§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £154, 925, 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, 1906, for the Salaries and Expanses of the Office of the Committee of Privy Council for Trade and Subordinate Departments, including a Grant in Aid."
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
said he desired to take that opportunity of discussing the question of the organisation of certain Government Departments, and especially that of the Board of Trade and of the Local Government Board. He had put down an Amendment to reduce the Vote, but he hoped he would get from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade such assurances as would render it unnecessary for him to press that Motion to a division. The primary object he had in view was to draw the attention of the Committee to the delay which had taken place in reference to a subject which the House had debated more than once, namely, the urgent desirability of appointing a Minister of Commerce and Industry. He did not think that it was necessary that he should reargue the desirability of such an appointment, because the House had on more than one occasion indicated its general assent to the principle of the proposition that, while they must, of course, have regard to the defences of the county and to its armaments, it was also their duty to take care of the interests of trade and commerce, for the protection of which those armaments were undoubtedly necessary. He, however, thought that, compared with some other nations, the amount of attention given to commercial questions by the 874 Government of this country was not so great as it ought to be, and he hoped that the time was coming, if it had not already arrived, when trade questions would excite more interest than had hitherto been the case, and this was eminently necessary if we desired to retain our commercial pre-eminence.
Not only had the House indicated its strong desire that something in the shape of Departmental reorganisation should take place, but a Committee had sat upon the subject and had taken a large amount of evidence from representatives of chambers of commerce and others. That Committee had come to a conclusion which distinctly fortified his proposition. As other countries had special Departments and special Ministers of the highest rank and position for the purpose of giving individual attention to questions of trade, commerce, and industry, and also had organisations, through chambers of commerce and otherwise, which constantly placed at the disposal of those Ministers the most expert and latest information to enable them to deal with particular questions, he hoped that the Report of that Committee would at some early date be put into practical application, and that in addition some means would be devised—for which he believed there were now ample materials, through the Board of Trade Intelligence Committee—to enable a Minister of Commerce and Industry to have recourse to those means of information as to trade development which could scarcely fail to be of advantage in the administration of the Department. It had been stated that the effect of carrying out the Report in question would be chiefly to increase the salaries of the existing heads of the Board of Trade and of the Local Government Board, but he would remind the House that both existing Ministers had disclaimed any intention, if a change should be effected, of availing themselves of any pecuniary advantage. While he did not say that the political or Departmental status was necessarily connected with the question of salary, he was satisfied that the higher the status given to the Department of Trade, Commerce, and Industry, the greater would be its utility and influence, and the 875 greater would be the means at its disposal for promoting the commerce and industry of the country.
What had they in the shape of a Board of Trade? They had, it was true, a President of the Board of Trade, who, generally speaking, but net always, was a Cabinet Minister. There was however, no Board at all. A Committee which dealt with this subject took evidence, which showed that no meetings of the Board had taken place for upwards of half a century. He thought that on the last occasion on which a meeting of the Board had taken place—it was a singular case of anachronism—it was represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who made his visit expressly for the purpose of advocating some improvement in the trade of Manchester. To-day the Board was composed not only of Archbishops and Bishops, but it included the Speaker of that House and also the Speaker of the Irish Parliament, a case of political obscurantism which it would be difficult to parallel.
He would like to draw attention to the Report of a Committee peculiarly qualified to discuss this subject. It was a Committee presided over by the Earl of Jersey, and it included among its members the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University and one of the hon. Members for Oldham, of whose experience in cotton and other industries they had had evidence in the speeches he had made from time to time in that House. The Report of that Committee set forth that evidence was given before it by one of the Members for Manchester, the president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and also by himself (the speaker) respecting other chambers of commerce, and that the evidence satisfied the Committee that the existing state of affairs was not satisfactory and was not conducive to the real interests of trade and commerce. The Report further pointed out that the Board of Trade never met, and that the responsibility for the conduct of its business rested solely with the President. Then it drew attention to the anomalies of the jurisdiction of the Board, which had to do with shipping, with railways, with labour disputes, and with many other matters. External foreign nego- 876 tiations, it was pointed out, relating to treaties and to Consular Reports were conducted really by the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office, and he was well aware that there was a difference of opinion as to whether such a subdivision of the duties in regard to trade and commerce should continue. The Committee further indicated their belief that the status of a Minister of Commerce in these days ought to be in every respect equal to that of a Secretary of State. Then their Report recognised the desirability of having a Minister of Commerce and Industry, and it urged that certain duties in relation to Consular appointments should be more or less conducted by the Board of Trade.
There was another Committee, whose Report had not been acted upon, in relation to our Consular Service. It had urged that some improvement was highly necessary in the opportunities for training our Consuls, so as to enable them to gain special knowledge in commercial qualifications. That was a point in regard to which he thought it would be admitted there was room for reform. The whole tendency of that Committee's Report was to revert to the view expressed in the House on previous occasions, that we ought to think seriously about the reorganisation of the Board of Trade. It was the unanimous and frequently expressed opinion of chambers of commerce, not merely of the London. Chamber of Commerce but of all the chambers throughout the country, that this reform ought not to be longer delayed, and lie appealed to his hon. friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, whose practical knowledge and business acquirements were such as to justify them in expecting their appeal to be successful, to give them some assurance that the Report of the Committee would not lie in the pigeon-holes of the Department any longer, and to tell them that something was to be done forthwith to reorganise the Board of Trade, and to allocate more specifically the duties—the anomalous duties—which in many cases it performed, partly to the Home Office and partly to the Local Government Board, so that the Board of Trade might be strengthened for the performance of what ought to be its chief duty, namely, 877 to keep a watchful eye upon our commerce, and to aid and help, so far as Governments can help, private enterprise, and to aid the suggestion and performance of public works. The need for the performance of this latter duty he thought was strongly illustrated in the debate on the Port of London, in connection with which a state of affairs had arisen which induced many hon. Members to support the Bill presented to the House the other night, rather than that nothing at all should be done, in face of the strides made by the corporation and municipality and trading community of the Port of Antwerp where, at this moment, reforms were in process of execution which would cost upwards of £10,000,000. Those improvements would include the straightening of rivers by cutting off the bends, and so giving access of the best possible character to a port which was highly competitive with the ports of this country.
There was another Report on this subject in regard to which also comparatively little had been done, and that was the Report of the Board of Trade Intelligence Committee. That Committee had now been in existence for five years. It had been largely official and Departmental, representing the Colonies and India, and other Departments of the State, and, according to his experience, it had proved of considerable advantage, for it had been the means of grouping into co-operative action scattered Departments which performed more or less commercial and trade duties, and in unifying their action in aid of our trade and commerce. It had also besides its more official members, distinctly representative members practically acquainted with, and engaged in, trade and commerce. Whatever it might have done or failed to do, he thought it would be acknowledged that the experiment, if he might so call it, of this Board of Trade Intelligence Committee had been of practical service, and had done a considerable amount of good, which would be increased now by reason of the removal of one of its principal offices into the City of London, where it was in close touch with the commercial community, and where it promised to render better service than it had rendered in the past. Its Report was 878 both useful and interesting. By supplying ordinary commercial information, and by answering questions which were most difficult to deal with, it had been able to give access to the most complete and latest information. He found also that it had responded to many thousands of inquiries on commercial matters, such as Customs duties, legalisation forms for the purpose of commercial travelling, openings for trade, statistical returns, sources of supply and prices, company legislation, trade-mark regulations and the like, and it had given a large amount of technical and statistical information to the commercial community.
In addition to that, commercial missions had been established, and had sent representatives of commerce to Persia and Siberia. The latter country at the present moment was more or less in a state of anarchy owing to the war, but it was a great corn-growing field, which would, when peace was restored, very largely supplement our corn supplies. The Report made by that Commission confirmed these conclusions, and had placed them in possession of a very large amount of matter of a most useful and practical character. Take the butter trade, for instance. They learnt from the Report that large quantities of what had been known as Danish butter really came to us from Siberia. In regard to many other form of commerce information had been collected of an equally useful and practical character, and, through the Committee, it had been placed at the disposal of the commercial public. In addition to this a representative of this country had been appointed, who had the advantage of having been twice president of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, to act as visitant to Australia. He was on the point of visiting Australia and, no doubt, would find means or improving our commercial relations with that colony, relations which were amongst the most hopeful signs of the retention of our commercial prosperity.
