§ 4. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £6,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."
§ MR. DILLON
said he should oppose the Vote on the two grounds that the information sent by His Majesty's Minister at Peking as to affairs in China was insufficient and misleading, and always behind date, and that the Estimate was prepared in such a way as was calculated to confuse the hon. Members of the House. He himself was able to show on one occasion that the correspondent of The Times at Peking was a week ahead with information. When His Majesty's Government were questioned as to information that had appeared in The Times, the House was told that they knew nothing about it; and then, perhaps a week afterwards, they were told that the information of the correspondent of The Times was perfectly correct. With regard to the Estimates, could anything be more objectionable than the way in which they were drawn up? This was a Supplementary Estimate of the amount required in the year ending 31st March, 1901, to pay salaries and expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and the amount now asked for was for telegrams "consequent on the state of affairs in the Far East." If the Committee turned to page 20, they would find a Supplementary Estimate for the Diplomatic and Consular Services, under which there were these items. "E. Telegrams consequent on the state of affairs in the Far East"; "U. Telegrams consequent on the state of affairs at Lorenzo Marques"; and "E.E. Postage and telegrams consequent on the state of affairs in the Far East." Therefore it would be seen that there were no less than three separate and distinct claims all based upon the state of affairs in the Far East, and all for telegrams in consequence of the state of affairs in the Far East. This he thought was satisfactory. He moved the reduction of the Vote by £3,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £3,000, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Viscount CRANBORNE,) Rochester
said that the Supplementary Estimates were prepared on the same plan as the main Estimates, and that plan was of long standing. He thought that nothing would be more calculated to confuse hon. Members than that Supplementary Estimates should be drawn on a different basis to that on which the main Estimates were drawn. With regard to the other point raised by the hon. Member, he had nothing to say except to express his admiration for the energy and enterprise of The Times. Although, of course, the Government had to be a little more careful, it was always the object of the Secretary of State to lay before the House as much information as possible.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
thought that the House did not get the full value of the information which came to Ministers. When any specific information was asked for, not only did the Government deny any knowledge, but they did not attempt to telegraph out in order to allay the grave anxiety felt in the country. His reason for objecting to this Vote was in order to make some alteration in the preparation of the Estimates. He was perfectly aware that this amount had only reference to telegrams sent, but everybody did not know that, and anybody outside the Foreign Office reading the Estimate would be under the impression that this was for telegrams sent and received. He therefore supported the reduction.
§ MR. J. P. FARRELL
said the noble Lord's remarks were not an answer to the observations of the hon. Member for East Mayo. The original Estimate for Foreign Office telegrams was£14,000, and they were now asked for an addition of £6,000. If the book-keeping arrangements in connection with these matters were as perfect as they ought to be, it that the original Estimate was not more accurately made out? Complaints had been made in the discus- 253 sion of the other Votes of the high percentage of the increases in the original Estimates shown by the Supplementary Estimates. In this case the increase was over 30 per cent., and no explanation had been vouchsafed of the cause, except what had been stated by the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. He had no knowledge of the causes which led to this telegraphing, or whether it was necessary or not. He would like to hear about the contracts for this telegraphing. He understood that there were two or three lines over which cablegrams could be sent, and it was certainly a question on which they should receive some information. With whom were the contracts entered into, and what was the rate per word? The hon. Member for Northampton had referred to the fact that information had been withheld from the House, although information had been long previously supplied in the public newspapers. It appeared to him singular that any newspaper—no matter how great or how large its available
§ capital—could be supplied with reliable information before the Government of the country. He should say that the Government of the country, which was responsible for the maintenance of the Empire, should be supplied not only with perfectly accurate but absolutely first-hand information. He imagined that the The Times should look to the Government rather than that the Government should look to that newspaper for information. He thought the hon. Member for East Mayo had rendered a distinct service to the cause of economy in moving for this reduction. The Irish Members had no means of checking before the event any action of the Government in connection with foreign relations, but when the bill came the Irish people were compelled to pay, although a Royal Commission had reported that they were already overtaxed.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 90; Noes, 153. (Division List No. 29.)
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Fisher, William Hayes||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fitzroy, Hon Edward Algernon||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Forster, Henry William||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Garfit, William||Purvis Robert|
|Beach, Rt, Hn. Sir M.H (Bristol)||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lond.||Pym. C. Guy|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bigwood, James||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Bond, Edward||Green, Walford D. (Wednesb'ry||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Bowles Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Greene, Sir EW (B'ry SEdm'nds||Renwick, George|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Grenfell, William Henry||R'dley, Hn. M.W.(Stalybridge|
|Brigg, John||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Charles T.|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Bull, William James||Hain, Edward||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Mid'x||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hamilton, Marq. of (Lond'nd'ry||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Russell, T. W.|
|Cavendish, V.C.W(Derbyshire||Harris, F. Leverton (Tyuem'th||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Sadler, Co). Samuel Alex.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Heath, James (Staffords, N.W.||Seely, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm||Hermon-Hodge, Hold. Trotter||Sinclair, Lewis (Romford)|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Charrington, Spencer||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Smith, H. C (Northumb. Tynesd.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Knowles, Lees||Spear, John Ward|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Lawson, John Grant||Spencer, Ernest (W. Bromwich)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lee, Capt AH (Hants. Fareham)||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Colville, John||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Cook, Frederick Lucas||Long, Rt Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Stroyan, John|
|Corbett, A.Cameron (Glasgow)||Lonsdale, John Browlee||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cox, Irwin Edw. Bainbridge||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lucas, Reginald (Portsmouth)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Macdona, John Cumming||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||M'Calmont, Col. J. (Antrim, E.)||Wason, John Catheart (Orkney|
|Dewar, T.R. (T'rH'mlets S. Geo||M'lver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Webb, Colonel William Geo.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Welby, Lt-Col. A.C. E (Taunton|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Majendie, James A. H.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Malcoln, Ian||Williams, Col. H. (Dorset)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir F. G.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Moon, Edward Rabert pacy||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||More, R. J. (Shropshire)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Morgan, David J.(W'lth'mst'w||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Faber, George Denison||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Morris, Hon. Martin Hy. F.||Young, Com'nder (Berks, E.)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G.(Bute)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Finch, George H.||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 5. Motion made and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £7,200, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies."
§ MR. DILLON
said that this Vote, so far as he could make out, was constructed on a different principle from the Foreign Office Vote. He took it that the additional £7,200 was for telegrams sent from and to South Africa and Ashanti. If so, that was a very much better way of keep- 256 ing the account than in the ease of the previous Vote. He moved the reduction of this Vote as a protest against the character of Sir Alfred Milner's telegrams, which were responsible for a considerable-waste of public money. It was nothing short of an outrage that public money should be spent on the absurd telegrams Sir Alfred Milner sent.
§ MR. DILLON
Am I not entitled to object if public money is wasted, as it has been in this case, on useless telegrams? If Sir Alfred Milner used the wires to telegraph absurd news or articles, I am 257 surely entitled to question his action on this Vote.
The proper time to discuss that would be on the salary of the Colonial Secretary. Sir Alfred Milner's telegrams cannot he discussed without entering into the policy in pursuance of which they were sent, and it has frequently been held that upon telegrams policy cannot be discussed. In saying that I am only upholding what has been the regular practice of the House.
§ MR. DILLON
I am not discussing the policy at all. Am I not entitled to discuss the question how this money has been spent? Suppose that a Governor telegraphs articles which should not be telegraphed, and a Supplementary Estimate, is presented to us for telegraphing a lot of absurd stuff perfectly unsuitable for telegraphing, surely nothing could be more pertinent than to move the reduction of the Vote, inasmuch as the money has been wasted in telegraphing that which should not have been telegraphed at all.
It is not a new decision that I am stating. It is a very old decision—that policy cannot be discussed on a telegram.
§ MR. DILLON
With the deepest respect for your ruling, I do not call it discussing policy to question whether money spent on telegrams has been properly spent. I think that is a matter totally apart from policy.
The substance of the telegrams cannot be discussed on the Vote now before the Committee.
