§ Considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ [Mr. EMMOTT (Oldham) in the Chair.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of money provided by Parliament, of the salaries, remuneration, and expenses of the Small Holdings Commissioners and other officers appointed under any Act of the present session to amend the law with respect to small holdings and allotments; and to authorise the payment to the Small Holdings Account of the costs and expenses of 756 the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries incurred in pursuance of such Act."— (Mr. Harcourt.)
§ *MR. CHAPLIN (Surrey, Wimbledon)
said he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill one or two Questions which came within the provisions of the Resolution, and they arose in this way. When land was taken on lease for the purpose of this Bill, as he understood it, the agreement for the lease would be regarded as a preliminary expense, and would be paid for out of money provided by Parliament. He wished to elicit from the right hon. Gentleman what were to be the terms and conditions of the lease, and who would be responsible for giving compensation, in the first place, to the farmer, who was to be deprived of part of his land for the purposes of small holdings, and, secondly, to the landlord when the land taken by the county council was surrendered at the end of the first lease. He also wished to know what would be the nature of the compensation. He would take the case of the farmer first. In the first schedule to the Bill there was this proposal—The council may at any time after they have served the notice to treat on the owner, serve on the tenant, if any, of the land to be compulsorily acquired, notice to quit, and such notice shall have the like effect as if it had been given by the owner.In his opinion, compensation should be made under whichever of the three forms of tenure the farm was held. Under all ordinary circumstances it was when the landlord gave notice to quit that he was responsible for the compensation to the tenant. The first question he wished, therefore, to put was, who was to be responsible in this case for the notice? Was it to be the county council or was it to be the landlord? That was a point which ought to be made quite clear, because he did not think it was so in the paragraph he had read in the Schedule. The second question was what was the nature of the compensation to be paid under the terms of the lease? An existing tenant would be paid compensation either under the Agricultural Holdings Act, or under the custom of the country, or under agreement made with the landlord. In his judgment the compensation to be paid by the county council should be the same as it would 757 be under whichever of these three forms of tenure the farm was held; provided that neither the custom nor the agreement gave less than he would be entitled to under the Agricultural Holdings Act. Under that Act the compensation would be the value to the incoming tenant which would be quite sufficient. But the value to an ordinary incoming tenant and to the county council when the land was required for a different purpose might not be the same. And yet there was no reason why in such a case the tenant should be deprived by a hair's-breadth of the full compensation he was entitled to now. He came to the case of the landlord. If at the end of the lease the county council did not want the land any longer for their particular purpose and it was returned to the landlord, that of course pre-supposed some kind of deterioration in the land. If it had not deteriorated, people would be anxious to take it and the county council to keep it. He had asked a very important question in regard to the breaking up of grass lands, but he had never been able to find any provision of compensation in such a case. He thought before the Bill went upstairs they ought to have some clear understanding on these points, because, although he had searched the Bill, he found no clause or clauses enacting compensation of this nature. It was only in the schedules that they found anything material on the point, and even there there was a very curious provision which he did not remember to have seen before, that where there was a dispute between the council and the landlord as to what the compensation was to be, it was to be settled by one valuer who was to be appointed by one of the parties to the dispute, viz., the Board of Agriculture, representing the Commissioners. Section 30 of the Bill dealt with the question of the county councils receiving compensation, and therefore the omission was all the more curious. He hoped his right hon. friend would be able to give them some explanation upon these points to which he omitted to make any reference on the Second Reading of the Bill. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he made these observations with no view of putting any impediment in the way of the progress of the Bill, but if the right hon. Gentleman would answer his questions it would conduce to the progress of the measure.
§ *THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. HARCOURT, Lancashire, Rossendale)
said he could remember no sins of omission on his part which made it necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to return to the House and recur to this subject. He thought, however, that he had dealt with the main questions, and if he had omitted to deal with some of the smaller criticisms it was certainly not with any desire to conceal from the right hon. Gentleman or the House the intention and the footing upon which the Bill had been drawn. The right hon. Gentleman had asked how compensation was provided for in the case of a departing tenant. That was specially provided for under Part II. of Schedule 1. Of course the county council would be the incoming tenant, and they would come under the usual custom of an incoming tenant, although the legal remedy of the outgoing tenant was against the landlord. He had no doubt that in such cases the county council would pay directly to the outgoing tenant, but if the landlord paid he would recover it from the county council. The sitting tenant, therefore, would be in no worse position than he was now, either under the Lands Clauses Acts or under the custom of the county in which he was. No difference was made in the position which the tenant was entitled to occupy. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman thought that giving power to serve a notice to treat with the landlord was equivalent to a notice to quit to the tenant, because the intention of that provision was merely to enable the county council to perform the duty which might have been omitted by the landlord. Moreover, the power only applied to yearly tenancies, and did not apply to leases. As to compensation to the landlord for depreciation or possible depreciation of the land at the expiration of the term, all he could say was that given an ordinary tenancy the landlord would be entitled under the ordinary law to compensation for deterioration in the ordinary way, and under the ordinary rule. That was expressed in Part II. of the Schedule. There would be the usual provisions for good culture, and if grass land was broken up that was one of the things which the county council would have to deal with, and they could proceed for waste against the tenant. As to the arbitrator being appointed by the Board 759 he did not think that any exception could be taken, and a similar course was pursued in regard to arbitrations under the Local Government Board.
