HC Deb 13 March 1905 vol 142 cc1287-310
*MR. SOARES (Devonshire, Barnstaple)

said in moving the adjournment of the House on this subject he should like to make it perfectly clear and plain that this was in no sense of the word a personal attack on the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. They all liked, respected, and admired the hon. Gentleman, and had he obtained promotion they would have had no objection. The Motion now moved was for the purpose of protesting against the appointment of Lord Salisbury to the highly important office of the President of the Board of Trade. No one would deny that that was a most important office, and everyone hoped that as time went on its importance was destined to increase rather than diminish. The office was instituted in 1786, and its members were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the First Lord of the Treasury, the First Lord of the Admiralty, the principal Secretaries of State, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Speaker, certain Privy Councillors, and last, but not least, the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and ruling over those gentlemen were a president and a vice-president. It was hardly necessary to say that owing to its constitution that Board never met, and by custom and by practice the whole responsibility now rested on the President of the Board of Trade. The duties of the President of the Board of Trade were many and complex. He had to preside over the great railway systems of this country, arteries which were neither more nor less than the living of the great home trade of this country; over our mercantile marine, which, thanks to free trade, was supreme on every sea, and which provided work for 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 of men, and brought to this country £80,000,000 or £90,000,000 annually; he had control over harbours, and over the lighting of our coasts; and he had now to deal with the settlement of labour disputes, and many other matters of a similar nature. Ought not a Minister with all these duties to perform to be a Member of the House of Commons? The House of Commons was composed largely of business men; many of the mercantile princes were in the House, and every Member was from time to time brought into touch with the great mercantile undertakings in their constituencies, and it was their duty to bring the interests of those great under-takings before the President of the Board of Trade. They wished to ask him questions across the floor of the House, and to argue with him on these matters, and they did not want to be told, as they would now be told whenever a difficult and complex matter came before them, that no definite answer could be given because the hon. Gentleman had to consult his noble friend in another place. Of all the unsatisfactory answers given from time to time in the House that was the most unsatisfactory, because they all knew that it led to nothing.

There were two matters in which the House of Commons ought to be considered supreme, one was finance, and the other trade. Members of that House had more personal knowledge of these matters than noble Lords in another place, and had more practice in regard to them. It always seemed to him that the Prime Minister desired to exalt the other place at the expense of that House, when he allowed blocking Motions to stand in the Order Book which prevented this House from discussing questions of interest, though they could be discussed in the other place. Then the Prime Minister had a theory that all great Ministers of State should sit in the House of Lords. He said in the year 1903, when speaking on a somewhat similar Motion— Yet I am convinced that the difficulty of carrying that out will be found increasingly great, and that as you pile one duty after another upon the heads of great Departments, so it will make it less and less possible for a man to be a Member of the House of Commons and a great Minister at the same time. With this theory and with the new rules of the House of Commons passed by him it was evident that the Prime Minister was quite willing to exalt the Upper House at the expense of the House of Commons. What was the reason of this appointment? He would not discuss Lord Salisbury's qualifications. He knew that Lord Salisbury was a good free-trader; that he was a lieutenant-colonel of Volunteers, and also that he was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in that House for three years and had lately been Lord Privy Seal, an office somewhat in the nature of a sinecure. The other day, speaking at King's Lynn, Lord Claude Hamilton gave instances of how Governments were formed. He said that he had been asked by Mr. Disraeli to join his Government, but he was subsequently told that he could not be taken in as Lord George Hamilton had displayed more industry; and then Mr. Disraeli went on to say that he could not take in Lord Claude because he could not have more than one member of the same family in a Government. He did not know whether the Prime Minister agreed with that or not. But the real and true reason for this appointment was to be found in the Parliamentary poll-book. The theory of the Prime Minister seemed to be, "Come what may, appoint whom you will, but by all means let us avoid a by-election." During recent times the House had been accustomed to these constant changes in the Government. In the eye of the Prime Minister a week-end reconstruction was almost as popular as the week-end holiday, but the real reason which governed him in making this appointment was to prevent the electorate getting at him under any circumstances. The Prime Minister might be able to quote precedents for the action that he had taken. He might point out that Tory Prime Ministers had appointed Peers to be Presidents of the Board of Trade. Whig Ministers no doubt had done the same thing, but since the time of Mr. Gladstone—from 1868 onward—no President of the Board of Trade appointed by a Liberal Administration had sat in the House of Lords. But he did not wish to rely upon precedents only. They should not be guided by precedent in a case of this kind. The Government themselves admitted that times were changed, and there would have to be some alteration in the Board of Trade. They told the House in the King's Speech that they intended to alter the Board of Trade and establish a Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Everyone thought that meant an improvement in the status of the President of the Board of Trade, but the first thing they found after the debate on the Address was over was that the Minister of Commerce was to sit in the House of Lords. It was because he thought this appointment detrimental to the trade and commerce of the country, derogatory to the House of Commons, and injurious to the interests of their constituents, that he moved the adjournment.

*MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W.R., Elland)

said he was glad to support this Motion, not only for the general reasons given by his hon. friend, but because he thought in the first place that the Prime Minister had lost a great opportunity of altering the balance of administrative offices in favour of the House of Commons. This House had predominance in the government of this country, both in the matter of finance and in legislation, but in a case of this kind he thought it did not protest sufficiently against so large a portion of the administrative positions in the country being in the hands of Peers. Of the ten great Ministerial appointments, one third had, during the last few Ministries, been held by Peers. No one would say that a Peer of distinguished ability should be excluded from administrative office. Far from it. But it seemed to him that no Peer who had obscure and mediocre abilities ought to hold distinguished office in the State when there were men of the same caliber to be found in the House of Commons. In the other House there was nothing to test the capacity of a man as to the way he carried on his office. In this House, whatever a man's ability might be, he had to stand the test of constant criticism, and it was easy for the House to form an opinion of his character. This House ought to be very jealous of allowing any great office of State to be held by a Member of the other House, except he be one of the most distinguished Peers of the kingdom. The Department to which this Motion had relation had two sides to it. It had a commercial side and a labour side, and from both the commercial and the labour world there was a demand for a special Minister in their special interests. Ideally, it seemed to be an office which should be represented in this House by both the President and Parliamentary Secretary. One of those Gentlemen should be a commercial man and the other a Labour Member, but the Prime Minister could no more get a Labour Member to fill one of those positions than the hon. Member for West Birmingham could get a Labour Member to occupy a seat on his Tariff Commission. Perhaps Lord Salisbury was appointed because of the difficulty in which the Government found themselves. The present Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade was admirably fitted for the post, but he was a strong protectionist. His late chief was an avowed free-trader, and the Parliamentary Secretary was a strong man. He was almost the only man besides the hon. Member for Sleaford who had the courage to make protectionist speeches in the House, and, no doubt, he required a strong free-trader to balance him. But it would have given more confidence to the House if the right hon. Gentleman had selected the House of Commons representative of the distinguished race to which Lord Salisbury belonged, the Member for Greenwich.

The serious part of the present situation was the way in which the Prime Minister made appointments. His right hon. friend had alluded to what the right hon. Gentleman had said upon the last occasion when this subject was discussed. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say in that speech that never again should we see a Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in this House. That statement was received with some astonishment, but it showed the length to which the views of the right hon. Gentleman tended to carry him. During his Administration he had made many new appointments. Putting aside appointments to Court offices and to the positions of Whip, the right hon. Gentleman had made five new appointments in his Government; he had appointed one commoner, the Colonial Secretary, and four Peers. He had raised from subordinate positions in the Ministry, not counting lateral transferences from one office to another, two Peers and eight commoners, but three of the eight commoners were heirs to great Peerages. He did not say the right hon. Gentleman was wrong to appoint these gentlemen, but, in considering these appointments, the House had to consider the fact that the right hon. Gentleman was not only appointing Peers to Ministerial positions, but that he was also appointing and promoting hon. Gentlemen who, in the course of time, would be in the Upper House. The right hon. Gentleman in the appointments he was making was not having regard to the fair proportion of appointments which this House had a right to claim, and he thought his hon. friend had done well in the interests of this House to call attention to the fact.

MR. PURVIS (Peterborough)

said as long as there were two Houses of Parliament, the judgment of the Cabinet and the sentiment of the political Party which supported the Cabinet must be adequately represented in both Houses. The House of Lords and the House of Commons were independent bodies, and the adequate representation of the Executive Government by Ministers in both Houses secured that uniformity of deliberation which was necessary on great public questions. Every question was presented to both Houses from the same point of view. This Motion claimed for the House of Commons the privilege of having the President of the Board of Trade in this House. Such a privilege had no existence, it was not so many years ago that the Duke of Richmond was President of the Board of Trade. With all due deference to hon. Gentlemen opposite, the House of Lords contained many men qualified to give the very best opinions on trade and commerce. One had only to mention such names as Lord Goschen, whom they all knew, and the late Lord Hardwicke, whom many of them had known, to justify that statement. Lord Salisbury would not, in discussing matters of trade, speak in a back room, as it were, in the House of Lords, and even if they admitted that this prominent Department was not represented in this House except by an official of inferior grade, there was the other side to the question, which was that in the case of the noble Lord there would be no necessity for attending at night at nine o'clock, and he would, therefore, have more time to devote to the questions relating to his office.


