HC Deb 13 August 1901 vol 99 cc627-49

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

[Mr. J. W. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the Chair.

Clause 1:—

MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)

said it seemed to him to be a very extraordinary thing that a cable which was to connect Australia with Canada, and which would not come within 3,000 miles of England, should have to be built with funds provided out of the Imperial resources. If the cable was to benefit Canada and Australia so much, it ought to be built by money provided by the colonies. The working expenses were to paid for in the ratio of five-eighteenths by this country, and the remainder by the colonies, and he could not see any reason why the same ratio should have been adopted in defraying the cost of building the cable. In fact, that was a view that had been taken by the Colonial Secretary himself when the matter was first under discussion, as could be seen by his despatches to the Governor General of Canada and the Governors of the Australian colonies. That was a monstrous divergence from the traditional policy of the country, and if the country had to bear a part of the expense, it was logical that a portion of it should also be borne by the colonies.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 27, afther the word 'of,' to insert the words 'five-eighteenths of."—(Mr. O'Mara.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."


said he could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Member. It was perfectly true that the original proposal of His Majesty's Government was merely to subsidise the cable, and not themselves to take any part in its construction or management, but it was also a part of that proposal that His Majesty's Government should not share in the profits of the cable. That arrangement was not satisfactory to the colonies, and, in deference to their views, His Majesty's Government agreed to a plan which found greater favour with the colonies, and which was that this country should take part in the construction of the cable with the colonies, should be joint owners with them, and should be jointly represented on the board of control. Nothing would be gained by the adoption of the hon. Member's Amendment. He understood the object of the hon. Member was to limit the liability and the ultimate loss which might fall on this country. The hon. Member need not be really anxious about that matter, nor would he secure anything more by his Amendment than was secured under the present agreement. In order that the capital for the construction of the cable might be obtained to the best advantage, His Majesty's Government agreed with the colonies that they should raise the whole of the money, and lend it to the cable board. He would ask the Committee to support His Majesty's Government in the action they had taken in that respect. The agreement with the different colonial Governments was that they should not only pay thirteen-eighteenths of any loss in the working of the cable, over and above the revenue, but that they should bear thirteen-eighteenths of all the charges in connection with the raising of the money and the construction of the cable, as well as with its maintenance and repair. It was quite true therefore that in the first instance the liability for the £2,000,000 rested with this country, because the Treasury had undertaken to raise the whole of the money, and would give their guarantee to those from whom it was borrowed. But the colonial Governments had accepted their full share as to thirteen-eighteenths of that liability, and he did not think that anyone would suggest that the colonial Governments would be either unable or unwilling to discharge an obligation freely entered into by themselves for an object which they considered of great importance. He hoped the hon. Member would not persist in his Amendment.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

said he could not understand why in regard to the whole matter the Government should have changed their mind since 1899. Two years was not very long in which to reverse a whole policy of that kind. The policy which was laid down in 1899 was that the Government considered that the responsibility for the construction and working of the cable should be home by the colonial Governments. That position had now been abandoned. The matter had been under consideration for six years, and at the time the Committee took evidence the general understanding was that the colonies were to find the capital for the construction of the cable and to maintain it in proper order. The correspondence showed that pressure had been brought to bear upon the Colonial Secretary to abandon that position, and now the whole responsibility, in the first instance at any rate, would fall on the mother country, and the Treasury was dragged by the Colonial Office into that hazardous undertaking. It was acknowledged that the cable was to be primarily constructed for the benefit of Canada and Australia, and that only a very indirect share of the advantage would accrue to this country. He did not follow the figures of his hon. friend with regard to five-eighteenths. He would propose that the Treasury should find £1,000,000, and that the liability for the other £1,000,000 should devolve on the colonies. If the colonies were anxious to have increased cable facilities they ought to pay a half or third of the expense of raising the capital. There was absolutely no mention of the colonies in the clause, and undoubtedly responsibility in the first instance rested with the Treasury. Were the talismanic words "Imperial unity" responsible for the change in the policy of the Government? Could the colonies themselves raise the money in open market at three per cent.?




Then they ought to be responsible for raising at least £1,000,000 of the capital required. It should be remembered that the Eastern Company was laying a cable from the Cape to Australia, and he had it on very good authority that it was extremely doubtful whether three cables would ever pay. If the Pacific cable did not pay the Treasury would be liable for five-eighteenths of the loss, besides the advance in the first instance. He thought that the capital should be raised on the joint guarantee of the colonies and the mother country.

