§ (Considered in Committee.)
§ (In the Committee).
§ [Mr. J. N. LOWTHER (Cumberland, Penrith) in the chair.]
§ Clause 1.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said the Amendment he had put down was one which would govern several other Amendments to the Bill, and if the noble Lord could see his way to accept it, it would greatly facilitate the proceedings of the Government; if, on the other hand, he could not accept it, the struggle on this Bill was likely to be much prolonged. The object of the Amendment was, first, economy. When the Resolution was put before the House they were told that £5,000,000 would be required for works, and with great reluctance the House passed the Resolution. When the Bill was issued it was found that the expenditure was to be £5,500,000 and not £5,000,000. He objected to these items of £500,000 being slipped in in this manner or taken in the session, and on that ground, on the ground of economy, he moved the Amendment. But it raised a much larger question. The Bill brought in was one of a series of measures, the first of which was introduced in 1897, and they had always been led to understand that this Bill would be of the same kind as its predecessors. When they came to examine it, however, they found an entirely different state of things. In this Bill an entirely different principle was adopted. The new principle laid down was that appropriations-in-aid should be used under the terms of this Bill, but instead of proceeding in the usual way by a Vote of the House, any sum that could be realised by the sale of barracks or Government property should go to increase the expenditure under this Bill. There were many other bad precedents created. He objected to these appropriations, and therefore begged to move.
In page 1, line 10, to leave out the words from the word 'Act,' to end of Sub-section (1)."—(Mr.Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ * SIR A. HAYTER (Walsall)
said he supported the Amendment. He thought they ought to be very careful before allowing this enormous sum to be taken in this Vote. He had one special objection to this Bill, and that was that it constituted a reversal of the Barracks Act. Under the Act any amount received from the sale of barracks or other Government property was to be deducted from the amount received under this Vote as he had good reason to know, he having examined the Accountant-General upon the matter. The Barracks Act had now expired, but it had done a great deal of good, inasmuch as it had enabled the House to judge what was being spent. That control they would lose if this Bill passed. And because he thought this was a reversal of the Barracks Act he should support the Amendment.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, North),
asked whether this £5,000,000 for the sale of barracks included the land of the barracks in Dublin near the river.
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Lord STANLEY, Lancashire, Westhoughton)
thought it was not possible to accept the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think the \Vat' Office asked for an indefinite sum, but, on the contrary, they asked for £5,000,000 as the definite sum they should take. This was not in any way an increase of the Vote; they only asked that they should he allowed to spend the money they might obtain from the sale of barracks for the purpose of making provision for the same number or more men elsewhere. He thought it would not be desirable to give any information as to what barracks they intended to sell until after they had been sold, because otherwise the amount they stated they desired to get might be taken as the maximum, whereas in some cases they hoped to get more.
§ MR. BUCHANAN (Perthshire, E.)
said the noble Lord had attempted to deny that this was an increased charge. Surely he was mistaken, because under this section they were empowering the Government to spend £5,500,000 in- 1102 stead of £5,000,000. That might be a good thing or a bad thing, but, at any rate, it did not correspond with the description given of it by the noble Lord. The point was that it was wholly contrary to the previous practice of the War Department to do this thing. In the ordinary course of things, if the War Office disposed of lands or of old barracks the proceeds would go into the appropriation-in-aid. In the Works Act of 1890, it was provided that when the Government sold barracks, as was proposed under this Bill, the proceeds for the sale should go in reduction of the charge for the new works. The words of that Act provided that the Secretary of State might, with the concurrence of the Treasury, sell any land in the United Kingdom for the time being vested in him, and that the proceeds of sale should be applied for the purposes of the Act, the amount authorised to be received out of the Consolidated Fund under the Act to be reduced accordingly. Why should the Government not have adopted a similar provision in the present Bill? Why should they not have allowed the proceeds of the proposed sales to go in diminution of the charge, instead of making it an addition to the charge? The War Office were taking ample money for their scheme—more than ample, he believed—and there was no need, therefore, for assigning to them this particular power to expend an additional £500,000 over and above the £5,000,000 provided for under the Bill.
§ * THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. BRODRICK, Surrey, Guildford)
said he did not think hon. Members opposite quite appreciated the effect of the proposal which they were making. He could not imagine any financial theory more vicious. It was that they should first raise money by loan in order to build new barracks, that they should then sell existing barracks, and that the proceeds of the sale should be utilised for the purpose of reducing the burden on the taxpayer. He really thought that the House would have serious ground for complaint if any such plan were carried out.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
disagreed with the idea that sufficient money was taken under the Bill. He had never heard of 1103 works which had not cost a great deal more than the original estimate, and he feared that this proposed expenditure of £5,000,000 would probably grow to £7,000,000 before the scheme was completed. He wished to know whether the proceeds of the sale of land at the mouth of the Liffey some time ago—proceeds, he believed, amounting to about £100,000—were included in the £500,000 provided under the Bill?
§ COLONEL NOLAN
said his complaint was that money obtained by the sale of barracks in Galway might be expended in Dublin. He thought it ought to be spent in the immediate locality where the old buildings were sold, and he did not think that they ought to utilise the proceeds of the sale of barracks in England for new barracks in South Africa.
§ MR. LOUGH
said the objections raised on that side of the House had not been appreciated by the Government. They wanted to secure that all these matters should be discussed by the House. The right hon. Gentleman had told them that very valuable works might become useless, and might have to be sold. Well, any transaction of that kind, involving possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds, ought not to take place without the House knowing all about it, and the House should have a voice in the appropriation of the money. If their plan were adopted the matter would come up in the annual Estimates, and an opportunity would thus be afforded to question Ministers as to the reason for their action. It would help the House in checking the extravagance which had set in, and which would prevent things being done in a hole and corner way. His hon. friend the Member for Perthshire had quoted the words of the Act passed twelve years ago, and he thought they were entitled to have some explanation why the Government had departed from the words of that Act. He also thought that they should be told whether a new principle had been established allowing the War Office, behind the back of 1104 Parliament, to sell any valuable property and apply the money as it chooses.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
denied there was any idea of doing anything behind the back of Parliament. Their proposals would be made as clear as possible.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
On the face of the Bill. He had heard exactly the same argument used when the first Barracks Act was introduced, and the difficulty was then relieved by providing that the schedule of expenditure in each year should be laid before the House. In the same way the Government proposed that there should be a scheduled statement of the sum realised by the sale of old barracks, and that surely would enable the House, if it chose, to further inquire into the question, and would give effective Parliamentary control. He hoped the hon. Member, under these circumstances, would not press his Amendment further.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
said the question was why should the change have been made, and what was to be gained by it? Why had the Government not adhered to the words of the previous Act?