It appears to me that the mover and the seconder, to say nothing of my hon. friend who has just spoken, have perhaps travelled a little wide of the relatively narrow terms in which the Motion for the adjournment has been couched. The mover began by giving a short historical survey of the Board of Trade. He was not afraid to air again that well-known joke or gibe about the constitution of the Board of Trade, that among its members are to be found distinguished dignitaries who have from the nature of their employment nothing to do with trade, such, for example, as the Archbishop of Canterbury and even the Speaker of the House of Commons. It is not, after all, the constitution of the Board of Trade which is in question. We are not going to discuss whether the Board of Trade should have at its head an official corresponding in status to a Secretary of State or whether the ancient and dignified fiction of the Board should be longer maintained. On that point there is much to be said pro and con, but really it is quite irrelevant to our debate, to-night, and I do not know how the hon. Gentleman who initiated the discussion thought fit to deal with it. The real question we have before us, I imagine, is whether or not the President of the Board of Trade for the time being should necessarily be in this House or whether he may be occasionally or often in another place. I do not think that in dealing with the subject hon. Members have sufficiently considered the problem which must always be dealt with by any Minister on whom falls the duty of advising the Sovereign on the constitution of the Government for the time being. I understand, however, that this duty will soon fall upon themselves, and I do not think that they will find it to be an easy one—at any rate, not easier than their predecessors have found it. I would seriously say in the best interests of the country, wholly irrespective of Party, that it is eminently desirable as few difficulties should be thrown in the way of the Prime Minister of the day as, in conformity with other overmastering interests, it is possible to arrange.

The mover of the Motion indicated that the one solitary consideration which influenced the present Prime Minister was the desire to avoid by-elections. Supposing that were true—it is not true—but supposing it were true, can there be a severer condemnation, of our existing system? I remember in my early days the Party to which I belong [OPPOSITION cries of "Which Party?"]—it was in 1780; I should have said 1880—derived infinite enjoyment from the satisfaction of turning the late Sir William Harcourt out of his seat at Oxford on his taking office as Home Secretary. He found a seat elsewhere, but his absence from the House was a temporary inconvenience to Mr. Gladstone's Government; and, in my opinion, although it gave us great satisfaction as a good practical joke, it was a severe condemnation of the system on which we now carry on business. There is no practical Assembly in the world but our own which would tolerate such a system for an instant. I am not going into that question, on which I feel very strongly and on which some day I hope to have the pleasure or the pain to trouble the House with a longer speech. I only mention it because the hon. Member chose to throw across the floor of the House a taunt of which I do not complain, and I do not think was directed against, me, but against the system which I desire to see destroyed, not in my interest or in the interest of this side of the House, but in the interest of both sides of the House and of sound government, and the interest which, after all, must be of the greatest importance to the whole community—the free choice of those persons best qualified to fill particular offices.

The seconder of the Motion laid down the proposition that in dividing the offices between the two Houses no account should be taken of the fact that there were two Houses of Parliament—in other words, for the purpose of distributing office you had to consider the individual himself without considering whether he, belonged to one House or the other, or the equitable and fair division between the two historic branches of the Legislature. That has never been the principle on which any Prime Minister up to the present time has acted. The hon. Member knows perfectly well that every Prime Minister, to whichever Party he belonged, has always considered that the House of Lords had a claim as an equal branch of the Legislature with ourselves to a proportion—not necessarily an exact equivalent proportion—of the great offices of State. I do not know whether that is going to be, with other constitutional maxims, abandoned by hon. Members opposite. Some of them desire to "mend or end" the House of Lords; and this may be, indeed, the beginning of that campaign with which they threaten us against that Assembly. But so long as the House of Lords exists, occupying as it does an essential and an historic place in our constitutional system, so long will it be a grave dereliction of duty on the part of any Minister who has to advise the Crown in the formation of a Government to ignore the claims of the House of Lords to a portion of the great administrative offices of the State. I had to make important changes in the Government owing to the resignation of the late Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant, and the resignation also of Lord Onslow. Have I altered the balance of Cabinet Ministers between us and House of Lords? I have retained it exactly where it was. That the changes had to be made no one regrets more than I do; but as the changes had to be made, I do not believe that the necessity could have been better met than as I have endeavoured to meet it.

The seconder of the Motion has chosen to mix up two different questions in his attack on the Government. He was not content with endeavouring to show that I had displayed undue partiality to the House of Lords in giving to that Assembly the Presidency of the Board of Trade, but he set himself to prove that I had a peculiar partiality for those who either were, or in the course of nature would become, Peers of the realm. Supposing that somewhat absurd accusation were true, what would it have to do with this Motion, if I may say so without offence? Because my noble friend the Postmaster-General is the heir to a Peerage, what has it to do with the fact that Lord Salisbury has been appointed President of the Board of Trade? It has not the remotest connection. But I suppose that the hon. Member desired to raise a prejudice, to make something in the nature of a personal attack, because I think too well of his sense of relevance and logic to suppose that he would have dragged in such irrelevant matter if he had not had the motive which I suggest. A good deal has been said about a speech which I delivered in the House some years ago—I forget what speech it was.


It was in 1903, when Lord Onslow was appointed Minister for Agriculture.


