§ 1. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £25,716, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Agriculture, and to pay certain grants in aid."
§ (2.30.) SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
said he thought hon. Members were entitled to complain of the action of the Government in springing this Vote upon the Committee at such short notice, as it was not until the preceding day that any intimation was given that it was to be taken. A good many hon. Members interested in agriculture, and representing agricultural constituencies, naturally preferred to stay in the country, as they were under the impression that the Vote was not likely to be brought on so soon. He was quite aware of the reasons for putting off the Budget Bill, which was originally to have been taken, and in view of the fact that the proposal to impose an import duty upon corn was to be reconsidered, he thought agriculturists were not sorry at the postponement, as they did not look with any pleasure upon a proposal which would place a heavy tax upon foodstuffs used by them. He hoped that in the future a little more than a bare twenty-four hours notice would be given before a Vote of this kind was taken. In moving the reduction of the Vote of which he had given notice he wished to ask one or two questions of the right hon. Gentleman. Was he, for instance, 677 satisfied with the working of the Food and Drugs Act of 1899? As most of them would remember, the object of that Act was to give greater power to the local authority to deal with adulteration of dairy products. Under that Act strong instructions were given to the various local authorities to take samples of agricultural produce—such as butter, cheese and milk—with a view to ensuring that it should not be adulterated in any way. Power was also given to the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture to take steps to secure the enforcement of the law in cases where the local authorities failed to do their duty. Now, he had heard many complaints that the local authorities in great cities like London were not doing their duty. They did not seem to care whether the produce was adulterated or not, because they had in their mind the idea that very often adulteration was simply a means which enabled the produce to be sold cheaply. Such a state of things was intolerable, not only in the interests of the farmer who sent his goods to market, but also in the interests of the working classes of the big cities, who ought to be protected, and should have such things as milk and butter sold to them in the state in which they left the farms where they were produced. Take, for instance, the case of milk. A large quantity of milk was sold now-a-days which was, to say the least, watered-down. Instead of, as formerly, going to the nearest pump, and turning water into the milk, the dairymen now put in separated milk, and then gave the liquid a nice high yellow colour, in order to make it look like milk full of cream. Now, he had been given to understand that the Inspectors of the Government did not look after this matter, and he ventured to assert that it should be one of the duties, both of the Board of Agriculture and of the Local Government Board, to send round inspectors occasionally to check the work done by the inspectors employed by the local authorities in great cities. He could assure the President of the Board of Agriculture that there existed in many localities a strong feeling that this work of inspection was not being properly performed; and he would point out how unfair it was that the honest 678 trader should be penalised in the way he was, because this adulteration made him unable to compete with the dishonest trader, for he could not sell his goods at the same price as the man who adulterated his articles. He hoped that steps would be taken to put an end to this carelessness—or even worse—on the part of the inspectors of the local authorities. It would be found that in some of the smaller towns of the West of England the Act was very strictly and diligently en forced, and the example thus set would, he hoped, be very widely followed in the future.
Then, he wished to ask whether the working of the Act was satisfactory so far as concerned the prevention of the mixture of margarine with butter. He had heard complaints that a large amount of butter was still sold in which margarine formed a very considerable constituent, and he was one of those who believed that these frauds in connection with the sale of margarine as butter would never be successfully put an end to until it was forbidden to colour margarine so as to make it resemble butter. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give them some indication that he took the same view. He could assure him there was no farmer in the country who had anything to do with the production of butter who would not be glad if the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to take some special action, and he might further add that the working classes generally would also equally approve of such a step. Again, he would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman what the Board of Agriculture were doing in regard to the question of putting preservatives in milk and butter? The right hon. Gentleman would probably remind him that the British Dairy Farmers' Association recently passed a resolution in favour of allowing preservatives to be put in milk, but he would like to inform him that that resolution was passed by means of a snatch division, and that it did not by any means represent the feelings of the milk sellers generally. Throughout agricultural districts they held that milk should be sent up to market in a perfectly pure condition, and that the use of boracic acid and 679 other preservatives ought not to be allowed. That naturally led him to the question of milk - blended butter; he would preter to call it water - logged butter, because one quarter of it at least was water. He did not propose, however, to go into the question at any length, because the right hon. Gentleman had already laid it down that it was impossible for his Department to issue, any order on the subject, and that it would be absolutely necessary to deal with the question by means of fresh legislation; but he would like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that it was a matter of great urgency, and required very careful consideration.
Then he would like to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture what he was doing as regards giving premiums for breeding. As the Committee were aware. Queen's Plates were given as premiums with the idea of improving the breed of horses. As be understood it, the premiums were given entirely to thoroughbred horses distributed over various parts of the country; they ware not given in the case of shire horses: and he could not help thinking how very desirable it was, in these days of agricultural depression, that farmers should be encouraged to breed cart horses. It was possible for them to do so, to keep the horses working on their farms for the first five or six years, and then to sell them at a remunerative price in the large towns; but at the present moment they really had no opportunity to secure the services of stallion horses at reduced fees. In that respect Ireland was much better off, for at the present moment the Government gave the Irish farmers a good many advantages, in regard to shire horses, pedigree bulls, and boars. They did everything they could to foster the breeding of good horses, cattle, and pigs in Ireland, and he thought the English farmer was in a less advantageous position in this respect, simply because the agricultural Members of the House had not taken up the attitude adopted by hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, and had not sufficiently pressed on the Government, in season and out of season, the necessity of giving English farmers these advantages. The fees now charged for the use of stallions of high class were absolutely prohibitive so 680 far as the ordinary farmer was concerned. In his own district they had some fine shire horse stallions belonging to Sir W. II. Wills, a former Member of the House of Commons, but the fees insisted upon were so high as to be absolutely prohibitive to the tenant farmer.
The right hon. Gentleman had made speeches outside the House on the question of technical education, and he had pointed out that where one pound was spent on the advancement of the agricultural interest in this country something like five pounds was spent in the advancement of the education of other classes. That was a very serious statement indeed for, after all, the agricultural interest was the greatest interest in this country, and he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that his declarations on this point had given special satisfaction to agriculturists. They gladly accepted his promise to hold out a helping hand to the agricultural interest, and they were looking forward very anxiously to the time when he would be able to give practical effect to the suggestions he had thrown out. They hoped the right bon. Gentleman would be able to give them more grants for their technical schools, and that he would be able to provide premiums for shire horses, pedigree bulls and boars. In that way he would generally advance the agricultural interest, and if he could only induce the Government to treat that interest more favourably than it had done in the past, and to put it on an equality, say, with the Irish agricultural interest, he believed the right hon. Gentleman would render a vast service to the country.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries and Wages) be reduced by £100, in respect of the Salary of the President of the Board."—(Sir Edward Strachey.)
§ (2.45.) MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said he wished to join in the complaint of his hon. friend as to the inconvenience caused by bringing this Vote forward at such short notice. He too had a few questions to address to the right hon. Gentleman. He thought the time had come when we should begin 681 to learn some lessons from the war. A question which was largely exorcising the agricultural interest at the present moment was that of horse buying for the Army. Everyone knew what a fiasco there had been in connection with the purchase of remounts for the Army, but the President of the Board of Agriculture, in a speech the other day, said he was now working very cordially with the War Office, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the House all the information he could as to the requirements of the military authorities. The right hon. Gentleman said last year that Devonshire was free from rabies. The Dog Muzzling Order had, however, been recently put in force in the county, and he was sorry there should have been any cause to necessitate its re-imposition. The county suffered very severely from it three or four years ago, and he trusted that, as a result, rabies had very largely diminished. The order stated that all dogs were to be muzzled, with the exception of packs of hounds and dogs used for sporting or for the capture or destruction of vermin. As dogs were not used for sporting purposes between June and September, he could not see the reason of the exemption. The right hon. Gentleman might, however, have made an exemption in favour of farmers' sheepdogs. It did seem hard that a landowner using dogs for sporting purposes might allow them to go unmuzzled, and yet a farmer who used his dogs for business purposes had to muzzle them, thus rendering them practically useless for the purposes required. It was stated in the order that all these dogs should be under the charge of competent persons, but a sheepdog would naturally be more under control than a pack of hounds. Last year there was an appalling amount of statistics on swine fever, and he was very glad that according to the Returns the disease showed signs of decrease. Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether it was a spontaneous disease or not? There had been a care in Devonshire. Why should disease suddenly spring up in the middle of a great county like that? He did not understand it, and if the right hon. Gentleman could give them any information on the subject, and indicate how the disease could be avoided, he should be 682 very much obliged. A disease which had not decreased to the same extent was anthrax. As to that great ignorance prevailed among country people. A case occurred in Devonshire only the other week. A bullock died, it was thought, from inflammation. The farmer who helped to cut it up died from blood poisoning as the result of handling the animal. There was a coroner's inquest, at which it transpired that the farmer was suffering from a weak heart at the time and that he caught the infection, dying a week afterwards. The animal, too was being cut up as food for dogs, and thus the disease might have been still further spread, He should therefore like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to disseminate in rural districts as much as possible information as to the symptoms of anthrax. He also wished for information in regard to glanders, which prevailed in the Metropolis very considerably. He would like to know if the Departmental Committee had reported on the subject. He also wished to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity for agricultural education, which was mostly deficient in the strictly rural parts of the country. He thought the Board of Agriculture should draw-up some conditions which they could suggest to County Councils for the purpose of carrying out education in agricultural subjects in the most rural districts. Devonshire was an orchard county and grew many apples, but it was the most difficult thing in the world to get a man who properly understood how to prune an apple tree. It seemed to be a lost art, and he thought the importance of providing education of this kind in rural districts should be impressed upon the local authorities by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman took a wise step last year in appointing Professor Somerville to the Board of Agriculture, and he hoped his experience had proved of value. They ought to disseminate in the rural districts the very admirable information contained in the Journals of the Board of Agriculture. Farmers, at present, did not see it. The right hon. Gentleman said the other day he thought there were good grounds for inquiring into the question of differential railway rates. If 683 the right hon. Gentleman could do anything to reduce the railway rates, which so much fettered agriculture in the counties, he would be doing something far greater than had been done by any of his predecessors. He would also like to know how the milk standard was working. The local authorities, as he had pointed out, were lax in carrying into effect the Food and Drugs Act, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take steps to remedy that state of things.
(2.55.) MR. LLOYD MORGAN (Carmarthenshire, W.)
said he wished briefly to associate himself with the observations which had fallen from the last speaker in regard to the muzzling order. The county of Carmarthen, with which he was associated, had had that order in force, off and on, now for a period of some five or six years. He was not going to discuss the general policy of the order; it might or might not be a very good thing; but one thing was obvious, and that was that the people who resided in a district where the order was enforced found it to be an intolerable nuisance. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to see his way to accede to the suggestion made by his hon. friend to grant farmers exemption for their sheepdogs. Those who lived in agricultural districts knew how difficult it was for a farmer who lived by the roadside constantly to keep his dog muzzled. The dogs would not do their work when they were muzzled, and if they were left unmuzzled it was hard to prevent them straying into the public thoroughfare. If the animals did so and were seen, the farmers were prosecuted and called upon to pay fines. The fines themselves were comparatively trivial, but the costs which they carried with them made the matter a serious one. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman might, without at all weakening the effect of the muzzling order, grant the exemption in the case of dogs used for purely agricultural purposes. He would like to point out to the right hon. Gentleman the very unsatisfactory results which had accrued from the imposition of the order in the county of Carmarthen. Either the order had been most loosely administered or its effects 684 were valueless. It was first put in force in the county in July, 1897; it remained in force until May, 1898; in August, 1899, it was re-imposed, remaining in force until the 10th May, 1900; on the 5th October, 1900, it had again to be put on, and remained in force until the Summer of 1901; then at the end of last year, or the beginning of the present year, the order had again to be put in operation and it was still in force. The mere statement of these dates would prove either that the order was no good at all or that it had been administered in so very unsatisfactory and ineffectual a manner as to render it absolutely valueless. At the same time, the order had been an intolerable nuisance to the inhabitants of the county of Carmarthen, and the length of time it had had to be kept in force showed there must be something wrong in its administration. The mistake of the Board of Agriculture had been that, during the whole of the time, the order had never been in force through the entire country. He had not sufficient knowledge to say whether the order was good or bad but if it was good, it ought to be put in force over a considerable area, and remain in force for a considerable time. The way in which the order was put into force seemed to be that the Board of Agriculture picked out a petty sessional division in which rabies, or supposed rabies, had been found. No particular regard was paid to density of population, and, if the district was not found to be quite satisfactory, the area was gradually enlarged, until a considerable area came within the scope of the order. That was a very unsatisfactory system. During the last five or six years the Board had been putting people to great inconvenience, and they had done it in such a way as to lead to no satisfactory result. The fact that the order had been enforced in the county was sufficient evidence that the Board of Agriculture believed a considerable amount of rabies to exist in Carmarthenshire, but there was a very strong feeling that at times it had been enforced when it ought not to have been. Another point was with regard to County Councils sending to the Department the heads of dogs supposed to have been suffering from rabies, for the 685 purpose of being scientifically examined, in order to discover whether or not the supposition was correct. The complaint was that, after the examination, the Board of Agriculture had not sent to the County Council the result. The President of the Board, while not accepting the facts as stated by the County Council as to whether or not, on certain occasions, the information was supplied, had promised that in future it should be done. The County Council had a very strong interest in the matter, and, when they took every precaution to assist the Board, they were surely entitled, as the most important representative body in the county, to have the fullest information at the earliest convenient moment. He desired to join in the request that the right hon. Gentleman should consider the question of assisting in the improvement of the breed of shire horses. That was the most important kind of horse-breeding, as far as the ordinary small farmer was concerned. It was of far greater importance to them to have assistance in the breeding of shire horses than of thoroughbreds.