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said the answer was simple. The change had been made because, in this particular case, large sums had been asked for barracks in South Africa, and it was in South Africa mainly that the necessity had arisen for selling barracks.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
pointed out that in 1890 also there was a prospect that certain barracks would have to be sold in the same way, and yet the words which had been quoted were put into the Act to ensure that the proceeds should go in in reduction of the amount authorised to be used out of the Consolidated Fund. That was a businesslike, proper, and. regular way of doing the business, and he must press for an answer why a change had now been made. If a large sum of money was to be realised by the sale of barracks, in his opinion it ought 1105 to go in reduction of the amount proposed to be raised under the Bill. It appeared to give justification for an expenditure of £5,000,000, when in reality it was an expenditure of £5,500,000. If the old-established practice had been followed, there would have been no complaint of ambiguity.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said no reason had been given for not following the old system. The reasons given by the right hon. Gentleman were for not putting the sum on the annual Estimates, but he thought that even for that the right reasons had not been put forward. The expenditure on barracks, provided for in the Estimates, was being reduced year by year, and placed in these Loans Bills instead. The Vote for
§ works, buildings, and repairs, in this year's Estimates was only £1,900,000, as against £2,186,000 last year, and over £3,000,000 in the year preceding. It was the fact that barracks were regularly being provided for out of borrowed money that gave rise to the inconvenience with regard to the proceeds of sales being taken as grants-in-aid in the ordinary Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman had given no explanation of what was really a falsification of public accounts, inasmuch as the gross sum was put at a lower figure than it actually was. A much larger proportion ought to appear on the annual Estimates
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 109; Noes 39. (Division List No. 201).1107
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Flower, Ernest||Purvis, Robert|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Forster, Henry William||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Fyler, John Arthur||Raseh, Major Frederic Carne|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Gordon, Ernest||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Balfour,Rt. Hon.A.J.(Manch'r||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Balfour,Rt.Hn. G.W.(Leeds||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Ritchie,Rt.Hn.Chas.Thomson|
|Bathurst,Hon. Allen Benj||Groves, James Grimble||Ropner, Colonel.Sir Robert|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent,Ashfd||Samuel, Harry S.(Limehouse|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Saunderson,Rt. Hn.Col. E.J|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Bowles, T.Gibson (Lynn Regis)||Jeffreys. Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Kemp. Lieut.-Col. George||Stone, Thomas Henry|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow||Smith, Hn. W. F. D.(Strand|
|Cavendish,V.C.W.,(Derbyshire||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool||Stanley, Edw. Jas.(Somerset)|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.||Lawson,J.Grant (Yorks. N.R.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs,)|
|Chamberlain,RtHn.J.A(wore||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Chapman, Edward||Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Stroyan, John|
|Cochrane,Hn. Thos H. A. E.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cohen,Benjamin Louis||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter( Bristol,S.||Sturt, Hn. Humphry Napier|
|Collings, Right Hon. Jesse||Lowe, Francis Willam||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Lowther, Rt. Hon. Jas. (Kent)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lucas, Reginald.J(Portsmouth)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.|
|Craig, CharlesCurtis(Antrim,S||Macdona, John Cumming||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Maxwell.Rt Hn SirH. E(Wigt'n||Vincent,ColSirCE.H(Sheffield)|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Mitchell, Edw.(Fermanagh,N.||Walrond, Rt. Hn.Sir William H|
|Denny, Colonel||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Whiteley, H (Ashtonund.Lyne|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Morrell, George Herbert||Williams,RtHnJPowell-(Birm|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Morrison, James Archibald||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Wilson-Todd,SirW.H(Yorks.)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Worsley-Taylor,Henry Wilson|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Wortley, Rt.Hn.C.B.Stuart|
|Elliot, Hn. A. Ralph Douglas||Murray,RtHnA.Graham(Bute||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Faber, E. B. (Hants, W.)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Wyndham-Quin,MajorW. H.|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Peel,Hn. Wm.Robert Wellesley|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Percy, Earl||TELLERS For THE AYES—|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir J.(Manc'r||Plummer, Walter R.||Sir Alexander Acland-|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Hood and Mr.Anstruther-|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Causton, Richard Knight||Fuller, J.M.F.|
|Burns, John||Dalziel, James Henry||Gladstone, Rt.Hn.HerbertJohn|
|Caldwell,James||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Grant, Corrie|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Emmott, Alfred||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Harwood, George||Partington, Oswald||Wallace, Robert|
|Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Robertson, Edmund(Dundee)||Warner, Thos. Conrtenay T.|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Russell, T. W.||Wason,Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Shackleton, David James||Wason, J. Catheart(Orkney)|
|Jones, David B. (Swansea)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||White, Luke (York, E. R.|
|Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Sinclair John (Forfarshire)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Spencer,Rt.Hn.C.R(Northans||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Thomas,David Alfred (Merthyr||Mr.Lough and Master of|
|Nolan, Col. John P. (Galway,N||Thomson, F. W.(York,W R.)||Elibank.|
|O'Brien, P.J.(Tipperary,N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
§ Mr. LOUGH
said he would move the next Amendment standing in his name on the Paper. His explanation of it was in the same sense as the last Amendment. The object of the change which the Government had made in the Act was to extend the period of borrowing for the erection of barracks. It was said that many barracks were unsuitable, and therefore the old ones had to be realised and new ones erected. He did not know why at the same time they should extend the period for which the money could be borrowed. Under the Act of 1897, the money had to be repaid within thirty years. That provision was adopted because it was thought that this was an exceptional matter, and that the Army ought to be fitted up with sufficient barracks put up by loans, and it was thought by that means that an end would be put to this system of continually borrowing for the necessities of the Army. Now the measure had been entirely changed, and they were asking that the repayment of loans should run for thirty years from the time of borrowing. The objection to this system was that the Government came too often for these loans, but if the principle that was now being asserted was accepted there was not the slightest reason why the Government should not hasten to spend any money which they had the power of borrowing on the previous Acts, and yet they came to the House for £5,500,000 more. If they were permitted to extend the period of loans as long as they liked it would set up a new and a very dangerous precedent. He begged to move his Amendment.
In page 1, line 20, to leave out the words from the word 'Act' to end of Sub-section (2)."—(Mr.Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the end of line 22, stand part of the clause."1108
§ * MR. BRODRICK
contended that the proposal in this Bill was only a natural one, and the hon. Member in this matter appeared to be governed too much by precedent. The intention of Parliament in these Acts was that the repayment of loans should be spread over 30 years, and by this Act they were continuing the practice laid down by Parliament in the Act of 1897.