One of the most important duties of the Committee had been to examine and report in the most minute detail on the tariffs and commercial treaties entered into by various nations. 879 Whatever view one might take on the fiscal question generally, all would agree as to the desirability of having full information on this point. All would agree that we should know how many tariffs were designed, not merely to protect, but to exclude the products of other countries. All would agree it was desirable to know how extremely onerous and absolutely exclusive many of these tariffs were. There might or there might not be a remedy suggested, and there might be political considerations which outweighed other considerations, but the facts were well worth observing and when they found, as they had been doing, that the result of representations had been in many cases to modify the restrictions upon our trade and commerce it would be admitted that in this matter the Committee had acted with advantage. In his opinion, there were many cases in which commercial treaties might at this moment materially improve the trade of the country. And if we were told that such treaties were not, in the fullest sense of the term, in accordance with the principles of free trade, his reply would be that there never was a more beneficial commercial treaty than the Treaty of 1860 with France, which was negotiated by Mr. Cobden himself, and which doubled the volume of trade between the two countries almost in the course of a day. One of the least acceptable lessons which they had derived from the Commercial Intelligence Committee was the fact that comparatively little could be accomplished, even by friendly representations; indeed, in some cases they found that such representations had a tendency to maintain the restriction. One point had been made very clear—that we gained mainly and chiefly from concessions made to other nations rather than to ourselves. Here, at any rate, we got the benefit of what was not a complete instrument of satisfaction, but what, after all, was a great advantage, viz., the favoured-nation treatment. This, according to their experience, was a most important factor, and they got more through it than was to be gained by pointing out objections which were felt, but which by the other side were considered to be advantages and which frequently were strongly retained for that reason.
880 He repeated that a Committee which collected facts and statistics, which examined treaties, and which watched the progress of negotiations between the different countries affected by those treaties, was able to form conclusions as to possibilities in the matter of negotiation or retaliation which must be of extreme value, especially as they emanated from an impartial body. They had had in Portugal for the last 500 or 600 years, not only an ally, but a commercially friendly nation. He believed the first treaty of commerce ever made was made in the reign of Edward III. with Portugal, and it was a singular fact that there were only one or two countries in Europe in which we did not get favoured-nation treatment and one of those countries was Portugal. No doubt there might be political considerations in her case sufficient to outweigh historic action. But undoubtedly in Portugal we had a most benevolent neutral throughout the South African War. Our interests there were largely common, but there were dynastic and other considerations which were entitled to full weight. There were questions connected with the wine and cattle trades with regard to which Portugal had claims which were well worthy of attention and thorough examination. Still, as he had said, the singular fact remained that with Portugal, with which country we had great trade and commercial relations, and to which we and the world owed the over-sea route to and from India, which was the making of our commerce, we had no commercial treaty. He did hope that as a result of what had been done by the Intelligence Committee, our representations would be received in a most friendly spirit, and that negotiations would be successfully conducted which would place us and Portugal, our friend and ally, on the same terms as we enjoyed with other countries.
He would like to point to one or two of the difficulties with which the Commercial Intelligence Committee had had to contend. In the first place he would like to ask his hon. friend whether it was the intention, as he believed it was, of the Government to continue this Committee in existence, and to strengthen its power for action by 881 making it more fully representative of the many trades of this country, so that it might be possible to focus in one centre the general practical commercial feeling of the country, apart altogether from anything in the shape of political or partisan feeling. In his opinion an impartial tribunal of that sort would be of the utmost advantage. In the next place this Commercial Intelligence Committee had hitherto been treated entirely as a consultative body, and in the Report to which he had made allusion a suggestion was thrown out that it might well be vested with more powers of initiative, at any rate to the extent of recommending to the Department commercial and other reforms which required an early solution—matters which, in the present-day methods of business, ought to be conducted with great despatch. In the past the Committee had lived upon almost nothing. They had had a magnificent grant at their disposal of perhaps £1,000 or £2,000 a year, but one of their last difficulties had been that when they had, by care and economy, accumulated a sum which they had hoped would enable them to carry out certain investigations in Australia, they found that owing to technical difficulties, the sum was no longer available. It was due to the Department to say it had promised that funds should be available for the purpose. He did not mention this by way of criticism, but he did hope that, having regard to what had been accomplished, the grant to the Committee would be materially increased. The House voted millions for destructive purposes; let it vote thousands for constructive purposes, especially to help and construct commerce. He hoped, too, the grant would not be disappointing in the future in the way of not being available when it was wanted. The present system, by which the savings of years could not be taken advantage of was not an economical one. It tempted a Committee to be spendthrift when it should be economical; and it did not encourage the husbanding of resources. In conclusion, he hoped the House would endorse, the view of the Committee that a Minister of Commerce and Industry should be appointed, and he trusted he should receive an assurance from the Secretary 882 to the Board of Trade that the Commercial Intelligence Committee would be placed on a wider basis, and receive more generous consideration at the hands of the Government.
§ SIR EDWARD STRACHEY (Somersetshire, S.)
said he supported the last speaker as he would like to see the position of the Board of Agriculture increased in importance in the same way as Sir Albert Rollit desired to see the Board of Trade treated. The Central Chamber of Agriculture desired to bring under the notice of the House the question of the want of weighbridges to be found at country stations. Of course these machines were provided at many large stations, but farmers and traders were constantly complaining of their absence from stations whence a good deal of agricultural produce was despatched The Central Chamber of Agriculture, acting on the advice of the late Mr. Hanbury, and in the interest of traders and agriculturists who thought they had reason to complain of their treatment by the railway companies, had oftered opposition to the Second Reading of the South-Eastern Railway Bill. It was a very invidious thing to have to do, but in the case of the South-Eastern Railway Company a blocking Motion had been put down to their Bill because of the deficiency of railway weighbridges When the question came to be discussed with the representatives of the company they declined to enter into negotiations on the matter, declaring that in so doing they were acting, he understood, on the advice of the Railway Association, which was very powerful in that House. It would, therefore, become necessary to fight the principle out in the House itself, and he was, therefore, bringing it before the Committee that day and asking the Secretary to the Board of Trade if he would put pressure on the different railway companies to induce them to provide weigh bridges where he, the Under-secretary, considered it reasonable.
He would cite one or two cases where the difficulty existed. Swanley Junction had no weighbridge, yet it was the centre of a very great fruit industry, toes upon tons being dispatched to the London market. The fruit growers complained bitterly that they wove obliged to accept 883 whatever their salesman liked to send them, and that although they might send five tons they might only be credited with four and three quarters tons, and they had no remedy as they could not prove the weight dispatched from Swanley. It was the same with the manure which they purchased in large quantities in London. They had to accept the weights of the vendor, for they had no means of weighing the manure on its arrival. The same compliant was made by the nhabitants of Milverton in Somerset. The station there served an area with a population of about 2,500, and it did seem reasonable that a weighbridge should be provided, but the company refused to provide one although those interested were willing to pay a reasonable charge for the use of it. He hoped the Secretary to the Board of Trade would look into this matter, and would not content himself with expressing a piors opinion that weighbridges should be supplied, but that he would inquire into the matter himself and if necessary put pressure on the companies in the matter.