MR. FIELD (Dublin, St. Patrick)

said that as an Irish Member he could not understand why it was proposed to raise a loan of £2,000,000 for the cable. That was not the proper way to carry out an enterprise of this nature. The majority of hon. Members appeared to have a disposition to leave everything of a financial character to the occupants of the Treasury Bench. The result was that the House of Commons hardly exercised any jurisdiction at all over money matters. There was a great principle at stake in the matter, and that was that Englishmen, Irishmen, and Scotchmen were about to inaugurate a new principle, which in his opinion was most dangerous. What had the colonies done for England, Ireland, and Scotland? They paid hardly anything towards the defences of the Empire, and now they wanted those three countries, already overtaxed and overburdened, to finance their commercial undertakings. That was a new principle which required a great deal of consideration from hon. Members. The water companies of London and the railway companies of Ireland were in exactly the same position towards public utility, and it was a novel and extraordinary proposition that money was to be available for colonial purposes of that kind when it was not available for home purposes. He had taken the trouble to read the correspondence, and he found that the policy which had been laid down originally had been absolutely reversed. The fact was that hon. Members did not know where they were with Ministers at the present time. He held very strongly that the Bill was a departure from a principle which had hitherto been observed in the House. The House was entering on a commercial undertaking and sanctioning the expenditure of money in order to convenience the colonies in a manner which would not be undertaken with reference to any home enterprise, and he hoped that a strong minority of the Committee would protest against that principle unless it were also extended to the inhabitants of the three kingdoms.


said the object of the colonies was that these lines should be run at a loss in order that they might have cheap cable rates. They naturally objected to a subsidy of £20,000. The home Government was to get a share of the profits, but as a matter of fact there would be no profits to share, and it would therefore be more profitable to the colonies for the home Government to undertake the whole expenditure of the line, which would be run at a loss. The position of the Secretary to the Treasury was entirely inconsistent with the understanding come to in the earlier stages of these negotiations. The hon. Gentleman had said there was not likely to to be any profit for the first few years, and there might be a loss. This cable was to be built with money borrowed from the public, which would have to be repaid, together with the cost of upkeep of the cable from the rates.


When I said there might be a loss, I meant that there might be a loss on the working after allowing for the sinking fund.


said in that case his observations would not apply so strongly, but what he wished to point out was that the result would be very likely worse than the hon. Gentleman anticipated, because under this Bill the British Treasury lost all control as to fixing the rates. The object of the cable was to get reduced rates—to get them reduced to a very low figure indeed—and the rates were to be fixed by the board, and the colonies being in a majority on the board the tendency to cut down the rates would be very great, and there would be a great loss, and the Treasury would lose all control; yet the burden of this expenditure was to be put on the taxpayers of this country. The declaration contained in the letter written by Lord Selborne to the Great Eastern Telegraph Company two years ago contained the most revolutionary statement of principle ever laid before the House. It amounted to a solemn declaration that the Colonial Secretary saw no difference between competition by a private firm and competition by the State. What would vested interests have to say if such a principle were introduced throughout the country? In paragraph 23 of the letter of the Colonial Office to the companies, of the 10th July, 1899, there is this statement:— Mr. Chamberlain is unable to see why, so long as the project is conducted on commercial principles, fair competition by the State should give rise to a claim for compensation, which would not be suggested for a moment if the competitor were a private person or company, however wealthy or influential. That was what the Treasury now admitted they had no intention of doing. The hon. Gentleman anticipated that for some years there would be a loss. When had anybody ever heard of a great public company spending £2,000,000 for the purpose of having a loss on administration? That was not the principle of a commercial people. The whole idea of this being conducted as a commercial enterprise was a sham. He admitted that there was some incongruity in the Irish representatives posing as the champions of private interests, but it was not so much because he objected to the principle that he raised his voice against the Bill, as because of the curious way in which it had been introduced. Millions of money ought not to be spent on a thing of this kind for the Australian colonies when there were dozens of things infinitely more deserving of the money being spent on them. He supported the Amendment because it tended to lessen to some extent the responsibilities which the Government proposed to impose upon the taxpayers.


also supported the Amendment. He thought they were entitled to have some limit placed upon the expenditure, especially as to that portion which would fall upon Ireland. He believed in time of peace no such project as this would ever have been put forward. There had been many projects started to bring the colonies into communication with this country, and the hon. Member for Canterbury, who had done so much for postal reform, was naturally as anxious to effect telegraphic reform. If this scheme was for the benefit of this country, he would give it his support, but his experience had been such as to make him view with suspicion any proposal put forward in this way. If the hon. Member for Canterbury said it was really to the interest of the public, he would be willing to consider it in a reasonable way, because at present, owing to the high cable rates, they could get more news from France than from the colonies. He thought it would be better if the rates were not reduced.


Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is not speaking to the Amendment.


bowed to the ruling of the Chair. He pointed out that the hon. Member for East Mayo had shown that the result would be a considerable loss—£2,000,000 for a cable, when, according to the report of the Cable Committee, £1,500,000 would be amply sufficient for the purpose; and he thought that five-eighteenths of that amount was quite enough for this country to be responsible for. He quite agreed that there should be competition with the Great Eastern Telegraph Company, and that they should not have a monopoly, but there was nothing in the Bill to safeguard them in getting the competition they wanted. If cables could be got at a penny per word, it would be a very good thing, but he could not see why the representatives of Ireland should be asked to vote money for this cable. They were told that this cable was to touch all British territory, but in time of war, if Britain lost command of the sea, this cable would be of no possible advantage, because the enemy's ships would fish it up and stop the communication. He would join his friends in opposing the measure at every stage until they had some pledge from the Government that if there was to be competition with the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company it would be genuine competition, and that it would not be mismanaged in the way the Post Office mismanaged the competition with the telephone companies. He believed the cable would be managed in such a way that for the first few years it would involve a loss, and the result would be that a syndicate of speculators would come in to take it off the hands of the Government at a very low price, and thus acquire the property the taxpayers were now asked to pay for.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 64; Noes, 218. (Division List No. 467).

Clancy, John Joseph Leamy, Edmund O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Cogan, Denis J. Lun on, W. O'Dowd, John
Condon, Thomas Joseph MacDonnell. Dr. Mark A. O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Crean, Eugene Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Cullinan, J. MacNeill, John Gordon Swift O'Malley, William
Daly, James M'Fadden, Edward O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Delany, William M'Govern, T. Power, Patrick Joseph
Donelan, Captain A. Murnaghan, George Reddy, M.
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, John Redmond, John E. (Waterford
Duffy, William J. Nannetti, Joseph P. Redmond, William (Clare)
Field, William Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.) Roche, John
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Sullivan, Donal
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid. Thompson, Dr. E C (Monagh'n, N.
Hammond, John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Tully, Jasper
Hayden, John Patrick O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Healy, Timothy Michael O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) O'Doherty, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. O'Mara and Mr. Dillon.
Joyce, Michael O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Hornby, Sir William Henry
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham Horniman, Frederick John
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Dickson, Charles Scott Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry
Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Hoult, Joseph
Anson, Sir William Reynell Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham
Arnold-Forster. Hugh O. Doxford, Sir William Theodore Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)
Arrol, Sir William Duke, Henry Edward Hudson, George Bickersteth
Ashton, Thomas Gair Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Johnston, William (Belfast)
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidstone Jones, William (Carnarvonshire
Balcarres, Lord Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r) Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Keswick, William
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.
Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Law, Andrew Bonar
Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.) Fisher, William Hayes Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)
Banbury, Frederick George Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Flannery, Sir Fortescue Lawson, John Grant
Bell, Richard Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ. Layland-Barratt, Francis
Bignold, Arthur Foster. Philip S. (Warwick, S. W. Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Gardner, Ernest Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.
Brassey, Albert Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Llewellyn, Evan Henry
Brown, George M. (Edinburgh) Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham)
Bull, William James Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.) Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.)
Bullard, Sir Harry Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Burns, John Goulding, Edward Alfred Lough, Thomas
Caine, William Sproston Grant, Corrie Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Caldwell, James Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire) Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. Ellison
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Groves, James Grimble Macdona, John Cumming
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton MacIver, David (Liverpool)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Hain, Edward Maconochie, A. W.
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Midd'x M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)
Chapman, Edward Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William M'Kenna, Reginald
Charrington, Spencer Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd. M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)
Clare, Octavius Leigh Harmsworth, R. Leicester Middlemore, John Throgmort'n
Coghill, Douglas Harry Harris, Frederick Loverton Mitchell, William
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Harwood, George Montagu, D. (Huntingdon)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Haslett, Sir James Horner Moore, William (Antrim, N.)
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)
Colville, John Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. Morgan, David J (Walthamstow
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Heath, James (Staffords., N. W. Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Heaton, John Henniker Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford)
Cranborne, Viscount Helme, Norval Watson Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)
Crombie, John William Higginbottom, S. W. Moss, Samuel
Crossley, Sir Savile Holland, William Henry Mount, William Arthur
Davenport, William Bromley- Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Muntz, Philip A.
Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Sadler. Col. Samuel Alexander Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Murray, Co). Wyndham (Bath) Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Ed. J. Tritton, Charles Ernest
Nicol, Donald Ninian Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.) Ure, Alexander
Norman, Henry Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln Valentia, Viscount
Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Sharpe, William Edward T.) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Parker, Gilbert Sinclair, Louis (Romford) Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Parkes, Ebenezer Skewes-Cox, Thomas White, Luke (Yorks., E. R.)
Paulton, James Mellor Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East Whiteley, George (Yorks. W. R.
Penn, John Smith, H. C. (North'mb Tyn'side Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.) Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)
Platt-Higgins, Frederick Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth
Pretyman, Ernest George Spear, John Ward Williams, Rt. Hn J Powell- (Birm.
Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (Northnt's Wills, Sir Frederick
Purvis, Robert Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormsk'k Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks., E. R.
Randles, John S. Stanley, Edwd. Jas. (Somerset Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.
Reid, James (Greenock) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.) Wilson, Hon. J. (Yorks. W. R.
Renshaw, Charles Pine Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M. Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Rentoul, James Alexander Strachey, Edward Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge Talbot. Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ. Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Tennant. Harold John
Robertson, Herbert (Hackney Thomas, J. A. (Glamour., Gower TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Royds, Clement Molyneux Thomas, F. W. (Yorks. W. R.)
Rutherford, John Thornton, Percy M.
Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Tomlinson, Wm. Edwd. Murray