§ MR BUCHANAN
said that the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of this Act was about as inaccurate as his interpretation of past Acts. He stated that this was really following previous precedents, but it was not so. In the first Military Works Act provision was made that the money borrowed should be met by the terminable annuities over a period of 30 years, dating from the time of the passing of the Military Works Act, and that provision had been continued in subsequent Acts. Under the first Military Works Act the money was borrowed all the way through on the same terms, and now, for the first time, in this Bill an alteration was being made, and the terms would vary from year to year, because the annuities would run out at different periods in the future. As each sum was issued the borrowing would be under different conditions and at different times, and consequently the annuities would expire at different periods. He supported his hon. friend mainly because it was their chief object to hold the Government to the idea that they should have a real scheme in their minds for the construction of a definite amount for large military works. That was the reason for which the House assented to the Military Works Act. If they now permitted this substantial alteration from previous Acts they would be allowing a departure from the original intention of those Acts.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said that one great object had been entirely overlooked, which was that this proposal was an encouragement for the War Office to borrow under this Bill instead of under former Bills, because they could borrow cheaper. He thought the old Bills ought to be wound up first, and he preferred the Amendment, of the hon. Member for Perthshire. He wished to know if the Secretary of State for War would accept the hon. Member for Perthshire's Amendment, which obviated the antiquated date of 1897 and made it "the passing of this Act." That would meet their objections to a great extent, because it would make the borrowing less indefinite.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER
said that more or less it lay with the War Office to take up loans when they liked, and it would greatly assist them to understand the indebtedness that the War Office had got into if they knew when the loans expired. Instead of having all this debt wiped out at one time they would have these loans wiped out at a series of different dates instead of in a period of thirty years. He thought if the right Hon. Gentleman would accept the suggestion of his hon. friend the Member for Perthshire, it would bring some sort of order into the issuing of these loans. If not it would be the duty of hon. Members to try and prevent this muddling of accounts by voting for this Amendment.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
contended that this proposal went entirely beyond the terms of the Resolution which authorised this Act. He did not know when the works would be completed. Estimates as to their cost had been made but those estimates would probably be far exceeded, and they would have an undetermined period during which borrowing might take place, and at each borrowing the date would be altered. That would be extremely inconvenient, and his opinion was that the proper way
§ would be to adopt the course suggested by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Perthshire. Otherwise there would be no certainty about the matter. He should recommend the Secretary of State for War to consider whether he could not accept the Amendment
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said this Bill marked a new departure in regard to borrowing for military works. Under the old system the initiation of works was based upon the expenditure to be incurred each year. Under the new plan, the object of which was to have a definite scheme, money was borrowed in the shape of annuities terminable in thirty years. By that means the Government was enabled to formulate a scheme for certain works of a permanent character. What the Secretary of State for War now proposed to do was to introduce a permanent system of borrowing. They were now adopting a plan of borrowing by which a burden was to be thrown upon their successors. He supposed that this system would he extended to all other kinds of works, and that there would be continuous borrowing instead of wiping off debt. It was a system conducive to extravagance, and, not merely that, but many of the works carried out might be of a character which would not be beneficial for thirty years. Barracks might be built in certain parts of the country, and on account of some change in Army organisation they might become useless. Then barracks might be built according to certain sanitary requirements, and it might be found desirable to put more troops there, but the buildings might be useless for making additions to, and they would have to be pulled down. The main objection to this system of borrowing was that instead of paying as they went along they were adopting a system by which the burden would be thrown on the future.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided, Ayes 118, Noes 51. (Division List No. 202.)1111
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Baird, John George Alexander|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitzroy||Balfour, Rt. Hon, A.J. (Manch'r|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bain, Colonel James||Balfour,RtHn. GernaldW(Leeds|
|Balfour,KennethR.(Christch)||Gardner, Ernest||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bathursts, Hon. Allen Benj.||Gordon, J.(Londonderry,S.)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Benthinck, Lord Henry C.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Purvis, Robert|
|Gardner, Ernest||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Pym, C. Guy|
|Bond, Edward||Groves, James Grimble||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Bowles,T.G.(Lynn Regis)||Hain, Edward||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon St.John||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. C. Thomson|
|Cavendish. V C W (Derbysh.)||Horner, Frederick William||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston, Manor)||Houston, Robert.Paterson||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn.J.(Birm.||Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone,W.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn. J.A.(Wore||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Shaw-Stewart, M.H.(Renfrew)|
|Chapman, Edward||Law, Andrew Boyar (Glasgow||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks, N.R.)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenkead)||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Corbett, T. L.(Down, North)||Long, Rt. Hn. W.(Bristol,S||Strutt, Hon Charles Hedley|
|Craig. Chas. Curtis (Antrim,S.||Lowe, Francis William||Sturt,Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Cranborne, Lord||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Denny, Colonel||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Macdona, John Cumming||Tombnson, Sir Wm. Edw.M.|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Mitchell, Edw.(Fermanagh,N.||Vincent,ColSirC.E.H.Sheffield|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon, A. Akers||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Walrond, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H|
|Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Morrell, George Herbert||Whiteley,H(Ashton und Lyne|
|Duke. Henry Edward||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Williams,RtHnJ Powell-(Birm|
|Elliot. Hon. A.Ralph Douglas||Mount, William Arthur||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Faber, E. B.(Hants, W.)||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Fergasson,Rt.Hn.SirJ(Mane'r||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Murray RtHn.AGraham(Bute)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Murray, Charles J.(Coventry)||Wyndham-Quin, MajorW.H.|
|Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Pease, H.Pike (Darlington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Flower, Ernest||Peel,Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Sir Alexander Acland|
|Forster, Henry William||Percy, Earl||Hood and Mr.Anstruther.|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayter, Rt, Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Sinclair,.John (Forfarshire)|
|Atherley-Jones,L.||Horniman, Frederick John||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Hutchinson, Dr. CharlesFredk.||Spencer, Rt Hon CR(Northants|
|Bryce, Rt, Hon. James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Thomas, David, Alfred(Merthyr|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Jones, D. Brynmor(Swansea)||Thomson, F. W.(York, W.R.)|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall||Wallace, Robert|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Warner. Thos. Courtenay T|
|Causton. Richard Knight||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Wason Eugene(Clackmannan|
|Davies, Alfred(Carmarthen)||Lundon, W.||Wason, John Cathcart(Orkney|
|Devlin, Chas Ramsay(Galway)||Mappin, Sir Fredk. Thorpe||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Dewar, John A.(Inverness-sh.)||Nolan, Col. John P.(Galway N.||Wilson, Henry J.(York, W. R.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Partington, Oswald||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Emmott. Alfred||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Fuller, J.M.F.||Redmond, William (Clare)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Mr. Lough and|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Russell, T.W.||Mr Corrie Grant.|
|Harcourt. Rt. Hon. Sir Win.||Shackleton, David James|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. CharlesSeale-||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
moved as an Amendment to leave out "dates of borrowing" in line 23 and insert "passing of this Act." What he now proposed was that the borrowing necessary under this Bill, when it became an Act, should be from the time of the passing of the Act. That was the ordinary form in which these clauses ran in Bills of this and analogous 1112 nature. He was sure it would meet with the approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because, until this Bill and the Naval Works Bill were introduced, it had been the invariable practice to borrow the money as from the date of the passing of the Act. That was a valuable provision in respect that it enabled one to have confidence in the statement made that the Government really had 1113 definite and clear-cut schemes in their heads which were going to be carried through under the Bill submitted to Parliament. He thought it was very much in the interest of regularity in finance that they should accept this Amendment so that they should be able to ascertain more definitely what the liabilities were likely to be under the Bill
In page 1, line 23, leave out the words 'dates of borrowing,' and insert the words 'passing of this Act.'"—(Mr.Buchanan.)
