§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £32.300, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905, for the Houses of Parliament Buildings."
§ * MR. WYLIE (Dumbartonshire)
said he had given notice of his intention to move the reduction of the Vote simply in order to call attention to the delay in carrying out the recommendatons of the Select Committee regarding the ventilation and sanitation of the House, and to suggest certain additional improvements which the Board of Works should carry out at the earliest possible moment. He ought, perhaps, to apologise to the Committee for his persistence in raising this question, but his excuse was to be found in his belief that what he suggested was for the benefit of the health of hon. Members, of the officials of the House, and of the occupants of the Press Gallery. When in March, 1902, the predecessor of the present First Commissioner of Works concurred in his (Mr. Wylie's) Motion and promised to appoint, and did, in fact, appoint, a Committee to consider the question of ventilation he was sanguine enough to expect that the necessary improvements would be speedily carried out and that by the beginning of 1903 the House would be placed under better sanitary conditions. But this had not yet been accomplished. The present Vote, however, included a sum of £3,000, which was to be spent in carrying out important recommendations of the Committee, including the substitution of electric fans for the present exhaust furnaces. He was glad that the antediluvian arrangements in use for many years past were to be got rid of, as they had proved very ineffective. 1458 He regretted that it was not proposed to substitute hot water pipes for steam pipes and radiating plates because he held that the working of the latter was most uncomfortable for hon. Members, and tended to produce thirst: but he noticed that hon. Members who were very careless about bacteria in the air were particularly careful to destroy them in the water they consumed, by adding a killer of, he believed, Scottish origin. What was needed was a better supply of air for the Ladies', Reporters', and Strangers' Galleries. Fans had been put in the Ladies' Gallery which did not draw fresh air from the outside or expel the bad air, while in the Press Gallery reporters had to work in a vitiated atmosphere. If the buildings had been under the Factory Act, the First Commissioner of Works, he believed, would have been summoned and fined for the condition in which they were. Next to the Members of that House, the reporters were the most important people in it, and he was therefore very glad that notwithstanding the absence of any recommendation, a sum of £500 had been put down for the purpose of improving the ventilation in the Press Gallery. He hoped that a larger sum would be applied to that purpose, and that they should very soon have the reporters in as good a sanitary condition as themselves.
Then he would like to press upon the noble Lord the hon. Member for the Chorley Division the advantage which might be secured by introducing ventilating fans into the dining-rooms upstairs, and the ladies' dining-rooms downstairs, for these rooms, when crowded, and even when used in ordinary circumstances, required better ventilation. He wished to say that the official responsible for the cleaning of the House was carrying out his duties with great ability with credit to himself and with advantage to the health of the Members, and he thought the more frequent removal of the matting for the purposes of cleansing had been of much benefit and the vacuum cleaner had proved a great success He was informed that no less than 50 lbs. of dust weekly, or 10 lbs. per day, was being carried out of the House by means of this machine, a large portion of which used to be carried out in the lungs of hon. Members. I connection with the problems of 1459 ventilation an inquiry had been set afoot, and he believed men of considerable experience and ability were conducting it. They might hope for still better things in the future. Looking at the condition of the House at present as compared with two or three years ago, he must congratulate those who had to do with the bringing about of the marked improvement. He went into this question thoroughly some years ago, and he could state that under the new arrangements bacteria, which found a happy hunting ground there and outside, were now having a very bad time of it. In the House and in the library the thorough daily cleansing and disinfection were having a most beneficial effect. Under the old conditions he scarcely understood how the Whips and some regular attenders, like the hon. Member for Mid Lanark, existed. They must have had constitutions perfectly impenetrable to bacteria. With the improved conditions they might now expect to live very much longer than they otherwise would have done. He had devoted himself very persistently to this question, but necessity had compelled him to do so. He believed that in a few years this House would be a model in regard to sanitation, and, although he would not be there then, he would always have the pleasure of knowing that he had contributed to the giving of more sweetness and light to those with whom he had had such pleasant associations in that Assembly.
§ * MR.FREDRICK WILSON (Norfolk, Mid.)
called attention to the evidence given by Dr. Graham Smith before the Select Committee on Accommodation which sat in 1901. In regard to what might be called the debating chamber it was found that the bacterial organisms in the air amounted to 5.8 per litre; in Committee Room No. 9,with fans working, and 150 persons present, the figure was 20.9 per litre; in the smoking-room at 9p.rn., when twenty-four persons were present, the bacterial organisms got up to 30 per litre; in Committee Room No. 1,fans not going, but windows open, and forty-one present, the figure was 34.6. Dr. Graham Smith reported that the unsatisfactory condition of the Committee rooms and smoking-room was due to insufficient ventilation. He thought some credit 1460 was due to the Committee for the improvement which had been effected in the ventilation of the debating chamber. Speaking of the time before the Committee sat, Mr. Francis Fox, C.E., said—If there are fifty people in No. 6 Committee Room the air is not good for more than twenty minutes at the outside. The consequence is that you gentlemen are simply breathing and re-breathing the air over and over again, which is absolutely insanitary.But if that was the condition of the Committee rooms and the smoking room, what must be the state of the division lobbies when crowded? There the bacteria must be something tremendous. Hon. Members could not always be in the debating chamber. He could never tolerate long sermons. After three quarters of an hour in the debating chamber he liked to walk into the smoking-room or somewhere else. The smoking-room, which was in an unwholesome condition, was immediately over the kitchen. The kitchen got pretty hot about dinner time, with the result that thesmoking-room also became very hot on account of the fires underneath, and no amount of ventilation would ever make that room wholesome. But the Committee of 1901 not only pronounced the smoking-room unsatisfactory, but the kitchen underneath was said to be still worse—so bad, in fact, that one right hon. Member, a Member of the Government, went into it and deliberately smashed the windows because of its unwholesome condition. And if the smoking and Committee-rooms were unsatisfactory, what, the hon. Member asked, must the state of the lobby be on crowded nights? It must, he declared, be in a very shocking state. He commended the attention of the Government to the recommendations of the Committee of 1901. It offered for a very reasonable sum to make a nice suite of rooms all along the Terrace, and this, he added, would make the House increasingly popular, and keep a majority for the Government of the day. He suggested also that some of the rooms over the present Committee-rooms might be put to more useful purpose than such as the storage of the Journals of the House from the reign of Queen Anne. He submitted that if the recommendations of the Committee of 1901 were carried out 1461 they would have a satisfactory House of Commons.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
said that in consideration of the long delay in carrying out the recommendations of the Committee, he would move a reduction of the Vote by £100. He called attention to the utterly inadequate telephone accommodation. At present it seemed more suitable for a third-rate "bucket-shop" in the East End than for the House of Commons. If the convenience of Members was a secondary matter, surely the moral welfare of the servants should be considered. He had been pained to hear language used by grey-headed venerable statesmen outside the telephone room which really might have been equalled, but he did not think could have been surpassed, during the progress of the Parliamentary Golf Handicap. It was certainly language unsuitable to be heard by the young people in charge of the telephone instruments. The inconvenience suffered by hon. Members was very great in that wretched box of a place when crowded with people who were trying to send messages. It was high time that bettor accommodation was provided. In the Legislative Assemblies he had visited in Paris and Berlin the telephonic arrangements were of the most perfect and commodious character. He trusted that his noble friend would take this matter into consideration and endeavour to bring about the changes which were urgently needed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £32,200. be granted for the said Service."—(Major Evans-Gordon.)
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that this was a Vote in which he had always taken a considerable interest, because amongst other reasons, he had been a member of the House of Commons Accommodation Committee. He agreed with the hon. Member for Mid. Norfolk that it was extremely regrettable that the recommendations of that Committee had been mainly ignored. He quite admitted that one or two things contemplated by the Committee had been carried out, but why should all the rest of their recommendations have been 1462 ignored? Anyone who read the evidence given before the Committee must come to the conclusion hat the alterations recommended by them in their Report were absolutely necessary in the interest of the health and well-being of the men who spent the greater portion of their lives in the House. The condition of the Members' smoking-room was a perfect scandal, and was a constant menace to the health and well-being of the Members. By some extremely ignorant people this House was supposed to be the best club in the world. There were 670 members of this club, and the only smoking-room was situated in the worst part of the building, over the kitchen, where the atmosphere was extremely hot; and which, they had been told by experts, was capable of accommodating not more than forty Members. Surely, that was state of affairs that ought to be remedied at once. They might be told that there was another smoking-room on the terrace, but that was not a Members' smoking-room; it was constantly filled with strangers. There should be a Members' smoking-room capable of accommodating 150. The Committee recommended that there should be a second Members' smoking room on the terrace where there was a whole series of rooms between the present strangers' room and the Speaker's residence, and which were now not, used for any particular purpose. He asked the noble Lord that that recommendation should be carried out. Then, although the ventilation of the kitchen had been considerably improved, it was, in his opinion, still in a shocking bad state, If hon. Members thought he was exaggerating let them visit the kitchen and they would find that they could not stand the heat, even in this cool weather, for more than a minute. By the expenditure of a small sum of money he was sure that something might be done to make the place habitable. There was no bakery or workshop in the city where such arrangements would be allowed to continue for a day by the Government Inspectors of Workshops and Factories.