§ *MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
inquired who was to pay the amount which might become due for depreciation. Would it be necessary for the county council to pay out of the rates the claims for depreciation? He would like to know whether it would not be possible under circumstances when the Commissioners had stepped in and forced the county councils to take the land and create Small Holdings, for the Small Holdings Commissioners to pay out of Imperial Funds the claims for depreciation. He had not been able to obtain a copy of the Resolution, but so far as he could understand, no definite sum was mentioned in it, and very little information was given as to who the Commissioners would be and what salary they would receive. Could the right hon. Gentleman say what sum would be placed at the disposal of the Small-Holdings Commissioners, what salaries they would receive, and what class of men they would be? Would they be Members of Parliament appointed by the Government, would they be responsible to the House for the working of the Act, or would the Board of Agriculture be responsible to the House and the country, and would it be possible for gentlemen to hold these places who had financial obligations with regard to the creation of small holdings in the country.
§ MR. HARCOURT
said the salaries of the Commissioners would be fixed by the Treasury and the Board of Agriculture at whatever sum was necessary to secure people who would perform the duties adequately and properly. No Member of Parliament would be able to act as a Commissioner. The landlord and not the tenant farmer would have had notice to quit in respect of the land used for small holdings, and would have quitted it. The question of damage by severance of the farm could be easily settled.
§ MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)
asked on a point of order whether it was in order to discuss on this Resolution the financial clauses of the Bill which were printed in italics.
The hon. Member can only discuss the clauses in Committee. All he can discuss now is whether the House shall grant this money.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
moved to amend the Resolution by inserting after the word "payment" the words "a sum not exceeding £20,000 per annum." He said that he put the Amendment on the Paper because he thought the Committee ought to know what amount of money they were going to vote. This precedent had always been followed by hon. and right hon. Gentleman opposite when in Opposition. They were most strict in insisting on their right to know, before they voted, how much they were going to vote. It was the more important in this case because when the Bill went to Committee the closure might be applied and it would be impossible for a proper discussion to take place. It was in order to ensure a discussion that he moved this Amendment. He had put in what he conceived to be a large sum, and the only question that seemed to arise was whether that sum was sufficient for the purpose to which the money was to be devoted. He understood that that purpose was the payment of salaries and expenses to which the Commissioners might be put. The expenses to which they were put could not be of any great amount, because the real expenses under the Bill would fall on the local authorities.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
If any. Then he was right in thinking that the expenses under the Resolution would be limited to the salaries of the Commissioners and their clerks and officers and to the cost of any experiments they might make in the institution of small holdings which the Bill authorised. If those were the only objects for which the House was asked to vote the money it seemed to him that £20,000 a year was an ample sum for the purpose. He might be met with the argument that the duties of the Commissioners were all in the future, that such duties had never existed in the past, and that therefore it was impossible to foretell what amount of money would be required. 761 But such an argument was an extremely feeble one, because they might be quite sure that the Government had taken the trouble to ascertain the amount of expenditure to which they were going to commit the nation. The only other objection would be that the amount was not sufficient; that of course could only be a matter of opinion; the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell the Committee the grounds on which he founded his opinion, and if he could show that a larger amount was necessary he believed that those who sat in Opposition, and who considered they ought to know how much they were voting, would not be averse to extending the amount to £25,000 or something of that sort. All he said was that these experiments should be temporary and tentative, and that Parliament should not rush on before they knew what the cost was going to be. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would accept the Amendment in the spirit in which it was moved, or if he could not accept it he would state clearly to the Committee how much he proposed to spend under the Resolution. He begged to move.