§ Question proposed," That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ * MR.BRODRICK
said that there were two reasons why he could not accept the Amendment. In the first place it was at variance with the Resolution of the House under which this Bill was introduced, and in the second place it would be a most inconvenient plan on which to act. If the Amendment were adopted the annuity would run for thirty years, not from the date of borrowing, but from the date of the passing of the Act which must be antecedent by some months to the borrowing of the money for the various purposes contemplated. He was afraid that the Government could not accept the Amendment.
said he was constrained to support the Amendment as one in the interest of sound finance and according to precedent. There was no precedent to be found for the operation suggested in the Bill. It was an operation indefinite and infinite, because there was absolutely no limit to the time in which the work was to be completed, and in which the money was to be required. Consequently there was absolutely no limit to the period to which the liability of the country was to be made to extend. He thought the Secretary of State for War hardly understood his own Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that the Amendment would violate the Resolution on which the Bill was founded. The only violation of the Resolution would be if the Bill exceeded its terms, but they 1114 might do, within the Resolution, as much as they liked. In his belief what the Resolution embodied was what was contemplated by this Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman proposed that there was not to be a date, but many dates, for borrowing the money—every year, or every month, or every fortnight—when he had to make a new bargain, and the liability was fixed from the date of the new borrowing. The Committee should remember that this was a Loan Bill, and it was most important and entirely in consonance-with the traditions of the House that a definite term should be fixed to the date of borrowing unless it was for the creation of National Stock or new National Debt, in which there was only a liability to pay so much per annum, but even there also there was often a date fixed for the extinction of the loan. It was essential to fix a day when the liability for borrowing the amount stated in the Bill was to be extinguished. That had always been done in previous Bills of this kind. The right hon. Gentleman had said that it would be an inconvenient plan. Why had that inconvenient plan been previously followed? Certainly there could be no inconvenience in it. This system of loans for the purposes of naval and military works and public office site was an extremely mischievous one. It was no new one. The theory was that it was better to borrow in a lump sum than from year to year. He was not going to dispute that for a moment. If the system of borrowing proposed by this Bill were adopted, it practically came to a system of estimating from year to, year. The right hon. Gentleman might say that next year they required a million, and in the following year another million and so on. That cut away the whole ground for doing the whole operation under one loan.
said the Bill suggested it. The Bill suggested that the Government were to make one operation of the £5,000,000 instead of coming to Parliament year by year for what they wanted. He should find it 1115 absolutely necessary to vote for Amendment.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
said he should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the reason for abolishing the practice that had been established in regard to these loans for many years? It was a serious thing to do when we were increasing, so enormously as we were doing, the liabilities of the country. He would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the effect of this new practice would be to postpone to a later date than would otherwise be the case the liquidation of this debt. If that were so, it was self-condemned. What they ought to do was to take in each year what they wanted. He wanted to know why they were piling loan on loan and debt on debt at this enormous rate. Some good reason ought to be given for introducing what on the face of it appeared to be a much more lax and a much more onerous system of borrowing than that to which they bad been accustomed.
§ * THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr.RITCHIE, Croydon)
said that the right hon. Gentleman was evidently not in favour of borrowing for these works at all; that each year should bear its own burden, whatever the nature of the expenditure that had to be incurred.
§ * MR.RITCHIE
said he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he objected to the principle of borrowing for capital expenditure. But if the right hon. Gentleman looked with disfavour only upon the accumulation of loans he was bound to say he sympathised with him. But it must be remembered that there were great deficiencies to be made up, and to have put them on the Estimates would have been to impose upon the present taxpayers a burden which they were not entitled to place upon them.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had 1116 entirely misapprehended him. He had no objection to the practice which had been established by these loans. He had done it himself. He was speaking of the liquidation of the loans. He wished to know whether or not this new practice of making the terminable annuities run at different periods would postpone the liquidation of the loan to a mores distant period than would have been the case under the established practice.
§ * MR.RITCHIE
said that it was not contemplated to raise the money by one loan which would run a certain mumber of years. His hon. friend the Member for Lynn Regis said that the purpose of the Government was to raise the money in one lump sum.
said that what he had stated was that the Resolution contemplated raising the money in one lump sum, repayable in thirty years. But this Bill contemplated the raising of successive loans, repayable at successive periods.
§ * MR.RITCHIE
said that these moneys were not raised by one loan but were raised as required, by means of terminable annuities. It was true that the proposal they were making was a departure from the principle laid down in the Bills of previous years, but let them see whether it was based upon sound principles or otherwise. The question was over what period of time ought the expenditure for these buildings to be spread. If thirty years was the fixed period for repayment, it was only reasonable and proper that the thirty years should commence from the time when the building was undertaken. It might well be that the building might not be undertaken until four or five years after the passing of the Act, and it was, in his opinion, perfectly justifiable that the period of repayment should commencefrom the time the money was expended. That was common sense, and there was no financial difficulty about it.
§ MR.EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said that the first Loan Act was the Naval Works Act of 1895, and that Act and every subsequent Works Act until the present 1117 was founded on the principle that the money borrowed should all of it be repaid within a period not exceeding thirty years from the first Naval Works Act. The same principle and the same system were adopted in the Military Works Act. The proposal in the Bill was a real departure from the principle upon which the Naval Works Acts and the Military Works Acts had hitherto been founded. The proposal of his learned friend was a fair and real compromise between the old and the new systems— viz: that the repayment should be made within a period of thirty years from the date on which the Bill passed. They were piling liability upon liability upon the State, and throwing more and more of the burden upon the future. Having thrown so much on the future, they should adhere to the established practice and let future generations bear the proportion that they were originally held to be bound to bear. In the case of the Naval Works Bill the Admiralty had stated that if the old system was continued the Navy Estimates would be swollen to the extent of £3,000,000 a year. That was the real reason which induced the Committee to lengthen the period of repayment in the case of the Naval Works Bill. Could the Secretary of State for War give a similar reason for extending the period in the case of this Bill?