There was one item in the Vote, which gave him great satisfaction. At last something was to be done to improve the accommodation for the gentlemen representing the Press. There 1463 was to be a lift. Goodness knew it was time that that should be provided. The climb up the stairs to where these gentleman had to work was quite a severe piece of business, and the absence of a lift had been a scandalous disadvantage, and would not have been permitted in any other Assembly except the House of Commons. He trusted the work would be carried out with all expedition, and that everything else necessary to improve the accommodation for the gentlemen of the Press would be done. These gentlemen had to sit there just as long as hon. Members, and the hours during which they had to listen were far less entertaining to them than to hon. Members who did the talking. He was glad to see that recently there had been some extension of telephone accommodation. That was a great advantage. The Post Office staff used to charge Id. for the use of the telephone. That was a mean proceeding, and he was pleased that when a representation was made to the Postmaster-General on the subject that charge was put an end to. The hon. Member for Stepney had said that the telephone service in the Legislative Assemblies in Paris and Berlin as superior to that in the House of Commons, but even those were miles behind the accommodation provided for members of Congress in Washington. Everything connected with the working life of members and officials in the American Congress was infinitely superior to that provided in the House of Commons. He did not know why that should be so. The Americans seemed to think more of the comfort and well-being of their representatives than they did. But that was a matter which lay with the House of Commons itself. When Members were not paid a salary or even their travelling expenses, at least they ought to have every accommodation given to them in a proper way.
He hoped the noble Lord would frankly admit at once the reasonableness of what he had said, and promise that during the recess all the reforms recommended by the Committee should be carried out. The recommendations of the Ventilation Committee had been carried out, and why not the recommendations of the House of Commons Accommodation Committee? 1464 The war came and the Chancellor of the Exchequer found it difficult to get the money. But the war was now over. They had, according to hon. Gentlemen opposite, a flourishing Budget, and the money market was reviving, and that being so, the least thing they could do was to make themselves as comfortable as they possibly could. Some hon. Members did not attend in the House, and the divisions-showed that a large number were in the habit of only dropping in to take part in divisions. Those who had to spend their lives in the House of Commons must smoke somewhere and they ought to have a suitable smoking-room. At the present time they could hardly ever find a vacant seat in the smoke-room, and they ought to have some place provided to rest themselves in. He appealed to the noble Lord opposite to meet him fairly. If he did, the noble Lord would hear no more from him upon this subject, but if he did not he would hear more of it.
§ * SIR MICHAEL FOSTER (London University)
said he wished to make a few-general remarks with regard to the question of ventilation. The Committee appointed to investigate this matter had given its chief attention to the ventilation of the House of Commons itself. Those who had read the Report would see that the air of this Chamber, as compared with other buildings in which large assemblies of people were held, was very good. The air which they breathed under ordinary circumstances in the Chamber of the House of Commons was such air as was seldom breathed in other public buildings. Even from the bacteriological point of view it was also good, but in this respect they were dealing with a difficult subject, because our knowledge of bacteria was far less than that of the chemical constituents of the air. With reference to bacteria, he would remind hon. Members that some were their friends and some were their enemies, and they did not always know which were their friends and which their enemies. If a too zealous Committee had decided to deprive the air of the Chamber of all its microorganisms it was probable that the House would suffer from such a complete deprivation. But although the air of the House of Commons was found to be relatively good the House ought not to be content with air that was only relatively 1465 good, but the air ought to be as good as could be provided with all the modern resources of science. The Committee had considered what changes could be made, and they had taken into consideration the whole system of ventilation at present in use. One objection was that the air they were breathing in that Chamber was brought through the carpet on the floor. There was another objection which was that the air was brought from the Terrace through devious underground passages. And the Committee considered whether they should recommend a total change in the system. Several systems were strongly urged upon the Committee, and he might remark that when a man had invented a particular system of ventilation he was prouder of that system than anything else a man could be of. The Committee, however, came to the conclusion that they could not recommend any of the new systems suggested to them with the certainty that they would lead to a better condition of things than they bad at the present time. Therefore, they contented themselves with seeing if they could not make certain improvements in the present system pending the advancement of the science of ventilation. They found that the want of an adequate and proper system of ventilation was largely due to the backward system of the science of ventilation itself.
To him few things seemed to be more in want of ventilation than the science of ventilation itself, and pending increased knowledge in this respect they desired to limit themselves to making certain obvious improvements. One of these, which he was glad to say had already been put in force, was increased cleanliness all over the House. He thought every hon. Member would have noticed that the House had been in a far cleaner condition recently than it had ever been before. The method of dealing with the exhaust air was somewhat antiquated, and they found that the engineer had not adequate control over the supply of air. They had, therefore, recommended that two new fans should be introduced. With regard to the system of heating, the artificial means adopted appeared to be in past at least the cause of that dulness in the air which they all 1466 complained of. But the present state of our knowledge did not permit any definite statement as to the exact cause of that dulness and how it could be prevented. He thought they wanted a large inquiry into the whole of this question, and until they had clearer evidence than they had that some system which would be successful could be introduced instead of the old system, they thought it was not worth while to recommend large expenditure and they confined their recommendations simply to those improvements which they knew would be efficient and would produce good. They had not been able, for want of time to devote much attention to matters outside the Chamber itself, and he desired to express his personal regret that the Report contained no specific recommendation with regard to the Reporters' Gallery. He thought it was absolutely impossible by any scientific method whatever to make the present smoking-room a place in which the Members of the House could smoke in a good atmosphere, and what they wanted was more complete accommodation. If they only knew more about the science of ventilation than they did he was sure they could supply very much better air in that Chamber and all over the House than they were getting at the present time. One of the recommendations of the Committee was that a definite inquiry should be instituted into the whole subject of the ventilation of the House, and by that he meant an extensive and complete inquiry using the best scientific power they could command. He regretted to say that that recommendation of the Committee had not been carried out. He knew that there was a small inquiry going on, but what he meant, and what the Committee meant, was that there should be be a very distinct and large inquiry into the whole system of ventilation, using the House of Commons as an example. He trusted that sooner or later that larger inquiry would be undertaken.
§ COLONEL LOCK WOOD (Essex, Hipping)
said there could be no doubt that the accommodation of the House at the present time was far from adequate, but it must not be forgotten that the requirements of the Members of 1467 the House now were vastly in excess of what they were a few years ago. Unfortunately, whilst the requirements of the Members increased year by year, the capacity of the building remained the same. The whole of the interior had been altered from time to time and every particle of room had been utilised without, however, carrying out all the requirements of the House. He agreed that no amount of ventilation would render the smoking-room of use for any large body of Members, but still something had been done by turning over what was called the Irish dining-room to the use of smokers after a certain hour. He did not, however, agree that the kitchen was badly ventilated. No doubt more accommodation was required, but it was fairly well ventilated.
§ MR. JOHN CAMPBELL (Armagh, S.)
called attention to the meagre accommodation provided in the House for ladies, and contrasted the arrangements made by the House of Commons with those provided by the Upper House, which he stated were far superior. He called attention to the retention of the grille. He admitted that this question had been raised some half century ago, and that a predecessor of the noble Lord bad stated that he had taken the opinion of some hundreds of ladies who were in favour of the retention of the grille, but he invited the noble Lord to go up into the Ladies' Gallery now and take the opinion of those at present occupying it, by whose verdict he (Mr. Campbell) would be content to abide. He also asked for an annunciator in the Ladies' Gallery, in order that ladies should know who was addressing the House.
