upon which the question could be raised.
§ MR. BARTLEY
urged that the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue was under the direction of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was the supreme Minister with regard to such matters.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
confirmed the hon. Member in his opinion that the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue was subservient to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
said that had the hon. Member called his attention to this matter earlier he would have caused inquiry to be made; but his impression was, with regard to this particular case, that it was one for the consideration of the Inland Revenue authorities.
After the statement of the right hon. Gentleman I think this question ought to be raised on the salary of the Board of Inland Revenue.
§ MR. BARTLEY,
on a point of order, said that if the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue took his instructions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer— who was, after all, the fountain head of all authority in finance—he thought the right hon. Gentleman exceeded his power in claiming this particular payment.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
expressed the opinion that the right hon. Gentleman under-estimated his power in the matter. The Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue was authorised by statute to act on the direction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that was the exact point raised by the hon. Member for North Islington.
On the point of order, if this question can be raised at all it can only be raised on the salary of the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer exercised discretion jointly with the Colonial Office with regard to important officers called Crown Agents. Each Crown colony had its own agent, 798 and these Crown Agents received their remuneration out of an accumulated sum of commissions and percentages, which now amounted to about £340,000, and that sum represented about twelve years commission on their expenditure. It had been recognised by the Treasury that when the accumulated sum was more than sufficient to meet emergencies then the commission should be reduced. It was reduced in 1868 by the Treasury, the principle having been laid down in 1863. It seemed to him that, as the fund had reached £340,000, the time had arrived when the matter should be reconsidered by the Treasury as to whether the commission ought to be reduced. He thought the commission with regard to the Uganda Railway might have been dispensed with altogether. What he wished to ask was whether the right hon. Gentleman would consider this matter, for he was asking the right hon. Gentleman to do no more than had been done in previous cases in 1868. He wished to know if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would take this matter into consideration, and consider whether the time had not arrived for making some further reduction in the commission levied by the Crown Agents, and also in the permanent contribution by the leading Crown colonies to the salaries of Crown Agents.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I have nothing whatever to do with it. It is perfectly possible that in 1868 the Colonial Secretary, having to deal with questions within his own Department, did consult the Treasury on the reduction referred to, but the decision rested with him entirely. I cannot initiate any change in regard to the payment of commission to the Crown Agents. Of course, if my right hon. friend the Colonial Secretary were to consult me, as the head of the Treasury, on the matter, I could give an opinion, but that is all.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
Like the hon. Member for King's Lynn, I rise not to make a complaint, but to make a suggestion which I think would be to the public benefit if the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be good enough to listen to it. It relates to the animal statement he makes to the House, known as his Budget statement, a copy of which I have in my hand. We find at the bottom of the column the total estimated expendi- 799 ture. The estimated national expenditure is understood to be £149,000,000. The objection I raise is that it is bad book-keeping, which would not be tolerated in any well-managed business, to lump together as national expenditure outlay that is for national purposes with outlay that is for reproductive purposes. We must bear in mind what the country understands by national expenditure. That is understood as meaning expenditure for the carrying on of the business of the nation such as the Army, the Navy, and the Civil Service. That is the understanding, and when you come to the carrying on of a private business such as the Post Office and the Telegraph Department, that is not national expenditure in any sense whatever. Originally the Post Office was conducted by private enterprise, and there is no particular reason why it should not be treated in that way now. The nation has taken it over as a business, out of which we make a profit of something like £4,000,000, but that is not the same as carrying on the Army and Navy and other unproductive expenditure in the ordinary sense of the term. We have on the expenditure side the sum of £12,500,000, which goes to swell the general national expenditure, but it is met by an item on the other side of £17,000,000, showing a profit. I venture to suggest that the only way to give the nation a true idea of the finances is to keep a separate account. If you open a post office business you should keep a separate account and simply bring to your general account the profit or loss accordingly as you have made a profit or a loss. The Committee will see at once the absurdity into which we are landed if you carry out this system further. Suppose the nation was to take over the management of the railways, which is done in Belgium, what would be the result if you followed this system of book-keeping? I should think it would more than double the national expenditure. If you lumped it together in this way it would seem as though the national expenditure had doubled. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may say that all this expenditure is clearly laid down in the Return, but the Return only appears in the summer—I believe it did not appear last year until the 31st of July—and what I complain of is that this Return is what the nation judges by. My point is that then the whole thing has 800 gone by public interest. I do not think many hon. Members of the House see the second Return, with the exception of a few experts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may argue that no one is deceived, but I think it is calculated to deceive even the most alert. At the time of the Jubilee the House was delighted with a most interesting and charming comparison which the right hon. Gentleman gave us of the expenditure as compared with the time of the accession of the Queen and the year of her Jubilee. All that is extremely interesting, and it is well that the nation should look at these things. But it was not true, because the figures which the Chancellor of the Exchequer based that comparison upon were not correct. At the time the Queen came to the Throne a proper system of bookkeeping was adopted in this matter, and the gross expenditure in working the Post Office was not then put down as a portion of the national expenditure. I think we may well understand how it might mislead the whole press of the country. Everybody made comparisons about the wonderful leaps in our expenditure. Of course we are quite ready to acknowledge that the expenditure is much more than we like, but what I ask is that the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer shall show what it is, and not that we shall have an unreal and inflated expenditure, upon which all our comparisons may be absolutely erroneous. I ventured to call the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to this matter a short time ago, and I believe he told me that the system was instituted by Mr. Gladstone. I am bound to say that there is too much of a tendency to try and knock people down by a great name. No doubt other reasons could be given, but each generation must solve its own problem. I venture to say that some such change as I suggest is now necessary for the correct apprehension of the national expenditure. This is necessary in order that we may make correct comparisons from year to year of such expenditure, and in order that the nation may have a clear account before it as to whether any business it undertakes gives a profit or a loss. I venture to say that if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will couple my suggestion with his next statement it will be made very much clearer.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
To draw up the Budget statement in the way sug- 801 gested would be contrary to the custom which has prevailed—and a very good bustom—since 1854, and which is required by statute. By this custom the total expenditure of the Post Office is placed on one side, while on the other side you have a return of the receipts derived from the Post Office. The result of the alterations suggested would be that much less information would be given to the House on the subject than is now given. I could not adopt the proposal of the hon. Member, and I do not agree with his views on the subject. If anyone requires to see what the net results are of the different heads of revenue he will see it in the Return which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton moves for every year, in which the net public income and the net public expenditure is stated under certain specified heads.
§ MR. HARWOOD
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his reply. I only wish to state that I was quite aware of the Return to which he has just alluded, but it is perfectly clear that that is not a statement which goes before the nation. Might I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman, who has already shown a spirit of true finance, that he should have three columns instead of two as at present? It is not good book-keeping as it is.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
The hon. Gentleman has taken an objection to the public accounts of this country which seems to me not only to be entirely unfounded, but to suggest an alteration in an entirely wrong direction. He says that there are twelve millions too much put down in the accounts.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
Does the hon. Gentleman apprehend that we keep no capital account? Ours is an annual cash account, beginning on the first day of the financial year and ending on the last. I do not say that that system is absolutely perfect as a system of bookkeeping. The Post Office ought to have a capital account in which its buildings and its stores should be included. We have deliberately restricted our national account to a cash account, and we have said that so strict shall the account be 802 that if a penny or a million is loft over at the end of the year, beyond the money actually expended, it shall go to the reduction of the National Debt. I will invite the hon. Gentleman to consider what is national expenditure. We levy taxation in return for certain services. There is the soldier's service, the policeman's service, and the postman's service. The postman is just as much a servant of the State as the soldier. The fact that the Post Office makes a certain amount of money has nothing to do with it if you want to post a letter you have a compulsory charge levied upon you, and that is taxation. If you want your homes and commerce fended you have another compulsory charge, and if you want to conquer South Africa or China there is a still further compulsory charge. These are all charges in return for services, and it no more ceases to be taxation because it is needed for the postman than if it had been for the sailor or the soldier. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that every farthing of expenditure with regard to the Post Office should be put down as national expenditure. I go further than the hon. Gentleman, and I say that the serious defect in our accounts is in the direction contrary to that suggested by him. There are omitted from our national accounts year after year since 1868 very large items which are also expenditure. They are the contribution to the Local Taxation Account; appropriations-in-aid, which are sums received by the Departments from various sources, including a million paid by India the profit on the coinage and the Mint, and all the enormous receipts of the public Departments which never come into the Estimates, and over which this House has no control, as well as the expenditure out of receipts, as it is called. For instance, the Post Office pays the railway companies for the carriage of parcels out of its receipts. These contributions amount altogether to seventeen millions of money every year, and this year I think they will amount to eighteen millions. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is a conscientious man, and he gives us a little note with reference to these amounts, but they are not included in the total. His conscience extends as far as the note, but not as far as the total. The effect of this omission is to make a comparison between this year's accounts and any year's ac- 803 counts before 1868 absolutely delusive. Before 1868 appropriations in aid were very small; since then they have risen year by year, million by million, until they are now about six millions, and the total of all these omitted items amounts to seventeen millions. Therefore, instead of saying that the accounts, contain twelve millions too much, I say that that twelve millions is in its right place, and that we ought to add seventeen millions to it to make it a good account. I think the contention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the twelve millions ought to remain is absolutely right, but I believe also I am equally right in saying that the accounts ought to contain the seventeen millions now omitted.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. £7,340 to complete the sum for Privy Council Office.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
I should like to ask the Secretary to the Treasury a question about the salary of the Registrar of the Privy Council. The gentleman who holds this office has been put in at the maximum salary of £1,500 a year, whereas his predecessor was appointed at £1,200 a year, rising after five years to £1,500. I do not know this gentleman, but I knew his predecessor, Mr. Harley, who is now a member of the Viceroy's Council in India. He did the work at £1,200 a year, and an abler man could not be got to do it, and I am perfectly certain his successor is not a more able man. The Secretary to the Treasury when this matter was brought forward before said that on the whole there would be a saving on the Estimates, because the gentleman who was made Registrar of the Council had held an office in the Civil Service Commission, and that the number of Commissioners would be diminished. That may have been a very good administrative work, but if that reduction were to be carried through there surely was no reason why this gentleman should not get his new office under the conditions on which it was held by his predecessors. He had a salary of £1,200 a year in the Civil Service Commission, with, as the Secretary to the Treasury says, the probability of a further rise. I do not know what he means by that. I suppose he meant that this gentleman might 804 possibly become Chief Commissioner. He certainly had no legal claim to any increase of salary beyond £1,200, and there was no reason for putting him into the office on exceptionally favourable terms. Even if he had started at £1,200 he would have boon better off than if he had remained at the Civil Service Commission, because he would have an assurance that he would have £1,500 in five years. I think we ought to get some explanation on the subject, because this appears to me to have been an unnecessary expenditure.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HANBURY,) Preston
I have already explained this matter once this session. The hon. Gentleman has fairly stated what happened, but certain additions have to be made to his statement. The gentleman appointed to this office at the maximum salary was appointed to a very great extent to suit the convenience of the Government. We wanted to effect an economy by reducing the number of the Commissioners, and an opportunity was afforded when this post fell vacant. The gentleman appointed was already receiving £1,200, with a prospect of rising to £1,500. Then it is asked, why not treat him exactly as the other gentleman who had been previously appointed to the office? In the first place, he was already in the Government service, and in the next place he had no great anxiety to leave the office he was in, and in which he was on the road to promotion, but in order to permit of this economy he went. He was removed from an office where he had served a great number of years to another office to do entirely different work. After all, the extra charge extends only over a few years. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will agree with me that in this case real economy was effected, and that there were very special circumstances why this gentleman should have received the maximum salary.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
What I complain of is that this gentleman was appointed at the maximum salary, which ordinarily would have only been reached in five years. He was enjoying the maximum salary in his own department, which was just the initial salary of his new position.
§ Vote agreed to.805
§ 3. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £11,028, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Agriculture, and to pay certain Grants in Aid."
§ MR. STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
I desire to ask the right hon. the President of the Board of Agriculture what is the present condition of things in regard to swine fever. For many years we have had a great deal of trouble with this question, and the Government have spent a very large sum of money indeed, but have really done very little in stamping out the swine fever. It is quite true that at certain seasons of the year the swine fever decreases. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in his opinion, he is really making any substantial progress in the stamping out of swine fever, and does he really think that in a short period he will be able to say that it is stamped out entirely, as he has stamped out rabies to the satisfaction of the country? Does he think that swine fever produces itself, or only arises from contagion? A good deal of dissatisfaction is caused at the present time amongst farmers and dealers by restrictions on the movements of swine, but that dissatisfaction would decrease if the right hon. Gentleman could give any assurance that an end will be put to this state of things in the immediate future.
§ MR. MARTIN (Worcestershire, Droitwich)
said that in many parts of the country pigs were fed on carrion, offal, and other articles utterly unfit for the food of an animal destined for human consumption. Some progress might be made with stamping out swine fever if the inspectors of the Board of Agriculture were to see how the animals were fed.
§ MR. PRICE (Norfolk, E.)