§ * MR.RITCHIE
said he really could not say himself, but if he were in the position of the hon. Gentleman, as a critic, he should say that it was not a reason which ought in itself to materially influence the decision of the House of Commons. The fact of the repayment amounting to a large sum some years hence was not a sufficiently good reason to induce the Committee to depart from a sound principle. Their principle was that if it was right that the expenditure upon certain works should be spread over thirty years, then the spreading over ought to commence from the time when the expenditure was incurred. That was a sound principle.
said the Chancellor of the Exchequer had practically admitted that these Military Works Bills were likely to be permanent institutions. The precedent set up by this Bill and 1118 by the Naval Works Bill and the Public Offices Bill was in the direction of greater laxity of financial control.
said he trusted that the Committee would bear with him a little, for the right hon. Gentleman had raised a new and important matter. There was no doubt the effect of these Loan Bills was to relieve the Estimates; and if that were so it should be done on a settled principle. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had made an unwarranted attack on his predecessors in office, whose conduct, he said, had been improper, absurd, and unsound.
said the right hon. Gentleman had said the system in this Bill, which was entirely new, was the only sound system, and that ally other way of dealing with the matter would be improper, absurd, and unsound. But a diametrically different system had been adopted by his predecessors in regard to Bills of this sort. There were no fewer than seventeen of such Acts in existence, on which the charge to be paid out of revenue this year was £6,876,000. According to the right hon. Gentleman, all those Acts were improper and unsound. Under the proposed system of spreading over the repayment, the period might be extended from thirty to fifty years, or even longer. He thought that on consideration the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose finance was very good, and whose views generally were sound, would recognise that he had done some injustice to his predecessors.
said there was one consideration that ought to be borne in mind—viz., that they were not dealing only with an isolated Bill. These Loan Bills, unfortunately, were periodic; they were introduced every two or three years, and there would be the greatest confusion if the repayment was spread over a great number of years. It was desirable to keep the repayment within a certain limit; if there was no such limit it was quite possible that there might be expenditure still unextinguished at the end 1119 of sixty years. Moreover, these Bills would run into each other, and overlap in a way that would make control by the House of Commons almost impossible.
§ MR.COURTENAY WARNER
said that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated that the money would be repaid in thirty years from the time the building was undertaken, but the case was not when the building was undertaken but when the last expenditure on it was incurred. Take the case of the building of barracks. The contract might not he given out until five years.after the Bill was passed, and it might be five years more before the building was finished, the War Office giving the contractor the hint not to push on. The system of the Bill would therefore encourage the War Office to do work piecemeal, so that it should not appear that they were doing too much at the same time. He hoped the Amendment would be accepted. It would not hurt the Bill, and would not affect the financial point of view in any way. A new system such as was now proposed should not be introduced.
§ SIR JOHN GORST (Cambridge University)
said he desired to express his very strong regret at this further relaxation of the financial control of the House of Commons over military expenditure. The proceeding now proposed was contrary to the proceeding under any previous Bill of the kind. In all previous Bills, the repayment was to be made within thirty Years of the passing of the Act. That limited the period of the relaxation of the control of the House of Commons. But in this ease the limit was entirely done away with. The limit was to be not from the passing of the Act, but from the time it suited the convenience of the War Office to borrow the money. As that money might be borrowed at any
§ time the period might extend to an indefinite number of years. No reason had been given for that. The present was a most unfortunate occasion on which to ask the House of Commons for this additional relaxation of control, because, as was pointed out on the Second Reading of the Bill, the War Office had now an unusually large sum in hand, a much larger sum than they were likely to spend in the present financial year. It was, therefore, highly probable that the borrowings under this Act would be postponed for at least a year, and possibly for a considerably longer period. He earnestly appealed to the Government to accept the Amendment. It was a matter of financial control. Previous Chancellors of the Exchequer of both Parties had been in favour of a. limitation of the relaxation of control; and he appealed to the Government to accept the Amendment in order to make the Bill conformable to the precedents of former years.
§ MR.WEIR (Ross and Cromarty)
said he was not at all surprised that the War Office were anxious to extend the time for the repayment of the loan after having put such heavy burdens on the taxpayers. The whole system was so unbusinesslike that he must protest against it; and if his hon. friend went to a division, he would support him. He hoped, however, that the Government would accept the Amendment. He felt very strongly that the limit of thirty years for repayment should he adhered to. Nothing was worse than to dawdle about with new works. If they wanted barracks they should be put up promptly, and not be allowed to drag on year after year. He hoped the Government would accept the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 142; Noes, 63. (Division List No. 203.)1121
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Burdett-Coutts, W.|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Cavendish, V.C.W(Derbyshire|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J.(Birm.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Bond, Edward||Chanmberlain, Rt Hn. J.A.(Worc|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Chapman, Edward|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon A.J.(Manch'r||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Cochrane, Hon.T.H.A.E.|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W.(Leeds||Brotherton, Edward Allen||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Balfour, Kenneth R.(Christch.||Bull, William James||Corbett, T.L. (Down, North)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Kimber, Henry||Ritchie, Rt. Hn.Chas. Thomson|
|Craig, CharlesCurtis(Antrim,S||Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon Sir Savile||Lawson, John Grant(Yorks. N.R.||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lee, Arthur H.(Hants. Farcham||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Scott, Sir S.(Marylebone, W.)|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Sharpe. William Edward T.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N.S.||Shaw-Stewart, M.H.(Renfrew|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Faber, E.B.(Hants, W.)||Long, Rt Hn. Walter (Bristol,S)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Lowe, Francis William||Smith; James Parker(Lanarks.|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J.(Man'r||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Smith. Hon. W. F. D.(Strand|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lucas, Reg'ld J.(Portsmouth)||Stanley, EdwardJas.(Somerset|
|Finch. Rt. Hon. George H.||Macdona, John Cumming||Stanley. Lord (Lanes.)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Malcolm, Ian||Strutt, Hon. Charles Henley|
|Flower, Ernest||Maxwel1,Rt Hn Sir H E.(Wigt'n||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Forster, Henry William||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Fyler, John Arthur||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Montagu, G.(Huntingdon)||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Gordon, J.(Londonderry,S.)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Gore, Hon. S.F. Orinsby-(Line.||Morrell, George Herbert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Goulding. Edward Alfred||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Valentia, Viscount|
|Greene, Hy. D.(Shrewsbury)||Mount, William Arthur||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Walrond,Rt. Hn Sir Willams ll.|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Murray,RtHnA.Graham(Bute||Whiteley, H.(Ashston-u.-Lyne)|
|Groves, James Grimble||Murray, Charles J.(Coventry)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Hain, Edward||Peel, Hn Wm Robert Wellesley||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Percy, Earl||Wilson-Todd,SirW.H.(Yorks.)|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Plummer, Walter R.||Worsley-Taylor, Hry. Wilson|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Haslett, sir James Horner||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Purvis, Robert||Wyndham-Quin, MajorW.11.|
|Houston. Robert Paterson||Pym, C. Guy|
|Howard, John(Kent, Faversh'm||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||TELLERS For THE AYES—|
|Howard, J.(Midd., Tottenham)||Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Sir Alexander Acland|