§ *(3.6.) MR. JOHN HUTTON (Yorkshire, Richmond)
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had thought out a scheme by which The principle of the Food and Drugs Act could be applied to fertilisers and feeding stuffs. There was no point which more interested the farmers in the North of England. The County Councils were most anxious to have power to examine the genuineness of the stuffs sent out as fertilisers or feeding stuffs, and would be only too glad to co-operate with the Board of Agriculture in the matter. There were great difficulties involved, but surely some scheme could be invented by which an inspector appointed by the Board might be permitted to examine the goods either before delivery, while in the hands of the carriers, or, under certain circumstances, as soon as delivered to the purchaser. With regard to the muzzling order, when it was put in force in the North of England, three or four years ago, the area was a very large one, extending over a radius of twenty-five miles, and was never limited to the petty sessional division. He agreed that 686 it would be of great assistance if the right hon. Gentleman could really define swine fever; for years they had been under the impression that it broke out spontaneously: it was a very tiresome and troublesome disease, and, although from time to time it might appear to be gradually dying out, experience had shown that it invariably burst out again with renewed vigour.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
congratulated the President of the Board of Agriculture on the energy he was throwing into his business. The farmers of the country were beginning to see that at the head of the Department in which they were chiefly interested they had a Minister who was really putting his back into the work, and there was good reason to hope that attention would be more definitely and scientifically directed to agricultural matters. As to the muzzling order, he associated himself with the suggestion that farmers' dogs might be exempted, but only on an assurance being given that it should not in any way interfere with the muzzling regulations which had been carried out with such vigour, pluck, and determination by the right hon. Gentleman and his predecessor, and with so much success. Scientific men had come to the conclusion that the muzzling order had been well conceived and carried out. The results had been such as to justify the means, and, although people complained of the inconvenience to which they had been put, it had been for the benefit of the community at large. Reference had been made to the enormously infective nature of anthrax. The right hon. Gentleman would doubtless be aware of the instance in which an infected carcase was buried. The bacillus was brought up and deposited on the grass by earth-worms; it was then eaten by cattle, which in consequence became infected with anthrax. Burying alone was not a successful method of dealing with the carcases, even though lime or other destructive material were used. He was a great believer in cremation in such cases; in fact, he did not see how the matter could be effectually dealt with in any other way. As to swine fever, he, like other Members, would be glad to know whether 687 it broke out spontaneously, or whether it could be checked and stamped out. It seemed rather a reflection on modern agricultural science that £38,000 a year should be spent for the purpose of checking a disease, which, so far from being checked, seemed to get worse and worse as time went on. The chief question he desired to refer to was that of the exclusion of Canadian cattle. Much inconvenience was caused to many of his constituents by the exclusion of what might be called the raw material of their industry.
§ THE PRESIDENT OF the BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. HANBURY, Preston)
I have no power to deal with that matter; it is a question of legislation.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member himself has the same power. Matters which have to be dealt with by legislation cannot be discussed on the Estimates, but it it is a matter which can be dealt with by Order in Council, of course it may be now discussed.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The Minister in charge has stated that he has no power over the matter. I assume, therefore, it is a matter that must be dealt with by legislation. If that is so, the hon. Member cannot pursue the subject.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
thought this was a very good opportunity for making known the woes of his constituency, and perhaps, under the circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to promising that he would take an early opportunity to initiate legislation to remedy this grievance, which was pressing hard upon agriculturists. In the Channel Islands the exportation of cattle had been forbidden, and he could not understand this, unless the foot-and-mouth disease, like swine fever, had the property of originating de novo. He should like 688 the right hon. Gentleman to explain why foot-and-mouth disease had broken out in the Channel Islands.
§ (3.18.) COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said he had forwarded his right hon. friend an extensively signed petition in relation to the admission and detention in the United Kingdom of pet dogs. Surely people with pet animals which hardly ever left their side would be the last people in the world to bring back a dog into this country with any trace of disease upon it and the right hon. Gentleman's regulation of six months quarantine for pet dogs was almost an infringement of the liberty of the subject. Out of 300 cases of imported dogs, there had only been at the outside two with any disease, and only one of them was true rabies. These pet dogs were not animals which were allowed to wander about the streets, for they were kept under the highest form of control; and yet drovers' dogs, which were not so well looked after, were admitted into the ports perfectly free, although they were much more likely to introduce rabies than pet dogs. He thought that if an owner took his dog abroad, and upon returning home got a certificate of health from a veterinary surgeon, his dog might be allowed to go home with its owner, instead of being sent to quarantine. He did not object to muzzling, or any reasonable control, but he thought that in this matter the Board of Agriculture were overstepping the bound; of reasonableness, for they wished to make it impossible for an owner to take a pet dog abroad He thought a certificate from a veterinary surgeon abroad would be as good a safeguard as six months quarantine.
§ * MR. CROMBIE (Kincardineshire)
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that the Co-operative Congress at Exeter had passed a resolution in favour of the importation of cattle from Argentina. As to the muzzling of dogs, he happened to be one—and probably the only one—who sat upon the Committee appointed by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor to inquire into this question. At that time he was very much opposed to restrictions on dogs in the form of muzzling, but after his experience upon 689 that Committee he was very much like the reformed drunkard on the Salvation Army platforms, for he became a complete convert to those restrictions. He hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would not go too far in removing restrictions. The hon. and gallant Member for Epping had spoken of a certificate being given by a veterinary surgeon abroad, but the long period of incubation would make such a certificate of no value. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to deal with the question of sheep worrying. A Bill upon this subject was introduced some time ago and dropped, but he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would have the courage displayed by his predecessor upon this subject. They had suffered enormously in Scotland from the ravages of sheep worrying, and he hoped the President of the Board of Agriculture would be able to give them a favourable report.
§ *(3.27.) MR. MACDONA (Southwark, Rotherhithe)
said he wished to associate himself with the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire in congratulating the President of the Board of Agriculture in again enforcing the muzzling order, for he was firmly of opinion that the former President of Agriculture by his firmness in this respect exterminated that awful disease hydrophobia from the United Kingdom. The thanks of the whole community of the kingdom ought to be given to him for this. The President of the Board of Agriculture showed the courage of his convictions in at once resorting to this unpopular method—the muzzling order—upon the first re-appearance of this fell disease in our midst. Common sense pointed to the conviction that it must have been imported from abroad. It was earnestly to be hoped that the same success in stamping out hydrophobia in the recent cases will be as undeniable as in the former cases. Whilst fully sympathising with the hon. Member for Essex in his insisting upon taking his pet dog with him in his travels abroad—because he had no family of his own as he stated—he, although he had 300 dogs shortly before he entered Parliament and only one child, when he travelled abroad, invariably left the dogs behind and occasionally took his son with him instead. As an old dog 690 fancier he would suggest to his hon. friend the Member for Epping, when he went his travels abroad he took with him what dogs he liked best specially for the purpose, and left them behind on the Continent as special souvenirs, highly prized by foreigners, who dearly loved a British born dog. Another, it possible a more frightful and fatal disease came, he thought, under the purview of the Board of Agriculture—that was anthrax. He was afraid he must admit that in some few cases, his own constituency, Rotherhithe, was to some small extent liable for its introduction, for the barges in transferring Australian hides to the wharves carried the germs of this frightful disease in the hair of these hides, but he believed some rules, if properly laid down, might meet the case, and extra inducements ought to be given to our medical authorities to discover some remedy for so terrible a disease as anthrax to man and beast.
§ *(3.35.) MR. MANSFIELD (Lincolnshire, Spalding)
said he wished to say a word or two in regard to the question of preferential rates, which were given by railway companies for the conveyance of foreign, as against home products. A few days ago the President of the Board of Agriculture promised to inquire into this matter, and it was to emphasise the idea of the agriculturists that he now referred to the subject. The rates for home produce ordinarily were so heavy that farmers often found; very great difficulty in making their farms remunerative, but when the rates were compared with those paid for foreign produce it would be seen that competition was made doubly hard for the farmers. The matter was not a new one. It had been brought up in the House several times, and instances had been given of the difference between what was charged for carrying German and French products and English products, such as cabbages, carrots, potatoes, and onions. There was a difference of nearly 50 per cent. between the rates charged for imported products from the seaport to the large centres, and the rates which would be charged to the home grower around the same port if he sent his products to the markets.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I fail to see exactly how the question of railway rates can come under this Vote. If it comes under any administrative office it is that of the Board of Trade, but that is not the Vote we are discussing today. The question is how the administration of the Board of Agriculture can be improved.
§ * MR. MANSFIELD
I have no wish to trespass by discussing a question which is out of order at present, but an inquiry was promised.
§ MR. HANBURY
No. I told the hon. Gentleman when he put a Question to me that there was a very strong case for inquiry on certain points, and that I would press the matter on the attention of my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade. I am doing so now.
* THE CHAIRMAN
If it is intended to go into the matter at any length, it must be raised on the Vote for the Board of Trade.
§ * MR. MANSFIELD
said he would not go into it at length. All he wished to say was that an inquiry ought to be held, and if the President of the Board of Agriculture could do anything to induce the President of the Board of Trade to take the matter up, he would do the agricultural interest a great service. Referring to the question of horses for the Army, the hon. Member said the Returns showed that 300,000 horses had been purchased in connection with the South African war. Not more than one in every five or six had gone from England. The matter had been brought before the attention of the President of the Board of Agriculture, but it did not seem to be possible to get anything done to have English horses used in greater numbers. The farmers and breeders had come to the conclusion that it was almost impossible to compete with the foreigner in the matter of these horses, unless some help was given to them. He asked a question some time ago as to whether the Board of Agriculture would publish a return showing the requirements of 692 the War Office, and the answer he got was practically that the President of the Board did not know what the requirements of the War Office were. He was told, indeed, that he would perhaps be able to get the information if he would address the question to the Secretary of State for War. The idea of agriculturists was that the Board of Agriculture ought to have considered this matter, and that it should not take them two years to find out what the War Office wanted. They thought that some action should be taken whereby the country should know what the War Office wanted. The right hon. Gentleman should publish leaflets and let the farmers and horse breeders know exactly what was wanted. Speaking at York not long ago the right hon. Gentleman said he wanted to make farmers feel that in the Board of Agriculture they had not a mere doll dressed up in red tape, not a mere Department that took no interest in them. By his speeches the right hon. Gentleman had won the hearts of the farmers and agriculturists generally, but they now wanted him to come down from his after dinner altitude and tell them what the War Office wanted, and to help them to see whether they could supply the demand. As showing that the Board of Agriculture did not quite know where they were in this matter, he would refer to a Question which was asked as to whether the right hon. Gentleman would cause inquiry to be made in regard to foreign stud?. The reply he received—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would forgive him for saying it—was flippant, and showed a desire to score off the questioner. But the whole gist of the Question was missed. The Question did not refer to foreign breeding studs consisting largely of mares, but to entire horses kept by foreign Governments, and lent to farmers at a nominal cost. If such a practice prevailed in this country, it would be an incalculable gain. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should look into this matter, and see whether anything could be done, if he could do anything to make the farmer's occupation a little more pleasant and profitable, hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House would be grateful.