moved that the loan to be raised for the purposes of the cable should be reduced from £2,000,000 to £1,500,000. He described this as an Indemnity Bill, and his purpose in moving the Amendment was to test whether the House approved of the thoroughly illegal practice of spending public money without the sanction of Parliament being first obtained. When the resolution empowering the Government to bring forward the Bill was before the House, it was stated that contracts had already been entered into, and that part of the money had already been spent. He contended that this was a gross abuse of the privileges of Ministers, for which, so far as he knew, there was almost no precedent. Such a course should only be taken in the case of emergency and public danger. It was a pernicious practice, and he should like the Secretary to the Treasury to state by what law it had been done. If public money could be spent in this way, what was the use of bringing in a Bill at all? It could all be done by a stroke of the pen in the Treasury.

Amendment proposed— In page 1, line 27, to leave out the words 'two million,' and insert the words 'one million five hundred thousand.'"—(Mr. O'Mara.)

Question proposed, "That the words' two millions' stand part of the clause."


said it had not been possible to pass the Bill through the House so early as they had hoped. They had not been able to get the Bill in time for the money provided for under the Bill being available to meet the first sums becoming due to the contractors who were engaged in the construction of this cable. It would have been possible to delay making any contract for the construction of the cable until this Bill had been sanctioned by the House, but he did not think that would have been an economical procedure. Certainly the best contract would not have remained open indefinitely for that purpose; the Government might have lost by not accepting it, and this work, which the Government and the colonies were equally anxious to see carried through very rapidly, would have been very much delayed. The Government, therefore, thought it right to set the contractors to work at once. Under the terms of the contract, the Pacific Cable Board had had to pay one instalment of the contract price to the contractors. In order to meet that instalment the Pacific Cable Board had borrowed money from the Bank of England, and the money was lent by the Bank on the suggestion of the Treasury. These words were necessary to enable that money to be paid by the Pacific Cable Board, and he hoped the House would show by an overwhelming majority that they approved of the arrangement.