In line 2, after the word 'payment,' to insert the words 'a sum not exceeding £20,000 per annum."—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)
said that, besides the two objects to which his hon. friend had referred, the payment of salaries and the experimental expenditure under Clause 14, there were the "preliminary expenses" under Clause 15. That was one point on which he wished for information. The words "preliminary expenses" were very wide, and the words of the Bill were quite wide enough to cover the payments out of pocket. Let them take the question of compensation. Was it intended to allow expenses of that kind, which might be a very large amount, to be paid by the Board out of this small holdings account? If it was not, the proposed amount would be sufficient for the purpose, because the legal expenses would not be a very large item. But apart from that it was important that there should be a limit to begin with. There was not in the Bill any limit as to the 762 number of Commissioners, and it would be an advantage to know what number the right hon. Gentleman intended to appoint. The only provision was that they might appoint two or more. Did that mean three or four or a larger number? Then as to staff, was it intended that the Commissioners were to have an office and a large staff of their own, or was the idea that they should be a part of the Board of Agriculture and have a few clerks? It was on all these points that the amount of grant that the Board would require depended, and therefore it was relevant that the right hon. Gentleman should, if he could, tell the Committee what was his view.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that the fixing of a limit on the expenditure would hamper the discretion not only of the Board of Agriculture but of Parliament itself, for these salaries would appear year by year in the Estimates. The Small Holdings Fund at the Bank of England was not the fund out of which these salaries would be paid. The Treasury had agreed to allocate to the Small Holdings Fund in the first year £100,000, to be used in providing the experimental holdings set up by the Board of Agriculture, or in paying the preliminary expenses of the acquisition of land by the county councils. Clause 15 was carefully drafted to exclude the payment of charges which were really part of the purchase money, and not of the preliminary expenses. It was necessary to cheapen the processes of land transfer, and a discretion was left to the Board of Agriculture in the payment of expenses so that no payment should be made for excessive costs too lightly incurred.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
said that everybody must have been impressed with the inconvenience of this part of the procedure of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had been compelled to answer questions which he said were due to misconception and that was due no doubt to the Committee having in their hands a Resolution which they had never before seen. It was almost inevitable that under the circumstances they should discuss the financial clauses of the Bill and not the financial Resolution. They were much indebted to the right hon. Gentleman for the trouble he had taken 763 in giving the explanation that he had and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman's excellent example would be followed by his colleagues in the future. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to make it perfectly clear that in these preliminary expenses there was to be nothing except that which was part of the expense of acquiring the land. He should be very sorry to assent to any Amendment that first of all would interfere with the right of Parliament to fix and vary the expenditure from time to time, and, in the second place, might have the effect of throwing upon the rates some portion of the expenditure which otherwise would fall on public funds. He therefore asked his hon. friend not to press his Amendment.
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
said the speech of the right hon. Gentleman had among its many other merits that it was in support of reducing the expenditure to the lowest possible limit, because so much use was made of the unpaid work obtained from the county councils. But apart from that consideration, he thought it would be very unwise in the first place to limit expenditure to enable the county councils to carry out the policy of the Bill; and, if they were not sufficiently active in carrying it out, of course that would involve additional expense. Above all, there was the question of experimental work, which he thought was one of the most important recommendations in connection with small holdings. That experimental work many of the county councils would not always find themselves in a position to undertake, and some considerable expenditure would be highly desirable in the interests of the policy of the Bill for the creation of small holdings. The experimental work should be of a sufficiently comprehensive character to carry out small holdings on the basis of further agricultural organisation. On that ground, therefore, he thought it would be unwise to limit the sum which the Board of Agriculture would be able to spend at discretion. As regarded the valuers, he thought the whole success of the scheme depended on having a single valuer and a low scale of expenditure. There was no difficulty, certainly in the northern part of England and in Scotland, in finding valuers who were 764 not by any means paid officials of any. public department, but who were recognised in the different localities as the most capable men that could be selected, and no Government department should go outside those valuers. He thought the scheme, so far, was admirable, but he was very much against limiting the preliminary expenditure which he had indicated.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS (Birmingham, Bordesley)
said the hon. Baronet behind him had given good reason for thinking that in certain circumstances the sum to be taken was too large; but the right hon. Gentleman perhaps would give them a further estimate which would enable them to form something like an idea of what the Bill would cost, or such information as to the details of the work as would enable them to form an estimate for themselves. The right hon. Gentleman had referred only to the Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners, but in the event of the Bill being put widely into operation in most of the counties of England, they would like to know how many Commissioners and assistant commissioners would be required; and, under the Bill, it would seem that there were also to be local agents. Did all that come out of the money they were now asked to vote? Then there were all the expenses of the inspectors, of inquiries, and of witnesses. These were matter contained in Clauses 16, 22, and a number of others. Were these to come out of the money they were about to vote? If that were so, he thought £20,000 would not be anything like the sum that the operation of the Bill would require; and he would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman had in his mind the number of assistant commissioners, who were to go all over the counties, and the number of local agents and inspectors to be appointed, so that they might be enabled to form an estimate for themselves. Under Clause 23 it was provided that if the land taken was not wanted it was to be thrown back into the farmer's possession. Was the compensation, then, to be paid to come out of the money they were now authorising? At any rate, if they could get from the right hon. Gentleman some idea of the extent of the staff of sub-commissioners, inspectors, and local 765 agents, they might be able to form some estimate of the expenditure likely to be involved in this Bill.