§ (3.40.) SIR JAMES RANKIN (Herefordshire, Leominster)
called attention to the quest on of grants towards agricultural education. There was a certain sum which was at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman, and which he gave as he thought proper. He should like to know the conditions on which the grants were given. Those who had done anything in the way of agricultural education knew that it was rather an uphill game. There was a great amount of discouragement in carrying on agricultural education. The fact was that farmers as a rule were not rich enough to be able to pay much for education, and therefore it was often almost a vital matter that assistance should be given to those institutions which had been established and were able to give a good education. He had often applied for assistance, but he had hitherto been told that the case he had put before the Minister was not exactly a case which could receive a grant. He should very much like to hear a statement from the Minister of Agriculture as to the exact conditions which bad to be fulfilled in order to be able to receive a grant. He thought the Agricultural Department could do more to encourage education apart from the question of money. The County Council through their Technical Education Committees were giving in many cases useful instruction, but they were also giving certificates for certain operations. It had often occurred to him that it would be a great encouragement to the working men in the country, who were learning, for instance, the pruning of fruit trees and work of that sort, if they could receive a certificate from the Board of Agriculture. No doubt they valued the certificate given by the Technical Instruction Committee of the County Council but he believed they would value a certificate from the Board of Agriculture very much more highly. It would be of very great importance in such counties as Herefordshire and Devonshire, where there were apple orchards, if they could train up a band of thoroughly good pruners. If the orchards which had fallen into a state of disrepair could be put right a great source of wealth would be restored. He would therefore urge that encouragement should be given to working men to improve themselves in this art, so as to 694 gain certificates from the Board of Agriculture. He knew that the right hon. Gentleman had considered the matter, but he had not yet seen his way to do what was now proposed. No doubt, there were many other matters in connection with agriculture in which similar things could be carried on. He did not for a moment suggest that they should not be taken into consideration also. What he had proposed in the way of granting certificates would really cost very little money. Good examiners could be found for a small payment, if the Board of Agriculture had not a competent examiner. Therefore, he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would do what he could in his small and unheroic, but still useful way to encourage the interest of the working classes in agriculture.
§ (3.47) MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
said he was at some disadvantage, owing to the suddenness with which this Vote had been brought on; but there were one or two questions to which he should like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture. It seemed to him an extraordinary thing that after all these years a question should be asked in the House of Commons whether swine fever was a disease that burst out spontaneously, or was an infectious disease which could be stamped out. The amount of money that had been spent in ineffective attempts at extermination was enormous. The responsibility for that did not rest on one side of the House only. The House generally had given its sanction to the policy which the Board of Agriculture had, to the best of its ability, endeavoured to carry out. Year after year he had asked whether it was not the fact that the whole or a considerable proportion of that money might not as well have been thrown from the terrace of this House into the Thames as spent in the direction in which it had beer spent. His very strong impression was that the greater part of that money had been absolutely wasted, and might as well have been thrown into the river. He believed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was in search of objects on which to exercise the virtue of 695 economy, might very well turn his attention towards that particular direction, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would do something in that way. The right hon. Gentleman had appealed for a party of economy in the House, and he firmly believed that this was one of the directions in which economy could be most effectually exercised. The country was not satisfied that in this respect it had had value for its money; and it might be found yet that those who had raised their voices against this expenditure had not been very far from the mark. He was sure that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture had done his very utmost to promote the true interests of agriculture in this country; but having shown one direction in which a saving might be effected, he wished to indicate a direction in which money might be most usefully and profitably spent. Many hon. Members had alluded to the small amount expended on agricultural education in this, as compared with foreign countries. The right hon. Gentleman knew—no one better than he—what had been done by money judiciously applied in this direction in Sweden. Finland, and Denmark; how agriculture had been revolutionised in these countries, and how agricultural methods had been by these mean entirely altered in three or four years. He had been at an agricultural exhibition at Stockholm not long ago, when be confessed he was amazed at the progress made in that direction. What happened in Denmark? In that country a few years ago agriculture was in a perfectly ruinous condition. Its methods were primitive, and the farmer hardly obtained any return for his exertions. Now there had been established sixteen agricultural schools, eighteen dairy schools, two schools of horticulture, a school of forestry, a higher institute of forestry, and a cattle-breeders school. The Government also provided a number of specialists who advised farmers in various parts of the country as to the purchase of agricultural machinery, as to the erection of farm buildings, the draining of marshes, and the reclamation of waste land. Not only had the Government Department done all that good 696 service to agriculture, but it had answered thousands of questions on agricultural subjects, had given a great number of popular lectures, had established chemical and seed stations in different parts of the country, where, for a nominal sum, analyses might be obtained by farmers. Reference had been made to horse-breeding. What had been done in that and other respects by the Government Department had led to an immense expanse of private enterprise. He asked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture to try and obtain the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the educational institutions in this country which were already doing such good work in agricultural education. They were helped now to the extent of their means by the County Councils, and also by voluntary subscriptions; but a good deal more could be done in that direction. And he asked whether it would not be possible to save the money spent in trying to extirpate swine fever, and devote it to the benefit of agricultural education. He agreed with what had been said as to the appointment of Dr. Somerville to an important post on the Board of Agriculture; and he hoped that the Minister, by turning his attention to all those matters to which he had referred, would engage that a great deal more useful work would be done for agriculture in the future than in the past.
§ (3.57) MR. HUMPHREYS - OWEN (Montgomeryshire)
said that if any scheme was being proposed by the Board of Agriculture for afforesting different tracts of country, he hoped certain portions of these tracts would be set apart for small holdings of from ten to twenty or thirty acres for the use of the foremen foresters and others. These would be of the highest value, and might be easily found in sheltered situations in the bottoms of the valleys, while the slopes of the hills were planted with timber. On the subject of education he would like to impress on his right hon. friend the great valne of giving instruction in agriculture not only to adults but to youths in schools and colleges. The real 697 way of improving the standard of skill amongst agriculturists was to make the latter familiar with sound methods, and to give them a grounding in science while still at school or at the university colleges. The right hon. Gentleman was aware of the work of that kind that had been done by the two Welsh colleges, and the equally good work accomplished in the Newcastle College of Science, and other places. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would impress on the Chancellor of the Exchequer the value of this educational work as a national investment. They had had a very interesting speech the previous evening from the Colonial Secretary, who, â propos of the improvement accomplished in Cyprus, had reminded the House that the State could afford to lie longer out of its money than an individual; and that it would be a great national economy for the State to the out of its money for some time in expectation of a larger return in the future in the improved condition of the people. There was far too great a tendency at the present day to devote large areas of land to be worked by capitalist farmers, He believed that the true idea of agriculture was that as many families as possible should be settled on the land in small holdings; and in order to bring that about, the large holdings should be broken up into small holdings. Before sitting down he should like to warn the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture against the seductive appeal made to him by friends from the East of Scotland. He dared say that the farmers in that part of the country would like to have store cattle introduced here from all parts of the world: but there were other places in Great Britain than the East of Scotland, and the introduction of disease into this country would not only be disastrous to large industries in England and Wales but to the graziers themselves, who were pressing for the introduction of cattle from Canada and Argentina, where it was by no means certain that they were safe from disease. He joined in the general chorus of appreciation of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Agriculture. He was quite aware of the difficulties the right hon. Gentleman had to 698 meet when his colleagues asked for more money, but he might be assured that he would receive the support of both sides of the House when the time came to make the appeal at a more favourable period.
§ MR. WHARTON (Yorkshire, W.R., Ripon)
said that everybody in the House was anxious that any article they bought should be the pure article and not a blended article, and he quite agreed with what had been said by the hon. Baronet who brought this matter forward. There was no doubt that butter had become mixed—he would not say adulterated, because the products blended in it were usually of a wholesome character—and by this blending an article was obtained which was inferior to that which the purchaser anticipated buying. The right hon. Gentleman was quite aware of the present condition of things, and he (Mr. Wharton) hoped he would do what he could to remedy what was now an admitted failure of the laws that were attempted to be put into force with regard to these matters Those laws had admittedly failed to bring about that condition of things which they all desired to see. With regard to rabies, he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman in following up as he had done the labours of his predecessor, who had had the satisfaction of practically stampiug out one of the worst diseases with which human beings could be afflicted, in spite of the reproaches heaped upon his head when carrying out his policy. His right hon. friend had been asked to exempt sheep dogs from wearing a muzzle, but of all dogs in the world sheep dogs had the greatest freedom. They had no kennels, they never were a collar, they were not kept on the chain, and he could conceive no animal so likely to communicate rabies as a sheep dog. With regard to swine fever, it had been said that there had been a great waste of money in the attempt to stamp out swine fever. He did not agree that that was so. There was no more waste in spending money in the attempt to stamp out this disease than there was in spending money in attempting to detect the origin and find a cure for the 699 terrible disease of cancer; and no one would suggest that that was a waste of money.
§ MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)
asked the President of the I Board of Agriculture if he could take some steps to bring to the notice of the local authorities in Scotland the powers which the County and Parish Councils had of acquiring allotments. Although from the Return obtained last year he found several applications had been made to County Councils for allotments, in no case had the Council done anything with regard to those applications. He hoped something would be done to bring the statute with regard to allotments into operation.
§ MR. SEELY (Lincoln)
supported that contention of the right hon. Member for the Ripon Division. He said the very worst case of rabies that he ever saw was a case in which a sheep dog was affected; that dog went mad when twenty miles away from a town, but he ran into the town and bit fourteen children. The point, however, he rose specially to draw attention to was one which he had been pressed by his constituents to mention. He desired to know whether powers could be given to County Councils to supervise the use of stallions in their counties and to prohibit the use of unsound stallions. It was obviously a matter of great importance that only sound cattle should be used, and although a great deal had already been done both by the Government and private persons in this matter there was still room for improvement.
§ *(4.8.) MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness-shire)
called atention to the western highlands of Scotland as a source of supply for Army cobs. At the request of one of his constituents, who had a great deal of experience in the breeding of horses of this kind, he had approached the War Office and appealed to them to encourage the breeding of the High-land garron, the type of cob to which he referred, from these districts, but his efforts had met with very little encouragement. All that was necessary was to let the 700 crofters know there was a market for these horses when they were three years old; that was the age at which they were sold. Although it was a younger age than that at which the Army bought, there was no reason why the War Office should not purchase them at three years old and keep them until they had a use for them. He trusted the President of the Board of Agriculture would give attention to this matter. He supported the hon. Member for Clackmannan and Kinross with regard to allotments. There was a great need for a more energetic enforcement of the terms of the Allotments Act. He did not know what had happened in other counties, but in the county which he had the honour to represent, where there was a very intense land hunger, he knew that applications, supported by the Parish Councils, were submitted to the County Council, and these applications were completely ignored. The County Councils did not refuse to grant the applications made to them, which would of course have given the applicants a right to appeal; they simply did nothing and so hung up the applications indefinitely.
§ MR. HEYWOOD JOHNSTONE (Sussex, Horsham)
hoped his right hon. friend would be able to deal with what perhaps was the most important question in regard to agriculture at the present time, the Question of distribution. There could be no question whatever that the proper supply of fruit and vegetables to the large town populations of this country should be as remunerative to the grower as it was beneficial to the consumers. He knew that many difficulties would have to be overcome before a perfect system of distribution was found, but if the right hon. Gentleman would look at the year books of the United States Department of Agriculture he would see what an immense amount of work was done in collecting and distributing farm produce.' Not only was the produce collected, but care was taken to see that it was distributed in the most remunerative manner. Day by day efforts were made to find out where these things were most wanted, and they were thrown into that market in the freshest possible condition. He further suggested that the time had now 701 come when the model clauses for securing the purity of milk supplies in large towns, which had been adopted in so many Corporation Bills, might be made of general application by legislation.
