§ "That a sum, not exceeding £20,265,000, be granted to His Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1904, viz.:—
|Board of Education||6,000,000|
|Board of Agriculture||65,000|
|Crofters Commission, Scotland||2,000|
|Royal Palaces and Marlborough House||40,000|
|Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens||50,000|
|Houses of Parliament Buildings||16,000|
|Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain||30,000|
|Art and Science Buildings, Great Britain||20,000|
|Diplomatic and Consular Buildings||18,000|
|Public Buildings, Great Britain||225,000|
|Surveys of the United Kingdom||90,000|
|Harbours under the Board of Trade||7,000|
|Rates on Government Property||250,000|
|Public Works and Buildings, Ireland||110,000|
|United Kingdom and England;—|
|House of Lords Offices||2,000|
|House of Commons Offices||12,000|
|Treasury and Subordinate Departments||40,000|
|Privy Council Office, &c.||5,000|
|Board of Trade||75,000|
|Mercantile Marine Services||30,000|
|Bankruptcy Department of the Board of Trade||3|
|Civil Service Commission||18,000|
|Exchequer and Audit Department||25,000|
|Friendly Societies Registry||3,000|
|Local Government Board||85,000|
|Mint (including Coinage)||5|
|National Debt Office||6,000|
|Public Record Office||10,000|
|Public Works Loan Commission||5|
|Stationery and Printing||320,000|
|Woods, Forests, & c, Office of||8,000|
|Works and Public Buildings, Office of||30,000|
|Secretary for Scotland||25,000|
|Local Government Board||6,000|
|Lord Lieutenant's Household||2,000|
|Chief Secretary for Ireland||16,000|
|Department of Agriculture||7 5,000|
|Charitable Donations and Bequests Office||1,000|
|Local Government Board||25,000|
|Public Record Office||2,000|
|Public Works Office||18,000|
|Registrar General's Office||6,000|
|Valuation and Boundary Survey||7,000|
|United Kingdom and England:—|
|Miscellaneous Legal Expenses||27,000|
|Supreme Court of Judicature||140,000|
|Police, England and Wales||18,000|
|Prisons, England and the Colonies||340,000|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools, Great Britain||140,000|
|Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum||14,000|
|Law Charges and Courts of Law||30,000|
|Register House, Edinburgh||15,000|
|Law Charges and Criminal Prosecutions||35,000|
|Supreme Court of Judicature, and other Legal Departments||45,000|
|County Court Officers, &c.||46,000|
|Dublin Metropolitan Police||45,000|
|Royal Irish Constabulary||600,000|
|Reformatory and Industrial Schools||55,000|
|Dundrum Criminal Lunatic Asylum||3,000|
|United Kingdom and England;—|
|National Portrait Gallery||3,000|
|Scientific Investigation, &c., United Kingdom||22,000|
|Universities and Colleges, Great Britain, and Intermediate Education, Wales||42,000|
|Endowed Schools Commissioners||400|
|Diplomatic and Consular Services||250,000|
|Uganda, Central and East Africa Protectorates, and Uganda Railway||320,000|
|Cyprus, Grant in Aid||85,000|
|Telegraph Subsidies and Pacific Cable||32,000|
|Superannuation and Retired Allowances||280,000|
|Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions, etc.||2,000|
|Miscellaneous Charitable and other Allowances||1.000|
|Hospitals and Charities, Ireland||17,000|
|Savings Bank and Friendly Societies Deficiencies||—|
|Repayments to the Local Loans Fund||—|
|St. Louis Exhibition, 1904||—|
|Total for Civil Services||£13,035,000|
|Post Office||3, 800,000|
|Post Office Packet Service||250,000|
|Post Office Telegraphs||2,000,000|
|Total for Revenue Departments||£7,230,000|
§ Resolution read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."1518
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said he understood that this Vote wag not to be taken until the evening sitting, and many Members had probably left the House under that impression.
§ SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somersetshire, Wellington)
said he had no desire to use the House unfairly. The opportunity for discussion at the evening sitting would probably be somewhat curtailed by private business, and he thought it would be for the convenience of the House to devote the remaining hour and a half of the present sitting to the Report of the Resolution.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I might point out that a question of some difficulty arises on the Standing Order. The Standing Order says:Of the days so allotted, not more than one day in Committee should be allotted to any Vote on Account, and not more than one sitting to the Report of that Vote. At midnight at the close of the day on which the Committee of the Vote is taken, or at the close of t he sitting at which the Report of the Vote is taken, the Chairman of the Committee or the Speaker, as the case may be, should put every question to dispose of the Vote or Report.The question arises whether, if the Vote is taken now, I should be compelled at half-past seven to put the question, or whether the discussion could be continued at the evening sitting. It seems to me that the intention of the Standing Order is that there should be a sitting allotted to the Report, and that the sitting allotted to the present Report is the evening sitting. Therefore, the "allotted sitting" being the evening sitting, I should not be entitled to apply the automatic closure to the Vote at half-past seven, if it is taken now. Accordingly, though the construction of the rule is very doubtful, I should be prepared to rule that the debate might go on now, if the House chooses to take it, until half-past seven, and that it would be in order to resume it at the evening sitting, and apply the automatic closure, if necessary, at twelve o'clock.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
thought the House would be much relieved at the interpretation of the Order just given, because, if the Standing Order had been 1519 Otherwise interpreted, it would have been possible for the discussion to commence at seven o'clock, and then at half past seven to be automatically closured. Many Members were under the impression that the Vote on Account would not be taken until the evening sitting, but, on the understanding that the discussion could be then resumed, he did not see any objection to proceeding with the Vote until half past seven.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
commented on the small amount proposed to be spent in connection with the St. Louis Exposition. France, Germany, and all the other principal countries had set aside amounts much larger than the £30,000 here proposed, and it was not at all creditable to the Government that they should have suggested a sum totally insufficient to be of any real service in the encouragement and the provision of British representation at the Exposition. If ever there was a time when Britain ought to do everything it possibly could to encourage friendly relations with America, it was now. Although late in the day, the Government would be well-advised to revise its Estimate.
§ *MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
said that last year it was arranged that the Board of Agriculture should consult with the War Office and, if possible, devise some means by which to enable the War Office to purchase horses for remounts direct from the farmers. Recently the Secretary of State had said a circular was about to be sent to the various County Councils on the matter. He desired to ask whether the President of the Board of Agriculture knew about that circular, and whether it was sent out with his approbation. It was most important that farmers in the horse-breeding districts should know exactly the stamp of horse required. He regretted that the President of the Board of Agriculture had stated he had very little money a his disposal, but the idea could bi greatly assisted at a very small expense by classes being instituted in the various local shows for horses suitable for tin Army, every exhibit in such classes being entered for sale at a certain price. Another question was that of railway rates. The right hon. Gentleman had admitted that 1520 the farmers had a grievance in this matter, rat what steps was he going to take to remedy it? If he going to proceed by legislation or by administration? If tie intended to proceed by means of administration it would be well to commence at once, so that the effect of his operations would be known by the end of the year, in time for legislation to be prepared for next session if necessary. He also desired to know the number of prosecutions and convictions which had taken place under the Order prohibiting the sale of butter containing more than 16 per cent, of water.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
said there was a strong feeling in the country that some of the regulations with regard to swine fever were working very hardly. In some cases where swine fever seemed to have been stamped out it had suddenly re-appeared. If the right hon. Gentleman could hold out any hope of swine fever being put an end to very shortly, farmers might be willing to put up with the inconvenience of the regulations, but at present they felt that they pressed with undue hardship and were not really necessary. As to the question of railway rates, the right hon. Gentleman had recently stated that if the companies did not come into line he had a rod in pickle for them. No action, however, had as yet been taken, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would soon exercise whatever powers he had. The "owner's risk" rates required looking into. Railway companies were inclined to give cheap rates at owner's risk, but they took away with one hand what they gave with the other. In the milk traffic the companies practically took no charge and acknowledged no responsibility. If milk got spoilt in transit or churns were lost, farmers were not able to obtain compensation, the plea of the companies being that it was sent at owner's risk. It was no answer to say that it could be sent at the risk of the company, because in that case the rates were doubled, which rendered it absolutely prohibitive. If the right hon. Gentleman intimated to the companies that if they persisted 1521 in their course of action he would have to interfere, or obtain power to interfere, it would probably do some good.