I wish to draw attention to the subject of the restrictions which the Board of Agriculture find it their duty to impose where disease breaks out amongst cattle. Some months ago there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The principle followed by the Board of Agriculture in these cases is, no doubt, a perfectly proper principle if properly applied. It is to impose such 806 restrictions on the district where foot and mouth or any other disease breaks out as to prevent the spread of the disease to any other part of the country. No patriotic stock-owner will object to a certain amount of inconvenience in order to prevent such a national disaster as the spread of disease throughout the length and breadth of the country. I wish to say that in the county I represent there is no rebellion against the general law. We quite understand that restrictions must be imposed, but it is only because we feel that the present method of imposing them is unfair that I make my protest against it. I wish it to be understood that I have a good deal of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture. His position is an extremely difficult one. He is most anxious to prevent the spread of disease to all parts of the country from the particular district in which it arises, and it leads him to make the restrictions greater than perhaps they might need be. Imposing restrictions on a district in order to prevent the spread of disease is in the nature of an insurance to the rest of the country, and the premium is paid by the loss and inconvenience suffered in the contaminated district. The Department, of Agriculture undertakes the payment of compensation for loss suffered, but only to a small extent. It compensates for the bullocks slaughtered, but not the indirect loss incurred. In Norfolk and Suffolk what happened was this: Immediately the right hon. Gentleman's Department knew of the outbreak he did what war, the right thing—namely, sent down at once a first-class inspector, who scheduled a considerable area. The method is no doubt a little rough and ready, and if it were only for a few days it would not matter. But the inspector takes a certain radius round the place of infection, and includes not only that radius, but all the petty sessions districts round that area, the reason being that these petty sessions districts are more easily policed. But if the restriction Order is to last some months, the original area included is a great deal too large. It represents twenty square miles, and the petty sessions districts which impinge on these twenty miles may be more than forty miles distant from the radius of infection. The view taken in Norfolk is, that, although it may be necessary in the 807 first place to make a very considerable area the subject of restriction, at the earliest possible moment a first-class inspector, who thoroughly understands the subject, should be sent down to inspect the area first proclaimed, and then he should map out a scientific area, having regard to the various means of communication. Infection is carried in various ways. It may be carried by human beings, by the clothes of human beings, by beasts, by the fowls of the air, and by inanimate substances in contact with infection. What is wanted is that the inanimate substances lying about a farm should be destroyed or thoroughly disinfected and the buildings very carefully disinfected. And then a very careful watch should be kept on the immediate neighbourhood in order to prevent human beings and beasts having any chance of being infected moving about and spreading the disease. That we thoroughly understand and agree to. But in point of fact we are afraid that the local disinfection of the premises where the disease breaks out is not properly carried out by men who thoroughly understand disinfection. I am not going to make any attack upon the inspectors or sub-inspectors of the Board of Agriculture. I know them to be very excellent gentlemen who understand their business. But I do not believe they are specialists in such subjects as disinfection, or know the pathology of one disease from another. I understand that the last outbreak that took place arose from the fact that some fodder which had been in contact with the diseased beasts, or the man who slaughtered them, was not destroyed, but was ultimately consumed by other beasts, and so the disease was spread. That showed a lamentable want of care in disinfecting. All matters like hay should be at once destroyed, in addition to that, there were buildings which should have been disinfected in the ordinary way with quicklime; but I am informed, and the public down in Norfolk believe, that in point of fact the disinfecting was done not with quicklime, but with slaked lime or whitewash, which had no effect. I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that these restrictions, although they are perfectly necessary—and no one denies that— should be put on with the greatest care and circumspection. If the restrictions are made so severe as to appear to be unjust, you will not succeed in pre- 808 venting infection, and you will not get loyal obedience to the restriction Order. In point of fact the feeling of exasperation in Norfolk is very great indeed. In one case the Order was, no doubt, infringed, and remarks were made on the bench about the stringency of the Order. I do not in the least identify myself with those remarks, which were, to say the least, not very judicial. But the mere fact that such things were said strongly condemning the restrictions, and that only nominal fines were imposed, shows that there is a feeling general throughout the county that the regulations are stronger than they need be, and that the work of the Department has not been carried out in the best possible way. I may be out of order in alluding to the subject of compensation, as that does not come within the Executive Department of the right hon. Gentleman. But I would like to say that I do not believe that the system of the Board of Agriculture will ever be loyally adhered to while the loss involved is so enormous. In this outbreak there were 30,000 fat cattle ready for the market, and I have no doubt that the loss was about £2 per beast, or £60,000 in a small area of the county. There never will be loyal co-operation between the owners of cattle and the Department in the stamping out of the disease until a better system of compensation is adopted. At present it is the interest of a farmer to have diseased beasts, because they are slaughtered and paid for, but his neighbour cannot move his beasts about or send them to market; he has to buy food for them, and the loss to him is extremely great. Although there is a danger of the Department being swindled, the possibility of a swindle should not prevent the farmers who suffer that loss being compensated. The country gets the benefit of the insurance and ought to pay the premium. I do not wish to appear to be condemning the right hon. Gentleman too much, but I feel it my duty to move the reduction of this Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £10,928, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Price.)
DR. FARQUHAESON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has made an excellent speech in 809 the interests of his constituents, and has invested his remarks with some scientific interest. But we, who do not belong to Norfolk, but consider the interests of the country as a whole, take a broader view of the ease and wish to back up the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture on the restrictions he very properly puts on, in order to isolate and stamp out all these types of disease which do not spring up spontaneously, and probably are brought from abroad to smoulder amongst us until they break out with virulence. They can only be eradicated by the policy which the right hon. Gentleman initiated, and which he is carrying out with vigour and courage, and which, I trust, in spite of the opposition he has met with, he will continue to carry on with the same vigour. I congratulate him on his issue of the muzzling order, which has had the result of extinguishing that most terrible of all diseases which afflict humanity—hydrophobia. I am sure there is not a single scientific man in the country who does not congratulate him. I saw in a paper the other day that a movement has been set on foot in scientific centres to present my right hon. friend with a testimonial for the purpose of showing the gratitude, not so much of the general public but of the scientific world, for his efforts for the extinction of hydrophobia by the same means by which he proposes to stamp out foot-and-mouth disease and make our herds and flocks as clean and clear of infection as over they were before. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions in a friendly spirit. First, whether he is able to give the House any information as to where the infection comes from—whether from abroad or from places where the disease existed before, and where it had been smouldering, and the all-prevailing bacilli had been lying low, biding their time until the conditions were more favourable for their active propagation. Then, is it the right hon. Gentleman's opinion or that of his scientific advisers, that the disease springs up spontaneously? I know that to suggest that is heretical, but it would be very interesting to know if my right hon. friend has any evidence at his disposal to prove that this disease may spring up spontaneously? I do not think that sufficient use is made of the process of combustion. Disinfection is often a 810 mere sham. At all events, my right hon. friend takes the right course in isolating particular districts and thus keeping infection from spreading, and I hope he will not be induced to depart from that course by the excellent oratory of the hon. Member for Norfolk.
§ MR. H. S. FOSTER (Suffolk, Lowestoft)
As the outbreak of foot and mouth disease occurred in my own division of Suffolk, and many of my constituents suffered severely from the restrictions imposed by the Board of Agriculture, I wish to say that I most heartily support the policy of my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Agriculture. Undoubtedly those who suffered in pocket are desirous of sacrificing somebody, and at the present moment the President of the Board of Agriculture is not the most popular man of the day, and it would be a popular thing, from some points of view, to join in the outcry against him. But anybody who knows the terribly infectious and virulent character of foot and mouth disease must admit that nothing but the most stringent regulations can stamp it out. I am sure no one would be more ready than the hon. Gentleman opposite to acknowledge that the President of the Board of Agriculture has shown the utmost sympathy with the fanners who have suffered loss, and has manifested the greatest regret when compelled to enforce his regulations. It seems rather hard, when these regulations are necessarily imposed for the benefit of the whole community, that the whole loss should fall on the restricted and isolated areas. If compensation were awarded, as I contend it should be in the case of all those who have to suffer restrictions for the public good, out of public funds, the irritation would at once disappear. In the case of glanders, which affects horses, it was found that the only effective means to arrest its spread was to destroy the animals attacked. In this way glanders was stamped out of the Army. But in London, where compensation is not given by the local authority, it is to the interest of the private owner of horses— say, the driver of a cab who owns his own horses and to whom the destruction of his horses means ruin—to conceal the disease; whereas if it were to his interest to disclose the existence of the disease the public interest would be safeguarded. I know that my right hon. friend has no 811 power to deal with the question of compensation, but it does seem to me to be a hardship that the owners of cattle in any particular locality, when disease breaks out, should be subjected to isolation, causing great damage, and should receive no compensation for what they are called upon to suffer in order to prevent the spread of the disease to other neighbourhoods.
§ *MR. SOAMES (Norfolk, S.)
I object to the method of the application of the restrictions. The area scheduled in Norfolk when the first outbreak occurred was unnecessarily large. This was clearly proved by the fact that neither in the case of the outbreak in Bedfordshire, nor of the second outbreak in Norfolk, was it thought necessary to schedule nearly so large a district as on the first occasion. Therefore I think that in this respect there was a very real grievance. Another point which is felt very strongly is that the facilities for moving stock were not given as soon as they might have been. Cases were so serious as regards the want of food that the magistrates, while they did not refuse to convict, only put on the minimum fine of a farthing per head on each of the stock moved. If there had been permission given to move the stock under proper conditions with an order at a reasonably earlier date a good deal of friction and difficulty might have been avoided. We had the spectacle of a large number of magistrates themselves breaking the law. In fact, if you went over the district you would find that there was hardly a single magistrate who had not himself been obliged to break the law. That is an unsatisfactory state of things.
§ *THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. LONG, Liverpool, West Derby)
I shall begin by replying to the questions asked by the hon. Member for South Somerset as to whether we are making any progress in the stamping out of swine fever, and also whether there is any doubt as to the prevalence of the disease. I do not like to prophesy what may be the result as regards swine fever, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman and the Committee that the answer I have to give is, on the whole, satisfactory. The gross cost in 1897–98 was £125,000, but for the year 1899–1900 that amount has fallen to £78,700. The outbreaks in 812 1898–99 stood at 2,400, while in 1899–1900 they were 2,100, and, whereas the outbreaks for the first twenty-four weeks of last year were 1,370, in the same period this year they have fallen to just over 1,000. This is almost the smallest number for that period we have had. Generally speaking, over the whole country there is a decided improvement in regard to this most insidious disease, and we have every reason to believe, if our efforts are supported by the local authorities, that it will be as satisfactorily dealt with as other diseases have been. Probably this disease is more insidious in its character than any of the other diseases we know of, and the animals are more easily moved from one place to another than is the case with the larger classes of stock. Of course the people whose stock suffers from the disease lose heavily from the regulations which are imposed with the view of exterminating the disease. As to foot and mouth disease in the eastern counties, I desire to say that, in my opinion, the action of the Norfolk magistrates is profoundly to be deplored. It is the duty of magistrates to administer the law as they find it, and not to seek to evade their responsibilities. I do not think that any good turn is done to those gentlemen by referring to their action. If satisfactory fines are not imposed upon offenders against the regulations, obviously the difficulties of securing the speedy extinction of the disease, and of the Department of Agriculture are largely increased. With regard to swine fever there is no doubt in the minds of experts of the Department as to the character of the disease. It has been suggested by an hon. Member that the feeding of the animals may have something to do with the outbreak of the disease. I do not think there is any justification for any opinion of that kind, and I am bound to say that I am not prepared to accept for my inspectors that the rather difficult task should be allotted to them of inspecting the food of pigs throughout the United Kingdom. I am not sure whether the feeding of pigs is properly or improperly conducted. I believe pigs cat a good deal I should not like to eat myself. I don't think the Board of Agriculture can undertake to restrict the appetite of pigs or control the articles they feed upon. Apart from that I can assure the Committee that there is not the smallest doubt whatever as to the real nature of 813 the disease. It is highly infections; and this makes it of vital importance that the regulations of the Department should be loyally accepted and carried out unless it can be shown, as it never has been shown, that they are unjust or that our policy is not likely to lead to success. As a matter of fact, at present there is no country in the world which stands with regard to disease in animals in as satisfactory a position as that occupied by Great Britain. This satisfactory position of affairs has been brought about by the vigorous policy of the officials of the Department with which I am connected, and I think it is some indication of the results they are likely to achieve in regard to this disease of swine fever. There is every reason to hope that we will ultimately suppress it. I would like to take this opportunity of acknowledging the great debt of gratitude I owe to the medical and scientific men of this country for the uniform support they have given me from the commencement of my labours in connection with rabies, and also to the Members on both sides of the House for the support they have given me in spite of the unpopularity and difficulties it has brought upon them in their constituencies. I am glad that our labours have been so successful, for I believe that the disease has been practically exterminated, and, with a loyal obedience to the regulations which the Department have thought it necessary to impose in regard to imported dogs, I believe there is no reason why we should not hope to protect the country against any fresh introduction of this most terrible disease. The hon. Member for West Aberdeen-shire asked, as to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Norfolk, whether we are certain as to the nature of the disease. The evidence as to this is overwhelming. As to where the disease came from, it is almost impossible to discover that; but I have little doubt that if we got at the facts it would be found that the infection was brought to one of our ports. We can only pursue our policy of immediately drawing a cordon so as to, as far as possible, keep within the area all possible means of infection, and place the strictest restrictions on the stock and their movements in the neighbourhood likely to be affected. Then complaint is made as to the size of the areas: but I contend that it is better at first to have big areas and then narrow 814 them down than to begin with small areas which may have to be increased. I do not hesitate to say that in this policy of good big areas rests a large part of the security we derive from the regulations, loading to the extermination of the outbreaks in a comparatively small space of time. We make ourselves acquainted with the geographical conditions, roads and places where markets are held, the direction in which cattle are likely to travel, and other local facts, and, according to these local circumstances and conditions and the previous history of the locality, we make such an area as we think is suitable and safe; and because the area in Bedford is smaller than in Norfolk, there is no reason to suggest that the original policy of forming at first a large area is an unwise one, or one we see any reason to depart from. With regard to disinfection it is quite true there is no hard and fast rule as to the way in which that should be carried out. The suggestion has been made that my inspectors are not sufficiently qualified. The general rules are laid down by experts, so that the actual work can be carried out by men who are not scientific. I have every reason to believe that disinfection generally is carried out in a thoroughly efficient and satisfactory manner. There is only one other word I have to say, I entirely sympathise with the view that farmers and others who are placed under restrictions suffer very heavily in connection with these outbreaks. I know also that they suffer in other ways than from loss of stock, but we have to consider the advantage and the convenience of the vast majority of the community. No doubt, if any one could induce the Treasury authorities to give the Board of Agriculture more money, we could do more; but I do not think there is any prospect of that kind. The expenditure is rapidly decreasing, and the loss that follows the enforcement of the regulations is not nearly so large as it would be if these diseases were allowed to run riot. If the local authorities will support us and realise their responsibilities in the administration of justice, I believe the best remedy will come from the absence of the necessity for regulations in consequence of the absence of disease.