§ MR. H. C. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, with reference to the question of ventilation, that all that was required was a little common sense on the part of those responsible. Between three and five in the afternoon the atmosphere of the House was most oppressive and not nearly so free and pure as at nine or ten at night. The reason was plain—in the early part of the day not a window was open or a ventilator working. The bad ventilation of the House was entirely due to a lack of common sense among the officials. He had been in the Con- 1468 ference-room when it had been impossible to get a breath of air without opening one of the large windows, and the un-ventilated condition in which the library corridors were allowed to remain when the House was not in session was, in his opinion, largely the cause of the absence of so many Members through indisposition early in the sessions. The Committee-rooms were more unhealthy than a Court presided over by a Judge of eighty years of age, who kept the temperature at such a height as to make it uncomfortable for everybody but himself. What was wanted in the Committee-rooms was a through current of air—a draught of fresh air running through them. They were the worst ventilated rooms for a tribunal in any Legislative Assembly in the world. He agreed that the condition of the tea-room was fearful. With regard to the accommodation for ladies, he thought the first thing to do was to provide for the Members and let the ladies shift for themselves. The House was not called together to give dinners downstairs and teas on the terrace. In his opinion the best thing to do would be to discourage female attendance at the House, and then perhaps hon. Members would be more in attendance in the Chamber. He objected to the House of Commons being made a place for social gatherings. So far from the House of Commons being the best club in the world, it was the worst to which he belonged, and certainly the most expensive. He appealed to the noble Lord to see that the attention of the officials was called to the state of the atmosphere in the House itself, and to the condition of the other rooms to which reference had been made. In those portions of the building where Members were compelled to be they had a right to demand that they should be enabled to live under healthy conditions.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)
said that considering the construction of the House it was surprising that the ventilation should be as good as it was. He remembered that the Committee on Ventilation, in the course of their labours, had great difficulty, owing to absence of plans, in finding out, where the drains really went, and one of the discoveries they made was, that 1469 Members were actually breathing sewer-gas. That condition of things, combined with the late hours which the House used to keep, made him wonder that any Members were left to tell the tale. It was probably a case of the survival of the fittest. He deeply sympathised with the occupants of the Ladies' Gallery; their lot was, indeed, not a happy one. If the House would appoint him a sub-Committee, with power to add to his number, ho, accompanied by some other intrepid Members, preferably married men, would be glad to proceed to the Ladies' Gallery and take a census of the opinions of the ladies as to whether the grille should be removed, and as to the conditions under which they would prefer to carry out their difficult task of following the debates. A great deal had been heard of the objective condition of the atmosphere in the House: but what Members were interested in was not so much the objective as the subjective conditions. He believed that much of the depression to which Members were subject was due to the condition of mental inertia to which they were reduced after a long day in the House. Members sat there for hours doing nothing beyond vainly endeavouring to catch the Speaker's eye. That was a terribly worrying process, and was largely responsible for the lack of capacity for work which so many hon. Gentlemen experienced. He fully agreed as to the desirability of better accommodation in the smoking-room and the tearoom. The great object of the authorities ought to be to induce men to remain in the House instead of causing them to go elsewhere by the lack of reasonable accommodation. The feeding arrangements were much better than was formerly the case, and the 2s. dinner was a perfect marvel. As to the artistic decoration of the House, much remained to be done before the House would be, as it ought to be. a treasury of art, both in painting and sculpture. In this connection, he desired to render his appreciative thanks to Professor Church who had so kindly—and, he believed, gratuitously- given his valuable services in restoring the frescoes, many of which had fallen into a very bad condition. Two more plaques—one Scotch and one Irish—were wanted in the lobby. He 1470 was aware that the present was not a favourable opportunity on which to ask for money for decorative purposes, but if any patriotic gentlemen were willing to provide the plaques at their own cost he would guarantee to find an excellent artist—hailing from Aberdeen—who would do the work both cheaply and well.
§ MR. MILDMAY (Devonshire, Totnes)
thought it was little short of scandalous that some better method of taking divisions should not have been devised. At present Members were jammed together at one end of the lobby while the House was being cleared, with the result that they were breathing one another's exhalations, and it should be remembered that towards the end of the session the health of many Members was not in the best possible state. The position was very disagreeable in another sense, because Members frequently found themselves next to their most importunate acquaintances from whom they could not then escape. An improvement might be effected by recurring to the system which, on the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, was tried for a session, and by which Members proceeded straightway through the lobbies without any disagreeable waiting at the doors. There might be some slight structural alteration made which would provide them with an exit from the Outer Lobby, and in that way they would get rid of the disagreeable wait he had complained of, and they would save a good deal of time. He thought some alteration, at any rate in this particular, was really very necessary, whether they accepted his suggestion or not, because nothing could be more disagreeable than the way divisions were taken at the present time. As to the question of ventilation, the hon. Member for the University of London had condemned their present system. At the present time all the fresh air that came into that Chamber was pumped up through the matting on the floor of the House, upon which Members deposited the filth from the streets through walking upon it. If the Committee would report against this system he was sure they would have the 1471 hearty support of the whole of the House.
§ MR. GODDARD (Ipswich)
said that a more important question than ventilation was the safety of the House of Commons buildings from fire. A little time ago a proposal was made with regard to the safeguarding of the House of Commons buildings from fire, by the Superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Soon after this proposal was made, the sum of £1,400 was voted as a Supplementary Estimate on the recommendation of the Chief Officer of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, but he noticed, although at that time the matter was considered urgent, only £611 was expended, and it was stated, in a note of explanation, that it had not been found possible to give full effect during the year to all the recommendations of the Chief Officer of the Fire Brigade. He had tried to find the balance in the following year's Estimates, but no such Vote had been taken last year nor was it in the Estimates this year. He supposed, therefore, that those recommendations were not going to be carried out, and either there had been a mistake in assuming that the matter was urgent or else more money had been asked for than had been found to be necessary. As the House voted this money for this distinct purpose, he thought they had a right to know why those recommendations were not carried out, and why money had not been taken to complete the recommendations of the Superintendent of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
§ * COLONEL STOPFORD SACKVILLE (Northamptonshire, N.)
said he could not understand what must be the feeling of the stranger who came into the most central part of the Houses of Parliament and found only two mosaics. He thought the noble Lord might afford a little more money to fill in those terrible gaps in the central part of the House. In thirty-six years since he first entered the House only one additional mosaic had been placed in the Central Hall. viz. that representing St. David. He joined in the appeal made by the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire that the Patron saints of Scotland and Ireland should be inserted in the vacant panels.
MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said that what in his opinion was wanted to purify the, atmosphere of the House of Commons was a general election, because there were too many hon. Members on the Benches opposite. There was one complaint he had to make. The door behind the Speaker's Chair was extremely inconvenient, and common Members of Parliament like himself had to tap at that door to get it opened whilst Members sitting on the Front Bench were provided with a key. ["No. no!"] At any rate, Cabinet Ministers were provided with keys, and he thought all Members of Parliament ought to have the same privilege because at present it was a regular nuisance and the door might be kept open. Then there was the ridiculous notion of keeping the door leading into the cloak-room locked during a division. This was too ridiculous for words, and if the Whips could not keep their Party in order why did they not employ a couple of policemen? After hon. Members passed through the lobby and got into the central lobby, why they should not be permitted to go straight into the cloakroom he could not understand. If the noble Lord would give them free ingress and egress behind the Speaker's Chair, and open the door going straight down into the cloak-room, it would be a great convenience to hon. Members.
§ MR. PEEL (Manchester, S.)
complained that in the library they were constantly unable to find a place to sit down to work. He desired to ask the noble Lord if more provision could not be made in that respect; he was afraid, however, that they would get very little sympathy in that matter, because Ministers had their own private rooms.
§ SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)
said this debate had been fruitful in eliciting a useful speech from the hon. Member for the University of London, and he was delighted to find that the recommendations of the Committee did not call for any great amount of expenditure. Nearly every hon. Member had been calling out for expensive alterations, not for the benefit of the country but for the comfort of hon. Members of the House. One point, 1473 however, had been brought out, and that was that the atmosphere of the Chamber was as good as the atmosphere of any public assembly in the United Kingdom, and the experiments which had been made recently bore out that contention on scientific grounds. As regarded the Chamber itself they had no ground to complain of the condition of the atmosphere. The improvements made on the other side of the House in regard to introducing the air under the seats might be extended to the Opposition side. There was one point which had been brought out which he had contended for more than once, and it was that they did not want so much changes of structure as more attention to cleanliness. He was delighted that the House had been made cleaner that it ever was in his recollection before. There were, however, various portions of the Press Gallery which had not been attended to in this respect, and one place he desired to mention was what was known in the Press Gallery as the black room, the surroundings of which were not a credit to the House of Commons. He hoped the improved method of cleaning which had been adopted would be continued, because, if they kept the building clean they would do a good deal to improve the general condition of the House. He thought the cleanliness might be extended to the outside structure. One improvement he had noticed was that the lamps had been cleaned along the front of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and that was an improvement.
He was delighted that lately some enterprise had been shown in introducing incandescent lamps in some of the courts of the Houses of Parliament. The lighting was worse than that of any municipal building in the country. This was brought out strikingly when one walked into the street under the jurisdiction of the City of Westminster where there was a system of lighting which was modern compared with the almost antiquated system which was used to light the approaches to the House of Commons and the House of Lords. He hoped the noble Lord would give an assurance that the matter would be remedied in the near future. In regard to the warning of the rooms he said the temperature was exceedingly irregular. The temperature 1474 of the reading-room, smoking-room, and tea-room had risen to sixty-seven and sixty-eight, and on one occasion to sixty-nine. That was a dangerous condition for Members who had to go out of those rooms into the cold temperature outside. That was how they caught chills. He should like those who had charge of the thermometers to give a little more care and attention to that matter. The smoking accommodation was really a disgrace, and it ought to be improved, because, after all, the amenities in connection with one's duty in the House were really things which ought to be looked after, in order to keep Members within the reach of the division bell. He did feel that Members of the House of Commons had been treated rather badly in recent years in regard to accommodation. A large number of rooms had been taken away from officers of the House, and this proceeding had not given Members of the House any advantage. With a selfishness which was almost monumental, Ministers had kept all these good things to themselves, and they had now an opportunity of revelling in much better rooms than their predecessors ever dreamt of. The consequence was that the attendance on the Treasury Bench was much worse now than it ever was before. He thought Ministers ought to exercise self-denial and give, up some of the extra space they now occupied For the benefit of Members of the House. They might then get an adequate smoking-room, a room where one could write with com-fort, and a tea-room where a refreshing beverage might be taken in a not excessive temperature.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said the matter of the door behind the Chair and the doors in the lobby was one over which the Office of Works had no control whatever.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said he was not. The Minister in charge of a Vote was only responsible for matters included in that Vote. He could not say who was responsible for the matter to which the hon. Member had referred. With regard to the suggestion that a change should be made in the system in the division 1475 lobbies, he did not think the Office of Works would be justified, on its own volition, in proposing to revolutionise a system which, however imperfect, had lasted a good many years. If the House were to direct that a new system should be adopted, the Office of Works would carry out any instructions given in that respect. The hon. Member for the Ilkeston Division had complained of the lamps outside. He had never heard a complaint about that matter before. The hon. Member had also complained of the variation of the temperature. The temperature no doubt varied here just as it did outside the Houses of Parliament, but hon. Members must in fairness recollect that what was hot for one Member was exceedingly cool for another. Varied temperaments had to be met, and it was not in their power to satisfy all. The hon. Member for Ipswich had asked about the fire protection arrangements. He was perfectly correct in saying that a Vote was taken which was not entirely expended, and that next year it was not placed on the Paper. The entire recommendations of the Superintendent of the Fire Brigade were carried out. The balance of the cost had been defrayed out of savings on other Votes. The whole of that question had been before the Public Accounts Committee.