There were also anomalies in the goods rates. On the North Somerset line, near Bristol—between that town and a station ten miles distant, corn was charged for at the rate of 2s. 7d. per ton. while the charge for cake was 3s. 4d. per ton. Both articles were conveyed in sacks, and he failed to see why such a difference was made in the charges. Complaints, too, had been made of the way in which owners' risks rates were being treated as regards milk in Buckinghamshire, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman would look into that matter, especially as when on a former occasion a like complaint was made against the Great Western Railway the matter was settled on fair terms. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would consider it his duty not merely to wait for complaints before taking action in regard to weighbridges, also that in matters of undue preference—even of the preference for the large against the small trader—his Department would look into the matter and take the initiative, without waiting to be asked to move. He begged to propose a reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (Salaries) be reduced by £100."—(Sir Edward Strachey.)884
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend
called attention to an illegality or at least an invalidity in a regulation issued by Trinity House in reference to pilotage in the Thames Channel. In effect this regulation limited the number of firms which might employ pilots for ships passing out of the river. The Board of Trade had a revisory power over such regulations which, in this case, apparently had not been exercised, and the conditions of the Merchant Shipping Act had not been fulfilled. It was perfectly clear that any such regulation must first be made by alteration of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, by by-law. Secondly, that that by-law must be approved by Order in Council. Thirdly, that that by-law must be approved by the Board of Trade and issued in the terms prescribed by the Board of Trade. None of these conditions had been fulfilled by the licensing authority—Trinity House. Of course they must not make too much of an act which he considered ultra vires. but the power had been exercised by Trinity House. The relations between the pilots and Trinity House in the past bad been of the most amicable and satisfactory character; but if these men were to be deprived of their livelihood by an act of the Board of Trade that was all the more reason why they should be sheltered by the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act. He did not wish to enter into the merits of the case; but only to enter his objection to the regulation being signed without the proper authority laid down by law. Trinity House had in its mind, no doubt, what might be called the distribution of the shipping to pilots. There were certain pilots who, piloting for two or three firms, earned £1,200 a year; but there were other pilots piloting also for two or three firms who could only make £400 or £500, and even as little as £300. Therefore a regulation of this sort was open to a great deal of contention and criticism. The pilotage regulations of 1854, which were reaffirmed by the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 said—The present system of selection of their own pilots by owners, masters, and agents should be left undisturbed.Now, the new regulation of Trinity House had broken, without full authority, that regulation imposed by Act of Parliament. He did not know whether 885 the new regulation had been made by the tacit consent of the Board of Trade; but out of sixty-four pilots forty-nine had petitioned Trinity House against it on the merits, and that petition had not met with favour. He urged the Secretary to the Board of Trade to make careful inquiry into this particular instance of the exercise of authority which he believed to be invalid.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said that in the last fiscal Blue-book figures were given as to the condition of employment in Germany. Anything he had to say was not by way of criticism of the work done by the officials of the Board of Trade, who arranged their information with admirable care and knowledge. But in this particular set of figures in the Blue-book they had not sufficiently inquired into the full conditions of German employment before giving them to the public. It appeared from these figures that in a series of trades the percentage of unemployed in Germany was 1.9, which represented a total of unemployed of 8,600 out of a membership of the unions of 446,000. These figures were so startling that he was surprised that the Secretary to the Board of Trade should have accepted them without further inquiry. These figures could not be compared with the corresponding figures published by the English trade unions. In the first place in England the percentage of unemployed was based on the number of persons who received unemployed benefit who were members of the unions. But he was informed that in the German unions before a person became entitled to unemployed benefit he had to be contributor to the unemployed fund for four years. That meant that only persons of steady character were likely to contribute to the benefit fund for four years. It followed that the figures in the German Return referred only to the persons who had contributed for four years and not to all the persons who were out of employment. The figures for Germany and England could not, therefore, be properly compared. Next, in England unemployed benefit was usually given after a workman had been out of employment for three consecutive 886 days; while in Germany it was not given until the workman had been out of employment for seven consecutive days. Of course a larger number of men would be included in England as unemployed than in Germany.
Again, there was a difference between the systems in the two countries. In England the general rule was that there was a minimum wage and the effect of that was that when trade was bad employers had to dismiss men because they could not put them on short time or on a lower wage. In the mining industry, colliers, when trade was slack, worked only three or four days instead of the full week; but, in the metal trades the practice was to dismiss the men. In Germany the minimum wage did not exist, with the result that the German employers always kept their men in employment, but at a reduced number of hours or days in the week. There had been a Report issued that morning which showed that in the glass industry in England since the great strike of 1901, a half remained unemployed; but in Germany, in order to obviate the necessity of reducing the staff, short time was worked. The consequence of all this was that the figures given by the Board of Trade in regard to Germany could not be compared with the figures given by the English trade unions. When they turned to inquiries made in Germany, a totally different set of figures was given; and the best authority put the proportion of unemployed in four trades as follows: book printers 8.2; stonemasons 9.4; glove-workers 6.6, and bakers 7.6; and a census of the unemployed in Leipsic showed that in bad times the number was 13, 14, and 15 per cent., which was higher than they had ever seen in this country. He was sure an investigation would disclose a wholly different result from the figures quoted recently by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade; and they were entitled to ask him, in spite of his views on the fiscal question, to give a most impartial consideration to this matter.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF TRADE (Mr. BONAR LAW, Glasgow, Blackfriars)
said that although his views on the fiscal 887 question were well known they gave him added responsibility regarding the figures issued by his Department. With reference to this particular question, he would say that when he looked into the figures they seemed so surprising that he thought there must be some explanation of which he was not aware. He spoke to the head of the statistical department, who mentioned one or two influences which might have affected the result. One was that the rate of relief was so small in Germany that the people would not be so ready to apply for it as they would in this country. Possibly, as the result of that conversation, further inquiry was made, the results of which had not been received; but they did know enough to enable; him to warn the hon. Member that when the results were known they would still show an enormous preponderance in favour of the amount of employment in Germany as compared with this country. The hon. Member stated that the Board of Trade figures must be bad, because in Great Britain in times of bad trade it was only the good workmen who were employed, and the bad workmen were left out. That, of course, meant that our system had the effect of increasing the number of the unemployed in this country. He would ask the hon. Member to reconcile his views with those of the Labour Members in this House on the matter.
The next point of the hon. Member was that the number of unemployed in Germany was smaller because in particular trades instead of turning off men they Worked a shorter time. He was perfectly certain the hon. Member knew what was known to every manufacturer on a large scale in this country, that exactly the same thing applied in the large trades.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said that was the trade to which he was about to refer as one to which it distinctly applied. If orders for steel were scarce, no manufacturer would run his mill with fewer men. If he could not run it for the whole week, he would run it for four, 888 three, or two days, and leave it idle for the remainder of the week. He thought that so far as the information available could give the number of unemployed, the number of unemployed amongst trades unionists in Germany was enormously less than it was in this country.
§ MR. CAWLEY (Lancashire, Prestwich)
said that the hon. Member for South Islington seemed to think that the great panacea for all their ills in regard to trade was that they should have a Minister of Commerce. For his part he had never been able to appreciate that, because the only suggestion made was that the President of the Board of Trade should be called the Minister of Commerce and that he should have a larger salary. He would be the last to think that the President of the Board of Trade would discharge his duties any better if he were called the Minister for Commerce, and he was unwilling to believe that if the President had a larger salary he would perform his duties better than he did now. He thought, however, there should be some change in the Board of Trade. It had far too much to do; and if some of its duties were given to another office he thought the country would be the gainer. He had been told—he did not know what truth there was in it—that the Home Office was the only Department that had not more than it could do. He thought, therefore, that some of the duties now discharged by the Board of Trade should be handed over to the Home Office. The Board of Trade had to look after shipping, railways, and trade, and if they had a real Board of Trade instead of the present Department it would be a good thing for the country. The hon. Member had said that when they were spending millions on the Army they 889 should spend a few thousands in helping trade. If a few thousands of pounds more or less would help trade, he thought no Member of this House would grudge them; but he knew sufficient to be aware that there was an enormous amount of money wasted in instructing people how to conduct their own business. If he was asked to make a recommendation he would say that they should not alter the position or salary of the President of the Board of Trade, but should split up the duties and have a Minister looking after railways and shipping, and leave it to a real President of a real Board of Trade to do nothing else than further the interests of the industry and commerce of the country.
§ MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
said he wished to call attention to the issuing of Provisional Orders by the Board of Trade for the construction of light railways. When the Light Railways Act was passed eight years ago it was chiefly intended to provide means of transit in remote country districts. It was not intended that the railways should provide communication between one county and another, or that they should take the place of tramways. But the Act had been used in that way, and companies in constructing tramways under the Light Railways Act had been relieved of many considerations and obligations which would otherwise, have attached to them if they had proceeded under the ordinary Tramways Act. In the course of the last eight years the position of matters had changed. There were now motor-'buses which were quicker than the tramway, and the light railway was not now the best means of getting out of town. Under these light railway schemes not a farthing was paid in compensation to the persons whose houses the trams passed. He had always understood that no traffic of this sort was ever undertaken without compensation being paid to those people whose property was deteriorated in value or absolutely ruined by them. When there were no other means of locomotion these tramways might be allowed to go on, but now that they had motor-'buses which did not in any way interfere with the roads, which did not necessitate the tearing up of the roads and the erection 890 of unsightly posts, and which were in every way better, and, above all, more speedy in getting front one part to another, they ought not to be allowed. Great dissatisfaction was felt in the country at the way in which this Act was used for constructing these tramways, and in regard to the way in which the Board of Trade had performed their duty. They had not considered in any way the inhabitants of the localities, nor had they considered the question of alternative routes. He ventured to say that in many parts of the country these Acts had been carried out in a most arbitrary way, and he thought the time had come when the Board of Trade should review their position with regard to light railways altogether, or should suspend their action and not issue so many of these Provisional Order Bills.
§ MR. LLEWELLYN (Somersetshire, N.)
called attention to the question of alien pilots and the manner in which pilotage certificates were granted to aliens. Hon. Members would recollect that in 1888 a Select Committee sat to consider the question of pilotage; the question of granting certificates to alien pilots was gone into, and ultimately the feeling of the Committee was against the employment of foreigners, though they made no very strong recommendation. In the concluding paragraph they did respectfully suggest that no possible opportunity should be lost by the Government of attempting to secure for this country reciprocity from those Powers on whom this advantage was conferred. He believed the number of foreigners who held pilotage certificates was fifty-nine. He regretted it was not possible to get a direct answer to some of the questions which had been repeatedly raised in the House but he should like some reply with regard to this question of alien pilots, and the getting of some sort of reciprocity from the Powers benefited.