said that not alone had the contract been entered into by the Pacific Cable Boards which it was the purpose of the Bill to create, but money had been spent; and now the Government came forward with what was practically a Bill of Indemnity. That ought not to be allowed to go on. Was this House to exist merely for the purpose of recording and registering what had been done in the Cabinet? It was a most unprecedented thing that money should be spent and the Board appointed before the Bill authorising both had been introduced. He should be very sorry to charge the Secretary of the Treasury with being uncandid, but his advisers had certainly been most uncandid. The first knowledge which the House had of this matter was when a resolution was brought forward late at night a fortnight ago, and no one but a high-handed Minister would have ventured to indulge in such a course of procedure. The hon. Gentleman had said that the Bill could not be brought in earlier, but what was to prevent it? If this was a matter of public policy, why not have brought the Bill in at the opening of Parliament? He meant to protest against this Bill at every stage the forms of the House would allow him; and he wanted to enter his solemn protest, not only as an Irish Member, but as an ordinary Member, interested in the procedure of the House and the fiscal affairs of the country, against the irregular, unconstitutional, and tyrannical manner in which the Colonial Office and its advisers had acted towards the House in this matter.


said he did not wish to prolong the debate, but at the same time he thought the House ought to take note of the extraordinary circumstances under which the Bill had been brought before them. He did not pose as a constitutionalist, but hon. Gentlemen opposite did, and he was therefore surprised that they supported a Bill of this nature. The Treasury, in conjunction with a certain number of colonies, absolutely mortgaged the resources of this country to carry out a scheme which had not been discussed by the House. No more dangerous principle could be introduced, for it amounted to this: that a strong Minister, with the assistance of his permanent officials, might enter into a secret agreement for certain undertakings, which, in their opinion might be of use to a portion of the empire. They took from Parliament that which was really the basis of the power of Parliament, that was the power of the purse; and then they came to Parliament with a Bill of indemnity. Of course, the Government had a vast majority in this House, and could press the Bill through; but what would happen if a majority of the House agreed with the Irish Members in their constitutional view, and refused to ratify the proceedings of the Treasury? The Cable Board was to be constituted by a majority of representatives from the colonies. This House advanced two millions of money, which was entrusted to gentlemen who had a direct interest in arranging such rates as would enable them to get better conditions from the existing company. They need not care whether the scheme paid or not. If that principle was to be adopted the country would be landed in bankruptcy.

MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)

said it appeared to him that this was one of the most extraordinary documents ever submitted to Parliament, He had listened to the defence put forward on behalf of the Government by the Secretary to the Treasury, but he thought it no defence at all. The Government were absolutely wrong in anticipating the decision of Parliament in regard to this important undertaking. He had always understood that the main object of Parliament was to vote money, but in this matter Parliament had been quite anticipated, and if the system was to be carried on they might just as well abolish Parliament altogether. It was a most unconstitutional proceeding, and he hoped his hon. friend would press his Amendment to a division.


said he supported the Amendment. The Member for South Kilkenny deserved a great deal of credit for the acumen he had shown on this question. He had found a flaw in the Bill, and that the two millions were to be paid not only for the construction of the cable, but to repay any temporary loan contracted for the purposes of the cable. One of the reasons which the hon. Gentleman gave for spending the money was that the contract they had before them was a favourable one; but everybody knew that prices of materials for the construction of cables were not going up, but going down. If the Government had waited to take the ordinary legal and constitutional course they would have saved money instead of lost it. This cable was promoted in the interests of the colonies. England was now so much alone in the world that it had to look up friends at the other ends of the Empire, and it was in the interests of these people that this extraordinary Bill was being thrust on the House. The payment of promotion expenses was an entirely unheard of proceeding, and created a most dangerous precedent. Nothing was ever done by President Kruger equal to what had been done in this case. If it had been done by President Kruger the press of England would have rung with cries of the jobbery of such a transaction.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clauses 2, 3, 4, and 5, agreed to.

Clause 6:—


said he had not moved the Amendments on the four previous clauses which he had on the Paper, because the Committee had apparently made up their minds to give this indemnity to the Colonial Secretary and the Treasury for the illegal proceedings they had taken, and he also recognised the fact that certain contracts had been entered into. It was only from a sense of public duty that he had taken the position which he had done in regard to this Bill. He intended, however, to move his Amendment on Clause 6 as follows— Clause 6, page 3, line 7, leave out from 'of,' to end of Clause, and insert 'the Treasury.' By this clause it was proposed to create the Pacific Cable Board, which they knew from the Secretary of the Treasury had already been created. He proposed that, instead of handing over the cable built by two millions of English money to be managed by the Pacific Cable Board the Treasury ought to take the step of appointing managers to manage the cable themselves. According to the constitution of the board there would be only three British members, two representing Canada, two representing the Australian colonies, and one representing New Zealand. The colonial representatives, therefore, would always be in a majority, and would be able to decide what the rates were to be. It would be to the interest of the Colonies that the rates should be as low as possible, while the comparative benefit to this country would be very small. He earnestly hoped that the Secretary to the Treasury would induce the Treasury to reconsider the constitution of the board, and give the whole control of the cable to the Treasury. The members of the board were prominent colonial politicians who had no knowledge of cable construction, maintenance, or management.

