HC Deb 07 June 1901 vol 94 cc1335-427

1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,221,713, be granted to His 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, 1902, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Inland Revenue Department."

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs) moved a reduction of the Vote by £100 in respect to Item A. He said that his object was to draw the attention of the Government to the very large number of claims for rebatement of income tax. This question was much more important now because the income tax had increased to a very large extent. Naturally, in the past, there were a very large number of people who never troubled to make claims for rebatements. He did not wish to make the slightest imputation against the officials concerned, but he would say that a large number of people with small incomes found great difficulty in obtaining the rebates of income tax to which they were entitled. Many of these people were not accustomed to business, and they required to be treated with a great deal of attention and courtesy. The surveyors of taxes had undoubtedly in the past been overdriven, and he did not know of any body of civil servants who had had such a hard time of it within the last few years as the surveyors of taxes. What he wished the hon. Gentleman to do was to give specific instruction to all the officers concerned that they should afford all the aid they possibly could to persons of small incomes. After all, those people were entitled to the money. All he wanted was that the officials should help these people as far as possible to obtain the rebatements to which they were entitled, and to help them to get such rebatements with as little trouble as possible. His second point was in reference to the Special Commissioners of Income Tax. He wished to know why a man who had to appear before the Special Commissioners of Income Tax was not allowed to have legal assistance, or anyone else to speak on his behalf. There were a number of persons who appealed to the Special Commissioners who had not had the necessary training to put their cases properly before these Special Commissioners, and he wished to know why that legal assistance was not allowed them. He noticed under this heading a number of references to the Land Tax Commissioners. Thousands of Commissioners of Land Tax had been appointed who had never heard of a single meeting for the election of the Commissioners of Income Tax, and they had not the least idea where the meetings would be held. If they wished to know they would have to subscribe regularly to the official Gazette. Ordinary people had not the time to read the official Gazette, and it seemed to him to be a most extraordinary thing that the Commissioners of Land Tax did not receive proper notice as to when and where such meetings would be held. He felt so strongly upon this last point that he begged leave to move the reduction of Item A by £100, and he did so in the hope that the hon. Gentleman would give him such an assurance on the point as would justify him in withdrawing his motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Herbert Lewis.)

MR. CORRIE GRANT (Warwickshire, Rugby)

said he wished to call attention to the position of surveyors of taxes and to the necessity for the creation of more new districts in the great centres of industry and commerce. In the year 1900 the hon. Member for the Horsham Division of Sussex called the attention of the present President of the Board of Agriculture to this matter, and the right hon. Gentleman admitted that the surveyors of taxes were overworked and that new districts were required. Some attempt had been made to deal with the matter since. There had been a recasting of the divisions and a new class had been created. He believed that under the new pressure with regard to the income tax it would be desirable in the great cities that the work in connection with Schedule D should be allotted to surveyors of long experience and training. He put forward the suggestion not alone on the ground that the present surveyors were overworked, but with a view of realising income out of the increase in the number of surveyors. A considerable amount of income tax was recovered by the efforts of those gentlemen, and an increase in the number would be a paying concern, because it would bring in a far greater return than the amount expended on the salaries of new surveyors. With regard to assistant surveyors, he wished to know whether there was a sufficient number of juniors in existence at present to provide for all the necessities of the service.

CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)

pointed out that owing to the starvation, so to speak, of the staff of surveyors the country was suffering a considerable loss. It was admitted that the amount of labour imposed upon the surveyors had very largely increased. This operated very harshly against those in receipt of small incomes who required to take steps in order to get the rebate to which they were entitled. He knew that from his own experience of one particular class—namely, Government officials, Army and Navy officers, and others. Many of that class, owing to their want of knowledge in connection with this question, failed to receive back that to which they were entitled. If a proper staff of duly qualified assessors, not overworked, were appointed, cases of hardship like that would be dealt with, and the injustice now done to this class might be obviated. He did not wish to say anything derogatory of the great class of people who were engaged in commercial and mercantile pursuits, but it was well known that they did not pay as closely and accurately upon their incomes as those who were in receipt of small fixed incomes, and, therefore, owing to this fact, naturally a larger proportion of the tax fell upon those who received small fixed incomes, inasmuch as a greater increase in the tax was required because a certain amount which ought to be obtained was not realised. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would see to the increasing of the staff in order that, in justice to those who were drawing the smaller incomes and the ratepayers generally, the full amount that ought to be realised was obtained.

MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)

hoped the Government would not yield to the advice of the hon. Member for West Newington to increase the staff of surveyors. He had been an Income Tax Commissioner for years, and he was bound to say that he thought the staff in the part from which he came was abundant. The hon. Member for West Newington thought a considerable amount might be derived from the income tax if there was a larger number of surveyors. His own experience was that a good many men paid income tax who really ought not to do so. The surveyors at present were in the habit—he did not wish to speak in a derogatory way of them—of guessing men's incomes and causing them the inconvenience of appearing before the Commissioners, a process which was extremely unpleasant in many instances.

MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)

said that the complaint made in England with regard to the repayments to which people were entitled in connection with the income tax applied with particular force in Ireland. He knew many cases in which people of limited means preferred to pay the demand made upon them rather than go to the worry of filling up the form which had to be sent to the surveyor of taxes. He complained that the clerks of the income tax department had no status whatever, and he thought that, in the interest of the payers of the tax and in the interest of the community at large, some sort of status should be given to them on account of the most delicate work they had to carry on. Fifteen years ago he asked a question on this subject and got a soft answer, but nothing had been done. He asked whether nothing could be done to simplify the forms in the first instance, and also the procedure which had to be gone through in asking for a rebate.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

said a Return was issued lately showing the dates at which the people of the three kingdoms paid their income tax, and it had puzzled him very much. The Return gave the figures for three years, but as they were almost the same in each he would only mention the last of the three. In England 32 per cent. was paid by the end of January, and 53 per cent. by the end of February. The figures were about the same for Ireland. About one half came in during March. In Scotland by 31st January 77 per cent. was paid, and by 28th February no less than 93 per cent. was paid. He asked if the Secretary to the Treasury could give any explanation of the fact that Scotland paid a so much larger proportion of the income tax in advance than either England or Ireland, and whether there was any legal right to collect the tax before 31st March. He would also like, if the hon. Gentleman could give it, information as to the number of joint-stock companies registered during the present year, and as to the seizures for illicit distillation. There were twelve such seizures in England, five in Scotland, and no fewer than 1,828 in Ireland. The Treasury ought to be able to throw some light on the extraordinary figures for Ireland. Was the large number of seizures due to the employment of the constabulary in this extra police duty, and were the constabulary paid a special fee for each seizure?

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

called attention to the mode of appointing Income Tax Commissioners. Once in each Parliament an Act was passed prescribing the method by which the Commissioners were to be appointed. The appointment was in the hands of the Land Tax Commissioners. The clerks were supposed to summon the Commissioners for the purpose of appointing Income Tax Commissioners, but, as a matter of fact, they never did so. He asked who it was that took upon them- selves to override the Act of Parliament which directed that the Commissioners should be summoned. Was it the clerks, acting upon their own initiative, because they did not like the Act, or was it done under the authority of a Treasury Minute? In either case, the Act was set at defiance, and the Committee were entitled to some explanation of the matter.


said, with regard to the question raised by the hon. Member for Flint, he thought the difficulties which poor people experienced in securing the repayments of income tax to which they were entitled arose in the majority of cases from the fact that they were people unaccustomed to business, and to whom the simplest form—and from the nature of the case these forms could not always be simple—would present some difficulties. The officers of the Inland Revenue who had to examine these claims had thrown upon them an enormous amount of detailed trouble owing to the imperfect form in which the claims were made; but the claims were examined with all possible despatch, and he hoped and believed that they were dealt with with perfect courtesy and the desire that every citizen should come by what was his due. He had had a little experience of making up returns for other people, and he would bring the suggestion of the hon. Member to the notice of the Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue. If there was any reason to suppose that any officers were dealing with the claimants uncivilly, or throwing unnecessary difficulties in their way, he was quite certain that the Board of Inland Revenue would be the first people to desire to put a stop to it. He did not think it was possible to simplify the forms which had to be filled up; but if the hon. Member had any suggestion to make on that subject he would be glad to lay it before the Board of Inland Revenue. Such complications as existed were inherent to the subject itself rather than to the, particular form chosen. The hon. Member for Flint had asked why people who appeared before the Special Commissioners were not allowed legal assistance. The Special Commissioners were not themselves legal gentlemen, and he was inclined to think that it would not be in the interest of those who appeared before the Special Commissioners that they should have legal assistance. It was not a formal court, and it was better for all concerned that the proceedings should be kept as informal as possible.

The hon. Gentleman had asked him what steps were taken to summon meetings of the Land Tax Commissioners, and had demanded that he should pledge himself that in every case individual notice should be sent to each Commissioner. All the obligations of the law were fulfilled by the publication in the Gazette of notices of the meetings, and it could hardly be expected that the Gazette notice would not be seen, and that individual notices should be sent out at the same time. Unless there was some real object to be gained by a change, he thought it was undesirable, because it would involve a great deal of trouble and labour. If the hon. Member would tell him what special difficulties there were in the present system he would be glad to meet him and discuss the matter with him.

The hon. and gallant Member for Newington had raised a question in regard to the staff. The hon. Member, as he understood him, maintained that the staff was over-worked, that the number of surveyors was too few, and that it ought to be increased. These questions were undoubtedly connected, but perhaps not in the way the hon. Member seemed to think. Something like twenty districts and new surveyors had been added, and in order to secure a sufficient number of experienced officers they had been obliged to suspend the superannuation rule. This was not done in the interest of the gentlemen on the staff, but in the interest of the Service and of the public; and he was hopeful that before the Vote was discussed again the rule would be once more enforced. He trusted, however, that the hon. Member would not press him to say at what particular date the rule would be enforced. It was the duty of the Board of Inland Revenue to consider what was necessary for carrying on their labours to the best advantage, and also not to create unnecessary posts, or to spend money which might otherwise be saved. The hon. Gentleman had asked him about assistant surveyors. He did not think it was desirable to have a very large class of assistant surveyors, and he would be sorry to see that body increased to a large extent. That increase of the staff had been urged on the ground that it would lead to a closer collection of the income tax, but he thought the remedy for any attempt to avoid payment was to be found in other directions; and he hoped as time went on they would get a closer collection of what was due than now existed.

The hon. Member for West Islington had asked the question—of which he would have liked some notice, in order to fully deal with it—as to the closer collection of the income tax in Scotland than in other parts of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh had moved for a Return in regard to the collection of the income tax in different parts of the Kingdom. That would involve the Treasury in considerable expense, but he would endeavour to see whether the Return could be made. The closer collection of the income tax in Scotland was due, he believed, to the habits of the Scottish people, who had a desire to meet their obligations the moment they became due. That was most creditable to them, but he also thought it was not because the Scotch were more really anxious to pay their income tax than the people in England, or even Ireland, but because what was known as the official threatening letter was sent out more promptly in Scotland than in England or Ireland. As the tax was a heavy one this year, the circumstances of its collection should not be made more stringent than usual.

The hon. Member also asked some explanation in regard to the rewards paid for the seizure of illicit stills in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, and to whom these rewards were paid. There was not the same temptation to the illicit distillation of spirits in England and Scotland as in Ireland. The hon. Member did throw out the suggestion that the Returns were corrected. He did not profess that he had looked into this question very closely, but he would make inquiries into the matter. He, however, could not imagine that the Returns were false intentionally. The rewards were payable in all the divisions of the United Kingdom mainly to the police or the revenue officers who had been instrumental in the detection of frauds on the revenue.


asked whether the police were entrusted with this duty in any part of the United Kingdom except in Ireland.


said that the police were not employed in this matter so much in the United Kingdom as in Ireland. In England and in Scotland the duty fell more on the Inland Revenue officers than on the police, which in Ireland were in closer connection with the Government. The amount of the rewards paid depended on special circumstances. In the great majority of cases they were small rewards of 6s. or 10s., but in special circumstances the amount was as much as £2 or £3.

SIR JOSEPH LEESE (Lancashire, Accrington)

asked the Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether, when the conference with some honourable Members which he had promised took place, he would consider the manner in which the election of the Income Tax Commissioners was made when vacancies occurred after the first appointment. He was afraid that although a technical statutory obligation might be fulfilled when vacancies occurred, there had been, in recent years, a system of co-optation, which seemed to him to be a direct violation of the statute, and he hoped that the system by which these Commissioners elected themselves would not be allowed to go on. He had a case in his mind which when vacancies occurred persons only approved by the remaining members of the Commission had the slightest chance of election. Contrary to all enactment and practically subversive of Parliamentary intention, these bodies of Income Tax Commissioners were gradually becoming "close boroughs." He rejoiced to think that a conference with the Financial Secretary might restore the elective methods and destroy the present ones, which are practically co-optative.

MR. RENSHAW (Renfrew, W.)

thought that the Scotch people would consider the Income Tax Return a very useful Return. He was perfectly aware of the fact that one of the reasons why the income tax was paid so promptly in Scotland was because, when the Return was made, a notice was immediately sent out to say if payment was not made in fourteen days unpleasant proceedings would take place. That practice had not been observed in either England or Ireland, and the sooner the practice of the collection of the income tax in those countries was brought up to the level of the Scotch practice the better.

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)

said he thought the Return would be a most useful document. The suggestion was that Scotland had displayed undue virtue in the payment of this tax, but after explanation it was discovered that this duty was actually due on the 1st of January. What Scotland wanted to know was not why she should be made to pay on the nail, but why England and Ireland should be placed upon a different plane. What did the Government propose to do when this Return brought home the fact, as he was informed, that there was an actual loss to the revenue of £30,000 per annum, owing to the income tax not being promptly collected when it was due. He wished for some explanation as to what the Government's attitude was going to be in regard to this matter. Was the House to be content with the proposition that the income tax, which was due on 1st January, was to be paid in the month of March? Would it not be better for the Government to say that the practice in Scotland was a better practice, and to see that the example of Scotland was followed south of the Tweed and in Ireland?

MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)

said he supported the hon. Member who moved the reduction on the grounds of economy. He also wished the Financial Secretary would inquire into the cost of collection of the excise and customs duties devoted to technical education. A very large amount might be saved in the collection of these duties if the different localities were allowed to collect their own amounts. Under the present system, these duties were collected and the money sent to London, and thence was returned to the different localities. The reason he drew attention to this matter was that the cost of collection of taxes was one of the largest items of expenditure they had to deal with in the matter of Inland Revenue.


said he wished to call attention to some petty and irritating annoyances from which the public suffered in connection with the collection of establishment licences. He thought he would be able to show that the method of the collection of these taxes was an excessively disagreeable method, and he hoped that reconsideration would be given to the matter. What he objected to was that at the commencement of the year one was called upon to make a return of carriages and horses and men-servants, etc., in one's establishment, and then if a man removed for a short time he was called upon to make a separate return. That was not a right method. Once a return was made to the central office, that should be sufficient. Only a short time ago, having paid upon his servants and dogs in the early part of the year, he had received a sort of threatening letter from the Inland Revenue suggesting he had more menservants and more dogs than he paid for. As a matter of fact, he had paid licences for four men-servants and four dogs; but one of the dogs got lost and one of the men-servants, having had a difference with the under-footman over the housemaid, had left, and he had only three men-servants and three dogs, and not only could he get no return for the money which he had overpaid, but there was this suspicion on the part of the Inland Revenue that he kept more dogs and men-servants than he paid for. What he complained of was a want of proper inter-communication between the central office and the subservient officials.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said he desired to call attention to the extraordinary figures given in the Inland Revenue Returns regarding the seizures of illicit spirits in Ireland and Scotland. As an Irishman he should protest against the manner in which the figures were given, without a word of explanation. According to the Returns referred to, there were only five cases of illicit distillation in Scotland, while in Ireland it was said there were 1,826. Anyone reading the Return as it was presented to the House would imagine, if he did not know the real circumstances, that the whole population of Ireland was engaged in illicit distillation of spirits. An explanation of these figures was absolutely necessary. Some information was also desirable regarding the proceeds from this enormous number of seizures in Ireland. If penalties were recovered and sales effected, a very considerable sum must have been realised. Where was the account of that money, and how were the rewards given, and, in cases where the action of the police was recognised by the Inland Revenue authorities, who fixed the amount of the rewards? On these points some detailed information ought to be given. From his experience in the west of Ireland, he had a strong suspicion that there was something very extraordinary about these Returns. He did not believe there had been 1,826 bona fide seizures, and he would like to know was there anything going on in the nature of bogus seizures?


said that the answer given by the Secretary to the Treasury with regard to the seizure of illicit stills in Ireland was not at all satisfactory, and a strong protest ought to be made. Some explanation certainly ought to be given of the figures which had been put before the House. For his part he thought that the fact of there being 1,826 seizures in Ireland showed the tremendous pressure of the whisky tax in Ireland.


said he must admit that the figures appeared rather extraordinary, but it should be remembered that in Scotland the seizures used to be far greater than they are now, and that the illicit distillation trade was almost stopped owing to the great risks accompanying it. He would inquire as to the reason for the large number of seizures in Ireland, and as regards the rewards given to the police; the amount in all cases was fixed by the Inland Revenue authorities, according to the circumstances of each case. The value of what was seized was in the great majority of cases very small.