MR. J. W. WILSON (Worcestershire, N.)
asked to what extent the Board of Trade was able to, and did, use their influence in regard to the larger phases of policy of this country with reference to foreign trade. There were many ways, he said, in which their power could, and ought to be used for the 891 benefit of commerce and trade to overcome the difficulties which traders were left to surmount in their own way. For instance, a good deal had been said about preference, and what could be done with respect to that? The Government of the Transvaal at the present time was giving a much boasted preference to English trade, but in a large number of cases that preference was altogether absorbed by the shipping ring, for it was neither more nor less, whose steamers ran to South Africa. In many cases the rates from Hamburg and Antwerp were fully 5 per cent. lower than for British goods from British ports. That was a case in which the Board of Trade might have no power to interfere, but, for a business man at the head of an important Government office like the Board or Trade, there must be ways in which he could make his influence felt for the benefit of the trade of the country. One instance that must occur to all was that commercial institution of the Government, the Post Office, which in giving out the mails must influence an enormous amount of traffic. He contended that the Government ought to join the traders and try and smooth away the obstacles which hindered our trade in any particular channel. In such ways as that he thought great good would come to the trade of this country. In other cases the Government might assist the traders on many occasions by means of retaliation. There must be many articles in which the hon. Gentleman could make his influence felt in the direction of foreign rates which would have an immediate effect in ameliorating and smoothing the channels of trade. He would be out of order in referring to the many treaties made by the Foreign Office with other Powers, but even in those surely the President of the Board of Trade should have a voice as to the way in which those treaties, so far as they affected the trade of the country, should be made. He desired to see the Government carry on the country in the same way as a body of directors carried on a great concern, with all the interest of the country at heart.
§ MR. JOHN WILSON Glasgow, St. Rollox)
said he hoped the Board of Trade would take an early opportunity of inquiring into the matter of alien pilots 892 with a view to seeing that no more certificates were issued to foreigners.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said he thought the Committee was indebted to the hon. Member for Worcestershire for drawing attention the question of shipping rates. How was it possible for our manufacturers to compete in the South African market when it was possible to send goods from New York at half the carriage? That was a very serious matter, and one that made all the difference so far as competing in that, market was concerned. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would give his attention to this matter in such a way as to, if possible, assist the traders. They, no doubt, had his sympathy, but at the same time they would like to see him tackle this question. They heard a good deal of what the Board of Trade could and could not do, but if the Board of Trade made up its mind that this arrangement should be demolished it would be easy enough to carry out a scheme. He, therefore, hoped with some confidence that the hon. Gentleman would devote himself to this matter, in which he might be able to do a great deal of good for the country.
With regard to overcrowding on railways at the present time the hon. Gentleman had power to stop it at any moment. Nobody could say it was not dangerous for fifteen or twenty people to be packed in a carriage travelling at a considerable speed. And all the Board of Trade had to do was to see how far this evil existed and how it could best be remedied. It was difficult for the companies, when people were crowding into carriages, to tell them they could not go. The only remedy was to have sufficient carriages to meet the traffic, as it was a matter of almost daily occurrence.
He desired also to refer to the working of the Patent Office under the new rules. As the result of a Committee appointed some years ago certain recommendations were made, some of which were carried out. The new rules were for the purpose of saving the time and money of the poor inventor, but the only practical result had been to benefit the patent agents, whose business had gone up by leaps and bounds. The search now made was with reference to British 893 patents only, but to be of any use to the inventor it should be extended to foreign countries, especially Germany and America, so that he might know whether his invention was one upon which he could with advantage spend capital. He would be glad to hear the views of the Secretary to the Board of Trade as to the working of the new rules and as to an extension of the search to foreign countries.
§ MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W. R., Keighley)
was understood to ask for an explanation of the apparent confusion of powers between the Board of Trade and the Foreign Office with regard to Consuls abroad. Foreign Consuls had many duties of various kinds to perform, but he did not know whether the Board of Trade had any influence in the matter of their appointment. Where Consuls were appointed for commercial purposes he suggested it was very desirable that tha Board of Trade should have some voice in the appointment, whereas in other cases it might he a question solely for the Foreign Office. It was a mistake to appoint Consuls and expect them to know all the details of a particular trade. A much better plan would be for the Board of Trade to encourage local chambers of commerce or similar bodies to send out agents of their own and for the Government Departments to give them all the facilities they could in the conduct of their inquiries. Such agents had been sent out in connection with the cotton and iron trades, and the Board of Trade could not do better than press forward the idea of sending out deputations with special reference to particular trades or interests.
§ MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)
desired to emphasise what had been said with regard to the conditions of shipping to South Africa. Those conditions were, he believed, one of the reasons why the prosperity of South Africa had not come up to expectations. Not merely was there a ring of shipowners charging exorbitant rates, but they had a most objectionable system of doing business. Shipping firms allowed large rebates, but if any trader happened to send a single package by another line he lost all right 894 to rebates, and the rebates were paid only after long periods so that the fear of their loss might be held as a sword of Damocles over the heads of the traders. The shipping combination must be fought by traders as traders, and they asked the Government to join them, not qua Government but qua trader. South Africa produced practically nothing but gold and diamonds, and therefore had to be fed almost entirely by shipping. The Government were large traders, and he suggested that there should be an interchange of communication between the various Departments in regard to this matter, so that they might use their influence as a whole, for the sake of the colony and the traders, to break down this stifling and injurious monopoly.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR (Liverpool, East Toxteth)
desired to call attention to the action of the Board of Trade in reference to the "boy sailor" scheme initiated with a great flourish of trumpets under the auspices of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon. That scheme on its initiation was described as an attempt to rehabilitate the mercantile marine in the direction of the greater employment of British labour and British seamen. Various views might be held by those who composed the Board of Trade as to the success of the scheme, and a similar diversity of view might obtain amongst the shipping companies. It was admitted that during the first four years of the scheme no less than 4,373 apprentices were carried, and a total payment of £13,653 was made. The Board of Trade recognising that, in the normal course the scheme would come to an end on March 31st, 1905, put themselves in communication with representatives of the shipping interest. On November 8th, 1904, they indited a letter in which they discussed the desirability or otherwise of continuing the scheme, the basis of which really consisted in a rebate from the light dues. The Board of Trade attributed the "partial success" of the scheme to its connection with the light dues, to the extreme inequility of the amounts payable under the rebate system, and the want of a guarantee to the shipowners that they would not lose the services of their boys as soon as they had become useful. He did not intend to wholly 895 controvert the reasoning of the Board of Trade on the subject. He believed that shipowners generally would agree that it would be better that any scheme for increasing the employment of British seamen on British ships should not be connected with the light dues, which were admittedly unequal and unfair in incidence.