Then the right hon. Gentleman had stated that he intended to set up in different parts of the country fifteen or twenty advisory boards, with the object of getting special information of special wants in particular districts. There was a good deal to idea to be said for the idea if the wish of the right hon. Gentleman was to get to know what was going on in the districts, especially as regarded the small men who, perhaps, make their voices Chambers of Agriculture. But would not that object be equally well attained by the appointment of correspondents in different districts, such as the Board of Trade had appointed for its purposes? The idea of setting up official or semi official boards was entirely against the general practice of the country. Hitherto it hid been our boast that we had not agricultural boards or establishments under State aid control, such as existed in continental countries, and great bodies like the Royal Society, the Bath and West of England Society, and some of the small bodies had been absolutely untrammelled by red tape, and able freely to express their opinions to the Minister of the day. In connection with advisory boards there was bound to be a certain political element, as a number of the members would be nominated by the President of the Board of Agriculture for the time being, to whom those members would necessarily look for the continuance of their appointment. That was hardly a desirable state of things. Special information on small points could be better obtained either through correspondents, or by means of the farmers' clubs which were scattered throughout the country. The more he thought of it the more he felt that the establishment of such boards would be a dangerous step. He had every confidence that as long as the right hon. Gentleman held his present office such boards would be kept within proper limits, but future occupants of the office might so use the boards as to disregard the opinion of the House of Commons, on the ground that they had their own advisory boards by whom they would be guided.
§ *MR. ARTHUR LEE (Hampshire, Fareham)
supported the suggestion of the hon. Member connection with the St. Louis Exposition should be considerably increased. Much had been heard recently about economy, but this was not a matter in which it should be unnecessarily practised. Our national credit and prestige were largely concerned in this question, and during his last visit to the United States he found, both in the highest quarters and among the "men in the street," a very keen desire that this country should be adequately represented at the Exposition. A very bad effect would be produced in the United States if the English grant was one of the smallest made by any of the civilised Powers. It would be hardly creditable to the Government to suggest a contribution one-fifth of that of Germany, and less than one-half of that of China. He hoped before all the space was taken the grant would be increased, at any rate to the amount appropriated by Germany.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
asked for information as to the advisory boards, which were quite new institutions. He understood that these boards were to have a majority elected by the farmers, and a minority to be nominated by the President of the Board of Agriculture. lie would like to know what proportion the minority would bear to the majority; whether any of these members were to be paid, and if so, at what and whose expense; whether there would be a special Vote for them and under what Estimate they would come. So far as he understood the present methods of obtaining information, a man like the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the department had little difficulty in obtaining it, because he had gone into the matter thoroughly, and could get his information at the local farmers' clubs. If in the future they had not an equally energetic and careful President of the Board he did not see how the required information would be obtained, by means of which the President could nominate the proper men on these advisory boards.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF AGRICULTURE (Mr. HAN BURY, Preston)
said that with regard to the Sparks from Locomotives Bill and the question of forestry, which the Government had been recommended to take up, he was considering how far it was possible to carry out the recommendations of the Committee on the subject, but he could not yet give a definite answer. With regard to the question of the advisory committees he had proposed, he thought there was rather an exaggerated importance attached to those bodies, as though they were to control in any way the Board of Agriculture, and the Board must necessarily be governed by their advice. He was afraid that that was the last sort of council he should think of appointing. He was struck by the fact that at the present moment the Central Chamber of Agriculture dealt rather with general agricultural questions than in trying to obtain definite information regarding local questions. No Society or Central Chamber met so constantly as to be within touch of the agriculturist, so that he could at a moment's notice get the information he wanted. Then, again, the societies had acquired the bad habit, instead of discussing local requirements, of taking up kind of snowball resolutions from one another, which they debated and which had no effect whatever upon him. That being so it occurred to him it was necessary to be, from day to day, in touch with those who represented, and could speak for, the local requirements of a particular district. There was no industry which varied so much from county to county, and almost from district to district, as agriculture. Then with regard to the politics of agriculture he thought the less they brought politics into the question the better it was. He hoped the advisory boards would keep politics at arm's length and would only be business bodies to deal with actual hard facts and farming life in their particular district. He agreed with the hon. Member for Somersetshire that a better name would be correspondents, and although he was by no means anxious they should meet very often, he wanted to get representative men in all districts of England with whom he could be in 1524 actual touch. He did not want there to be any idea that these gentlemen would control him in any way. It was proposed to divide Great Britain into twenty divisions and appoint fifteen or sixteen gentlemen to each division. It was no matter how they were to be appointed so long as they really voiced the views of their district. Out of the fifteen or sixteen the great bulk should be elected by the Agricultural Societies of their districts. He only retained the power to nominate a certain number because he felt that too often in those societies there was not a sufficient representation of the smaller men who, after all, represented the great proportion of the farmers of England. He wanted to he brought into touch with them just as much as with the larger farmers. As to payment, he knew it was rather difficult to extract money from the Treasury, and he thought that except for the expense of travelling they ought not to call on the Treasury to provide the money. He was quite sure he could appeal to those gentlemen to have sufficient interest in their own industry to assist him in the way described.