said it was expended later on. His hon. friend had asked about the mosaics in the outer lobby. If the Treasury would provide the money, the Office of Works would pro vide the mosaics. In regard to the Ladies' Gallery two suggestions had been made, namely, that the grille should be removed, and that an annunciator should be provided. His own experience was that ladies who applied for admission to the Ladies' Gallery would prefer that no alteration should be made. That was also the impression of hon. friends to whom he had spoken on the subject. In the absence of proof that the grille was a nuisance, he did not think they could be reasonably called upon to make that alteration. An annunciator was a noisy thing, but two annunciators would be 1476 required as there were too galleries. He agreed with a great deal of what was said by the hon. Member for East Clare, but he would remind him that the Select Committee on Accommodation a few years ago recommended the outlay of a large sum of money on certain alterations and improvements, but the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, in view of the cost which would have been involved, did not support the proposals. He admitted as freely as the hon. Member that the whole question of accommodation, not merely for smoking and dining-rooms, but for other purposes was one of very urgent importance. He had no-announcement to make on the subject, but the First Commissioner of Works realised that there were difficulties with respect to the accommodation for the Press, secretaries, and shorthand writers. Hon. Members were aware there was a plan of the House of Commons in the tea-room. If any hon. Member would refer to the plan and find where there was a vacant room available for any of the purposes to which allusion had been made suggestions on the subject would be considered. The fact was that at present there was only one unoccupied room in the premises. It was twelve feet long by six feet broad. There were rooms above the Committee-rooms, and he imagined that it was in that direction the extension of the accommodation could be made. In the Estimates for the year a considerable sum was taken for the improvement of the accommodation, chiefly in regard to the Press Gallery.
As to ventilation, he would only deal with what the Select Committee recommended. What they had got to do was to place within the House air of sufficient quantity, proper purity, and moderate temperature, and to distribute it as best they could and finally to disperse the impure air. The air was drawn into a large chamber from the Terrace and by a long passage underneath the Cromwell Statue where it was heated in winter and cooled in summer, and, in foggy weather, driven through cotton wool, and thence distributed all over the House. The system, no doubt, was open to the objection that the air they consumed arose from their feet; but the hon. Member who raised this question, 1477 and those who supported him, had never been able to propose an alternative solution of the problem. The only alternative scheme that had been suggested was that mentioned in page 5 of the Report, the ruling feature of which was that no doors should ever be open. But considering that there were seventeen doors into the Chamber it was impossible either to control them, or to open the windows, and it would be out of the question to reverse the system by which hon. Members entered the Chamber. The Committee had pointed out various features in which the system could be improved, and he had concurred in making those improvements. At the present moment the air coming into the Chamber was afterwards drawn through openings in the glass ceiling where the gas, which was their illuminant, served as the motive power. Then it went up through an exhaust chamber above the public gallery and by that means was thrown into the open air. The hon. Member had suggested that the furnaces should be done away with; but it had not been possible to adopt that suggestion, for the immediate result would have been that the exhaust air would have been drawn up to the Ladies' Gallery and would have asphyxiated the Press in their gallery. It had been further suggested that the channels through which the air was carried should be simplified. That was going to be done. Then the air was to be purified by being forced through three streams of water. The intake fan would be made more powerful. One of the recommendations of the Committee was now being actually carried out as to the more frequent removal, for the purposes of cleansing, of the matting on the floor. Hon. Members should realise that although they had been complaining for years about the ventilation of the House of Commons, the diseases from which they suffered were of a zymotic character rather than those resulting from bad air. During the last few years progress had been made in tracing the origin of zymotic disease. The matting was going to be replaced by a matting of a superior character, and that had been provided for in the Estimate before the Committee. A disinfecting chamber was arranged for where the matting would be 1478 frequently cleansed, and, by adopting the vacuum system of cleaning, an enormous improvement would be effected in all the cleaning operations in the House.
When hon. Members complained that the conditions prevailing in the House were such as would be invariably condemned by the factory inspectors, they very greatly exaggerated the state of things. He maintained that the ventilation and cleansing of the House was infinitely better than in any theatre, church, or public building at home or abroad. Moreover, the difficulties they had to face were very much greater. The session was very much longer, and there was a constant movement in every part of the House which made it very difficult to carry out cleansing improvements. He, therefore, claimed that enormous improvements had been recently made, and when, as he hoped, it was possible to extend the system of vacuum cleaning still further, every nuisance would be removed to all intents and purposes. The hon. Member had d me good service, in conjunction with his Committee, in this matter, with the assistance of Dr. Gordon, who had placed his services at their disposal. The Office of Works were, however, prepared to allow further claims for bacteriological investigations, but he asked for a sum of money to continue those scientific investigations not dealing primarily with our own problem, but with the problems from a general point of view. That was the reason why his hon. friend had to complain of the delay in carrying out the recommendations of the Committee. At the end of July or the beginning of August last, formal sanction had been obtained from the, Treasury to carry out the work; but the Office of Works concluded that further general inquiry should be made into the whole of this delicate problem. Therefore, in November, an Estimate was framed for £3,000, which he now asked the Committee to sanction, for further research which it was reasonably hoped would be for the benefit not only of the House of Commons but of other institutions in the country.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said that as regarded the telephone service, lifts, further accommodation and the newspaper room, much was to be desired in a general way, and the Office of Works was very anxious to do what they could.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
said that the Committee must feel that they had had a most interesting discussion, and that they were indebted to the noble Lord for the very clear way in which he had explained the manner in which the various suggestions of the two Committees had been carried out. Anyone who had investigated the ventilation of the House must feel that it had been originally carried out on a system with which tricks could not be played. It would be, in his opinion, dangerous to meddle with, or to recast completely, the system as a whole, though here and there improvements might be carried out. As to accommodation he could not say that he was a non-smoker, although he seldom visited the smoking-room; but when he did go there occasionally he must confess that he found the atmosphere absolutely unbearable. He understood that the noble Lord was giving his serious attention to the whole question of accommodation in all respects, with a view, if at all possible, to make further improvements. He did not think that the resources of civilisation were exhausted yet in that direction. He believed that the House of Commons had not come off second best in recasting the accommodation for Ministers of high degree. One aspect of the question had been lost sight of. and that was economy. This Vote showed an increase of 10 per cent, over that of last year. No doubt the Committees had done their work-most efficiently, but it was now at an end and their suggestions were being carried out. The Commissioner of Works was now looked upon as being responsible. He said that between £5,000 and £6,000 had been spent already arising out of the suggestions of the Committees, and, having regard to the times we lived in, and to the discussion within the previous twenty-four hours, when Member after Member got up and spoke of the burdens that were being put on the people and the country, they ought to begin on 1480 those Estimates, and refrain from increasing expenditure. They should aim at keeping down expenditure in those matters. He did not see any advantage in pressing the Government to swell the Estimates, and then criticising them afterwards. He hoped the noble Lord would be able to give an assurance that next year, if he were responsible, the present 10 per cent, increase would not be maintained; but that, on the contrary, there would be a reduction in respect of improvements and new works.
§ MAJOR EVANS GORDON
said that after the explanation of the noble Lord he begged leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ * SIR HENRY SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
said he wished to make a suggestion in reference to the smoking accommodation. What was really wanted was a place where a Member could write and smoke. He was not concerned for idle and frivolous Members. As far as they were concerned the present smoking accommodation was, comparatively speaking, ample. But a Member who wanted to write and smoke had only two miserable little rooms at his disposal with two small tables which could accommodate only six Members. There was no other room in the House where a Member with serious work to do could do it and smoke at the same time. It could not be done in the large smoking-room, because there was a frivolous air about it which hindered writing, and there was a political atmosphere about the Irish dining-room which did not suit him. He did not mean that in any offensive sense. Why should not two, or at least one, of the compartments of the library be given over to smoking and writing? It would not cost any money except the cost, of a number of small tables, and would provide much needed accommodation.