§ MR. DILLON
said it was very difficult to understand on what ground they could question this Vote at all. If an Estimate were presented for £60,000 or for £100,000, was the House compelled to vote for it blindly and without any 258 reference to the discretion exercised in the spending of the money? Were they to be debarred altogether from discussing this matter? If they could not question the expenditure for these telegrams on the ground of their length or number, on what grounds wore they to question them at all? In using the wires from South Africa Sir A. Milner appeared to have no regard either for the public interest or for the urgency or necessity of the matter which he telegraphed. As a protest, he moved that the Vote be reduced by £3,000.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £4,200, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
asked whether the Secretary for the Colonies would be good enough to tell them how much of this expenditure applied to Ashanti and how much to South Africa. The Vote put the two things together. He also asked what was the price per word of telegrams from Ashanti and South Africa to England, and whether the Government received any rebate from the telegraph companies.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said he recognised that they could not discuss the general policy of the Government in South Africa on this Vote, but were they not entitled to ask with reference to a particular telegram from a Colonial Governor, or sent by the Colonial Office, whether it was worth the money spent upon it? They had had other Votes in which furniture was included, and they had discussed the question whether the furniture was worth the money paid for it.
said that involved a question of policy, and must be discussed on the original Estimate.
§ MR. DILLON
said he had never discussed the policy of the question, but simply whether a particular communication was of sufficient importance to warrant its being sent by telegraph.
said that that question could not be discussed without considering the action of the individual 259 sending the telegram, and that must come on the general Vote for the office of the one responsible for the action.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN,) Birmingham, W.
I do not propose to continue the discussion with the Chair. I will only say on the subject that I take full responsibility for all telegrams that have been sent, not only to, but from South Africa. If, therefore, any exception is taken to any particular telegram being sent, I shall be perfectly prepared to discuss that telegram on the proper occasion, and to go into the whole of the details, which will, of course, be on the Vote for my own salary. As regards the question asked me by the hon. Member for Northampton, that is a question which really does not concern the Colonial Office. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that the Colonial Office does not make a separate telegraph contract. This is generally an arrangement which is made for all offices by the Post Office. But it is the fact that the cable companies give a very large reduction to the Government. I cannot myself say what the reduction is, but I think the cost per word is little more than half the charge to the general public. As regards the question of the amount respectively for the telegrams sent to South Africa and Ashanti it is quite impossible to go into detail, nor does the present Vote, which is a purely Supplementary Vote, show what is the total amount of the telegrams sent to both places. Of course, the Vote was taken originally for the whole telegraphic service of the Colonial Office. In consequence of the state of things caused by the South African War and by the Ashanti War, the number of telegrams estimated to be sent has been very largely exceeded, and I would point out to the hon. Member that it does not mean necessarily that these telegrams were sent either to South Africa or to Ashanti. For instance, there has been an immense amount of telegraphy owing to the action of the colonies in furnishing troops for the South African War. Communications have had to go between Australia and this country, between New Zealand and this country, and between Canada and this country; and owing to 260 that the number of telegrams has been largely increased. The word "mainly" refers to the South African War, and it is in consequence of the South African War that we have had to send these telegrams to other colonies like Australia and Canada.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
complained that the Colonial Secretary had not given the slightest idea as to the relative proportions of the cost for Ashanti and South Africa respectively. The Committee were practically asked by the Government to vote these sums blindfold. The original Estimate had been increased by 75 per cent. Were the Committee to understand that the Colonial Office were not able to calculate the probable amount of telegraphing they would have to do in connection with affairs in South Africa and West Africa more accurately than that? In this Estimate, as in all others, there was the same feature of extraordinary and excessive expenditure, causing large discrepancies, which ought to have been avoided. It was not unreasonable to ask for the rate per telegram charged by the cable companies to the Government as distinguished from the general public, or how many hundreds of telegrams it would take to account for this sum of £7,200. He hoped the examination of the Vote would be persisted in until a reasonable amount of information was forthcoming.
§ MR. CREAN (Cork, S.E.)
protested against the form in which the Estimate was presented to the Committee. An excess of £7,000 over the original Estimate was simply inexplicable without any details being given as to how, exactly, the money had been spent. The House of Commons was treated with contempt, and it would be far more decent for the Government to say, "We want this money, you will have to give it, and we will give no information whatever." It was nothing but a policy of extravagance, and information was required in order that the fault might be traced to the persons responsible.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)
said that although there were many Irish Members who wished to discuss 261 this subject upon the lines which had been ruled out of order, they would gladly bow to the Chairman's ruling. If there was one thing which they had a right to do, he thought it was to discuss any Estimates which were placed before them for special purposes; and although they knew that, however long these discussions might be, they would never succeed in reducing any particular Estimate at the time, they hoped and believed that healthy criticism would do something to remind Ministers that they would have to be more careful as to how they placed such matters before the Committee. He could not understand how this Estimate came to be put on the Paper at all in its present form. Why was it not put in such a way as would enable the House of Commons to exercise its right to discuss it? It was an extraordinary fact that although the original amount was £10,000, that amount had been exceeded by £7,200. That was a remarkable piece of extravagance. By the Chairman's ruling they could not touch upon Sir Alfred Milner, and they could not get at the Minister who was responsible for his appointment, for those were some of the particular items which the Committee would not be allowed to discuss. He wished to ask the Chairman in what way they could discuss this matter? This particular item seemed to be nobody's child, and yet it had to be paid for at a very extravagant price. They were told that they could not question the money which had been spent by Sir Alfred Milner, and that meant that he could spend what he liked and nobody here could question it. They desired to be orderly, and he wished to ask the Chairman if he could suggest any way in conformity with the ruling which he had given in which they could discuss this remarkable extravagance on the part of Sir Alfred Milner.
The answer is a very simple one. Among the Estimates which will be laid upon the Table presently will be one under Class 3, Vote 6, Colonial Office Vote, and one of the items will be "telegrams." When the Vote comes before the Committee the whole question can be raised.
§ MR. PATRICK O'BRIEN
asked, upon a point of order, if it was right for an 262 Estimate to be placed on the Paper in such a way that it could not be discussed, and was there any other heading under which this item should have been placed?
It is not correct to say that it cannot be discussed. The Vote has now been discussed for over an hour. In what I have laid down I have only followed the ruling of my predecessors that, on a Supplementary Vote for telegrams, it is impossible to discuss the policy embodied in those telegrams. The substance of telegrams is not open for discussion upon an item which relates only to their cost.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ MR. DALY
thought the explanation which had been given was altogether unsatisfactory. It was most extraordinary that the right hon. Gentleman could not come nearer the mark in his original Estimate without having to come to the House for an additional £7,200. The Chairman had ruled that they could not discuss the words contained in the telegrams, and they had to be satisfied with the word of the right hon. Gentleman and those acting under him as to whether those telegrams were necessary or not, and also as to whether the words transmitted in them were correct or not. It was a most unfortunate thing that this Vote had been put down in such a way that it was very difficult to discuss it. The charge for telegrams was very heavy, and hon. Members around him were very anxious that full details should be given, and it would be very satisfactory if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to tell them what number of words were placed in those telegrams, and at what rate they were charged for. Ireland had to contribute a large sum towards this extra £7,200. He hoped his hon. friends would press this matter to a division, and any support he could give them would be gladly given. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman and every member of the Government that in future they would find that every item which they brought forward in the House would be scanned and criticised 263 closely by hon. Members from Ireland. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman and those acting with him would conceive it to be their duty in the future to place such Votes as this in such a position that hon. Members of the House would be able to discuss them as fully as they deserved.
§ MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)
said it had been stated in the course of the debate that this item was 75 per cent, higher than the original Estimate. They would find, if they took the trouble to look it up, that this Supplementary Estimate was 300 per cent, larger than last year's Estimate, and he wished to bring to the notice of the Committee the fact that last year's Estimate covered six months of the war in South Africa, including those long telegraphic communications relating to the Bloemfontein Conference and the negotiations which preceded it. No details had been placed before the House to show that the number of telegrams sent in the period for which this extra sum was asked was larger than during the period he had just alluded to, and he could not under-
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Dovd, John|
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc, Stroud||Hammond, John||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.|
|Boland, John||Hemphill, Rt, Hon. Charles H.||O'Malley, William|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Mara, James|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Labouchere, Henry||Perks, Robert William|
|Cameron, Robert||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leng, Sir John||Reddy, M.|
|Cawley, Frederick||Levy, Maurice||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lundon, W.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Cogan, Denis J.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Colville, John||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roche, John|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||M'Dermott. Patrick||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Govern, T.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cullinan, J.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.|
|Daly, James||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Spencer, Rt Hn C.R. (Northants|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Mooney, John J.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Delany, William||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Tully, Jasper|
|Dillon, John||Murphy, J.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Duffy, William J.||Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway, N.||White, Patrick(Meath, North)|
|Edwards, Frank||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Norton, ('apt. Cecil William||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Evans, Samuel T.||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, Chas. Henry(Hull,W.|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Brien, Kandal (Tipperary Md||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Field, William||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sir Thomas Esmonde and|
|Gilhooly James||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Captain Donelan.|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
§ stand why they were asked to pay at the rate of 300 per cent, more this year. He wished to join in the protest which had been made from the Irish benches against being asked to vote such large sums of money without having sufficient details. Ireland would be called upon to pay its quota to this expenditure, and therefore they bad a right to examine closely every item of expenditure which was placed before the House. Supplementary Estimates required a greater amount of consideration than the ordinary Estimates, because it was money required in excess of the ordinary requirements, and for that very reason they required to be more carefully examined. He would not go into the question of the contents of those telegrams, but be would like the Colonial Secretary to tell them how it was that three times as much money had been spent this year as was spent in the previous year.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 91; Noes, 149. (Division List No. 30.)
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Fisher, William Hayes||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||FitzGerald. Sir Robert Penrose-||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Purvis, Robert|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Pym, C. Guy|
|Austin, Sir John||Forster, Henry William||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Garfit, William||Reed, James (Greenock)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H (CityofLond.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Balcarres, Lord||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Renshaw, Charles Bine|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Edon||Rentoul, James Alexander|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Renwick, George|
|Banbury, Fredk. George||Greene, Sir E.W.(BurySt. Ed,)||Ridley. Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Ritehie, Rt. Hon Chas. Thomson|
|Bigwood, James||Grenfell, William Henry||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Bond, Edward||Guthrie, Walter Murray||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Bowles. Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Hain, Edward||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'y||Russell, T. W.|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Bull, William James||Harris, F. L. (Tynemouth)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Milliard, Sir Harry||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln|
|Caldwell, James||Heath, J. (Statfords., N.W.)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Hope, J.F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Cavendish, V.C.W, (Derbysh.||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Smith, HC (Northmb. Tyneside|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Knowles, Lees||Spear, John Ward|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hon. J. (Birm.||Lawson, John Grant||Spencer, Ernest (W. Bromwich,)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore.||Lee, Capt. A. H (Hants, Farehm||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Charrington, Spencer||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stewart. Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stroyan, John|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cook, Frederick Lucas||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Macdona, John Cumming||Valentia, Niscount|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||M'Calmont, Col. J.(Antrim, E.)||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney|
|Cubitt, Hon Henry||M'Iver, Sir L. (Edinburgh, W.)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Welby, Lt.-Col. ACE(Taunton|
|Dewar, T R(T'rH'mlets, S. Geo.||Majendie, James A. H.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Malcolm, Ian||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||More, R. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Morrell, George Herbert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Durning-Lawrence Sir Edwin||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Young, Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Faber, George Denison||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Finch, George H.||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Mr. Anstruther.|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 6. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £1,015, be granted to His Majesty to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Lord Privy Seal."
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said it was a matter of some surprise that a proper representative of the Government had not on this motion thought it is duty to make some expla- 266 nation of the Vote. It differed from other Votes which the Committee had been discussing, inasmuch as it was not a Supplementary Estimate, but practically a new Vote. Pie protested in the most emphatic fashion against a new Vote, embodying a new principle, and practically creating a new office, being smuggled through in the shape of a Supplementary Estimate. He objected to the manner in which the Vote had been brought forward, and maintained that before the country was pledged to an expenditure on this new head, the permission of the House of Commons ought to have been obtained. As the result of an 267 understanding which had been come to with the House of Commons, the Great Seal Act of 1884 was passed, and the duties in connection with the office of Lord Privy Seal were abolished. Since that time many distinguished men had filled the office of Lord Privy Seal in an honorary capacity; at any rate, they did not receive any remuneration for any services which it was imaginable they discharged. These included Lord Rosebery, Lord Cross, Mr. Gladstone, Lord Cadogan, Lord Tweedmouth, and Lord Salisbury himself. His objection to this Vote was not of a personal character in regard to the present distinguished occupant of the post. No member of the Cabinet was held in higher respect by his political opponents than the Prime Minister; and some of them were, in these later days, only beginning to realise the great debt of gratitude which they owed to the Prime Minister for carrying the country through troublous times in a peaceful and diplomatic fashion. It was in no personal sense, then, that he objected to this Vote; but he thought the Committee was entitled to some explanation. What could that explanation be? There was plenty of money in the Treasury chest, and there was no reason to reestablish this office except that explained in a letter which the Prime Minister wrote to a late distinguished colleague of his, the former President of the Local Government Board, the Member for Sleaford, in which the Prime Minister said that there were so many people to make room for that the right hon. Gentleman had to give up his post. That was the reason why they were asked to go back on a decision the House of Commons arrived at many years ago, and to re-establish an office which was purely ornamental and a sinecure. He could imagine the Prime Minister, after having listened to every claim made upon him, and having surrendered to it, sitting down in Hatfield and acknowledging to himself that he had given so much away that he had nothing left for himself. For what was his position? He was no longer Foreign Secretary—he had given that post away. He had no salary; not even an office to which his letters could be addressed. And therefore he had to make up his mind to confer upon himself some post; and so 268 hit upon that of the Lord Privy Seal. He (the hon. Member) objected to a salary being attached to this post. It seemed to him that if the Prime Minister was to be paid—and ho thought he ought to lie paid, and well paid—then the salary ought to be asked for on the footing of Premiership, and that it ought not to be brought forward on a Vote of this kind for an office which had no duties attached to it. If the Prime Minister was to have a salary, then it ought to be a respectable salary. He could not understand how the noble Lord arrived at the conclusion that £2,000 a year was what he was worth. He might have sent for Whitaker s Almanack, and gone down the list of Ministers, and when he came to the Colonial Secretary ho might have said, "What does that great man get for his transcendent services to the country? £5,000! And he might have said to himself, "If the Colonial Secretary receives £5,000 a year, I ought to write myself down at half that sum." He (the hon. Member) objected to the fact that the Prime Minister received only £2,000 per year when his subordinates— for, after all, they were his subordinates —received more than double that sum. Why, the salary of the Clerk of the House of Lords was more, and a town council engineer received more. He protested in the interest of the Prime Minister, who, it seemed to him, had been very badly treated. Lord Salisbury had been placed in a situation which appealed to the generous instincts of our nature, and if none of his friends stood up for him it was necessary for some hon. Members on that side of the House to do so. He objected also that the, Prime Minister should so undervalue himself. He did not think that he ought to be allowed to become a kind of Parliamentary blackleg. He ought to belong to the Parliamentary trade union, and should not take less than trade union wages, or less than an Under Secretary who read out answers to questions in the House of Commons and was not capable of explaining them. Therefore he thought the noble Lord was entitled to their sympathy. He did not go so far as to say that the same course should be pursued here as had been taken in some other countries. He believed that from the time the war broke out between Spain 269 and America the Spanish Ministers went on half rations. He did not suggest that Ministers here should go on half rations, or that they should make a subscription on behalf of the Prime Minister. But some more satisfactory way should be taken of dealing with the Prime Minister. Further, a most extraordinary departure from constitutional rule had been made in the preparation of this Estimate. They were asked to vote a sum at the rate of £400 a year for the private secretary to the Prime Minister. That was an innovation. The Constitution knew nothing of the Prime Minister; and he doubted whether there was any record of the House which spoke of the private secretary of the Prime Minister. They might just as well put down a sum for the private secretary of the parish minister. It might have been put down as salary of the private secretary to the Lord Privy Seal, but not as secretary to the Prime Minister; and some explanation was required why this item had been prepared in that particular way. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote might say, "It is all very well, but what could the Prime Minister have done? He must have some claim on the country; he must have some salary." It was very difficult to answer these questions; but he might have left some of his friends out of the Cabinet, or, at all events, he might have induced some of his present colleagues to give up their posts—the Colonial Secretary, for instance, who has had a very busy time of it for the last few years. He might have offered to take the duties of that arduous Department, and induced the right hon. the Colonial Secretary to go to another place with some seductive title. It was disgraceful that the Prime Minister should have no official office, although the Foreign Secretary had shown so much sympathy with him as to offer him a room in the Foreign Office. But that was not the way to treat the Prime Minister, who might have got a seat in 270 the Colonial Secretary's office with a big seal stamp handy on his desk. The Committee was entitled to some explanation for this departure from a bargain solemnly passed by the House of Commons taking away all the duties and the salary of the Lord Privy Seal; and he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell the Committee that he would either withdraw the Tote or bring forward a handsome sum, worthy of the great services of the Prime Minister of the country.