There were also other features of the scheme which rendered it undesirable from every point of view. But what he desired to call attention to was the extraordinary action of the Board of Trade in discontinuing the system without offering in any way to substitute for it another scheme which would commend itself to shipowners and the general public. In their Memorandum of November 8th, 1904, the Board of Trade said—It would appear … that there is no lack of boys ready to go to sea, and that shipowners generally are prepared to take and train boys as deck hands provided they can do so without pecuniary loss to themselves. In these circumstances it is surely desirable to let the present 'boy sailor' scheme die a natural death on the 31st March, 1905, and to devise an economical plan which shall at once appeal to both shipowners and probationers, with inducements to the former to train the lads and to the latter to stick by their masters.That was the attitude of the Board of Trade on November 8th, 1904, when for reasons which he did not criticise they decided not to renew the "boy sailor" scheme. On February l3th, the Board of Trade came to the conclusion that they were not justified in going on with the scheme or in proceeding with any alternative scheme from which the Navy might derive certain benefits. What he desired to make perfectly clear was that in thus summarily breaking off negotiations with those who represented the shipping interest, the Board of Trade had not given adequate reasons for so doing, and had not made plain to the general public why, having started upon this course of rehabilitating British labour in British ships, they had now summarily abandoned it and offered no substitute whatever. As far as shipowners were concerned he thought he was justified in saying that they were perfectly prepared to meet the Board of Trade in this matter. The responsibility for leaving 896 this great question hanging in the air did not rest with the shipowners but with the Board of Trade and the Admiralty. The shipowners had from the first been willing to consider any scheme or any suggestion which could be put forward by either of those two great Departments, and the responsibility rested with the representative of the Board of Trade in that House to state clearly for the information of the general public why the scheme inaugurated by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Croydon had been allowed to lapse, and why no adequate substitute dealing with this great question of boy sailors had been brought forward by the Department. He did not know what explanation would be offered, and all he could say was that the written explanations which had been given so far were totally inadequate. Speaking on behalf of shipowners generally, he desired to say that the responsibility for the abandonment of this question lay not with them but with the Department of State who, knowing perfectly well that one scheme was about to lapse, had, without any apparent reason, suddenly dropped the whole question.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
, who was very indistinctly heard, said with regard to the main subject which had been brought forward and the one which seemed to him the most important—namely, a change in the status of the Board of Trade—that the view of the House appeared to be almost unanimous in favour of some change. On that he had to say that the Government had drafted a Bill carrying out the promise given in the King's Speech, and they expected and intended, so far as they could, to see it carried into law that session. What was felt by every one who had thought about the matter was that a Department which dealt with the trade and commerce of this country could not hope to deal with them efficiently or even decently if it was not constantly in touch with men who were engaged practically in commerce. Of all the ways of coming into touch with commercial men he knew none better than the Commercial Intelligence Department, and it was gratifying to know that there was pretty keen competition for places on the new 897 Commercial Intelligence Committee. The difficulty of the Board of Trade was not to find competent and useful men, but that they must leave out men who were perfectly competent and desired to serve. He wished to point out to the House that there was very considerable difficulty in framing the reference to such a Committee which would include everything which the Committee ought to do and would not include something they ought not to do. The real danger of a permanent Committee was in two directions. On the one hand there was a natural temptation to the permanent officials to look upon themselves as professionals and on such a Committee as amateurs. On the other hand there was the danger that members of the Committee might be tempted to devote their energies to what happened to be the subject of popular interest at the moment. He thought nothing could be more fatal to the real usefulness of such a Committee than that issues of that kind should be raised. In the Civil Service, he believed, they had men trying to make their departments as efficient as they could, and such men realised that the great weakness they had was that they had not the means of coming practically into contact with those subjects with which they dealt and of coming directly into touch with the people who represented all the important trades in this country, as this Committee would do.
His hon. friend had complained that too little money had been placed at the disposal of the Committee. It was true that the grant-in-aid which up to that year had been given to the Committee had been withdrawn; but it had been withdrawn not because the Government objected to the money being spent, but because the Public Accounts Committee took exception to the form in which it had been given. The Government were perfectly willing that the money should be granted, and it would appear in the Estimates which the Committee were asked to pass that day. The amount of the grant-in-aid before was only £1,000. In this year's Estimates £1,000 was put down as well as £1,200 which was put down for the expenses of agents in South Africa and agents who, he hoped, were going to be appointed in other colonies. Therefore the Committee would have now 898 £2,200 instead of £1,000; but he did not pretend that that was all the money they would require, and he thought the Treasury would not show such a shortsighted policy in economy as to deprive them of what money they required. Every case that had been brought to his notice had been thoroughly gone into. He could not say more on that subject at present, because a Committee had been specially appointed to deal with it. That Committee was now sitting, and it would obviously be out of place to say more until it had reported.
His hon. friend the Member for North Somerset called attention to the question of alien pilotage. That was really a very important matter, and the President of the Board of Trade had shown his interest in it by receiving a deputation on the subject. The question of preferential rates to South Africa was also one with which the Government were anxious to deal. He had been asked whether more could not be done for the commercial interests of the country by way of negotiation of treaties between this and other countries. If his hon. friend who raised this question looked at it from a business point of view he would not be long in coming to the conclusion that they would negotiate most effectively if they had something to give. With regard to the complaint that Consuls had not sufficient commercial experience and training, the object of the Board of Trade was to secure Consuls who would be more interested in trade. Their views on the subject had been accepted by the Foreign Office. Replies from Consuls could now be received without the intervention of the Foreign Office. As to the matter to which his hon. friend for the Toxteth Division of Liverpool had called attention, namely, that the Board of Trade should do more in regard to the employment of British seamen on board our mercantile marine, he hoped that some good results would follow from the scheme which had already been proposed. It was in the interest of this country from the point of view of having sailors for the Navy that such a scheme should be carried into effect. He would ask the House whether it would be proper that there should be a vote of money for that purpose. The hon. Member had stated that a great 899 many shipowners were anxious that such a scheme should be carried into effect.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR
I said that the shipowners denied responsibility for adopting a scheme which the Board of Trade and the Admiralty jointly put forward on their own initiative.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said he understood the hon. Member to say more than that. He understood him to say that the majority of the shipowners were dissatisfied with the scheme. It meant money, and the Board of Trade would consider any suggestions which the shipowners had to make on the financial aspect of the question. Reference had been made to the overcrowding on railways. He had made inquiry into that question, and he found that the Board had really no power to deal with it.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
said the people who overcrowded carriages wished to be carried. It was obviously impossible at holiday times to avoid overcrowding taking place, and there must be some allowance made in such case.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said the discussion that afternoon had ranged over a great variety of subjects, and that fact was interesting as showing the many departments of our national work with which the Board of Trade was concerned. He wished to make a few remarks as to the proposal, recently put forward, that the status of the Board of Trade should be raised, and the staff strengthened. The Secretary to the "Board of Trade had just said that the Government were going to bring forward their Bill this session. He would like to say to the hon. Gentleman that if the Government were going to pass the measure they had better, to use a colloquial expression, hurry up. There would be a great deal to do in what remained of the session after the Whitsuntide recess. There were several questions of considerable difficulty still to be settled, and if the Government meant to settle this question the sooner they brought in the Bill the better. He had not heard that any Member desired to oppose it. It had been shown by the 900 Committee that inquired into the matter that a change was desirable. The varied work of the Board of Trade touched some of the greatest interests of the country, and it was right that the Department should be properly organised. The commercial classes had frequently represented that they wanted the Board of Trade to be a Board of Commerce. He took this opportunity afforded by the prospective change to suggest that it would be well if commercial men would state more definitely than they had ever yet done what they desired the Board of Trade to do. The Board at present were chiefly concerned in putting in force certain statutes in relation to railways, shipping, patents, and other matters, and a desire had been expressed in many quarters that they should do more to promote and encourage trade. He would put it to those Members of the House who were interested in the question, and the much larger number of people in the country who were interested in it, that they should now suggest some means by which the Governmental organisation could be made more useful for the purpose of a Board of Trade.
One method was clear, and that was to provide more complete intelligence upon all questions relating to tariffs, markets, modes of communication and so forth. In that direction substantial progress had been made. The Committee was a good one and had worked well. When he was at the Board of Trade it was contemplated to appoint other Committees who would provide the Intelligence Department with information in other directions as well as from abroad. Two difficulties had been mentioned by the Secretary to the Board of Trade. One was the difficulty of bringing officials to run in harness along with outsiders. The other was the question of preventing the Committee from entering on thorny and controversial grounds. He did not think there was much in the first difficulty. The officials of the Board of Trade were men of great competence, zeal, and earnestness, and were perfectly willing to take advantage of all the light they could obtain from commercial men outside. He did not, therefore, believe that they would be at all jealous of having such men associated with them in the work with which they had to deal. He 901 believed that if it was thought desirable to organise Committees in regard to the great manufacturing industries of the country there would be no difficulty. The other difficulty was more serious—that of calling into existence a body to deal with questions that might arise which in one sense were commercial questions but which had a political side and in which political controversy was involved. On such questions it might be very difficult to give the Committee its head and prevent it being made an organ for expressing controversial opinions. In that case the Board of Trade might be accused of nominating members of the Committee who would favour their views. It would be necessary in a matter of that kind to proceed with great caution; but the idea was a fertile one and he did not despair of getting over the difficulty to which the Secretary to the Board of Trade had referred.
With regard to the Report of the Committee on the appointment of Consuls, he wished that the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs had been present, as he would have liked to ask the noble Lord what in the world the Foreign Office were going to do with this Report. It was now a year since the Report had been submitted to the House. It was an excellent Report; it was discussed in the House more than a year ago and was received with universal approval. The Foreign Office had been asked why they had not given effect to it and there was no answer. He hoped that the words used in the House in regard to that Report would reach the exalted head of the Foreign Office. He could not see why the recommendations in the Report should not be given effect to, or why the Foreign Office should be so long in taking a step so clearly in the interest of the commercial community.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said he had no right to speak for the Foreign Office, but it was his duty to know that they had adopted the Report, and that the reason why no action had been taken was that there had been no vacancies.