said the replies which he had received were of such a satisfactory character that he did not think he would be justified in dividing the House. He therefore begged leave to withdraw his Amendment.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

said there were several matters connected with this Vote which merited attention. The first matter to which he wished to call attention would be found on reference to page 25 of the Votes. He alluded to the great increase in the cost of the Estate Duty Office staff, first in the appointment of a Government staff of assistant secretaries; then the appointment of a new examiner of wills, the appointment of an assistant examiner of wills, the appointment of four first class clerks, the appointment of nine new second division clerks, and the appointment of six new assistant clerks. He thought such a great increase as that in the staff of a particular department ought to have an explanation from the mover of the Vote before the Committee were asked to go to a division upon it. On the next page of the Votes—page 26—there was an effort which, if intended to secure economy, did not realise it. In the Accountant and Comptroller General's Office there was a decrease of six in the number of second division clerks. That would appear to show that the Department was overstaffed, but at the same time there was an increase of seven in the division clerks of higher grade, at a salary of £100 more than that of the six clerks who had been dispensed with. He hoped the Financial Secretary, to the Treasury would give a proper explanation of that item before the Vote was passed. The third matter that he had to bring before the Committee was on page 29, and it was exactly similar to that to which he drew attention last night on the War Office Vote, when the noble Lord in charge of the Vote (Lord Stanley) admitted an irregularity and promised that it should not occur again. He noticed that in the Stamping Department there were four newly-appointed clerks, whose salaries, as given in the maximum and minimum columns, amounted to £94 more than they were entitled to receive on the face of the Vote. He took this opportunity to protest against that difference in the scale. He noticed that two senior messengers were described in the Vote as "redundant." When an officer was said to be redundant he supposed it meant that he was not wanted, or that there was no work for him to do in his department. The future strength of the messengers would' be three less than at present, the number being seven, so that three were redundant. This he regarded as a waste of money, and it showed that messengers and clerks had not got full work to do, and this always had a demoralising effect upon the working of any department. Persons in that position were only waiting for their pensions without having full employment. Then he noticed that there was a proposal to reduce the payments of the charwoman from 12s. to 10s. 6d. a week. He thought that the wages of the charwoman ought to have been left as they were, while the two messengers should have been removed, and their salaries of £100 each saved by the Treasury. He would be satisfied if the Secretary of the Treasury gave a pledge that these matters would be inquired into, and that such anomalies would not recur in future.


said the Circular dated December, 1900, in which new regulations were laid down in respect of the appointment of surveyors and land valuation assessors in Scotland, would alter the system which had hitherto obtained. He was of opinion that the system which had been adopted for years past by the Inland Revenue for the appointment of these officials should be continued. The effect of the new regulations would be to get a worse class of officials, whereas it was in the interest of the public that the best class of persons who could be obtained should be appointed to these duties. He thought the result of the new regulations, if put into force, would be very undesirable. Arrangements should be made by which the Board of Inland Revenue might receive representations from the Scottish authorities in respect of this matter, and he hoped an assurance would be given that the effect of the new rules would not be to give Scotland an inferior class of official to discharge the responsible duties which had hitherto been so effectively discharged.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

said the matter which had just been referred to had been under his observation, but he quite admitted it required to be gone into in greater detail than was possible under this Vote. With regard to the collection of the income tax, seeing that the financial year was from 31st March to 31st March, it seemed to him that the tax should be collected in the month of January, so that it would be paid well within the year. The income tax was an Imperial tax, and ought to be collected all over the kingdom alike. Scotland, through paying at an earlier period than England and Ireland, was practically paying £30,000 a year more than her proper proportion as compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. That, obviously, was an injustice. He did not for a moment suggest that the payment in Scotland should be postponed, but if the tax was collected in England the same as in Scotland there would be a considerable saving to the Exchequer. Unless an assurance was given that the collection would be made in England in the month of January, as was done in Scotland, he should, as a protest, take the opinion of the Committee on the matter. He therefore moved to reduce the Vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Caldwell.)


The point raised by the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire is certainly one worthy of consideration, and if a proper representation of the case is made I have no doubt the Board of Inland Revenue will gladly listen to it and give it their careful consideration. The alterations in the staff, referred to by the hon. Member for Halifax, are in pursuance of the recommendations of a Departmental Committee presided over by the hon. Member for Haddington. The work of the Estate Duty Office has very largely increased of recent years in consequence of the increase of the death duties. I suppose there are few Government departments which within the last ten years have not been the subject of very careful inquiry as to the numbers and the classes of the staffs, but no office has any power to increase its staff without Treasury sanction. Each case is carefully examined on its merits, and while we naturally feel that if an office is understaffed the work cannot be done properly, still we are anxious to prevent any unreasonable or unnecessary growth of staff. With regard to the clerks spoken of as "redundant," the same point was raised two or three weeks ago, and I hoped I had made the matter clear to the hon. Member. It simply means that in the course of reorganisation or inquiry it has been decided that for the permanent requirements of the office an official of a particular grade at present there is not required. If a second division clerk is to be substituted for a higher division clerk, the higher division clerk at present engaged would be indicated in the Estimates as "redundant," so that Members might have it before them that that is a post to be abolished on a vacancy occurring, or that it is to be filled by an officer of a lower grade. The officer is redundant not in the sense that there is no work for him to do, but only in the sense that an officer of his particular grade is not required for the work. If we did not have him we should have to have a clerk of a lower grade. It is not economical to retire the more expensive officer on a pension and at the same time engage a clerk of a lower grade to do the work. It is better that the higher grade man should work out his time, but, of course, if he could usefully be transferred to another office he would be so transferred.


Is that ever done?


Oh, yes; but, of course, it can only be done within limits. A man who has served in a particular office for a number of years has probably acquired skill or knowledge which makes him more useful in that office than he would be in another. The hon. Member for Mid Lanark has again called attention to the collection of the income tax. I quite agree that it is desirable that all parts of the United Kingdom should be treated alike in this matter and the pressure applied equally on all. I think, however, that with the long practice which has grown up in this country, and with, as I believe, though I am unable to give the reference at the moment, something like a Parliamentary pledge on the subject, it would be very difficult to enforce immediate collection of the income tax. Moreover, I do not think the time when that tax has just been raised to 1s. 2d. is the best moment to choose to be more exacting in its collection or more harassing in regard to it than we have been hitherto. With regard to the four clerks, the last item on page 29, they appear for the first time under that heading, but they are not new appointments; they have been transferred from another branch, and that is why the amount in the first column does not agree with the total of their minimum salaries.


I have every desire to take any pledge that is given from the opposite Bench with regard to the collection of revenue, but I am not at all clear that any has been given on this subject. I understood the Financial Secretary to say that there were certain obstacles in the way of remedying the improper collection in England and Ireland on account of the long practice and a Parliamentary pledge. As to the long practice, is it or is it not in accordance with the law? The law with regard to the collection of this Imperial revenue is the same in all the three countries, and if there is a long practice which differentiates in favour of two countries as against the other one, the sooner it comes to an end the better. Then we are told that a Parliamentary pledge has been given upon the matter. We want to know what that pledge was. Was it that the practice of putting the law into force should be contrary to the letter of the law? If a bad practice, contrary to the letter of the law, is the subject of a Parliamentary pledge, why is not the law rectified so as to put on an equal footing the three countries of the United Kingdom? As regards the excuse of the time being inopportune for a change, that is altogether beside the point. The hon. Gentleman says that this is a time of a high income tax. Unfortunately it is. He says, further, that it is not a time to propose to extract it from the pockets of the taxpayers at an earlier period than has been the custom hitherto. That altogether misses the point. The result of this improper collection is to-deprive the Imperial revenue of £30,000 per annum. The higher the tax the greater the loss. Therefore, the argument of the tax being high is rather in favour of my contention that the sooner this bad and illegal or improper practice is brought to an end the better. It will be better in two respects: the practice will be brought into conformity with the law, and there will be a large gain to the revenue on account of a larger proportion of the tax being collected than has previously been the case. In order to test this question I would urge my hon. friend to press the matter to a division.

With regard to the question referred to by the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire, I should recommend the hon. Member to rest satisfied with the pledge which has been given. There are two sets of parties aggrieved here. There are the assessors themselves, who fear that a new system is being introduced under which their interest is to be greatly prejudiced, and there are the county councils, the assessing bodies in Scotland which have hitherto been accustomed to take advantage of the excellent and well trained assessors for the purposes of the local assessments. In Scotland the system is such that the local assessments and the Imperial assessments are for the purposes of administration and valuation very closely interlocked, so that it is a hardship of which we are entitled to complain if this system is to be rashly disturbed. I understand, however, that a pledge has substantially been given that representations will be listened to with a not unfavourable ear, and I venture to prognosticate that, once these representations go to the proper quarter, there will be no doubt left in the minds of the officials at headquarters that the present system, which has worked to the advantage of both the Imperial and the local authorities in Scotland, should be maintained. There is no pledge that that will be the result. All we have is a pledge that the representations will be listened to, and with that I, for one, am satisfied.

MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)

called attention to the following foot-note which appeared on page 36 of the Estimates:— Certain Surveyors of Taxes in Scotland who are assessors under the Lands Valuation Act, and who have consequently to perform the duties of Registrars of Voters, receive various sums from local sources for their expenses and as remuneration for their services in preparing the voters rolls, register of county council electors, etc. According to the returns of those surveyors, the sums thus received by them for the year 1899–1900 amounted in the aggregate to £6,056 8s. 5d., out of which they claim to have defrayed expenses to the amount of £1,453 19s. 4d., leaving £4,602 9s. 5d. as the nett personal emolument derived from such sources by eighteen surveyors. From a calculation he had made he found that this amounted to about £255 each per annum. There was also an item of £3,000 for commuted allowances in lieu of poundage to assessors in Scotland. He did not object to the amount of money paid, but to the manner in which the work was done. There ought to be some better system of assessing the deer forests which were inadequately assessed. The poor people had to bear much heavier burdens than they ought to bear, in consequence of the very light assessment of the deer forests. There was only one assessor for the counties of Ross, Cromarty, and Inverness, and it was physically impossible for one man to discharge such onerous duties efficiently. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would look into this matter.


I will promise the hon. Member that I will make a full inquiry into the matter, although the information I have at present does not lead me to suppose that the assessor for Rossand the adjacent counties is overworked.

SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)

said that with reference to the collection of the income tax in Scotland he congratulated the sister kingdom upon setting a good example to England. It was much to the credit of the Scotch income-tax payers, and also to the system of collection, that they had paid their taxes so promptly, for it gave great advantages to England. He thought the collection of the income tax in this country was done in a very slip-shod and unbusinesslike way, and the work was evidently done much better in Scotland. In England the collection of the income tax was sometimes allowed to drift even into the month of April, and that was a method which would not succeed in private affairs. He supported his hon. friend's motion for this reduction in the hope that the businesslike arrangement which had been so successful in Scotland would be introduced both in England and Ireland.


said he should like to know whether in future years the collection would be made in England simultaneously with Scotland. If not, he thought that Scotland would be entitled to a discount. It might be said that as the income tax was very high, the time to do this was inopportune at the present moment, but it was also inopportune for the people of Scotland to pay the income tax three months in advance of England. In several matters of this kind Scotland set England a good example, but England was always too tardy and unwilling to follow such good examples. It was about time something was done in this matter. The people of Scotland were quiet, modest, and amiable individuals, but they were now being put upon, and their very virtues were made to tell against them. Although they did their work better in Scotland, their officials were paid less for doing it than in England. He thought it was quite time that they showed a little more spirit, instead of permitting themselves to be punished and penalised for setting an example to England which England did not follow.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 113; Noes, 165. (Division List No. 221.)

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Harwood, George O'Malley, William
Ambrose, Robert Hayden John Patrick O'Mara, James
Asquith, Rt Hon Herbert Henry Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D. Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) Partington, Oswald
Bell, Richard Holland, William Henry Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)
Blake, Edward Horniman, Frederick John Pirie, Duncan V.
Boland, John Jacoby, James Alfred Power, Patrick Joseph
Boyle, James Joicey, Sir James Rea, Russell
Brigg, John Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Reddy, M.
Bryce, Rt. Hon James Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Burke, E. Haviland- Kennedy, Patrick James Reid, Sir R. T. (Dumfries)
Burns, John Lambert, George Rickett, J. Compton
Burt, Thomas Leamy, Edmund Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Leng, Sir John Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Lewis, John Herbert Schwann, Charles E.
Causton, Richard Knight Lloyd-George, David Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)
Colville, John MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Craig, Robert Hunter M'Arthur, William (Cornwall) Shipman, Dr. John G.
Crean, Eugene M'Dermott, Patrick Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)
Dalziel, James Henry M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan M'Laren, Charles Benjamin Strachey, Edward
Delany, William Markham, Arthur Basil Sullivan, Donal
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Mooney, John J. Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Dillon, John Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen) Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
Donelan, Captain A. Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Walson, John Lawson (Leeds, S.
Doogan, P. C. Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Duffy, William J. Moss, Samuel Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dunn, Sir William Moulton, John Fletcher Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Murphy, John Weir, James Galloway
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Nannetti, Joseph P. Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Fen wick, Charles Norman, Henry Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Norton, Capt. Cecil William Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nussey, Thomas Willans Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork) Yoxall, James Henry
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Caldwell and Mr. Wallace.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Coghill, Douglas Harry Hamilton, Marq. of (L'dnderry
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.
Archdale, Edward Mervyn Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Harris, Frederick Leverton
Bain, Col. James Robert Cranborne, Viscount Hay, Hon. Claude George
Balcarres, Lord Cripps, Charles Alfred Heaton, John Henniker
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Crossley, Sir Savile Helder, Augustus
Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds Dalrymple, Sir Charles Henderson, Alexander
Balfour, Maj. K. R. (Christch.) Denny, Colonel Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter
Banbury, Frederick George) Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon Hope, J. F. (Sheffi'ld, Brightside
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil
Blundell, Colonel Henry Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas Hudson, George (Bickersteth)
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Finch, George H. Kennaway, Rt Hn. Sir J. H.
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Kimber, Henry
Bullard, Sir Harry Fisher, William Hayes Knowles, Lees
Campbell, Rt Hn J. A. (Glasgow FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose- Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Flannery, Sir Fortescue Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth
Cautley, Henry Strother Garfit, William Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Darbysh.) Gordon, Hn J E. (Elgin & Nairn) Lawson, John Grant
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Gore, Hn. G. R C Ormsby- (Salop Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm. Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Eldon Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc' Goulding, Edward Alfred Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)
Chapman, Edward Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs. Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S
Charrington, Spencer Greville, Hon. Ronald Longsdale, John Brownlee
Clare, Octavius Leigh Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Mid'x Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)
Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Spencer, Ernest (W. Bromwich)
Macdona, John Cumming Pretyman, Ernest George Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Purvis, Robert Stewart, Sir Mark J. M 'Taggart
Majendie, James A. H. Pym, C. Guy Stone, Sir Beniamin
Malcalm, Ian Quilter, Sir Cuthbert Stroyan, John
Maple, Sir John Blundell Randles, John S. Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Martin, Richard Biddulph Reid, James (Greenock) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfries.) Renshaw, Charles Bine Thornton, Percy M.
Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Rentoul, James Alexander Tritton, Charles Ernest
Milton, Viscount Renwick, George Valentia, Viscount
Molesworth, Sir Lewis Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybr.) Vincent, Col Sir C E H (Sheffield
Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exter)
More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson Wanklyn, James Leslie
Morgan, David J (Walthams'w Robertson, Herbert (Hackney) Wason, John C. (Orkney)
Morrell, George Herbert Ropner, Colonel Robert Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton
Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Royds, Clement Molyneux Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.
Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Rutherford, John Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford- Wills, Sir Frederick
Muntz, Philip A. Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Seton-Karr, Henry Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Myers, William Henry Sharpe, William Edward T. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Simeon, Sir Barrington Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Parker, Gilbert Skewes-Cox, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington) Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)
Pemberton, John S. G. Spear, John Ward

Original Question put, and agreed to.

2. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,528,810, be granted to His 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, 1902, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Post Office Services, and Expenses of Post Office Savings Banks, and Government Annuities and Insurances, and the Collection of the Post Office Revenue."

MR. BEYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I desire to address a question to the Secretary to the Treasury in regard to the delay in the building of the new post office at Aberdeen. This post office has been for a long time under the consideration of the Government, and the Vote which is proposed in this year's Estimate is but a small one. I am not going to enter into detail, but I wish to ask the hon. Gentleman representing the Post Office to press on this work, which is proceeding much too slowly. This is a question of much importance to my constituency, and I hope that next year a larger Vote will be taken, which will enable the work to proceed more rapidly. Owing to various causes the work has been so much delayed that the postal administration of Aberdeen is carried on under the greatest possible difficulties, and to the great inconvenience of the inhabitants of the district. Therefore, I am very anxious to obtain from the hon. Member representing the Post Office some assurance that next year steps will be taken to accelerate the work, and that in the meantime efforts will be made to secure the necessary accommodation to enable the postal work to be carried on better than at present.