§ THE FIRST LORD of the TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I do not quite understand whether the hon. Member wished to deprive the Prime Minister of his moderate salary or to increase it to the more substantial figure which some other Members of the Cabinet are fortunate enough to enjoy. The hon. Member appeared to oscillate between the two. The hon. Member commenced his speech by complaining that the House of Commons has been forced, without notice, into this new policy. Surely we did all we could to take the House of Commons into our confidence at the earliest opportunity by putting this Vote down as a Supplementary Estimate at the very beginning of the first session that has occurred since the arrangement was made. There was a meeting in December, but the object of that meeting was strictly limited, and I do not think that any discussion on this matter could arise then. This, therefore, is the first opportunity that we have had.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not complain of the hon. Member's raising the point on this occasion. I make some subtractions from that part of the hon. 271 Gentleman's speech which was really not meant to argue for an increase of the Prime Minister's salary, but was intended for the indulgence of some ingenious sarcasm at the expense of some of the Prime Minister's colleagues. As regards his comments as to the actual course pursued, it is perfectly true that there were certain incongruities and inconsistencies in the course taken, and why was it? Because, as everybody knows, the Prime Minister is not formally recognised in the Constitution, although he is the most important person in the Ministry. That is one of the curious results of our Constitution which has slowly grown up in the course of centuries. There are these apparent inconsistencies in the Constitution, and we should be slow to interfere with them, for they do no harm to the growth of our institutions. We all know that there is a Prime Minister; we all know that he does not appeal among the officers of the State as such. Sometimes he is called the First Lord of the Treasury, sometimes he is called Foreign Secretary or Chancellor of the Exchequer, and sometimes Lord Privy Seal, but never has he been called Prime Minister in the formal proceedings of the House. That being so, we have to fit our arrangements into this somewhat anomalous state of things. I think the plan we have adopted is not a bad one. The office of Privy Seal was vacant, and it is one to which the duties of the Prime Minister may be attached as well as to the office of First Lord of the Treasury or Foreign Secretary; and the hon. Gentleman himself is first to acknowledge that he should not be an unpaid Member of the Government and that we must attach a salary to the office. Of course, should the present holder of the office of Privy Seal cease to be Prime Minister, his salary would cease at the same time, and should he resign the office of Privy Seed and another gentleman 272 be appointed to the office who was not Prime Minister, he would not receive the salary. So long as the duties are associated with the Prime Minister it is quite clear that you ought to make the office a paid office. The hon. Gentleman tells us that the salary of £2,000 a year is insufficient. I am quite willing, to agree with him that that salary is no measure, absolutely or relatively, of the services of the Prime Minister to the State; but £2,000 a year is the old salary attaching to this office of Privy Seal; it is the salary which the Prime Minister himself suggested; and, though agree that on any scale of merit it is inadequate, if the Prime Minister himself is contented I do not know that either my colleagues or the House of Commons need interfere in the matter. That is the broad explanation of the policy that has been pursued, and I feel sure it will commend itself to the House at large; and I hope the hon. Gentleman will feel that I have justified the course which the Government have taken.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
The right hon. Gentleman has dealt ingeniously with the question raised by my hon. friend; but he passed over the fons et origo of the difficulty, which was the great mistake that he has committed in recent years of divorcing the position of the head of the Ministry from the occupant of the office of First Lord of the Treasury. That office is the natural and proper one to be held by the Prime Minister; and it is peculiar that, though, as the right hon. Gentleman says, the Premiership has sometimes been associated with the Foreign Secretaryship and sometimes with the office of First Lord of the Treasury, it has only been associated with the Foreign Secretaryship in the case of Lord Salisbury himself; and nothing but evil came to the country from the combination of these two 273 offices. I have not a word to say in depreciation of Lord Salisbury, either as Foreign Secretary or as Prime Minister; but I say it is perfectly impossible that any man can properly fulfil the functions of both offices. I will take the case of the Foreign Office. Undoubtedly Lord Salisbury devoted an enormous amount of time —and probably prejudiced his health by his devotion—to the duties of the Foreign Minister. He has filled that great position with great success and to the great advantage of the nation, but during all that time every one can see that the proper business of the Prime Minister, which is to keep in proper coordination his own colleagues and to keep a master-eye on all their proceedings —anyone can see that that was neglected. Taking the work of the Foreign Office alone, we lose the advantage of a second head assisting the man nominally at the head of the office. When there is a Prime Minister as well as a Foreign Secretary all the Foreign Office work, all telegrams, despatches, and so forth are submitted to the judgment of the Prime Minister; and thus there is an additional guarantee that the affairs of the country are being wisely and deliberately administered. It has often surprised me that the country and the House of Commons bore so patiently a state of things so obviously prejudicial to the public interest. At last Lord Salisbury, partly owing to his health being overtaxed, determined to give up one of these offices, lie retained the Premiership. The proper course would have been for him to take the position of First Lord of the Treasury. As we all know, the emoluments of public functionaries vary considerably, and I am not at all sure that that variance is altogether in the public interest. I think there is a great deal to be said for a rearrangement in such a way as to bring about greater equality; but that is not before us now. We have only to do with this particular arrangement, 274 made to meet an emergency. I confess that to my mind there was a way of meeting it which would not have involved the recreation of a sinecure office, and that was to have made the Prime Minister First Lord of the Treasury, and to have made some other arrangement of the other offices among the distinguished Gentlemen on the bench opposite. The office of First Lord of the Treasury— and I speak in the presence of one who knows it well—has this advantage, that it has little or no departmental work attaching to it. It has a certain amount of agreeable duty in the way of the bestowal of patronage and in the selection of the recipients of good things, which is always an easy, a charming, and a delightful duty. But, except for that, I do not think the First Lord of the Treasury is overworked. Therefore it is an office particularly suitable to the man who has to exercise a general supervising power over the Proceedings of the Departments of State. That is the proper arrangement, and I regret that the Government have found themselves forced to revive the salary for an office which is almost the last surviving sinecure in the public service.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said the matter was undoubtedly one of great public importance. The Committee were asked to vote a salary for an office every duty of which had been abolished by Act of Parliament many years ago, and the Committee had been told the reason. For the first time the title of Prime Minister appeared on the Papers of the House.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No, no. If the hon. Member will look at the Estimates for past years, he will find the same words—"Private Secretary to the Prime Minister."