§ *MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
I wish to associate myself with the hon. Member for West Aberdeen-shire in approving of the policy which 815 is being carried out with regard to the disease. In the case of the first outbreak in Norfolk or Suffolk—I am not sure whether it was the one or the gather —there was a certain lack of promptitude on the part, I think, of the farmers concerned in reporting to the police or the local authority the nature of the outbreak upon their premises. There seems to have been some confusion or uncertainty in their minds whether it was foot and mouth disease or not. As regards promptitude in dealing with outbreaks that may arise in future, I should like to ask my right hon. friend whether any steps had been taken by the Board of Agriculture to issue information or to increase the power of the local authorities. That seems to me a matter of the highest importance. The policy of taking the largest possible area for the restrictive orders is clearly the wisest and best way of dealing with this question. I would congratulate my right hon. friend very heartily on the way the policy of the Board of Agriculture has been carried out. The only qualification I should make to that is that there are many agriculturists in the country who would be glad if the restrictions were even stronger and more complete than they are. On the question of compensation I think the right hon. Gentleman laid down sound and courageous doctrines, which I am sure the wisest administrators would gladly and fully support. I am bound to say that I think one expression fell from him which ought to receive more consideration and support in the House. he said he would be glad to have the support of the House in getting more money with the view of carrying out a policy of this kind. I understood him to say that more liberal supplies would enable him more effectively and completely to carry out the policy of stamping out the disease, and in that respect I think the House ought to insist on a more liberal allowance in future to the Board of Agriculture for dealing with these matters. I do not wish to go into the question of the adequacy or inadequacy of the veterinary staff of the Board of Agriculture, but I do think that, having regard to what has been done in Franco and the United States of America, and elsewhere, if anything we err on the cheeseparing side. I should like to ask one further question, and I am not perfectly certain whether this comes within the control or jurisdiction of the 816 Board of Agriculture or the Board of Trade. Those who have followed the history of this recent outbreak know that cattle have been slaughtered on board ship, and a large number of carcases having; been thrown into the sea, some of which, presumably, were diseased, wore washed up. on the shores on some parts of the eastern counties. In the first place, great complaint is made that the expense of dealing, with this mischief falls entirely on the local rates. That is a matter which the local representatives will deal with more properly, but I would like to know what sort of administrative checks have been taken or will be taken with regard to the prevention of the extension of the disease through such carcases and the offal connected with them.
§ *MR. LOYD (Berkshire, Abingdon)
I desire to call attention to a question which is of great importance to the milk supplying farmers in my constituency and that is the continued use of the barn gallon. I believe the origin of supplying, milk in this way was to provide against spillage or leakage in transit. A barn gallon, as I understand, has an extra half-pint thrown into each imperial gallon, so that, upon the two imperial gallons which it contains there is an additional pint thrown in, making a total of seventeen pints to the barn gallon. The farmers-contend that this allowance for spillage or leakage is no longer necessary, because-of the improved vessels used. They further complain that even if they supply by the barn gallon they are debited with spillage or leakage should any occur. It is the dealers who insist upon this antiquated measure being still used, and I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether its use is legal under the Weights and Measures Act. I should imagine that it is not, and if it is not, the fact should be made generally known. It may perhaps be said that if the farmers are called upon to supply more than the imperial gallon, or multiples of the imperial gallon, the remedy would be to increase the price; but that does not seem to be altogether satisfactory, because, if so, what is the use of the Weights and Measures Act?' Surely the very object of that Act was to abolish these vexatious and varying methods of supply. I will not ask for a final and complete answer off-hand, but shall be satisfied if the right hon. Gentleman will undertake to look into the matter. If he, being satisfied on inquiry, 817 will use the means at the disposal of his Department to let it be perfectly well-known that this barn gallon is no longer a legal measure he will, I think, do a good thing for the milk producing portion of the agricultural community.
§ MR. ARTHUR J. MOORE (Londonderry)
The point to which I wish to draw attention is the importation of fraudulent foodstuffs. The right hon. Gentleman has done a good deal by strengthening the Act of Parliament dealing with the matter, and we should now be glad of some statement as to the result of the administration of the Food and Drugs Amendment Act passed last year.
MR. GRANT LAWSON (Yorkshire, N. R., Thirsk)
I also desire to ask a question upon the same point as that to which the hon. Gentleman has just referred. What I consider is the most important part of the Act of last year is the power possessed by the Board of Agriculture to insist upon the local authorities doing their duty in the analysis of food. When the Act was in Committee upstairs I got an explanatory section put into it for that purpose. What I should like to ask is whether the Board of Agriculture have insisted that the local authorities should perform their duty, so as to secure that food and drugs are sold in a pure condition, and what sort of success they have met with.
§ *MR. LONG
In reply to the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire, I think there is some justification for the observations of the hon. Gentleman; there has been a certain lack of promptitude in reporting the outbreak of disease in Norfolk, but I do not think that arose from any desire to evade the law and the responsibilities following an outbreak of disease, and therefore we have not thought it necessary to take any stops to strengthen the powers which have been in force. The truth is, there has not been an outbreak for years, and there was a doubt at first whether it was a genuine outbreak of disease. Then I think there has been some misunderstanding as to what I said. I should be sorry if anything I said should give rise to an impression that the Department is in any way deficient in strength for the proper discharge of its duty. The Treasury has always given liberal assistance for the staffs of the Department, both veterinary and hay, and I wish to take this oppor- 818 tunity of at once disposing of the rumour that we are not efficiently equipped, and to state that there is no reason to fear that the duties of the Department will be improperly performed. As to carcases thrown up on the coast as the result of a storm, I have been assured by scientific advisers that they carry no danger of infection, being impregnated with salt, though no doubt they are disagreeable and offensive to the people of the neighbourhood. It is not the duty of the Department to remove these carcases; but they are effectually dealt with by the Coast Guard. As to the question of the hon. Member for Abingdon about barn gallons, it has never been before me as a grievance. I have heard of an extra half-pint working, mischief, but not in connection with the milk trade. If my hon. friend will supply me with information on the subject, I shall be glad to put it before the Board of Trade, with whom the administration of the Weights and Measures Acts lies. In relation to the administration of the Food and Drugs Act of last year, I adhere to the view I have before expressed that the main object of the Act, was to ensure local action against adulteration, and the function of the Board of Agriculture was to exhaust every effort in urging, and as far as they could, compelling, discharge of this duty before taking action themselves. Nothing could be more disastrous than for the central authority to be ready to do the work which rightly falls to the local authority. To do that would inevitably lead to dilatory and neglectful administration. So far as I am aware the operation of the Act last year has been most satisfactory. The Treasury has given assistance, and local authorities have been made fully acquainted with the requirements of the new Act, and I have every reason to believe that the exorcise of its power by the Department has led to vigorous administration by local authorities. The Department will leave no stone unturned to make the Food and Drugs Act a success, and to put an end to the adulteration of food.
§ SIR CUTHBERT QUILTER (Suffolk, Sudbury)
What I am anxious to know is this, that while an order has been given for the burial of carcases of deceased cattle washed ashore no order has been given that the pens in which these cattle were confined should be removed. What I ask is, why the same treatment 819 is not meted out so far as the pens are concerned. The other complaint that may I constituents have to make is as to the carrying out of the various regulations for the stamping out of swine fever. These seem to be made without any regard to local conditions—to the trend of the different markets. An area is selected which may be an arbitary area, but it often happens that where one lot of swine, owing to the configuration of the country, go to one market, another lot will go in quite a different direction.
MR. KEAELEY (Devonport)
said he would like to ask a question with respect to the setting up of standards of milk and butter. There was, he understood, a Departmental inquiry going on, and, when a decision had been come to, the responsibility for circulating such standards would rest with the Board of Agriculture. Was the President of the Board able to give some information as to whether the deliberations were concluded, and whether, if these standards were arrived at, they would be circulated throughout the country? He believed that by the Sale of Food and Drugs Act Amendment Act of last year the local authorities were bound to appoint qualified analysts. He hoped the Department would take steps to see that that was done, as he knew several cases in which the local authorities thought they had performed their functions by paying their sanitary inspector £5 a year to act in that capacity. There was a general disposition throughout the country in favour of the amending Act being made more stringent. The duty of the public analyst should be properly performed. The right hon. Gentleman did not now appear to have the information up to date as to the percentage of adulteration found in samples taken at the port of entry, although last year and the year before he was able to give interesting figures in this respect. A beneficial effect was produced when it was understood that the Customs were watching the importation of food products and were making analysis. It would do a great deal of good if these investigations were continued, and the results from time to time made public.
§ *MR. LONG
In answer to my hon. friend the Member for the Sudbury Division, the obvious way of dealing with the pens would be to destroy them by burning, though I do not think it would 820 be necessary, because having been so long in the sea they are so impregnated with sea-water that there could be no danger of infection from them. No doubt they are unsightly, but they can be disposed of in that way. With regard to the areas selected for dealing with swine fever we do take the greatest care in selection, and our selection is governed as far as possible by the local considerations which the hon. Gentleman mentions. Our only object is to prevent the spreading of swine fever, and if any case is brought to our notice that in the selection of any area we have been unduly disregardful of the local conditions, I will take care that we will do better in future. With regard to the Standards Committee I can say nothing until they have reported. With regard to the question raised under the Food and Drugs Act as to the proper examination at the port of entry, that is a duty which rests with the Customs authorities first and the Board of Agriculture afterwards. No doubt the Government has power to bring pressure to bear on local authorities, and with regard to the suggestion as to the efficiency of the examination of imports I shall be glad if I can make any improvements in that respect. I have been asked whether I have at any time had to protest against the action of any local authority. I think that is rather too strong a term, but it has been necessary for me to indicate a few directions where reforms might take place.
MR. WHAETON (Yorkshire, Ripon)
Before this debate comes to a conclusion I desire to say a word of congratulation upon the policy of the right hon. Gentleman for the stamping out of rabies. The policy was unpopular, but the right hon. Gentleman stoutly adhered to it, with the result that the country has been freed from a very terrible disease. As to the appointment of good analysts, I have myself seen the benefit of such a policy, and I think it would be a very good thing if local authorities were to appoint good analysts.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ 4. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £23,036, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of pay- 821 ment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and expenses of the Charity Commission for England and Wales."
§ *SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
I should like to know whether any proceedings have been taken last year under the Charity Trust Recovery Act of 1891, which enabled the Charity Commissioners to recover charities lost in the not dim and distant past. It is a fact that charities have disappeared and are lost, but I hope nothing of that kind has been going on this year. In many instances there has been very laudable vigilance in looking after valuable charities and insisting on proper value being received for any charity lands which have been sold. Not long since, I had occasion to call the attention of the Charity Commissioners to the sale of land in connection with a charity in Northamptonshire, and to ask that steps should be taken to interfere with that sale. I may mention this case as illustrating something which is going on in the country, and to which I wish specially to call attention. This small charity had as part of its property a certain amount of land on which cottages were built. These cottages fell into a state of bad repair, and the question of their restoration became a subject of correspondence with the Charity Commissioners. In many such cases the amount of money required is more than the trust is able to afford, and the cottages go on from bad to worse, and in spite of the want of decent houses in many rural districts, cottages built on public lands, with certain funds behind them, become unfit for human habitation, and are pulled down or sold. In the case to which I am referring it was decided to sell the cottages, and, consequently, to turn out the persons occupying them. That may have been a desirable course in the interest of public health, but in the interest of the housing of the poor it would have been more desirable if steps had been taken by the Charity Commissioners to enable the cottages to be made fit for human habitation. I applied to the Commissioners to stop the sale for a time and to look after the cottages in the interests of the charity. Although the property was ultimately sold, the amount obtained for it, through the intervention of the Commissioners, was more than was originally anticipated, and the charity 822 received a proper sum for the property, which passed into private hands. I want to draw from that case certain conclusions which, in my opinion, ought to influence the administration of the Charity Commissioners. In the first place I want to induce the Commissioners not to favour the sale of land upon which similar cottages exist, but, in view of the necessity for the better housing of the people they should, as far as possible, retain any charity lands under their supervision, and encourage trustees, or give facilities for the purpose, to put cottages in a better state of repair, so that they may be fit for occupation by the rural poor. Local authorities might very often hire these charity lands for the purpose of erecting thereon houses for the poor. Public lands such as these might be used for public purposes with great advantage to the community and with no detriment to the charity, but I am sorry to see by the Report that they are being largely sold. It is not desirable that we should alienate public lands of any kind. It is desirable that all the lands of this country which are in the hands of public authorities as opposed to private owners should be retained. There is a large amount of land under the control of the Charity Commissioners, but that amount is diminishing at a rate which gives one reason to question the wisdom of the policy of the Commission in this matter. This process of sale has been going on at a very remarkable and increasing rate. In 1890 the amount of money realised by the sale of property connected with the charities of the country was £184,500; in 1899 the amount was nearly £883,000. That is, there had been an increase to nearly five times the amount in those nine years, and that increase has been going on steadily under the present administration. During the years 1893–4–5 the tendency was for the amount of money realised by such sales to go down, the policy of the Charity Commissioners being not to encourage the sale of charity lands, but to retain them as far as possible in the possession of the trustees. During those years the amount decreased steadily from £293,000 in 1893 to £186,000 in 1895. The process now is in the opposite direction, and a very large amount of charity property has been converted into actual money. I do not think the charities have been particularly injured by this process. A good sum of money has been 823 obtained for the property; the money has been invested in Consols, and the trustees have been saved a good deal of trouble with reference to the administration of the charity. But, while that tends to make trustees willing to get rid of lands, it does not remove from the Charity Commissioners or us that care which we ought to exercise to prevent these lands going into private hands. They will be much more difficult to get hold of for public purposes in the future if they are in private hands than they are now. It is true that the recipients of charity may receive as much, or possibly even more, under the system which has been encouraged by the Charity Commissioners, but the good which these lands could do by being used for allotment or building purposes may be lost for ever, and an irreparable injury done to the community, if this process of sale is allowed to go on. I want to ask the hon. Member for Thirsk whether he can tell me the number of acres that are represented by the £883,000. If he cannot tell me now, I hope he will grant me a Return giving an account of these sales during the past year. There is another i point I would ask him to boar in mind. In all these cases, before land is sold, it would be very advisable, if an inquiry is not held by the Commissioners as to the needs of the locality, and the possible beneficent uses to which the land might be put, to take the opinion of the parish or district council as to the desirability of allowing the land to pass from the trustees into the hands of private owners. The policy of the Charity Commissioners in former years was to consult the local authorities as far as possible, and the decrease of sales in the years I have referred to was to some extent brought about by the possibilities which the Charity Commissioners saw of the Local Government Act of 1894 bringing them into contact with local authorities whom they might consult with reference to the sale or administration of these lands. I hope that this liberal policy of looking after these inheritances of the poor, so that they may be used for the greatest possible benefit of the poorer classes, may not be lost sight of, and that the parish councils in most localities will in future be consulted before public land of this kind is alienated by being sold to private individuals, the possible future use of it thereby being lost to the community for ever.
§ MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
There is a case which I wish to bring before the attention of the Committee. I am afraid I cannot hope to do much good by bringing it forward, because it unfortunately refers to a deed which is already effective. The only thing I can hope to do is to make the case public, and in that way to draw attention to the way in which some of those schemes under the Charity Commissioners are used. This refers to a place called Tydd St. Mary, where some money was loft for the purposes of education and apprenticeships. A school was built partly out of this money and partly out of rates. The scheme worked very well up to a certain point, because up to that point the rector of the parish acted in full accord with the trustees and everything went well. But there came a time when a new rector came to the parish, and he seems to have treated the trustees with want of attention; they were mere cyphers in his mind, and he administered the funds entirely at his own sweet will. In 1892 new trustees were appointed, and when they found themselves ignored in the management of the school they withheld the money and put it into the Post Office Savings Bank. A great deal of friction was caused, and at the end of 1893 the rector found himself considerably out of pocket. I think the inspector's report was not very satisfactory, and the rector applied to the trustees for this money, but they refused to hand it over to him. There have been two schemes in regard to this matter, one of 1896, and the other of 1900. By the first scheme there were three trustees appointed by the parish council and five nominated, the first appointed under the scheme, and subsequent vacancies to be filled up by the lord of the manor. I do-not know why the vacancies on the trust should be filled by the lord of the manor, except that it was a plan of preventing the parish council appointing a majority of the trustees. By Clause 23 the income of the charity was regulated, and such portion of it was to be applied to the payment of teachers in elementary schools in the parish "as the trustees, the rector and churchwardens, and the lord of the manor may direct,' and as there were eight trustees the trustees were in a majority in this matter. As recently as 1896 the trustees of the charity had a preponderance in deciding what should be paid to the school, and 825 what they paid to the school went towards the teaching. There follow a number of sub-sections regulating the application of the rest of the money, and there is not one word in those sub-sections to suggest any sectarian interest in the scheme. In 1900 there was another scheme. Clause 1 of this new scheme, which was sealed only on the 9th January, 1900, directs that a sum of money in hand, amounting to £114, should be paid to the managers, not for teachers' salaries—that was the protection in the scheme of 1896—but for the repair of the school and school house. It will be clear that that practically amounts to using the trust funds for the purpose of keeping a school board out of the place and preventing the people having a popularly-controlled school. At any rate, that is the effect. If the school could not pass the inspection of the Department a school board would have to be set up. It was before distinctly laid down that the money of this charity was not to be used in relief of the rates, but I maintain that in using this money for the purpose of repairing the school buildings it is really saving the ratepayers' money. Clause 4 of the now scheme also provides that one third of the clear income of the charity must be paid to the school managers in future, so long as the school is conducted as a Voluntary public elementary school and is certified as efficient. That is a new contention. Under the old scheme the trustees had the right to say how much money they would give the school, whereas in this scheme the amount is fixed. Clause 6 provides that the managers of the school should in future be the rector and churchwardens, and one trustee appointed by the trustees of the charity. Consequently the trustees lose all control over the school under the scheme of 1900. I should like to point out what is really the effect of this system, and how bad it is. It is certainly a system which cannot be approved, but it is a good illustration of how the system works. Here we have an endowment left that the children of Lydd might have an education which they could not get without it, and which, of course, ought now to be used to give them, or the clever ones amongst them, a better education than that to which they are by law entitled. That is what the money was left for. The common, the property of the whole village, is utilised for the 826 purpose of building a parochial school, and this charity is used for the purpose of carrying on that school. The Church party in this place manage to turn this parochial school into a Church school. By order of the County Court, made, I expect, before the Charity Commissioners had jurisdiction, the management of this property is placed in the hands of the rector, two churchwardens, and eight trustees of the charity. For some time these work amicably together, until a new clergyman comes, who ignores the trustees altogether. The trustees die off, and there is no one to dispute this assumption of power, until, in 1892, fresh trustees are appointed, who, finding that they are not consulted, pay the money into the savings bank instead of handing it over to the rector. The school gets into such a condition that if this endowment did not exist there would be a school board, and the people of the village would get the management of the school, good buildings, and unsectarian teaching. Instead of that this money is used for the purpose of one particular sect. The Charity Commissioners make a new scheme, order the money to be paid over to the rector of the school, order one-third of the whole income of the charity to be paid over to the school in future, and reduce the charity trustees, so far as the school is concerned, from eight to one, though I have no doubt the endowment is practically the whole of the local income. That is the effect of this scheme. It has completely changed the whole aspect of the position of the school in the parish, and the people very much resent it, more especially as this clergyman happens to be one of those who choose to adopt some of those practices which are considerably objected to by a good many of the people. It is desirable when a scheme of this sort alters the whole purport of an educational plan like that, that it should be made public and brought to the attention of the House of Commons. Although I cannot alter the scheme, I shall perhaps have done some good by drawing attention to it, as it will show the people that this kind of thing is going on, and that unless it is taken notice of it may go on still more. I think the only way in which I can bring pressure to bear is by moving a reduction of the Vote by £100, which I now do.
§ MR. CHANNING
(who was very indistinctly heard) said that before the hon. Member for Thirsk replied, it might be convenient for him to refer to one of the topics which had been raised. The sale of charitable lands was, in his opinion, a bad policy, and an evil which seemed to be growing. According to the Report the amount of land sold during the last four years represented a value of more than double the amount sold during the tenure of office of the previous Administration. That undoubtedly marked a certain change of policy which was greatly to be deplored. With regard to the case of sale which occurred in his own county, to which reference had been made, questions of principle were certainly involved. In the case of this particular charity, the trustees some years ago invested a portion of their money in cottage property, partly with a view to providing accommodation for the labourers of the neighbourhood, and partly as a convenient method of obtaining a reasonable interest on the trust money. Those cottages gradually fell into disrepair; and when the governors and trustees laid a scheme before the Charity Commissioners, that body considered that it involved a larger outlay of money than was justifiable. He wished to press the point that not only was it undesirable that the trustees of charities of this kind should alienate land in their possession, but that it was also undesirable that cottage property should be alienated without any local inquiry or consultation with the local authorities as to the requirements of the village, and apparently without any consideration being present in the minds of the Charity Commissioners except that of getting the largest amount of money. The course taken by the Charity Commissioners in authorising the sale of these cottages without first satisfying themselves that the sale was for the benefit of the whole of the community, and without any information as to the necessity of providing accommodation for the labourers, was very unsatisfactory. He had received a large number of letters from villagers who felt very strongly on the question, and as many as eighty-nine signatures were obtained to a petition urging the Charity Commissioners to withhold their sanction for this sale, and instead to direct the trustees to repair the 828 property and let the cottages to labourers. He desired to ask the hon. Member for Thirsk whether in his opinion it would not be a sounder and wiser policy for the Charity Commissioners to follow in such cases to consider the well-being of the inhabitants of these places quite as much, or, at any rate, on nearly the same footing, as the financial aspect of the question, which, of course, in their fiduciary capacity the Commissioners were bound to guard in every possible way.
MR. GRANT LAWSON
The Committee will, of course, understand that it is not possible for me to carry in my head the details of the some 80,000 charities under the control of the Charity Commissioners, some large and some small. My hon. friend the Member for Ipswich gave me notice at half-past six this evening that he proposed to say something about the Tydd St. Mary School, but by that time even the Charity Commissioners had adjourned for the day, so that the clerk who is concerned with that question was unable to come to my assistance. But I have some recollection of the case, which came up, I think, about four years since. At that time there was a squabble going on between the churchwarden and the clergyman. I do not intend to enter into the rights or wrongs, of that matter, but the point my hon. friend has raised is, I think, a part of that quarrel. The matter was raised in 1896, and I thought it had been comfortably settled. Apparently I was mistaken, and I will, of course, look into it again. But I should like, as I can, to show to the Committee that the scheme of the Charity Commissioners does not deviate from the original purpose of the charity, but that it carries out with absurd accuracy the trust of the deed of 1740 by which this particular charity was founded. Money was left to educate the poor of Tydd St. Mary and to apprentice a certain number of boys. Land was purchased with that money and handed over to three trustees. [The hon. Member read the clause of the trust deed referring to the point.] It is therefore quite obvious that when the gentleman to whom my hon. friend referred refused to pay over the money he was committing a, breach of trust, because his duty under the trust was to pay the money into the hands of the minister and the churchwardens. He was, I believe, a churchwarden—
MR. GRANT LAWSON
He was also a churchwarden, and that is how he got the money. He banked the money, he went on banking it, and he did it in his own name. That is how the Charity Commissioners came in, and I think the House will agree that we could not allow the money to go on accumulating in the savings bank in the name of one trustee, when all the while that trustee ought to be paying it to the churchwardens. As to the case referred to by the hon. Members for Ilkeston and Northampton, if I remember rightly it is not an almshouse case. The object of the charity was not to house the working classes. This was property belonging to a charity; and while it is our duty to do the best we can for a particular charity, we have no power to use trust-money for purposes for which it was not intended. If a charity is intended to provide boots and shoes for the poor, we have no power to use that charity for the suppression of nuisances or anything else which we may think to be for the benefit of the neighbourhood. We must see that the money is applied to the purposes for which it was intended, and if the property is sold we must make sure it is sold at a price beneficial to the charity. I wish we had power to deal with every charity in the country to what we considered to be the best advantage for the general welfare of the community. That would be very advantageous, but I very much doubt whether the House of Commons would grant us that general power. In the particular case to which I have been referring I think the medical officer of health condemned the cottages, and there was no money for their repair, and that is how the land came to be sold. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Ilkeston, I do not know whether he intended to strike or to stroke the Charity Commissioners. But I think he is altogether mistaken as to one part of his speech. He kept speaking of these as "public" lands. Public lands are lands belonging to the general public. My hon. friend himself is a member of the public, but he has no lot or share in these charity lands; they have to be devoted to the people for whose benefit they were left, and we have to see that the produce of these lands is applied, as near as it can be, to the purposes for which they were left. That is 830 the object for which we work. The hon. Member seemed to suggest that the Charity Commissioners encouraged the sale of these lands. I wish he would try to buy some of the lands from the Commissioners and see if he was able to get them for less than they were worth. There are constant complaints that it is very hard to sell charity lands owing to the obstruction of the Charity Commissioners, and it is really very strange now to hear people saying that the Charity Commissioners are constantly pushing on the business of disposing of charity lands. The hon. Member asked me how many acres had been sold during the past year. I am afraid I cannot give the number now, but I will try to find out in answer to the question. I am not able to say how many acres of land have been sold, but I can inform my hon. friend that the money derived from the sale of land is derived from the sale not of public land, but of public houses. I do not know that I need say anything else to support the position of the Charity Commissioners. We have no definite policy as to these sales, except to see that we get a really good price. We neither encourage nor discourage the sale of land, but if we can get, not only what it is worth, but a great deal more than it is worth, then we sanction the sale of it.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
If the Charity Commissioners had the wisdom of the hon. Member who has just sat down, the unpopularity which attaches to them at the present moment would never have an opportunity of developing. But I do not think the hon. Member has been quite fair in dealing with the case raised by the hon. Member for Ipswich. He seems to have overlooked two or three important facts. As far as this charity is concerned its administration has been handed over to the clergy and the churchwardens. The money was really found by the Commissioners, by local subscriptions, and something in the nature of a local rate. Since then the Berrien Charity came in, and although it had not contributed towards the building of the school and did not subscribe towards its maintenance, an amalgamation took place and joint management was agreed to. My complaint against the Commissioners is that this practically annexed the whole of the funds subscribed by the local ratepayers, and handed them over to the church- 831 wardens and the rector. The management of the school is now practically in the hands of the churchwardens and the rector, and I think the hon. Member must admit that that is exceedingly unfair. Is there anything in the original foundation about the doctrines and the dogmas to be taught?—because I understand that is necessary in order to bring it within the Act. Something must have been said in regard to the particular doctrines to be taught in the school prior to the date of that Act. Nothing of that kind has been provided for in the school, and the Charity Commissioners have converted a parochial school, which was managed by a committee representing the ratepayers, into a church school. That is an exceedingly unfair thing to do, but it has been done in a good many cases. This is only a solitary instance which we discovered when it was too late to do anything but protest. My complaint is not in regard to the management of the trust, but in regard to the management of the school. The school was practically built by the ratepayers, and its management should be handed over to a body representing the people, and not to one particular denomination in the parish. Surely the hon. Member opposite must see that that is a very unfair thing to do.