§ * MR. MOONEY (Dublin County, S.)
said that the hon. Gentleman made a characteristic remark about the Irish dining-room. He would only remark that, although the room was called the Irish dining-room, it was occupied more 1481 by Members of the Party to which the hon. Member belonged than any other room in the building. The noble Lord had expressed his individual opinion that the whole question of accommodation should be looked into. They had all heard these pious opinions before, they generally, however, came from the Chief Secretary for Ireland when he was about to take up a non possumus attitude on behalf of the Government. When the Committee reported in 1901, there were a series of rooms on the Terrace, and the Report recommended that they should be thrown into one large room; but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon objected to that on the ground of expense, not because the accommodation was not available. Since that time two of the officials of the House had died, and the rooms which they occupied were not transferred to their successors. The Government thought those rooms were very desirable, and appropriated them for their own use. The fact was that private Members might talk as much as they liked, but the Front Bench annexed all the available accommodation for themselves, and accordingly took a very languid interest in the complaints of private Members. He listened to the extremely interesting statement of the noble Lord as to how they got their air. The hon. Member for the London University stated that they had no scientific ventilation at all. He himself thought they were suffering from too much ventilation. He was in the smoke-room the other night, and finding one side too hot crossed to the other to find a hurricane blowing down the wall. He complained to the attendant, and five minutes afterwards an official from the ventilation department appeared. He told him that there was a horrible draught, but the official answered that the temperature was 60 degrees, that there was a fan working over his head, and a pump beneath his feet, and appeared to think he was an unreasonable person altogether. He repeated that there was an awful draught, but the official said that was not in his department. He did not care what the temperature was as long as he could bear it; he did not care about the working of a fan or a pump; but he did care about a draught down the back of his neck. They had a choice 1482 of two evils in the smoke-room; they could either be roasted or frozen. At least the room might be rendered habitable. He also thought there should be an annunciator in the tea room. It was quite true that the room was not full for the greater portion of a sitting, but it was generally full at a time when interesting speeches were generally delivered. That would only be a matter of £70 and he hoped the noble Lord would favourably consider it.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
said he wished to suggest that one of the library rooms should be devoted to reading only. It would be a great convenience if the room next to the Speaker's Library were furnished entirely for reading. It would be the one quiet room in the building where a Member could read undisturbed. At present Members were continually passing in and out to write letters. If more space were wanted for writing why should not the Committee-rooms upstairs be used for that purpose after the Committees had risen? They were admirably suited for writing rooms.
§ * MR. WEIR
said he wished to know if the noble Lord had come to any decision with reference to the ventilation of the Vote Office. The officials in the Vote Office must-suffer intensely in consequence of the want of ventilation, while the man who blocked up the fireplaces ought to be turned out of his office neck and crop, as he evidently knew nothing whatever about the principles of ventilation. The place was not fit for pigs to live in. He desired to suggest an alternative plan to that proposed by the noble Lord in charge of the Vote. In Japan nobody ever dreamt of entering a house or public building without removing his boots, and what he suggested was that eight Japanese girls should be brought over and placed two at each door of the House; then as soon as Members entered their boots would be quickly removed by these girls and a pair of comfortable slippers substituted. None of the filth and dust of the streets would then be brought in, and the result would be a great increase in the comfort, and an enormous improvement in the health, of the Members. He noticed an item of £900 for the supply of water. Surely that sum was 1483 not required for the pumping of water from the artesian well; if so, there was something wrong somewhere. Another matter which, in the interests of economy, ought to be looked into was the item of an increase of £1,000 for furniture. These might be said to be small matters, but he intended carefully to scrutinise every Vote and demand explanations, as that was the only way in which economies could be effected. If the pence were looked after, the pounds would take care of themselves.
§ MR. RITCHIE (Croydon)
said the existing method by which divisions were taken was objectionable from two points of view—first, that of the enormous waste of time involved, and secondly, that of the inconvenience caused to Members by their being shut up in the lobbies for a considerable time. If any method, not open to serious objections, could be devised it ought certainly to be tried. Some years ago a plan which he suggested to the then Speaker was put in operation for a session. Instead of the "Ayes" and the "Noes" going through different exits, they both went, out behind the Speaker's Chair, and as soon as the swing-doors were locked and the tellers had gone through, the Members passed into the outer lobby without any delay whatever, and the divisions occupied only half the time now taken. The system was abandoned for certain reasons, one of which was that much irritation existed amongst the Irish Members on various topics, with the result that they were very active in their opposition and were not at all desirous that business should proceed rapidly. The plan could be rendered successful only by the co-operation of all Members of the House. Another reason was that the doors leading to the tea-room and other places were kept locked until the division was over, and this led to a block of Members. Neither of those causes would now operate, and he would greatly like to see the experiment given another trial. No expenditure of money would be required; it was entirely a matter for the authorities of the House; and he was satisfied that if a general disposition was evinced for some alteration to be made, Mr. Speaker would be perfectly willing to consider the matter.
§ MR. THEODORE TAYLOR (Lancashire, Radcliffe)
urged that one room should be set apart in which Members might both write and smoke, and that another should be appropriated by Members who wished simply to sit and chat. At present the only places where that could be done were the tea-room and the division lobbies. Accommodation ought to be provided for both smokers and non-smokers. He was not one of those who complained of the temperature of the House itself; he thought the air was remarkably equable and pure; but the side rooms upstairs would be more used if they were better warmed in winter. He was altogether in favour of economy, but it was economy of the truest kind to take care of the health and lives of Members. In the past there had been a great wastage of life, owing partly to the long hours and partly to the nature of the accommodation provided. He could not agree that a system of ventilation by which a draught was caused to the feet was a good one. It was bad for the health, especially in exciting times, that while one's head was hot one's feet should be made cold by a draught. The air ought to be so introduced that no draught was caused to any part of the body whatever. The present system was almost too scientific; it certainly was not perfect. The objection which had been raised to the annunciators on the ground of their noisiness might possibly be got over if certain parts were made of india-rubber. There could be no objection to ladies knowing who was addressing the House. He shared the objection to the House of Commons being made a society meeting-place, but while their lady friends were there they ought to treat them as courteously as possible and if by a little trouble on the part of the maker the annunciators could be made noiseless it would be a great boon to the ladies and little expense to the State.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said that with regard to annunciators being rendered noiseless he did not quite understand whether the suggestion applied to those within or without the Bar. As to the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon, he did not think it was altogether desirable that the time occupied by divisions should be 1485 shortened. It was on such occasions that Members were able to meet other Members of their Party whom they rarely, if ever, saw at other times, and the few minutes thus afforded was often invaluable for purposes of consultation and advice. He well remembered, when the Unionists were in opposition, conspiracies being hatched in the lobbies which eventuated in great results—results which, but for the opportunity of consultation afforded by the time spent in the division lobbies, would not have been achieved. A further point to be considered was that if both Parties were sent in the same direction, it might, in times of political excitement, lead to awkward encounters and scenes. Suggestions had been made for the setting apart of separate rooms for reading and smoking. The library consisted of five rooms. Could not a compromise be effected by which a room at one end should be given to the readers and a room at the other, say the chart room, to the smokers? Smoking would preserve the books, and there would still be three rooms left for those who desired to write and not to smoke. The suggestion that the Committee-rooms should be utilised as smoking-rooms was impracticable, as it was essential that the main accommodation should be on the same floor. Moreover, it could be so arranged. At present one end of the building was crowded to overflowing, while the other was practically empty. Could not some arrangement be made with the authorities of this august Assembly at the other end of the building by which a portion of the accommodation there existing might be rendered available for Members of this House? Another question that might be considered was that of the officials' residences. He had no desire to interfere with the Speaker's house, but the Clerk at the Table had a residence, and he suggested that that might be given up. Black Rod, too, had a whole suite of rooms. In short, there was room enough in the building if only the great question of redistribution were properly faced. With regard to ventilation, he did not believe that so much science was necessary. All that was necessary was that the windows should be opened and left open. If they had ventilation they would have draughts or they could not have the fresh air. 1486 As for all these devices of straining the air through water and cotton wool he was a little bit afraid of them, because he did not know how the air came out. As they had just been told, there were friendly microbes and unfriendly microbes.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that by this straining process they might strain out some of the friendly microbes. If he could have his way he would adopt the simple method of opening the windows. If that was not agreeable to the House, perhaps the windows might be opened at the break of day and left open till the House met.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he was glad to hear that. This question could only be solved satisfactorily if the building was used as it might be used by getting some consideration from the other House into which all the great men of the country went. As regarded the question of additional smoking-room accommodation, and the other necessary rooms, they must be on the same floor as the Chamber of the House of Commons. He thanked the noble Lord for the attention he had paid to the question of ventilation, and he trusted that he would pay the same amount of attention to the question of the general accommodation of the House.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said the noble Lord had practically admitted the genuineness of the grievances, but he had practically said that nothing could be done. He had admitted that a good case had been put forward for increased smoking-room accommodation and yet he could not promise any reform. That was not satisfactory, and it would be the duty of hon. Gentlemen who felt strongly upon this subject to divide the House. The hon. Member for St. Helens said he agreed that there was insufficient smoking-room accommodation for those who wanted to write and smoke at the same time, but when it was pointed out that after nine o'clock hon. Members were at 1487 liberty to cross the corridor and smoke in the Irish Members' dining-room, he said that that did not meet his views, because there was a flavour about the Irish Members that he did not like. He might consider that a remark of that kind was smart, but it was just one of those tactless English statements which were extremely offensive to Irishmen, and which went a considerable distance to widen the gulf between the English and the Irish people in spite of 100years of union.