§ *MR. CHAPLIN
said, in reference to the Amendment, he thought it could be disposed of if he was right in what seemed to him to be the interpretation of the Bill. Clause 15 was not very clear, but it enabled the Board to—repay, or undertake to repay, the county council out of the Small Holdings Account, the whole or any part of the expenses incurred by the council in proceedings in relation to the acquisition of land for small holdings, etc.If they turned to Clause 7, it provided that land acquired by the county council for the purposes of small holdings might be adapted to letting and be let for small holdings under and in accordance with the provisions of the Small Holdings Act, 1892. Then, again, if they went back to the Act of 1892—this was part of the inconvenience of drafting by reference —he thought it was quite clear it included in "adaptation" the erection and provision of buildings and the equipment of the farms. It was upon that point that he wanted to have the reply of the right hon. Gentleman, because under Clause 3 of the Small Holdings Act of 1892 power was given for the adaptation of small holdings; and then by Subsection 3 of the clause it was provided—That the county council may also, if they think lit, as part of the agreement for sale or letting of a small holding, adapt the land to small holdings by erecting such buildings or making such adaptations of existing buildings as in their opinion are required for the due occupation of the holding, etc., etc.If that were true, what it appeared to mean was that, out of the funds provided by Parliament, the county council would have power, as part of the preliminary expenses of small holdings, to adapt and erect buildings, and, generally speaking, to equip small holdings. If that were so, any limitation to such a stun as £20,000 would be a deadly blow to the operation of the Bill, and fatal also, he thought, to the local funds, because, in the absence of national funds, either the Bill would not be carried out, or, if it was, it would be at the cost of the local rates. That seemed to him to be an interpretation which might fairly be placed on Clause 15, taken in connection with the two other sections to which he had referred, and if the right hon. Gentle- 766 man concurred, then he would have no hesitation in earnestly recommending his hon. friend not to persevere with his Amendment, and he thought that would meet the general view of those on his side of the Committee.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the right hon. Gentleman had not given any reply to his first question as to what the cost of the Bill would be. In reference to the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman said it would limit their power, and that there would be opportunity on the Estimates to discuss the question. But when the Estimates came on, it would be extremely difficult to discuss these matters, as they would not be able to effect any alteration in reference to money already spent on salaries and expenses, and, of course, the majority would support the suggestion of their leaders in resisting any alteration. His right hon. friend the Member for South Dublin had said he could not approve of the Amendment if it was going to east the expenditure on the rates. But he could not see that his proposal would have that effect. The only possible effect it could have in that direction would be that under Clause 15 —which the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had already assured them only referred to legal expenses—if there was not sufficient money at the disposal of the Commissioners, they would not be able to recoup the county councils in respect of the preliminary expenses.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that Clause 7 referred back to the Act to which his right hon. friend had alluded, and the point in regard to which he presumed the right hon. Gentleman would answer that Clause 15 was so very distinct that he believed he was correct in saying that they would not be allowed to do anything more than contribute the whole or part of the legal expenses incurred in the acquisition of the land. If he was right he really did not see what harm there was in his Amendment. If he was wrong, then it showed the advantage of discussion, because it opened up a tremendous vista. These Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners would be allowed to go about the country to acquire and equip land for small holdings, and the expenditure might run into millions of pounds, under this 767 Resolution. He did not say that it was at all likely to do so, but he submitted that they must be prepared against eventualities. He did not see why he should withdraw his Amendment unless it were satisfactorily answered by the right hon. Gentleman. He wanted the right hon. Gentleman to tell him how much he was going to spend in a year. He did not expect a precise figure, but a rough estimate. He wanted to know what the Commissioners were going to spend, and he relied on the courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman for more information.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bordesley had said the sum proposed was an exorbitant one, but he hoped that the Department of Commissioners and other officers would not be an expensive one. It was quite obvious that the number of Assistant Commissioners and other assistants would vary according to the needs of the year and the development and success of the policy. He would be glad if the Bill turned out a success, as he believed it would, for they would then require considerably more assistants in the Commissioners Department for carrying it out. The amount that would be spent would be exactly the amount necessary to provide the Commissioners, who had to carry out the provisions of the Act, with an adequate amount of assistance for the working of their Department, and Votes would be annually submitted to Parliament for consideration. The right hon. Gentleman had no right to ask him to give an estimate; he had told him that Parliament would be informed year by year of the necessities of the case, and those, of course, would become actually known when they appeared in the Estimates. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon, he did not propose to go into the question of legal interpretation, but perhaps the light hon. Gentleman would take the advice offered to him by the hon. Member for the City of London, from whom he could get an opinion for nothing. Under Clause 15 the only expenses that could be paid to the county council by the Board and by the Treasury were expenses in connection with the acquisition of land. But the right hon. Gentle-man had referred to the equipment of the holdings under the Act of 1892, and had said that that equipment was among the 768 preliminary expenses of the sale of the holding; but the right hon. Gentleman would realise that the adaptation would not commence until after the acquisition of the land had been effected. The clause only applied to the preliminaries to acquisition, and not to action that might be taken after acquisition.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
Yes; but those terms which were to be made were only processes that took place before the land was acquired, because they were preliminary to the acquisition. He thought the right hon. Gentleman might take it from him that the words did carry out the intention of the clause, which was to pay all the necessary cost of putting the county council on the one side, and the landlord on the other, in the position of a willing purchaser and a willing seller, and, under compulsion, all the intermediate expenses, such as the cost of the inquiry notices, advertisements, arbitration, and so on. The clause was not meant to do more than pay the preliminary expenses loading up to the purchase of the land.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said he had not stated that £20,000 was a sum which could be considered liberal, but what he had said was that in the eyes of those who thought the money was unnecessary it was too large a sum to throw away altogether. But he had added that if the Bill was to be put in force throughout the counties of England, and especially if the county councils showed themselves restive, and they had to do all the work by compulsion, then the army of commissioners, local agents, and inspectors, and the inquiries and so forth, would increase the expenses to such an extent that £20,000 would not at all represent what would be required.