§ MR. BRYCE
said he was very glad to hear what the Secretary to the Board of Trade had said. It was certainly a very good thing that the Consuls should 902 be in the closest relations with the Intelligence Department of the Board of Trade. It would also be a very good thing if we had more travelling officers, like the gentleman who went three or four years ago to South America, or the gentleman at present reporting in Siberia, who could travel about and bring home up-to-date information in regard to the conditions and prospects of trade. Consuls when at home on leave should also be encouraged to go round the manufacturing centres to tell manufacturers what they knew about the lands in which they were stationed, and to receive hints from the manufacturers as to the form in which they should draw up their Reports. He was encouraged to say this, because he happened to know of a young Consul who did that very thing and who told him that he had got many valuable suggestions from manufacturers, and had, he believed, been able in return to make suggestions which would be valuable to the manufacturers. If the Government Department got into more direct touch with the commercial classes, and if the latter knew a little better than they did that the Department was anxious to help and had a desire for their co-operation, he thought a great deal might be done to contribute to that result.
He would suggest to the Government that if they were going to carry this Bill for altering the status of the Board of Trade, they would find themselves faced with a very important question, viz., that of determining the relation between the different Department of the State as regarded labour subjects. The labour work was at present partly in the hands of the Board of Trade and partly in those of the Home Office; and considerable inconvenience had arisen from the undefined nature of the functions of each. The consequence was a considerable amount of overlapping. On the other hand, it would be a great disadvantage to take all the labour work from the Board of Trade and give it to the Home Office, because the administrative work connected with the railways could not be separated from the Board of Trade. Therefore this question had got to be faced in the reconstitution of the Board of Trade and the increase in its staff which might be necessary. This was a very good time to face the question, and in the endeavour to meet the desires of the 903 representatives of the working classes the Board of Trade should be fully organised for the purpose of dealing with labour work.
A very important question was raised by the hon. Member for Liverpool about the provision of sailors, but so few representatives of the shipping interest being present that subject could not be entered into that day. In regard to the overcrowding of railway trains, a subject which had been raised by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, he did not quite accept the views of the Secretary to the Board of Trade. It was quite true that the Board had not statutory powers in regard to the matter, and therefore could not apply compulsion; but, apart from compulsory powers, there was much which the Board could do. It had so many functions in relation to railways that any representations which the Board made would have influence with the companies in working their lines. The Board could so easily avert from the railway companies public hostility that the railway companies were bound to listen with care and attention to the representations made to them by the Board of Trade. He would, therefore, be disappointed if the Board of Trade intended to leave this question alone. It was a question which really fell within the general functions which Parliament had given them in relation to the internal communications of the country, and the Board ought to use this species of reserve power. For instance, they could threaten the railway companies with legislation, which had been found to be very efficacious in past times. He was glad to join in what had been said by the Secretary to the Board of Trade in regard to the confidence which hon. Members had expressed in its present work; and he hoped that in the, more enlarged and dignified field contemplated for it, the Board would continue to justify the confidence of the House in its administration as it had hitherto done.
§ MR. RITCHIE (Croydon)
said that a matter had been discussed by the hon. Member for Liverpool in which he felt some paternal interest; that was the scheme for the training of boy sailors which was inaugurated when he was at the Board of Trade. His hon. friend the Secretary to the Board of Trade made an 904 observation which he was bound to say he could not agree with. In reply to the hon. Member for Liverpool, the Secretary to the Board of Trade said that the reason for abandoning the scheme was that the Admiralty had intimated that the scheme was not found to be of any advantage to the Navy, for the benefit of which it was originally started. He absolutely denied that. No doubt it was expected when the scheme was proposed that it would be useful to the Navy by training lads who would be afterwards available for the Naval Reserve, but one of his objects, as the author of the scheme, in pressing it on the Chancellor of the Exchequer was the education of boys to become sailors for the mercantile marine. It was matter for much complaint and great cause of regret that our mercantile marine was largely manned by foreign sailors. Sharing that regret, although he did not take the extreme views which some people did in regard to foreign sailors, he thought it would be of advantage both to the mercantile marine and the Navy to have boys educated for the sea service. One of the objects he had in his mind was a supply of seamen to the merchant service, and only on that ground was he justified in asking the assistance of shipowners. He knew perfectly well that the amount that would be received from the light dues would not be sufficient to compensate shipowners for the cost of training boys; but, incidentally, it would be a great advantage to the mercantile marine to have a large number of trained sailors He was sorry that the scheme had been dropped without anything being substituted for it. The explanation that had been given was wholly inadequate. He would rather have seen the Government putting forward another scheme affording greater inducements to the shipowners. It was true that the shipowners did not respond to the extent anticipated; and he thought the shipowners might have taken greater advantage of the opportunity presented to them than they had done. If a still larger contribution from the light dues would have induced shipowners to take greater advantage of the opportunity he would not have opposed a larger grant. There were no doubt considerable difficulties in carrying out the 905 scheme, and it had not had quite the result that they anticipated, but the Board of Trade should have considered the possibility of substituting for it a scheme that would produce better results.
It was a great satisfaction to him to know that the Commercial Intelligence Department, which was inaugurated while he was at the Board of Trade, had been so successful and that further developments were in progress. He had always been of opinion that the able staff of the Board of Trade, in co-operation with members of the mercantile community, who understood the wants of the mercantile community, could in many ways help forward the commerce of this country. He agreed that there should be a large increase in the number of commercial agents abroad. who should endeavour to ascertain exactly what it was that was hindering British trade and promoting foreign trade at our cost. But commercial men in this country were somewhat to blame. He thought they had not adopted the means at their disposal for promoting their trade in foreign countries. No one could read the Reports of our Consuls without seeing how much behind their foreign competitors the commercial community of this country were in pushing their wares abroad and in satisfying the wants of the people whom they desired to supply. The fact was that for so many years this country had been such a great exporter when there was comparatively so little competition, that it had not been a question of what foreign countries wanted, but what this country wished to supply. All that was now changed. He had always thought that some of the work of the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office might with advantage be transferred to the Board of Trade. Consuls had, however, diplomatic duties to perform as well as commercial duties, and could not be wholly dissociated from the Foreign Office. The present President of the Board of Trade had himself the supervision of the Commercial Department of the Foreign Office when he was Undersecretary, and no better opportunity for bringing the two Departments into harmony could arise.
906 He was pleased to hear that a Bill was in preparation for increasing the status and the responsibilities of the Board of Trade. It was a scandal that in this great commercial country the Board of Trade should be a second-class office. There was no Department in this country which ought to be more fully equipped, or ought to occupy a higher position, than the Board of Trade. It was certain that if the Government brought forward the Bill without undue delay it would meet with practically the unanimous consent of the House. He was glad that the views he had always held were likely to be realised soon. He had been in many offices during his Parliamentary career. In all of them he had the greatest admiration, not only for the capacity, but for the desire of the permanent officials to promote the interests committed to their charge, but he was certain that in no office would the staff more gladly welcome the co-operation of commercial men than at the Board of Trade. He was convinced that by co-operation between the mercantile community and the Board of Trade the commercial interests of the country could be advanced. He was glad that the Board of Trade was so ably represented in that House by his hon. friend the Parliamentary Secretary.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said he cordially concurred with the right hon. Gentleman with reference to his estimate of the scheme for training lads for the mercantile marine, and he trusted that some effective solution would be found. It was not by training youths for the Navy alone, but in other ways that they could attract British seamen to the mercantile marine. At present seamen were not included in the Workmen's Compensation Act, though it was sought to meet their case by an Amendment of the Merchan Shipping Act.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON
said he was reminded of the subject by what was said by the right hon. Gentleman in regard to this scheme, and he hoped that the Government would give an indication 907 of the course they intended to pursue in the matter.
§ MR. CUMMING MACDONA (Southwark, Rotherhithe)
said he wished to call attention to the overcrowding of railway trains. He did not refer only to excursion trains, but to ordinary trains. The situation at Liverpool Street Station and the South-Eastern terminus was perfectly scandalous every evening. Men and women were hustled together in railway carriages; often times, in fact every evening, double the amount of passengers were crammed and jammed into the space authorised by law in each compartment. How it was more accidents to life and limb had not occurred under such circumstances was more due to the courtesy and forbearance of the passengers than the proper preparations of the railway companies to meet the necessities of the case; and if the Board of Trade had not the power to remedy the matter, an Act of Parliament should be introduced to give the Board of Trade full power to adjust so great a grievance.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Stafordshire, Lichfield)
said that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade told the old story that the Board of Trade had not sufficient power to deal with railway companies. But that was no answer. The Board could not compel railway companies, but they had power to tackle the railway companies in a way no one else had. The Board had the power of initiating legislation which would affect railway companies very seriously, The grievances with respect to differential rates and weighbridges were strongly felt by the farmers of the country, and it was no answer for the Board of Trade to say they had no powers. They could investigate the matters alluded to and endeavour to do something, instead of remaining inactive unless stirred up from outside. What the Department; always said was that nobody had brought a definite case before them on which they could proceed. But that was not what was asked for. What was asked for was a general investigation, and that the facts should be put within reach of the general public. For instance, in the case of overcrowding on railways, if the facts were brought within reach of the public such pressure would be brought to bear 908 on the railway company that if it were proved that the railway was overcrowded there would be no question as to any opposition to a competing railway, the company in such a case would hardly have a locus standi. The farmer and trader were not in a position to stir up the Board of Trade, and it was necessary that the Department itself should take the initiative. Unless some more satisfactory reply was given he hoped his hon. friend would go to a division.