§ * SIR HENRY SETON-KARR
said the hon. Member had entirely misconstrued what he said. He assured the hon. Member that he had no intention whatever of saying anything of that kind, and he was very sorry if he had said anything which hon. Members opposite considered offensive.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said that if the hon. Member stated that he did not mean anything offensive, of course he must accept that disclaimer. The hon. Gentleman had a constituency in St. Helens where there were a number of Irish voters and he wished to know if the hon. Member had the same objection to the flavour of Irish voters as he had to Irish Members of Parliament.
§ * SIR HENRY SETON-KARR
said he had already withdrawn his expression, and stated that he did not mean anything offensive. He hoped that the hon. Member for East Clare would, in the future, be ready to act on the principle he preached when he made statements about our soldiers abroad.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said there was no parallel in regard to the action of our soldiers a broad, or anywhere else, and the observations made between men who were supposed to be Gentlemen in this House. Irish Members fought for what they believed was right, but it was not in the power of any hon. Gentleman to say that they had personally been offensive in any way, for that had never been the intention of any Irish Member. It had been said that there ought to be a room where hon. Members might talk and read without smoking, but what 1488 they were complaining of was the failure to carry out the recommendations of the Committee. There was widespread dissatisfaction in all parts of the House in regard to the accommodation. It was no use arguing now that they must economise, because if they wished to do that they might commence at once by stopping the war against the Mullah and little things of that kind, but he did not see why they should economise at the expense of the Irish Members. For all evils there was generally a sovereign remedy, and a remedy for the difficulty they were in with regard to accommodation would be found by granting Ireland Home Rule. They had been told that they were going to have, more indicators and a fresh one in the tea-room and the Ladies' Gallery. He hoped they would have some assurance that those indicators would be accurate. An indicator that was accurate was an exceedingly useful thing, but, if they could not rely on it, it was no use and it was inconvenient and misleading. He remembered being in the Members' smoke-room upon one occasion when the indicator clicked, and to his astonishment it announced that he himself was speaking. He mentioned the fact because he had to undergo the humiliation of seeing all the hon. Members in the smoke-room settle themselves back in their chairs and order fresh cigars. If the First Commissioner of Works would take cognisance in some indirect way of what he had asked for it would be an improvement.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
said that if the change which had been suggested in the method of taking divisions was introduced divisions would be taken much more rapidly. He thought, at any rate, that the new method might be given a trial for a time, and, if it did not meet with the approval of hon. Members, it could be dispensed with. Any hon. Members, who sat in the House between 1892 and 1895 when the Home Rule Bill was considered, and who had to crowd in the lobbies, knew the state of the atmosphere at that time and the great inconvenience to which hon. Members were put. He supported the suggestion that a room should be provided for those Members who wished not to smoke or read but to confer with each other. He wished to 1489 direct the noble Lord's attention to a matter on which he had already communicated with him privately. It was within the knowledge of Members that much inconvenience was caused to those who came in from Westminster Hall through the door leading to the cloakroom, because the door opened only in one direction. There was no reason why it should not be a swing-door, and he hoped that the suggestion would be considered.
§ MR.J. P. FARRELL (Longford, N.)
said he was a Member of the House when the method of taking divisions which an hon. Member had suggested was tried. It was done when the Irish permanent Coercion Bill was under discussion, and the object, no doubt, was to expedite the taking of divisions. He believed it did hasten the work of taking divisions, but he reminded the Committee that the Bill was passed, although fourteen of its clauses were not discussed at all. As a result of the trial given to the method then, the verdict was against it. He thought a great deal of the inconvenience complained of would be obviated if more doors were opened. He suggested that the authorities of the House might consider whether some means could be adopted whereby Members of this House who might be at the Bar of the other House could be informed of divisions. He objected to the suggestion that an indicator should be provided in the Ladies' Gallery because of the noise it would make. He suggested that an effort should be made to get some form of indicator which would make less noise than that now in use.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)
called attention to the practice of clearing the permanent officials and distinguished strangers out of the benches reserved for them when divisions were taken. The occupants of the strangers' gallery were very properly allowed to stay where they were during divisions, and there was no reason why those in the benches referred to should not also be allowed to remain, instead of being hustled out to the inconvenience not only of themselves but of Members. He suggested that the noble Lord might make a representation 1490 to the Speaker, or some other authority, with the view to an alteration in the practice.
§ * MR. JOHN ELLIS
rose to a point of order and asked whether the head of an executive Department such as the Commission of Works, who might even be a Member of the other House, could possibly have anything to do with arrangements respecting divisions of that House.
§ MR. JOHN BURNS
said that what he suggested was that a representation should be made to the Speaker, or some other authority. If the hon. Member thought the suggestion meant that a Member of the other House should infringe the rights of this House he had misconstrued his remarks.
§ * MR. JOHN ELLIS
said he was not expressing any opinion on the merits of the suggestion, but he strongly protested against the idea that any head of a Government Department had any connection with such matters as the internal procedure of that House.
* THE CHAIRMAN
The regulation affecting the withdrawal of strangers is provided for by Standing Order 90, and the proper course is really to move an Amendment of the Standing Order. The matter does not rest with the First Commissioner of Works.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said the Office of Works could not alter the arrangements made by the House for the taking of divisions. That was beyond their province, and it would be most imprudent for them to interfere in the matter. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty had drawn attention to the condition of the post office. He had had no notice that the matter would be brought up, and he suggested that the hon. Member should put a Question on the Paper on the subject. The increase for the cost of furniture was due to necessary changes, and also to the charge for recovering some of the Benches in the House. 1491 The amount paid in connection with the water supply was a payment to one of the water companies for an improved supply. He would make further inquiries as to the question of the doors. The hon. Member said that the indicators were inaccurate, but the explanation was simply that some hon. Members only made speeches two or three minutes in length, and had consequently sat down before Gentlemen came from the smoking-room.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said the debate had been a very useful one so far as results were concerned. He had sat on two Committees in connection with the management of the House. One of these Committees ten or eleven years ago made a recommendation that new smoking-room accommodation should be provided, and that in the event of any room becoming vacant, it should be utilised for that purpose. His complaint was that when hon. Members gave their services on the Committee upstairs, and carefully considered a Report, the Government of the day took no notice of it. The rooms of the late Chief Clerk were at the disposal of the Government, and instead of carrying out the recommendation of the Committee, he understood that they were given over to the accommodation of Ministers. If so, hon. Members ought to enter an emphatic protest against it. He thought that Ministers had quite sufficient accommodation and comfort without encroaching on the privileges of private Members. He imagined that one of the reasons why they did not now see one or two Ministers on the Treasury Bench was the luxurious surroundings they enjoyed in the neighbourhood of the, Chamber. In dealing with this matter hon. Members could not complain of the noble Lord, who had given most courteous replies, but the unfortunate thing was that the noble Lord was not the First Commissioner of Works; he was only there to hear complaints, and to represent them to a higher authority. The time had come when the House itself should take the matter into its own hands. He suggested that the best way to make the Government realise the importance of this matter and desire to carry out the reforms recommended by the Committee, was that hon. Members should have the 1492 courage of their opinions, and go into the division lobby against the Vote. He agreed with the hon. Member for Clare that the smoking-room accommodation was a scandal, whereas it ought to be one of the most comfortable rooms in the House. There were half a dozen rooms which were never utilised by the House of Lords which ought to be appropriated. There was too much Ministerial influence against the interests of private Members, especially when the House was up. The First Commissioner of Works, who was not a strong man, was badgered by Ministers: and in that way the interests of private Members were left out of consideration. In order to give hon. Members an opportunity to protest against their treatment, he should divide the Committee.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said that hon. Members ought to recognise the fact that the House had outgrown its accommodation. They must get a new House, enlarge the present one, or make a raid on the House of Lords. The last speaker had pointed out that rooms had been appropriated to Ministers which ought to have gone to private Members. It was quite true that the beautiful house formerly occupied by the late Chief Clerk had been appropriated to Ministers. But it should be remembered that Ministers had to do a great deal of work in the House, and formerly they had to do it in what were no better than cells. He had had one of those cells for five years, and he told the House candidly that the accommodation was so wretched that it was scarcely possible to do a scrap of work in it. Why should not Ministers have a comfortable room in which to do their work, which was national business? He, for one, preferred that the work of the country should be done in comfortable surroundings, rather than that smoking-room accommodation should be provided for private Members. He did not smoke himself, although he had not the slightest objection to the fullest accommodation for smokers being afforded. He agreed with the hon. Member for Greenwich that a room next the Speaker's room should be set aside solely for reading, and he thought that the suggestion of a writing-room was an excellent proposal. He 1493 was all for making a raid on the premises of the House of Lords, and that on the grounds of economy. It was no use for hon. Members to talk of economy in the House and in the country, and then, the first week after an alarming Budget was presented, propose that thousands of pounds should be spent on a new smoking-room. He did not believe that the public outside would view such a proposal with satisfaction. A good deal of nonsense had been talked about the ventilation of the House. He thought it was very good. Open windows were the best ventilation in the world. Early in the debate the Ladies' Gallery had been referred to. Why should there be a separation of the sexes in two galleries? It was absurd that when an hon. Member brought two of his constituents. a lady and a gentleman, to the House, he should have to take the lady up to one gallery, and make a long roundabout to take the gentleman to another gallery. He believed in the mingling of the sexes.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said the matter was simply a question of re-arrangement. There would be no expense involved in turning one of the library rooms into a smoke-room. As to getting some more rooms from the House of Lords, something might be done in that direction. He thought the noble Lord might be able to arrange that Members should have the use of the Lords' tea-room and join with them in the catering. The House of Lords catering was in difficulties because there
§ was not enough custom; the ' House of Commons catering was in difficulties because there was too much custom. It was quite right that the House of Lords should be exclusive; but the two Houses might join together in a catering arrangement. If pressure were exercised, he thought the House of Lords would grant that concession. Other points which would not involve expenditure might also be taken in hand. There were rooms in the building which were scarcely used at all, and which might be turned into smoking-rooms. He hoped the noble Lord would give an assurance that something would be clone.