The question of railway rates was a difficult matter for him to handle, because railway companies were not in his department. He should like to say that, before coming to Parliament, there were two things to be done before he pressed his colleagues to make any alteration in the present law. He must collect facts. General grumbling was of no use whatever; he must have facts, and plenty of them. In Scotland and Yorkshire he had been assisted by the County Councils. In Scotland especially a vast amount of information with regard to rates had been laid before him and had been of great service. The information he had already collected had shown him that a great number of complaints arose from misunderstanding of both the actual facts of the case and the law. It had convinced him that when all had been said or done, the railway companies might be fairly approached and would deal with the matter. In Scotland that had already been done, and to a large extent the railway companies had met the case fairly; alterations in the rates had taken place and the farmers had been relieved. It all depended upon accurate information, and he was sure his 1525 hon. friend, as a Member of the House and Chairman of the Central Chamber, would do good service if he would take steps to assist him in getting more information, which would justify him in approaching the railway companies with sufficient evidence. He proposed to approach the railway companies first in a friendly manner, because it was not to the interests of the railway companies to neglect this important branch of trade. It was a fact that great pressure was put upon the railway companies to encourage the importation of produce from abroad, because in the first place they were sometimes owners of steamers. It was a remarkable fact that whilst this House laid upon the railway companies, so far as land rates were concerned, certain limitations which required them to show equal justice all round, there was no such limitation with regard to steam ships, and it was possible for a railway company owning a line of steamers running from Copenhagen to Hull, and carrying goods from Hull to Birmingham, to charge exactly the same amount from Hull to Birmingham as from Copenhagen to Birmingham, via Hull. As a rule the farmer was confined to a particular railway, whereas the foreigner was in a position to choose his railway, and consequently got the benefit of competitive rates. He hoped that when the facts were brought sufficiently before the railway companies they would see that it was to their own interest to cultivate the home trade more than they had done in the past. The difficulty was that the railway companies varied so much in their charges. The Great Eastern Railway Company dealt generously with parcels up to 7 lbs., but other companies did not, although they treated larger parcels favourably. Surely they might find some system which would bring them into line.
With regard to swine fevor, it could not be stamped out without drastic regulations; but his desire was to make his regulations work with as little friction as possible, and he was always open to listen to advice from local authorities, or even from individual farmers, if he could do so reasonably. There was, no doubt, much grumbling with regard to the regulations of local authorities which were not under his control; but he hardly knew a single case in which a farmer had any real 1526 reason to complain of their action. He knew it was said that the areas were too large and that the boundaries were not prescribed as scientifically as they might be. It was thought necessary to have the boundaries of the petty sessional divisions because the police were acquainted with them. He was quite willing, however, if he could find other boundaries well-known to the police and the public, to alter his regulations in that respect.