§ MR. LOUIS SINCLAIR (Essex, Romford)
said it was a great relief for people to know that at last we were going to have a Ministry of Commerce. When we compared the policy of this country with that of others in regard to this matter, everybody must recognise that we had fallen far behind the times in the methods we had adopted in looking after our commercial interests. Contrast our system with that of America. In 1901 President Roosevelt thought there should be created a Cabinet Minister who should deal with commerce and in the broader sense with whatever concerned labour, great business corporations, and so forth. Within a few months of that declaration the United States of America had a complete Ministry of Commerce, framed in such a way as to enable them to study commerce in every particular, and do their best to further it in every direction and foster it all over the world. We still clung to the policy of laissez faire, hindrance, and difficulty. We could see by that how far we were behind the times in this matter, and it was that which accounted for the great depression in this country. What was it that was wanted? We had Consuls abroad, and we had a great Department at home, and we had one or two commercial attaches who were notoriously overworked, who had not only to supply details as to the capitals in which they lived, but of two or three countries besides. Compare that system with that of America, who spent twenty times as much as we on collecting this information, which was absolutely necessary if people desired to live up to the times and not to be hindered or get into bad grooves. It was notorious that our Consuls and attaches were behind the times. He recognised that 909 an inquiry had been granted to consider these matters, and no doubt in time we should have a complete staff of Consuls and commercial attaches, but that method was very slow.
As regards railways, the methods adopted were not only expensive, but absolutely unbusinesslike. If a railway was to be built for the convenience of trade, the promoters of that railway had to come to the House for powers, but, instead of offering any facilities, the procedure necessary to obtain Parliamentary powers was the most expensive in the world, and be it remembered that the thousands and thousands of pounds that were spent in promoting and opposing railways were in the end all added to the railway rates. Why should not the inquiry instituted by the Board of Agriculture as to railway rates be extended so as to include all kinds of goods, manufactured and otherwise, carried by rail, so that the Board of Trade could obtain information on these points. We wore not even in touch with our own Colonies. How could we be so while the President of the Board of Trade had no representatives there? All these things injured the trade of this country. They were present to everyone's mind and should be faced. With regard to railway rates and traffic generally, we should do something to use Our great waterways, as was done on the Continent, where the farmers and others only had to put their goods on the boats on the canals and get them carried at a nominal cost.
It was time that a Bill to create a Ministry of Commerce was passed in that House. If the Government, did not pass it, the Opposition would do it the moment they came into office. It would not be a difficult Bill to pass, but it would have to be one which would provide for all our commercial interests and provide for consultations with the Minister of Commerce. At the present moment the President of the Board of Trade, although he had an Advisory Board, never called it together or presided at its deliberations. The Board met in a separate chamber, and the right hon. Gentleman did not know what resolutions were passed or what reforms were required. When the Board of Trade allowed everything to go on 910 without any supervision, the time had arrived for the Ministry of Commerce Bill to be introduced and passed without delay. The last stage of the session was approaching, and Parliament was expiring; surely the promise of legislation should now be redeemed. He hoped the Minister of Commerce when appointed would not be a Member of the other House. He did not complain of the representation of the Board of Trade in this House; probably his hon. friend would be the new Minister, and then, if he were invested with all the powers necessary, a step would have been taken which perhaps more than any fiscal reform would enable us to compete successfully with foreign nations.
§ MR. PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
called attention to the great hardship suffered by traders under the "owner's risk" system of carriage. It would be out of order to suggest legislation, so he merely urged, that the Board of Trade should make representations to the railway and steamship companies on the subject, and bring to bear all the pressure they could in order to make those companies realise more thoroughly the unsatisfactory state of affairs which now obtained. Our Colonies were more advanced in these matters than the mother country. New Zealand and Canada had adopted rates which freed the owner from all risk of damage in transit, and a similar course had been taken by the French Government. It was an urgent question, and the Board of Trade ought to be alive to the necessity of some change. To cope satisfactorily with the growing evil, legislation would ultimately be necessary, but in the meantime to ease the situation much might be done through representations to the carrying companies from the Board of Trade. He could give countless instances where owners had suffered loss to the extent of hundreds of thousands of pounds through the present unsatisfactory system. It was no answer to say that by paying a higher rate they could throw the responsibility upon the carrying companies. Competition was so keen and rates were already so high that traders were compelled to accept the lower scale of charges, and to run the risk which ought in justice to fall on the companies. He hoped the 911 Secretary to the Board of Trade would give this matter his serious consideration.
§ MR. DALZIEL
regretted that the Secretary to the Board of Trade had not given a more encouraging reply. The hon. Gentleman had apparently donned the official garb, and intended to get the Vote through as quickly as possible, and then nothing more would be heard of the matter until next year. As a business man representing a business constituency, it had been hoped that the hon. Gentleman would devote himself seriously to the grievances suffered by the trading community, but the hopes had not been realised. The question of overcrowding was not a bank holiday matter; it was an every-day occurrence. Working men and city men travelled to business day after day in carriages containing twelve or fifteen persons huddled together like cattle. Was that to be allowed to continue? He contended that the Department had power to deal with the matter. It could be stopped as constituting a danger to the travelling public. Moreover, pressure could be brought to bear in connection with the Orders which railway companies asked for, the additional powers which they sought, and in a hundred and one other ways. The hon. Gentleman should go and see for himself what was going on, and then, if he still held that his powers were not sufficient to enable him to deal with the matter, he should make representations to the chief of the Cabinet in order that the necessary powers might be obtained. He maintained, however, that the existing powers, properly administered, were sufficient to put an end to this public scandal.
The question of South African rates of freight, upon which no satisfactory reply had been given, was of the utmost importance to the trading community. In his own constituency they were losing contracts to the value of thousands of pounds every year because of the existing state of things. Goods could be sent at half the rates from America, with the result that the British trader was practically shut out of the South African market. A monopoly of the trade was in the hands of a particular ring, and prices were fixed to the detriment of British manufacturers. One way in which to 912 deal with that would be for the Board of Trade to use its influence to get Government contracts made free and open instead of being the monopoly of the existing ring. At present practically all the support of the Government went to this ring, and it was the duty of the Board of Trade to make such representations as would put an end to the monopoly. He had that day been informed of a case where, under the ring, 42s. per ton had to be paid for rails to South Africa, but the contract had been thrown open, with the result that rails could now be sent for 12s. a ton. It was only reasonable that great dissatisfaction should exist. The taxpayers of the country had made great sacrifices for the war, and they naturally failed to see why America and other countries should reap the reward. The hon. Member might have given them more assurances that something would be done to reduce these enormous prices. It was practically impossible for English traders to compete in South Africa, and he hoped they would protest against this unsatisfactory state of affairs by taking a division.
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
said the complaint in regard to owner's risk was not confined merely to the trade alluded to by the hon. Member, but it was a grievance and hardship shared by a very large section of the community. Though his hon. friend the Secretary to the Board of Trade might be right in saying he had not the power to interfere, nevertheless he could assure him that this grievance, was a widespread one, and required not only the attention of the Board of Trade, but would probably require some drastic legislation. He merely wished to remind his hon. friend that this was a matter which was very much occupying the minds of business man in the country and concerned very much the welfare of trade. It was a matter which was urgent and could not be brushed aside as being one of the ordinary grievances which they were accustomed to hear. He wished to endorse what had been said in the last speaker in regard to the overcrowding of railway carriages, and the present state of thing respect by some parts of his constituency was a gross scandal. So long as the Board of Trade 913 did not bring the pressure which it could bring upon railway companies by not making things too easy in one direction or the other, so long would this scandal continue. It was not only a question of public health and a danger, but it was a matter which affected the business capacity of the nation to a far larger extent than was realised. Some immediate relief ought to be given to a state of things which was entailing immense personal suffering upon a large section of the community.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said the hon. Member for Aberdeen had brought to his notice a subject which he had gone into a good deal—the question of owner's risk rates. It was impossible for the Department really to deal with it without fresh legislation. They should carefully consider it, and if he saw any possible way of doing anything that could help trade and not be unjust to the railways, he should be very glad to try it. As to the matter of preferential freights to South Africa, if he were speaking only his own opinion and not speaking as representing the Government, he should probably have made the same speech as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy Burghs. The hon. Member must, however, bear in mind that, if the Government intended definitely to do something, it could not explain its intentions beforehand. He must remind the hon. Member that a Committee had been appointed to inquire into this matter under the auspices of the Colonial Secretary. He agreed with the hon. Member in thinking that they could only deal with the matter in one way and that was, as traders, by putting into the scale whatever goods the Government Departments had to send.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
asked what did that involve? It was not merely a question of the interests which were directly controlled by Government Departments. It certainly would not be effective unless the Agents-General of these Colonies, who were also interested, were induced to come under the same arrangement.