§ *MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
I have had considerable experience of schemes prepared by the Charity Commissioners, and during the last few years I have been greatly struck with the odd and fantastic character of some of those schemes, in regard to the constitution of trusteeships which are provided for under them. Another thing which has struck me is that these schemes, so far as the appointment of trustees is concerned, do not appear to be in harmony with recent legislation. That legislation has in recent years called into existence new public bodies such as county councils, parish councils and parish meetings, and it has given to those new bodies certain powers in connection with the administration of charities. It. seems to me that the Charity Commissioners should have recognised this new position of affairs, and that they should have placed the administration of many of these charities unreservedly in the hands of the public bodies appointed in the public interest by the public. Instead of that, in not a few 832 cases, the schemes have been so manipulated as to bring about a certain result— namely, that particular mode of administration is secured by the constitution of the trust, while no room has been allowed for the manifestation of popular fooling in regard to the administration of the trust. I do not mean to accuse the Charity Commissioners of bias in favour of the Established Church, but it is nevertheless the fact that in a largo number of cases the trusteeships, constantly, under their schemes, have given an unfair and an improper advantage to the Establishment; so that there are hundreds of cases in which money is now employed for ecclesiastical purposes, contrary to the wishes of the donors. I believe that the weakness and the vice of these schemes of the Charity Commissioners are due to the fact that they adhere to ancient principles and ancient methods, instead of having regard to the new wants and the new feelings of the times. The result is that the public needs are not met in the administration of these charities to the extent they might have been, and ought to be. There are also cases in which the schemes are not administered as they should be on principles of strict equality.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said that owing to the action of the two front benches that evening, no doubt during the next few months there would be a great many applications made similar to that which had been made by the Birmingham School. The result would be that the staff of the Charity Commissioners would be found totally inadequate to deal with those applications, and he urged upon his friend the Secretary to the Treasury to be prepared to make a substantial increase in the staff of the Charity Commission.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
said this appeared to be an entirety undenominational trust, but by continuing the clergyman and churchwardens as trustees, and appointing only three representatives of the parish council, who were in a minority of the governing body, practically the school was made a denominational school. That was, of course, clearly contrary to the provisions of the Endowed Schools Act. Under the Endowed Schools Act of 1869, Section 19, educational endowments were 833 not to be treated as denominational unless—In the opinion of the Commissioners (subject to appeal to the Privy Council) the scholars educated by the endowment are required by the express terms of the original instrument of foundation, or of the statutes or regulations made by the founder, or under his authority in his lifetime, or within fifty years after his death, which terms have been observed down to the commencement of the Act, to learn or be instructed according to the doctrines or formularies of any particular church, sect, or denomination.He should have thought that under this provision the school was exempted.
§ 5. £9,778, to complete the sum for Lunacy Commission, England.834
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
said he thought the Charity Commissioners should have followed the Act and provided that this should have been an undenominational school. He wished to point out to his hon. friend that under the original foundation the money was given for the purpose of giving instruction, whereas under this later scheme the money was being applied for the purpose of building.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 29; Noes, 92. (Division List No. 153.)833
|Asher, Alexander||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Gourley, Sir. Edward Temperley||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Horniman, Frederick John||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Bramsdon, Thomas Arthur||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Souttar, Robinson|
|Burns, John||Lewis, John Herbert||Steadman, William Charles|
|Caldwell, James||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Macaleese, Daniel||Williams, John Carvell (Notts.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Crae, George|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fenwick, Charles||Murnaghan, George||Mr. Goddard and Mr. Channing.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fisher, William Hayes||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.|
|Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire)||Flower, Ernest||Middlemore, J. Throgmorton|
|Balcarres, Lord||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Monckton, Edward Philip|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Garfit, William||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds)||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Morgan, Hn. F. (Monmouthsh.)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Brassey, Albert||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens.|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Heath, James||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Henderson, Alexander||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Plunkett, Rt. Hn. Horace Curzon|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r)||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Purvis, Robert|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Houston, R. P.||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Howell, William Tudor||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hutton, John (Yorks, N.R.)||Robertson, Herbert(Hackney)|
|Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth)||Jessel, Captain Herbert Morton||Rutherford, John|
|Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Keswick, William||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Knowles, Lees||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Lawrence, Sir. E. Durning-(Corn)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Davies, Sir. Horatio D. (Chatham)||Lecky, Rt. Hon William Edw. H.||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverpool)||Williams, J. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lowe, Francis William||Wyndham, George|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Lyttelton, Lord Alfred|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. H.||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Macdona, John Cumming||Sir William Walrond and|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Mr. Anstruther.|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ not very frequently that discussions take place in the House of Commons upon the Vote for the salaries and expenses of the Lunacy Commissioners; but I am compelled to-night by recent events that have 835 transpired in London to raise a question of some public importance upon the Vote we have before us. I regret that the Attorney General, who is responsible for this Vote, is not in the House at the present moment to hear what I have to say.
§ Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present (Mr. CALD-WELL, Lanarkshire, Mid). House counted, and forty Members being found present.
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS (continuing)
It is very rarely that the Lunacy Commissioners are criticised in the House of Commons, and it is very fortunate for us that that is so, for, generally speaking, the public have confidence in that body, and consequently much of the suspicion that used to exist in England twenty or thirty years ago in regard to the administration of this Department has been removed. I am constrained to-night, however, to call the attention of the Attorney General to what I consider to be a gross scandal in one of the branches of the! Lunacy Commissioners' work. Some few weeks ago it was found, owing to the public spirit of Mr. Purchese, that five relieving officers employed by the St. Pancras Board of Guardians had been trafficking with the owners of certain private asylums in London, so that lunatics who ought to have properly gone to asylums controlled by either the London County Council or some other public authority, and there maintained at an average cost of 11s. per week, were diverted to these private asylums, where their weekly maintenance charge ranged from 35s. to 40s. On investigation it was found that these five relieving officers had been in the habit, after the medical officer had certified the lunatics, of not taking too much trouble to inquire where accommodation might be found for them in public asylums, and they were for a consideration given by owners of private asylums transferred to the costly private asylums. The result was that the five officers were brought before the committee, and then before the whole board of guardians, when they owned up as having received presents and sums of money from the owners of the private asylums. The five officers were severely censured by the chairman, with the unanimous approval of the whole board of guardians that day assembled. The board of guardians, after censuring the officers, remitted their case to the Local Government Board for its consideration, 836 and I am under the impression that if the Local Government Board does its duty it ought to dismiss, or call upon the board of guardians to dismiss, these men. Certainly I should press for their dismissal on the ground that there is nothing which the public are more touchy about than the proper treatment of lunatics, and that in this particular branch of the public administration no temptation or bribe should be offered to the officers.
I would like to ask the hon. Member how he connects the matter he refers to with the administration of the Lunacy Commissioners.
§ *MR. JOHN BURNS
In this way: there is a feeling that the practice that I complain of is somewhat general. One of the guardians said it was a matter of custom, and that it was generally done by most of the relieving officers throughout the metropolis; and I want to say that if that is so the Lunacy Commissioners ought to inquire what the effect of a system of this kind is of causing the owners of private asylums to induce officers to transfer lunatics for profit to these private asylums, whether they are kept longer than they need be, after being cured, instead of being handed over to their relatives. It seems to me that if the Lunacy Commissioners make inquiry they will find that the effect of this system is such as I have described. Whether that is so or not is not to be determined at this moment; but I believe that nearly everyone is dissatisfied with the present method of certification, although there is no feeling against the certifying officers. It is the belief that those things are more general than is supposed, and the attention of the Lunacy Commissioners should be directed to an inquiry as to whether the system does not extend to other branches of the administration of the Lunacy laws. I respectfully request the Attorney General to ask the Lunacy Commissioners to make special investigation in this case to see whether, to any extent, this practice has permeated other branches of the Department, and whether it is the case that lunatics are retained in private asylums when to the profit of the ratepayers and to the advantage of the lunatics themselves and their friends, they should be discharged. I shall be only too pleased to place the whole of the facts in the hands of the Attorney General, but I should prefer that he should ask one of the Lunacy Commissioners to see whether 837 these have any bearing on the administration of the Lunacy Laws generally. If he does that I know he will do everything in his power to satisfy public opinion that, in so far as the Lunacy Commissioners are concerned, they do not countenance anything of the kind.
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY, Inverness Burghs)
There is no doubt whatever that the circumstances of the case to which the hon. Member has called attention in the statement he has brought before the Committee are of a very serious character. If the facts are correctly reported to the hon. Member, they disclose an offence of a very serious kind committed not only by the relieving officers, but by those who are alleged to have bribed them. I hope the hon. Gentleman is mistaken in supposing that the practice is common. It would be a very serious matter indeed if so scandalous a thing should be at all general as that officers should be bribed by the owners of private lunatic asylums for the purpose of sending lunatics to these asylums rather than sending them to public lunatic asylums, where they would be better treated. Of course, the Lunacy Commissioners cannot be for one moment suspected of looking with anything but the utmost disfavour on a practice of the kind referred to by the hon. Member. I can only assure the hon. Member that we shall exercise the greatest care in investigating the managements of these establishments where such practices have prevailed, and in any case which is brought to our notice we shall act with the utmost vigour.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER
The statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General is a very satisfactory one, but the object of my hon. friend was mainly to call the attention of the Lunacy Commissioners to what has been a very great scandal. It is a monstrous thing for officials to receive these bribes, and it is still more monstrous for private lunatic asylum owners to give them. I think myself that, as a rule, wherever there is a chance of sending pauper lunatics to a public asylum, it is the best thing to do, and they should not be sent to a private asylum. I think the greater part of this business should come under the purview of the Local Government Board.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL (St. Pancras, S.)
We in St. Pancras feel very much obliged 838 to the hon. Gentleman for bringing this matter forward. At present the question is before the Local Government Board, and no doubt full investigation will take place.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I have received from the right hon. Gentleman the courteous and kind answer that I should expect. But I think the disclosures in St. Pancras give an opportunity for a review of the system of pauper lunatics and the way in which they are transferred. I am content with the discussion which has taken place, and do not propose to move a reduction.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 6. £67, to complete the sum for the Mint, including Coinage.
§ LORD BALCARRES
I wish to take this opportunity of drawing attention to the manner in which the designing of the South African war medal has been undertaken by the Mint. We have in this country a number of extremely brilliant medallists, among whom are Mr. Gilbert, Mr. Brock, and Mr. Frampton, who are capable of designing artistic war medals. But hitherto the bulk of the war medals have been more fit to be coachmen's buttons than displayed on the manly breasts of our soldiers. In the case of the medal for South Africa the authorities of the Mint, rather than allow it to be submitted to open competition, have hurried the work through with undue haste; and, without asserting that the modal will be badly done, I think that greater care should have been taken to ensure an entirely worthy production.
§ *SIR M. HICKS BEACH
I do not agree with the hon. Member that there has been hurry in the matter, so far as the authorities of the Mint are concerned. The arrangements for the issue of war medals rest with the War Office, and naturally the Secretary for War was anxious that measures should be taken as soon as possible for the designing and production of the South African medal. I do not think that anybody can fairly complain of the designs of the medals issued by the Mint. I do not profess to be a connoisseur, but I certainly think the recent Jubilee medal, for instance, was a medal of which no country need be ashamed. The new war medal is by 839 the same designer, and although I have not seen it I feel sure it will be found not to deserve condemnation.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 7. £8,097, to complete the sum for National Debt Office.
§ 8. £12,838, to complete the sum for Public Record Office.
§ *MR. WILLIAM JONES (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
said he wished to draw attention to the fact that nothing had been done towards appointing a person to the Record Office who was conversant with Welsh history and Welsh literature, to calendar and index documents relating to Wales. Wales had a splendid system of education, but it did not possess a proper text-book on Welsh history to put in the hands of the students. Ample materials for such a work lay uncatalogued in the Record Office. There was no need for the appointment of an expert. The desirable thing was the selection of a young Welsh scholar, straightway, say, from the University to fill the first vacancy that arose in the office. The authorities there would train him up in their methods, and eventually he might be set to do this special work for the adequate treatment of historical records bearing on Wales. The right hon. Gentleman had already promised to consider this question, and he earnestly hoped the wishes of Wales in this matter would be realised.