As to the question of remounts, that matter, after all, rested entirely with the War Office, and he had no control over it. His duty solely consisted in conveying to farmers what the War Office required with regard to the purchase of remounts. As the hon. Member was aware he had been pressing the War Office to deal directly with the farmers, as far as possible, and give them all the information possible. He was sorry to say that the requirements of the War Office in this respect were not very large, and he did not think the question was of great interest to farmers. It would be if the War Office bought on a large scale; but when they required only 2,500 horses a year, and only 1,600 from Great Britain, it did not seem a matter of very great interest to the farmers either of Great Britain or Ireland. No doubt, however, farmers ought to have the fullest information. He understood that the War Office would in about a fortnight send their regulations to the Board of Agriculture, and they would be sent to the farmers. As to prosecutions under the butter regulations, they were in charge of the local authorities, and, so far as the Board could collect information, he believed there had been some thirty-five prosecutions since the order was issued last May. Of course he might obtain full information be applying to the local authorities, but he hardly thought it would be worth while to do that. He thought he had now answered all the questions put to him.
*SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said they were all interested in the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman, especially in regard to the work he had been doing connected with the advisory boards. They all knew how the right hon. Gentleman had thrown himself into the practical work of his Department. But while he said that, he 1527 was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman might have taken a dangerous course in creating these advisory boards over the length and breadth of England and Wales. It conveyed too much the idea of powerful organised bodies in particular localities. He thought the advantage to be obtained from the districts could be obtained by responsible correspondents. The difficulty about advisory boards was that they to some extent diminished the responsibility of headquarters and were apt to take upon themselves functions which did not properly belong to them. The right hon. Gentleman would get the information he wanted more thoroughly by the appointment of one or more correspondents in each centre than by such boards as he suggested. They were all agreed that the information was very important, in a comparatively new department like the Board of Agriculture, in order that the right hon. Gentleman might try to bring about remedies for the grievances in the different parts of the country.
With reference to the question of railway rates the right hon. Gentleman said the Board laboured under the disadvantage of a deficiency of exact information. He himself knew that. Some years ago there was some difficulty in getting to know exactly the grievances in particular localities. It seemed to him that accurate information could be better obtained and tabulated by a responsible correspondent than by any committee of gentlemen forming an advisory board. He was very anxious that railway rates should be equalised all over the country in the interest, especially, of small holders, of whom there was an increasing number. He hoped that as years went on there would be a still greater number of people holding small plots and producing perishable food produce. It was of the greatest importance that such produce should be conveyed on the easiest possible terms by the railway companies. Light railways had not given the advantages which were expected from them in connection with the conveyance of produce of this kind. He was sure that any pressure the Board of Agriculture could bring to bear on the great railway companies to try to equalise their rates, in order to give impartial terms to producers in various parts of the country, would be of 1528 great benefit. The right hon. Gentleman made a remark which suggested to his mind a possible danger of interference on the part of the Board of Agriculture. He said that produce might be conveyed from Copenhagen to Birmingham via Hull almost as cheaply as produce could be sent from Yorkshire to the same Midland city. He believed there were many examples of that kind. He thought it pressed hardly on the producer of articles within our own shores that farmers in Denmark should be able to send produce to markets in this country for about the same cost. While endeavouring to remedy an injustice the right hon. Gentleman must not remedy it at the expense of the consumer, because, after all, this country depended very much on the cheapness of the food of the people in order that we might maintain our supremacy in manufacturing industries. The right hon. Gentleman must be careful not to take any step to make the food of the poorest portion of the community dearer by kindly interference on behalf of another class of citizens.
With regard to the St. Louis Exhibition, he hoped that something a little more liberal might be done than hitherto in connection with that project. This country ought to be represented in a way worthy of our traditions and of our industrial and commercial position. Germany was able to give five times the amount we had granted in order that that country might be well represented at that Exhibition. He thought it was time that we were a little more alive in this matter. He believed that the money would be well spent, and that it would be brought back to this country over and over again in the shape of orders for our productions.