SIR MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbrightshire)

called attention to the increase of Sunday labour in the Post Office Department, and moved a reduction of the salary of the Postmaster General in order to bring before the House this question, which was one of great importance. This subject was not being brought before the House for the first time, for it was a question upon which very strong views were held by many persons who wished, as far as possible, to give a day of rest to those who were working in the Post Office. So long ago as the year 1864 this question was brought before the country by the Committee of the Working Men's Lord's Day Rest Association, who in 1864 commenced to agitate throughout the country for the reduction of Sunday labour in the Post Office Department. Since that date there had been a gradual increase in the numbers employed by the Post Office. In the year 1867 a Parliamentary Return was obtained by Sir Thomas Chambers, from which it was ascertained that at that time there were 25,902 persons of all ranks employed in the postal service, of whom 20,961, or more than four-fifths, were at work on the Lord's Day. Since that time, as he had already said, there had been a vast increase in the new servants employed by the Post Office, and the number now employed by the Post Office amounted to about 41,000. He would pass on to the figures which he wished to quote as quickly as he could. In the year 1870 the late Sir Charles Reed, M.P. for Hackney, proposed to move in the House of Commons on the 5th of August the following resolution— That the employment by the State of upwards of 20,000 persons in the Department of the Post Office on the Sabbath Day is not justified by any public necessity, and that, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable that the exemption from Sunday labour enjoyed by the letter carriers of London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Glasgow, and 114 other post towns, should be extended to all letter carriers and rural messengers throughout the United Kingdom. This resolution did not come on in August, 1870, but Sir Charles Reed proposed his resolution in the House of Commons on the 18th of April, 1871, and Mr. Gladstone suggested in its place a resolution in the following terms, which was unanimously agreed to— That this House deems it desirable to reduce by all prudent means the Sunday labour now performed by public servants, and that it is expedient that an official inquiry should be instituted with a view to ascertaining how far it may be practicable to effect a further reduction of the labour now performed on Sunday by the letter-carriers and rural messengers in the service of the Postmaster General. A Commission was appointed to carry out this resolution, and it consisted of Lord Dalhousie, Sir George Grey, and the then Postmaster General, the Right Hon. W. Monsell. The cause advocated by Sir Charles Reed was supported by 2,103 petitions, with over 200,000 signatures. This Commission issued their Report in December, 1871, and the chief alterations they suggested were as follows—

  1. (1) The abolition of a rural post on Sundays at the request of the persons who receive two-thirds of the correspondence, instead of, as formerly, at the request of those who received six-sevenths of the correspondence.
  2. (2) A Sunday rural post not to be put on except at the request of the receivers of two-thirds of the correspondence of the district.
  3. 1360
  4. (3) The providing of a substitute on alternate Sundays at an estimated expense to the department of £4,500 per annum for rural messengers who travel more than fourteen miles daily. (This distance has since been reduced to twelve miles daily.)
  5. (4) The closing of town receiving offices on Sundays, one head office only remaining, open.
In 1887 a Select Committee was appointed to consider the whole question of Sunday labour in connection with the Post Office outside the metropolitan district. The Committee reported on the 10th of August that year and recommended (1) that the collection and despatch and the delivery on Sundays of books, circulars, and printed matter, other than newspapers, be discontinued, and (2) that the collection and despatch and the delivery of letters on Sunday be in future discontinued. The Committee went further, and recommended— that the indoor duties of the Post Office service shall be so arranged as to relieve all sorting clerks and indoor officials so far as possible on alternate Sundays. From a Parliamentary Return obtained in 1894 by the late Earl of Harrow by, in the House of Lords, it appeared that the total number of persons employed in the service of the Post Office in the. United Kingdom at that time was 136,447. The number at rest on Sundays was 95,173, and the number at work, 41,274. The number of those at, work on Sunday was thus shown by this Return to be more than double the number at work on Sundays in 1867, and this notwithstanding the resolution unanimously carried in the House of Commons in April, 1871. In 1899 another innovation was made with the best possible intention by the late Postmaster General. That was the establishment of the express delivery of letters in and around London on Sundays for a fee of 3d. per mile for each letter. Anyone receiving a letter ten miles off would have to pay 2s. 6d. That met with no favour on the part of the public, owing to the dearness of the delivery. In 1899 there were 71 special letters delivered in London, and last year the number was only 56. That practically was a proof of failure, and he could not say, personally, from the point of view he now took, that he regretted it.

There were one or two matters her wanted specially to bring before the Finan- cial Secretary. He asked whether the service on Sunday was to be obligatory and compulsory That he thought was a very important matter. No doubt in the first instance all the Sunday work was done by volunteers. That was to say, men came from the outside to do the work and there was no compulsion whatever placed on the employees, but now, he believed the case was different. He believed that the present arrangement was adopted with good motives, possibly with the object of easing the labour and preventing men from being employed every Sunday, but he rather thought the policy of the Post Office now was to oblige the employees to work on Sunday. There was at one time a rule, made in April, 1898, that no man should work more than forty-eight hours per week without extra pay. If he worked on Sunday he got off so many hours on another day, or days, but now since March, 1900, he rather thought the rule was in desuetude, and the employees were obliged to work on Sundays; i.e., they were engaged on the understanding that if they were called upon to work they were obliged to do so. It might be that they were only called upon to work once in every four or five Sundays, but his complaint was that under the old regime they were not obliged to work on Sunday at all. Since March, 1900, they were obliged, and he should like that point to be made as clear as possible to the House. He was satisfied that the general feeling would be that there ought to be no compulsion in a matter of this sort. It was a conscience matter with the men. Many of them had Sunday duties to perform, such as the teaching of Sunday-schools, and he was quite certain that the House of Commons would not stand for one moment between these men and their consciences. There were no doubt many others who would be quite willing to do the work prescribed for them.

He trusted that the Committee would have a clear answer whether those men were or were not to be compelled to work on Sundays. A servant might be engaged to do certain work, and not necessarily to do other work, but if he was called upon to do that other work and refused, he might be told to go about his business. That was likely to be the case with the Post Office employees. The older servants might not actually be compelled, but if they did not do what they were bidden when the turn of Sunday duty came to them, then they had the option of leaving or working. The Post Office, being one of the largest employers of labour in the country, he thought that in the matter of Sabbath observance it should set a fair and right example. He was quite sure one of the greatest blessings this country had at the present time was the rest from secular work which Sunday afforded. If Members of Parliament agreed with him in that he was sure it would be their utmost desire to give to others in the Departments over which they had control and authority the same precious benefit. This country would never have come to its present commercial supremacy if it had not, observed one day of rest in seven. Other nations had tried to dispense with Sunday rest, but they had not succeeded. We worked fresher than the people of any other nation, and we did more work than any other nation on the face of God's earth.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Postmaster General."—(Sir Mark Stewart.)

MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)

said he did not wish to draw a red herring across the debate and to divert attention from the subject to which the hon. Gentleman had just called attention. He entirely agreed with the hon. Member's contention, but he wanted to refer to another point before the Financial Secretary to the Treasury replied. It was a point in which he thought the Post Office were not showing themselves the sort of employers they ought to show themselves to be. It was not a very large point, but it was one which he knew from his own constituency was very considerably felt by the employees of the Post Office all over the country. The ordinary employees of the Post Office might be divided into two classes. There were the ordinary carriers, who did the work outside, and there were the men who, although they were of the same class and earned much about the same wages, were doing the clerical work and the work of stamping inside the Post Office. It had been the practice—and the practice had been recognised by the authorities of the Post Office—before 1st April, 1897, for postmen not only to expect gifts at Christmas and New Year's Day, but they were actually authorised to ask for Christmas boxes from those to whom they delivered letters. On 1st April, 1897, that practice was changed. The indoor men, as they are called—those employed inside the Post Office, and who were, therefore, unable to ask for Christmas boxes, not being in a position to present themselves at the doors of those who probably would have been willing to give gifts—received an allowance which was known technically in the Post Office as an allowance in lieu of Christmas boxes. It ranged from 2s. to 9s. a week. At the date named the allowances were abolished and the Christmas boxes were forbidden to be asked for. That was in accordance with the Tweedmouth Report. That system existed for a period of time—he believed between 1st April and the middle of July of that year. Therefore, it would be seen that, inasmuch as it ceased to exist in the middle of July, there was no opportunity for it applying in the case of the outside men who previously were entitled to Christmas boxes. It was found, after further consideration, that it would be impossible to enforce the rule against inviting Christmas boxes, and by the middle of July the order was rescinded, and the men were allowed in the future as in the past to ask for Christmas boxes and New Year's gifts. That practice, therefore, received no interruption whatever as a matter of fact, but, at the, same time, the allowance of the indoor men of from 2s. to 9s. was not re-established. The particular point he wished to ask was this—that the practice should be re-established according to the old calculation, and that there ought to be the same consideration given to the indoor men in lieu of the gifts, seeing that they could not obtain gifts at Christmas and New Year. He was informed that whereas previously there was no difficulty whatever in inducing outside men to do inside work, because the allowance was considered equivalent to their somewhat precarious and irregular Christmas gifts, it now appeared that there was some difficulty in inducing them to do so. That was felt as a grievance, and he wished an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that the practice would be renewed.


My hon. friend the Member for Kirkcudbright is anxious to have Sunday labour in the Post Office restricted as much as possible, and he is afraid that there has been a tendency to increase it in recent years. I can only say that the Postmaster General and the heads of the Post Office are as anxious to keep Sunday labour down as my hon. friend can be. At the same time, it must be obvious that in a busy establishment like the Post Office a certain amount of urgent work must be done on Sunday, if the public are not to be greatly inconvenienced, and if the Post Office is to carry on the duty for which it exists. My hon. friend cited comparative figures showing the numbers employed in years something like thirty years apart. The number in the later period was very much greater than in the earlier, but, of course, he must remember that the employees of the Post Office, and the new branches of work the Post Office has undertaken, have both increased largely during that time, and, having regard to that, I think he will see that a mere increase in the number actually employed must not lead him to suppose that there has been any desire to increase Sunday work unnecessarily. My hon. friend only referred, to a single instance of additional Sunday labour which has been cast upon the Post Office employees in recent years. That was in the case of the arrangements made by the late Postmaster General, the Duke of Norfolk, to secure the delivery of letters in London on the payment of an express fee of 3d. per mile. As my hon. friend says, that is almost prohibitive, and it is intended to be a prohibitive fee for ordinary purposes. That service was established only to meet cases of emergency, and it was not intended that it should be used except for such cases. I am not sorry, any more than my hon. friend, that it has not been taken advantage of to any large extent. As a matter of fact, the people engaged are two sorters and nine mes- sengers for a period of about four hours each, so that this has not had a very large effect on the work of the Post Office. My hon. friend inquired whether the men were liable to receive notice to go if they declined to do Sunday duty. The rule in regard to Sunday duty will reduce to a minimum the work that must be done by each man. Formerly there was a sufficient number of volunteers to do the whole of the work, but latterly the number of volunteers for Sunday duty fell off, and there was an insufficient number for the work. Side by side with that, the Postmaster General found springing up a system by which certain of the older men volunteered for Sunday duty regularly every Sunday in the year. He did not think that if they were willing to undertake duty every Sunday in the year that was a thing which should be allowed, and he, of course, felt called upon to make such arrangements as would in the future spread the necessary Sunday duty more widely, and so prevent the men from having an undue amount of Sunday duty to do. That does not apply to men who have entered with a liability to give service on Sunday. Sorters since 1898 have entered on the express condition that they will take Sunday duty if called upon to do so. When men enter the service upon an express condition, which is clearly put before them, I do not think they can have any cause of complaint if they are subsequently called upon to fulfil that condition.


There were some who before 1898 were compelled.


It only applies to those who have come in since 1898 subject to the rule. If my hon. friend knows the case of a man who was under no obligation to take Sunday duty when he entered the service, and who was compelled to take duty, I think the Postmaster General should have his attention called to it, with the view to a remedy. I think my hon. friend will see that such alterations as have been made in the allocation of Sunday duty have been made with the view of lessening that duty, and preventing it from falling on one man more than another. I think that is a much more satisfactory solution than that a few men should he working every Sunday, and I hope my hon. friend will be satisfied with the explanation I have given.

MR. THOMAS BAYLEY (Derbyshire, Chesterfield)

said he wished to call attention to serious grievances which certain classes in the Post Office had at the present time. These grievances were growing from year to year. The hon. Baronet who raised the question of Sunday work gave an account of what had been done by several Committees of the House of Commons which had gone into the grievances of Post Office servants with regard to Sunday work, but unfortunately the late Government and this Government had not acted on the principle which was acted upon in years gone by—namely, that steps were taken to redress grievances of servants engaged in the Departments of the State when their existence was satisfactorily shown to the House of Commons. They had the experience of what was called Lord Tweedmouth's Committee. That was a Committee outside this House of Parliament. It was a Committee of highly respectable gentlemen belonging to the other House, and permanent officials were the representatives of the Post Office on that Committee. It was appointed on an absolutely wrong principle. If the Government did not grant a Committee to inquire into the grievances of the men, the dissatisfaction would go on increasing in force. What they had asked for was a Committee of business men of this House to go thoroughly into their grievances, and to report to this House and the Government in what way these could be redressed. This was a constitutional question. This House itself had a right to look into matters affecting the interests of all servants who were paid for out of the rates, whether soldiers, sailors, Post Office officials, or permanent servants of any sort. It was this House's duty to pay them a fair remuneration for their services, and to redress their grievances. This House showed a want of moral courage by throwing that responsibility on the other House or the permanent officials of any Department whatsoever. The position of the lower paid servants called for attention. If they considered the number of miles the men who delivered letters in the villages had to walk, he thought the Committee would say that the pay they received was very little indeed. These men would be perfectly satisfied if the Government would consider their position in relation to that of workers in the trades of the country—railway servants, miners, engineers, and even our own soldiers and sailors, who had received within the last five years considerable increases in their wages. If they took the Returns issued by the Board of Trade they would find that the conditions of those employed in the various trades had been greatly improved. If he remembered right, the increases of wages ran from 5 to 15 per cent. within the last five years. But there had been no increase in the wage of the lower paid Post Office servants corresponding to that, and they had a right to come to this House through their representatives and ask for a Committee of the House to investigate their grievances, and to see whether anything could be done to redress them. The Post Office representative in this House gave him no encouragement when he asked him a question on the subject some time ago. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that the Post Office servants had a number of friends in the country who wanted to treat them fairly and properly. It would be much better if the Government gave this Committee of Inquiry. He thought he could pledge those connected with the Post Office service who had grievances that if, after they had been brought before the Committee, the Committee decided against them, they would loyally abide by that decision.

MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness-shire)

said that in some parts of Scotland and in the Western Islands the inhabitants only got their letters once a week, and in some cases once a fortnight. In fact, he knew of an island of 500 inhabitants which had only received the news of the death of her late Majesty the Queen nine days after it happened. Now, these were fishing districts, where it was specially necessary that there should be immediate communication with the outside world. He had directed the attention of the Postmaster General to the subject, but had been told, as politely as possible, that the concession he desired could not be granted because it would not pay. That was no proper answer to give. These inhabitants were entitled to the ordinary rights of British citizens, and that, so far as the Post Office was concerned, was not summed up in a delivery of letters once a week or once a fortnight. They only got the weekly newspaper five or six days after publication, so that their news was frequently a fortnight old! They were told that a more frequent delivery would not pay; but these people paid the Imperial taxes, they paid for the public parks in London which they never saw, and all their other taxes, and they were entitled, surely, to get the ordinary rights of British citizens. They did not ask for a delivery every day, but, say, twice a week. It was very bad policy for the Department to say that a more frequent delivery would not pay. He found in looking back to a speech delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1897 that he estimated that 16 millions of letters were called for, and he promised to the House that a house-to-house delivery would be given to nearly all the rural districts in the country. Last year's Report showed that nearly 55 million letters were brought into the delivery, and he had no doubt that now 70 or 80 million letters were brought into the delivery. That ought to indicate the neglect which the Post Office authorities had inflicted on the rural districts. If they wanted to make life more tolerable in these remote parts, surely one of the first things they should give them was the civilising influence of the postman.