I had forgotten that. Did the hon. Gentleman and his friends object to it because Lord Onslow was a Peer? [Cries of "Yes."] Then their last shred of argument is gone. They are of opinion not only that the Board of Trade but the Board of Agriculture should be in this House, and they think that the necessity is equal. I do not think they ought to be in this House, but I admit that the necessity is equal, and therefore I have transferred the Board of Agriculture from the other House and put the Board of Trade there. That should be a fair arrangement even according to the views of hon. Members. I am greatly indebted to the hon. Gentleman for having reminded me of a Parliamentary episode which had escaped my recollection. He reminded me of a speech I made on the occasion of Lord Onslow's appointment. I Though I had forgotten that speech, I recognise that the sentiments contained in the extract are those which I entertained and still entertain. The hon. Member reminded the House that I had stated that the growing labours both of administrative and of Parliamentary life are such that the difficulty of holding a very heavy office in this House is day by day an increasing difficulty. Those two hon. Gentlemen who have not held important administrative offices seem to regard it as an absurd paradox and as a wanton attack on the privileges of this House. Really it is not a paradox, and it is not an attack on this House. The tendency of events, and the natural course and development of an Assembly such as this, throws upon the Ministers of the day and upon the non-official Members of the day an ever-increasing burden of work and sacrifice. Compare the hours and the strain put upon Members when I first entered the House more than a generation ago, or the generation before that, and you will find that the one uninterrupted tendency, whoever was in power, whatever the questions occupying the attention of the country or the state of our foreign relations, has been more and more to make the labours of individual Members, and not less the labours of Ministers, in the House of Commons become greater and greater. And while that is going on within these walls there is a similar tendency going on with regard to all the great offices of State. A century or a century and a half ago what had a Minister to do? What was the administrative work thrown upon him? It was practically, as we should say in these days, nothing. Now, year by year, the closer intercourse of nations, the development of means of communication, the growing policy of this House and the other House, but chiefly of this House, to throw more and more labours upon Departments—these are all tending to make separate administrative offices more and more absorbing in the continuous labour which they impose upon their occupants. I am not talking of duties which fall upon me, which are of a somewhat special kind; but take the very office of the Board of Trade we are considering. The hon. Gentleman, in his speech, said that every year the House of Commons throws new duties on the President of the Board of Trade. So it does; and, therefore, every year the House of Commons makes it more difficult for the head of that particular office also to carry on the great labours incident to a Member of this House. And as for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I repeat what has been regarded as a paradox by the seconder of the Motion. I say you will not again see in this House a Foreign Minister unless you are prepared deliberately to release that Minister from the ordinary obligations of a Member of the House. Because if you ask him to come down at two o'clock or a quarter past to answer Questions or when his own office is under discussion; if you require him to be down, as my right hon. friends are required to come down, whenever there is a Government division or an important Government debate; if you require him to be here throughout the whole afternoon, to come again, if need be, at nine, and at the same time to carry on the work of such an office as the Foreign Office, you cannot do it. I respectfully say it with full knowledge both of what the House of Commons requires and what is required of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The strain in any case is great, and I say that to add to the labours which are thrown on the Minister for Foreign Affairs the labours of the day-to-day work of this House is really out of the question. In truth, much as we may dislike it, we have to recognise that our ambitions as legislators do conflict with those other natural ambitions to have the heads of the administrative Departments in this House. I believe that in the interests of administration as well as in other interests the immemorial constitutional practice ought to be maintained—that of keeping in the other House a certain number of the great Departments of State and not necessarily those which entail least labour upon their occupants.

Beyond a few covert sneers, nothing has been said against Lord Salisbury's capacity for the office; and I am sure hon. Gentlemen are anxious to say nothing of a personal character find nothing that could legitimately hurt the feelings of anybody, certainly not of the noble Lord himself. But the hon. Members did imply that what they called a business training was, or ought to be, an invariable accompaniment of anybody holding the office of President of the Board of Trade. [Cheers.] I really do not think those enthusiastic cheers will be repeated when I recall the fact that the last occupant of the office on their own side was a very distinguished gentleman whose great services to mankind were chiefly connected with history and scientific law—much more important qualifications, I think, than those of a mere business training. Nor do I think that anything should be sacrificed in order to obtain purely business qualifications. Get them if you can, but sacrifice, nothing in the way of general ability in order to gain them. That is the constitutional practice, and I believe it is a perfectly sound one. It was Lord Beaconsfield, I think, who said that a business man was a man who has left business, or whom business has left; and it is certainly true that to neglect the greater qualities in order to obtain technical ability in some particular branch of business would be a very evil practice, and one which would be little calculated to advance the general business interests of the country represented by the Board of Trade. May I just read out a short list of the Presidents of the Board of Trade for the last half century? Lord Stanley of Alderley, the right hon. Joseph Henley, Lord Donoughmore, the right hon. Thomas Milner Gibson, Sir S. Northcote, the Duke of Richmond, the right hon. John Bright, the right hon. Chichester Fortescue, Sir Charles Adderley, Lord Sandon, the right, hon. Joseph Chamberlain, the right hon. E. Stanhope, the right hon. Anthony Mundella, Lord Stanley of Preston, Sir M. Hicks-Beach, the right hon. James Bryce, the right hon. C. T. Ritchie, and the right hon. G. W. Balfour. That is the list of fifty years, and those are the choices made by successive Prime Ministers during that time, drawn from both Parties; and I venture to say that in that list there is conclusive proof of two things—first, that Prime Ministers have not shrunk from putting the President of the Board of Trade in the House of Lords, and, in the second place, that they took no special pains to search out men of business training in order to fill the office of President of the Board of Trade. As for the general capacity of the new holder of the office, I admit the full responsibility which I have undertaken in recommending his name to the King, and I imagine we shall not debate that point, because it is undebateable with advantage or even with propriety, across the floor of the House. But on the particular points that I have not increased the number of Cabinet offices in the House of Lords, that I——I am sorry to have to use the first personal pronoun, but it is my advice, after all—have not violated tradition by putting a Peer in the position of President of the Board of Trade—those two things, I think, are perfectly clear, and I do not think there is the smallest justification for the Motion which has been proposed and seconded this evening.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