§ SIR JOHN KINLOCH (Perthshire, E.)
said that the finding of remunerative and ready markets was a mere question of railway rates; it was those which must be struck at if these markets were to be found. As an instance of the exorbitant rates which farmers had to pay, he might inform the House that he remembered some years ago potatoes being sent from Scotland to London via New York because it was cheaper to send them that way than direct by rail.
§ * MR. HELME (Lancashire, Lancaster)
urged on the President of the Board of Agriculture the necessity of introducing legislation to deal with the question of purity of butter, so that the farmers might no longer be subjected to unfair competition. The recommendations of the Departmental Committee, with its proposal to adopt a limit of 16 per cent. for the proportion of water in butter, with its permission to sell when containing a larger percentage provided that sufficient disclosure be made to the purchaser, did not go far enough or meet the requirements of the public if they were to be protected. This was not only a producers' question, but a traders' also, as was shewn by the action of many Chambers of Commerce in passing resolutions and asking help of Members, as it had been asked of him in this matter. It would be a strange thing if the County Councils, instead of teaching how the best quality of butter containing the least possible percentage of water could be produced, had to give instruction how to introduce the greatest possible percentage in order to meet the competition of those who made "milk blended" or "loaded" butter and sold it as "pure." If, however, the President of the Board of Agriculture desired to render real service to the dairy farmers, he would urge him to use his influence with his colleagues in the Cabinet to remove the proposed duty on feeding stuffs. He had been informed on good authority that these duties amounted to from 8 to 12 per cent. on the rentals 702 which farmers had to pay in the North of England, and he considered that that was a grievance that ought to be prevented.
§ (4.20.) MR. HANBURY
The discussion has ranged over a considerable number of subjects, and I have no reason to complain of any of the topics introduced. The hon. Member for South Somersetshire made a very interesting speech on the whole of the subject in connection with the Food and Drugs Act, and he was quite justified in saying that in some parts of the country, in our large towns, and I am sorry to say some of them are in Lancashire, the Act is not carried out with that efficiency with which it ought to be. Of course we must remember that it is comparatively a new Act, and we must give the local authorities time to properly exercise their powers. But I have a reserve power at my back, and if the local authorities do not carry out the Act, I shall show no unwillingness whatever to use that power, because I think it is in the interests both of the honest traders and the consumers that full effect should be given to the various provisions of the Act. My power, of course, is limited to the question of adulteration of agricultural products, and if I find there is any laxity on the part of the local authorities, so far as I have the power, I shall have no scruple whatever in bringing those powers into force. The hon. Member suggested that it would be a good thing to have a check on the authorities by having inspectors at the Board of Agriculture. Well, we have two inspectors, I think, whose duty it is to watch the local authorities and to report how far the Act is enforced and where it is not enforced at all. These inspectors' reports are very excellent, and we have really all the information it is necessary to have for dealing with this matter. The only thing is, the Act is a modern one, and some little time must be allowed to the local authorities, but I do not think much time should be allowed to elapse before I insist on it being properly carried out. The hon. Member said he thought we had reached a stage when not only the cheapness of the article should be considered but also its purity. I think we have now reached a further stage, when the honest trader has 703 to be protected against his fraudulent rival. I think in the case of butter, for instance, the farmer and the producer are perfectly right when they suggest that an article which is not of the substance of butter should not be sold as butter. Then it is said that the Margarine Act has been directly abused, and a great amount of margarine is sold under the name of butter. I have not got that information, and if the hon. Member can give me information of cases within his own knowledge of that having been done I will have the matter investigated. The Margarine Act is a very important Act, and we must see that it is carried out in its entirety. If we find it is not, then we must go further, with the powers that are behind me, in the direction desired by the hon. Member. A further question was raised as to the use of preservatives in milk and butter. The hon. Member knows that there was a Committee which considered the whole general question, and so far as the general question goes the Local Government Board is more concerned than I am, but I must confess that I myself am disinclined to encourage the use of preservatives in such articles as butter. We ought to have these articles as pure as possible. Salt is used for the preservation of butter, and I do not see the need for any other preservative being used so far as butter is concerned. The hon. Member also touched on milk-blended butter, and suggested that in that case the use of some other preservative was more necessary, as it had been found that that butter would not keep, the milk which had been introduced into it having the tendency to bring about the opposite result.
The hon. Member also dealt with the question of improving the breed of horses. The funds available for this purpose are not in the disposition of the Board of Agriculture. I very much wish they were. In fact, I would go so far as to say, looking to the fact that the Board of Agriculture have the interests of farmers to consider, that farmers have a claim to larger assistance, in this matter than they at present receive. It is very difficult for me to speak of the action of a Royal Commission, but I have a strong opinion 704 myself that the time is coming when the money might be spent with greater advantage in horse breeding than it is at the present time. We are at a disadvantage as compared with Ireland with respect to the money available for purposes of this kind. The provisions made with reference to the Irish Board of Agriculture make me extremely jealous of the way in which that Board is able to benefit the farmers of Ireland. I hope when more peaceful times come, and a little more money is available in the Exchequer, I may be able to soften the hard heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and get him to feel that the time has come when would be only reasonable to put the English farmer in this respect on a more equal footing with the Irish farmer. At the same time, when the hon. Member for the Spalding Division says I have made encouraging speeches, but that he wants to see something done, it must be borne in mind that there are two sides to that question. In the first place, as I have said time after time, although no doubt farmers may look for a certain amount of State help, after all, it is self help that is most needed. One cannot shut one's eyes to the fact that farmers might do a great deal more to help themselves than they are doing at the present moment, and it is by disseminating the kind of information to which the hon. Member referred, by trying to get the smaller men to co-operate, and generally by a better system of education, that I think one must first act. One's hands are more free in that direction than when it is a question of granting money. I see constantly springing up all over the country a greater desire on the part of farmers to co-operate, and there is no doubt that they can do a great deal in various ways to help themselves.
With regard to education, I feel that, although you cannot teach agriculture in the elementary schools in the country districts, the managers can at any rate see that the kind of education given is one more fitted to country pursuits and less adapted for merely town life. The Board of Education and ourselves are working together on this question of agricultural education in the closest harmony. We have appointed a Committee dealing with both elementary 705 and agricultural education. But it is no good the Board of Education allowing certain subjects to come within the code in these schools unless the managers themselves take up those subjects Whether it is that the clergyman does not take sufficient interest in the matter, or that he does not get sufficient assistance from his parishioners or the lay managers, there can be no doubt that in five cases out of nine there are still a vast number of subjects being taught in these country elementary schools which are not so well fitted for the education of our agricultural children as are many other subjects included in the code, and which the managers might very well have taught in the schools.
Secondary education, of course, is at present being dealt with by a Bill in this House, and I cannot go very largely into that question. But I can at any rate deal with the question of grants to agricultural colleges and others. I am glad to say that, although the amount at my disposal is a small one—between £9,000 and £10,000—I have managed, even in this year of war, to get a further £1,000 out of the Treasury for that purpose. The hon. Member for the Leominster Division asks on what principle we distribute these grants. I am bound to tell him that the first thing we consider is as to how far the County Council spends the Local Taxation Fund for agricultural purposes. We give the money to a certain extent to those counties which we see are trying to help themselves, and I am sorry to say that in Herefordshire a less proportion is spent on agricultural education than perhaps upon any other.
§ SIR JAMES RANKIN
I spoke with reference to grants to institutions outside the County Council money.
§ MR. HANBURY
The County Councils do help these institutions very much themselves, and the additional £1,000 which I have at my disposal this year I have given to colleges which are being 706 supported by the County Councils. There is one change which I have introduced in regard to these grants which I think on the whole is a wise one. Hitherto we have given grants only to colleges which represented more than one county. That limitation is removed, and we shall give the grants even to colleges which deal with only one county. I am not at all sure but that some of these smaller colleges are just as useful as, or perhaps more useful than, the larger colleges. They are closer at hand for the farmers, the fees are generally smaller; and they are more likely to be used by the actual farmers, who are the men we want to benefit, than are some of the larger colleges. At the same time, we give these grants to the large colleges because we feel that, although the farmer class are not sending their sons to these colleges as largely as we could wish—to some extent on account of the high fees—still, after all, we are passing through a time of transition, and there are other people besides farmers who want agricultural education. The sons of landlords, and certainly land agents and estate agents, are being sent to these colleges, and it would be a very good thing indeed if we could have a class of land agents in future more closely in touch with agricultural necessities than has been the case in the past.
So much for education. Now I come to the question of remounts, on which the hon. Members for the South Molton and the Spalding Divisions spoke I appear to have misunderstood a Question of the hon. Member which he put to me a few weeks ago as to a breeding establishment. I now understand that what he really desires is to see something in the way of the provision of stallions encouraged by the State. I thought he wanted a large breeding establishment for Army purposes. As to the question of remounts, what I have impressed on the War Office is this—that, although the kind of horse that is wanted for the Army is not a kind that it would pay the farmer to breed, still it would be a useful thing if the War Office were to make it a great deal plainer than they do exactly what they want, the number of horses they require every year, and the price they will give, so that the farmers may have this information in front of them ; 707 and in addition to that, that the Army buyers should be brought into much closer touch with the farmer than is at present the case. I am glad to say that the War Office has met me on all those points, and I hope that in a very short time we shall have this information. Of course, the case I put before the War Office was not that of the remounts in the present war, but as to their normal requirements in time of peace. I know that the normal requirements will not be very considerable, but, whether the requirements be great or small, I think the first opportunity ought to be given to farmers of the United Kingdom.
Now we come to the more thorny question of muzzling. Complaints have been made as to the long existence of the muzzling order in Carmarthenshire. I regret it very much, but, after all, the muzzling order has been very successful in every part of the country except Carmarthenshire. Whether there is anything peculiar in the conformation or the people of Carmarthenshire, I cannot say, but the fact remains that for some unknown reason the disease has lingered there in a way that it has not in the rest of the country. It is very likely due to the fact that it is a very thinly populated part of the world, and that there are few police about. The police are not very numerous in any country district, but in that district there are perhaps fewer than any where else, and it is no doubt more difficult to give due effect to the muzzling order there than in more thickly populated parts of the country. With regard to the exemption of sheep dogs, I entirely agree with my right hon. friend the Member for the Ripon Division. So far from making an exception in their case, the tendency of my mind is rather in the opposite direction. If there was any outbreak, I should not hesitate to put on the muzzling order, without exemptions of any kind. We ought not to leave any loophole whatever for the spread of such a disease. That really is my main answer to the hon. Member for the Epping Division of Essex. He appeals very strongly indeed in favour of the pet dog which is taken abroad and which the owner wants to bring back to this country. But what really is the position? At the present moment 708 this country, with the exception of Carmarthenshire and a district around Plymouth, is free from rabies—a most terrible disease—while the continent is reeking with it, and I do not think that any precautions we can take would be too severe. I am asked why the regulations now should be more stringent than my predecessor thought necessary. For two reasons. Under the old regulations, the owner of a dog which he had owned for three months before bringing it back to this country was allowed to keep that dog in quarantine in his own house, and then at the end of three months, if certified by a veterinary surgeon to be free from disease, the dog was allowed to go loose. I am sorry to say that that privilege has been grossly abused. There has been case after case in which it has been found the regulations have not been observed. I think myself that that would be a sufficient reason for abolishing that privilege, and requiring the dogs to be kept under the eye of a veterinary surgeon. Of course, the case has become stronger since the muzzling order was abolished. If such a dog strayed from its owner's house without a muzzle when the muzzling order was in force, it could be detected at once, and it was known that the regulations were being disregarded. But now, when there is no muzzling order in force, a dog may stray from its owner's house, and there is no possibility of knowing that it is a dog which ought to be in quarantine. I confess that when I think of the millions of people in this country who are at the present moment free from any risk of rabies, and when I think of the few people who, after all, do take their dogs abroad—it is more a luxury than anything else—I feel that I must consider the public interest and the public health of those millions rather than the convenience of a very small section of the community. Therefore I do not think they have any right whatever to complain of the alteration I have made that, instead of keeping their dogs for three months in their own house, such dogs should be kept for six months in quarantine and under proper charge.