He believed that the Post Office was not so much to blame as the Treasury. There was a letter in The Times recently, written by a man who evidently wrote with inside knowledge, and, with the permission of the Committee, he would quote a few sentences from that letter:— The Treasury regard the Post Office as a Department from which they are justified in expecting and demanding a continually increasing net revenue. They consequently look with a most jealous eye upon any proposal by the Postmaster General involving an increase of expenditure, lest it should interfere with the development of this net revenue. And hence it comes about that in Post Office improvements and reforms the Treasury, and not the Postmaster General, determines whether they shall be carried out or not. The initiative lies with the Post Office, but the Chief of that Department has to do battle with the Secretary of the Treasury on every occasion when an improvement involving an increase of its expenditure, or a reduction of income is proposed. The Secretary to the Treasury is, as a rule, overworked. He is unable to go fully into details. It results that one of the Treasury clerks has to advise him, and the determination rests with this officer, who has no knowledge of the interior working of the Post Office, and no means of gauging the wants of the public, and whose main duty it is to maintain and increase if possible, the Revenue. The Postmaster General may contend that a particular improvement which he proposes is urgently needed, that after a time it will recoup the first outlay or loss by causing an increase of business; but the Treasury official, with the omniscience bred in the atmosphere of that Department, knows better, and, fearful of the immediate loss to the Revenue, advises a refusal. Every Postmaster General in turn has experienced this, and has seen his proposals overruled by the Treasury. Sometimes, when he is fortunate in being on most friendly terms with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he is able to secure a more favourable response to his proposals; but as a rule they are rejected or delayed for years until public opinion, acting through the House of Commons, forces them upon the Government. No one at the Post Office has been able to discover on what precise lines or policy these refusals are made; but it may be assumed that the object is to secure a continually increasing net revenue. He would suggest that the Committee should authorise the Postmaster General to give the country these reforms, and he was sure that the country would not grudge but approve of the slight additional expense. The writer of the letter then proceeded to point out that the Post Office revenue had nearly doubled in the last thirty years, having risen from £1,814,000 to £3,576,000, an increase at the rate of £55,000 a year. He would point out that the proportion of profits from Scotland was £375,000 a year, and therefore they were entitled to obtain additional postal facilities in Scotland. The net increase of the Post Office revenue was maintained by a system of starving the recommendations of the Postmaster General and his staff. When the Post Office Estimates were under discussion on the 1st of June, 1899, General Laurie, the Member for Pembroke, had a motion on the Paper to reduce the salary of the Postmaster General by £100. The Member for Caithness urged that there should be a daily delivery in his constituency, and the Member for Montgomery followed on much the same lines. In reply the present President of the Board of Agriculture, then Financial Secretary to the Treasury, used the following words:— The question of a daily delivery was raised by the hon. Member for Caithness. I believe it is a fact that in some parts of Scotland we have not yet been able to carry out a daily delivery; but, of course, we are going steadily forward with the work, and I hope that very soon the whole of the country will be so served. I should say that three-fourths of the whole country have been already accommodated with a daily delivery, and the Department hopes that within a time, measured by months, there will be daily deliveries everywhere. That so pleased General Laurie that he withdrew his motion. That speech was delivered two years ago, and he challenged the representative of the Postmaster General now in the House to show that a daily delivery throughout the country was not the policy of the Government when that speech was made, and why that policy had not been carried out since. They were entitled to ask whether that policy had been prevented being carried out by the Treasury. Again he would demand that the Government should give the people in the Highlands and Islands a postal delivery not less frequently than at least twice a week.

MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)

said that his hon. friend had not stated fully the case specially of the districts where there were stormy seas between the islands and the mainland. There they did not get a weekly delivery, even, and they claimed that they should have at least a delivery of letters twice a week. They were cut off from all possible means of communication, and were frequently quite unable to obtain medical attendance. Life, under such circumstances, was a very serious thing indeed. He hoped the hon. Gentleman in charge of this Vote would not treat this matter lightly. In these remote islands they had some of the finest population in the United Kingdom, and the only means of communication which they had with the mainland was the post office. It was no answer to the demand they made to say that the additional service would not pay. They must regard the Post Office service as a whole, and as a whole the service did pay. He trusted the matter would receive the earnest attention of the Post Office and the Treasury.

MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)

said that nobody seemed to be aware that this Vote was coming on, and therefore he felt that there would not be such a full debate upon it as might have been wished by many Members. He heartily supported the hon. Member who had moved the reduction of the Vote. He knew that there were great grievances unredressed on the part of the Post Office employees. Some of these grievances had been threshed out and remedied to a certain extent, no doubt, between the Duke of Norfolk, who was then Postmaster General, and the present President of the Board of Agriculture. But at the same time there was a rankling feeling as to the decision of the Committee. He thought it was a mistake on the part of the Government that they did not appoint some representative of the employees in the Post Office on that Committee of Inquiry, in order that their case should be heard, and that the sources of their dissatisfaction with their present condition might be traced. It might be said that they would have had only one vote on the Committee, but, at any rate, the employees would have been able to bring their case fully before the other members of the Committee. He did not propose to dwell on the whole range of the grievances of the employees in the Post Office, because certain Members had charge of the different branches; but he wanted to direct the attention of the representative of the Postmaster General in the House of Commons to the case of the non-establishment men in the engineering department of the telegraphs. They claimed that they ought to have the same benefits as were accorded to the unestablished men in other departments of the Post Office. It had been used as an argument against unestablished engineers receiving the stripes, which carried extra allowance, that auxiliaries, who did not work a full day, ought not to have this advantage. But the unestablished engineers did now work the whole day. They were as much daily workers as any other employees in the service. In these other departments five years service carried an additional 1s. per week pay, but that additional pay was not given to the engineers, although some of them had had thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen years of service, and only 500 out of 3,000 men employed on the engineer service were on the establishment. Then there was the grievance of all classes of postmen and telegraphists as to deferred pay. If a postman or telegraphist died, his widow or children, under certain circumstances, were left without any compensation or any portion of the pension. He thought it was only right that some portion of the deferred pay should be awarded to the children and the widow, as the probability of a man receiving a pension was taken into account in fixing his wages. Lord Welby had pointed out that only 30 per cent. of the postmen reach pension age, and it was only right that something should be done for the widows and children of the remaining 70 per cent. That view had been supported by the late Lord Playfair. Then there was the question of the stagnation of promotion in the telegraph department, which had been agitated for a number of years, and he trusted that the hon. Member the Financial Secretary to the Treasury would give some consideration to it, seeing that there had been such a considerable rise in rents in the large as well as the small towns in England. It would be the desire of the House to have a Committee of the House to go into this question and have a decision with regard to the matter. It had been very desirable to have a Committee to investigate the question of the War Office. That Committee had reported, and as business men they had made practical suggestions to the nation, and a similar result would, no doubt, be the outcome of similar Committees sitting upon and investigating other Departments of State, which would obtain considerable advantage in consequence of their methods being sifted. He would not detain the House further, but if a division was demanded he should certainly support the Amendment, not out of any hostility to the Postmaster General, who, he believed, showed a very conciliatory spirit in this matter, but because it would be a great benefit to lave such a Committee.

MR. JAMES HOPE (Sheffield, Brightside)

desired to say a very few words in answer to the criticisms that had been passed upon the action of the Post Office, which had been accused of want of business initiative. One often heard the same criticism of lack of initiative and business method and enterprise on the part of the Post Office officials, but he had had some knowledge of these men and had worked with them, and he was quite sure from what he had seen that His Majesty and the public could not wish for better public servants. When they were accused of all these faults, he would ask what chance had they of initiating and carrying on their business in a businesslike spirit under the present financial system of the country. They made millions a year for the revenue, but they did not touch a penny of it themselves. They were like the monkey in the story, who was always finding water but was never allowed to drink. The Post Office had not the same freedom as the Army and Navy and other great Departments of State, where any deficiency in any Vote could always be made up out of the excess of another Vote. In the case of the Post Office no such discretion was allowed, and consequently useful measures had to stand still for months in spite of the money which poured into the Post Office on every hand. The Post Office was in an anomalous position; it ought to be one thing or the other; and if it was to be looked upon in the same light as the Customs or the Board of Revenue, then the present system would have to be abolished, and it must be put on the same footing as those Departments, and the system of transfer which was in operation in the Army and Navy Departments extended to it, so that they might have the inducement to economise and have the benefit of their own savings. Let the Postmaster General have something to say as to the disposal of his surplus profits. Let there be a certain minimum revenue, and when once that is paid let the surplus profits be divided between the Treasury and the Post Office, and that which goes to the Post Office be devoted to extending the Post Office strictly on business lines. If the Post Office made £3,500,000, £3,000,000 should go to the Treasury and the remainder should be equally divided. Under the present financial system it was very unfair that the Post Office officials should be criticised in the manner they were.

MR. BELL (Derby)

wished in a very few words to support the suggestion of the hon. Member for Chesterfield that a Committee should be formed to consider the grievances of the postal employees. It was, he thought, Utopian to hope to find such a large number of workers without a grievance, and some of the grievances might be sentimental, but what he complained of was that there were a variety of grievances which were not looked into. He did not think any advantages would be gained by discussing in detail the grievances of the employees, because this Committee had no power to rectify them, but the Postmaster General would move in the direction of the wishes of these thousands of men by appointing a Committee to inquire into their grievances. By allowing these grievances to accumulate the position became very much like that of a boiler with a man sitting on the safety valve. The grievances would be so bottled up that sooner or later there would be an explosion. It was not desirable that there should be any such difficulty in a public department as a strike, but nothing tended so to work men up into a state of revolt as to allow their grievances to accumulate when they might be attended to at once. If a Committee were appointed to inquire into this matter and report, it would do no harm, and might do a great deal of good, and he hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would give some assurance on behalf of the Postmaster General that this would be done. Complaints had been made from the Front Government Benches as to the accumulation of questions on the Paper, and therefore he thought he would not put down a question which he desired to ask of the hon. Gentleman, but would send it direct to the Postmaster General, and so save the time of the House. Having sent a question to the Postmaster General last week he received the orthodox reply that his letter should receive attention, and he had not received the answer yet. He should repeat the question to-morrow to the Postmaster General, and ask for a reply, and he would also furnish the Secretary to the Treasury with particulars, that he might inquire into the matter.

MR. HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)

said he desired to support the motion of the hon. Member for Chesterfield for a Committee of Inquiry, and he did so for the reason that, having been for some years in contact with a considerable number of employees of the Post Office in London, he had found that there was a strong feeling that the departmental Committee did not meet the desire of the employees for a thorough investigation of their grievances. A new inquiry would, he thought, do a great deal to settle the unrest which undoubtedly existed in the minds of many of the employees of the Post Office. He could not but think the employees of the Post Office were justified in asking for an inquiry, having regard to the fact that six years had passed since any investigation was made into their position, and that the conditions of life had changed. He thought their demand for the reconsideration of their terms of pay and promotion was one that should commend itself to the attention of this Committee. Therefore, he hoped hon. Members would not run away with the idea that this Committee should not be appointed because this House was not a proper tribunal, but would grant the demand of these men, which was in his opinion a fair demand, and appoint a Committee to settle once and for all the fact of whether these grievances were just or not.


also supported the claim for a Committee of Inquiry into the general grievances of the Post Office employees. He had hoped some years ago that the Tweedmouth Committee would have settled these grievances, but he had observed with regret that every year since that Committee was appointed the demand for another Committee had greatly increased. He pressed the Secretary to the Treasury and the Government to seriously consider whether the best way out of the difficulty, and of getting a cheap and effective service all over the country, would not be to have a Committee to investigate the grievances of the Post Office employees. They had heard ex- pression given to these grievances as to deferred pay and promotion, and the prospect of these men leaving their families unprovided for if they did not live to the pensioned age; and, although he did not suggest that their families should be awarded a pension, at the same time he thought that a compassionate allowance might be given in cases where the wife and family were left helpless by the removal of the breadwinner. Then there were the difficulties in which these men were placed by the increased cost of living and housing, especially in large towns. These questions required consideration, and he believed that a Committee, if appointed, would settle most of those matters. The House was bound, when this agitation had been going on for the last five years, to meet it by a Committee of Investigation, and inquire as to whether the grievances were real or otherwise. There could be no harm in meeting these questions with an impartial Committee, and upon that ground he urged upon the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury the advisability of conferring with the Postmaster General on the subject. The Post Office was a great source of revenue to the country, and when a Service of the country gave a profit of millions a year to the Treasury it was disappointing and ominous of bad management that, after all the changes that had been made in the postal arrangements in London, in many respects Londoners were worse off than before. The means of communication were worse than they were five years ago; evening mails were collected earlier than they used to be, and there were not the means of communicating with the country that thorp were before the new arrangements were entered into. This was an immense retrogression which was discreditable to a great State Department. He also thought there ought to be increased facilities for answering letters at every post office. On the Continent facilities were given which were never accorded in England. The way to do business was to facilitate transactions with customers. He also wished to say that, in his opinion, many post offices in the country were not only badly equipped, but were ill suited to the work that went through them.


said it would undoubtedly be for the benefit of the Post Office to facilitate the public service, but the Post Office must have some regard to the value of the object to be obtained by improvements and to the cost that would be incurred in carrying them out. Many persons thought that the Post Office should not be a revenue-producing department at all, but that was not his opinion. He hoped it would always be a revenue-producing department. He had considerable sympathy with the contention of the hon. Member for the Brightside Division of Sheffield, that out of the great increase of profits of the Post Office something should be expended in giving increased facilities to the public. On this occasion they were dealing with an expenditure which, on the postal and telegraph services combined, showed a greater increase than did the corresponding income. Improvements such as those that had been asked for could only be carried out gradually. He thought the object of the hon. Member for Chesterfield was to urge the Government to consent to a Committee of Inquiry to examine into the alleged grievances of the staff; and he said that if an impartial Committee was appointed all the supposed grievances of the men would be explained, that they would feel that they had had a fair hearing, that they would be satisfied with such a tribunal, and that no more would be heard of the questions raised year after year in the House when the Post Office Vote was down for discussion. That was a flattering picture of which everyone would approve, and no one more than those responsible for the Post Office. But what was the real fact? It was only six years ago since a Committee was appointed to consider all these matters. The Committee, which was of a most impartial character, took evidence with the greatest care and fidelity, and until the Report was given no fault was found with the composition of the Committee, and the employees certainly showed no reluctance to come before that Committee. The Committee reported in favour of a great many changes, and every recommendation that that Committee made the Government accepted and carried out. Not only so, but when the Duke of Norfolk was Postmaster General some matters which had been overlooked, and had not been dealt with by the Tweedmouth Committee, were again inquired into. A Departmental Committee sat upstairs for three weeks, at which any member of the House might have been present, and could, if he had so wished, put questions to the witnesses examined. The result of that Committee was that still further concessions were made; the result to the public was an increased cost in the postal department of a half a million a year, and a corresponding benefit to the employees of the Post Office. What hope was there, therefore, if those Committees were not satisfactory, of another Committee following so soon in their footsteps being more successful than they? On behalf of the Postmaster General, he most strongly deprecated any reopening of inquiries, so recently undertaken, which had resulted in large changes in favour of the staff; but of any kind of inquiry which might be made he thought that which was suggested by the hon. Member for Chesterfield was the worst. He could imagine nobody less fit to examine the details of a great business like the Post Office and examine into the character of every man employed by that complex institution, and fix a fair pay, than a Committee of the House of Commons. He ventured to say that the object of the appointment of a Committee would only be to relieve Members of Parliament from the agitation to which they were now exposed. Nothing new had been adduced which was not before the previous Committee, which was most efficient and impartial. The Report of the Committee had been supplemented by further concessions given by the Committee presided over by the Duke of Norfolk; and what was now asked for was not an inquiry into new conditions of service or new grievances, but an attempt to go into all the demands which were recognised on the last occasion, and an endeavour to find a court of appeal to upset the judgment of the former Committee. There must be some finality about these matters, and he submitted that no case had been made out for any inquiry; and he believed that even if there were to be an inquiry, a Committee of this House would not be the best form that it could take.

MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)

The hon. Member has not said anything about the allowances.


When the allowances to the indoor men were stopped, their wages were raised, and they have enjoyed the higher wages since, so that there was no reason for restoring the indoor allowances. New men were not in the same position, but they fully understood what the conditions of the service were.


My point is that the outdoor men had their wages readjusted because they were forbidden to ask for Christmas boxes, and now permission has again been given to them to ask for Christmas boxes, but the allowances of the indoor men have not been renewed.


said he had heard with great regret the remarks made by the hon. Member representing the Post Office in this House. The hon. Gentleman seemed to dread the appointment of a Committee of investigation into the grievances of the employees; why he did so he did not know. He had said the Tweedmouth Committee settled the matter; that was true. There would have been no grievances with the officials if the recommendations of the Tweedmouth Committee had been carried out. Where was the £190 limit given by the Committee? Why was not that given and retained? Why was it reduced to £160? To come to the House under such circumstances and say that a limit had been reached was wrong. Why did the Government so dread the appointment of a Committee to investigate the grievances of these men, who work such long hours and go such long rounds, and whom the Government could not pay well, although they made a profit of £4,000,000 a year? The hon. Member the Secretary to the Treasury did not as an individual believe it was the right thing to do, and why should he officially say that these grievances should not be redressed? We all want our grievances redressed in this world, and he was astonished that the hon. Gentleman, coming as he did from such a business place as Birmingham, should not have granted the inquiry. He was in entire accord with the hon. Member for the Chesterfield Division, and was in favour of the appointment of this Committee, the opposition to which was an acknowledgment that something was wrong, and that therefore the Government did not want to grant it. He was for justice for all public servants, even to the extent of the hon. Gentleman himself, whose salary he would like to see increased, and he hoped when this Committee went to a division there would not be a man who would vote against the worst paid and longest worked servants of the State.

MR. J. WILSON (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

said he did not know whether the postal staff had grievances or not, but, whether they had grievances or whether they had not, there was no reason why this Committee of Inquiry, which had been demanded by the whole body of the Post Office officials, should not be granted. He was surprised to hear the statement in opposition to this Committee. If it were found that these men had no grievances, no harm would be done, while if there really were grievances this inquiry would define them. The attitude taken by the hon. Gentleman was not at all satisfactory.