§ MR. HANBURY
said he agreed to a very considerable extent with the hon. Member, and thought a Welshman should be appointed to the Record Office. There was no doubt a vast amount of work which would not be properly done by an Englishman, and when the next vacancy occurred he would see how far he could carry out the wishes of the hon. Gentleman by appointing some Welshman to the position. That was a course he would gladly avail himself of.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said all Welsh Members accepted the assurance of the right hon. 840 Gentleman, and were very much obliged to him. There were in the Record Office many Welsh documents of great importance which were not catalogued, so that Welsh students were unable to put their hands upon them. He thought the appointment of a Welshman in the Record Office would confer a lasting benefit on the Welsh people.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
acknowledged the sympathetic manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had met the hon. Member for North Carnarvonshire, but regretted that students were unable under the present conditions, owing to the absence of text-books, to study the history of Wales.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 9. £15, to complete the sum for Public Works Loan Commission.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
commented on the fact that this Vote in the last few years had undergone great changes. A few years previously the nominal figure was £7,000, in the present Vote the Government only asked for £15. The demand for loans had enormously increased, and he would like to obtain some assurance that in view of the enormous increase in the business of the Department of the Public Works Loan Commissioners, and in the receipts from fees, the Department would consider the possibility of considerably abating the fees exacted from local authorities and others who asked for the issue of loans for public purposes.
§ MR. HANBURY
thought the hon. Gentleman's point was to a very great extent met by the abatement which the Treasury now made in its demands on the fund for the general expenses of administration.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 10. £23,702, to complete the sum for Registrar General's Office, England.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
I had on the Notice Paper a motion to reduce this Vote by £100, but I think it will now be unnecessary to move it, inasmuch as I have received what I can only regard as a satisfactory assurance from the Under Secretary of the Local Government Board. My object in putting down this motion was to obtain a per- 841 fectly satisfactory record of the population of Wales in the course of the coming census. I regret that that census is to be of so limited a character. I cannot go into that question, because it has already been the subject of legislation in this House. I can only express the hope that the mistakes which were admittedly made during the last census —administrative mistakes I mean—will be avoided in the coming census so far as the population of Wales and Monmouthshire are concerned. I trust that proper forms will be supplied containing a language column, and that we shall have nothing further to complain of in that respect.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 11. £350,060, to complete the sum for Stationery and Printing.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
I am not quite sure whether the point I am about to raise comes properly under this Vote. The question I wish to raise is that of the reporting in this House. It is a comparatively small matter, and it does not affect the public service very materially. It does affect hon. Members themselves. I notice that the recent reports of our debates are in the first person, and very admirable reports they seem to be; but, on the other hand, they are by no means verbatim reports. I think the general notion is that when you see a report in the first person it is understood to be verbatim. It seems to me desirable that there should be no ambiguity about this, because occasionally Hansard is referred to as an authority as to the ipsissima verba of what hon. Members have said, and I would suggest, therefore, that it would be better either to have a note to the effect that the reports are not verbatim, or else that they should be in the third person and not in the first. There is another point in regard to the Pink Paper we are now receiving with reports of the inquiries made under a recent Act with respect to charities. In every case on the Pink Paper there are twelve lines of print stating the formal terms. It seems to me that too many details are given.
§ MR. HANBURY
AS to the Pink Paper, that is a matter for the authorities 842 of the House. With regard to the reports, of course the hon. Member knows that although most of the speeches are in the first person there is a great distinction to be drawn between speeches which have an asterisk showing that the Member has himself corrected the proofs of the speech, and those speeches which have no such asterisk. Probably the great majority of Members are content to leave their speeches without an asterisk. It is somewhat unfortunate, having corrected a speech and having an asterisk attached to it, that it can be brought up as a record against you hereafter, and, for my own part, I carefully avoid ever doing so. I quite agree with the hon. Member that when the report of a speech purports to be verbatim we want practically the whole speech, because it does lead to the impression that the speech as reported is the whole of what the hon. Member has said. One docs not like passages which may have been important left out of the report of a speech which purports to be verbatim. I confess that the matter rests to a great extent with the reporters and with the publishers of Hansard, but I myself look back with regret to the days when the great majority of the speeches were in the third person. I know that there were objections raised in the House to the fact that most of the speeches were taken from the reports of The Times, and that those speeches were not in the first person. Although there were more or less technical objections to that system I thought it was quite the best system in which the reports were published, and I would not be sorry to see the House go back to that plan, because we undoubtedly got very excellent reports under that system. We got reports with which the majority of Members were thoroughly well satisfied, and the only objection that was ever raised, that I know of, to that system was that we were allowing the contractor to sub-let his contract. On that ground, which I do not think is a very important one, objections were raised in the House, and we were forced to adopt the present system. I shall mention to the editor of Hansard the point raised by the hon. Gentleman, because I think there is something in the statement that if a speech is reported in the first person then the whole of the speech ought to be given in extenso. Any influence which I can bring to bear on 843 the reporters will be brought to go back to the old system of reporting in the third person, with the exception of particular speeches of particular Members and Ministers, whose speeches the House would wish to have reported in the first person.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I am extremely glad that the hon. Member has brought forward this question as to verbatim reporting. Hon. Members and those who read the speeches in this House are greatly interested in the matter of verbatim reporting. Those who only utter a few short words are not so much interested. I would point out to hon. Members themselves that verbatim reporting would be a great disfigurement to the reports, because we would get a number of interruptions and inelegancies, such as no Member would like to see opposite to his name in so important a publication as Hansard; but if you are not to have an absolutely verbatim report you must have a summary report. That cannot be done by the same man who does the verbatim report. The verbatim report is done by a common shorthand reporter, who takes down what he hears, and just gives a photograph of what he takes down. When you come to summarising a speech you require a very expert reporter. In the first place, he must have some knowledge of the subject he is reporting, and be able, more or less, to bring to his work a sense of proportion, and know that which is important and that which is unimportant. For instance, when he hears ten good arguments and three bad jokes, he should not leave out the ten good arguments and put in the three bad jokes. I have known the arguments omitted and the jokes inserted. Therefore it comes to this—that for verbatim reporting a common shorthand writer will do, but when you come to a summary such as my hon. friend suggests, you require no longer a shorthand reporter but a Parliamentary expert. That is the sort of reporter we used to have. The Times reporters and those who reported the debates when I first entered the House were undoubtedly experts, and they conferred the greatest possible benefit on Members by what they did. They left out the poor, stale, irrelevant stuff, and they left in the sapient arguments and the permanent points of the debate. But 844 this involves large expense. You cannot have reporters of great ability and historical knowledge without going to expense; indeed, I think the mistake the Secretary of the Treasury makes is. in trying to get the work done too cheaply. That, I think, is at the bottom of the matter. If he had been content to go on paying for the old system we should still have had the old style of reports. One word as to the present reporting. I have heard the most scathing; language used with respect to the present reports by no less a person than the President of the Local Government Board, The right hon. Gentleman, speaking with the amplitude of manner which always fascinates the House, and makes us listen to his longest sentences—and they are sometimes long—denounced and repudiated, with all the force of which a Cabinet Minister is capable, the reports at present given of his speeches. He said he would not be responsible for any report in Hansard of a speech of his. When they are quoted against him he says he will have nothing to do with them. Then we have the corroborative evidence of the Secretary of the Treasury. He knows so well what stuff the reports are made of that he also will have no truck with them, nor will he correct them and put an asterisk, which suggests that they are more or less accurate. I am in exactly the same case. When I look at the proofs of the reports occasionally sent to me, and which profess to be a more or less accurate rendering of the few remarks I have addressed to the House, I am amazed to see my millions and metaphors, my quotations and facts, jumbled up in an absolute jangle of words. It is a, farrago. I am perfectly certain that I never uttered the words attributed to me, but I go further, and say that I cannot conceive how any man could imagine that any other man ever uttered them. Our reports are not merely bad, absolutely misleading, completely untrustworthy, but comic. I am glad to find that the prodigal son is coming back repentant from the husks, and if he will revert to the old system, as I believe he is inclined to do, of the expert Parliamentary reporter with a knowledge of Parliamentary usages, some knowledge of Parliamentary questions and the art of condensing, which, of course, will involve extra cost, I promise that I, for one, will kill the fatted calf for him.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
It is surely unnecessary that every time a Member asks a question which has appeared in the Orders, and which he has no right to correct, the question should be sent to him. It appears to mo there must be a great deal of trouble and expense in sending out matter to which there is no objection whatever.
§ *MR. WILLIAM JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I wish to express my sympathy with what has been said with regard to reporting in the first person. But I do not want; to make any complaint. The right hon. Gentleman has promised to look into the question, whether first or third person reports should be given. May I ask that no alteration should be made in the style of the reports during the present session?
CAPTAIN PHILLPOTTS (Devonshire, Torquay)
I merely rise to support the appeal made by the hon. Member for King's Lynn. I think there is one other matter of complaint, and that is in connection with the time taken before the reports are published. It does not matter so much with regard to the debates as the questions. There is often so much conversation going on at the time of questions that it is frequently impossible to hear the answer made by a Minister, and before the reports are published it is sometimes too late to refer back to the information desired. There is another point I wish to mention, and that is the position the official reporters occupy in the House. In another place the official reporters are in the body of the House, where they have a good opportunity of hearing what is said. In this House they are in the gallery, and I have every reason to believe that they sometimes do not hear what is said, and they labour under a disadvantage that might be remedied. I hope my right hon. friend will take that into consideration.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £13,439 be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of 846 March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of Her Majesty's Woods, Forests, and Land Revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments."
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to a charge of £444 made by the Woods and Forests Department to the Committee of the North Wales Lunatic Asylum at Denbigh. The asylum required a new water supply, and for that purpose the level of a small lake had to be raised a few feet. To make the title of the asylum authorities clear, certain mineral rights, which belonged to the Crown, had to be acquired. The Asylum Committee expected that, as such rights were of merely nominal value, the Office of Woods and Forests would only charge a nominal sum for them, but the price they named was £500. Afterwards on the representations of the committee they reduced the charge to £444. The committee was entirely at the mercy of the Woods and Forests Department, and they have been obliged to assent to this, but they have the right, as representing the ratepayers of Anglesey, Carnarvonshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, and Merionethshire to appeal to the Treasury and to Parliament for a further substantial reduction. The only possible minerals or stones that can be taken into consideration are lead, flags, building and road stone. As to lead, the formation is Wenlock shale, which is almost always very barren in mineral veins, and for many miles around the reservoir, as the geological charts show, is without any indication of the presence of lead or other metals. Flags are worked in the parish of Nantglyn, at some distance from the reservoir, but in places that are very difficult of access. At the reservoir the conditions are quite different; an excellent road, the old turnpike between Denbigh and Pentrevoelas, runs beside the lake. If there were any flags worth quarrying such facilities of removal would not have been neglected, and it may be assumed that no such flags exist there. As to building and road stone, there is no building in the neighbourhood, and the stone is of such poor quality that the last house built was erected of wood and iron, although built on freehold land. For road purposes the stone is extremely bad. When used it is quickly 847 pulverised or reduced to a pasty mud. The borough road surveyor has declined to take any of the stone which may be quarried in making the reservoir, on the ground that it is useless for road purposes. The stone is worthless, minerals do not exist, and the Department, bearing in mind that it is dealing with a public authority in which five of the counties of North Wales are interested, might very well have conveyed for a nominal consideration the mineral rights which had to be purchased for the sake of raising the level of the lake. If those mineral rights had been offered for sale by public auction I doubt whether anyone would have made any offer whatever for them. I do not complain that the Office of Woods and Forests are now far more careful of the public interest than they have been in the past, when some of the finest mineral properties in the kingdom were jobbed away to individuals. Anyone who has read the Report of the Deputy Ranger of the Forest of Snowdon upon the shameful misappropriation of Crown lands must rejoice that the state of things which was described fifty years ago has passed away, not, however, without depriving the nation of nearly all the really valuable Crown property. But nowadays, in dealing with public authorities, I fear they are running to another extreme. This is a case in which one public authority has another public authority at its mercy. The object in view is not the advantage of an individual, but the good of the community. I ask the Treasury to take a juster view of this case, and not to charge more for these worthless mineral rights than £44, a sum which far exceeds their real value. In Wales we have 84,000 acres of waste land. That land, of course, is subject to commonal rights. Of course, the rights of commoners ought to be fully considered, and no one wishes to interfere with them without compensation; but what I complain of is that the Woods and Forests Department are taking no steps in the direction of dealing with these lands. It would be possible for them to acquire a very large amount of land at a very small outlay indeed by purchasing the commonal rights over a sufficient area for the purpose of planting. It would beautify the country, add to the national wealth, and give employment to a large number of men at the very time of the year when employment is most needed. I 848 am astonished that the Woods and Forests Department have not done something in this direction. They have, it is true, made a small experiment in planting in Merionethshire, but if that is to be treated as an experiment in planting, I suppose thirty or forty years will elapse before it is concluded. The County Council of Northumberland have realised the value of re-afforesting land, and if the Woods and Forests Department would only apply some portion of the large surplus which they annually surrender to the Treasury they would be able to use their own money, and in that way increase very largely indeed the national wealth. There was a time when Wales was covered with forests of valuable timber. I am sorry to say that the country has been denuded very largely of these magnificent oak forests, which were at one time our pride and our glory. They were used to build the British Navy, and at one time "the wooden walls of Old England" consisted almost entirely of Welsh timber. That has been denied, but I have irrefutable evidence of it. The greatest interest was taken in Wales in the Navy, not because the people had relatives or friends in that service, but because they knew the particular estate on which the timber used for such and such a ship was grown. It would take a very long time to restore those magnificent oak forests. The landowners are doing what they can in this direction, but a public Department is in a very different position from a private landowner, who does not wish to lock up his money in timber. A public Department could easily invest money in this very desirable object. This will be a much more important question in future than it is at present. Employment is now fairly plentiful, but the time will come when we shall hear the cry of the unemployed once more, and another generation will praise the foresight of the right hon. Gentleman if he now presses on the Woods and Forests Department the necessity of at once setting on foot this great national reform. If the Woods and Forests Department would commence this work we should have some hope that at all events some of the 26 million acres of waste land in this country would be reafforested. We spend 18 million pounds a year on imported timber, and I believe that if only a portion of our waste lands were 849 planted we could supply ourselves with all the timber we now require, or are likely to require for some time to come. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will do something in the direction I have indicated, and that he will, at all events, apply some of the money which is received year after year from the Crown lands towards beautifying the country, and towards providing a new source of revenue to the State and a new means of employment for the people.