Now I come to the question of swine fever, and I am glad to say that during the first three months of this year there 709 have been fewer cases of swine fever than for many years past. Last year the disease was very widely spread, but this is the best year we have had for some six or seven consecutive years. I have been asked whether this disease breaks out spontaneously, or whether it can only be conveyed by a bacillus. The veterinary surgeons of the Board have no doubt about it. They say it cannot originate spontaneously, and they are absolutely certain that the disease can only be caused by a bacillus being conveyed from one place to another. I know there is a strong theory which a good many people attribute this disease to, and it is that feeding on maize or upon wash and swill has had something to do with the spreading of this disease. Undoubtedly, it is a remarkable fact that we do get reports of swine fever increasing near large watering places during the tourist season, and it is thought that this is due to the use of wash and swill from the hotels and lodging houses which is supposed to affect the pigs. However that may be, undoubtedly there is an increase of the disease during the tourist season and in localities such as I have indicated. There was a great restriction with regard to the feeding on maize meal brought from America, where it was said there was a great deal of swine fever which was not under proper supervision. With regard to this point I am having very careful inquiries made on the subject in the United States, but I have not yet received replies sufficient to justify me in forming an opinion. The Committee, however, will see that we are inquiring into the matter, and it is possible that some extension of the outbreak of the disease may be traced to this cause. But putting aside the question of whether the disease is caused by feeding upon wash, our experts are absolutely certain that swine fever is not a disease which arises spontaneously, but it is due to infection by a bacillus. On the West Coast of Scotland and England, after we had practically stamped out the disease it has broken out again there, and the disease is largely traced from Ireland. I have been in communication with the Irish Board of Agriculture urging them to adopt very much more stringent regulations with regard to 710 swine fever, because I felt that if disease could not be dealt with as vigorously in Ireland as in England, it might be necessary to forbid the importation of pigs from Ireland into this country. I am glad to say that the Irish Board of Agriculture are now in accord with the English Board, and the regulations between the two countries will in future be practically on the same footing. I also hope that the regulations introduced some months ago with regard to pig-dealers may have some good effect, because I am quite sure that a good deal of this disease was spread by the carelessness of the dealers.
With regard to anthrax, I am sorry to say that this disease is rather gaining ground. It has been suggested that the Board should disseminate information more freely as to the nature of this disease, but though it is easy to print leaflets it is not easy to get them to the farmers. It is very difficult for a central body to distribute leaflets, though a number of very well written ones have been printed, and I shall be glad of any assistance that can be given by the Press and the various agricultural societies in bringing them to the notice of the farmers.
§ MR. HEYWOOD JOHNSTONE
I think they might also be sent to the various cattle shows. If the farmers could see the leaflets there they might ask for them.
§ MR. HANBURY
I think that is a good suggestion. I will consider what can be done to carry out the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire that the burning of the bodies should take place in cases of death from anthrax.
With reference to railway rates, the only way I am concerned is in regard to the promise I gave in the House that I would do what I could to influence the President of the Board of Trade to deal with this subject. I am doing all I can in the matter, but I would suggest to hon. Members that there is also a Board of Trade Vote, and the agricultural Members interested in this subject might take that opportunity of expressing their views upon this question, when 711 possibly my right hon. friend the President of the Board of Trade may be able to give them a more satisfactory answer than I am able to give.
I have been asked a question as to bow the milk standard is working. On the whole, I think it is working well. I admit it is a low standard, but there is no possibility of raising it at present, and I know that if I had put it higher to start with it would have been a great injustice to the smaller men.
Complaint has been made as to the County Councils not being informed of the result of a veterinary examination of a dog inoculated for rabies. That is a matter upon which the local authorities ought to be informed at once, and this is now being done. The local authorities are the last people who ought to be in the dark on this subject. Until the question was put to me I was not aware of the fact, and care has now been taken to remedy this omission.
Canadian store cattle I cannot deal with now, but with regard to Argentine cattle I will state my position frankly. As to the admission of cattle from the Argentine, I believe that that country is in the future going to become such an important source of supply to this country that the trade ought to be placed on such a footing that it cannot be intercepted or broken into by an outbreak of disease. It is quite possible that for some months past there has been no authenticated case of foot-and-mouth disease in the Argentine, but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that it is a very large country. Although the Government of that country has, with the most complete bona fides, certified that the country is free from the disease, I have sufficient evidence to lead me to believe that they have been misled. I am aware that that statement has been made with the greatest good faith on the part of the Argentine Government, but on account of the vast extent of their country and its thin population they cannot have the necessary information, and it has been found that there are cases of disease which they were not acquainted with. I wish to be especially cautious in opening our ports, because if they have to be closed again it will be very difficult to reopen them. I have represented to 712 the Argentine Government that this country is practically their only customer, and that they ought to take the most stringent precautions to prevent the importation of disease into-their own country. We do not allow the slaughter at our ports of cattle from that country, and we have a right to-expect that the Argentine Government should themselves take precautions similar to our own. I do not think it is too much to ask them to do this, because it is to their own interest as well as ours, for any outbreak of the disease might have the effect of again stopping the importation of cattle, and it would be a bad thing, both for the Argentine and the consumers of meat in this country, if there were any uncertainty about the supply.
I think I have now touched upon nearly all the points which have been raised in the course of this discussion.
Reference has been made to the necessity for a Bill dealing with sheep worrying. I had hoped that I should have been able to introduce a Bill dealing with that subject, but I have had so many applications from various local, authorities in the kingdom that I shall not be able to bring in a Bill dealing only with Scotland. The conditions in the two countries are somewhat different, but I shall try to get a Bill into shape dealing with Great Britain generally, and to introduce it before the end of the session, so as to afford opportunity of discussion to those interested in the subject. I do not hope that it will be-passed this session, but it will give an idea of what we propose to do in another session.
The next question has reference to the examination of fertilisers. My hon. friend suggests that they should be examined by inspectors. I should like to go into that question a great deal, more fully with my hon. friend and my advisers at the Board of Agriculture. It is to a certain extent a technical question, and I do not wish to reply off hand. I think there must be something wrong, and I should be very glad to take any steps which would bring the benefits of the Act within the range of certain, of the smaller farmers. I do not think they get the benefit from the Act which they might reasonably expect. Whether 713 that; is owing to their own fault or the technicalities of the Act I do not know, but I am trying to get some information on the subject. Perhaps my hon. friend will consult with me privately on the matter, and I will see what can be done. A suggestion has also been made to make the milk clauses which are introduced into the private Bills of local authorities of general application. At first sight it would appear that what is good for local corporations is also good for the country generally, and I will consider the point. I hope that after my long statement the mover of the Amendment will not think it necessary to reduce my salary.
§ (5.5.) SIR EDWARD STRACHEY
asked leave to withdraw the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman having given assurances of what he would do in future, the Committee might for another year put off reducing his salary.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ 2. Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £18,442, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Charity Commission for England and Wales."
§ *(5.8.) MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
said that in 1894 a Committee sat and inquired into the operations and status of the Charity Commissioners at considerable length. The Committee presented a Report which he ventured to say at this moment contained, with the evidence given, the best account of the powers, duties, and functions of the Charity Commission. His complaint against the Charity Commission was that it stood in a very anomalous position to this House, their being no Minister representing that body here. He raised no complaint now against the mode in which that body discharged its functions, nor against the hon. Member for the Tonbridge Division who so ably represented it in the House, but he thought that instead of a private 714 Member there should be in the House a Minister specially representing the Commission. During the sitting of the 1894 Committee there came to light a very remarkable Minute which was drawn up by the late Mr. Smith, who was then First Lord of the Treasury, in 1888, dealing with the Charity Commission. The Treasury had been approached for further grants in and, and Mr. Smith pointed out the increasing cost, and expressed the opinion that pretty swift steps should be taken to bring the Commission within more reasonable limits. He suggested that the Commissioners should come back to their original number of three, and his Minute declared that the policy of the Treasury should fee firm and vigorous with regard to this body. He was glad that Mr. Smith's views had in the long run prevailed, and that part of the work of the Charity Commissioners had been transferred to the Education Department. He hoped the process would be carried still further. The 1894 Committee consisted of fifteen members who were markedly divided by political differences. As Chairman of the Committee he drafted the Report which was accepted by the Committee, and a very able Report on the other side was drafted by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Penrith division. He was glad to know that the principles of the Report and of Mr. Smith's Minute had to some extent been carried out. The gist of the matter lay in paragraph 8 of the Committee's Report which referred to the Parliamentary weakness of the Commission. The Committee remarked—This arises in some degree possibly from the want of accurate knowledge on the part of the public and Parliament of the work of the Commission, but also from that jealousy on the part of Parliament of public Departments not brought in the usual way under its control. The position of the Charity Commissioners has now become analogous to that of the old Poor Law Commission, which it was found necessary to abolish, and to replace with a Minister responsible to the House and the country.Without being offensive, he thought he might describe the old Poor Law Commission as having actually stank to the nostrils of the public, and it had to be dissolved. What he was now advocating had 715 in principle been endorsed by Mr. Disraeli, and had been embodied at the end of the Report of 1894, when the Select Committee recommended that the Charity Commissioners should be merged in the Board of Education represented in this House by the Minister of Education who should be fully responsible for all their proceedings in this House. In due time, and before very long, the opportunity would occur of making some change in this direction. He did not wish it to be understood that he brought any charge against any of the members of the Charity Commission. He did not say for a moment that the members thereof were doing anything but good. His objection to the Commission was entirely a constitutional one.: Turning to the cost of the Charity Commission, it was, he believed, at the present moment £33,442 as against £30,742 in the year 1894–5. He was bound to say that he did not see the necessity for that increase. He I thought that there would not be much difference of opinion in the Committee on that subject, and that the operations of the Commission could be conducted quite as successfully as at present for a very much less sum than £33,442, and that an enormous reduction might be accomplished in that direction. That, however, was not the main point which he wished to urge. Of course the matter to which he was going to refer was not one which the Secretary to the Treasury could deal with, and there really was no Minister on the Treasury Bench who could give an authoritative reply to the point which he wished to urge. He merely raised the matter now to call attention to it in view of the personal changes that must inevitably occur before long.
(5.23.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said that no doubt the point raised by the hon. Member was of very considerable importance. He understood that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion was that the Charity Commission should be merged in the Board of Education, or that it should be represented directly by a Minister in this House. [Mr. ELLIS was understood to dissent.] Very well; in regard to the merging of the Charity Commission in 716 the Board of Education, no one was more jealous of the privileges of the House in regard to the control of expenditure, but in his opinion, so far as the House could control expenditure, it could exercise it just as well now as if the Charity Commissioners were placed under another Department. There were, on the Estimates, the salaries of many of the officials of the Charity Commissioners which were open to criticism and reduction. He confessed that he did not see in this case any advantage to be gained by a change in the constitution or position of the Charity Commission—all the more that the hon. Gentleman had assumed that all the schemes with which the Charity Commission had to deal were educational charities. A large proportion of those charities had nothing to do with education, and therefore he thought that the Charity Commission ought to have a separate existence. What was the Charity Commission? It was strictly and truly speaking a sort of excrescence on the Court of Chancery—he did not know whether it was good or bad—for the purpose of defeating the intentions of the pious founder. That was its special function which it had been discharging for a long time; and so long as that function was maintained by Parliament, the Commission should have a separate existence. He had a grievance against the hon. Member for Tunbridge. There was a small and admirable town in this kingdom, perhaps the most admirable of all. It was a very old town, and from the very beginning of its history it had been prolific in pious founders, beginning with King John. There was no town, in fact, of its size, which had so many foundations for apprenticing boys, granting dowries to girls when married, maintaining schools, and hundreds of other charities. He meant King's Lynn, and his constituents naturally took a great interest in these charities, which they rightly thought were their own endowments. He had endeavoured to ascertain what the total amount of these charities was, and what was done with them all. He applied to the Charity Commissioners, and they replied that they had not had any accounts for years. That seemed to him a very 717 remarkable dereliction of duty on the I part of the Commissioners, because under the Charitable Trusts Act of 1855 the Charity Commissioners had most complete powers for obtaining the accounts of all charities; and if they had any difficulty in obtaining these accounts they were armed with the most tremendous powers of coercion. He recognised that his hon. friend the Member for Tunbridge, on his representation, endeavoured to obtain, and had obtained, a portion of the accounts of some of the charities in King's Lynn; but, after all, such accounts as he had been able to get had been obtained at his own expense. He insisted that the Charity Commissioners ought to supply copies of these accounts gratis, to be placed in the Town Hall. The accounts which he procured he had sent down to the Town Hall of King's Lynn, where the people in large numbers enjoyed their perusal from morning to evening. He thought that the Commissioners ought to have more allowed them for the purpose of copying accounts than they now had, and that economy might be exercised in cutting down the inordinate sums for printing Papers which only found their way in the paper basket. He could not move to reduce the hon. Gentleman's salary because he did not possess one, nor could he move to reduce that of the First Commissioner, who had a salary of £1,800 a year, because that Vote was not before the House, but he would like to know why the Commission had kept him waiting so long for an account of the charities, and why they had made him pay £8 or £10 for a copy. He suggested that the Commission should economise on their printing bill, and not send so many Papers to Members of this House.