MR. COLVILLE (Lanarkshire, N.E.)

agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, and joined issue with the Secretary to the Treasury that a Committee of this House was the least satisfactory to deal with a matter of this kind. Such a remark was a slur upon the business capacity of the members of that House. He could not imagine for a moment that the hon. Gentleman meant to convey that the House of Commons, which had to deal with such important questions, was not competent to form a Committee to deal with the grievances of the Post Office officials.


said the reply from the Secretary to the Treasury was disappointing. At the commencement of his remarks one thought he was going to grant a Committee of some kind, but to tell the House that it was not competent to deal with a matter of this kind was most disappointing; but even supposing the hon. Gentleman was right in that statement, why could he not say he would grant some sort of inquiry, why not make some concession? He did not pretend to be acquainted with the subject, but he was told that some of the recommendations of the Tweedmouth Committee were not carried out.


That is not so, they were all accepted and carried out.


said he did not know; something was said about £190 and £160, and he did not know how that might be, but at the same time he thought some concession ought to have been made.

MR. DAVID MORGAN (Essex, Walthamstow)

joined in the appeal of the Member for Chesterfield for this inquiry. Not only in the neighbourhood of London but in the rural districts of Essex there was a strong feeling that an inquiry should be held, and if the Committee would not listen to these proposals to have an inquiry now by a Committee of this House there would be continual dissatisfaction on the part of the Post Office employees. Everybody knew that where there was dissatisfaction in a great business establishment the only way to deal with it was to enquire into the cause and adjust it.


also joined in the appeal for an inquiry. There was, no doubt, in the country a great body of opinion that there were real grievances and that they should be looked into. In the district he represented it took eighteen months to get a thorough revision of the staff carried out, and the result was that in the year 1898–9 the staff was over-worked to the extent of 500 hours in the year. They worked 500 hours overtime. It therefore appeared to him that if there were these grievances or supposed grievances it could not be wrong to look into them from a point of view which would be acceptable to the men. If those grievances did not exist it would be explained to the men that they had no case, and if they did exist they could be remedied.


I have listened with great interest to this debate, and, I confess frankly, with considerable anxiety as to the future of the public service if pressure of the kind which has been put on the Government to-night is persisted in by this House. This House is omnipotent. It can make and unmake Governments. It can decide what, when, and how public money is to be spent. But with that omnipotence I would venture to urge upon Members their great responsibility in dealing with a subject like this. Everyone knows that a great organised body like the Post Office has it in its power to put great pressure upon Members, but I earnestly urge upon hon. Gentlemen that unless we take our courage in both hands, and say that, although most desirous that all legitimate grievances shall be dealt with, we cannot permit the Government as a great employer of labour to have this kind of pressure put upon it, I think the future of the public service is in peril. I assure the Committee that I speak with a great sense of responsibility. In this very case the Post Office employees have brought forward their grievances year after year. Two Commissions have been appointed, and no one ever ventured to impugn the ability or impartiality of the members of those Commissions. Those Commissions made the fullest examination into the case put before them, and reported at length, and as a consequence of that Report the British taxpayers are now paying half a million of money more than they did before, So that the Commissions have been productive of great pecuniary advantage to the Post Office employees. In none of the speeches has any specific complaint been brought forward, or any point urged which suggests the necessity for further enquiry, but only the statement that there is a feeling of uneasiness, and a desire for further examination, and that when such a desire is expressed the House should listen to it. We cannot keep the Civil Service in a sound and healthy condition if we are going to examine into it by a Committee every five years. If the House of Commons were to yield to the very natural temptation of granting a Committee such as has been asked for, though we might escape an inconvenient division we should be unworthy in my opinion of bearing any longer the great responsibility of being the enormous employer of labour that we are. We should not be carrying out our duty to the public, and, worst of all, we should aim a blow at the Civil Service, which is the boast of this country and the envy of the civilised world, because we should become the parliamentary creatures of every organised body of public servants who chose to use the great power which the Constitution gives them for ends which I am sure they believe to be right, but which this House could not yield to in the manner now suggested without derogating from the high functions and spirit of pure impartiality which this House must maintain if Members are to do their duty by their constituents.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

said the Leader of the House, not for the first time, had told them that, if public-servants pressed for redress of their grievances, such pressure would be inconvenient and fraught with danger to the public service. But was not that a reason for the House of Commons to consider whether the present method of dealing with grievances was the right one? He ventured to suggest a better course. Whenever a body of public servants thought they had a grievance, what happened? They created a public opinion, and set afoot an agitation and a demand for a Royal Commission, and frequently, in a moment of panic, the Royal Commission was granted, not for the purpose of those who needed it most, but of those who were best organised. Another method was to ask for an investigation by a Committee, like the Tweed mouth Committee, consisting of a Member of the House of Lords and two permanent officials, who reported to the House of Commons, which mostly took no notice of their Report. Somehow or another, that Committee did not evoke trust and confidence from the men whose grievances it sat to consider. But that evening there had been, not a Royal Commission, not a Tweedmouth Committee, but the whole House of Commons, hour after hour, speaking of and listening to the grievances of postmen, telegraphists, and other employees. Of all tribunals to go into the grievances of Government servants, whether postal, naval, or military, the House of Commons as consti- tuted was not the best, and he desired to suggest a fourth tribunal, which he believed the Government would be driven to adopt. He suggested that for every spending Department such as the Post Office, there should be sitting regularly or periodically a strong but small Committee of the House of Commons, composed of men from both sides, who would not yield to unfair pressure from postal employees, who would not be susceptible to State servants' clamour, and who could be trusted to do their duty to the State; and that this Committee should have sitting regularly with them the Postmaster General or two or three expert officials to help them, and they to help the head of the Department. In the event of that Committee thinking the demands of the postal employees unreasonable, fictitious, or not what their organisation made them out to be, it would be their duty to sit very severely upon them. Until every public Department had such a Committee as that, political pressure would always be brought to bear upon weak-kneed Members of Parliament. Until the House of Commons appointed such a Committee, money would be wasted and money would be granted to the wrong people, as was invariably the case when money was given as the result of a Government servants' agitation. Could this work? The Secretary to the Treasury had, in his opinion, showed, he would not say a contempt, but a disrespect for the House of Commons which he did not expect a democrat of his status and standing would display. He had said that of all possible tribunals there was none less fit than a Committee of the House of Commons. He (the speaker) differed, and would give the hon. Gentleman a precedent. When the War Office—notwithstanding all its protestations of efficiency, capacity, and readiness, down to the last button—got into a mess over South Africa, what happened? The House of Commons unanimously appointed three or four business men from both sides of the House to reorganise the business of the War Office.




Oh, but it did. Of course the hon. Gentleman would not accept literally that view, but four or five men from both sides of the House, noted for probity, industry, and capacity in their private concerns, were elected as a Committee to do what? To draw up the conditions under which the War Office should manage the Army on businesslike lines. He wanted to see a similar Committee sitting in permanence for many of these grievances in connection with the Post Office. Private Bill Committees upstairs, as a rule, were drawn from the best Members of the House, and if such Committees could sit for weeks—in some cases for months—on large water, gas, or telephone Bills, or on subjects relating to business and private enterprise of every description, involving the employment of millions of money and of scores of thousands of men, there was no reason why there should not be a permanent Standing Committee of Members of the House of Commons attached to each of the large spending departments. If that were done, much fictitious agitation and improper pressure which was now resorted to would disappear. Why did he say that? When a large employer of labour had a grievance with his men he did not always take the advice of his foreman or his superintendent. No. Very frequently, when the manager or superintendent had gone too far, the employer intervened with the personal element, and, if he was a wise employer, corrected the superintendent on the one side or the men on the other. He desired the House of Commons to set up a Standing Committee of capable and firm men, who would crumple up any bogus agitation on the part of competent organisers, who would be the eyes of the House of Commons, and, in a rough way, the conscience of the House of Commons with regard to fair treatment for the men. Until such a permanent Committee was appointed, endowed by the House with power to put a stop to improper pressure, there would always be these annual demands for Royal Commissions and Committees of Inquiry, and, with all respect to postal and other grievances, the time of the House of Commons would be relatively wasted when the work could be so much better done by a small Committee upstairs—a Committee which would stand by the permanent officials when they were right and correct them when they were wrong, as permanent officials sometimes were, as recent experience proved that the hub of the universe did not come up through the doorstep of the War Office or of the Postmaster General. If this were done the head of the department would not enjoy the discredit, as he undoubtedly now did, of being put up as the person who prevented a Committee of Inquiry looking into the grievances. Taking it with all its defects, he believed the British civil service to be the best in the world, and he wanted it to remain the best in the world. Government servants would do a foolish thing, and, from their own selfish point of view, one of the most dangerous things they ever could do, if they unduly occupied the time of the House of Commons with relatively trivial and selfish personal questions, wasting public time which ought to be given to higher political and Imperial questions.

He believed that the suggestion he had made was the only way out. Why did he say that? The County Council had 12,000 employees. Next to the Government it was one of the largest employers of labour in London. What did they do? What did Glasgow and Liverpool do? Their employees occasionally organised for the redress of grievances. Did the County Council accept the ipsissima rerba of the head of the fire brigade, or the parks department, on the main drainage? No, they put the grievances through the sieve of a small sub-committee, whose conclusions were revised by the main committee. The decision was then sent to the council to adopt or reject. What was good enough for our municipal life was good enough for the House of Commons. He believed that if a Committee were appointed the question would be permanently solved. What would happen? When this Committee presented its annual Report at the end of the Postmaster General's annual document, Members of the House of Commons would say, "Hallo! A Committee have gone into this; they have given the men a fair show; they have discussed the grievances with the permanent officials and the men; we will vote for the Committee." In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the House of Commons as a body would stand by the Report and recommendations of the Committee. The result would be that men who really had grievances to be redressed would have them redressed, while the men who applied pressure improperly would get the punishment which every servant, whether private or public, had a right to receive for misstatements, or selfish or improper action. If some such scheme was not adopted the area of Government enterprise would be checked, permanent officials would be considerably inconvenienced, the tone of the service would be embittered and discredited. It was because he wanted the civil service to be as good as it at present was that he put forward this suggestion as an alternative to the negative proposal of the Secretary to the Treasury.

MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)

said the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for Battersea was, in his opinion, a very courageous one. He did not, however, think that the hon. Member intended his speech to be what it actually was in substance, namely, a speech supporting the Government on the present issue before the House. The hon. Member manifested a great desire that a tribunal should be created which would dispose permanently of the question now before the Committee. He would point out that all the tribunals indicated by the hon. Member for Battersea were practically different from the proposal to appoint a Select Committee which was before them. The hon. Member for Battersea seemed to have got hold of the true idea, which was that there should be some tribunal to which grievances of this kind might be referred, and that tribunal should have in it an element of permanence and generality of view by not being confined, as the proposed Select Committee would be to the interest of one particular Department. The only thing which the hon. Member for Battersea apparently forgot was that it was necessary, whatever tribunal they adopted, that it should have complete independence, and be entirely free from the influence of what was called the vote-catching element. He hoped that hon. Members of this House would have the courage to say that they would not allow themselves to be open to influences of that kind. The great unorganised majority of the people were interested in this matter, and they deserved to have the protection of hon. Members of this House. The hon. Member for Battersea pointed to the Private Bills Committees in this House, and paid them a tribute which they deserved, for being a tribunal whose competence and impartiality everybody was completely satisfied with. But the hon. Member evidently forgot that no Member of the House was allowed to serve on that Committee during the consideration of a Bill in which his own constituency was concerned. They could not protect the members of the Committee which had been suggested by the mover of this reduction from being influenced by their own constituencies.

He thought the Secretary to the Treasury had taken a broad and statesmanlike view of this question, and he agreed with him that a Committee of this House was not the best tribunal to deal with a matter of this kind. Perhaps it was true that, after all, the best tribunal to deal with a question of this kind was not a Committee consisting of gentlemen who valued, as every right-minded man did value, the privilege of sitting in this House. By the inevitable conditions of the case hon. Members did sit in this House largely by the votes of public servants. He thought there was set up some considerable time ago some sort of permanent Civil Service Committee for the purpose of adjudicating upon the claims of public servants. He did not know whether that Committee was in existence still, and he did not know whether it existed for a long or a short time. He thought it must have had in it that infirmity which marked the Tweedmouth Committee, which was a sort of domestic arrangement, and which consisted chiefly of members of the public service, and consequently did not command the necessary amount of confidence. That was the defect, if there was one, in the Tweedmouth Committee. Therefore he thought that any Committee appointed in the future ought not to be constituted in the way the Tweedmouth Committee was constituted. Any tribunal which was appointed in the future would have to be free from these influences if they wanted to secure absolute impartiality and independence. It was a bad thing to have upon such a tribunal men who have been under electioneering pressure, and on the other hand it did not command public confidence to have persons on the tribunal whose official conduct was practically being arraigned. He wished that some kind of permanent tribunal could be invented, but he did not think that the hon. Member for Battersea had succeeded in placing before them the exact model. What he should like to see established was not the tribunal which had been proposed that evening. He trusted, therefore, as his right hon. friend the Leader of the House had said, that hon. Members of this House would take their courage in both hands and declare that this was a motion which would excite the hope among employees that something might be wrung from the Government by pressure upon Members of Parliament. Such pressure ought not to be exerted, and if the House of Commons gave way to that pressure to that extent hon. Members would be proceeding in the direction indicated by the Leader of the House.

For these reasons he hoped this motion would be negatived by a large majority of the Members of this House, and he believed it might be safely negatived without doing any injustice to this very large body of public servants. He was sure the Government would be disposed to consider whether they should not take time to see if some kind of tribunal could not be devised which would not have the infirmities attached to Departmental Committees on which sat representatives of the public department itself whose organisation was under discussion. On the other hand they should have on such a tribunal, besides the independence which he had already indicated, that permanence and general breadth of view which alone could be got by some body such as he had indicated. He did not know whether, under these circumstances, this motion would be defeated. He confessed that, if the motion was successful, he thought that all the evils indicated by the Leader of the House would be in great danger of being realised. He had sat in this House for many years, and he had seen motions dealing with the grievances of Post Office servants rejected over and over again by this House. In this particular case they had not long ago the appointment of the Tweedmouth Committee, which gave an extraordinary amount of time and trouble to the discussion of this question. That Committee was undoubtedly composed of men against whom not a word could be said. Even though they might complain in respect of that Committee that its procedure was rigid and its composition unsatisfactory, or that one or two of its members, being public servants, might have had preconceived ideas on the matters at issue, they could not deny that they had since had what was practically a second Committee in the inquiry held by the present President of the Board of Agriculture. It was difficult to conceive of an inquiry carried on under more sympathetic and elastic conditions than the inquiry which was held by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture in conjunction with the Duke of Norfolk. The right hon. Gentleman was a man who was always ready to listen to all kinds of public complaints, and he dealt with them in a manner which gave satisfaction to his fellow-subjects. He hoped, therefore, that the present motion would not be pressed, because he thought there was a general desire amongst hon. Members that some better tribunal should be devised for the permanent solution of these constantly occurring questions. He hoped that this motion for the appointment of a Select Committee would be negatived by a large majority.


said that a few years ago they were promised further postal facilities in the rural districts, more especially in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The predecessor of the present Postmaster General did splendid work in this direction, and he regretted that he was not in office at the present moment. Recently things had been going back in this respect, and in many rural districts at the present time the postal facilities in some parts were extremely unsatisfactory. More frequent deliveries were much needed. When considering this question the Postmaster General seemed to decide solely upon the amount of correspondence, but that was not the principle upon which a great business ought to be conducted. Singer's Sewing Machine Company had branches all over the world, and although some of those branches did not pay, they were kept going by the branches which did pay. He did not understand why the Post Office did not conduct their system upon sound business lines. When the Post Office had an enormous surplus of between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000, some part of it ought to be used in providing better postal facilities in the poorer districts. Instead of progressing they were standing still. He suggested that in certain districts the Post Office should follow the example of many business firms by using cycle carts. He would be glad to be relieved from the duty of constantly asking questions in regard to the postal service He hoped something would be done to improve the service in the Highlands. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston had done much to improve the postal service throughout the country, and with his experience and grasp would have made an admirable Postmaster General. He thought more money-order offices might be provided in the Western Highlands for the use of the fishing population. Many of these people went to the east coast fishing, and when they wanted to remit money to their families they found there was a lack of money-order offices. If it were not possible to issue and pay postal orders at every rural post office arrangements might be made for these offices to conduct money order and savings bank business one or two days a week. A great department like the Post Office should not pursue the niggardly system of starving the poorer districts. The Post Office should treat them more liberally than hitherto. He asked what progress was being made with regard to the telephone system which was to be carried on by the Post Office, and also called attention to the fact that owing mainly to the loss of postal orders by the public the department gained some £15,000 a year. He suggested that postal orders should be issued with a counterfoil which would enable the sender to recover the value of the order in the event of its being lost.