§ *THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. HAYKS FISHER, Fulham)
said that hon. Gentlemen who had spoken had expressed the hope that the £30,000 which stood on the Estimates for the St. Louis Exhibition, did not represent the final decision of the Government, and they sounded a warning note that it would be regarded as entirely inadequate. Speaking on behalf of the Government, and entirely sharing the views expressed by hon. Gentlemen, he could assure 1529 them that this sum of £30,000 appearing on the Estimates was not a final but a preliminary sum. It was calculated that they could only, in all probability, spend that sum this year, but the final amount had not, yet been fixed. He agreed with the views expressed that it was most essential we should do everything to maintain our friendly relations with the United States above all other countries, and it was his opinion that exhibitions of this kind were one of the most valuable means of establishing such friendly relations. He knew that the American nation attached very great importance to this coming exhibition. He understood it would be conducted on a magnificent scale, and he believed it would have far-reaching results. What was exactly the amount of money that would be demanded in connection with the representation of Great Britain at the exhibition was now under consideration, and he thought that the opinion expressed that day by the House of Commons would have some influence with his right lion, friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was necessary that the Government should know what amount of money Germany and other foreign countries intended to spend on the exhibition, and inquiries to that effect had been made during the winter, so that they had now some means of gauging what our contribution should be. Above all, what the Government wanted to know was, how far their expenditure was going to be backed up by private manufacturers and collectors in this country; he hoped this short debate might be the means of bringing this St. Louis Exhibition to the notice of the great leaders of commerce and industry in this country, and that they would unite in putting forward their best efforts to worthily maintain the position and industrial prestige of Great Britain in the exhibition.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
said he wished to call attention to a matter in the Colonial Office Report in regard to native labour in South Africa. On Thursday of last week he asked from the Colonial Secretary an assurance that the old law under which gold-mining claims in the Transvaal were allocated 1530 would not be abrogated†, f and the right hon. Gentleman said that no such law had ever been in existence, and then went on to describe the methods by which these claims were allocated. A great deal of disorder, the right hon. Gentleman said, had arisen in connection with these claims, and there had been some suggestions or proposals for a lottery law, but the right hon. Gentleman indicated that they had come to nothing. Since then he had had an opportunity of discussing the documents bearing upon the matter, and that was his excuse for again troubling the House by referring to it. The earlier custom in the Transvaal, as on all other goldfields, was that when a farm or a bit of land was proclaimed a goldfield it was open to all and sundry to peg out claims. Consequently, if the field turned out rich, there was a great deal of disorder, and sometimes lives were lost, in the scramble which took place for claims. In 1895 such a scene took place in the allocation of the claims on a farm in the Transvaal, and serious apprehensions were raised in the minds of the people as to what the consequences might be if the old method of allocation were adhered to. Two farms, supposed to be especially valuable, were declared to be goldfields, and a new method was introduced by which claimants had to present themselves at the Field Cornet's office to obtain a licence, on which they could proceed to the goldfields and peg out a claim. In this particular case the applicants for licences numbered many thousands, and it was known that some of the big gold companies hired prize-fighters to stand outside the Field Cornet's Office to prevent smaller and weaker men from getting into the office and obtaining a licence. These companies also hired blood horses to carry the licences from the Field Cornet's Office to the gold-fields; and some of their rivals, it was said, employed other desperadoes to shoot the horses and obtain possession of the licences.
As a result of this state of affairs the Executive Council of the Transvaal Republic passed an Emergency Law which legalised the lottery system in allocating claims. An American named
†See page 1252
1531 Brown disputed the validity of the new law, and raised an action against the Government before Judge Kotze, in which he was successful, whereupon the Transvaal Government dismissed the Judge, and that became one of the justifications for the war. The lottery method was continued from 1895 down to the outbreak of the war. He had a copy of the Standard and Diggers' News for April 6th, 1899. That paper contained one and a half columns describing the terms on which claims were to be allocated. It was an official document; was signed by Mr. Reitz, the State Secretary; and was dated Pretoria, April 4th, 1899. Under the form of lottery mentioned in that document every citizen over the age of sixteen, and every outlander who had paid his poll tax, was entitled to apply for a ticket and to share in the lottery. As a matter of fact, some 30 000 burghers and outlanders did apply, and received lottery tickets towards the close of the year 1899, in connection with the allocation of claims on the particular farms mentioned. The outbreak of the war stopped the ballot taking place, and it was still in suspense.