Amendment proposed— In page 3, line 7, to leave out from the word 'of' to end of clause, and insert the words 'the Treasury.'"—(Mr. O'Mara.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."


said of course he could not possibly accept the Amendment which had just been moved. The hon. Member, he understood, moved it as a protest against what he thought was the laxity of the Treasury with regard to their control of the British contribution to the cable and their too great disposition to consult the feelings and wishes of the colonies. He must remind the Committee that for the cable, in which of course they were very greatly interested, the colonies had guaranteed thirteen-eighteenths as to sinking fund, interest, expense of maintenance, and other charges. What the hon. Gentleman proposed was that, that being the position and the liability, the Treasury should have sole and complete control over the construction of the cable, and over its management after construction, and that the colonies should have no voice in the matter whatever. If the hon. Member would consider that from the point of view of the colonies he would see that it would be most unfair to them, and that it would be a gross breach of faith on the part of the Government if they gave any countenance to it. The hon. Gentleman complained that the representatives of the Government on the Board would be in a minority. That was perfectly true, but then the Government paid a minority of the cost, and he did not think under those circumstances that they had any right to insist on having a majority of the members on the Hoard. They had three representatives, one of whom would be the chairman, and if there was any difference of opinion on any important question, it was only necessary that a single colonial representative should vote with the representatives of the Treasury in order to give the Treasury a controlling vote, because of the casting vote of the chairman. But he altogether demurred to the idea that the interests of the colonies and of the Government were likely to be in conflict. The hon. Gentleman spoke as if it would be in the interest of the colonies to reduce rates to a figure which would not pay in order that they might procure five-eighteenths of the deficit from the Government. But the colonies themselves would have to pay thirteen-eighteenths, and therefore they were very interested in making the cable pay.


said the colonies would get the whole benefit of the reduced rate.


asked if the hon. Member assumed that no business from this country would pass over the cable. If the hon. Member did assume that, he did not agree with him. As far as rates were reduced, the advantage of that reduction would be shared by all traders and others using the cable in the colonies as well as in this country, and it was very possible that they would get even a greater advantage than the colonies themselves. If the rates were to be unduly reduced, then the greater proportion of the loss that would follow would fall on the colonies, but he did not think that there was any reason to suppose that the colonies desired that the cable should be worked on lines which would bring permanent financial loss on themselves. No doubt there might be some loss in the earlier years, and the hon. Member for East Mayo thought he was contradicting his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies when he stated that it was the intention of the Government to work the cable on commercial fines. In great commercial undertakings, whether they were public or private, it was sometimes necessary to face a loss for a year or two in order to make a great commercial success, and if they had not found private firms and public bodies in the country ready to do that, many of the enterprises of which they now had such good reason to be proud would not be in existence. The Government had agreed with the colonial Governments as to the proportion of representation each should have on the Board, and he asked the Committee to support the decision which had been arrived at. The Government could not go back on the pledges they had given.


said he thought it would be quite possible to arrive at a compromise between the Secretary to the Treasury and his hon. friend the Member for South Kilkenny. They all recognised that the colonies should have some voice in the control of the cable, but it was a very different matter that their representation should be as five to three. He would ask the Secretary to the Treasury to remember that in their fiscal policy the colonies had never hesitated, whether by preferential duties or otherwise, to secure an advantage for themselves as against British trade; and it was therefore possible that they would not hesitate to pay thirteen-eighteenths of the loss on the working of the cable if thereby they could get a cheaper service, and very possibly it would be a very good bargain for them. He thought that if the Secretary to the Treasury would accept the Amendment standing in his name increasing the number of British representatives to six his hon. friend would withdraw his Amendment. They could not overlook the fact that the colonial representatives had pressed the matter on a somewhat reluctant Colonial Office, and that the Colonial Office, only at the last moment, abandoned certain fixed principles on which public business had hitherto been conducted. If the hon. Gentleman would accept his Amendment he was sure his hon. friend would withdraw his Amendment.