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said the office of Prime Minister was unknown to the 275 Constitution, and the introduction of the title in the Estimates was another example of the slipshod English in which they were framed. But, although the title was unknown, the office was not, and it had been amply provided for ever since the time of Sir Robert Walpole, when the Treasury was put into commission in such a way, and the position of the First Lord so provided for, that although he had an office of dignity and proper emoluments, he was freed from Parliamentary duties in order that he might be able to oversee his colleagues and supporters. The proper function of the Prime Minister was to oversee his colleagues in the Government; and he was bound to say that, since the recent changes in the Government had been effected, the Government had received a great accession of strength from the circumstance that Lord Salisbury, as Prime Minister, had been restored to a position which enabled him to superintend the work of his colleagues. During the time that Lord Salisbury was both Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary each department was allowed to do what seemed best in its own eyes, and the result of this absence of control had been that mistakes of the gravest character were committed. The Duke of Wellington had said that it was impossible for anyone to exercise the office of Prime Minister unless he was also First Lord of the Treasury, because it was essential that he should have that control of the purse-strings which the latter office gave him. Why, recently Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords made a strong and determined attack on the Treasury for the manner in which it met the demands upon it for the public service. If Lord Salisbury were First Lord of the Treasury, which he ought to be as Prime Minister, that state of things could not have occurred. The Government had; been reconstituted and strengthened— (Opposition laughter) — well, reconstituted—and there should have been no difficulty whatever in finding for the right lion. Gentleman the Leader of the House another post, so that the office of First Lord of the Treasury might revert to the Prime Minister. He hoped the Leader of the House would not be offended when he said that the right hon. Gentleman en- 276 joyed the emoluments and dignities of the office without discharging any of its duties. But if the Government had had the courage of their convictions, what they should have done was to boldly propose to create the office of Prime Minister and endow it with a salary of £5,000 a year. He submitted, that it was not a proper thing to come down and ask this House to endow the Prime Minister with an insufficient salary in the name of an office which was so discredited that it had been, abolished by Act of Parliament years ago.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said the Committee were discussing a very important question. He believed there was one point on which all sections of the Committee were agreed: —namely, that the change which bad been made was one in many respects for the better. No one had the least objection to the Prime Minister bung relieved from the terrible burden of the Foreign Secretaryship; the point on which the First Lord of the Treasury and the Committee were at variance was the method by which the Prime Minister had been relieved from the duties of the Foreign Office. By the Act of 1884—"to simplify the passing of instruments under the Great Seal of the United Kingdom"—it was enacted that it "shall not be necessary that any instrument shall, after the passing of this Act, be passed under the Privy Seal," or, in other words, the functions of the Privy Seal were practically abolished by that statute. Yet here, by a Supplementary Estimate, they were practically repealing the principal effect of that Act. The Committee would remember some time ago, when Colonel King-Harman was a Member of this House, the then Chief Secretary for Ireland attempted to establish in the Estimates a position for an Under Secretaryship for Ireland. That was opposed, and, after considerable discussion, the Chief Secretary had to withdraw his proposals, as it was found to be impossible to carry them through without 277 a special Act of Parliament.† Yet the Committee, now, were asked to re-establish, by a Supplementary Estimate, an office which had long been abolished, when it was found impossible to establish a paltry Under Secretaryship without an Act of Parliament. He quite agreed as to the wisdom of Lord Salisbury being relieved from the duties of the Foreign Office, and he was strongly of opinion that had Lord Salisbury, being Prime Minister, coupled that duty with a less onerous office in the past, the history of the last year and a half would have been less sanguinary. The action of the Government in reviving the office of the Lord Privy Seal was simply a palinode. The First Lord of the Treasury, which was the proper office for the Prime Minister to hold, had a general control over the expenditure of the country, and was thus able to control the different heads of the Departments of the Government; but the Lord Privy Seal had no such control, and it was never intended he should. Now the Government proposed to re-establish an abolished office, and to recreate a salary which was never intended to be recreated. His hon. friend had been more than justified in the position he had taken up in this matter.
§ *SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
said that out of doors this would be thought one of those infinitesimal questions on which the House of Commons occupied itself to the exclusion of important business. It was as small as the question of the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. The hon. Member for King's Lynn suggested that it would be better for the First Lord of the Treasury to resign his office so that the Prime Minister should assume it, and that he, in turn, should be Lord Privy Seal. That was a suggestion which, if acted upon, would open the door for the strongest opposition from the other side. The office of Lord Privy Seal had not been abolished, and it was not so many years ago that a Prime Minister in the House of Commons assumed it in addition to his other. He remembered† See The parliamentary Debates [Third Series], vol. cccxxiii., pages 730, 1709; vol cccxxiv., page 725; vol. cccxxv., page 909; vol. cccxxvi., page 208.278 that Lord Malmesbury, when he held the office, was extremely useful in the House of Lords, calling himself the odd man. It was an office of great dignity, ranking very high in the order of precedence, and was therefore suitable as an appanage of the Prime Minister, who had resigned the onerous office of Foreign Secretary. The unrivalled power of work Lord Salisbury had enabled him, until recently, to carry on the duties of Foreign Secretary in addition to those of the head of the Government, but it was not surprising that, with advancing age, he should wish to be relieved of the direct duties of Secretary of State. No doubt, as Prime Minister, he would exercise supervision over the foreign policy of the country, and it was appropriate that the office of Lord Privy Seal should be held by him.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said he did not at all agree with the right hon. Baronet who had just sat down. He did not think anything that touched the office of Prime Minister or touched the British Constitution should be considered infinitesimal in that House. Without knowing it themselves, and without, he was sure, any intention on the part of the Government, they had been plunged deep into the mysteries of the British Constitution. He did not object to the specific arrangement proposed that day that this salary should be attached to this particular office so long as it was held by the Prime Minister, but questions had been raised as to the character of the office itself, and as to the existence of any duties attached to the office. He thought the time had come when, before proceeding to vote a salary for an office to which they were told no duties were attached, they should have legal advice. He asked the Attorney General to tell them what was the legal status of this officer. He had before him the Act of Parliament of 1884, to which the hon. Member for King's Lynn had referred. The Act declared that no legal instrument need, after that date, be passed under the Privy Seal. He wished to know whether that phrase included all the duties attached to the office of Lord Privy Seal?
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
knew that the hon. Member thought so, but in a matter of this sort the Committee ought to be guided by its legal adviser. Did the Act of 1884 sweep away all the duties formerly attached to the office, and, if not, what were the duties now attached to it?
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir ROBERT FINLAY,) Inverness Burghs
said that the Committee should consider the matter in the light of common sense. Could it be supposed that before the passing of the Act of 1884 much time was actually spent by the Lord Privy Seal in passing legal instruments? The Lord Privy Seal would not personally look after matters of that kind. The office had existed for a very long time. In other days there were duties attached to the office which had now become obsolete; but the office bad been retained, and it had proved extremely useful. It had generally been a Cabinet office, and he thought it was a very happy phrase which was used by the right hon. Baronet the Member for North-East Manchester, that the holder of the office had on one occasion been a sort of "odd man" in the Cabinet, ready, to do any duty. The right hon. and learned Gentleman did not pretend that the duties were onerous, but the Act of 1884 did not abolish the office altogether. The truth was that the office existed, it had been held for a long time past by a Cabinet Minister, and he ventured to think that an office of this kind, with no departmental duties attached to it, might be extremely useful.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
said this question had been raised without any personal reference at all to Lord Salisbury. It was purely as a matter of expediency affecting the public service that his hon. friend had raised it. What they objected to on that side of the House was that they were asked to vote for the re-establishment of an office which was neither fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring—an office to which no duties 280 were attached. They were asked practically—and this was the complaint—to vote a salary, not for an office, but for a particular individual. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House had said that if Lord Salisbury resigned the office of Lord Privy Seal the salary would cease with his leaving the office. It seemed to him an unconstitutional proposal that they should vote a salary, not for an office, but for a person. What they desired was to have a Prime Minister with a proper salary. He certainly thought, so far as the debate had gone, that the general feeling was that the Prime Minister ought not to receive a salary from the country of lesser amount than that of any of his colleagues. He was merely looking at this question from the point of view of the public service, and he was bound to say that he agreed with the hon. Member for King's Lynn that they might to have created at tin-present moment an office for the Prime Minister in the House of Lords. He hoped the Government would take that into consideration. He knew they could not do it off-hand, but be thought that a great many Members felt very strongly that a suitable office ought to be created for the Prime Minister, as well as a suitable office for the Leader of the House of Commons.