§ MR. COURTHOPE (Sussex, Rye)
asked why it was necessary to incur the expense of commissioners at all? Why could not the work of these small holdings, an object about which they were all agreed, be carried out by the Board of Agriculture acting through inspectors? He thought if the Board of Agriculture undertook these duties it would mean 769 much more than a saving of expense, because the work would be better carried on than it would be by commissioners. They were all asking who those commissioners were going to be, and therefore he hoped some information would be given upon that point.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG (Down, E.)
said that some Amendment of this kind was very necessary. Those who had had experience of the working of the Labourers Acts in Ireland knew how the money under that Act was swallowed up by the salaries of the officials. They were all aware that those who were intended to be benefited by such Acts as these came in last. The cost of the machinery was so great that the amount of benefit to those who ought to receive it would be very slight. He would like to know if this £20,000 limit included the salaries of the commissioners, staff, and so forth, as well as preliminary experiments. He understood that the experimental side was necessary in order to decide whether or not more money should be spent in certain localites. Under Clause 14 would those experiment be based on the lines of the new settler or upon those who were now carrying on similar work? If the experimental work was to take a certain sized farm, put a tenant on it, and then try to find out whether he was able to produce crops of a certain standard, the experiment would be a failure. In drawing comparisons, would the adjoining tenants and the profits they were making out of their farms be taken into account? If that was the system they were going to adopt, they would find all existing small holders would be applying for subsidies, because if they subsidised one class they must treat another class in the same way. A very good parallel was the case of the fishing industry.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
said his argument arose out of what had already been said in Committee. If the Committee decided to authorise this unlimited amount of money they ought to be supplied with some rough estimate as to how far the money would go in the first five years. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that £100,000 was 770 the amount first asked for. He understood that that amount was not for salaries. If he said the amount was to pay for the salaries of the officials entirely, then he felt somewhat in a difficulty, because he would not be able to criticise the matter. If £100,000 was wanted for the payment of the commissioners and the clerks and the rents of their offices, telephones, &c, it seemed to him to be an extraordinary amount which required more explanation.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he desired to explain clearly that all his Amendment proposed to do was to insert the words "a sum not exceeding £20,000 per annum." He did not touch either the experimental clauses in the Bill or the £100,000 to which the right hon. Gentleman had alluded. All he laid down was that the salaries, expenses, and remuneration of the Small Holdings Commission should be fixed at not more than £20,000.
