HC Deb 08 May 1900 vol 82 cc1062-8
MR. JACKSON (Leeds, N.)

It is the opinion of the Committee on War Office Contracts, of which I am the chairman, that in order to ensure strict justice in our inquiry, it may be necessary to hear counsel on behalf of the parties interested. The Committee, being unable to hear Counsel without the consent of the House and without an order of the House, has requested me to seek from the House such power.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Select Committee on War Office Contracts have leave to hear Counsel to such extent as they may think fit."—(Mr. Jackson.)

Mr. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

I think this motion requires some consideration. The Committee consists of fifteen members and is to meet twice a week. That will not be the slightest good. If the House wants to get to the bottom of these contract scandals the Committee should be reduced to five members, and sit de die in diem until the work is done. If this Committee is going to sit only twice a week for a limited period, and hear counsel, I think it will become an absolute farce.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 184; Noes, 82. (Division List No. 115.)

Archdale, Edward Mervyn Fry, Lewis Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Arnold, Alfred Garfit, William Myers, William Henry
Asher, Alexander Giles, Charles Tyrrell Nicol, Donald Ninian
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Gladstone, Rt. hon. H. John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon Oldroyd, Mark
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Gourley, Sir Edw. Temperley Paulton, James Mellor
Austin, Sir John (Yorkshire) Green, Walford D (Wednesbury) Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)
Baird, John Geo. Alexander Greene, Hn. D. (Shrewsbury) Penn, John
Balcarres, Lord Gunter, Colonel Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Baldwin, Afred Halsey, Thomas Frederick Pierpoint, Robert
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord Geo. Pilkington, Rich (Lancs Newt'n)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds) Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Pilkington, Sir G. A.(Lancs, SW)
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Harwood, George Purvis, Robert
Beach, Rt. Hn Sir M.H.(Bristol) Haslett, Sir James Horner Rankin, Sir James
Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe Heath, James Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Biddulph, Michael Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Renshaw, Charles Bine
Blakiston-Houston, John Hill, Sir Ed. Stock (Bristol) Richards, Henry Charles
Blundell, Colonel Henry Hoare, Edw. Brodie (Hampstd) Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Bolitho, Thomas Bedford Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich) Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. Thomson
Brassey, Albert Hobhouse, Henry Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hornby, Sir William Henry Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Houston, R. P. Rothschild, Hon. Lionel W.
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Howard, Joseph Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Bullard, Sir Harry Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Butcher, John George Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Caldwell, James Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Sharpe, William Edward T.
Cameron, Sir Charles(Glasgow) Jenkins, Sir John Jones Sidebotton, William(Derbysh.)
Campbell, Rt. Hn. JA(Glasgow Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Ed. Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)
Causton, Richard Knight Johnston, William (Belfast) Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Cavendish, R F. (N. Lancs.) Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)
Cavendish, V. C.W. (Derbysh.) Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn Sir U Stevenson, Francis S.
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.) Kearley, Hudson E. Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn.J.(Bir'm.) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H. Stone, Sir Benjamin
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worcester) King, Sir Henry Seymour Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Channing, Francis Allston Kitson, Sir James Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.) Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Ox'fd Univ.)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lewis, John Herbert Tennant, Harold John
Cotton-Jodrell, Col. E. T. D. Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'nsea) Thornburn, Sir Walter
Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H. Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham) Vincent, Col. Sir CEH (Sheffield)
Cruddas, William Donaldson Long, Rt Hon Walter(Liverpool) Wallace, Robert
Curzon, Viscount Lonsdale, John Brownlee Warr, Augustus Frederick
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh Lowe, Francis William Weir, James Galloway
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Loyd, Archie Kirkman Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunt'n)
Denny, Colonel Macartney, W. G. Ellison Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd
Dickinson, Robert Edmond Macdona, John Cumming Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D. Maclure, Sir John William Williams, Joseph Powell-(Birm)
Donelan, Captain A. M'Kenna, Reginald Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Doughty, George M'Killop, James Wilson-Todd, Wm. H.(Yorks.)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Maple, Sir John Blundell Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Doxford, Sir William Theodore Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E. Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd)
Elliot, Hon. A. R. Douglas Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Evans, Sir F. H. (Southampton) Middlemore, J. Throgmorton Wrightson, Thomas
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Milward, Colonel Victor Wylie, Alexander
Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward Monckton, Edward Philip Wyndham, George
Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. Manc'r More, Robert Jasper (Shrops.) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Finch, George H. Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Younger, William
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Fisher, William Hayes Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose- Muntz, Philip A.
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmund Murray, Rt. Hn A Graham(Bute)
Fletcher, Sir Henry Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)
Abraham, W. (Cork, N.E.) Birrell, Augustine Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton
Allan, William (Gateshead) Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Coghill, Douglas Harry
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Broadhurst, Henry Colville, John
Bainbridge, Emerson Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Curran, Thomas (Sligo S.)
Baker, Sir John Burns, John Daly, James
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Burt, Thomas Dewar, Arthur
Billson, Alfred Cameron, Robert (Durham) Dilke, Rt. Hon, Sir. Charles
Dillon, John Lloyd-George, David Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)
Doogan, P. C. MacDonnell, Dr M. A (Queen's C) Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)
Dorrington, Sir John Edward Maclean, James Mackenzie Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Spicer, Albert
Emmott, Alfred M'Ghee, Richard Steadman, William Charles
Fenwick, Charles Maddison, Fred. Stuart, James (Shoreditch)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Mather, William Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Thomas, Alfred(Glamorgan, E)
Fox, Dr. Joseph Francis Monk, Charles James Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Goddard, Daniel Ford Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose) Warner, Thomas Courtenay, T.
Gold, Charles Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Wason, Eugene
Gurdon, Sir Wm. Brampton O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal) Whiteley, George(Stockport)
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Williams, John Carvell (Notts.)
Hogan, James Francis Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.) Wilson, Frederick W. (Norf')
Horniman, Frederick John Pease, Sir Joseph W. (Durham) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley) Pickard, Benjamin Wilson, Jos. H (Middlesbrough)
Jacoby, James Alfred Price, Robert John Woods, Samuel
Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth Reckitt, Harold James Yoxall, James Henry
Lambert, George Runciman, Walter TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. James Lowther and Mr. Strachey.
Langley, Batty Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Leng, Sir John Schwann, Charles E.