§ MR. MALCOLM (Suffolk, Stowmarket)
said the Prime Minister was regarded with great respect on both sides of the House. They were lucky in having got the Prime Minister so cheap. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had put forward a most unconstitutional doctrine. He actually said that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House of Commons should exchange their respective official positions. The hon. Member for King's Lynn brought in the Duke of Wellington as a great constitutional authority. He never thought the hon. Member would subscribe to the opinion that the First Lord of the Treasury in the House of Commons should give up control of the purse, or that he would go further and; say that Lord Salisbury should be First Lord of the Treasury in the other House. They had always understood it to be the privilege of the House of Commons to have control of the purse. The doc- 281 trine laid down by the hon. Member for King's Lynn was quite unworthy of the hon. Member.
§ *MR. HEMPHILL (Tyrone, N.)
regretted that the Attorney General had not indicated to the Committee the duties now attached to the office of Lord Privy Seal. The Act of Parliament expressly said that no instrument need be passed under the Privy Seal; the office of Lord Privy Seal had ceased to have any utility. True in old times Privy Seal was an important office, and through the holder of it the sanction of the Sovereign was expressed in relation to many matters; but that importance no longer existed. He thought the First Lord of the Treasury should be a Member of the House of Commons, but that did not solve the question. They had now a 20-horse power Cabinet. There was no precedent in history for a Cabinet of twenty learned and unlearned Lords, and surely out of the score one might be First Lord of the Treasury and sit in the Commons. How right hon. Gentlemen and noble Lords should shift and settle their offices he would not presume to suggest, but certainly he desired the presence of the present First Lord of the Treasury so long as they were afflicted with the present Administration. In these parlous times they had no right to saddle the country with a salary of £2,000 a year for an office which had not existed since 1884. They were not in such affluent circumstances, in such golden times, in such rosy seasons that, with an income tax of probably 1s. 6d. in the £1, and an addition to the National Debt of £100,000,000, the interest for which the taxpayers must provide, they could throw away £2,000 a year. With Irish unselfishness he would not grudge the Prime Minister £2,000 if he thought he needed it, but that was out of the question, and he doubted if constitutionally the House would be justified in voting the money; but in any case, there was no reason for doing so. If the Prime Minister chose to give up the seals of the Foreign Office for the purpose of getting rid of some of the Cabinet, and replacing them by other followers, he ought to do it at his own expense.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I should have rather thought that the speech we have just heard might have been considered a worthy termination of a debate which has not been very serious or addressed to any very serious constitutional problem. So far as I can discover, three main objects have been had in view by hon. Members in the criticisms they have offered. In the first place they have repeated that rather time-worn attack upon the association of the office of Prime Minister with the post of Foreign Secretary. The Leader of the Opposition dwelt at length on that subject, and the hon. Member for Scotland Division followed his example. We do not agree with the view expressed. We think that the period Lord Salisbury was able to devote to the offices of Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary combined was marked by great benefit to the country, and if that combination has ceased it is not because in Lord Salisbury's opinion, and certainly not in that of his colleagues, it was otherwise than beneficial, but because, unfortunately, the strength of the Prime Minister is not equal to supporting the weight of two such onerous offices at the same time. A less amiable object hon. Members have had in view is an attack on the Colonial Secretary. ["No."] Certainly three or four speakers explained at length that, had not the Prime Minister been also Foreign Secretary a year and a half ago there would not have been war in South Africa. I am surprised at the extraordinarily minute knowledge displayed of what goes on in the Cabinet by gentlemen who are not there. They speak with absolute assurance of the relations of one Minister to another, and of matters upon which they can have no knowledge, all founded on conjecture springing from party zeal and a fervid imagination. The third object of the debate appears to me to be to turn the Prime Minister into the First Lord of the Treasury, and the First Lord of the Treasury into the Lord Privy Seal. That was the amiable suggestion of my hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn. Ho said, as others have said, that commonly, though very far from universally, the office of Prime Minister has been associated with the office of First Lord of the Treasury; 283 and that was justified by the right hon. Gentleman opposite on the ground that the First Lord of the Treasury had little or no administrative work to perform. Well, that is true even in a greater degree in regard to the Lord Privy Seal, and if the fact that the First Lord of the Treasury has not any Department is a good reason for very frequently associating with that office the Prime Minister ship, it appears ample justification for the course the Government has actually taken, which is that of choosing an office which has never been abolished, which is legally constituted, and has been continuously filled by some member of the Government up to the present moment, on the very ground that it has not got duties associated with it, and that therefore the holder of the office has ample leisure for carrying out the great duties of Prime Minister. Then my hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn thinks that as the Leader of the House has nothing to do, as he leads a leisured life, a life of ease and luxury, the office is not worthy of its emolument. Well, Sir. I wish my hon. friend would for a week fill the office which he is so eminently qualified to adorn; his well-known appetite for work, I think, would find ample satisfaction. Whether or not his particular style of Parliamentary oratory would be suited to the special functions of the Leader of the House, at all events I am certain he would not find it a sinecure office. But my hon. friend fell into one mistake. He said, truly enough, that the position of Prime Minister should be a position of dignity, but added that therefore he should be First Lord of the Treasury instead of being Lord Privy Seal. As a matter of fact, the First Lord of the Treasury has no technical dignity or rank, he ranks behind every Secretary of State in point of dignity, and the Lord Privy Seal ranks before every Secretary of State in point of dignity. The Lord Privy Seal is next, I think, to the Lord President of the Council and the Lord Chancellor.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes. It is a position of the highest dignity, and is 284 therefore very suitable for the Prime Minister; and I can see no objection whatever to the course which the Government have pursued, except the singular objection which has been urged with kind persistency by hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the salary of £2,000 a year is not adequate for the Prime Minister of this country. I do not deny that, but this is all that has been suggested by the Prime Minister himself. If, however, I understand that, nemine contradicente, a larger amount would be unanimously voted, if I could receive some assurance that that would pass without debate, discussion, or the expenditure of time, it might be worth considering whether the Vote might not be withdrawn and a higher salary proposed. But, on the whole, I am inclined to think that, however generous hon. Gentlemen may be in these suggestions of increased pay when these suggestions have not the immediate effect of expediting public business, their and our would notably cool if the proposal were made; and I am convinced that we should find a remarkable and unexpected number of persons who, when it came to the point, would say that, after all, if the Prime Minister was content with £2,000 it would be perfectly monstrous in these hard times to extract from the hard-wrung British taxpayer an additional £3,000. In these circumstances I venture to suggest to the House that our policy is in accordance with constitutional usage, that it gives to the Prime Minister an office of great dignity which, outside his duties as Prime Minister, inflicts on him no extra labour and involves no expenditure of time, and that it is an arrangement which is economical to the, taxpayer. I do not think any other arrangement which could be suggested could combine all those advantages, or even a majority of them. I venture to suggest, therefore, that the House might now consent to accept the arrangement, which, as far as I can judge, meets all the necessities of the case.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I do not desire to attack any hon. Member opposite. I am quite ready to admit, for the sake of argument, that right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench are in the estimation of every one of their followers 285 most fitted to sit on that bench, and I am also prepared to admit that every gentleman on that Bench is best fitted to occupy the particular office he holds; but notwithstanding the great wisdom of these gentlemen they are in my opinion now doing a thing in a very stupid manner. Their object is perfectly legitimate— namely, to give a salary to the Prime Minister. Why do they not propose a salary for the Prime Minister, instead of giving him a salary by a bye-wind and reviving the dormant office of Lord Privy Seal? No one would deny that the Prime Minister should have private secretaries, and that they should be paid. No one would wish to vote against that part of the Vote, but the reason why I intend to vote against the salary of the Lord Privy Seal is that I consider it more consistent with the dignity of this House that when we have a Prime Minister we ought to vote him a salary, and an adequate salary. It is said that the Prime Minister has no constitutional existence. He has a constitutional existence, not by statute but by usage. If the right hon. Gentleman would bring forward a motion such as he suggested, giving a salary to the Prime Minister, so far as I am concerned—and I think I speak for many hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House—we are perfectly prepared to support it. I am ready to withdraw my Amendment if the right hon. Gentleman will carry out his own proposal, withdraw this Vote and propose an adequate salary for the Prime Minister. I beg to move the reduction of the Vote by £758.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £257, be granted for the said service." (Mr. Labouchere.)
said, as was pointed out by the hon. Member who had just-spoken, one great advantage of the Prime Minister having a salary was that it could
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Boland, John||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)|
|Allen, Chas.P.(Glouc.,Stroud)||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Carew, James Laurence|
|Ambrose, Robert||Burke, E. Haviland-||Carvill, Patrick George H.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Caldwell, James||Channing, Francis Allston|
§ be reduced if he went wrong. He thought Lord Salisbury was the most eminent statesman and most valuable Foreign Secretary, and he had the highest opinion of his general ability, but nevertheless he for one reason would support the Amendment. He would frankly state why. It was because on a recent occasion Lord Salisbury gave very bad advice to the Sovereign. He did not support the Amendment because Lord Salisbury was called Lord Privy Seal, but because in his opinion he very badly advised His Majesty—
said that he would bow to the Chairman's decision, and as he could not bring forward his special point he would not take up the time of the Committee. Everyone would, however, understand why he supported the Amendment of the hon. Member for Northampton.
§ MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
said he intended to vote in favour of the Amendment. It seemed to him that the Government were not proceeding in the right way in the matter, and he would oppose the motion, because it inflicted £2,000 a year on the taxpayers. He thought that there was plenty of money, if properly distributed, to properly pay all the members of the Cabinet. The question was how was it to be allocated? If there was to be a Prime Minister, by all means let him be paid liberally and generously, but he did not think that, at a time like the present, any additional burden should be placed on the country.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes. 107; Noes, 183. (Division List No. 31.)
|Cogan, Denis J.||Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Shaughnessy, J. P.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Power. Patrick Joseph|
|Crean, Eugene||Leigh, Sir Joseph|
|Cullinan, J,||Levy, Maurice||Rea, Russell|
|Daly, James||Lloyd-George, David||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lough, Thomas||Reddy, M.|
|Davies,M.Vaughan-(Cardigan||Lundon, W.||Redmond, JohnE. (Waterford)|
|Delany, William||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Dillon, John||M'Dermott, Patrick||Roche, John|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Govern, T.||Scott, Chas.Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Sullivan, Donal|
|Duffy, William J.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dunn, Sir William||Mooney, John J.||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Edwards, Frank||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Emmott, Alfred||Murphy, J.||Tully, Jasper|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Nolan,Col.JohnP. (Galway,N.||Ure, Alexander|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Warner,ThomasCourtenay T.|
|Field, William||Norman, Henry||Wason,Eugene(Clackmannan|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O' Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Md||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Gilhooly, James||0' Connor, James(Wicklow, W.||Williams, Osmond(Merioneth)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson,Chas. Henry(Hull,W.)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Woodhouse,Sir J. T. (Huddersf'|
|Haldane, Richard Burden||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Hammond, John||O'Dowd, John|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly,James(Rosc'mmon,N||Mr. Labouchere and Mr.|
|Hayne,Rt. Hon. CharlesSeale-||O'Malley, William||Dalziel.|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon.CharlesH.||O'Mara, James|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. SirAlex. F||Charrington, Spencer||Gore, Hon. F. S. Ormsby-|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Goschen, Hon. George J.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H.A.E.||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Archdale, Edwin Mervyn||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Green, WalfordD.(Wedn'sbr'y|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Colomb,SirJohnCharlesReady||Greene, Sir E. W. (BurySt.Ed.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cook, Frederick Lucas||Grenfell, William Henry|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Corbett, A. Cameron(Glasgow)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Cranborne, Viscount||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Balfour,RtHnGeraldW(Leeds||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hain, Edward|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Beach,Rt. Hn.SirM. H. (Bristol||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hamilton,RtHn Lord G.(Mid'x|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Dewar,T. R.(T'rH'mlets,S.Geo||Hamilton,.Marq of (L'ndnd'rry|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Bigwood, James||Dimsdale, Sir Joseph Cockfield||Harris, F.Leverton(Tynem'uth|
|Bill, Charles||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Doxford, Sir WilliamTheodore||Heath, Jas. (Staffords., N.W.)|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Duke, Henry Edward||Helder, Augustus|
|Bond, Edward||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Henderson, Alexander|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hermon-Hodge, Robert T.|
|Bowles, Capt. H.F.(Middlesex||Faber, George Denison||Hope,J.F. (Shef'ld, Brightside|
|Bowles, T.Gibson(King'sLynn||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Howard, Cap. J (Kent,Faversh.|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mane.||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bull, William James||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Finch, George H.||Knowles, Lees|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawrence, William F.|
|Butcher, John George||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawson, John Grant|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Lee,Cap. A. H.(Hants, Fareh'm|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Cavendish, V. C. W(Derbyshire||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Flower, Ernest||Leighton, Stanley|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Forster, Henry William||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J.(Birm.||Gibbs,Hn. A. G. H. (CityofLond||Long Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Gordon,Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Plummer, Walter R,||Stanley,HonArthur(Ormskirk|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmo'th||Pretyman, Ernest George||Stanley,Edward.Jas.(Somerset|
|Macartney, Rt. Hn. W. G. E.||Purvis, Robert||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Pym, C. Guy||Stroyan, John|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool||Reid, James (Greenock)||Talbot,Rt Hn.J.G.(Oxf'd Uni.)|
|M'Calmont, Col. J.(Antrim,E.)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Thornton, Percy M.|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinb., W.)||Rentoul, James Alexander||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Renwick, George||Tomlinson, Wm. E. Murray|
|Malcolm, Ian||Ridley,Hon.M. W(Stalybridge||Valentia, Viscount|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Ridley,S. Forde(BethnalGreen||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Milner, Rt. Hn.SirFrederickG.||Ritchie, Rt Hn. Chas. Thomson||Wason, John C. (Orkney)|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Webb, Col. William George|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Welby,Lt-ColA.C.E(Taunton).|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Royds, Clement, Molyneux||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)||Russell, T. W.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset)|
|Morgan, David J. (Walthamst.)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Wills, Sir Frederick|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Sadler. Col. Samuel Alexander||Wilson, A. S. (Stanley, E. R.)|
|Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Seely,Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Murray, Rt. Hn A. Graham(Bute||Shaw-Stewart,M. H. (Renfrew)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Young,Commander (Berks, E.)|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Skewes Cox, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Nicol, Donal Ninian||Smith,H. C(N'th'mb,Tyneside)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Spear, John Ward|
|Percy, Karl||Spencer, Ernest (W.Bromwich)|
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £110,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the:51st day of March, 1901, for Stationery. Printing, Paper, Binding, and Printed Books for the Public Service".