§ MR. HARCOURT
thought the hon. Baronet had several times over endeavoured to make clear his Amendment. He was afraid there were some hon. Gentlemen opposite who did not quite understand what the proposition of the Bill was. Although it was out of order, perhaps he might be permitted to say that there were no subsidies provided for smallholders in the Bill. Some hon. Members opposite seemed to think that this £100,000 was intended to provide part of the salaries and expenses of these officers. He had stated more than once that that sum had nothing whatever to do with salaries, because it went into the Small Holdings Account for the acquisition of experimental holdings. He had also stated that all the salaries of these officers would be voted annually by Parliament, and it remained in the discretion of Parliament to fix the amount to be provided for that purpose. He believed that was the proper method for retaining Parliamentary control over these officers. He had been asked why should the Board set up a Commission which was somewhat in the nature of a Land Court. He was afraid that the word "commissioner," which he probably had incautiously chosen, had misled some hon. Members opposite. They were not independent commissioners, but simply persons who made the inquiries, and it would not matter 771 much whether they were called commissioners or inspectors, because they were salaried officers of the Board. The Board must have an agent, and it must employ somebody to move about the country. The word "commissioner" seemed to have misled some hon. Gentlemen opposite. If any of these appointments as commissioner were given to any Member of Parliament he would have to vacate his seat, and he would not be able to enter Parliament as long as he was a commissioner under the Bill. Although he might have unfortunately selected the word "commissioner," there was nothing in the nature of a commission about it; the commissioners were simply inquiring agents under the direct control of the Board, and their salaries would be voted under the usual Vote for the Board of Agriculture.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
asked whether these commissioners would have any power of initiating inquiries on their own account. The obligation was laid upon them by the Bill of reporting upon the need for small holdings, and that rather led them to believe that the commissioners would have a free hand to hold inquiries pretty much when and where they liked, subject to the condition that they reported to the Department. There was all the difference in the world between an inspector who wont down to some place by direction of the Board, and had no power except to report direct to the President of the Department the result of his inquiry, and that kind of officer who could at his own discretion go down and hold inquiries where he liked and report the result of his inquiry. It seemed to him that the commissioners had power to hold their own inquiries, and that was a sufficient justification for their assuming that they were not analogous to the ordinary inspectors. If that were so he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would accept an Amendment in Committee to call these officials inspectors and not commissioners. It was well known that inspectors had no power to act and hold inquiries on their own initiative. Therefore he thought the right. hon. Gentleman ought to call them what they really were, that was inspectors, whose business it would be to do what the Department told them, instead of allowing them to go marauding about the country, possibly doing a good 772 deal of mischief. If the commissioners were only to act under a Minister responsible to Parliament who could be called to account in Parliament for what they were doing, it was quite clear that the assumption that some form of a Land Court was being set up had no foundation.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he was extremely sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had thought it necessary to draw such a picture as that in which he described these commissioners as being men inclined to maraud about the country, doing a great deal of mischief. He might remind the right hon. Gentleman that that was not at all consistent with what he said at a former stage of this Bill, for he then told them that he had no desire to wreck this measure.
§ MR WALTER LONG
said he had no desire to wreck the measure, but he thought the words he had used, of which the right hon. Gentleman complained, were perfectly justified. If the Commissioners were allowed to hold inquiries just at their own sweet will, his language was not at all improper. The suggestion he had made to the right hon. Gentleman he was sure would be likely to conduce to the successful working of the Bill.
§ MR. HARCOURT
pointed out that Clause 2, which set out the duties of the Commissioners, stated that they were—Acting under the direction of the Board.'That was the earliest possible place he could put those words into the Bill. He thought that was the only point to which the right hon. Gentleman's speech was directed.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said the right hon. Gentleman had only himself to blame for the discussion which had taken place in regard to the word" commissioners." At a previous stage the First Commissioner of Works stated plainly that no Amendment whatever limiting the scope of the Bill would be accepted in Committee. Therefore he could not be surprised if they elected to bring before the Committee matters of this kind. But apart from the salaries of the Commissioners he objected to their appointment 773 altogether. It was quite true that the second clause provided that the Commissioners should be under the direction of the Board, but those who had been Members of Parliament for any length of time knew the meaning of that phrase.
Order, order. We cannot discuss upon this Amendment the constitution of the Commission. We are simply dealing with the salaries and expenses of the Commissioners and officials, and the matter of the appointment of the Commissioners and their duties is more proper for discussion when the Bill is in Committee.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
thought he would have been at liberty upon the salary of the Commissioners to discuss the question whether they should receive any salary at all.
That is a matter which will come up for discussion upon the Bill itself. The only question which can be dealt with now is the general question of salaries and expenses of the Commissioners and officials. The Resolution is simply an enabling Resolution, without which the Committee on the Bill could not deal with the salaries and expenses.
§ MR. CAVE
said that this was an Amendment to limit the amount of the expenditure, and if instead of being Commissioners these officials were simply inspectors the figure would bear a very different aspect. It was quite true that so far as the first subsection of Clause 2 went the Commissioners must act under the direction of the Board. That meant that the Board must start them on their inquiry, but when started they would see that under Sub-clause 3 they would be able to act as independent officers.