|Kemp, Lient.-Col. Geroge||Reid, James (Greenock)||Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Kenyon. Hn. Geo. T.(Denbigh||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Asher, Alexander||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm.||Seely, Maj. J.E.B(Isle of Wight|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Chas. Seale-||Shackleton, David James|
|Bowles, T. Gibson(Lynn Regis||Harter,Rt, Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Horniman, Frederick John||Sinclair, John (Forfarshirer)|
|Bryce, Right Hon. James||Hurniman, Frederock John||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Jacoby, James Alfred||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Burt, Thomas||Jones, David B.(Swansea)||Thomson, F.W.(York, W. R.)|
|Caldwell, James||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Campbell-Bannerman. Sir H.||Labouchere, Henry||Wallace, Robert|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds. S|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Cremer, William Randal||Lloyd-George, David||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lough, Thomas||Weir, James Galloway|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Mitchell, Edw.(Fermanagh, N||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.|
|Doogan, P.C.||Murphy, John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Elibank, Master of||Partington, Oswald|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlingt'n||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fuller, J.M.F.||Priestley, Arthur||Mr. Causton and|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Rickett, J. Compton||Mr. Robert Spencer.|
|Grant, Corrie||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Russell, T.W.|
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said he wished to move the omission of Sub-section (4). It was the last Amendment which he would move in an endeavour to restore the Bill to the same form as previous 1122 Bills. It was somewhat difficult to understand the sub-section; but he took it to mean that the new form of the schedule should be read into previous Military Works Acts. Among the large 1123 alterations made in this Bill as compared with previous Works Bills, not the least important was the alteration in the schedule. In the first place, as his right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition had stated, it rendered entirely impossible any comparison from year to year of expenditure on public works under this series of Acts. That distinctly lessened the financial control which the House ought to exercise over successive War Ministers. It lessened financial control also in another way. The items were lumped together in the schedule, and that, of course, diminished the knowledge of hon. Members as regarded the work the War Office were engaged in, and its progress. Further, the power of transferring money from one item to another was larger in the present Bill than in any previous Bill, and the power of the Department to spend money for purposes of which the House was ignorant, or, at any rate, had no control over, would be greatly increased. The schedules in the Acts of 1899 and 1901 were adopted in consequence of representations in this House by his right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition; and the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor agreed on behalf of the War Office to make the White Paper issued with the Bill a part of the Act. That gave hon. Members undoubtedly greater information than they previously had, and also increased the control of the House over expenditure. He had not heard any real justification brought forward for this change. There were two suggestions made. One was that the expenditure on barracks should be made to correspond with the new Army Corps system of the right hon. Gentleman. That would enhance knowledge of what was going on, and also the control of the House over expenditure. The other point had reference to the purchase of land; but he did not see how they would be much better off in that respect under the present Bill. There was a large sum in previous schedules which could be used for the purchase of land in order to carry out the barracks scheme. That ought to be ample. Further, there was an item on the schedule for ranges. The Government purchased a large amount of land in Salisbury Plain in 1124 which not only ranges were erected, but barracks as well. That included the large property purchased from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer; and, as far as he could judge, there had been no difficulty in regard to the purchase of land there. As no justification had been offered for departing from precedent he begged to move his Amendment.
In page 1, line 27, to leave out Sub-section (4)."—(Mr. Buchanan.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause."
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said that, as he had stated on the Second Reading, it would be quite impossible to accept the Amendment. Previous to the Act of 1899 when a change was pressed on his right hon. friend the Chief Secretary, it had not been the practice to state where barracks were to be built. The point was made very strongly that if the hands of the War Office were tied they would be at the mercy of everybody in the locality. It had been made the means of bleeding the Exchequer, and the War Office had to come to Parliament to ask to be released from the burden which had become intolerable. He had already stated what had occurred in the case of Salisbury Plain, and the difference between the price paid for land before it was known that the War Office was going there and the land they took by arbitration from the late Chancellor of the Exchequer, for which a reasonable price was given, on the one side, and the price forced upon them for intermediate plots of land which they had to take on arbitration when it was known that the War Office was purchasing. He did not think anybody with any practical experience of the working of the former Acts would differ from the course that was now being taken. There was nothing in the sub-section which released the Government from their promise to Parliament, but it did release them from the obligation either of spending public money at a rate they had no right to spend at, or not to spend at all. There was no device whatever for eluding any proper criticism.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said that in his reference to the previous occasion, when the Chief Secretary for Ireland was representing the War Office, the right hon. Gentleman had omitted one fact. The theory now was that it would be fatal to the economical purchase of land if it was known where the War Office intended to erect barracks; but on that occasion a White Paper was issued giving the full information to the House of Commons, and it was called a schedule, which was rather misleading, because it was not a schedule. What they maintained was that it should have been embodied in the Bill, in order that the House of Commons should have control over the expenditure of the money.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
said that that was just the point. When the information was given for the guidance of the Committee on the previous Bill, it was on the clear understanding that it would not he adhered to if certain conditions arose, but the right hon. Gentleman who brought in that Bill, who had great knowledge of affairs, but who had not long been in the War Office, accepted a most vicious Amendment, and from that date until now there had been endless difficulty.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
thought it rather too disrespectful to a past House of Commons and to the Government themselves to say that they accepted a vicious Amendment; but that was the vicious Amendment which they wished to enforce on the Government. They were not aware that any evil flowed from it, and they certainly thought it went far to preserve the right of control of the House of Commons, and they were not aware of any reason why they should not reserve to the House of Commons their right of control of the Government.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he could not for the life of him understand this clause, and he had read it through and through till his head nearly itched. He should have thought the right hon. Gentleman would have given some simple explanation of it. It was a most amazing thing to him that any Government should have presented 1126 such a sentence to the House of Commons. What did it mean? It meant that all the works sanctioned by the Bills of 1897, 1899 and 1901 were not completed.
§ * MR. BRODRICK
explained that it arranged for the allocation of unexpended money borrowed under the previous Acts.
§ MR. LOUGH
Did that mean that the money then voted was not all spent? It was a most dangerous thing to assent to During the last six years certain sums had been taken for certain works, and now six years afterwards they found 35 per cent. of the money granted under the Military Works Acts of 1897, 1899 and 1901 was not expended, This sub-section was brought in for its allocation. Such a thing, in his opinion, knocked the bottom out of the necessity for this Bill, and that being so, be thought it ought not to be passed without fuller consideration.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
thought the Committee was justified in asking for some fuller explanation with regard to this sub-section, which purported to repeal every schedule in every previous Military Works Act. Would the right, hon. Gentleman take the Act of 1899, for instance. He proposed to repeal the schedule of that Act; would he read to the Committee the schedule he proposed to substitute for the schedule now in the Act of 1899? If the right hon. Gentleman would do that, the Committee would know where it was, but if he did not, nobody would agree to it. It was a most extraordinary piece of drafting, and would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer, let alone the House of Commons.