said his hon. friends who moved and seconded the Motion for the adjournment refrained very carefully from making any personal attack upon Lord Salisbury, and the Prime Minister had reciprocated that courtesy by criticising the qualifications of the Liberal President of the Board of Trade ten years ago.


I specially said that I thought the right hon. Gentleman had much greater claims to our consideration than could be derived from a business training.


said he accepted the explanation. He had probably misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman. The Prime Minister had skilfully tried to divert this into an attack on the House of Lords, but the Motion had nothing to do with the particular view held by Members on either side about the House of Lords. The question was whether the President of the Board of Trade ought to be in the other House or in this House. That was a totally different proposition. The Prime Minister said he had considered the relative claims of the two Houses, and had distributed the offices in such a way as to give the House of Lords fair representation. He pointed out that Lord Onslow, who was Minister of Agriculture, was in the House of Lords, and that now the Minister of Agriculture was in the House of Commons. But the right hon. Gentleman did not point out, first, that the predecessor of Lord Onslow as Minister of Agriculture, the late Mr. Hanbury, was in this House; and, secondly, that when Lord Onslow was appointed all the chambers of agriculture throughout the country memorialised the Government that the Minister of Agriculture should be in the House of Commons. The appointment of a Member of this House as Minister of Agriculture was the result of the unanimous request of the agricultural societies of the country. If that was the case in regard to agriculture, surely the case in regard to the Board of Trade was overwhelming. If ever there was a chief who ought to be in the House of Commons it was the chief of the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade had to deal with commerce, trade, and industry. How many representatives of the working classes were there in the House of Lords? The representatives of the commercial interests—the shipping interest, for instance—were to be found in the House of Commons. The hon. Member for Peterborough said there were many Members in the House of Lords who knew a great deal about trade and commerce. That was perfectly true, but how was it that they were not appointed? The great majority of the representatives of the commerce of the country were to be found in the House of Commons, and it was important that the Minister of the Department concerned with trade should be in contact with those representatives day by day. Although there were three or four Peers on the list of those who had represented the Board of Trade, they were only there for a year or, at most, eighteen months at a time; and when the Prime Minister gave his list he did not mention the fact that for forty-five years out of the total of fifty the President of the Board of Trade was in the House of Commons, That showed that not merely Liberal but Conservative Administrations had alike recognised that the head of the Board of Trade ought to be in the House of Commons.

Did not the Committee which was appointed to consider the re-arrangement of offices report that they were satisfied that the work of the Board of Trade had greatly increased in importance in late years, as new duties and responsibilities had been imposed on it by legislation in connection with railways, trade disputes, etc? The Report went on exalting the importance of the office, and it all ended in the appointment of a Peer, who had had no training at all in these matters, to the headship of the Department. He did not say that if a Peer was pre-eminently fitted for the office he should not be appointed. He was making no attack upon Lord Salisbury, and if the noble Lord stood alone—if it was felt in both Houses of Parliament that he was the best man to represent trade in Parliament—he did not mean to say that there would not have been a good deal to say for the position of the Government in appointing him. But that was not the case. He did not wish to draw invidious comparisons, but could it be fairly said that the new representative of the trade and commerce of the country was a man better fitted for the post than his subordinate, the hon. Gentleman who, according to the hon. Member for Peterborough, held an office of an inferior grade. Had it been left to be decided by any one in this House who should be the new head of the Department, would it not have been the hon. Gentleman who now sat in this House?

After all, the Prime Minister's defence was contained in the first part of his speech. What was it? The only defence was the unpopularity of his Government; that practically he could not face by-elections. The Prime Minister was not free to consider the material of his own Party; he could not consider who was the best man for a post; he had to consider the man whose seat was safe. That was not fair to the country. The Prime Minister knew perfectly well he had not a free hand to consider who was the man in his Party who was best fitted to hold this position. After all, it was a very important post, a most important post, perhaps one of the most important in the Ministry. We were attacked in our trade, and this was the way the Government were going to defend it—by supporting the previous Question and appointing the Marquess of Salisbury! For the last two or three years we had heard that our trade was going, that it was being attacked by foreign countries. The Ministerial Party had got their remedy; they, on the Opposition side, had got their remedy—on that they were all agreed. [HON. MEMBERS on the MINISTERIAL Benches: What is your remedy?]

MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)

A general election.


said that their remedy was free trade. He could not discuss that at present; but, at any rate, that was his proposition. They were all agreed that trade was a very important matter from the point of view of the administration of the government of this country; but at this particular moment, when they were all agreed on that, the Government instead of selecting the best man for President of the Board of Trade had regard only to electioneering considerations. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] Why should they make any pretence about it in this House? Did the House of Commons wish to take its facts, if he might say so, like its fresh air, through cotton wool? Everybody knew why this appointment had been made. The Prime Minister himself did not really deny it. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] Well, he did so in a very half-hearted way; he did not seem to have any settled convictions about it. The Prime Minister was fighting a rearguard action; everybody knew that he was fighting it with very great skill; but he had loitered too long in a bad position. His own Party were entitled to require that he should put his best man in command, and Grand Dukes were not always the best men; they should not be always of the blood. The Prime Minister knew perfectly well, at any rate, why the thing had been done. His hon. friend had alluded to a former connection of the Archbishop of Canterbury with the Department—he did not know whether tradition required the association of anyone with an ecclesiastical turn of mind with the office. The Prime Minister said that it was of importance to have heads of Departments in the House of Lords. That was a most dangerous attack on the House of Commons, for the whole argument of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to be that Ministers should be in the other House, members of his Party in the House of Commons being so much engaged in coining down to talk against time, between nine and ten o'clock, in order to keep an unpopular Ministry in power. [An HON. MEMBER on the MINISTERIAL Benches: No, no!] Was that really denied? [An HON. MEMBER on the MINISTERIAL Benches: Yes.] Well, he saw that there was one hon. Member who was not going to stand again.

What would the result be of having the representative of this great Department in the House of Lords? After all, the head of the Department was the only one who could answer finally any difficult and complicated question. He remembered when Lord Salisbury was in the House of Commons he was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, but he was not allowed to answer supplementary Questions. Why? Because his chief was in the House of Lords. Were they going to allow him to answer supplementary Questions in the House of Lords? And who was to be the chief? Was it to be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, or was it to be the Marquess of Salisbury? There was no Department in the Government which required to be more constantly interrogated than the Board of Trade on questions of shipping, commerce, and labour, and, above all, on questions of sugar. He wished to point out the importance of having in the House of Commons a strong man who knew something, of his own knowledge, of trade, and had an independent judgment of his own. What better proof could they have of that than the stupid blunder of the Sugar Convention? But there was a much bigger question than that looming—that of free trade. He did not believe there was anyone in that House who in his heart would defend this appointment. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Yes."] He ventured to ask if any hon. Member opposite would get up and say that, in his judgment, the Marquess of Salisbury, out of the 200 odd gentlemen who represented the Government in that House, and the 400 odd gentlemen who represented it in the House of Lords, was the best qualified man to be at the head of the trade and commerce and industry of this country? They knew perfectly well that he was nothing of the sort. He supported the Motion for the adjournment in order to object to this sort of recasting of the family settlement.

MR. MARKS (Kent, Thanet)

said that no one outside that House and Party politics would deny that in the matter of the appointment of a high official the main question to be considered was the capability of the man to be appointed. The mover of the Motion for the adjournment had refrained from entering into the question of the Marquess of Salisbury's qualifications, and prided himself on the fact; and without considering these qualifications the hon. Member came to the conclusion that this appointment would be detrimental to the trade of the country. A very serious matter, if true; but the hon. Member had made no attempt to justify his statement. The hon. Member for Carnarvon had asked who was there in the House of Lords who represented the working classes. That was an astounding inquiry to come from a Liberal leader. The Liberal Peers in the House of Lords represented the working classes, and there or elsewhere would work with the hon. Member if and when a Liberal Government came into office. The hon. Member had asked where were the representatives of commerce in the House of Lords; he had asserted that they were to be found only in the House of Commons. He, however, contended that the representatives of commerce who had been most successful were to be found, not in that House, but in the House of Lords; and those who had been only moderately successful sat in this House, in the hope that before long they would go to the House of Lords. They were told that the President of the Board of Trade was the head of the trade and commerce of the country. He was nothing of the kind, and was never intended to be. He was meant to direct matters in connection with the trade, commerce, and industry of the country, but he was also responsible for other matters. Prominent amongst those other matters which the President of the Board of Trade had to deal with was the erosion of our sea coasts; a subject which required very serious consideration, and which was more likely to receive that consideration at the hands of a President whose whole time was not taken up with routine work in this House.


And the amendment of the Company Laws.


Yes, the amendment of the Company Laws; and, in addition to that, the question of the manning of the merchant marine, with which a Departmental Committee had lately been dealing. One could not help believing that questions of such magnitude and urgency would be better dealt with by a President of the Board of Trade who had more leisure than a Minister who was subjected to the constant harrassing and labour of the House of Commons. It was a very well-known fact that for years past the proportion

of foreigners engaged in the mercantile marine——


The hon. Member must have got the wrong speech in his hand.


said that in his inexperience he had thought that any speech which dealt with matters of trade would have been germane to the discussion on the Board of Trade. He would conclude, however, by saying that no argument had been adduced against this appointment. The speeches which had been delivered from the Opposition side of the House had been merely campaign speeches directed against the general policy of the Government.