It is quite obvious that the hon. Member is discussing the Bill, and you cannot discuss that under this Resolution. The Resolution deals with the expenses in general terms, and the proper time to discuss the matter to which the hon. Member is referring is in Committee.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
said the statement made by the First Com- 774 missioner of Works that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin could hardly be expected to understand the Bill was one which he would hardly wish to repeat on reflection. If his right hon. friend the Member for South Dublin, with his long experience of agricultural matters, could not be expected to grasp the details of the Bill, that must be the fault of the Bill and not of the right hon. Gentleman. What the country wanted to know was the amount which the right hon. Gentleman estimated would have to be voted for salaries and expenses. They ought to know whether the scheme was to be more costly than appeared on the face of the Bill.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
said the question put by his hon. friend had not received adequate consideration from the First Commissioner of Works. The Amendment proposed to limit the salaries and expenses of the Commissioners to £20,000, and in refusing to accept that the First Commissioner of Works said that the matter ought to be left to the discretion of Parliament. Parliament was now sitting, and they were now in Committee of the Whole House. Would not the right hon. Gentleman give them a little information to enable them to exercise their discretion now? No doubt the right hon. Gentleman had furnished an approximate estimate to the Treasury, according to the usual practice, and he thought the House of Commons, as well as the Treasury, had the right to be taken into the right hon. Gentleman's confidence. He could not conceive that the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary of the Treasury had allowed the First Commissioner of Works to draw a blank cheque on the future in this respect. Why did the right hon. Gentleman refuse to accept the Amendment? Did he or the Treasury contemplate that the official salaries and expenses might amount to more than £20,000 a year? If not, there could be no objection to accepting the Amendment.
§ MR. FELL
said he did not think that anyone would object to fair salaries being paid to the Commissioners. The question raised now was in regard to what the Commissioners were 775 going to do. The Minister in charge of the Bill the other day stated that one of the principal duties of the Commissioners would be to stimulate a desire for allotments throughout the country.
The Amendment before the Committee deals solely with the first part of the Resolution, and relates only to the salaries and expenses of the small holdings Commissioners and other officers. The duties of the Commissioners cannot be discussed on this Amendment.
No, and that is according to the rule. When the late Government was in power the same thing happened.
That is outside the scope of the first part of the Resolution. That has nothing to do with the salaries and expenses to which the Amendment refers.
The latter part of the Resolution which is not touched by this Amendment, refers to the costs and expenses incurred in respect of small holdings and allotments by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The expenses of carrying out the Act other than the salaries, remuneration and expenses of the Commissioners and officials 776 concern the latter part of the Resolution, and do not fall under the Amendment.
§ MR. FELL
said he understood that travelling expenses would include expenses for holding meetings, delivering lectures, and giving magic lantern entertainments, if the Commissioners were to stimulate a desire for allotments and small holdings. He had not the slightest desire. that the Commissioners should not be adequately paid. Unless they were well paid good men would not be got.
§ MR. ABEL SMITH (Hertfordshire, Hertford)
said a most important question had been raised as to whether the Commissioners would occupy a position corresponding to that of inspectors under the Board of Agriculture, or whether they would occupy a quasi-independent position. He recognised that this was a point for discussion in Committee upstairs rather than now, but owing to engagements elsewhere he would have no opportunity of taking part in the work of the Committee. In view of the provisions contained in Clauses 34 and 35 of the Bill he had come to the conclusion that the Commissioners would occupy a very prominent position, and that they would carry out their duties independently. He had, therefore, reluctantly come to the conclusion not to support his hon. friend's Amendment. It would be unwise, looking to the importance of the position to be occupied by the Commissioners, to limit their salaries and expenses to anything like £20,000. If the salaries and expenses were to be fixed in this way the useful work which it was hoped the Commissioners would be able to do might be limited.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
said the right hon. Gentleman had been clearly asked whether he could not give the Committee more information as to the Estimate which had been put before the Treasury. He would have thought that a Liberal Government whose members when in Opposition were so fond of preaching economy, would not give up the practice of putting before the Treasury an Estimate in a matter of this kind. If an approximate Estimate of salaries and expenses had been put before the Treasury, 777 surely the right hon. Gentleman might give the Committee a little more information about it. He and his friends did not ask for every little detail down to a halfpenny, but some idea of the amount might be given. He could not understand why the Government did not give the information.