The hon. Member has referred to the postal facilities given to the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. He represented to the House that there was some difference of opinion between the Post Office and the Treasury on this matter. He seems to be of opinion that the Post Office would be only too glad to make large extensions, but that some subordinate official of the Treasury, over whom neither my right hon. friend nor myself can exercise control, prevents the carrying out of the good intentions of the Postmaster General. I assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no such difference of opinion on these matters, and I may go further and assure him that both the Post Office and the Treasury are anxious to extend as far as circumstances permit postal facilities in the remote districts. The hon. Member has referred to the progress that was made when my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Agriculture was Financial Secretary to the Treasury and the Duke of Norfolk was Postmaster General. He does an injustice to the present occupants of those offices in going back to what was then done. A great step in advance was made then, but it should not be made a matter of complaint that we are not progressing at the same rate now. The Post Office could not afford to progress at the same rate. We hope to make progress by degrees, and to provide better facilities than exist at the present time. The hon. Member for Inverness and my hon. friend the Member for Orkney urged that the Post Office should not consider too closely whether certain services would pay or not, but should consider the service as a whole and the profit obtained there from, being content to work some of the services at a loss. I do not dispute that statement for a moment. That is the principle on which the Post Office works, but if we were to comply with every demand for increased facilities made upon us, the profit of the whole would disappear shortly, and we should have a loss instead. What is clear, and what I have indicated earlier in the evening, is that the policy of the Treasury and the Post Office for some time has been that the gross profit from the postal service should be divided between a contribution to the revenue of the country and the further improvement of the postal service. That is so already. Take the case of the mails to Stornoway, which the hon. Member has frequently brought before the House. Does he imagine that service pays? Not a bit of it. The loss is between three and four times as great as the revenue derived from it. One reason for having this business conducted by the Government is that the cost may be more evenly spread, and that postal service may not be impossible in the scattered populations; but there must be some limit to that, and some regard must be had to the amount of business in particular localities.

There was one other question raised by the hon. Gentleman, and that was as regards the amount of money appearing in the Vote on account of money orders or Post Office orders which were lost, or from some cause not presented for payment. Some of them may be lost, some of them may be accumulating in the hands of the receivers, or some of them may be mislaid by receivers. A considerable part of the sum is due to the discount under which these orders are paid when they run for more than a certain period. The hon. Member is aware that if they are not cashed within a certain limit of time they are, after that time has expired, subject to discount. One suggestion the hon. Member made was that, for the purpose of identification, in the case of postal orders lost, there should be issued a counterfoil which could be kept by the senders. That is a point well worthy of consideration. My attention has not been drawn to it before, but I will confer with the Postmaster General about it and see whether anything can be done. A question was asked as to the Government system of telephones within the metropolitan area. I am afraid I have nothing more definite to add to what I said some weeks ago, when I stated that I expected that a considerable part of the system would be open before the close of the present year. Of course, it is in the interest of the Post Office and the Treasury, having embarked considerable capital on this, that we should open the service to the public, and endeavour to secure a revenue from it, at the earliest possible moment, and our efforts will be directed towards that object.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

said he wanted to bring forward a case in which the Post- master General had conducted the business most deplorably. Cork post office was a place where business had been growing enormously and the profits had been very large. Well, would it be believed that on account of a comparatively trifling sum of money the Post Office declined to accede to the representations made by the chamber of commerce and the people of that city with respect to the plans for the new buildings? The Postmaster General and his representatives in Ireland considered themselves better judges of what was required than the chamber of commerce and the people of Cork. It had been pointed out to the Postmaster General time and again that the buildings which were being erected would be totally inadequate to meet the accommodation required.


The question of post office buildings does not arise on this Vote.


said he would not pursue the subject further, for he presumed that at a later period he would have an opportunity of bringing it before the Committee.

MR. MOON (St. Pancras, N.)

said the right hon. Member for the Hallam Division opposed the request that a Committee of this House should be appointed to inquire into grievances, on the ground that Members would be liable to pressure. There was no doubt that some Members of the House would be liable to pressure, but there was a large number of Members who would not. There were Members for rural districts and the Members for the Universities who would be peculiarly suitable to inquire into the grievances of the men. If such a Committee were appointed it would satisfy the wish of the employees. Men of judgment were wanted, and if the members of the Committee were drawn from the classes he mentioned there would be no risk of pressure.

MR. NANNETTI (Dublin, College Green)

supported the proposal that an inquiry should be made into the grievances of the Post Office employees. He was surprised that the right hon. Member for the Hallam Division objected to the appointment of a Committee. The claims made on behalf of these men did not come from any particular section of the House. He remembered attending several meetings of the men where this claim for an inquiry was brought forward, and letters were read from Conservatives and Unionists, Nationalists and Liberals. He was surprised to find that the promises made to the postal officials by these Members were not being followed up in the House now. What was wanted was a Committee that the employees would have confidence in—a Committee who would look seriously into the grievances of the men. He might state, with reference to his own constituency, that he was largely returned by the votes of the postal officials. Since he came into this House he had brought before the hon. Gentlemen opposite several grievances of those officials, but he was sorry to say that his efforts on their behalf had had very little effect. He had received many promises, but there had been no performance. He thought it was high time that an inquiry was held into the claims put forward, not from Ireland alone, but from England, Scotland, and Wales. One matter the men in Dublin had to complain about was a system called the three-shift system. It meant that the men were on duty from four in the morning till eight at night. Although they were not continuously at work during the whole of that time, they were at the service of the Government, and liable to be called upon.

MR. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

remarked that the idea that the Post Office made a large profit, and that they might do something in cheapening the cost of letter postage, was a delusion, because if they did that they would have to increase the taxation of the State. Of course, what they took off with one hand they took away with another. This discussion had been rather vague, and he should like to allude to one little grievance which he had himself, and that was in regard to the horses employed in the mail carts in His Majesty's Service. He had inspected these horses, and had come to the conclusion that they were certainly, some of them at any rate, very far from being in a satisfactory state. Many of them were in a very poor condition, and doing very hard work. He thought it was not creditable to the State that these horses were not in as good condition as those employed by the London County Council, the Tramways Companies, or the Road Car Company, than which no horses could be kept in better condition.

Having ventilated this grievance, he wished to say a few words as to the real question before the Committee, namely, the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the alleged grievances of postmen. When he was first elected in 1892 this question was brought under his notice, and he was asked whether he would support an inquiry into the grievances of the Post Office employees at that time. He was new to Parliamentary life, and it was pointed out to him that, if the inquiry could do no good, it, at any rate, could do no harm; and that it would show that if the grievances existed something might be done to remedy them. He said that he would vote for an inquiry, and when he was returned the question came before the House, and he announced that he would vote in favour of the inquiry. That inquiry was held by a Committee, of which Lord Tweed mouth was chairman. An hon. Gentleman opposite said the inquiry should be held by people in whom the men had confidence; but in whom could they have more confidence than Lord Tweed mouth, who could not be said to be in favour of the capitalists who were sometimes held up to such opprobrium? What was the result of the inquiry of that Committee? The wages of the Post Office officials were increased by £400,000. In 1895 another inquiry was asked for, and, as far as he was personally concerned, he refused to join in the demand for it. It was, however, given, and he believed it was a fair and impartial inquiry; although his experience of the world told him that no inquiry would ever satisfy the men. That was only human nature; he was quite certain that whatever was offered to him himself would not appear sufficient for his services. The result of the second inquiry was a still further increase in the salaries of the Post Office employees, but still they were not satisfied, and they demanded a particular inquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons. He had at his last election told his constituents that he should refuse to accede to that request. He had sat on many Select Committees of the House of Commons, and he could not conceal from himself that there was generally a political bias in these Committees. That was a very serious question for the nation when pressure was brought to bear on the disposition of the money of the taxpayers. During the nine years in which he had had the honour of having a seat in the House of Commons, one of the most serious questions that he had had to consider was the constant pressure which was brought to bear on Members of Parliament by civil servants to give them money which belonged not to them, but to the nation. If that sort of thing went on the time would come when the suffrage would have to be taken from civil servants. Supposing this Committee asked for were appointed, what would be the result? Every other branch of the Civil Service would require a Committee to inquire whether they were receiving the wages they ought to receive, and the result would be a com-

plete subverison of all discipline. Under these circumstances, he hoped the House of Commons would not commit themselves to a Committee of Inquiry. If another Inquiry was necessary it should be made by persons who had a knowledge of the business, and who were not likely to be biased one way or the other. A Select Committee of the House would be the worst tribunal to which the matter could be referred.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put accordingly, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the Postmaster General."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 103; Noes, 148. (Division List No. 222.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Harwood, George O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Hay, Hon. Claude George O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Ambrose, Robert Hayden, John Patrick O'Malley, William
Bell, Richard Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Mara, James
Blake, Edward Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir A. D. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Boland, John Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E. Partington, Oswald
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Holland, William Henry Power, Patrick Joseph
Royle, James Horniman, Frederick John Priestley, Arthur
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Jacoby, James Alfred Rea, Russell
Brigg, John Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Reddy, M.
Burke, E. Haviland- Kennedy, Patrick James Rickett, J. Compton
Burt, Thomas Lambert, George Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green
Caldwell, James Leamy, Edmund Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Channing, Francis Allston Leng, Sir John Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Coghill, Douglas Harry Lewis, John Herbert Shipman, Dr. John G.
Colville, John MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire
Craig, Robert Hunter M'Arthur, Wm. (Cornwall) Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R. (N'th'nts
Crean, Eugene M'Dermott, Patrick Sullivan, Donal
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Delany, William Markham, Arthur Basil Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R)
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh. Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Wallace, Robert
Dewar, T R (T'wrH'mlts S. Geo. Mooney, John J. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dillon, John Morgan, David J (Walthamst'w Weir, James Galloway
Donelan, Captain A. Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Doogan, P. C. Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Dufly, William J. Moss, Samuel Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Murphy, J. Williams, Osmond (Merioneth
Fenwick, Charles Nannetti, Joseph P. Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd
Flynn, James Christopher Norman, Henry Yoxall, James Henry
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Fuller, J. M. F. Nussey, Thomas Willans TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Thomas Bayley and Mr. Schwann.
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Goeen, W. D. (Wednesbury) O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balfour, Rt Hon. A. J. (Manch'r
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Bain, Colonel James Robert Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Balcarres, Lord Banbury, Frederick George
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Middx Pretyman, Ernest George
Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Purvis, Robert
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Rbt. Wm. Pym, C. Guy
Bigwood, James Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd Randles, John S.
Bowles, Capt H. P. (Middlesex Harris, Frederick Leverton Reid, James (Greenock)
Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Helder, Augustus Renshaw, Charles Bine
Bull, William James Henderson, Alexander Rentoul, James Alexander
Butcher, John George Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Renwick, George
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hogg, Lindsay Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge
Cautley, Henry Strother Hope, J. F (Sheffield, Brightside Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. T.
Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.) Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Ropner, Colonel Robert
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Round, James
Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r) Keswick, William Russell, T. W.
Chapman, Edward Knowles, Lees Rutherford, John
Charrington, Spencer Lawson, John Grant Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Clare, Octavius Leigh Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareh'm Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Seton-Karr, Henry
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Sharpe, William Edward T.
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Lonsdale, John Brownlee Smith, H C (North'mb Tyneside
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Macdona, John Cumming Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Cox, Irwin Edward B. Maconochie, A. W. Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Cranborne, Viscount M'Calmont, Col. H L B (Cambs.) Stroyan, John
Cripps, Charles Alfred M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Crossley, Sir Savile Majendie, James A. H. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Martin, Richard Buddulph Thornton, Percy M.
Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Tollemache, Henry James
Dorington, Sir John Edward Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Tufnell, Lt.-Col. Edward
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Valentia, Viscount
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Moor, Robt. Jasper (Shropehire) Walker, Col. William Hall
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Morrell, George Herbert Wason, John C. (Orkney)
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Webb, Col. William George
Finch, George H. Morrison, James Archibald Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Fisher, William Hayes Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u-Lyne
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Flower, Ernest Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Wills, Sir Frederick
Garfit, William Myers, William Henry Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Nicol, Donald Ninian Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Gore, Hn. GRCOrmsby- (Salop) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Wynhham, Rt. Hon. George
Goulding, Edward Alfred Parker, Gilbert
Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds Pemberton, John S. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Penn, John
Gretton, John Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Greville, Hon. Ronald Powell, Sir Francis Sharp

Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.


rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Original Question be now put."

Original Question put accordingly.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 168; Noes, 93. (Division List No. 223.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Crossley, Sir Savile
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Cantley, Henry Strother Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'mlets S. Geo.
Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh. Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield
Bain, Colonel James Robert Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm. Dorington, Sir John Edward
Balcarres, Lord Chamberlain, J. Austen (W'rc'r Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-
Balfour, Rt Hn. A. J. (Manch'r Chapman, Edward Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Charrington, Spencer Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward
Balfour, Maj K R (Christchurch Clare, Octavius Leigh Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst
Banbury, Frederick George Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Finch, George H.
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. Coghill, Douglas Harry Finlay, Sir Robt. Bannatyne
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Fisher, William Hayes
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Fitzroy, Hon. Edw. Algernon
Bigwood, James Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Flannery, Sir Fortescue
Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middles'x) Corbett, A. C. (Glasgow) Flower, Ernest
Brookfield, Col. Montagu Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Garfit, William
Bull, William James Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.
Bullard, Sir Harry Cranborne, Viscount Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn
Butcher, John George Cripps, Charles Alfred Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby- (Salop
Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire) Ropner, Colonel Robert
Goulding, Edward Alfred Majendie, James A. H. Round, James
Green, W. D. (Wednesbury) Martin, Richard Biddulph Royds, Clement Molyneux
Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Russell, T. W.
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Rutherford, John
Gretton, John Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Greville, Hon. Ronald Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Hamilton, Rt Hn. Ld G. (Midd'x More, Robt. Jasper (Shropsh. Sharpe, William Edward T.
Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nd'ry Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Hanbury, Rt Hon. Robert W. Morrell, George Herbert Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd. Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Smith, H C (North'mb Tyneside
Harris, Frederick Leverton Morrison, James Archibald Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.
Hay, Hon. Claude George Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford Spear, John Ward
Helder, Augustus Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Henderson, Alexander Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Hermon-Hodge, Robert T. Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath Stroyan, John
Hobhouse, H. (Somerset, E.) Myers, William Henry Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Hogg, Lindsay Nicol, Donald Ninian Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Hope, J. F. (Sh'ff'd, Brightside) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Thornton, Percy M.
Hutton, John (Yorks., N. R.) Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Tollemache, Henry James
Jessel, Capt. Herb. Merton Parker, Gilbert Tufnell, Lt.-Col. Edward
Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Pemberton, John S. G. Valentia, Viscount
Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H. Penn, John Walker, Col. William Hall
Keswick, William Platt-Higgins, Frederick Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Knowles, Lees Powell, Sir Francis Sharp Webb, Col. William George
Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth Pretyman, Ernest George Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)
Lawson, John Grant Purvis, Robert Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham Pym, C. Guy Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne
Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Randles, John S. Whitmore, Chas. Algernon
Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Reid, James (Greenock) Wills, Sir Frederick
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Renshaw, Charles Bine Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Long, Col. Charles W (Evesham Rentoul, James Alexander Wilson-Todd. Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S. Renwick, George Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath)
Lonsdale, John Brownlee Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Macdona, John Cumming Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Maconochie, A. W. Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
M'Calmont, Col. H. B. L. (Cambs Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Hayden, John Patrick O'Mara, James
Allan, William (Gateshead) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Shaugnessy, P. J.
Ambrose, Robert Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D. Partington, Oswald
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) Power, Patrick Joseph
Boland, John Holland, William Henry Priestley, Arthur
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Horniman, Frederick John Rea, Russel
Boyle, James Jacoby, James Alfred Reddy, M.
Brand, Hon. Arthur G. Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Rickett, J. Compton
Brigg, John Kennedy, Patrick James Roberts, John H. (Denbigh.)
Burke, E. Haviland- Leamy, Edmund Schwann, Charles E.
Burt, Thomas Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington) Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Caldwell, James Leng, Sir John Shipman, Dr. John G.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Lewis, John Herbert Sinclair, Capt John (Forfarshire
Channing, Francis Allston MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants
Colville, John M'Dermott, Patrick Sullivan, Donal
Craig, Robert Hunter M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North) Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Crean, Eugene Markham, Arthur Basil Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan Mooney, John J. Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Delany, William Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Weir, James Galloway
Dillon, John Moss, Samuel White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Donelan, Captain A. Murphy, John Whiteley, George (York, W. R.
Doogan, P. C. Nannetti, Joseph P. Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Dnffy, William J. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Norman, Henry Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Fenwick, Charles Norton, Capt. Cecil William Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd
Flavin, Michael Joseph Nussey, Thomas Willans Yoxall, James Henry
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Wallace and Mr. Lambert.
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Gilhooly, James O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Harwood, George O'Malley, William

3. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £571,085, be granted to His 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, 1902, for the Expenses of the Post Office Packet Service."


said that under Item A there was a sum of £3,000 for the packet service to Stornoway. The boat was forty years old, and carried His Majesty's mails through stormy seas at a speed not exceeding, at the best of times, ten knots an hour, and was seventy times late in three months. The experiment was commenced on April 1st, and he wished to know how long it was to continue before the Post Office asked for tenders for another steamer. Would the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that tenders would be invited for a swifter steamer? If the hon. Gentleman's predecessor had been in office he believed a better steamer would have been provided. But unfortunately the Duke of Norfolk was not Postmaster General, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston did not represent the Post Office in the House of Commons. He had stated that the matter would be carefully considered, and if he had continued to represent the Post Office a better service would now be un fait accompli. But of course the hon. Gentleman was yet young at his business, he was not seasoned, and he had not the experience of the right hon. Gentleman who preceded him.