§ *(5.33.) MR. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
endorsed the views of the hon. Members for Rushcliffe and King's Lynn as to the anomalous position of the Charity Commission, the disgraceful manner in which it at times had dealt with charities. In days gone by the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Vote was only too ready to join in the attacks made on this anomalous body. Now he was just as zealous in upholding their shameless proceedings. As to the absurd Papers sent 718 to Members of that House, they were a self glorification of the Commissioners. Certainly he thought no money ought to be charged to a Member for information with regard to the charities in his own constituency. He called attention to the treatment of the schools of St. Paul's, Finsbury, by the Commissioners, who refused to allow the charity to leave the money they had obtained for the sale of their property on deposit in the Bank of England, absolutely requiring them to purchase Consols, which had at one time stood at 112. When this charity had built new schools with the money they believed they possessed and came to realise their Consols they found they had to sell at 92, so that there was now a deficiency, with the natural result that one of the first persons asked to decrease it was the Member for East Finsbury. It was an absurdity that there was no real Parliamentary representative of the Commission and no real Parliamentary control. All the work with regard to educational endowments ought to be transferred to the Education Department.
§ * MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said he desired to elicit some information with regard to the St. Katharine's Hospital. He had brought the matter to the attention of the House on four or five previous occasions, and divided the House upon the question. He proposed to follow out that practice on the present occasion, and in order to put himself in order he moved the reduction of the Vote by £100. He did not propose to go at length into the history of this charity, which had been described by more than one Charity Commissioner in the House as little less than a public scandal. This, perhaps, was the oldest of our charities. It was founded in 1273 by Queen Matilda, and had an income of nearly £15,000 a year. It formerly occupied the site on which were now the St. Katharine's Docks. He now desired to know how that enormous sum of money was spent. Nine years ago he put the question to the then Charity Commissioner, and elicited from him the fact that there was a Master, who had a salary of £1,000 or £1,200 a year, but nobody knew what he did for it; that there 719 were three brethren, who each had a house given to them to live in and a salary of £300 a year besides, for the performance of duties which were absolutely unknown to anybody, all that was known was that they let their houses and added the amount received to their salaries; there were also three sisters with salaries of £200 a year each, whose duties were a mystery but two of whom followed the example of the brethren and let their houses and so increased their salaries. There were also a number of bedesmen and bedeswomen with salaries, though what they did nobody knew. A number of nurses also had £50 a year each, though who they nursed, or whether they nursed anybody was not known. Then, to give a little spice of charity to the institution, a handful of boys and girls were clothed and educated. From the first there was a bad odour in regard to this charity, for in 1698 reports were furnished and suggestions made for very drastic reforms, and more recently at different periods a number of Com missioners had been appointed to inquire into the administration of the charity. Some years ago the Charity Commission appointed a member of their own body to make inquiries. He made a very valuable Report, recommending drastic reforms in the administration of the charity, but that Report was never given effect to, the London School Board also made an inquiry and arrived at practically the same conclusions. But at the present time the scandal was almost, if not quite as bad as it ever had been. In 1893 the Parliamentary representative of the Charity Commissioners, in reply to questions in the House, stated that the amount expended by the charity on education was £561 per annum, the amount upon salaries was £3,209, the amount on gifts was £190, and the expenses of management £3,193. The Commissioner was therefore quite justified in describing this state of things as a monstrous scandal. There had been some tiny efforts at reform, he believed, and the master, who used to have a salary of £1,200 a year and a splendid house, which he let for £700 a year, had now been deprived of the house, but no one knew what services he rendered for the 720 salary he received. He wished to know whether the figures given by the Charity Commissioner in 1893 were to be relied on today, and whether any more was expended on education, and whether it was in contemplation, as was suggested last year by the hon. Member, to consult the Attorney General as to whether something could not be done to give effect to the recommendations of the various Commissions which had inquired into the management of this charity, and place it upon a sound footing.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed,. "That a sum, not exceeding £18,342 be granted for the said service."—(Mr. Cremer.)
§ (5.50) MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN (Kent, Tunbridge)
said that as a reduction had been moved it would be more convenient to deal with this particular charity first of all, with regard to St. Katharine's Hospital. The hon. Member was in error in saying that he (Mr. Boscawen) admitted last year that there was any scandal in the management. What he said was that it was impossible for him to know anything of the particular question, until he had received notice; that he would make inquiries, and that if such a state of affairs existed, as the hon. Member asserted, in the case of any charity, and the trustees were unwilling to move after having been approached by the Charity Commissioners the only course was to cite a case for the Attorney General. The facts of the case were these. St. Katharine's Hospital was originally situated in the East-end on the ground now occupied by the St. Katharine's Docks, and when that ground was-taken for the docks in 1825 the charity was removed to Regent's Park. This was done under a scheme of the Court of Chancery, and the Charity Commission, which was not in existence at the time, of course could not be held responsible. What had occurred since was simply this. The patronage was vested absolutely in. Her Majesty. It belonged to the late Queen, but as it appertained to Queens Consort, it now belonged to her present Majesty. The jurisdiction of the charity was excercised by the Queen by means 721 of rules drawn up by the Lord Chancellor, and the Charity Commissioners had no power whatever to interfere in the; administration of the trust. He did not for a moment allow that there was any sort of scandal in this matter, and he disclaimed any responsibility for the words used in regard to it by the late Mr. Ellis, when Parliamentary Charity Commissioner in 1893. It might have been a strong thing to move the charity from the East-end to the West, but this was all done under the scheme of 1825. In 1868 a Royal Commission inquired into the endowments of the charity, and he believed their recommendations were carried into effect. In 1878 the Lord Chancellor, in conformity with a warrant under Her Majesty's sign manual, drew up new rules for the management of the hospital. These rules fixed the master's stipend at £800 and the brothers' and sisters' stipend at £300; the master was required to reside three-quarters of the year in the dwelling house appointed for him, and the brothers, and sisters were prohibited from letting their houses in case of non-residence. So far as he was aware those rules had been carried out since; but even if they had not, the Charity Commissioners had no jurisdiction in the matter. Their jurisdiction was limited to the property, and in case of any sale, or anything of that sort, they would have to be consulted. With regard to any other information the hon. Gentleman required or any other inquiries he desired to make, he must refer him to the Members of the Front Bench, who might be able to give some information on the subject.
§ * MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN
said as to the figures quoted by the hon. Member for Haggerston, they had reference to a certain year, and he could not say whether they were applicable at the present moment. Turning to the general question, whether the system under which he was called upon to act was the best system was a question for greater persons that he to decide. He was there under the present system. But in regard to the general attack made on 722 the administration of the office, he would like to say that the Commission had endeavoured to carry out the duties put upon it by the law in a proper manner. It might be that there had been cases, especially under the Endowed Schools Act, in which the original wish of the founders had been interfered with in a manner calculated to cause a certain amount of discontent. There was a time when it was held that the eleemosynary work of these charities did very little good, and it was thought better to divert their funds to educational purposes. He believed the Commissioners had done a great educational work, for which the country was deeply indebted to them, and it was not for him to cast any slur upon them. To subject the Commissioners to the Board of Education would, he thought, be the worst way of remedying any cause of complaint which existed in this matter. As to the complaint that the Commissioners had not obtained the accounts of the charities for King's Lynn, he stated that the Commissioners had now been able to obtain those accounts, about which there was at first some delay. He did not know the facts of the case to which the hon. Member for East Finsbury had called attention, but he would inquire into them.
§ (6.8) SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I regret that the Under-Secretary for the Home Department is debarred from answering the speech which the hon. Member has just made to the Committee. Ever since the Charity Commission was instituted twenty years ago, the answers given in this House to our inquiries and complaints have been the same as that which the hon. Member has just given. If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to say so, he has not touched one of the points that have been brought to his attention. The hon. Member, in his reply, told us that the as carrying out the law and that the Charity Commission were doing something. But what the House of Commons wants is an opportunity of bringing to bear upon the official representative of the Charity Commission that judgment which we are entitled to express upon what, in our ignorance, we might think inefficient administration of 723 the charities, and upon the perpetuation of this do-nothing policy. With regard to the publication of accounts, I agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn, and I am certain that if these accounts were handed over to the county of Norfolk they would receive much better supervision than they do now. What I want to ask is what has been put to the Secretary to the Treasury before, and that is, why we have this Vote at all. Why are not the expenses of this Commission paid by the charities which they administer? I would like to see this Vote reduced not by £100, but by £30,000. I have no doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will say that what is suggested is impracticable. Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Gladstone, Sir Stafford Northcote, Mr. Goschen—and I think these names are fairly representative of the Treasury—all admitted that it was practicable to put the cost of the administration of these charities on the charities themselves, and that such a proposal ought to be carried out. [The right hon. Gentleman read an extract from evidence given by Sir Henry Longley before the Departmental Committee of 1893.] If the House had an opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the question whether our object should be to curtail the expenditure upon the charities representing such a very large sum of money, I think we should decide that the charities ought to pay. This can be done very easily whenever the Treasury makes up its mind to do it. The cost of this Charity Commission ought not to be charged upon the Consolidated Fund, but it ought to be defrayed by those charities for whose benefit the Charity Commission exists. The present Secretary to the Treasury is a young man of very great ability and power, and of great ambition, and I take this opportunity of pointing out to him that here is a field for him which has been favourably commented upon by such distinguished men as Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Gladstone, Sir Stafford Northcote, Mr. Goschen, and others. Here is a chance for the hon. Member to once again re-open this question. He should not ask the Charity Commissioners whether this is practicable or impracticable, but he ought to say to them that it is the decision of 724 the Government that this shall be done, and in a very few weeks time the Commissioners would submit a plan.