The point he desired to make was that unless those claims were to be allocated by lottery, as under the old Transvaal law, the working people in the Transvaal would stand no chance whatever of competing for claims put up to auction to the highest bidder. Under the old law, everyone, rich and poor, had an equal opportunity of becoming the possessor of a claim. He was advised that on the two farms to which he was referring, gold deposits of enormous value had been found; and that many of the claims might be worth anything up to £500,000 or £600,000" The people who had applied for tickets were entitled to their chance of obtaining one of those claims, and would feel it very hard indeed if one of the results of the war was that they would be debarred from the right which they possessed under the old Transvaal Government. He asked from the right hon. Gentleman some assurance that the allocation of claims in the Transvaal should be conducted on the lines of a lottery, as otherwise the monopolists would be able to extend their sphere of influence 1532 over every yard of ground worth purchasing, and the small financier would have no chance of competing with them. He hoped that one charge more would not have to be brought against those responsible for public affairs since the war—namely, that they were playing into the hands of the rich, and were barring others from opportunities they possessed before the war. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would see to it that the new gold laws should be so framed as not to put a monopoly of the paying parts of the country into the hands of the present mine-owners; but that every citizen of the Transvaal should have at least an equal opportunity of trying his luck.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (Mr. J. CHAMBERLAIN, Birmingham, W.)
Though I do not think the hon. Member's facts are quite accurate, I do not dispute them. I was certainly under the impression that, although the late Transvaal Government had passed legislation to enable a system of allotment of claims by lottery to be carried out, that legislation had not in practice been applied in any single case. But I may be wrong, as the hon. Member speaks of one case in which the lottery system was adopted. He may be more accurate with regard to that matter than is my memory. At any rate, it was adopted in very few cases. The system which is to take the place, of the old system is not yet settled. It is clear that, in the first instance, it concerns the people of the Transvaal. As I explained to the hon. Member when the Vote was under discussion before, it is intended to propose the system in the new gold law, which will be brought before and discussed by the Legislative Council in public, and probably passed as amended by the council. But the people of the Transvaal will have a full opportunity of criticising any proposal which may be made. I should not like to express any final conclusion on the subject; but I may tell the hon. Member that his idea that it is a question between the monopolists and the working classes 1533 is certainly an entire mistake. Whatever system you have—lottery, pegging-out, or sale by auction—the working of these c aims must fall into the hands of the large capitalists. A gold mine in the Transvaal requires something like half a million, or a million, of money to establish and start the necessary machinery; and therefore it is not comparable to alluvial gold-mining, where the first workman who comes can wash his gold and take his profit. The only thing which the pegger-out got under the old system, or which a lottery-holder got under the new system, was a claim which he could offer to the capitalist; and if, as the hon. Member suggests, the capitalist was a monopolist, the capitalist would be able to fix his own price, and so get the claim at a low value. No doubt, if things of this kind are going, we should all desire that as many people as possible should have an opportunity of making a profit out of them; but they cannot make much profit, because ultimately the claim must come into the hands of the capitalist.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I should doubt that. But, assuming that that is true, it does not strengthen the argument in favour of any of the existing systems. Will anyone tell me why that miner by a mere chance should have obtained £101,000? What had he done to deserve it? He had not worked for it, or spent money on it, or shown any intelligence. He had simply bought a lottery ticket for a few pounds or pence, it had turned up trumps, and he had made £101,000. That is a gigantic gamble; and I do not think that it is in the interests of the working classes, or of any other class, to encourage gambling of that kind. What is desirable is to see that in future the community at large, and not the individual miner, should have a larger share of the advantages of the wealth that is hidden under the surface. Under the old system the State did not get enough. The profits went to private people, and the community did not receive a sufficient proportion. One of the objects of 1534 the new law will be to secure, if possible, a larger proportion for the State, of the value of the gold. If that can be accomplished it will be not the advantage of the individual, but the community as a whole, and that I take it is the object which the lion. Gentleman has in view. But I ask the House to postpone any judgment on the subject until it has been discussed by those best qualified give an opinion, and until legislation has been under the consideration of the Legislative Council.
§ MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness)
called attention to the condition of lawlessness in the Highlands and islands of Scotland, and said that in South Uist there should be no difficulty in making the land suitable for the crofters to settle upon. He had urged the Secretary for Scotland to take action, and the Congested Districts Board had been petitioned for years, but nothing had been done. The Secretary for Scotland had told them that no inquiry could be made. That decision, he thought, would not conduce to the peace and good government of the district, and he would ask the Secretary for Scotland to reconsider his decision and make some inquiry into the condition of these poor unfortunate people. If the same condition of things existed in England, it would not be tolerated for a moment—public attention would lie drawn to the matter, and the grievance would be redressed. They had there 115 excellent citizens anxious to settle on the land, and yet could not do so. Under similar circumstances in England, public opinion would insist upon their demands being attended to.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY, Buteshire)
I really must protest against part of the language used by my hon. friend when he speaks of the petitions of the cottars in this neighbourhood having been ignored, and it is especially hard when that accusation is made against the pro-prietrix in South Uist, because I venture to pay that however much you may disagree with Lady Gordon Cathcart's views upon how far it is advisable to set up still more cottages and small holdings, no one who knows the history 1535 of her life for many years past but must acknowledge that she has really tried from her heart to do her best for the people of that neighbourhood, and it has caused her much heart feeling, trouble, and anxiety.
§ MR. DEWAR said he fully acknowledged that.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE
I am very glad to have that admission. On the other hand, I am very far from meaning that the condition of the people in this part of the world is what one would like it to be. But it is the old, old story of the multiplication of a population on ground that will not properly support them, and the misfortune always has been, and always will be, that the more kind-hearted the proprietor is in not putting in force with draconian severity the estate regulations against squatting, the more the grievance is felt. I can assure the lion. Member there is no wish on the part of my noble friend the Secretary for Scotland not to make every inquiry to see whether the position of these particular cottars can be helped by the Congested Districts Board; but as my hon. friend knows well, the Secretary for Scotland was in the very condition of making preparation for enquiry when the news came that these cottars had taken forcible possession, not of ground that was going to waste, but of ground in the occupation of another farmer. They had begun to assert their rights by putting seaweed on ground which was admittedly not in their holding. Everyone knows that putting seaweed on the ground is an intimation to all concerned that they are going to dig up the ground My noble friend stated that he would not allow the inquiry to go on so long as there was this overt action on their part to take the law into their own hands. I am exceedingly glad to hear from the hon. Member to-night that some of them have receded from that attitude, but the receding from that attitude—certainly the last time I spoke to my hon. friend, which was only this morning—had not then been communicated to him. That is a change of circumstances I am very glad to know, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman 1536 that if the attitude is changed, and it is made perfectly clear that they are not going to take the law into their own hands, he will find there is not the slightest disinclination on the part of the Secretary for Scotland to inquire into the matter, and to do all in his power to meet, as far as possible, the wants of these people.
§ *MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)
said the argument of the Lord Advocate with regard to these unfortunate people would lead the House to believe that the fault was entirely with the landlord in not behaving with sufficient draconic severity. The real trouble was that they could not get an acre of land to cultivate, and thus obtain food for their families. A large quantity of this island was taken up by one or two sheep farmers, and it was exactly the same in his own constituency. The poor unfortunate crofters and cottars were driven to the worst parts of the island. For his own part, he did not see the necessity for any inquiry, because the facts were already before the House and Government. The people were more or less in a state of starvation, and what was needed was a law giving the power of taking land compulsorily for the benefit of the people. The House would admit that landlords' rights could only be exercised to a certain extent. In this case the bailiff put down his foot, and said: "The land is mine, and I will not sell it." Whilst that action was allowed in Scotland, in the case of Ireland the Government came down with a scheme providing millions and millions of money. The right hon. Gentleman ought to induce the Government to pass a short Act giving the power to purchase this land on satisfactory terms for the people who wanted it to live upon, and also to the owner. He thought they might have had a little more sympathetic answer from the right hon. Gentleman. It was quite time that a check was put upon the system under which one or two wealthy people, because they were rich and did not care what became of the people, let the land to one large farmer instead of giving the poor cottars the right to the land to which they were entitled. The 1537 sympathy of the whole House ought to go out to these poor people, and everything possible ought to be done to relieve them. The right hon. Gentleman ought to send some one to inquire into the whole circumstances, or he might spend his Easter recess in the neighbourhood.
And, it being half-past Seven of the Clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.