MR. BELL (Derby)

said he desired to add a few words, as a representative of the working classes. He had listened with great attention to the speeches of the hon. Members who had supported the Prime Minister, but had not heard a single word in justification of this appointment. The President of the Board of Trade, as well as many other heads of Departments, should sit in that House. He was the head of a Department which dealt not only with commerce, but with the interests of the working classes, and he failed to understand why such an appointment should be made in a House where the Minister would be far away from criticism. If the Government did not choose to place within the Cabinet or in the Department dealing with the industry of the country some representative of the labouring class, the least they could do was to place the head of the Department in the House of Commons, where he could be thoroughly questioned. Nothing would give the working classes of the country less confidence in the Government than placing the head of the Board of Trade in the other place.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 167; Noes, 239. (Division List No. 43.)

Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.) Barran, Rowland Hirst Boland, John
Allen, Charles P. Bell, Richard Brigg, John
Ashton, Thomas Gair Benn, John Williams Bright, Allan Heywood
Asquith, Rt Hon. Herbert Henry Black, Alexander William Broadhurst, Henry
Atherley-Jones, L. Blake, Edward Bryce, Rt. Hon. James
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Holland, Sir William Henry Rea, Russell
Burke, E. Haviland Horniman, Frederick John Reckitt, Harold James
Burns, John Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk Reddy, M.
Buxton, Sydney Charles Jacoby, James Alfred Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Caldwell, James Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea Reid, Sir R Threshie (Dumfries
Cameron, Robert Jones, Leif (Appleby) Rickett, J. Compton
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Jones, William (Carnarvonshire Roberts, John Bryu (Eifion)
Causton, Richard Knight Kearley, Hudson E. Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)
Channing, Francis Allston Kennedy, Vincent P (Cavan, W. Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)
Cheetham, John Frederick Kilbride, Denis Robson, William Snowdon
Churchill, Winston Spencer Kitson, Sir James Roche, John
Clancy, John Joseph Labouchere, Henry Rose, Charles Day
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lambert, George Runciman, Walter
Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark) Law, Hugh Alex. (Donegal, W.) Russell, T. W.
Crean, Eugene Lawson, Sir Wilfred (Cornwall) Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)
Cremer, William Randal Layland-Barratt, Francis Schwann, Charles E.
Crombie, John William Levy, Maurice Seely, Maj J. E. B. (Isleof Wight
Crooks, William Lewis, John Herbert Sheehy, David
Cullinan, J. Lloyd-George, David Shipman, Dr. John G.
Dalziel, James Henry Lough, Thomas Slack, John Bamford
Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen) Lundon, W. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan Lyell, Charles Henry Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R. (Northants
Delany, William Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Stevenson, Francis S.
Devlin, Charles Ramsay (Galway MacVeagh, Jeremiah Strachey, Sir Edward
Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.) McCrae, George Sullivan, Donal
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Mc Kean, John Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Doogan, P. C. McKenna, Reginald Tennant, Harold John
Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark) Mc Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)
Duffy, William J. Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.) Toulmin, George
Duncan, J. Hastings Mooney, John J. Ure, Alexander
Edwards, Frank Morgan. J. Lloyd (Carmarthen) Waldron, Laurence Ambrose
Ellis, John Edward (Notts.) Morley, Rt Hon. John (Montrose Wallace, Robert
Emmott, Alfred Moulton, John Fletcher Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Esmond, Sir Thomas Murphy, John Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Evans, Sir Francis H (Maidstone Nannetti, Joseph P. Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Eve, Harry Trelawney Newnes, Sir George Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Fenwick, Charles Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) White, George (Norfolk)
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Norman, Henry White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Flynn, James Christopher O'Brien Kendal (Tipperary Mid White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Freeman-Thomas, Captain F. O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.) Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)
Fuller, J. M. F. O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Furness, Sir Christopher O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John O' Dowd, John Wills, Arthur Walters (N. Dorset
Goddard, Daniel Ford O' Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.) Wilson, John (Durham. Mid.)
Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton O'Malley, William Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd
Harwood, George O' Shaughnessy, P. J. Young, Samuel
Hayden, John Patrick Partington, Oswald Yoxall, James Henry
Healy, Timothy Michael Paulton, James Mellor
Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.
Higham, John Sharpe Pirie, Duncan V. Scares and Mr. Trevelyan.
Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E. Power, Patrick Joseph
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Boscawen, Arthur Griffith
Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch. Boulnois, Edmund
Allsopp, Hon. George Banbury, Sir Frederick George Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middlesex
Anson, Sir William Reynell Banner, John S. Harmood- Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John
Arkwright, John Stanhope Bartley, Sir George C. T. Bull, William James
Arnold-Forster, Rt Hn. Hugh O Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin Burdett-Coutts, W.
Arrol, Sir William Bentinck, Lord Henry C. Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.
Bailey, James (Walworth) Bignold, Sir Arthur Cautley, Henry Strother