MR. HERBERT ROBERTS (Denbighshire, W.)
I can corroborate what my hon. friend has said, especially with reference to the first point he raised. The district concerned is in my own constituency, and I have therefore had many opportunities of becoming acquainted with the feeling of the public in regard to this particular matter. I desire to pay a very high tribute to the Commissioner of Woods and Forests for the sympathetic way in which he has conducted his negotiations with regard to Crown property in England and Wales. Up to this time he has shown from the very outset a strong desire to become thoroughly acquainted with the local conditions in each case, and we feel very much indebted to him for the spirit in which he has carried out the work of his Department. With regard to the particular matter mentioned, all I would say is that, knowing the place and the conditions, I thoroughly concur with the view expressed by my hon. friend. No doubt it has been said that a competent inspector was sent down to report on the value of these particular minerals, but the true test is not what was the price obtained for similar rights in other parts of the country, but what was the actual value of those minerals; not what they would be worth if they were worked in the future, but whether they ever had been worked or were likely to be worked. The answer to these two questions is in the negative. These minerals have never been worked, and are not likely to be worked. I feel strongly that a mistake has been made in this particular case. I only wish to emphasize one other point made by my hon. friend. Surely some difference ought to be made between striking a bargain with a public institution and striking a bargain with a private individual. I hope, at all events, that the result of this debate will be that the 850 matter will be investigated, and that, at all events, an arrangement of this kind will not be repeated.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL
I desire to make an appeal to the Secretary to the Treasury with reference to the enclosures in Regent's Park. The Committee may not be aware of the fact that there are in the Park several houses having large gardens, and a rumour, which I believe is based on a good deal of truth, is afloat that the Commissioners of Woods and Forests have been approached on the subject of giving these villa gardens an extension of lease. This question is not a new one. In 1880 the then First Commissioner of Works was approached by a deputation with reference to the subscription gardens in Regent's Park, and the result was that these gardens were cut down from fourteen acres to seven acres. In the course of an investigation it was discovered that the leases of the land surrounding these villas were only held on a yearly tenancy, and a compromise was effected which resulted in certain portions of the ground being given back, and, on the other hand, the interests of the landowners were secured for the remainder of the tenancy. The other leases were granted as far back as 1822 and 1826 for a period of ninety-nine years, and although, of course, that period has not yet come to an end, yet the leaseholders, like prudent men, are trying to get a renewal of their leases. I need hardly say how very important it is to the public, especially of the district I represent, that as much of Regent's Park as possible should be open to them. Some thirty-two acres are now held by villa-owners. Not long ago deputations approached the First Commissioner of Works with reference to cricket and football grounds in Regent's Park. I had the privilege of accompanying one of the most important deputations, and it was stated that no less than 6,000 persons used Regent's Park for the purposes of cricket and football, and it was pointed out how extremely small the ground allotted for that purpose was. It seems to me that if anything can be done to increase the ground available for the public it would be a very good thing. Of course the Commissioners of Woods and Forests may urge the objection that they will lose the revenue now derived from these villa gardens; but I venture to appeal to the Secretary to the Treasury on 851 behalf of London, and especially on behalf of St. Pancras and Marylebone, not to allow these leases to be extended without the sanction of Parliament. I can assure him that if he will give us an undertaking that this matter shall be thoroughly gone into before the leases are extended, it will be received with gratitude.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
I desire to associate myself with the excellent remarks of the hon. Member for South St. Pancras. I come to this subject rather fresh, having spent two days of my Whitsun holiday in visiting Regent's Park and making observations with a view to supporting the hon. Member in the object he has in view. It seems to me that we ought to remind the Secretary to the Treasury, who for the moment represents the Woods and Forests Department, that there is a pretty well-grounded opinion in the North of London that a serious attempt is going to be made to have these leases renewed, and also to extend the annual tenancy of the land immediately outside the house property. I believe there will be such an attempt, because the value of these houses is very tempting, and the owners will make every effort within their power to extend the period of their occupancy. The Crown derives £14,444 a year from the land occupied by these private houses. That is a small amount as compared with the value this land would be to the public in the neighbourhood if it were turned into a recreation ground for the enjoyment of young and old. The hon. Member for South St. Pancras with characteristic moderation did not make his case as strong as he might have made it. In going into the documents I find that the situation as between the public enjoyment of Regent's Park and the private privilege user of about a dozen people who are inside the gates of the park is as follows. The park has 472 acres of ground; of that 129 acres, or twenty-four per cent. of the total acreage, is either owned by private people, or enjoyed by associations of a semi-private or a semi-public character, whichever way you put it. I venture to say that, however expedient it may have been ninety years ago to have allowed twenty-four per cent. of the total acreage of the park to be given to private individuals, a similar condition of things does not exist to-day, and that the pressure of population in St. Pancras, Isling- 852 ton, and Marylebone warrants us in demanding that as soon as the leases of the houses expire and the annual tenancies fall in they shall not be renewed, and that the whole of this 129 acres, or as much of it as does not subserve any public interest, shall be thrown into the park. The Zoological Gardens has thirty-one acres, and there are some people who believe that the Zoological Gardens ought to pay more than £358 per annum for having that institution inside Regent's Park. The Botanical Gardens, which do not altogether satisfy the public, have eighteen acres, the Toxo-philites have six acres, and the pleasure gardens have over eight acres. That is to say, four semi-public associations have sixty-three acres out of the 129 acres. I think that the Botanical Gardens might come under more public control than they now have, and I think that the Toxo-philitos might be allowed to disappear. With regard to the pleasure gardens, I see no reason why they should be continued, and I venture to think that some of the people using them would willingly part with their share for the greater enjoyment of the public. Now I come to the remainder. What are the facts? I find that Grove Lodge has four acres, Hanover Lodge four acres, North Lodge two acres, Baptist College nine acres, St. Dunstan's Villa—the tenant of which, I believe, is a very excellent citizen, and a man who has given excellent service to the State—twelve acres, St. Catherine's House five acres, St. John's Lodge—formerly occupied, I believe, by a Member of this House—twelve acres; then there is a place known as The Holme, five acres, and South Villa eleven acres. Altogether nine gentlemen occupy sixty-four acres of ground inside Regent's Park, for which they pay the Government £1,444 per annum. What does that area represent? It represents a Green Park, or seven Kennington Ovals. What does that mean? St. Pancras borders on one side of Regent's Park, and there is no district in London where overcrowding is greater, and no place where open spaces are more needed. I consider that the hon. Member for South St. Pancras has made out a very strong case for this area being added to the park. Now I come to the owners. No injustice can be done to them, because eighty-five and ninety-three years ago the then owners took the houses and the grounds on leasehold conditions. They 853 knew very well that when the leases expired they would have no claim upon the Government for an extension. What is more, I venture to say that the quietude and the enjoyment which the occupants have derived by ninety years occupancy of houses so beautifully situated is all the compensation that can reasonably be expected. I should suggest that as the leases fall in the gardens and the houses should be added to the park for the health and athletic advantages of the immediate neighbourhood. Some will ask, is there any reason for this? The first of these leases will fall in in ten years, and I shudder when I think what the condition of St. Pancras will be in ten years if overcrowding continues as at present. I believe it is the duty of the Woods and Forests Department to anticipate the still more crowded condition of St. Pancras which will prevail at that period by seeing that when these leases expire the ground shall be added to the park. One has noticed with great pleasure what the City Corporation has done for open spaces with regard to Epping Forest. Years ago people said that there were 6,000 acres of land in Epping Forest and that there was no one near it. What have we witnessed? The growth of population in the direction of Epping Forest has converted it into a place used to-day quite as much as Hyde Park, Battersea Park, or Kensington Gardens was used thirty years ago. So great is the demand on Epping Forest that we find Sir Edward Buxton and other public-spirited gentlemen still adding to the total acreage available to the public. The securing for the public of Epping Forest is one of the finest acts every accomplished by the City Corporation. Take, for instance, what Her Majesty has done. The Queen, very much to her credit, and I believe the people of London appreciate it, has handed Kensington Palace and grounds and Kew Cottage grounds over to the public, and also a house in Greenwich Park for the advantage of the people in that neighbourhood. Wherever we go we see that parks which were formerly the private property of the Queen have been handed over by her to the public. She has given increased access to her houses, castles, and private parks and gardens, which are still exclusively her own. We also find that the Archbishop of Canterbury has handed 854 over eleven acres of his land in the Lambeth Palace grounds to the London County Council for the benefit of the poor children living in the slums of Lambeth. I congratulate the Queen and the Archbishop of Canterbury upon doing these generous things. We also find the City Corporation vieing with the London County Council in providing open spaces for London, but the only people who are not following the example of the Queen, the Archbishop, the City Corporation, and the London County Council are these nine or ten privileged leaseholders in Regent's. Park. I wish the right hon. Gentleman would take a hint from the Member for South St. Pancras, and give these leaseholders notice that we do not intend to renew their leases. They are not wanted inside Regent's Park, and I should say that the borders of the forest, or near Windsor Park, would better suit their temperament. We want this land in Regent's Park for the general public and the children of the immediate neighbourhood. The people have asked the Member for South St. Pancras to make this request, and I cordially support him. When we find that the Brixton people themselves can raise £60,000 for the addition of forty-two acres to Brockwell Park, surely we ought, when we are able to do it by a mere movement of the pen, to give these leaseholders notice to terminate their leases, and thus add 129 more acres to one of the finest parks in London, which is not large enough, and which could be made larger by terminating the private privileges which have gone on too long, and which could be done without injustice to the tenants and much to the advantage of the people of St. Pancras and of London generally.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that this particular source of revenue was not in the same position as other sources. The Woods and Forests and Crown lands were the remains of what was once the personal property of the Sovereign, and at the beginning of every reign they returned to the Sovereign, when a fresh bargain had to be made, the Sovereign receiving the Civil List in return. It was a matter of bargain, and if at any time the Sovereign refused to make the bargain then all this property went back into the personal possession of the Sovereign. He only mentioned this to show that this particular property stood on an entirely 855 different footing to other property. Her Majesty's Ministers were simply trustees during the present reign, and it was their duty to see that it was handed over to the successor of the Queen. Therefore, Her Majesty's Ministers had not the same free hand in the matter as they had in regard to other property, and they could only deal with these lands in a purely fiduciary character. There was one very peculiar feature about this Vote, and it was that they were asked to vote £21,000 for the expenses of the Office of Woods and Forests, when there were really no expenses at all. On the contrary, the State derived a revenue from these woods and forests. There was another remarkable feature; the Office of Woods and Forests was the only Department which was allowed to pay its own expenses, and hand over to the Treasury the balance. If hon. Members would turn to page 24 of the Financial Statement, they would see a more or less detailed account of the revenues of the Office of Woods and Forests. The total revenue was £605,000 up to 1899, and out of that they retained £111,000. This property was in an entirely different situation to any other property belonging to the State, and the revenue was treated differently. Now the Committee was called upon to vote £21,000. Out of the £111,000 retained they kept £15,000 for salaries, and in addition the Committee were called upon for this Vote to meet Incidental expenses.
§ CAPTAIN JESSEL
said there was no wish that the Treasury should rob the Crown. What was desired was that they should not come to a decision yet, and that public bodies might know what these lands would cost, and have an opportunity to buy.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that this matter could not be dealt with in the same spirit of generosity as might be exercised in other matters where unfettered control existed. Here they were trustees for the Crown, and not only for the present possessors, but for future possessors. It had been said that some of this property had been sold at a very high price for the purpose of erecting public offices. But if anything less than the absolute full price had been exacted be should have complained. In regard to Regent's Park, that question was capable 856 of being treated with justice on both sides. He was sure that none of them desired to rob the Crown, but there were many difficulties connected with anything like generous treatment, on account of the position in which the property stood.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
I do not wish to go into the history of this Vote, which has been dealt with by my hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn, but I wish to bring before the right hon. Gentleman another question. England and Wales have their grievances on this Vote, and so has Scotland. It is a question which I have brought before the House on several occasions, and it is that the Office of Woods and Forests have, within recent years, resumed the practice which this House got them to discontinue many years ago of selling Crown rights of salmon fishing in the sea off the coast of Scotland. The Office of Woods and Forests sold some time ago some Crown. rights of salmon fishing on the west coast of Scotland. When the question was brought up in this House great pressure was put upon the Government, and the present First Lord of the Admiralty, who was then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, agreed that this sale of the Crown rights of salmon fishing should be discontinued. That was in the year 1886, and for ten years onwards from that time none of these Crown rights of salmon fishing in the sea in Scotland were sold by the Office of Woods and Forests. I believe the legal rights in regard to salmon fishing in the sea are different in Scotland to what they are in England. If a Scotch fisherman catches a salmon in the sea it does not become his property, and if he brings it ashore he can be brought before the Court for having it in his possession. The only public rights of salmon fishing in the sea off the coast of Scotland are those which remain in the Office of Woods and Forests. Therefore, in Scotland, we are exceedingly jealous of parting definitely with any of these rights. We are not averse to leasing those rights, as we have done from year to year, but we have always steadfastly resisted any attempt to part with those valuable public rights. When these sales were resumed in 1896 two were sold, and last year two other valuable rights were also parted with. When I asked the question in this House I was told by the Secretary to the 857 Treasury, or some other representative of the Government, that those sales were of an exceptional nature. From further inquiries we gathered that the title to those rights was believed to be somewhat uncertain, but that is an argument which points in various directions. It might be argued that the Crown should not part with property to which there is an uncertain title, but what I want to urge is that there are substantial public rights involved to which great importance is attached in Scotland, and that they should not be absolutely parted with on any consideration whatever. They are public rights which we cherish very considerably, and we ought to have from the Office of Woods and Forests a fuller statement than we have hitherto obtained of the grounds upon which they have gone back upon the policy previously sanctioned by the Government. In order to bring the matter to a point I beg to move the reduction of this Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £13,339, be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Buchanan.)