(6.20.) THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. AUSTEN-CHAMBERLAIN, Worcestershire, E.)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Ton-bridge upon the ability and the fulness with which he has answered the various questions put to him by hon. Members of the Committee. I think every hon. Member of the Committee will feel the great difficulty anyone representing the Charity Commission has in coining down here and being subject to the liability of being cross-questioned without notice upon any one of some seventy or eighty different charities, for the administration of which the Charity Commission are in some degree responsible. Obviously, it is only when notice is given of the intention to refer to a particular charity, or when the subject happens to be fresh in the mind of my hon. friend, that satisfactory information can be given about it.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am glad that my right hon. friend agrees with me upon that point We all recognise what a difficult task my hon. friend has had to discharge, and we all recognise the courtesy and success with which he has discharged that duty. The hon. Member for Rushcliffe and the right hon. Gentleman opposite have, however, raised a rather different question, namely, the position of the Charity Commission as a whole. Both the hon. Member and the right hon. Gentleman, as I understand them, desire that the Charity Commission shah be gently brought to a close, and that its work and its staff, I presume, shall be swallowed up by some other Department of State; and they urge as a ground for taking this course that its representation in this House is anomalous, and that it is not sufficiently subject to Parliamentary control. I must point out, in the first place, that, after all, the position of the Charity Commission is not so unique as the speeches to which we have just listened would lead the House to believe. After all, it is very 725 similar to the position of the Civil Service Commission or the other Departments whose Votes are included in the class we are now discussing, and which have no direct salaried representatives in this House, but for which the Secretary to the Treasury is held to be responsible. The only difference is that in this case we have, not a salaried officer, but a Gentleman directly representing the Commission itself, sitting in this House, who is able to give the Committee that amount of detailed information which I think the Secretary to the Treasury could not possibly be able to give. But, so far as information is concerned, I think the Committee is perhaps in a better position for getting that information on this Vote than upon some of the Votes for other Departments, which are not directly represented by a salaried Minister, and with regard to which there is not present in the House itself an unsalaried member of the ordinary working staff of the Department. But then, Sir, if a wider control is required, and some method is desired of bringing to bear upon the Com mission the pressure of Parliamentary opinion, or of indicating what that opinion is, there is the ordinary resort to Parliamentary opposition—there is the power to move a reduction such as has been moved of the whole of the salaries of the Commission which are borne upon this Vote, and exception can be taken to those salaries by any member of the Committee. I think if we were to do what the right hon. Gentleman opposite proposes, and transfer the whole of this charge from the Votes to the local authorities or to the charities themselves, Parliament, instead of gaining control, would lose it.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I thought the right hon. Gentleman meant the expense, but if he will look back upon his own speech he will see that he made two or three suggestions which are very inconsistent the one with the other. In the first place, he suggested that the work of the Commission should be transferred to another Government Department directly represented in this 726 House. Then, the work of the Commission is to be transferred to the local authorities, and the Commission is apparently to continue, and all the expenses are to be charged to the charities themselves.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I did not at all endorse the view of the hon. Member for Rushcliffe. What I said was that the expense should be charged to the charities. I wanted the Charity Commission to be responsible to the House, because the Government of the day have always held that they had no responsibility for the schemes of the Charity Commission.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I think it is clear that if we remove the Vote the House will lose such control as it has, be that control little or great. I have a great deal of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman's views as to giving the local authorities greater control and power in these matters. I think I remember speeches made by the right hon. Gentleman on the Parish Councils Bill which hardly went so far in that direction as some of us urged him to go at the time, and certainly not so far as he urges us to go now. I entirely-associate myself with what my hon. friend the Member for Tonbridge has said upon this point. The Charity Commission have, after all, carried out the ideas which were prevalent in the country at a certain time. Finding themselves largely bound by statute, they have continued to carry out those ideas even after the opinion of the country has changed; and now the work which they are doing, instead of being in harmony with the general opinion of the day, is, I think, in conflict with it. Having had some experience, not as Financial Secretary to the Treasury, but as the Member for a constituency which is the fortunate possessor of some of the most lucrative charities, I must say that I always found the Charity Commissioners most willing to meet the wishes of the localities and ready to give such assistance as would make the charities of the greatest benefit to those for whom they were intended—namely, the poor of the district themselves. It would not be right for me not to pay that tribute to the Charity Commission, 727 after my own personal experience of their work in these matters, because I have been brought into considerable relations with them in the course of the last few years. The right hon. Gentleman invites me, as a young man, to enter upon the task of charging upon the charities the cost of their administration, inspection, and control. In order to encourage me upon that enterprise, the right hon. Gentleman cites to me great names of those who have expressed a favourable opinion upon this subject in the past, and he mentions Mr. Disraeli, Mr. Gladstone, Sir Stafford Northcote, and Mr. Goschen, who have been previous Secretaries to the Treasury. Yes, Sir, but why, if all these right hon. Gentlemen have expressed these favourable opinions of the proposal, has the proposal never been carried out? I think I am not quite so young as to be led away by the invitation of my right hon. friend. After all, the right hon. Gentleman should remember that Mr. Gladstone himself not only expressed an opinion in favour of such a proposal, but he proposed a tax in order to do it, and afterwards withdrew it, because from his own side of the House not one single Member came forward to support him. That is not very encouraging, and unless I see a much greater prospect of such a proposal being accepted by the Committee than I see at the present time, I think it would be not merely useless, but harmful, to make such a proposal simply for the purpose of having to withdraw it. I submit that the control the Committee exercise, though it may not be, direct, is sufficient for the purpose of making public opinion felt upon the Charity Commission. The great complaint used to be that the Government Whips were able to secure a majority for the schemes of the Charity Commission, although the Government disclaimed all responsibility for such schemes. The Charity Commissioners are bound by the statutes under which they act, and they cannot of their own free will dispense with these statutes. If they are dissatisfied with the statutes, they ought to represent the matter to Parliament. They have again and again expressed dissatisfaction with the law in 728 certain respects, but no Government up to the present time has given them the new powers for which they have asked. It is not they who are wholly to blame. Although I am sure my hon. friend richly deserves a salary, the adoption of the proposal would not give much greater control than we have at present.
§ *(6.31.) MR. JOHN ELLIS
said there was one misconception on the part of the hon. Member in regard to his attitude in this matter. The proposal in the Report of the Committee of which he was Chairman was that the functions of the Charity Commission should be transferred to a sub-department of what the Committee called the Ministry of Education. Now, it did not follow for a moment that if the functions of the Board of Education were enlarged so as to include the administration of the charities, and its official description was, say, the Ministry of Education and Charities, this would ensue—which he should deprecate—that they should divert the funds of these charities necessarily to educational purposes. He was very well satisfied with the direction matters were taking; events had proved that everything was moving in the direction recommended in the Report. He ventured to say that, whether it was done by hon. Gentlemen now sitting on the other side or by Gentlemen sitting below him, more would be done in the same direction.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said the hon. Gentleman had asked the Committee seriously to believe that the failure of the Commission to get the accounts of the King's Lynn Charities for seven or eight years was because they had been refused by Mr. Beloe, who was a very respectable small attorney. The hon. Gentleman had enormous powers of coercion, and he could have taken Mr. Beloe to Whitehall and kept him there until he produced the accounts. He wished to know from his hon. friend, the official, though unpaid, defender of the Charity Commission, whether they intended to go on spending enormous sums yearly in printing useless Papers; and, further, whether there was no appropriation in and for the Commission. He had 729 himself paid the hon. Gentleman £10 for his copy of the accounts of the King's Lynn charities, and do doubt other persons had paid similar sums. What was done with that money? He asked the hon. Gentleman to make an amende to his friend Mr. Beloe for what he had stated concerning that gentleman.
§ (6.38.) MR. HUMPHREYS - OWEN
said he had, during the last eight or ten years, had constant occasion to deal with the Charity Commissioners on matters of considerable importance, and he wished to bear his most emphatic testimony to the excellent and business-like manner in which their work was done. He did not confine what he said to the educational part of their work, because he found in connection with a small village charity the Commissioners fully considered the wishes of the locality, and the scheme which they ultimately framed was carried without any dissent whatever. The hon. Member for King's Lynn had complained of being overburdened with the Papers issued by the Commission. He thought the Papers sent out by the Commission were full of interest, and of the greatest value to the different localities in the way of preserving evidence about charities, in bringing to light charities which had been forgotten, and in recalling charities which had been misused. He supposed the Commissioners were bound by statute to issue these Papers to all the Members of the House, but whether it was done under statute or in accordance with custom, he hoped that nothing would be done to lessen the completeness with which they were sent out. Considerable complaint had been made that part of the work of the Charity Commissioners took the form of poaching on the preserves of the Court of Chancery. He held that it was most desirable in the public interest that decisions upon legal principles should be given in the manner in which they were given by the Charity Commissioners without the excessive formality and the enormous cost which attended the obtaining of decisions upon questions in the Court of Chancery. Reforms the Charity Commission required were 730 only in regard to matters of administration. There was nothing at all inefficient, or hide-bound and savouring of red tape, in the manner in which the work was done.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
said the Charity Commissioners had invariably administered the Welsh Intermediate Education Act in a broad and liberal spirit, and it would be most ungrateful for the Welsh people, so far as the educational work was concerned, to cast any reflection on the Commissioners. He called attention to two sums which were now lying in the bank, and which formed the ultimate proceeds of the collection made forty years ago to assist persons in distress in consequence of the cotton famine. The persons in the cotton districts for whom this money was originally intended were probably all dead by this time. He hoped the hon. Member would be able to give an assurance that something would be done in the direction of applying the money to some local charity, such as a dispensary or convalescent home. Surely it was only fair in a matter of this sort that the desire of the subscribers should be respected. There was no special distress in the cotton districts at the present time calling for relief. He was told that the doctrine of sy-pres, to which allusion had been made, prevented this being carried out, but surely, one would imagine, they were getting as near as possible to the intention of the donors of the charity if they applied the money in the district in which it was actually raised.
§ (G.45.) MR. GRIFFITH BOSCAWEN
said he was very much obliged to the hon. Members who had just spoken for what they had said about the Charity Commission. The Commissioners had always endeavoured to do their best in the administration of the educational endowments with which they had been concerned. With reference to the small local cases mentioned by the hon. Member for Flint Boroughs, he was aware of the circumstances, but was sorry that he could not meet the hon. Gentleman in the matter. The case was rather peculiar. At the time of the Lancashire cotton famine, funds were raised all over the kingdom, and among 731 other places two funds were started in Holywell, in Flintshire, both having the same object in view, viz., the relief of those who suffered from the cotton famine, principally in Lancashire, but to some extent also in Cheshire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. A considerable sum was handed over for relief, but the whole of the money was not expended, and there remained in the Holywell Bank a balance of £60 in respect of one fund, and £55 in respect of the other. The trustees were all dead, and the people for whom the money was collected were all dead, or were not now subject to distress due to the Cotton Famine. In fact, here was a case where charity funds existed, and where the object of the charity had entirely failed, and the Charity Commissioners had to apply the doctrine of cy-pres. In applying that doctrine, two principles were involved—first, the object selected for the benefit of the fund should be as near as possible that which the donors had in view; and, second, that it should not be extended beyond the class for whom it was intended. The Charity Commissioners had to ask what was the class for whom this charity was intended, and which was the nearest object to the original? Following that doctrine, and guided by two precedents, they had come to the conclusion that, as this money had been originally subscribed for the relief of operatives in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire, it was their duty to apply it to operatives living in these districts. He could assure the hon. Member that the Charity Commissioners individually would have been most willing to apply the funds for the benefit of a cottage hospital at Holywell; but as a Commission they felt bound to see that, as the money was originally subscribed mainly for Lancashire, to Lancashire it must go. He had said there were two precedents dealt with by the Court
§ of Chancery. In the first the unexpended balance of the Hartley Colliery Relief Fund was devoted to the relief of sufferers from colliery accidents in the same district. The second case was more applicable. A general fund had been formed for the people who suffered from the cotton famine, and the whole of that general fund was not expended. The balance was devoted by a scheme to the formation of convalescent homes in the cotton districts. If the trustees of the Holywell funds had done their duty, they would have handed over their money to the general fund and it would have formed part of the general balance dealt with in the scheme. He thought the hon. Member would see that no other course was open to the Charity Commissioners than to refuse the application made to them. As to the complaint of his hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn, some of the accounts of the charities in that town had not been rendered, and that was the reason for the delay in the preparation of the copies. As regarded the £10 which the hon. Member had paid for copies of the accounts, he could assure him that the money would be accounted for as an extra receipt.
§ MR. CREMER
said that there was no evidence forthcoming that any of the reforms suggested by Lord Cairns had been given effect to in connection with St. Katharine's Hospital. It was rather unfair of the Charity Commissioners to take refuge behind the robe of our late Majesty; and no one had any idea of the way in which the funds of this charity were squandered. He should press his Amendment to a division.
§ (6.56.) Question put.