said he could not accept that for the reasons he had already stated. His Majesty's Government had accepted the proportion of representation set out in the schedule as fair, and the Government could not depart from that arrangement.


said that the explanation of the hon. Gentleman did not carry conviction. They ought to bear in mind that £2,000,000 of money was to be furnished by the Imperial Treasury, and the very least they ought to insist on was that the majority of the members of the Board, who would have the spending of that money, should be appointed by this Government. At present, although £1,000 per day was expended in cablegrams to Australia, most of them referred to business matters, and there were very few personal cablegrams. Australian newspapers got very favourable terms through a syndicate which they had formed, but there was no reciprocity about that, as no favourable terms were given to English newspapers for telegrams from Australia. That state of things would continue, and Australians would be able to benefit themselves at the expense of the taxpayers of this country. Victoria and some of the other colonies had protection as against this country, and if they had adopted a system of protection might it not be expected that, with a majority on the board, they would go in for running the new cable solely in their own interests, without any regard for the interests of this country? His hon. friend proposed that the cable should be under the management of the Treasury. He could hardly agree with him in that proposition. He was not in favour of putting large enterprises of that kind under Treasury control. He would be quite willing, however, if some gentleman like the predecessor of the hon. gentleman the present President of the Board of Agriculture were appointed Chairman of the Board. The public would have some confidence then that the cable would be run on lines of wise economy. Experience did not warrant them in having any great confidence in what the Government proposed. In the case of the telegraphs in these countries, the Government proposed to buy them for a million or two, but they ultimately had to pay seventeen millions. The same thing occurred in the case of the telephones, in which the Government made a most foolish bargain. The telephone company captured all the patents and captured all the smaller companies, and then captured the Postmaster General, with the result that London had the worst telephone system in Europe. He thought, therefore, that hon. members were justified in assuming that what had occurred before would occur again. The cable would be run at a loss, and ultimately the Government might be asked, in order to save continual loss, to hand it over to some private firm. The Telegraph Department at present was being run at a very considerable loss, and what guarantee had they that the cable would not be run at a perpetual loss also? He did not know what special qualifications the members of the Board had. All they knew about Lord Strathcona was that he raised a troop of horse.


The hon. Member will have an opportunity of considering the items in the schedule a little later. He must not anticipate that discussion.


said he would not proceed with that argument. He could not agree, however, to substitute the Treasury for the Board. If the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture was at the head of it, he would have some confidence in it. He was an able and honest man, and strove to do his work honestly, with the result that he had been shifted from the Treasury Department.


The character of the President of the Board of Agriculture is really not relevant.


said that if the right hon. Gentleman had remained at the Treasury that proposal would never have been brought before the House.

Question put, and agreed to.

Clauses 6, 7, and 8 agreed to.


said he wished to move a new clause, namely, that the rates charge charged either intermediate or through should be approved by the Treasury. He thought that it was most important that the Treasury should have some control over the rates.

New Clause (Rates)—(Mr. O'Mara)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."