§ MR. BONAR LAW
said he did not mean the Agents-General as such—he meant the Colonies they represented. Without the co-operation of these Colonies any action of that kind would probably be ineffective. He did not wish to make it appear that this did not concern the Board of Trade. If such a thing could be prevented it ought to be prevented as far as possible. All the Board of Trade could do was what was done by his right hon. friend who was now President of the Local Government Board—to call the attention of the country and of the Government to the effect which the present state of affairs was having on their industry. The only Department which could really effectively deal with it was the Colonial Office.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
Has a single ton of Government goods ever been sent outside the shipping ring?
§ MR. BONAR LAW
asked if it was easy to alter it, so long as there was nothing else? In his opinion it could only be cured by getting the shipping lines to take reasonable rates, in which case he thought it would be very unjust for the Government or the House to try to interfere with a body which, in the past, had done a very great deal to develop the trade of South Africa. Either they must do that, or they must produce some line in competition which could deal effectively with it and despatch regular sailings to South Africa. The Government were obliged to make contracts that ran for a year, and the only way to make satisfactory arrangements was to get reasonable rates from existing lines or from other competing lines. As regarded overcrowding in railway trains, it was in some cases due to the fact that it was an impossibility for the railway companies to provide sufficient trains for the traffic. The consequence was that the passengers would suffer if the Board insisted that no more than he normal complement should be carried. It was easy to criticise this matter but it was very difficult to deal with it in a practical way.
§ MR. HARWOOD
called attention to the condition of the canal system. He said that trade on canals had practically become a monopoly in the hands of railway companies.
§ MR. HARWOOD
said that he should have thought that if railway rates came under this Vote, canals which belonged to railway companies would also be in order.
Certainly canals do not come under this Vote, and it is questionable whether railway rates do.
I may point out that these freights are not under the control of the Board of Trade.
§ MR. DALZIEL
submitted that this question had been raised on this Vote in former years, and he thought they were entitled to urge that the representative of the Board of Trade should make representations to the proper quarter.
This Vote does not seem to me to have any connection with freights to South Africa.
Surely we are entitled to complain that the Board of Trade has not acted energetically in this matter.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said if they were unable to discuss the action of the President of the Board of Trade, upon his salary, in relation to commercial questions, then the discussion was no use at all.
It is quite in order to discuss the action of the President of the Board of Trade, but I cannot see how the hon. Member connects this question of shipping freights to South Africa with this Vote. That seems to me to be out of order, because the Board of Trade is not responsible.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said he wished to refer to the way in which the President of the Board of Trade could, if he would, cure the complaint which had been so general now for the last two or three years. The right hon. Gentleman was in charge of the commerce of the country, and it was to his Department that the Government turned when they wanted advice in dealing with commercial questions. He considered that the President of the Board of Trade had failed to use the influence he had in the direction of free trade as regards the shipping ring to South Africa. There had been immense Government contracts given out, and they knew that not a single ton of Government orders had been given outside that ring. What they complained of was that the President of the Board of Trade appeared to have taken no notice of this question. He did not say that the President of the Board of Trade should have put on pressure, but, if he had given advice to one of his colleagues, the contracts might have been thrown open, and there would not have been the preferential treatment which had been hindering our manufacturers. Last year there were plenty of offers outside the ring, but the men who gave them could not get the Government orders. The Government had strengthened the ring against its competitors.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 126; Noes, 195. (Division List No. 198.)919
|Abraham, William (Cork, N, E.||Benn, John Williams||Cameron, Robert|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Black, Alexander William||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boland, John||Cawley, Frederick|
|Allen, Charles P.||Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Channing, Francis Allston|
|Ambrose, Robert||Brigg, John||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Bright, Allan Heywood||Cremer, William Randal|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Burt, Thomas||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Buxton, N. E. (York, N R, Whitby||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan|
|Bell, Richard||Caldwell, James||Delany, William|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Edwards, Frank||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Ellice, Capt EC (S Andrw's B'ghs||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Runciman, Walter|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Leng, Sir John||Russell, T. W.|
|Emmott, Alfred||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, Herb. L. (Cleveland)|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||MacVeagh Jeremiah||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Shackleton, David James|
|Fenwick, Charles||Markham, Arthur Basil||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Findlay, Alex, (Lanark, N. E.||Mooney, John J.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Freeman, Thomas, Captain F.||Murphy, John||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.)||Spencer, Rt. Hn C R (Northants|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herb. John||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Sullivan, Donal|
|Grant, Corrie||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||O'Brien. P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Tillett, Louis John|
|Harwood, George||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Toulmin, George|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wallace, Robert|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham||O'Malley, William||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Mara, James||White, Luke (York. E. R.|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||Partington, Oswald||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Holland, Sir Willaim Henry||Paulton, James Mellor||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Phillipps, John Wynford||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Hutton, Alfred E.(Morley)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Price, Robert John||Wilson, J. W (Worcestersh. N.|
|Joicey, Sir James||Priestley, Arthur||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rea, Russell|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||Edward Strachey and Mr.|
|Keswick, William||Richards, Thomas||Warner.|
|Lamont, Norman||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Langley, Batty||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Coates, Edward Feetham||Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. H. O.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Arrol, Sir William||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Greene, Sir E W (B'rySEdm'nds|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.||Grenfell, William Henry|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Gretton, John|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hain, Edward|
|Balfour. Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'ry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Davenport, William Bromley||Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Denny, Colonel||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Dickson, Charles Scott||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Heath, Sir J. (Staffords. N. W.)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W|
|Bill, Charles||Faber, George Denison (York)||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fellowes, Rt. Hn. Ailwyn Edw.||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Finch, Rt. Hn. George H.||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Finlay, Sir R. B (Inv'rn'ssB'ghs||Hope, J. F (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Brassey, Albert||Fisher, William Hayes||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hn. St. John||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)|
|Bull, William James||Flower, Sir Ernest||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Butcher, John George||Forster, Henry William||Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A (Glasgow||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Galloway, William Johnson||Jessel, Captain Herb. Merton|
|Cavendish, V, C. W. (Derbysh.||Gardner, Ernest||Kenyon, Hon. G. T. (Denbigh|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Garfit, William||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J A (Worc.||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Chapman, Edward||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Knowles, Sir Lees|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow||Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Spear, John Ward|
|Lawrence, Sir J. (Monmouth)||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Spencer, Sir E (W. Bromwich)|
|Lawson, John G. (Yorks, N. R.||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham||Parkes, Ebenezer||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Pemberton, John S. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs.|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S||Percy, Earl||Stewart, Sir M. J. M'Taggart|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Pierpoint, Robert||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Lockwood, Lieut. Col. A. R.||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stroyan, John|
|Lowe, Francis William||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Strutt, Hn. Charles Hedley|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pretyman, Ernest George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Lucas, Col. F. (Lowestoft)||Pryce-Jones, Lt. -Col. Edward||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hn. Alfred||Purvis, Robert||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Rankin, Sir James||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Tuff, Charles|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Reid, James (Greenock)||Tufnell, Lieut. -Col. Edward|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Renwick, George||Turnour, Viscount|
|Malcolm, Ian||Ridley, S. Forde||Walrond, Rt Hn Sir William H.|
|Marks, Harry Hananel||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas Thomson||Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton|
|Melville, Beresford Valentine||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und Lyne|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Milner, Rt, Hn. Sir Frederick G||Rothschild, Hon. L. Walter||Wilson, John (Glasgow|
|Milvain, Thomas||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H) Yorks.)|
|Mitchell, William (Burnley||Royds, Clement Molyneaux||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Rutherford, John (Lancashire||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Montagu, Hon. J Scott (Hants.)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Sinclair, William Edward T.||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Viscount Valentia.|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Smith, Rt Hn J. Parker (Lanarks|
Motion made, and Question, "That this House do now adjourn "—(Sir A. Acland-Hood)—put, and agreed to.