He hoped, however, the hon. Gentleman would give him an assurance that the service would be improved, and that it was not the intention of the Post Office to continue to employ the "Clydesdale" for this service. The Island of Lewis had a population of 30,000, and Stornoway was one of the finest naval reserve stations in the kingdom. The Island deserved better consideration from His Majesty's Government. The forty-year-old tub might go down one day, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman would not then be on board, or even the hon. Member for Peckham who spoke of the people in the Highlands as uncivilised. Would the hon. Gentleman follow in the steps of his predecessor, who promised a better boat? The railway had now been carried up to Mallaig, but what was the use of this if the western seaboard and the islands were not to be developed? He hoped he would not be met with the miserable plea that the Stornoway mail service did not pay. The Post Office made a profit of nearly four millions a year, and surely the Treasury could afford to be more liberal. The Government gave large subsidies to steamers carrying mails to foreign countries and the colonies; they really ought to look after the needs of the people at home. In case he did not get a favourable reply he would safeguard himself by moving the reduction of the Vote by £100.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A be reduced by £100, in respect of the Contract for the Conveyance of Mails between Kyle and Stornoway."—(Mr. Weir.)


said that the subject had been already mentioned in the course of the discussion, but he would repeat briefly the facts of the case. The service no doubt was not a very fast one, and he could easily imagine a much better one. He hoped, however, that in some respects the mails to Stornoway would be accelerated in the course of the summer. He thought that the railway company were contemplating an acceleration of the trains during the tourist season, which would enable the mails to be delivered more rapidly. The hon. Member asked that the Post Office should give up the present contract, and invite tenders for a new service of sixteen, eighteen, or twenty knots—the hon. Member placed no limit to his ambition. The hon. Member complained that the present boat was forty years old, but he was told she was still a good, seaworthy vessel. If his memory did not mislead him, the "Victory" was forty years old when Nelson selected her for his flagship.


She was not a steamship.


said he was perfectly well aware of that. What were the facts of the case? The service was already run at a very considerable loss. The subsidy for the packet was £3,000 a year, and the cost of the whole service to Stornoway was £4,270, and the revenue it brought in was only £1,258. Under those circumstances it could not be said that the Post Office was dealing ungenerously with Stornoway. He himself would only be too glad to call for tenders for a new service if it could be done without further expense to the taxpayers, but he would not be justified in incurring increased expenditure, seeing how largely the present expenditure exceeded the revenue. After all, in such matters they should look to the country as a whole. Other districts had to be considered, and the debate afforded a sufficient indication as to how numerous were the claims on the Post Office.


said he was really sorry the hon. Gentleman had not given him a more satisfactory reply. He was sure he would have received much more encouragement from the hon. Gentleman's predecessor.

The hon. Gentleman had made a mistake of 25 per cent. He said that the cost of the service was £4,270, whereas it only appeared in the Vote as £3,000.


said that the whole cost was £4,270. The £3,000 included in the Vote was for the packet service only.


said he was dealing with the packet service, the subject before the Committee. The hon. Gentleman had referred to the acceleration of the mails on land. What he wanted was the acceleration of the mails on water. The hon. Gentleman had given him no encouragement as regarded a better service, and he regretted extremely being obliged to go to a division.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 86; Noes, 166. (Division List No. 224.)

Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N. E.) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N
Ambrose, Robert Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir A. D. O'Malley, William
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) O'Mara, James
Boland, John Holland, William Henry O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Horniman, Frederick John Partington, Oswald
Boyle, James Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire) Pirie, Duncan V.
Brigg, John Kennedy, Patrick James Power, Patrick Joseph
Burke, E. Haviland- Lambert, George Priestley, Arthur
Caldwell, James Leamy, Edmund Rea, Russell
Cameron, Robert Leese, Sir Jos. F. (Accrington) Reddy, M.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Leng, Sir John Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Causton, Richard Knight Lewis, John Herbert Schwann, Charles E.
Channing, Francis Allston Lough, Thomas Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Colville, John MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Craig, Robert Hunter M'Dermott, Patrick Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.)
Crean, Eugene Markham, Arthur Basil Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan Mooney, John J. Sullivan, Donal
Delany, William Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Taylor, Theodore Cooke
Dillon, John Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
Donelan, Captain A. Moss, Samuel Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, John Wallace, Robert
Duffy, William J. Nannetti, Joseph P. Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.
Flavin, Michael Joseph Norman, Henry White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Flynn, James Christopher Norton, Capt. Cecil William Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co. Nussey, Thomas Willans Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Gilhooly, James O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Weir and Mr. John Dewar.
Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Hayden, John Patrick O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manon)
Allhnsen, Augustus Henry E. Bigwood, James Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bond, Edward Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)
Bain, Colonel James Robert Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex) Chapman, Edward
Balcarres, Lord Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Charrington, Spencer
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manc'r Brookfield, Colonel Montagu Clare, Octavius Leigh
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Bull, William James Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.
Balfour, Maj. K. R. (Christch.) Butcher, John George Coghill, Douglas Harry
Banbury, Frederick George Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. Cautley, Henry Strother Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole
Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.) Reid, James (Greenock)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Rentoul, James Alexander
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Renwick, George
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Keswick, William Rickett, J. Compton
Cranborne, Viscount Knowles, Lees Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalyb'dge)
Cripps, Charles Alfred Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green
Crossley, Sir Savile Lawson, John Grant Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Dewar, TR. (T'rH'ml'ts, S. Geo. Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Ropner, Col. Robert
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Bound, James
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham) Rutherford, John
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol S. Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward Lonsdale, John Brownlee Sharpe, William Edward T.
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Finch, George H. Macdona, John Cumming Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Maconochie, A. W. Smith, H C (North'mb. Tyn's'de
Fisher, William Hayes M 'Calmont, Col. H L B (Cambs. Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon Majendie, James A. H. Spear, John Ward
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Martin, Richard Biddulph Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Garfit, William Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Stroyan, John
Gordon, Hn. J E. (Elgin & Nairn) Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Gore, Hn G R. C Ormsby- (Salop) More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire Thornton, Percy M.
Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc.) Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow) Tollemache, Henry James
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Morrell, George Herbert Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Goulding, Edward Alfred Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Valentia, Viscount
Green, Walford D. (Wednesb'ry Morrison, James Archibald Walker, Col. William Hall
Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nd's Morton, Arthur H A. (Deptford Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Webb, Col. William George
Gretton, John Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Welby, Lt.-Cl. A. C. E. (Taunt'n
Greville, Hon. Ronald Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Welby, Sir Charles G. E (Notts.)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Wentworth, B. C. Vernon-
Guthrie, Walter Murray Myers, William Henry Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)
Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Middx Nicol, Donald Ninian Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'derry Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Wills, Sir Frederick
Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm. Palmer, Walter (Salisbury) Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd Parker, Gilbert Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Harris, Frederick Leverton Pemberton, John S. G. Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Hay, Hon. Claude George Penn, John Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Heaton, John Henniker Platt-Higgins, Frederick Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Helder, Augustus Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Pretyman, Ernest George TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E. Purvis, Robert
Hogg, Lindsay Pym, C. Guy
Hope, J. F. (Sheffield Brightside Randles, John S.

Original Question again proposed.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

said he desired some information on a question which had been brought before the Committee year after year on this Vote, namely, the question of the lascars serving on board P. and O. steamers. He had always thought that the history of the question was one of the most extraordinary ever brought before the House of Commons. Year after year his friend Mr. Havelock Wilson, who was for many years Member for Middlesbrough, had brought forward the question of the defiance of the law by the P. and O. Company, who were subsidised by the House of Commons, and although for one or two sessions the Government attempted to evade the contention that the P. and O. Company did defy the law, yet by admirable perseverance Mr. Wilson at last compelled the present Home Secretary, who was then President of the Board of Trade, to admit that the P. and O. Company had openly and persistently defied the law, and that, in spite of continued warnings, they still declined to give the lascars in their employment that amount of cubic space accommodation which the law required. The matter had been before the House year after year, and as far as he could recollect, when it was last debated, the Home Secretary stated that it was still under discussion with the P. and O. Company, and the right hon. Gentleman led the Committee to believe that the P. and O. Company would be called upon to obey the law. What he wanted to know was whether the P. and O. Company had yet agreed to provide for their lascar seamen that accommodation which every other company carrying mails and subsidised by Parliament was compelled, by the law of the land, to give. In a previous debate the chairman of the P. and O. Company took refuge behind some Indian regulations, but it was proved to the satisfaction of the Committee that that did not cover the ease, and that P. and O. boats sailing from England were bound by the regulations of the English Board of Trade. The pretext was put forward on behalf of the P. and O. Company that it was impossible for them to work their ships with white labour, and that it was absolutely essential for them to employ lascars in going through the tropics.


May I interrupt the hon. Member? There is an action by the Board of Trade against this company now pending, and while it is pending it is impossible for me to discuss the hearing of the law.


said it was very satisfactory after all these years to have got so far, but he should like to hear from the President of the Board of Trade when the action was commenced and how soon it would be heard.


That entirely depends on the courts.


said it did not depend on the courts when the action was commenced.


This is an agreed action between the Board of. Trade and the P. and O. Company as to whether the law has been infringed. It was commenced about six months ago, but I cannot determine when it will be heard.


said he confessed that that explanation was exceedingly unsatisfactory. Let him recall the history of the matter. It was four or five years ago since in his own hearing the then hon. Member for Middlesbrough asserted from his own knowledge—and he spoke for the seamen of the country that that great and powerful company were breaking the law. He was contradicted flatly by the representative of the Board of Trade and challenged to produce cases. He did produce cases—specific instances—and then after a controversy extending over, he thought, two years, his hon. friend compelled the President of the Board of Trade to admit that the company were breaking the law.


It is doubtful whether this matter is under Indian law or English law, and it is really to decide that that this action has been taken. I cannot explain at the moment the precise form the action takes, but it is an action which has been agreed upon to decide whether the P. and O. Company are under Indian law or English law.


said he must persist in his statement that, so far as they had been able to get information from the Board of Trade, it was entirely unsatisfactory. It was two years since he heard the President of the Board of Trade, state that the law had been broken, and that immediate steps would be taken to enforce it. Now they were told that some agreement of a technical and abstract character had been come to between the Board of Trade and the P. and O. Company to determine whether the law had been broken. Was that the way the Board of Trade proceeded, against persons who had broken the law? Was that the usual procedure? If was not the usual procedure. If it were brought to the knowledge of the Board of Trade that the law had been broken, they did not enter into an agreement with the person breaking the law to have an action such as had been described. The right hon. Gentleman did not even remember the character of the action or when it was likely to be brought to trial. The whole history of the matter was of the most suspicious and extraordinary character. He did not believe that any other body of men less powerful, less influential, and less wealthy than the P. and O. Company could have for such a number of years continued to defy the law. In previous debates the plea was put forward on behalf of the company, in order to justify their conduct in breaking the law, that they were compelled to employ lascars—that they were necessary for the work. But the Orient Company, which went over the same route, employed white labour, and the reason why the P. and O. Company employed black labour was because it was cheaper, because the keep of the lascars did not cost a third of the keep of white men, because they received very small wages, and were crowded into wretched accommodation. That was why the lascars were employed. The P. and O. Company found it to their interest to boycott white labour, They had heard about the necessity of encouraging the mercantile marine and British seamen, who were being almost wiped off the face of the waters, and yet a great company, enjoying a subsidy of £300,000 a year from Parliament, were the greatest enemies of British seamen, by employing an enormous quantity of cheap Asiatic labour. If they insisted in employing Asiatic labour to the exclusion of white labour, which other companies employed over the same seas, they ought to be compelled to apply the same sanitary laws and give the same accommodation. It was monstrous that such a state of things should be tolerated for a single hour. As they were called upon to vote a subsidy to the company, the Committee had a right to put pressure on the Board of Trade to put an end to breaches of the law. In order to give the Committee an opportunity of expressing an opinion on the matter he moved to reduce the Vote by £50,000 in respect of this item.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item E be reduced by £100, in respect of the Contract for the Conveyance of Mails to Asia and Australia."—(Mr. Dillon.)


said that, before referring to the matter raised by the hon. Member, he might be permitted to make one observation as to the extraordinary way the debate had been conducted, by which they were unable to discuss the question of the Postmaster General not being in the House of Commons.


The hon. Member must now confine himself to the subject matter of the debate.


said he had asked permission to make that statement, and would now proceed to discuss the Vote. His complaint was that the Packet Vote should not be charged to the Post Office at all. Up to 1868 it was charged to the Admiralty, and a very large proportion of it was not for Post Office purposes at all. There was one item which he strongly objected to, and that was the sum of £60,000 for the mail service between Vancouver and Hong Kong. He objected to that sum being placed on the Post Office Vote. The mails from Vancouver to Hong Kong—


The hon. Member is anticipating. He is now discussing the next item—Item F. He must confine himself to Item E.


said that Item E deserved the consideration of the Committee, because the whole of the subsidies should not be charged to the Post Office. The service to Australia was quite unworthy of the country. A Return issued by the Postmaster General of Victoria showed that the P. and O. boats were always from two to four days later than the French boats carrying mails between England and Australia. Yet it is only fair to say that the P. and O. boats delivered the mails before their contract time. The absence of the Postmaster General from the House of Commons and the utter inability of his hon. friend to explain the Vote were a sufficient condemnation of the way it was brought before the Committee. The whole explanation of the P. and O. service to Australia was that the small subsidy paid to the company for years prevented any other company from competing. While he had the greatest respect for the P. and O. Company, and for the splendid officers and men they employed, apart from black labour, he thought it was a great wrong to the country that the Post Office authorities never called for tenders for carrying mails to Australia until six months before expiration of the contracts, which made it impossible for any other company to compete, because it required years to make preparations in order to tender for such a great service to be performed in quicker time. He felt he was not able to go into the general question of the packet services, but he should point out as each item came forward the most astounding anomalies, which would not be tolerated for a day if the Post Office was conducted on businesslike lines.


said that, like his hon. friend the Member for East Mayo, he too remembered the late Member for Middlesbrough moving in the matter of the lascars employed by the P. and O. Company. He recollected, if he was not mistaken, that it had been held that ships leaving British ports were bound to carry out the Board of Trade regulations. Perhaps the Attorney General would state if ships leaving British ports and flying the British flag, whether they carried British or foreign or coloured seamen, were not bound to conform to the Board of Trade regulations? The question was raised whether the lascars, being shipped at Bombay, should only receive the accommodation laid down for Eastern seamen, but the late hon. Member for Middlesbrough proved beyond doubt that, whether the lascars were shipped at Bombay or any other port in the East, so far as outward voyages from England were concerned, the regulations of the Board of Trade were broken. Now, after two years, the Committee was told that some friendly action was pending between the Board of Trade and the P. and O. Company to try and establish some modus vivendi by which the company might bring themselves within the four corners of the law. The President of the Board of Trade dissented. What, then, was the object of this lawsuit? He asked whether or not all sailors, whether coloured or European, sailing under the British flag from British ports, were entitled to the same amount of cubic space for sleeping and eating purposes.


The proceedings which have been referred to are for the purpose of having it determined whether or not the Board of Trade regulations apply in the case of the P. and O. Company in regard to the employment of lascars. The P. and O. Company have contended they are subject to Indian Acts, which are different in effect, and that the regulations with regard to British seamen do not apply. These proceedings are not friendly proceedings with a view to a compromise of any sort or kind; they are proceedings in which both parties are actuated by a strong desire to have the point settled once for all as to what the law on the subject is. As regards the date at which the proceedings will come to hearing, I think it is fixed for the 18th of this month—at all events, it is some early date. The proceedings are these:—The P. and O. Company have brought a Petition of Right on the ground that the disallowance of space with reference to the employment of lascars on their boats is illegal. A question of law may arise with regard to the form of the proceedings, but it is hoped that the law as to the provision of space for lascars will be determined.


complained that more than four years had elapsed since this matter was brought before the House, but the Government were still allowing British seamen to be squeezed out of British subsidised ships by lascars. It would be said that lascars were British subjects, but they were not men upon whom the country could depend to fight its ships in case of war. The great difficulty at the present moment was to get men for the Navy. Something like 30,000 men were required for mobilisation, and whereas the Government on the 4th March last established a system of Royal Naval Reserves in order that they might have a reserve of British seamen to man their ships, they had only been able to get 800 men up to the present in all the ports of the United Kingdom. The Navy was being starved because the merchant service was starved. The conduct of the Government upon this subject had not been at all straightforward for a patriotic Government. They were subsidising this company and enabling it to make money as against other patriotic shipowners who employed British labour, and as a protest he should certainly support the Amendment.

MR. J. WILSON (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

thought the hon. Member had got a good deal out of his depth. He was not at all correct in stating that the P. and O. Company was the only company which employed lascars.


I did not make any such statement.


pointed out that nearly all the companies employed lascars as firemen, and it was a good thing they did, as lascars were much better fitted for that work than Europeans.


said that the P. and O. Company did not by any means confine their employment of lascars to the work of firemen.

MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)

said that whether or not the P. and O. Company employed lascars was not the point under discussion. The question before the Committee was whether this company was to receive this subsidy if it did not comply with the Board of Trade regulations. It did not matter in the least whether the company were entitled legally to run ships to India and back with or without this accommodation. It was all very well to say there was an action pending. The point was not what the law could compel the company to do, but what the House could compel them to do by this subsidy, and his contention was that the subsidy should not be given to a company which did not provide proper accommodation for the, crew, By giving this subsidy for carrying the mails the Government were really subsidising the English merchant navy, and in return for such a large subsidy there should be a proper carrying out of the Board of Trade regulations.

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

had a distinct recollection that on the last occasion when this matter was discussed the present Home Secretary emphatically declared that in his opinion the P. and O. Company were violating the law, and that if they continued to do so it would be the duty of the Board of Trade to take notice of the matter. All that his valorous words had come to, however, was that there was to be a more or less friendly action between the Government and the P. and O. Company—an action too, started by the company. What the Committee had expected was that the Board of Trade would take action.


It is true the action is started by the P. and O. Company, but it is in consequence of the action taken by the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade has disallowed the cubic space, and the P. and O. Company have brought an action called a "Petition of Right" against that disallowance, and upon that Petition of Right will be decided whether the company are entitled to engage their lascars upon the Indian regulations.


admitted that that was a satisfactory answer to that particular point. But even supposing it was decided that the company were entitled under Indian law to give the lascars less cubic space than they would have to give to English sailors under the English law, that did not really affect the attitude this Committee ought to adopt, This was a Vote of £300,000 of British money to this particular company. Had not the Committee a right to ask that the company which received this large sum of money should give proper protection to the health and life not only of the lascars, but also of the rest of the crew and the passengers on the vessels, whose lives and safety indirectly depended upon the lives and safety of the lascars? Was it really consistent with the policy of a great naval country that they should encourage the exclusion of British seamen from one of the great subsidised services by permitting worse accommodation to be given to lascars than would be allowed to British sailors? That was a question the Government had not met, and the Committee were entitled to an assurance that, whatever the decision of the courts might be, fair treatment would be demanded for every sailor, of whatever nationality he might be.


said that the all important question was whether at the present moment the company were allowing the regulation space to the lascars, or whether, in spite of the disallowance of the Board of Trade, they persisted in their violation of the rule. He gathered from the silence of the President of the Board of Trade that the company were persisting in their violation of the rule. If that was the case it was a monstrous position of affairs. After all the years which had elapsed since the matter was first brought forward, the Board of Trade had called upon the company to obey the law and the company simply presented a Petition of Right, but continued to defy the Board. Even if the Petition of Bight succeeded, it would not substantially alter the merits of the question. A great British line subsidised by the Government should not be allowed to obtain a premium and an advantage over other lines by the exclusion of British labour from its ships. Nobody had proposed that all subsidised lines should be compelled to employ only British labour, although he thought that would not be an unreasonable demand. All that was proposed was that they should be placed under the same regulations with regard to their Asiatic labour as they would be with regard to British labour. But the main strength of the case was that for three years this company had set at defiance the regulations to which every other shipper in the country had to conform, and that no explanation had been given to the House of the deplorable delay which had been tolerated before action was taken.


The hon. Gentleman opposite has said quite truly that when I had to speak as President of the Board of Trade upon this subject I expressed my own opinion, which was based upon that given me by the law officers of the Crown, that the P. and O. Company were not conforming to the law. In consequence the Board of Trade disallowed the space occupied by the lascar crews whenever the required space was not given. The effect of that, of course, was that the P. and O. Company were compelled to pay much larger dues wherever the ships went than they otherwise would have done. The Board of Trade, therefore, did give effect to the legal advice that they received. That course has never been altered, and, notwithstanding this action which is pending, I understand that the practice is still being followed. The practice of disallowing space has been in operation some time now, and it still continues. The P. and O. Company are, therefore, being penalised on every ship which carries lascar labour out of this country where sufficient space is not allowed. Whether the view of the Board of Trade or the view of the P. and O. Company that they are not under the English law is the correct one will be decided by the courts, but in the meantime, as has always been the case, the crew space is being disallowed in consequence of the belief of the Board of Trade that the P. and O. Company are not acting in accordance with their obligations.


But do the P. and O. Company still persist in their course?


Yes, and their crew space is still being disallowed.


said that that disallowance had been going on for the last four or five years. Why did the company continue to defy the law? Because it paid them to do so, as they made more money by refusing to comply with the regulations. The Government were subsidising a company which for four years had set a pretty example to other shipowners of how to defy successfully the Board of Trade and the opinions of the law officers of the Crown. He should certainly take a division on the subject.


thought the Government were taking up an extraordinary attitude with regard to this question. The P. and O. Company had been penalised for four years, and were still continuing in their course. The obvious inference was that it paid them to do so. The object of inflicting a fine, which was in the nature of a criminal punishment, was not to get the fine, but to stop the crime. But this crime still went on, and the perpetrator of the crime found that it paid to pay the fine and continue the crime. Seeing that the fine did not put a stop to the crime, the Government would have to take some other course, and certainly the last thing they should do was to continue to subsidise the criminal. The obvious duty of the Government was to stop subsidising this particular line as long as it refused; to comply with the regulations. On this ground he thought it was the duty of everyone to support the reduction of the Vote.


I desire to say only one word, which I think is necessitated by the last two speeches we have heard. I do not propose to go into the question of the Board of Trade regulations, or to express an opinion as to the point of law which is before the courts. I desire only to point out that the suggestion that as long as the P. and O. Company refuse to accept the view of the Board of Trade of their obligations we should stop this subsidy is one which cannot be carried out. The subsidy is payable under a contract for a term of years, which has not yet expired. When that term does expire the question may be considered, but until it does expire we cannot do anything with regard to the subsidy.


When does it expire?


I cannot give the exact figure, but I believe it is in between three and six years from the present time.


Does that apply to all the subsidies paid to the P. and O. Company?




asked whether while the case was pending the company

were to give their lascars the space insisted upon by the Board of Trade regulations, or whether they were to be allowed to continue to put five lascars where only three British sailors could be put.


Whatever my inclinations might be, I have no power to insist that the P. and O. Company should do what the hon. Member desires.


said this was a very old story. The Committee were always being told that a case was pending. The case might go on for years, as they all knew how lawyers could arrange matters so that proceedings were postponed from time to time. It was very unsatisfactory that the Secretary to the Treasury should not be able to inform the Committee how long this contract had to run, especially as it involved so large an expenditure as a quarter of a million of money a year. With regard to the manning of the ships, any number of splendid men could be obtained in the Highlands of Scotland.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 76; Noes, 153. (Division List No. 225.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Hayden, John Patrick Partington, Oswald
Ambrose, Robert Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Pirie, Duncan V.
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) Power, Patrick Joseph
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Horniman, Frederick John Priestley, Arthur
Boland, John Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) Rea, Russell
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Kennedy, Patrick James Reddy, M.
Boyle, James Lambert, George Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Brigg, John Leamy, Edmund Schwann, Charles E.
Burke, E. Haviland- Leng, Sir John Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Burns, John Lough, Thomas Shipman, Dr. John G.
Caldwell, James MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) M'Dermott, Patrick Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants
Channing, Francis Allston Mooney, John J. Sullivan, Donal
Colville, John Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
Craig, Robert Hunter Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport) Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.
Crean, Eugene Moss, Samuel Wallace, Robert
Delany, William Murphy, J. Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Donelan, Captain A. Nannetti, Joseph P. Weir, James Galloway
Doogan, P. C. Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Duffy, William J. Norman, Henry Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.
Flynn, James Christopher O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Dillon and Captain Norton.
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Malley, William
Gilhooly, James O'Mara, James
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Bain, Colonel James Robert Balfour, Maj. K R (Christchurch
Allhuhen, Augustus Henry E. Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Banbury, Frederick George
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Hamilton, Rt Hn L'rd G (Midd'x Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Pretyman, Ernest George
Bigwood, James Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Purvis, Robert
Bond, Edward Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'd Randles, John S.
Brassey, Albert Harris, Frederick Leverton Reid, James (Greenock)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hay, Hon. Claude George Remnant, James Farquharson
Bull, William James Helder, Augustus Renwick, George
Butcher, John George Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E. Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green
Cautley, Henry Strother Hogg, Lindsay Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire Hope, J F. (Sheffield, Brightside Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.) Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Ropner, Colonel Robert
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.) Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H. Round, James
Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r Keswick, William Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Charrington, Spencer Knowles, Lees Seton-Karr, Henry
Churchill, Winston Spencer Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth) Sharps, William Edward T.
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Lawson, John Grant Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew
Coghill, Douglas Harry Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham Simeon, Sir Barrington
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Smith, H C (N'rth'mb. Tyneside
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Smith, James Parker (Lanarks
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Spear, John Ward
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Cranborne, Viscount Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S. Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. Lonsdale, John Brownlee Stroyan, John
Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Thornton, Percy M.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Macdona, John Cumming Tollemache, Henry James
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Maconochie, A. W. Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B. (Cam. Valentia, Viscount
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Majendie, James A. H. Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield
Finch, George H. Martin, Richard Biddulph Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Walker Col. William Hall
Ffsher, William Hayes Milton, Viscount Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney
Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Webb, Col. William George
Flannery, Sir Fortescue More, Robert J. (Shropshire) Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton
Garfit, William Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow) Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)
Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Morrell, George Herbert Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn) Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Whiteley, H. (Asht'n-un.-Lyne
Gore, Hn. G. R C Ormsby- (Salop Morrison, James Archibald Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc.) Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford Wills, Sir Frederick
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Green, Walford D (Wednesb'ry) Myers, William Henry Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds Nicol, Donald Ninian Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Gretton, John Parker, Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Greville, Hon. Ronald Pemberton, John S. G.
Guthrie, Walter Murray Penn, John

Original Question again proposed.

It being after Midnight, and objection being taken to Further Proceeding, the Chairman proceeded to interrupt the Business:—


rose in his place,

and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 150; Noes, 68. (Division List No. 226.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Bond, Edward Charrington, Spencer
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Brassey, Albert Churchill, Winston Spencer
Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.
Atkinson, Rt. Hn. John Hull, William James Coghill, Douglas Harry
Bain, Colonel James Robert Butcher, John George Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H. Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Cautley, Henry Strother Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)
Balfour, Maj K R (Christchurch Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge
Banbury, Frederick George Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Cranborne, Viscount
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Chamberlain, Rt Hon. J. (Birm. Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield
Bigwood, James Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r Dorington, Sir John Edward
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham) Ropner, Colonel Robert
Finch, George H. Long, Rt Hn. Walter (Bristol, S. Round, James
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Lonsdale, John Brownlee Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Fisher, William Hayes Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Seton-Karr, Henry
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon Lucas, Col. F. (Lowestoft) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Garfit, William Macdona, John Cumming Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew
Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Maconochie, A. W. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B (Cambs Smith, H C (North'mb. Tynes
Gore, Hn. G. R. C Ormsby (Salop Majendie, James A. H. Smith, James Parker (Lanarks
Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc) Martin, Richard Biddulph Spear, John Ward
Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir J. Eldon Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriessh. Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Goulding, Edward Alfred Milton, Viscount Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart
Green, Walford D (Wednesbury Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Stroyan, John
Greene, Sir E W Bry'S Edm'nds More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire) Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs.) Morgan, David J. (Walthams'w Thornton, Percy M.
Gretton, John Morrell, Goorge Herbert Tollemache, Henry James
Greville, Hon. Ronald Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Guthrie, Walter Murray Morrison, James Archibald Valentia, Viscount
Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G (Midx Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford) Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield
Hamilton, Marq. of (L'donderry Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Hanbury, Rt Hon. Robt. Wm. Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath) Walker, Col. William Hall
Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford) Myers, William Henry Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney
Harris, Frederick Leverton Nicol, Donald Ninian Webb, Colonel William George
Hay, Hon. Claude George Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton
Heaton, John Henniker Parker, Gilbert Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.
Helder, Augustus Pemberton, John S. G. Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter Penn, John Whiteley, H. (Asht'nuud Lyne
Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E. Platt-Higgins, Frederick Wills, Sir Frederick
Hogg, Lindsay Pretyman, Ernest George Wilson John (Glasgow)
Hope, J. F. (Sheffi'd, Brightside) Purvis, Robert Wilson- Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)
Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Randles, John S. Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath
Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. Reid, James (Greenock) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Keswick, William Remnant, James Farquharson
Knowles, Lees Renwick, George TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Lawrence, Joseph Monmouth Ridley, Hon. M. W (Stalybridge
Lawson, John Grant Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Ambrose, Robert Hayden, John Patrick O'Malley, William
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Scale- O'Mara, James
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Boland, John Horniman, Frederick John Partington, Oswald
Boyle, James Jones, William (Carnarvons.) Pirie, Duncan V.
Brigg, John Kennedy, Patrick James Power, Patrick Joseph
Burke, E. Haviland- Lambert, George Priestley, Arthur
Burns, John Leamy, Edmund Rea, Russell
Caldwell, James Leng, Sir John Reddy, M.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Lough, Thomas Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Channing, Francis Allston MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Sheehan, Daniel Daniel
Colville, John M'Dermott, Patrick Shipman, Dr. John G.
Craig, Robert Hunter Mooney, John J. Sullivan, Donal
Crean, Eugene Morton, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Thomas, F. Freeman- (Hastings
Delany, William Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport) Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Dillon, John Moss, Samuel Weir, James Galloway
Donelan, Captain A. Murphy, John White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Duffy, William J. Nannetti, Joseph P. Whiteley, J. H. (Halifax)
Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Norman, Henry
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Warner and Captain Norton.
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Gilhooly, James O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.

Question put accordingly.

The Committee divided:—Ayes, 148; Noes, 68. (Division List No. 227.)
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Green, Walford D (Wednesbury Pemberton, John S. G.
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Greene, Sir E W (B'ry S Edm'nds Penn, John
Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Eden Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs. Platt-Higgins, Frederick
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Gretton, John Pretyman, Ernest George
Bain, Colonel James Robert Greville, Hon. Ronald Purvis, Robert
Balfour, Rt Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Guthrie, Walter Murray Randles, John S.
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Mid'x Reid, James (Greenock)
Balfour, Maj K R (Christchurch Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry Remnant, James Farquharson
Banbury, Frederick George Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Renwick, George
Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybr'dge)
Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Harris, Frederick Leverton Ridley, S. F. (Bethnal Green)
Bigwood, James Hay, Hon. Claude George Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson
Bond, Edward Helder, Augustus. Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Brassey, Albert Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Hobhouse, Hy. (Somerset, E.) Ropner, Col. Robert
Bull, William James Hogg, Lindsay Round, James
Butcher, John George Hope, J. F. (Sheffield Brightside Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-
Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H. Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Cautley, Henry Strother Hennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H. Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh. Keswick, William Simeon, Sir Barrington
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Knowles, Lees Smith, H. C (N'rth'mb., T'neside
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich) Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth) Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)
Chamberlain, Rt Hon. J. (Birm. Lawson, John Grant Spear, John Ward
Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)
Charrington, Spencer Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart
Churchill, Winston Spencer Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Stroyan, John
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Coghill, Douglas Harry Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol S. Thornton, Percy M.
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Lonsdale, John Brownlee Tollemache, Henry James
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft) Valentia, Viscount
Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge Macdona, John Cumming Vincent, Col Sir C E H (Sheffield)
Cranborne, Viscount Maconochie, A. W. Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)
Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P. M'Calmont, Col. H L B. (Cambs. Walker, Col. William Hall
Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield Majendie, James A. H. Wason, John C. (Orkney)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Martin, Richard Biddulph Webb, Col. William George
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Maxwell, W J H (Dumfriesshire Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (T'nton
Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin Milton, Viscount Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Montagu, G. (Huntingdon) Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon-
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)
Finch, George H. Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow Wills, Sir Frederick
Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne Morrell, George Herbert Wilson, John (Glasgow)
Fisher, William Hayes Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Morrison, James Archibald Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath-
Garfit, William Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C. Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)
Gore, Hn G R. C. Ormsby- (Salop Myers, William Henry TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- (Linc.) Nicol, Donald Ninian
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay
Goulding, Edward Alfred Parker, Gilbert
Abraham, William (Cork, N. E. Duffy, William J. M'Dermott, Patrick
Ambrose, Robert Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan) Mooney, John J.
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Flavin, Michael Joseph Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Flynn, James Christopher Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)
Boland, John Fuller, J. M. F. Moss, Samuel
Boyle, James Gilhooly, James Murphy, John
Brigg, John Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton Nannetti, Joseph P.
Burke, E. Haviland- Hayden, John Patrick Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Burns, John Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale- Norman, Henry
Caldwell, James Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Horniman, Frederick John O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)
Channing, Francis Allston Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.) O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.
Colville, John Kennedy, Patrick James O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Craig, Robert Hunter Lambert, George O'Malley, William
Crean, Eugene Leamy, Edmund O'Mara, James
Delany, William Leng, Sir John O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Donelan, Captain A. Lough, Thomas Partington, Oswald
Doogan, P. C. MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Pirie, Duncan V.
Power, Patrick Joseph Sullivan, Donal Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Priestley, Arthur Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings Williams, Osmond (Merioneth
Reddy, M. Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)
Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.) Warner, Thomas Courtenay T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Dillon and Captain Norton.
Sheehan, Daniel Daniel Weir, James Galloway
Shipman, Dr. John G. White, Luke (York, F. R.)

The Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next; Committee to sit again upon Monday next.

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