Bain, Colonel James Robert Bigwood, James Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire
Baird, John George Alexander Bill, Charles Cayzer, Sir Charles William
Balcarres, Lord Blundell, Colonel Henry Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich
Balfour, Rt Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Bond, Edward Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. A. (Worc.
Chapman, Edward Hogg, Lindsay Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Clive, Captain Percy A. Hope, J F. (Sheffield, Brightside Pretyman, Ernest George
Coates, Edward Feetham Horner, Frederick William Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E. Houldsworth, Sir Win. Henry Purvis, Robert
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Hoult, Joseph Pym, C. Guy
Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C. R. Houston, Robert Paterson Randles, John S.
Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole Howard, John (Kent, Faversham Rankin, Sir James
Compton, Lord Alwyne Hozier, Hon James Henry, Cecil Rasch, Sir Frederick Carne
Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas Hunt, Rowland Ratcliff, R. F.
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred. Reid, James (Greenock)
Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S. Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine
Cripps, Charles Alfred Kerr, John Ridley, S. Forde
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow Keswick, William Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)
Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile kimber, Sir Henry Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)
Cubitt, Hon. Henry King, Sir Henry Seymour Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Dalkeith, Earl of Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm. Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Laurie, Lieut.-General Round, Rt. Hon. James
Davenport, William Bromley Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow) Royds, Clement Molyneux
Dewar, Sir T R. (Tower Hamlets Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th Rutherford, John (Lancashire)
Dickinson, Robert Edmond Lawson, Hn H. L. W. (Mile End) Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Dickson, Charles Scott Lawson, John Grant (Yorks. N R Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford
Disraeli, Conings by Ralph Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander
Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead) Samuel, Sir Harry S (Limehouse
Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S. Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Duke, Henry Edward Llewellyn, Evan Henry Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)
Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R. Seton-Karr, Sir Henry
Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine Sharpe, William Edward T.
Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.) Long, Col Charles W. (Evesham Shaw-Stewart, Sir H (Renfrew)
Fardell, Sir T. George Lowe, Francis William Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowstoft) Sloan Thomas Henry
Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth) Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)
Finlay, Sir R B. (Inv'rn'ssB'ghs) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Fisher, William Haves MacIver, David (Liverpool) Stanley, Hon Arthur (Ormskirk
Fison, Frederick William Maconochie, A. W. Stanley, Rt Hon. Lord (Lanes.)
Fitzgerald, Sir Robert Penrose McArthur, Charles (Liverpool) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Fitzroy, Hon Edward Algernon Mc Calmont, Colonel James Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Flannery, Sir Fortescue Majendie, James A. H. Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Flower, Sir Ernest Malcolm, Ian Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (Oxf'dUniv.
Forster. Henry William Marks, Harry Hananel Taylor Austen (East Toxteth)
Foster, Philip S (Warwick, S. W. Martin, Richard Biddulph Thorburn, Sir Walter
Gardner, Ernest Maxwell, Rt. Hn Sir H. E. (Wigt'n Tomlinson Sir Wm. Edw. M.
Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. Maxwell. W J. H (Dumfriesshire Tritton, Charles Ernest
Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Milner, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G. Tuff, Charles
Gordon, Maj Evans-(TrH'mlets Moles worth, Sir Lewis Tuke, Sir John Batty
Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby- Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.) Turnour, Viscount
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon Moon, Edward Robert Pacy Vincent, Col Sir C. E H (Sheffield
Goschen, Hon. George Joachim Moore, William Walker, Col. William Hall
Graham, Henry Robert Morgan, David J (Walthamstow Walrond Rt Hn. Sir William H.
Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Morpeth, Viscount Wanklyn, James Leslie
Green, Walford D (Wednesbury Morrell, George Herbert Warde, Colonel C. E.
Greene, Henry D (Shrewsbury. Morrison, James Archibald Welby, Lt.-Col A. C. E. (Taunton
Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.) Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)
Grenfell, William Henry Mount, William Arthur Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd
Gretton, John Muntz, Sir Philip A. Whitmore, Charles Algernon
Greville, Hon. Ronald Murray, Charles J. (Coventry) Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)
Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F. Myers, William Henry Wilson, John (Glasgow
Hambro, (Carles Eric Nicholson, William Graham Wilson J W. (Worcestersh. N.)
Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury) Wilson-Todd. Sir W H. (Yorks.)
Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nderry) Parker Sir Gilbert Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E R. (Bath)
Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington Wortley, Rt. Hon C. B. Stuart
Hay, Hon. Claude George Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley Wright son, Sir Thomas
Heath, Sir James (Staffords, N W Percy, Earl Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Heaton, John Henniker Pierpoint, Robert
Holder, Augustus Pilkington, Colonel Richard TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir
Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.) Platt-Higgins, Frederick Alexander Acland-Hood and
Hoare, Sir Samuel Plummer, Sir Waiter R. Viscount Valentia.