§ MR. FLYNN
said that during the course of the discussion on these Supplementary Estimates they had had very extravagant sums to deal with; but the sum now asked for was sufficient to take away the breath of an ordinary Member of the House of Commons. A sum of £110,000 was asked for printing and binding books. One would have thought that all the books in the British Museum could have been printed and bound for that sum. It was time to realise the condition of things to which the House of Commons bad been reduced under the present Administration. Apparently the war was to be made the scapegoat for every extravagance, possible and impossible. It was to be made the excuse for Supple- 290 mentary Estimates absolutely without precedent. He defied the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to furnish a precedent for Supplementary Estimates of such magnitude as they were now considering. They had only recently discussed a Vote of over £17,000 for telegrams, which, however, might be accounted for by the high rates charged for telegrams to South Africa and West Africa; but, in his opinion, it was a most extravagant demand on the common sense of the country to ask for £110,000 for such a comparatively inexpensive article as paper, which, in the present days of cheap production, could be produced for a moderate sum. Was the Committee to be merely a body for registering the decrees of the Government? Ten years ago the Estimates were diligently, conscientiously, and carefully examined, but the House of Commons now had reached such a parlous condition —partly owing to the manner in which the Opposition had abrogated its functions as the guardian of the rights of the tax-payer—that all the Committee appeared able to do was to cheerfully vote the sums asked for by the Government. In the Vote before the Committee the amount asked for for printing for public departments was £233,000, the original Estimate being. £216,000. That was an 291 increase of £17,000. The next item— paper for public departments—showed an increase of £53,000, which certainly called for an explanation from the Secretary of the Treasury, without which he hoped the Committee would not have to vote it. He recognised that a somewhat exceptional condition of things existed, and that a demand had been made on the public service which would not have been made in ordinary circumstances, but he could not understand how a Supplementary Estimate should be so excessive as to be a fifth of the original Estimate, especially when such a comparatively cheap article as paper was concerned. The item for binding showed an increase of £8,500, although there was no information as to whether wages had increased. One of the disadvantages of the present position was that in previous Parliaments there was a Secretary to the Treasury who was competent to fill the position, and who had some knowledge of accounts. That position was now filled by a Minister, if he might call him so, who, from the condition of things, was a neophyte and an amateur, and could not give any explanation as to why the Estimates had been so extravagantly increased. He thought the Committee were entitled to something more than the scant courtesy and the bald explanation which had been given on previous Votes. He did not suppose there was any increase in the cost of material or labour, and surely there could not be such an enormous increase in the consumption of paper. An increase of £110,000 might be a small matter to hon. Members opposite, who displayed only the smallest Interest in the Estimates, and many of whom could not tell the difference between a Supplementary and an ordinary Estimate, but hon. Members from Ireland were very much concerned in the swollen Estimates which had been presented, and also in the unsatisfactory manner in which they had been submitted to the Committee. He trusted that they would have a satisfactory explanation from the Treasury as to how such an enormous increase had been incurred.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he thought that such a large increase required more explanation than was given 292 on the Paper. The only explanation on the Paper was that the large increase was caused by the war, but the war was going on when the original Estimate was prepared. Why was not provision then made for the stationery required in South Africa, and if such provision were made how was it possible that such a large increase in the Estimate was now necessary? This Supplementary Estimate suggested to him what he thought was really the explanation of all the increased Votes they were considering. He believed that they had not had fair Estimates presented to them at the beginning of the financial year, and that every Estimate was squeezed in order to make up for the cost of the war.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I think there is one point which might give rise to misapprehension unless I deal with it at once. This is a Vote for the Stationery Office, but the whole of it is not required for articles ordinarily included in this Vote. Provision was made for the war when the original Estimate was framed, but the hon. Member for West Islington forgets, when he suggests that the war was in progress when we made the original Estimate, that that Estimate was framed in the last months of 1899, when it could not, be anticipated that the war would last so long, and no one can therefore be surprised that the provision which was then made for what is called stationery has proved insufficient for a war which is still going on. There are other items in the Vote which are not connected with the war, and which could not have been foreseen when the original Vote was framed. For instance, the Estimate was framed on the assumption that the census paper would be of the same quality as was used at the last census, but the Registrar General represented that a better class of paper would be required.
§ MR. FLAVIN (Kerry, N.)
Would the hon. Gentleman say how much of the increase is due to the better census paper?
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Yes, Sir; £600. If I may give another instance, I would mention the new forms of discharge required in the mercantile marine. The Stationery Office has to supply the demands of the other offices. I understand that a book instead of a loose paper is now required for the better protection of the mercantile marine, and that accounts for a sum of £1,300 of the extra Supplementary Estimate. I only mention these facts to show how the Estimate is made up, and also to show that these sums are sums which the Stationery Office could not have refused. With regard to the war, an enormous supply of paper is required for packing purposes as well as for stationery. There has been an increased expenditure for stationery in the ordinary sense of the word, and there has also been an increased demand for books of various kinds required on military service, as well as an increase in the printing for the Army in consequence of its increased size. Up to 1899 the War Office itself supplied all the paper it required for packing purposes, but since then the Stationery Office has been called upon to supply it. The items I have mentioned, and other items of a similar kind, account for the increased Vote, and I think there is very little in it that could have been foreseen. I cannot therefore accept the blame which the hon. Member for West Islington casts on the Stationery Office for not having foreseen this expenditure.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE
said the Vote gave him an opportunity of raising a question which he had long been anxious to raise, but which he was unable to bring forward before owing to the peculiar way in which the Estimate had been presented in recent years. Ireland would have to pay a large proportion of the Vote, and he should like to know what value she was to get for her money. He should like to ask the Secretary for the Treasury where the paper provided for in this Vote came from? He had seen some specimens of the paper on which the War Office did their correspondence, and certainly it 294 could not be much worse. He did not know whether it was made in Germany, but it was extraordinarily bad paper. He wished to know whether any of the paper purchased by the Stationery Office was made in Ireland, and whether Irish firms were given any facilities for tendering for contracts for paper. Extraordinarily good paper was made in Ireland. He did not know whether the paper used in the House of Commons was of Irish manufacture, but certainly quite as good paper was made in that country. He should like to receive an assurance from the hon. Gentleman that if Irish contractors had not been given an opportunity of tendering in the past, such opportunity would be given to them in the future. With reference to binding, that was one of the few arts still preserved in Ireland, and he would make the same request with regard to that. It seemed to him that a certain amount of the public expenditure such as was mentioned in the Estimate might be spent in Ireland with great advantage.
§ MR. TULLY
said he thought that the Secretary to the Treasury when he was explaining the Vote forgot that the total Estimate for 1900–1 was over £600,000, whereas the Estimate for 1889–9 was only £498,000. There had therefore been an increase of over £100,000, exclusive of the increase which had been put down to the war. The total amount now to be voted for printing and stationery was nearly three-quarters of a million. When the President of the Board of Agriculture was Secretary to the Treasury, he boasted in 1898 that he had reduced the figures for that year by £50,000, but instead of any decrease being effected in the present year there was an increase of £110,000, without any adequate explanation. The hon. Gentleman said that the Stationery Office was getting a better class of paper, but the better quality of paper had not fluctuated very much in price. It was the cheaper qualities of paper that were affected by the war. The war interfered with wood pulp paper, because steamers were taken for transport 295 purposes, and also because there was a rise in the price of chemicals. When the President of the Board of Agriculture was Secretary to the Treasury, he went direct to the mills instead of going to contractors, but he could not get any tenders from the mills, because they were warned that if they tendered they would he boycotted by the contractors. Owing to transactions such as that, the Government were unable to obtain paper from the mills, with the result that £11 0.000 had to be added to the Estimates in one year. When the President of the Board of Agriculture was striving to reduce these enormous figures, all sorts of difficulties were put in his way. He attempted to get the reporting of the House of Commons done cheaper, and the plan was adopted of slinging a cheap contract at his head. He went in for getting a low tender, and got a very bad contractor, who made a complete mess of the printing and publishing the debates of the House. By that means discredit was sought to be cast on the President of the Board of Agriculture because of his efforts to reduce the expenditure of the Stationery Office. He thought some explanation should have been given as to why £110,000 had to be added to the original Estimate, information should also be given as to who were the contractors for the supply of stationery used in the public Departments. Had the hon. Gentleman the present Secretary to the Treasury attempted to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor? Did he go to the mills for paper; and if he went to the mills, did he secure tenders; and if he did not, did not that prove that the ring which existed in the old days still existed? Although nearly three-quarters of a million was expended in printing and stationery, if the public wanted a Blue-book an almost prohibitive price was put upon it. A Blue-book which now cost 6s. could, if produced in a sufficient quantity, be obtained for 3d. or 4d. If the hon. Gentleman would put Blue-books at a low price on the market, the result would prove very remunerative. A daily newspaper might cost £1,000 to produce, but it was sold at a 1d. or ½d., whereas the Vote Office put on a Blue-book 296 the price they thought it cost to produce. They sold perhaps 500 books at one shilling, whereas if they offered 1,000 or 1,500 books at 6d. they would realise a substantial profit. He asked the hon. Gentleman whether he would not go in for such a system. He did not think there was any justification for the enormous increase now asked for. The better quality of paper used had very little to do with it, and if the money was not spent on paper, did it go as wages? The rate of wages for compositors had not increased in London. On the contrary, an effort was made to reduce it, and therefore no part of the increase went to the working man. He noticed that "Small Stores" were responsible for £29,000 of the increase. It was very convenient in drawing up an Estimate to cloak a lot of things under the title of "Small Stores." He did not think such an item could justify an increased expenditure of £29,000. Then there was an increase of £1,000 for parchment, and an increase of £53,000 for paper. He could not accept such items.
§ It being midnight, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolutions to he reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.