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG
said the Government had refused to give any information as to how the money was to be expended. Could the front Government Bench suggest a percentage of the amount that was really to be devoted to administration so that they might all feel they were not voting as much money for the working of the scheme as for the good work which it was proposed to do under the Bill. If £100,000
§ were to be spent they ought to know that the expenses of administration would not be another £100,000. He thought that 15, 20 or 25 per cent. might be indicated as the cost of administration That would meet the wish of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. If the money was to be a splash of money for the creation of various offices and if the poor tenant farmers were not to get real benefit from it, something should be done to limit the cost of administration. He suggested the limit should be 20 per cent. of the amount paid.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 36; Noes, 215. (Division List No. 250.)779
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Craig,Charles Curtis (Antrim,S)||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Dalrymple, Viscount||Middlemore,John Throgmorton|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry,N.)||Doughty, Sir George||Roberts, S.(Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Fell, Arthur||Starkey, John R.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Fletcher, J. S.||Turnour, Viscount|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gretton, John||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cave, George||Hervey,F.W.F (BuryS.Edm'ds||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Hills, J. W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Clark,George Smith (Belfast,N.||Liddell, Henry||Sir Frederick Banbury and|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Lockwood, Rt.Hn.Lt.-Col.A.R.||Captain Craig.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Agnew, George William||Byles, William Pollard||Fenwick, Charles|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Cairns, Thomas||Ferens, T. R.|
|Alden, Percy||Cameron, Robert||Ferguson, R. C. Munro|
|Astbury, John Meir||Causton, Rt. Hn.RichardKnight||Findlay, Alexander|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury,E.)||Cheetham, John Frederick||Fullerton, Hugh|
|Baring,Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Gill, A. H.|
|Barlow, JohnEmmott(Somerset||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Ginnell, L.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cleland, J. W.||Glendinning, R. G.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone,N)||Clough, William||Glover, Thomas|
|Beale, W. P.||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Grant, Corrie|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Cooper, G. J.||Greenwood, Hamar (York)|
|Benn,W.(T'w'r Hamlets,S.Geo.||Corbett,CH (Sussex,E.Grinst'd||Gulland, John W.|
|Bethell, T.R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cox, Harold||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Billson, Alfred||Crombie, John William||Haldane, Rt Hon. Richard B.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Crossley, William J.||Hall, Frederick|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Halpin, J.|
|Bowerman, C. W||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis|
|Brace, William||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hart-Davies, T.|
|Brigg, John||Delany, William||Harvey,W.E. (Derbyshire,N.E)|
|Bright, J. A.||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Harwood, George|
|Brodie, H. C.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Brooke, Stopford||Duncan, C.(Barrow-in-Furness||Hedges, A. Paget|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Buxton,Rt, Hn.SydneyCharles||Essex, R, W,||Henderson, J.M, (Aberdeen,W,)|
|Henry, Charles S.||Mooney, J. J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Morrell, Philip||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morse, L. L.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Murray, James||Smith,Abel H. (Hertford,East)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Myer, Horatio||Snowden, P.|
|Hodge, John||Napier, T. B.||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Hogan, Michael||Nicholson,Charles N.(Doncast'r||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nolan, Joseph||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Norman, Sir Henry||Steadman, W. C.|
|Hudson, Walter||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||O'Brien,Kendal (TipperaryMid||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Jenkins, J.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sutherland. J. E.|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon,N||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Parker, James (Halifax)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Partington, Oswald||Thomas,Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Joyce, Michael||Pirie, Duncan V.||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh,Central)||Tomkinson, James|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Price,Robert John(Norfolk, E.)||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pullar, Sir Robert||Toulmin, George|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Raphael, Herbert H.||Ure, Alexander|
|Lambert, George||Rendall, Athelstan||Verney, F. W.|
|Lamont, Norman||Richards, Thomas (W.Monm'h||Vivian, Henry|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Richards, T.F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Richardson, A.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Levy, Maurice||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Waring, Walter|
|Lundon, W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Lupton, Arnold||Robertson,SirG.Scott (Bradf'rd||Wason,John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lynch, H. B.||Robinson, S.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Watt, Henry A.|
|Macpherson, J. T.||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down,S.)||Rogers, F. E. Newman||White, Luke (York, E.R.)|
|MacVeigh,Charles (Donegal,E.)||Rowlands, J.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|M'Crae, George||Runciman, Walter||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Russell, T. W.||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|M'Killop, W.||Rutherford, V. H.(Brentford)||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Schwann,SirC.E. (Manchester)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S )|
|Marnham, F. J.||Scott,A.H(Ashton under-Lyne)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Massie, J.||Sears, J. E.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Seddon, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Mr.|
|Menzies, Walter||Shaw, Rt, Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Montagu, E. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ MR. JESSE COLLINGS
said that he objected to sign a blank cheque for a sum which could not be estimated by the House, and as to the amount of which the Government refused to give any information. In his opinion the Board of Agriculture was better fitted to do the work than these new Commissioners, and yet they were asked to vote for the payment of a great army of officials in every county in England, including agents and sub-commissioners, without any idea being given of the amount of expense to be incurred, whether it would amount to £10,000, or £200,000. He made a further appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, in fairness to the House of Commons and the taxpayers of the country, to give some idea of the expense which he thought would be incurred in 780 the employment of this great army of official.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
asked whether they were to understand that the discretion on the part of the Government was to be absolutely unlimited.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that of course there was a sum of £100,000 for the preliminary expenses in connection with the experiment of forming small holdings. The other part which had been discussed was the number and cost of the Commissioners who had to carry out the Bill. Those must necessarily depend on the shape in which the Bill came out of Committee, and on the duties which were imposed upon them by the House. The discretion would be exercised by the Board of Agriculture 781 and the Treasury in the first place, and the House would always have an opportunity, every year, of criticising the amount provided for the salaries and expenses of the Commissioners.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.
§ The House resumed, MR. SPEAKER in the Chair.