§ MR. WEIR
said he had read this sub-section over and over again and could make neither head nor tail of it. What did it all mean He thought the Committee ought to have some explanation of it. The right hon. Gentleman had said he wanted to be received of the intolerable burden placed upon him by the previous Acts, but before he was relieved from the intolerable burden the right 1127 hon. Gentleman ought to give some light and leading on this matter.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said he rose to the assistance of his right hon. friend, as he noticed there were no lawyers in the House. The Act of 1899 was the Act which placed at the disposal of the War Office £4,000,000 to experiment on certain works shown in the schedule of that Act. The effect of this sub section was to substitute for the schedules in the previous Acts the columns of figures in the schedule to this Bill, so that when anything was done in future under the former Acts those Acts would have to be read as if part of this schedule was incorporated in them.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said the right hon. Gentleman in his reply a short time previously had led the Committee to believe that all the alterations and re arrangement of the schedules had reference to work done in military districts at home, but the alteration of the schedules went a great deal further, because a great deal of the work was to be done, not at home but abroad. Now apparently all these things were to be lumped together in one item of the schedule under the heading "Naval bases and coaling stations," with the result that it was impossible to tell from year to year what the works were and the progress made in them. If the real difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind was, as it appeared to be from the arguments he used, a difficulty in regard to the purchase of land, let him take a larger amount of money under this sub-head for the purchase of land. Then they would be in the position, so far as it was given to them to do, to review the schemes for barracks, and would still have that knowledge which they now had of the operations of the War Office.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said he could not see why the advisers of the right hon. Gentleman could not prepare an intelligent schedule showing what was proposed to be spent and how it was proposed to be spent. He 1128 rose, however, to say a word or two with regard to this so-called vicious Amendment, accepted by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor. The House was asked to give up its control of this expenditure, on the ground that if any indication were given of the places where military works were to be erected the most extravagant prices would be demanded for the land. But the Secretary for War had a remedy for that state of things at his hand. Let him embody in the Bill the clause of the Parish Councils Act of 1894, which abolished the additional 10 per cent. given for land compulsorily purchased. He had been told, but he did not believe it, that in Scotland they got 50 per cent. for compulsory purchase. He entirely dissented from the proposition that the owner of land was entitled to 10 per cent. in addition to its value if it were purchased compulsorily. There was no reason whatever why the 10 per cent. should be given. It was purely Judge-made law. Besides, every attempt by the Government to purchase land privately by negotiation was a failure. It was like one of those Ministerial secrets which was known to everybody. Why should not the right hon. Gentleman rely solely upon the protection against extravagant demands which the law gave him? If he did not like an arbitrator, let him go to a jury.
The London County Council in carrying out their great new highway from the Strand to Holborn were overwhelmed with demands of the most preposterous prices for the buildings required to be removed, but they went before a jury, with the result that the claims were substantially reduced. The Secretary of War would have obtained the land necessary for new barracks at a great deal less money if he had gone to a jury for a settlement of the claims. Public improvements were being impeded because people were not satisfied with the fair value of their property, but required something additional for compulsory purchase. A man was entitled to the full value of his property, but not to a penny more. The House of Commons must not be deprived of its control of this class of military expenditure, which was becoming larger and larger every year; and it was 1129 also necessary that it should have in these Bills a plain, intelligible schedule. As a ease of legislation by reference this out-Heroded Herod.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he rose to support the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the remarks he had made with regard to the position the Government had chosen to take up in connection with the purchase of laud. A jury would always fix the fair value of the land. The only person who would not fix the fair value was the agent the Government employed in these matters—the land valuer. The evil of the great prices given for land required for Government purposes, arose through the reliance of the Government on valuers as arbitrators. The business of these valuers depended entirely on the fact that they always placed a higher value on land than it was worth. Yet the Government always said, when complaints were made of the extravagant prices given for land, that they had it valued by Mr. Brown or Mr. Jones "the
§ eminent valuer"—these people were always eminent—and that they could not go behind him. They should go to a jury, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton had recommended—and then they would get the land at its fair value. Let the Government renounce for ever the land valuer and the house valuer and all their works and let them have in their own service—the Civil Service— a valuer on whom they could depend.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 154; Noes, 60 (See Division List No. 204.)1131
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dickson, Charles Scott||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Doxford, Sir Wm. Theodore||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool|
|Atkinson, Right Hon. John||Duke, Henry Edward||Lawson John Grant (Yorks. NR|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Faber, E. B. (Hants, W.)||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Faber, George Denison (York)||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Man'r||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Ed.||Leveson -Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir.J. (Man'r.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Long, Rt Hn. Walter (Bristol,S|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benj.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Lowe, Francis William|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Fisher, William Hayes||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bigwood, James||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lucas, Reg'ld J. (Portsmouth)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Flower, Ernest||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Bond, Edward||Forster, Henry William||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Fyler, John Arthur||Maxwell,Rt. HnSir H. E.(Wig'n|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (Lynn Regis)||Gardner, Ernest||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc)||Mitchell, William (Burnley)|
|Bull, William James||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Goschen, Hon. Geo. Joachim||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Butcher, John George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Grenfell, William Henry||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Cavendish. V C W (Derbysh.)||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Mount, William Arthur|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hon J (Birm||Hain, Edward||Murray, RtHnA. Graham(Bute|
|Chamberlain, Rt.Hn. J. A(Worc||Hall, Edward Marshall||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Chapman, Edward||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Pease, H. Pike (Darlington)|
|Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E.||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Peel, Hn Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Percy, Earl|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hatch, Ernest Frederick G.||Plummer, Walter R.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Horner, Frederick William||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasg.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Purvis, Robert|
|Corbett, T. L. (Dunn, North)||Howard, Jno (Kent, Faver'hm||Pym, C. Guy|
|Cox, Irwin Edwd. Bainbridge||Howard. J. (Midd., Tott'ham||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Jameson. Major J. Eustace||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Kemp, Lieut.-Colonel George||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Crossley. Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Stanley, Lord (Lancs)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell-(Birm|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Stroyan, John||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Round, Et. Hon. James||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Wilson-Todd, Sir W.H.(Yorks.)|
|Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Sturt, Hn. Humphrey Napier||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R.(Bath|
|Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Worsley-Taylor, Hry. Wilson|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. Stuart|
|Seely Mj. J E. B.(Isle of Wight||Thornton, Percy M.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Sharpe, William Edward T||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. E. M.||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Shaw-Stewart, M H. (Renfrew)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Valentia, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THY AYES—|
|Smith, James Parker (Lanarks||Walker, Col. William Hall||Sir Alexander Acland-|
|Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H||Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)||Whiteley, H(Ashton-und-Lyne|
|Asher, Alexander||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale||Russell, T. W.|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Hayter, Sir Arthur D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Horniman, Frederick John||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Burt, Thomas||Hutchinson, Dr. Chas. Fredk.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Caldwell, James||Jacoby. James Alfred||Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Jones, David Brynmor(Sw'usea||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Channing, Francis A1lston||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Labouchere, Henry||Wallace, Robert|
|Cremer, William Randal||Lay land-Barratt, Francis||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Wason, E. (Clackmannan)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lloyd-George, David||Wason, JohnCatheart(Orkney)|
|Dewar, John A.(Inverness-sh.)||Lough, Thomas||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dike, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lundon, W.||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mappin, Sir Fredk. Thorpe||Wilson, Chas. H. (Hull, W.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Mitchell, Edw.(Fermanagh, N.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Murphy, John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Partington, Oswald,||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Perks, Robert William||Mr. Robert Spencer and|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Priestly, Arthur||Mr. John Sinclair.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he Wanted to move another Amendment in order to raise a point partly discussed in the last Amendment, with regard to an additional price being paid in respect of land taken compulsorily under the Act.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said he proposed to incorporate in this Bill the powers contained in the Naval Works Bill dealing with compulsory purchase.