§ The Committee divided :—Ayes, 118; Noes, 200. (Division List No. 180.).735
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Broadhurst, Henry||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Allen, Charles P. (Gouc., Stroud||Burns, John||Craig, Robert Hunter|
|Ambrose, Robert||Caldwell, James||Crean, Eugene|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Cameron, Robert||Crombie, John William|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Causton, Richard Knight||Delany, William|
|Blake, Edward||Cawley, Frederick||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Cha|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Doogan, P. C.||Leamy, Edmund||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Dunn, Sir William||Leese, SirJosephF(Accrington)||Redmond,Joan E.(Waterford)|
|Edwards, Frank||Leng, Sir John||Reid, SirR.Threshie (Dumfries)|
|Elibank, Master of||Levy, Maurice||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lewis, John Herbert||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Evans, SirFrancisH(Maidstone||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Evans,Samuel T.(Gl'amorgan)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Farquahar-on, Dr. Robert||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Spencer, RtHn C. R. (Northants|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Crae, George||Sullivan, Donal|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Kean, John||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.|
|Flynn, James Christopher||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Thomas,JA(Glamorgan, Gow'r|
|Gilhooly, James||Markham, Arthur Basil||Toulmin, George|
|Gladstone, RtHn.HerbertJohn||Mooney, John J.||Wallace, Robert|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Walton, JohnLawson (Leeds, S)|
|Grant, Corrie||Moulton, John Fletcher||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Griffiths, Ellis J.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Harmsworth, R. Liecester||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Harwood, George||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Whiteley, George (York. W. R.)|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O' Brien, Kendal (Tipper'y, Mid||Whitley J. H. (Halifax)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Young, Samuel|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||O'Mall'ey, William|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Mara, James|
|Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Partington, Oswald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Lambert, George||Paulton, James Mellor||Mr. Cremer and Mr. John|
|Langley, Batty||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wilson (Durham).|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex F.||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gardner, Ernest|
|Allhusen, Augustus H'nry Eden||Coddington, Sir William||Garfitt, William|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cohen Benjamin Louis||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gordon, MajEvans.(I"rH'ml'ts|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athol'e||Gorst, Rt.Hon.Sir John Eldon|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Balfour, Rt.Hon.A.J. (Manch'r||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Greene, SirEW(B'ry S Edm'nds|
|Balfour, RtHnGerald W. (Leeds||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christen.||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Gretton, John|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Cranborne, Viscount||Groves, James Grimble|
|Barry,SirFrancisT.(Windsor)||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Halsey, Rt.Hon. Thomas F.|
|Beach, Rt.HnSirMichael Hicks||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hamilton, RtHnLord G.(Mid'x|
|Bignold, Arthur||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Bill, Charles||Denny, Colonel||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dickinson, Robert Edmund||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Higginbottom, S. W.|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Bull, William James||Duke, Henry Edward||Houston, Robert Patterson|
|Butcher, John George||Dyke, Rt.Hon.Sir William Hart||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Carlile, William Walter||Elliot,Hon.A.Ralph Douglas||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.|
|Carson, Rt.Hon.Sir.Edw.H.||Fardell, Sir. T. George||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Cavendish,R.F.(N.Lancs.)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. SirJ(Manc'r||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Cavendish,V.C.W.(Derbyshire||Fielden, Edward Brocklehnrst||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Finch, George H.||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawson, John Grant|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen(Wore'r||Fisher, William Hayes||Lockwood, Lt-Col. A. R.|
|Chapman, Edward||FitzGerald, SirRobertPenrose-||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Charrington, Spencer||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Long, Rt Hon.Walter(Bristol, S|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Forster, Henry William||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Pierpoint, Robert||Sturt, H m. Humphry Napier|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Pretyman, Ernest George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Purvis, Robert||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Rankin, Sir James||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Rattigan, Sir William||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Manners, Lord Cecil||Remnant, James Farquharson||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Renwick, George||Valentia, Viscount|
|Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H E (Wigt,'n||Richards, Henry Charles||Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield|
|Maxwell, W. J. H.(Dumfriessh.||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Milvain, Thomas||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Mitchell, William||Round, James||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Welby, Sir Charles G. E (Nott-)|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Rutherford, John||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Montagu, Hon. J Scott (Hants.)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York. E. R.)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Seton-Karr, Henry||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Sinclair, Lewis (Romford)||Worsley-Taylor. Henry Wilson|
|Myers, William Henry||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Smith, H. C. (North'd. Tyneside||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Orr-Ewing. Charles Lindsay||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Stanley, Lord (Lanes)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Parker, Gilbert||Stevenson, Francis S.||Sir William Walrond and|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Mr. Anstruther.|
Question put and agreed to.
§ 3. £26,402, to complete the sum for Civil Service Commission.
§ 4. £38,005, to complete the sum for Exchequer and Audit Department.
§ 5. £4,361, to complete the sum for Friendly Societies Registry.
§ 6. £420,145, to complete the sum for Stationery and Printing.
§ (7.5.) MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
hoped the Secretary to the Treasury would be able to give them some hope of a reduction of this immense Vote in the future. The total Estimate amounted to £770,145 and therefore the printing account of this House was upwards of three-quarters of a million. The increase in the precent Vote was no less than £122,000. He did not think that the Committee ought to allow a Vote of this magnitude to slip through without some explanation from the Secretary to the Treasury.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member will probably remember that last year and the year before we had to have considerable Supplementary 736 Estimates because we had underestimated our requirements. This year, however, I have made a serious effort to obtain a more correct estimate by which I hope we shall be able to stand. I also hope that next year I shall be able to make a reduction in the Vote. Of course this very greatly depends upon the action of hon. Members themselves. There is a constant pressure being exercised upon Ministers by hon. Members for the publication of Returns and other printing which in a good many instances, I think, is money thrown away. Very often if I venture to point this out to hon. Members as a reason for refusing such Returns it is treated as a want of respect to themselves and to the House, and some hon. Members make this a very serious grievance. I hope the hon. Member for Halifax himself will give me all the assistance in his power in this direction, and also use his influence with his friends, and remember that when they ask the Secretary to the Treasury to issue Papers and Returns and circulate other information they are helping to swell the Stationery Vote.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said he had asked for a Return of the managers of existing voluntary schools but he was met with 737 a flat negative, although he was not quite sure that this refusal was based upon the ground of economy.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There is one Return which has been asked for in respect of voluntary schools costing £1,500, and that Return was necessarily inaccurate owing to the absence of information at the disposal of the Departments out of which to compile it correctly.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said he was not in the least responsible for the Return which had been spoken of. The information which was refused him would have come upon a single sheet, and certainly would not have increased to any great extent the amount of this Vote. What he wished to know was whether there was not a very great amount of waste in this Vote. He did not know upon what basis the Pink Paper was circulated every day, or what calculation was made in regard to the other Papers circulated to hon. Members, but he imagined that there must be an immense accumulation of Papers unused which perhaps made a periodical bonfire. There must be in this great Vote some considerable waste which need not be incurred, and the expense of which could be avoided without in any way curtailing the reasonable rights of hon. Members in regard to information that ought to be laid before the House. He wished to have from the Secretary to the Treasury some indication of the amount of printing there was in this Vote which was never called for and which had to be destroyed in some way.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There is an enormous amount of printing in this Estimate which is not called for by hon. Members of this House. This Vote covers the whole of the stationery supplies for all the Departments of His Majesty's service as well as for both Houses of Parliament. There is, no doubt, a certain amount of waste, but if hon. Members insist, as unfortunately they do, upon having all those Returns and information printed, I do not see how this waste can be avoided. There are undoubtedly a great many things printed which had better never have 738 been printed at all, and there are doubtless others printed in greater numbers than are required. But after all, whether we have 300 copies or one of a short document makes very little difference to the expenditure. I am doing my best, and the Controller of the Stationery Office is doing his best, to check the expenditure under this Vote, and to see that in no case is it extravagant or wasteful, to see that we do not get more expensive materials than are necessary, and that we buy those materials as cheaply as possible. I shall be glad of any assistance the House can give me in the matter. I cannot pretend to hope to stop all the waste that goes on. If hon. Members went round the lobbies at the present moment I think they would find a great deal of waste of stationery which no Secretary of the Treasury can control except by taking the paper away altogether, which is not a possible solution.
§ MR. HUMPHREYS-OWEN
asked how much of the Printing and Stationery Vote was due to Members of the House, and how much to the Government Departments. He thought if those figures were given it would be seen that Members of the House were not such great offenders as regarded waste as some other people. As an illustration of a small economy which might be effected, he referred to the Pink Paper, on which a large number of Papers were set down as being Returns from the Board of Education of inquiries into certain charities. Each charity was set out in identical terms, taking up many lines of print. The Return might quite easily be made on one sheet instead of on about five.
§ (7.19.) MR. STOPFORD SACKVILLE (Northamptonshire, N.)
speaking as one whose memory went back to the Parliamentary practice of thirty years ago, said he was devoutly grateful for the change which had been made. Thirty yeare ago one's life was made a burden owing to the enormous accumulation of Papers which, at the end of the session, could only be disposed of by sale. Many Members did not want all the Papers that were printed even now, but he assured the Committee that under the system which now prevailed, the waste was very much less than in former times.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
drew attention to the great delay in the delivery of the numbers of Hansard. He did not say the delay was immediately due to the contractors; he had not the least doubt that they fulfilled their engagement; but he desired to ask whether it was not possible, at all events, to approximate to the speed that obtained in Canada, Australia, and France. In some of the Colonial Parliaments, Members of Parliament received the report of the previous day's proceedings at breakfast-time just as they received their newspapers. Such a report could not, of course, be more than a proof report, but if they could do such things in the backwoods of Australia, why could they not be done in the Metropolis of the Empire He thought much greater expedition could be shown if fresh arrangements were made in this respect. Another question associated with Hansard was as to the possibility of having in the Library, at least, the Questions and answers from day to day—not scattered about among the Votes, but in a complete list. If a daily index were then kept up it would prevent Members putting Questions which had previously been answered. At present it was impossible for Members to follow the proceedings of Parliament from day to day unless they searched through a file of The Times, whereas if they had an index in the Library they would be able to ascertain exactly what had been done in regard to any particular Question in which they were interested.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Questions which appear in the Votes and proceedings are already placed in the Library, but I understand that what the hon. Member desires is that they should be separated from the rest of the Votes and proceedings, and indexed as far as possible from day to day. That is not a matter over which I have any control, but I will make the suggestion to the authorities and see whether they consider anything can be done. With regard to the larger point raised by the hon. Member, viz., whether the delivery of the parts of Hansard can be accelerated, that is a matter to which I have given a good deal of time and thought during the last few 740 months in consequence of the fact that the present Hansard contract expires at the close of the year, and that we shall have to consider the conditions of tender for a new contract. Of course, it would be physically possible to have a delivery next morning of the report of speeches made in this House; it is more or less done by our newspapers, and no doubt could be done by Hansard But in that case it would have to be an uncorrected report, and Members have never yet been willing that Hansard should be printed without their having an opportunity of correcting the errors which occur in the reports of their speeches. Whether that be a wise practice to pursue or not I will not say, but it has been the desire of the House that there should be that opportunity. If time is to be given for correction, it is quite obvious we cannot have an immediate report. In that case, we must look to the newspapers for our immediate report, and to Hansard a few days later for the corrected and permanent record, and I am inclined to think that that is the best thing to do. If the Hansard parts are not to be delivered the morning after the speeches have been made in this House, I do not think it matters very much whether they are delayed one day longer or not. I could understand great sacrifices being made in order to have the report delivered in a perfect form the morning after the speeches had been made, but I do not think it worth while to make great sacrifices merely to hasten the delivery by a day in six or seven days. The hon. Member must also remember that to obtain such a delivery as he desires involves an enormous increase in the cost of production. All the work would then be night work, which has to be paid for at double rates, or something very like double rates, and therefore the expense of Hansard would be enormously increased. I do not think, after the desire for economy which the Committee has just evidenced in the earlier discussion, I should be justified in proposing to expend a largely increased amount on the reporting of speeches in the House.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
said that, while thanking the hon. Gentleman for the first portion of his speech, as regarded 741 the latter part he could only regret that London was still to be inferior to Ottawa and Melbourne.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
As far as the figures can be disentangled, the hon. Member will find, under subhead J, "Printing, Papers, Binding, etc., for two Houses of Parliament, £85,000"; and under sub-head M, "Parliamentary Debates and Records, £9,500." There are other expenses which, although not called for directly by Parliament, are indirectly caused by Parliament, but those I cannot separate from the ordinary expenditure of the offices concerned. Those figures, however, will probably be sufficient for the hon. Member's purpose, and I hope the Committee will now allow us to take the Vote.
§ Resolutions to be reported.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £14,135 be granted to His Majesty to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1903, for the salaries and expenses of the office of His Majesty's woods, forests, and land revenues, and of the Office of Land Revenue Records and Inrolments."
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS
said he did not enter upon this matter in any spirit of hosstility to the Office of Woods and Forests. The questions he desired to raise were of an administrative character, into which policy to some extent entered, and which ought to be discussed by the Committee. One of the most important offices the Department had to discharge was the supervision of the foreshores——
It being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
Resolutions to be reported tomorrow; Committee also report progress; to sit again this evening.