§ MR. JACOBY (Derbyshire, Mid)
said he wished to ask the noble Lord what became of the Report of the Accommodation Committee. It contained several important recommendations, such as the construction of another smoking-room downstairs, better accommodation for ladies' dining-rooms, and other arrangements. He hoped that the Government would carry out some at least of the recommendations of the Committee. The arrangements for ladies' dining at the present time were a positive disgrace. The hon. Member for South Tyrone thought a great deal about the country, but he ought also to have regard for the health of Members of Parliament. He wished to know if the recommendations of the Committee were to be entirely overlooked.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 158: Noes. 243. (Division List No. 99.)1497
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Cameron, Robert||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)|
|Asher, Alexander||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.||Duncan, J. Hastings|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Causton, Richard Knight||Elibank, Master of|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Cawley, Frederick||Ellice, Capt E. C (S. Andrw'sBghs|
|Austin, Sir John||Channing, Francis Allston||Emmott, Alfred|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Hayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Evans, Sir Francis H. (Maidstone|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Crean, Eugene||Farquharson, Dr. Robert|
|Black, Alexander William||Crombie, John Willian||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Boland, John||Cullinan, J.||Fenwick, Charles|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan||Ffrench, Peter|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Delany, William||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Devlin, Charles Ramsay (Galway||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.|
|Burns, John||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Burt, Thomas||Donelan, Captain A.||Glihooly, James|
|Caldwell, James||Doogan, P. C.||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Grant, Corrie||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sheehy, David|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Mantagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Mooney, John J.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Slack, John Bamford|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Moss, Samuel||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Murnaghan, George||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Murphy, John||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Norton, Capt, Cecil William||Sullivan, Donal|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Humphreys-Owen. Arthur C.||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thomas, J. A (Glamorgan, Gower|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Tillet, Louis John|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Tomkinson, James|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lambert, George||O'Dowd, John||Ure, Alexander|
|Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||O'Malley, William||Wallace, Robert|
|Laylard-Barratt, Francis||O Shaughnessy, P. J.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Leamy, Edmund||Partington, Oswald||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Long, Sir John||Perks, Robert William||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Levy, Maurice||Pirie, Duncan V.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Logan, John William||Power, Patrick Joseph||While, George (Norfolk)|
|Lundon, W.||Rea, Russell||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Reddy, M.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Rob-son, William Snowdon||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|M'Crae, George||Roche, John||Young, Samuel|
|M'Fadden, Edward||Roe, Sir Thomas||Yoxall, James Henry|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Runciman, Walter|
|M'Kean, John||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Dalziel and Mr. Jacoby.|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Carlile, William Walter||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Carson, Rt. Hon Sir Edw. H.||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Faber, George Denison (York)|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hon. Sir H.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J. A. (Worc.||Fergusson, Rt. Hon. Sir J (Manc'r|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitzroy||Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Fieldon, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Charrington, Spencer||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Clare, Octavius Leigh||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Give, Captain Percy A.||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Balcarres, Lord||Coates, Edward Feetham||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Flower, Sir Ernest|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor||Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C. R.||Forster, Henry William|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Foster, Philip S. (Warick, S. W.|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Fyler, John Arthur|
|Bignold, Arthur||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Gardner, Ernest|
|Bigwood James||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Garfit, William|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.|
|Bond, Edward||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Saville||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Oust, Henry John C.||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Davenport, William Bromley||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F (Middlesex||Denny, Colonel||Greene, Sir E. W (B'ryS Edm'nds|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Dewar, Sir T. R. (TowerHamlets||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury|
|Brassey, Albert||Dickson, Charles Scott||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dickson Poynder, Sir John P.||Gretton, John|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Gunter, Sir Robert|
|Butcher, John George||Dixon-Hart land, Sir Fred Dixon||Hall, Edward Marshall|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir John E.||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E. (Wigt'n||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriesshire||Samuel, Sir Harry S. (Limehouse|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J.|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Heath, James (Staffords N.W.||Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Helder Augustus||Milvain, Thomas||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.)||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Smith, H. C. (North'mb. Tyneside|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Spear, John Ward|
|Hobhouse, Rt Hn H. (Somers't, E||Morrell, George Herbert||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Morrison, James Archibald||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.)|
|Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Murray, Rt. Hn. A Graham (Bute||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hoult, Joseph||Murray) Charles J. (Coventry)||Stroyan, John|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Howard J. (Midd., Tottenham)||Newdegate, Francis A. N.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry Ceci||Nicholson, William Graham||Talbot, Rt. Hn J. G. (Oxf'd Univ.|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Thompson, Dr. E. C. (Monagh'n N.|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Parkes, Ebenezer||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Pemberton, John S. G.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Percy, Earl||Tuff, Charles|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Pierpoint, Robert||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Valentia, Viscount|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop)||Plummer, Walter R.||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Knowles, Sir Lees||Pretyman, Ernest George||Warde, Colonel C. E.|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th)||Rankin, Sir James||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks. N. R.||Ratcliff, R. F.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., Farcham||Reid, James (Greenook)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Remnant, James Farquharson||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Renwick, George||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S)||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Roberts. Samuel (Sheffield)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lowe, Francis William||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Younger, William|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Rose, Charles Day|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Round, Rt. Hon. James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Allwyn Fellowes.|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Russell, T. W.|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
Bill read the third time, and passed.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
asked if the noble Lord could see his way to having annunciators and an Exchange Telegraph Company's machine placed in the writing-room of the Press Gallery for the benefit of those engaged there, to whom they would be of great utility, and expressed a hope that provision would be made for the purpose. He further desired that the lobbyists should have the use of the Ladies' Gallery lift, which was not overworked, and which would be a great convenience to them if they were allowed to use it.
§ LORD BALCARRES
pointed out that the Government proposed to give a new lift for the use of the Press Gallery. It would not admit into the corridors at the back and around the Chamber, in which the public were not allowed unless accompanied by a Member. They would have to consider whether it would be desirable to allow these gentlemen to have admittance to them. He would communicate with the hon. Gentleman later as to the tape machine. The whole question of providing fresh instruments would come up for discussion later on, and it was possible the annunciators would be more useful in the House than in the Press Gallery.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £18,930, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1905, for maintaining certain Harbours under the Board of Trade, and for Grants-in-Aid of Harbours."
§ * MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)
moved to reduce the Vote by £100, in order to call attention to the need of a harbour of refuge on the north coast of Devon and Cornwall. Previously he had brought up this question on the salary of the President of the Board of Trade; but they had then been confined to a criticism of his administrative action and had not been allowed to go into the merits of the case. With this Harbour Vote before them he hoped they would be allowed to go thoroughly into the matter. This was in no sense an electioneering matter. There was no Party political capital to be made out of it in any shape or form. They recognised that both Governments had been to blame, and they were only anxious whatever Government was in power should perform the duty incumbent upon it. It was quite true they had not yet succeeded in making this a national question, although there could be no doubt that everyone who thoroughly investigated it would come to the conclusion, as hon. Members concerned had done, that that should be the ease. If the President of the Board of Trade would investigate the matter personally, he was quite sure he would agree with them, and he would almost risk the right hon. Gentleman going into his constituency to address a Primrose League meeting if he would have a look round this most dangerous coast the day following his labours. In order to prove his case there were two things he had to do. Firstly, to show the necessity of such a harbour; and secondly, to prove that it was a proper subject for the expenditure of public money.
Before, however, dealing with the merits of the case, he must give a short history of the matter. He admitted the 1500 subject was an old one, and it was a curious fact that it was difficult to arouse popular enthusiasm about, some questions which had been before the public for some considerable time; but he hoped when the facts of the case were put before the President of the Board of Trade in a thorough manner, he would come to a different conclusion to the conclusion he came to in the previous year. The matter was first brought before the House of Commons by the Report of a Royal Commission in 1859, which recommended harbours of refuge on this coast, picturesquely and appropriately calling them life harbours. The members of that Commission described the coast as a long iron-bound coast, having a deadly lee shore during the heaviest and most deadly gales. Nothing was done and then a Select, Committee on harbour accommodation was appointed. It reported in 1884, recommending a national harbour somewhere between Land's End and the Welsh coast, and it also recommended a harbour of refuge on the north coast of Cornwall, notwithstanding the fact that harbours of refuge were net within the terms of reference to the Committee; but nothing at all was done with regard to that Commission, and in 1885 a deputation waited upon the hon. Member for West Birmingham, who was then President of the Board of Trade, under a Liberal Administration. The right hon. Gentleman said they laid too much stress on the humanitarian argument, and he told the deputation that it must dismiss from its mind the slightest probability that any Government would be so imprudent as to initiate a series of eleemosynary grants for such a purpose. They could only hope the right hon. Gentleman had changed his views in this respect, as he had done in others since that date. They all knew that since that date he had begun to think Imperially, and surely he must admit that it was as much an Imperial duty, and as proper a method of spending public money, to save the lives of British sailors as to spend it on those enormous wars in which they had recently been engaged. The matter, after this snub of the right hon. Gentleman, was allowed to rest till 1887, when it was brought up in that House by Mr. Yeo. In 1886 there had been a 1501 great storm, in which 400 sailors lost their lives, and when the Government gave the same answer as had previously been given, the House was not in any mood to stand it. and the Government only escaped defeat by a majority of five. After that successive Governments gave specific assurances. Last year they succeeded in getting a little shade of hope from the President of the Board of Trade, but he hoped to-day the hope would be very much greater. The right hon. Gentleman said last year that he was prepared to urge on the Treasury, in this particular case that they should not require the full contribution which, under the Treasury rules, would be ordinarily required from a local authority making an application. It was a shade of hope, but it was not enough.