§ SIR ELLIOT LEES (Birkenhead)
asked if the War Office were prepared, in connection with the new barracks they were about to build, to provide increased accommodation for mounted troops, and especially to provide for corps of mounted infantry.
§ SIR ELLIOT LEES
said the clause provided for an expenditure of £5,500,000 for barracks and therefore any question as to the purposes for which barracks were to be erected was in order.
* THE CHAIRMAN
ruled that this point must he raised on the schedule, otherwise those who objected to money being spent on hospitals or ranges or any other purpose might raise similar discussions. The hon. Member should bring forward his point on the specific items when it was reached.
§ SIR ELLIOT LEES
said it was not a specific but a general item. He was in favour of spending the money, but fie wished to know generally how it was to be spent.
§ Clause I agreed to.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
said he was sorry to be compelled to trouble the House at that time of the session, and on a Friday afternoon, but the action of the Government in bringing this Bill forward at the fag end of the session was responsible. He felt bound to take up the time of the Committee by his very strong sense of the principles involved in the Bill. He intended to propose to omit the sum of£594,000 provided for defence works. The schedule at the foot showed a total of nearly £31.000,000; that expenditure he classed under two heads, one involving questions of high policy and the other concerned in administrative matters, such as the provision for the housing and training of troops. Both classes of expenditure involved, of course, outlay for creation as well as depreciation, and in that respect they were on all fours. But the difference between defence works, and barracks and ranges was that the latter fulfilled the demands for the training of troops and created no new demands in military requirements—no new expenditure in fact, while when fortifications were built then began the read drain on the resources of the country for armaments, stores, etc. In other words barracks and ranges fulfilled military wants, while fortifications created new military wants. The House had already voted £2,870,000 in six years for defensive works, and had been denied any information as to nature, and where they were situated. In three Military Works Bills in six years the House had voted blindfold nearly 3,000,000 of money, which the War Office had spent in the manner it chose without consulting the House. This plea for concealment was ridiculous, that the Admiralty did not conceal the details as to battleships of cruisers, or the places it was proposed to build them. But the War office proclaimed, "We must not let the House of Commons. 1134 know what we are doing or where we are expending this money." He protested against that. There was too much nonsense talked in the War Office of that kind. The policy was not due to a fear of foreign nations knowing what we were doing; it was due to a fear of criticism by the House of Commons. These defensive works, as he had said involved high questions of military, policy. Forty-five years ago no English man ever dreamt for one moment of saying that we could defend this country by heaping up piles of earth and putting guns on top of them, while giving shelter to British troops behind them. But then the nation took fright at the utterances of certain colonels across the water. Parliament participated in the panic and Lord Palmerston jumped with the popular emotion and appointed a Royal Commission for the specific purpose of inquiry into the condition of efficiency of our fortifications and to consider the means of securing a complete state of defence by permanent fortifications. That was the first step towards revolutions our military policy. The Commission was composed of four. generals—
* THE CHAIRMAN
Order, order. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is going too far back. Considering that since 1897 we have had three Acts of Parliament providing for defence work, I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to go back to the days of Lord Palmerston.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB
said he had no desire to place himself out of order or unnecessarily intrude on the time of the House. But this £594,000 which he was proposing to omit was the last contribution to the series under the policy then started. He wished to point out how after an enormous expenditure we had only augmented the cost and destroyed the mobility of our army. If he was only to be allowed to deal with the works for which this £594,000 was asked he could say no more, for they had no information plated.
* THE CHAIRMAN
I said it was unnecessary for the hon. And gallant Member to go back to the time of lord palmerston, when Acts of Parliament 1135 embodying the policy he objected to had been passed in the last six years.
§ * SIR JOHN COLOMB
said the Bills mentioned were the last three of series which commenced in the time of Lord Palmerston. He would, of course, bow to the Chairman's ruling, and would try to raise the question on the Appropriation Bill. Since he was debarred from dealing with this question of policy, which was at the root of their present enormous expenditure, perhaps he might be allowed to point out what the position of our army was in those days. We were then spending £14,800,000; we had 92,000 men in India, and the number of regular troops available for service any-where was 143,362. Now we had 17,000 less troops in India; our military expenditure had doubled, and the number of troops available for general field service was 144,083. So after spending millions on fortifications the net result was an increase of their mobile army by 721 men, while the annual expenditure had been doubled. That was the outcome of a new departure, made in a hurry. There was more behind. In those days we had a free force available for general service. Now the men were locked up under our policy of fortifications. It might be suggested that the conditions now prevailing were wholly different from those which obtained before the policy of fortifications was entered upon. But in what way were they different? Happily they had during the past few years driven the War Office from pillar to post, with the result that there had been a diminution in the expenditure on defensive works. At one time defensive works were to be constructed for the protection of London, but they had been abandoned. These works were based on the supposition of an attack by a naval force upon our ports. But that was all changed now. The cost of warships, and the relative importance of a single ship to the whole national naval power, had enormously increased, with the result that whereas in former times ships might be risked for a comparatively small object, no admiral or captain would now risk his ship except for a decisive result. The probability, therefore, was a reduction of any chance of ships attacking fixed points. The speed of ships had also increased, and the uncertainty of the movements of the 1136 oppsing ships hampered the use of ships as an attacking force. Obviously ships would not be risked in an attack on fixed point, to produce and effect upon which would take some hours, when they were liable, through the agency of the telegraph, to have brought upon them the ships of the defending power. But the most important element was the reduction of the carrying power of ships in regard to ammunition. The capacity was so restricted that not a single round of ammunition could be spared, except for some definite result, and it was preposterous to suppose that ships would use their ammunition in an attack on a fixed point and then have to run the risk of being caught ammunitionless by the opposing fleet. A further consideration was the limit of life of modern naval guns. The effect of every modern improvement was to make fortifications less necessary, The War Office constructed these works on naval assumptions without naval justification, and that was why he objected to them. This mad race in expenditure could not go on. He defied the Secretary of Stare for War to deal with this matter from the point of view of naval strategy. No doubt he would say that it was done with the advice of the naval authorities, but those authorities would give very different advice if the Admiralty had to pay for it. The system of naval advice was simply that the War Office prepared plans on naval assumptions; they then called in the naval advisers and said "If a ship was here and another there, would this do?" But the point of the whole thing was that the ships would not be there at all. During the last forty years there had been a series of wars, four of which involved operations both naval and military. In those four wars four national fleets have been wiped, out, but in not a single one of these wars did fortifications or fixed defences play any material part. In spite of the lessons of these modern wars, the War Office still went on wasting money on and tying up the Army in fortifications, simply up the Army in fortifications, simply because forty years ago a Commission which sat for a few days said that this fortification policy should be adopted. He felt it his bounden duty to oppose this waste of military power and national money, and therefore begged to move.
In page 2, line 9, to leave out the figures '£594,000"—(Sir John Colamb.)
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Bill reported, without Amendment; to be read the third time upon Monday next.