§ MR. HANBURY
This is not the first time that the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire has raised this question, for he has put questions in the House more than once upon this subject, and the answer of the Office of Woods and Forests is exactly what the hon. Member has stated. They say that the Commissioners have parted with no public rights in salmon fisheries except in two or three cases where the public rights have been extremely doubtful. I understand that that is not denied by the hon. Member, but what he seems to object to is the action of the Commissioners in parting with property as to the title to which there is some doubt. That appears to be the whole difference, but on this question we accept the statement of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. The hon. Member for Flint has raised two questions. He first referred to the purchase of some mineral rights by an asylum authority in North Wales from the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, and he complains of the price. That price was, I think, £2 an acre for about 220 acres, and he says that nothing ought to have been paid for those mineral rights, because they are worthless. In the opinion of the Chief 858 Inspector of Minerals there was at any rate a possibility that there might be minerals there of some value, and the asylum authorities themselves offered the sum of £400 for these very mineral rights. Therefore, the difference on which the hon. Member raises this question is one merely of £44 between the price charged by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests and the price offered by the asylum authorities. That difference is not a very serious one, and what was done by the Commissioners was done on the advice of their own mining expert. The other point raised is that of the afforestation of the hills in Wales. With regard to the unenclosed lands very serious difficulties are encountered owing to the fact that there are certain common rights connected with them, and unless the whole of the common rights are bought up it is impossible to do anything of an effective nature. With regard to the enclosed portions, most of them are lands which pay much better under tillage than they would under timber. But no doubt there are certain portions where, in the opinion of the Commissioners, it is desirable to do some planting. I think that only within the last six months they have purchased three farms in Merionethshire for the purpose, and so far as is possible the suggestion of the hon. Member will be followed. I come now to the question raised by my hon. friend the Member for South St. Pancras and the hon. Member for Battersea. I was glad to hear the statement made by my hon. friend behind me in the shape of an interruption during the speech of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. I gathered from his first statement that he was anxious that the Crown lands in Regent's Park should be devoted to public local purposes, without any price being paid for them. I now understand that that is not his view. If you take this land in Regent's Park and say that the enclosed portion shall be thrown open to the public, that would be finding an additional park for a certain portion of London at the cost of the taxpayer, and that is a policy which we deliberately refused to adopt some years ago. Certain parks which had been up to that period maintained at the cost of the taxpayer have now fallen upon the local ratepayer, and I do not quite know why the district surrounding Regent's 859 Park should be made any exception to that rule. Even Battersea Park is now a charge upon the local rates and not upon the general taxpayer. After all, what is the history of Regent's Park? It shows that it is not a Royal park in the sense that Hyde Park is a Royal park. It does not come under the Act of 1810, and it is entirely in the same position as the property of the ordinary Crown lands, and that being so, of course it has to be treated on exactly the same principle. It is only right that the Crown should derive revenue from these lands. It is said that a certain portion of Regent's Park has been for some time thrown open to the public, and it seems to be argued that on this account the remainder of the property should also be thrown open to the public. As a matter of fact it is only within the present century, at any rate, that the public have had the right of entry upon any portion of it whatever; and with regard to the remainder, no portion which is now enclosed and leased to private holders was ever, so far as I understand it, open to the public. So that the present is an entirely fresh demand in respect to Crown lands which have never been open to the public to be thrown open to the public in future. Of course that would raise very serious difficulties between the taxpayers and the Crown. The hon. Member for King's Lynn has stated with perfect correctness what is the history of the arrangement between the Crown and the public with regard to these lands, and it is in the interests of the public that revenue should be derived from Crown lands. The point raised by my hon. friend is, I think, a fair one. He does not say that these lands ought to be given to the public, or the local public, without any consideration being paid, and he admits that a fair price ought to be paid. I understand his argument to be that in the choice of tenants preference should be given to local authorities, or to tenants of a more or less public and representative character. With regard to the houses and grounds surrounding Regent's Park, that question does not now arise, because none of these leases will fall in before the year 1916, or between 1916 and 1930. I have certainly heard of no attempt being made to extend those leases. I think, however, when we do get the opportunity it will be wise for the Com- 860 missioners to see how far, without detriment to the revenue of the Crown, the public might have more access to certain portions of Regent's Park. With regard to the Zoological Gardens, I think it will be generally admitted that the throwing open of those gardens conferred a great benefit, and the public derive great advantage from this privilege. In the case of the Botanical Gardens, I understand that the lease will come to an end very shortly—whether next year or the year after I am not quite sure. I think—and it is also the view of the Commissioners—that steps should be taken to see that the public have more interest in that institution in the future than they have had in the past. Hitherto these gardens have been closed to the public altogether, and I do not think that the public have had the right of admission to them even upon payment. I think it would be only a fair condition in any new lease which is granted that admission should be permitted to the public upon the payment of a reasonable sum upon two or three days in each week.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I regret that the right hon. Gentleman found it necessary to defend the action of the Commissioners of Woods and Forests with reference to the ease of the North Wales Lunatic Asylum. It is not a question of their exacting the market value of this particular plot of ground, because if it went on the market I do not suppose they would ever get a penny for the mineral rights. They discovered that the asylums committee were under the necessity of obtaining this land, and they took advantage of a public necessity in order to exact a sum of money greater than the value of the land. I cannot take the view of the hon. Member for King's Lynn that in any case the Commissioners ought to administer the land under their control as if it were a private estate. That is taking a too narrow and selfish view of their functions. But they have gone beyond what might be expected of a private individual by taking advantage of the necessity of a public institution to exact a large sum of money from a public institution. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has found it necessary to defend such a spirit. I must say, however, that there has been a great improvement within the last few years in the manner in which the 861 Commissioners have met the local authorities in Wales, and I regret that they departed from that line of action when they came to deal with the North Wales Asylum Committee. With regard to the statement that the sum of £400 had been offered by the committee, I can hardly think that that is the case. I think the right hon. Gentleman must have been misinformed, because I hold a copy of a letter written by the clerk to the committee in July, 1898, in which he states that the mineral rights were merely nominal in value, and as far as I can ascertain the committee did not make any offer at all. Any offer that was made was made in the course of negotiations. Possibly the Commissioners said, "We will accept £500," and the committee might have then said, "We will give £400." The right hon. Gentleman is not quite entitled to make use of that as if it were an assessment of value by the North Wales Asylum Committee. Of course, they may have said, "If you insist on it we will offer £400," but not because they valued the mineral rights at £400. Quite the reverse; they valued them at nothing at all. All we can do is to protest against the manner in which the Woods and Forests Commissioners have thought fit to administer public property. With reference to re-afforestation, it is perfectly true, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that common rights are one of the greatest difficulties that the Commissioners have to encounter in trying to carry out this idea of re-afforestation, and I am very much afraid nothing can be done to remove it without legislation. I cannot discuss that question now, but there ought to be no difficulty in carrying through a short Act of Parliament to deal with this particular subject. It is a matter of considerable importance. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that this land could very often be put to better use.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
This land is absolutely worthless for tilling purposes, but it is admirable for re-afforestation. I cannot help thinking that if the Commissioners were to make experiments in this direction they would confer great benefits, not merely on Wales, but on the whole country. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that there was some 862 difficulty in acquiring land for experiment. Surely that is not the case. Any number of these sheep walks are in the market year after year, and in such cases not merely the land, but the common rights could be acquired. If the Commissioners of Woods and Forests were really determined to make experiments there would be no difficulty in getting land. They have large revenues, and it is a great pity that they do not undertake experiments of this character. They are the only Government Department that can make these experiments, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will press them to be a little more bold in these experiments. I know they have tried something on one farm in Merionethshire, but it is on such a small scale that it is really not worth taking it into account. I think the country would back them up in making experiments on a larger scale.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the North Wales Lunatic Asylums Committee offered a sum of £400 to the Woods and Forests Department. I must say I have never heard of any such offer. It may have been made in the course of negotiations, and under considerable pressure. I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the correspondence. On the 7th July, 1898, the clerk to the committee, referring to the interview which the chairman of the committee and I had with the Commissioners of Woods and Forests on the 4th of July, laid before the Commissioners some of the grounds on which the committee believed that the minerals in the area proposed to be conveyed were merely of nominal value. Certainly at the time no offer of £400 had been made.
§ MR. HANBURY
The statement which has been placed in my hands is, I am bound to say, by no means explicit on the matter, but I will get the information for the hon. Member. I understood that it was a perfectly voluntary offer on the part of the committee.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
I think it is impossible that that could be, because in the letter to which I have referred the committee set forth in detail their objections to paying anything but a nominal sum for the mineral rights, which they contended were practically valueless. The 863 right hon. Gentleman has quoted from the report of the mineral agent, but I wish we had definite information from him or from someone else as to the value of these mineral rights. The right hon. Gentleman did not say a single word in contravention of the reasons urged why no charge should be made for them. The only minerals possible in that district are lead, flags, and stone, and any mineral expert can satisfy himself that there is no lead, no flags that would pay to work, no building stone and no road stone of any value. What we want is some evidence that these mineral rights are of any value at all. So far that evidence has not been forthcoming, and I shall have great pleasure in supporting, though for a different reason, the reduction which has been moved by my hon. friend to this Vote, although I should be glad, were it possible, to make a separate and independent protest in reference to this particular case. The correspondence shows that the Woods and Forests Department insisted in a most peremptory way on an immediate answer. The Asylums Committee were given a month to decide, and feeling that they were absolutely and entirely in the hands of the Woods and Forests Department they had no option but to comply with a request which they regarded as most unreasonable, and which was not supported by any evidence whatever. I have been given to understand outside the House that this charge was based on a precedent of a similar charge in some other part of Wales. It is, of course, quite possible that in that part of Wales the charge may have been perfectly justifiable, but in this particular district the committee of the lunatic asylum have been obliged to pay £444 for rights which are absolutely valueless. In fifty years that sum with compound interest will amount to about £2,000, and by that time it will be found that the mineral rights are as valueless as they are now. There are one or two questions I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the policy of the Woods and Forests Department in relation to leases of foreshore. The Report of the Committee issued in 1887 showed that these leases had been granted to individuals at comparatively small rents. For instance, 333 acres were let for £3 per acre. Of course I cannot blame the present Chief Commissioner for these rents, and I am not in any way reflecting 864 on him. Then, again, 271 acres were leased at £1 per acre, and 161 acres at £5 per acre. The North Wales coast is becoming more valuable year by year. Watering places are springing up along the coast, and, in fact, one may look forward to the time when the coast will be a continuous row of houses. The foreshore will continue to become more and more valuable, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what is the policy of the Woods and Forests Department with regard to these leases of the foreshore. Do they invariably offer the leases by public auction, or do they treat with individuals privately? When they are dealing with public authorities do they exact the utmost farthing of what they can obtain by competition in the open market? When an individual offers to take a lease of a portion of the foreshore from the Commissioners is notice given to the nearest local authority in order that they may be able to make a bid for the land in the interest of the public? It is most important, as I need not remind the Committee, that foreshore land should be very carefully dealt with, and in the event of the local authority requiring any portion the Department should have no hesitation in dealing with them generously, having regard to the objects they have in view. On the other hand, if the Department are dealing with a private individual they should see that the utmost possible value is received for the land. Since the year 1881 up to a comparatively recent date the Woods and Forests Department have sold property in Wales to the value of £151,000. It is quite possible it would have been better if the Department had kept that property in hand. The value of the property they have purchased, not including the three farms to which the right hon. Gentleman has just referred, and which have been recently acquired, amounts only to £2,000, so that practically the Woods and Forests Department have received £150,000 more from Wales than they have invested in Wales. That being the case I venture to say we have a very strong claim indeed in insisting that the Department should reinvest this sum of £150,000 in the re-afforestation of the Welsh hills. That is a fair and just demand, and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to take it into consideration 865 with the other matters to which I have alluded. With regard to the three farms which the right hon. Gentleman said had been acquired by the Department, I would ask him whether they have been acquired for the purpose of planting?
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
Then I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to tell us when the Vote is next under consideration. I would specially direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the important question I have ventured to raise with reference to the granting of foreshore leases to individuals, and that no leases should be granted without the consent of the local authorities. I thank the Committee for the patience and attention with which they have listened to my remarks, and I hope when the Vote is again under consideration the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give us a more satisfactory statement with reference to the case of the North Wales Lunatic Asylum Committee. It is too bad that a public institution should be charged such a large sum for mineral rights which are practically worthless. There is a very strong feeling in North Wales on this subject, and the Welsh Members deeply regret the attitude which the right hon. Gentleman has assumed towards it.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
I desire to call attention to the sale of salmon fishing rights in Scotland. In one case the rights were sold for £50, which, as everyone knows, must have been a very poor fishery indeed. It was hardly worth the while of the Government—
It being Midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.