And now he would, having given a history of the matter, proceed to deal with the merits of the question. The coast was one of the most deadly description, consisting of sheer cliffs rising from the sea to a tremendous height. He could most easily bring the nature of the coast before the Committee by describing a wreck which happened within the last two or three years, and of which he had personal knowledge, It was the wreck of the schooner "Goonlaze." Owing to the lack of a harbour of refuge, this vessel was driven on to the rocks close by Cockington Point. All hands were lost at sea with the exception of one man who clambered to the top of those terrible cliffs only to be found dead from exhaustion the following morning. He was a fine young fellow in the Naval Reserve, and he confidently asserted that such incidents ought not to happen. There was no harbour of refuge from Land's End to the Severn, and the only place of refuge was the lee of Lundy, which was not a suitable place. Yet, in spite of that, whenever there was a likelihood of a storm vessels crowded in, and the lights of the ships looked like the lights of a town. Smaller vessels dared not enter for fear of being crushed by the large steamships. But perhaps the most positive proof of the need of such a harbour was furnished by the Wreck Returns of the Board of Trade. From them he found that in the year ending 30th June, 1902, there were 371 1502 casualties in that district alone, sixty eight being from Hartland Point to Land's End, and 303 to the north of Hartland Point. The total number of casualties around all the coasts of the United Kingdom amounted to 2,272, so that in that comparatively small strip of coast they had the sixth of the total casualties of the United Kingdom. That fact in itself was a very strong one, and surely it was one which ought to make the Government consider the desirability of constructing a harbour of refuge. It must be remembered that the Royal Commission in 1879 reported in favour of it; the Select Committee on Harbour Accommodation also reported in favour of it; everyone acquainted with the district was in favour of it; and last, but not least, an undue proportion of the wrecks round the coast of the United Kingdom appeared in that particular neighbourhood.
He thought he had proved the necessity for such a harbour on the merits of the question. and now he would prove that this was a proper object for the expenditure of public money. There was no danger whatever of such a harbour of refuge ever being in competition with private enterprise. The fact of the matter was that if the Board of Trade did not make it no one else would. No one who knew the district would say that it could ever come into competition with the great commercial ports of Bristol and South Wales. It was conclusively an Imperial matter and not a local matter. No one would deny the great importance of the shipping trade. No one would say it was not an Imperial trade: it was the trade of which this country was proudest, and in which it was facile princeps; and he thought it was as much the duty of the Government to look after the lives of the men engaged in that trade as it was their duty to make every legitimate effort to protect it by every means in their power. He wished to indicate what other countries were doing in regard to this matter of harbours of refuge. There was only one country to which England need ever look forward with any degree of fear as a competitor in the shipping industry and that was America, and he admitted that such a position could not arise until that country altered its present fiscal system. A little time 1503 ago he wrote to the United States Government to ascertain what they were doing with regard to the question of harbours of refuge, and he received the following reply from the Treasury Department—Deaf Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd ult. stating that you have been told that the United States Government sometimes make harbours of refuge in dangerous places on their coasts with public money, not asking for any contribution from the locality, and requesting that you be informed whether such statement is correct. In reply, I have to say you have been correctly informed. Not only are harbours of refuge on the coast constructed by the general Government without any contribution whatever from the locality, but the improvement of the harbours and navigable waters of the United States are so met.If the United States could do that, surely, having regard to the stupendous magnitude and vast interests of the shipping trade of this country, the Government should not be behind hand in the matter. It was no good for the President of the Board of Trade to say he would give them a portion of the money if the locality would find the rest. That was nothing more nor less than a refusal, and a refusal of the most cruel description, for he would be asking them to do something which it was out of their power to do. It must be remembered this coast was inhabited by farmers, the soil was poor, the population sparse, and it was impossible to ask those farmers to rate themselves in order to provide a harbour of refuge for shipping. If the Board of Trade did not make that harbour nobody else would, and if it were not made the loss of life and property would continue in the future as it had done in the past until every single yard of the coast would have it own tale of bloodshed and horror to recall.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum. not exceeding £18,830, be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Soares)
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said the speech to which they had just listened had been delivered under false pretences: it was a speech apparently advocating reduction in the Estimates and at the same time pressing extra expenditure on Ministers.
§ * MR. SOARES
said the hon. Gentleman knew very well that under the Rules of the House it was not possible for him to bring the matter forward by any other method.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he was not quite so sure of that. The ballot on Tuesdays and Wednesdays would be a more appropriate method. At any rate, he protested against Committee of Supply being used not for the purpose of economising in national expenditure. but for the purpose of pressing extra expenditure on the Government. The hon. Gentleman talked about a harbour of refuge and said that a great many lives had been lost on that part of the coast to which he referred. He himself thought that was to be expected, because the traffic off that coast was very great. The hon. Gentleman did not tell the House exactly where he wanted to put this harbour. He would not, however, follow the hon. Gentleman's arguments as he did not approve of this method of using Committee of Supply. He thought, on the contrary, that the time had come when they should address themselves to the Estimates with a view to the strictest parsimony. To that end, he desired to direct attention on this Vote to the enormity of the system of grants in aid. The whole Vote amounted to £31,530 of which £23.563 consisted of grants in aid; and. therefore, the proportion of grants in aid to the whole Vote constituted an extreme case. It would not be necessary for him to describe what a grant in aid was, but he might be allowed to say that the essence of a grant in aid was this. it was a grant not made for the purpose of national public expenditure and it was not to be expended by any public office. It was a grant for outside purposes, made once for all, and made under conditions which enabled it to escape all the financial securities whereby the House exercised financial control over public affairs. He thought that it would be recognised generally that it was only by insistence on parsimony, whore it could be insisted on without affecting the public welfare, that the House could ever succeed in diminishing expenditure on the part of the Exchequer. If the hon. Gentle man had not moved a reduction of £100 he himself would have moved a reduction 1505 of £18,000, as he desired to get rid as far as possible of grants in aid.
There were two kinds of grants in aid; in some cases the grant was allowed to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. In other cases that was not even allowed: so that the moment the grant was made it passed out of the control of the House of Commons and was left to be dispensed as it might. The Public Accounts Committee stated that in the interests of financial control the use of grants in aid should be restricted as far as possible, and the Treasury also stated that they regarded grants in aid as an exception to the rule which should prevail in the financial system of the country, and that they desired that such grants should be restricted as much as possible to those cases to which ordinary grants were not applicable. So far however, from grants in aid being restricted they had increased enormously; they were still increasing, and they ought to be and must be diminished, if this House were to achieve anything in the nature of economy. In 1901 the total grant in aid amounted to £1,600,000; in 1901–2 to £7,600,000; and in 1902–3 to £12,600,000, so that the exceptional grants in aid which the Treasury said ought to be diminished had now reached proportions of the most extravagant character. One of the chief culprits was the Colonial Secretary. He freely admitted that there were certain kinds of grants in aid, few in number and small in amount, which were justifiable, such as grants in aid to the National Gallery for the purchase of pictures, grants to schools, and grants to certain colleges. Against such grants he had nothing to say; but it was the enormous increase in the amount of money that was absolutely withdrawn from the control of Parliament against which he protested. Sir Edward Hamilton than whom there was no greater authority on finance in the country, and who had presided at the birth of many a successful Budget, said in 1902 that the Treasury were fully alive to the importance of this matter. He objected in the cause of economy to the grants in aid for Fraserburgh, Pwllheli, and Macduff Harbours. These were particularly obnoxious grants in aid because they escaped the examination of 1506 the Comptroller and Auditor-General and the control of the House of Commons.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
supported the plea that had been put forward in favour of a harbour of refuge on the North Devon coast. It was not an extravagance on the part of the Government to devote money to the saving of human life, and some remedy ought to be evolved for the enormous loss of life which occurred annually on the North Devon and Cornish coasts. He would infinitely rather see the Naval Votes cut down and less ships built, and the money saved devoped to this purpose. Every year it was becoming a more and more important trade and shipping route, and there certainly ought to be a harbour of refuge into which vessels might run when storms swept the Channel. He further pointed out that such an expenditure, in the amount of life and property saved, would be a reproductive expenditure.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next; Committee also report Progress; to sit again this evening.