Question put, and agreed to.


I beg to move "That the Report and Minutes of Evidence of the Select Committee on Public Departments, etc., of 1873–74 be referred to the Select Committee on War Office Contracts." In 1873–74 a Select Committee was appointed by the House which took a great deal of evidence with reference to certain contracts made by the War Office, and the Select Committee now sitting think it would be of great service to them to have the Report of that Committee, and the evidence then taken, referred to them.

SIR CHARLES CAMERON (Glasgow, Bridgeton)

The right hon. Gentleman has not referred to one Committee that went very extensively into this whole matter and exposed any number of flagrant contracts.


Order, order! That is not relevant. If the hon. Member wishes at any time to move that certain other Papers be referred to the Select Committee he can do so.


I simply wished to point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the Committee to which I referred was that which inquired into commissariat and transport in the Egyptian War, and which dealt with subjects entirely germane to the investigations of this Committee, and if the right hon. Gentleman is going to refer some Papers I would suggest that he should also refer the Report of and evidence taken by that Committee.


Would it not be better to add to the motion "or any other documents that they may think fit to call for"?


This is a common form; the House had better not adopt a new form.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I think I am entitled to ask for some explanation of the reasons for moving this. I have not sat on many Committees, although I have been a long time in the House of Commons, but I do know it is within the power of any Committee to take into consideration the minutes of evidence and Reports of any previous Committee. That being the case, where is the necessity of the House passing a resolution referring a certain body of evidence and Report to this Committee? What is the object of it?


I cannot understand what advantage there can be in certain evidence and Reports being referred to the Committee, because the evidence and Reports of every Committee are open to Members of the House. I assume there is some purpose in the resolution. Is it to act in the nature of an Instruction to the Committee? Is it to give the Committee some power which without it they would not have? If so, I think it is doubtful whether the resolution is wide enough. On the other hand, is the resolution a suggestion which limits the Committee? It seems to me it is a distinct intimation to them to limit their consideration to that special Report and evidence. I certainly can see no reason for passing it, and unless the resolution is made more general, or some further ex- planation is given of it, I shall feel bound to vote against it.


This is a very usual application, made in quite a common form. It is generally simply handed in at the Table and put on the minutes as a matter of course. It is quite true that hon. Members may obtain and read copies of Reports which have been printed, but a Committee, as a Committee, cannot take notice of them and have them before them as evidence unless an order of this kind is made. It is a matter of common form, which is gone through constantly in respect of Private Bills.

SIR JOSEPH PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)

I take it any Member of the House can move a resolution to refer to any Committee any document he may think fit?


That is so.


Is it not the rule for a Parliamentary Committee to take power generally to have documents before it, and not to specify particular Papers? We do not want the precedent of the South African Committee to be repeated.


Has not the Committee already got power to send for persons, Papers, and Reports? This motion indicates only one Report. I want them to have any Reports that may be thought desirable.


The only object is to obtain the information which was obtained by a previous Committee. The Committee on War Office Contracts are under the impression that the only way in which they can secure the obtaining of the information is to ask the House to refer to them the Papers specified. There is no other object in the motion.


I wish to ask whether the Chairman of the Committee and his colleagues have not power to send for any records they think fit.


Yes, I presume so, though I have not seen the Order of reference, but when a Committee wishes to have before it the proceedings of a previous Committee it has always been the custom to make such an Order. The usual course has been followed in this case.

* SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

And it has this practical effect, that the Stationery Office is enabled to supply every member of the Committee with copies of the documents.

MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

The motion for the appointment of this Committee contained these words—"The Committee shall have power to send for persons, Papers, and documents." I am at a loss to understand why this motion is made. [VOICES: Agreed!]


Don't shout him down.


Seeing that the Committee already have power to send for Papers, I am at a loss to understand why this demand is made in this way for these specific documents.

Ordered, That the Report and Minutes of Evidence of the Select Committee on Public Departments (Purchases, etc.), 1873–4, be referred to the Select Committee on War Office Contracts.—(Mr. Jackson.)