Abraham, W. (Cork, N. E.) Healy, Timothy Michael O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Joyce, Michael O'Dowd, John
Boland, John Leamy, Edmund O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)
Boyle, James Lewis, John Herbert O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.
Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh) Lough, Thomas O'Malley, William
Burke, E. Haviland- Lundon W. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Caldwell, James MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Power, Patrick Joseph
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Reddy, M.
Channing, Francis Allston MacNeill, John Cordon Swift Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Clancy, John Joseph M'Fadden, Edward Redmond, William (Clare)
Cogan, Denis J. M'Govern, T. Rigg, Richard
Condon, Thomas Joseph M'Kenna, Reginald Roche, John
Crean, Eugene Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Cremer, William Randal Moss, Samuel Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)
Cullinan, J. Murnaghan, George Sullivan, Donal
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Murphy, John Thompson, Dr. E. G. (M'n'gh'n, N.
Delany, William Nannetti, Joseph P. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Donelan, Captain A. Nolan, Col. John P Galway, N.) Tully, Jasper
Doogan, P. C. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Ure, Alexander
Duffy, William J. O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Field, William O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wilson, H. J. (York. W. R.)
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Gilhooly, James O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. O'Mara and Mr. Dillon.
Hammond, John O'Doherty, William
Hayden, John Patrick O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Bull, William James Crossley, Sir Savile
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Bullard, Sir Harry Gust, Henry John C.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Burns, John Davenport, William Bromley-
Allen, Charles P. (Glouc, Stroud Caine, William Sproston Davies, Sir Horatio D. (Chatham
Anson, Sir William Reynell Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Dickson, Charles Scott
Arnold-Forster, Hugh O. Causton, Richard Knight Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles
Arrol, Sir William Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.) Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire Doxford, Sir William Theodore
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cayzer, Sir Charles William Duke, Henry Edward
Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin
Balcarres, Lord Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manc'r) Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm) Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidstone
Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey) Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward
Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W. (Leeds) Chapman, Edward Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r
Balfour, Kenneth R. (CJristch.) Charrington, Spencer Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst
Banbury, Frederick George Clare, Octavius Leigh Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Coghill, Douglas Harry Fisher, William Hayes
Bell, Richard Cohen, Benjamin Louis Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Bignold, Arthur Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Foster, Sir Michael (Lond. Univ.)
Bigwood, James Colville, John Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S. W.
Blundell, Colonel Henry Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Gardner, Ernest
Brassey, Albert Cranborne, Viscount Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick
Broadhurst, Henry Cripps, Charles Alfred Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Crombie, John William Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)

said the clause raised practically the question they had already discussed once or twice. He had already stated his views to the Committee, and could not accept the proposed clause.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 74; Noes, 220. (Division List No. 468.)

Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham) Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Goulding, Edward Alfred Long, Rt. Hn. Walter) Bristol, S.) Royds, Clement Molyneux
Grant, Corrie Lonsdale, John Brownlee Rutherford, John
Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Loyd, Archie Kirkman Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Gretton, John Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth) Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)
Grey, Sir Edward (Berwick) Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. Ellison Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Styles
Groves, James Grimble Macdona, John Cumming Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.
Gurdon. Sir W. Brampton MacIver, David (Liverpool) Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)
Hain, Edward Maconochie, A. W. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Haldane, Richard Burdon M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool) Seely, Capt. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight
Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G. (Midd'x M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd) M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Harmsworth, R. Leicester Majendie, James A. H. Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tyn'sde
Harris, Frederick Leverton Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)
Harwood, George Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Spear, John Ward
Haslett, Sir James Horner Moore, William (Antrim, N.) Spencer, Rt. Hn C. R. (Northants
Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- More, R. Jasper (Shropshire) Stanley, Hon Arthur (Ormskirk
Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Heath. James (Staffords., N. W. Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.
Heaton, John Henniker Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford) Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Helme, Norval Watson Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.
Higginbottom, S. W. Mount, William Arthur Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Hobhouse, C. E. H (Bristol, E.) Muntz, Philip A. Tennant, Harold John
Holland, William Henry Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Thomas, J A (Glamorgan, Gower
Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Thomson, F. W. (Yorks., W. R.
Horniman, Frederick John Nicholson, William Graham Thornton, Percy M.
Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Nicol, Donald Ninian Tollemache, Henry James
Hoult, Joseph Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray
Houston, Robert Paterson Parker, Gilbert Tritton, Charles Ernest
Howard, John (Kent, F'versh'm Parkes, Ebenezer Valentia, Viscount
Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham) Paulton, James Mellor Walker, Col. William Hall
Hudson, George Bickersteth Pemberton, John S. G. Warner, Thomas Conrtenay T.
Johnston, William (Belfast) Penn, John White, Luke (Yorks., E. R.)
Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea Pierpoint, Robert Whiteley, George (Yorks., W. R.)
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire Pilkington, Lieut.-Col. Richard Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Keswick, William Platt-Higgins, Frederick Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Law, Andrew Bonar Pretyman, Ernest George Williams, Rt. Hn J Powell- (Birm.
Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward Wills, Sir Frederick
Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool) Purvis, Robert Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks., E. R.)
Lawson, John Grant Randles, John S. Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.)
Layland-Barratt, Francis Reid, James (Greenock) Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington) Renshaw, Charles Bine Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Rentoul, James Alexander
Leigh, Sir Joseph Ridley, Hon. M W. (Stalybridge) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson
Llewellyn, Evan Henry Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)

Bill reported, without amendment; read the third time, and passed.