§ Postponed Proceeding on Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £184,484, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Committee of the Privy Council for Trade and Subordinate Departments," resumed.
, continuing his speech, said the illustration which had been given only amounted to this, that we had the most antiquated methods of conducting our railways. Probably the system was satisfactory enough in the forties and fifties, when railways were a novelty and did not enter so much into the life of the nation as they did at the present time, but it was totally unsuited to modern requirements. He held that these institutions should be under the control of one authority, in order that the present useless expense incurred by the companies might be obviated and the benefit given to those who wanted their merchandise conveyed from place to place. He wished to call the attention of the President of the Board of Trade to the position of a very great and important section of the industrial community. While some of the public works of the country so far as inspection, etc. was concerned were under the control of the Home Office, fortunately or unfortunately railways, docks and canals, etc., when in course of construction came within the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade. When in actual use docks were properly inspected by the Home Office, these structures on completion being regarded under the Factories Acts as factories, and the 179 admission had been made that it was peculiar that they should not come under that Department when in course of construction. In spite of the fact that there might be a thousand or two thousand, or even—as in the case of Barry—three thousand men working in a limited space, constructing a dock and manipulating very complicated and dangerous machinery, no one seemed to have the power of inspection. The Home Office asserted that the Notice of Accidents Act, 1894, placed inspection and regulation, especially in regard to inquiry into accidents, in the hands of the Board of Trade, and that Department seemed absolutely to have forgotten that fact. They had never had an inspection, although great railways in course of construction should have been under their control for fourteen or fifteen years, and they had never appointed an inspector. There were some 300,000 men permanently employed on these works, and not the slightest attention was paid to their welfare so long as periodical inspection of the works they were engaged upon was concerned. Could he not persuade the President of the Board of Trade that it was nearly time some inspectors were appointed by his Department, so that these men might have the common protection given by factory and other legislation to the workmen employed in other industries? Sir John Jackson, in opening the great docks at Devonport, which cost nearly four millions of money, stated that although every precaution had been taken by his firm to avoid serious accidents, he was sorry to say the fatalities amounted to something between thirty and forty per million of money spent, and that the men who had been so seriously injured as to be incapacitated from future employment were so numerous that the firm had not even kept a record of them. That was a very serious position of affiars. These men were neither one thing nor the other. They did not come under the Factory Acts, the Home Office had nothing to do with them, and the Board of Trade would only consider them when absolutely compelled to do so by reason of a serious accident. He thought they should try to do something to avoid accidents rather than merely investigate them after they had occurred. When- 180 ever important works were begun the contractors had to erect a whole system of hospitals, knowing perfectly well that the work could not be carried out without enormous mortality to the men engaged on them. He thought the matter was one that should be dealt with by the State without delay.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
said the hon. Member for the St. Patrick's division of Dublin had suggested that the time had arrived when a Shipping Department should be established entirely separate from railways and other matters. They had been told by the right hon. Gentleman that the shipping industry was the greatest industry in the country; but last year they had no opportunity of discussing it, and this year they were only to have an hour and a half that evening. That was not a satisfactory state of things; they ought to have more time for the discussion of everything connected with the mercantile marine. In regard to the salary of the President of the Board of Trade he thought it was not sufficient for the office which the right hon. Gentleman filled. He did not see why the right hon. Gentleman should receive a salary of only £2,000, while other Cabinet Ministers got £4,000 or £5,000. He wished to urge the Government to establish in connection with the Board of Trade a separate Department for the mercantile amrine. The Department should have the chief control of all the documents relating to the mercantile marine and be able to search carefully through the log books of every ship at the end of each voyage. He found that the Department was worked at a less cost by£6,000 than it was ten years ago, while the amount of work to be done by it had been increasing. Men who were getting £150 to £170 used to get from £400 to £500 for doing exactly the same work. He understood that the Treasury was at the root of this economy, and the grievances of the men ought to be carefully inquired into and put right. He knew of one man who had been thirty-five years in the Department, who had only between 35s. and 40s. a week, which was not sufficient for the very important work he had to perform. He had urged the establishment of a central 181 register for keeping a record of the engagements of every seaman in the mercantile marine. The Government spent as much money on registers at various ports at present as would be sufficient for the maintenance of a central register. At the present time, if the parents, wife, or friends of a seaman wanted to ascertain his whereabouts they had to communicate with every port in the United Kingdom, and the superintendent in each port had to reply to the Registrar-General; whereas, if there were a central register, as provided for by the Merchant Shipping Act of 1852, it would be much easier to obtain all the information required. He believed that at one time a central register was kept, and he could not understand why it was not still kept as provided for by law. Supposing a shipowner in the case of a collision wanted to find the whereabouts of a particular man who had been on board one of the ships in collision, he had no remedy but to write to every port in the Tinted Kingdom. That was a source of trouble and expense. Last year the Board of Trade took part in passing a law which provided that every seaman before he was entitled to the rating of A. B. must prove three years' sea service. That section of the Act came into force on the 1st June this year. It was naturally expected that the Board of Trade would make some effort to see that that law was enforced. He could not understand why a master, owner, or an agent of the owner should be allowed to take on as ordinary seamen or as deck men —he really did not know what deck men were —men who were not qualified. He remembered that at the Shipping Conference the Colonial delegates passed a resolution that the British Government should make a uniform rule as to the engagement of competent able seamen. They had been told that the Board of Trade had power to detain ships which were not properly manned. He remembered that in 1893, after a disastrous wreck and loss of life at Brandon, the Government appointed a Committee to investigate the question of undermanning. The Committee was, it was said, a representative one; but, like all Committees appointed by the Board of Trade, good care was taken to give the majority of votes to the shipowners, 182 and he was the only representative of the seamen. That Committee sat for over two years, and as a result of their Report a Bill was passed in 1897 providing that a vessel leaving the United Kingdom undermanned should be considered unseaworthy, and that any person who sent an undermanned ship to sea should be deemed guilty of an offence. The Committee further recommended that a manning scale should be adopted and passed into law. The Committee reported in 1896; in 1897 the Conservative Government approached the subject in a half-hearted way and said that if a vessel was leaving in an unseaworthy state because of undermanning it could be detained. Why had the Board of Trade not acted on the-recommendation of the Manning Committee that no ship over 700 tons gross tonnage should be allowed to leave a port in the United Kingdom on a foreign voyage with less than six deck hands four of the six to be recognised able seamen? That was the recommendation of the Manning Committee, and the Board of Trade had power to detain a ship on the ground of unseaworthiness because she was undermanned. What did the Board of Trade do? They sent out instructions to their superintendents that no ship over 700 tons should be allowed to proceed to sea with less than six deck hands. What did they mean by deck hands? The Manning Committee said that of these six deck hands four were to be able-bodied seamen, and why did not the Board of Trade insert that provision in their regulations? They had power to do so, and they ought to have seen that there were these qualified able seamen on the deck. He put a Question in the course of the week about a steamer which put to sea with six European sailors on board whose wages were £4 a month. After the first six months, however, a crew of Chinamen were engaged at the cheaper rate of £3 10s. When the Chinamen came to sign on under the new Act they could not prove three years sea service, and the Board of Trade obliged the owners by allowing them to sign on as ordinary seamen at the £3 10s. a month. In his reply to a Question the right hon. Gentleman said that the matter had been referred to the 183 surveyor, who reported that the men had been seen by him, and he was satisfied that they would be found capable of performing the usual duties of seamen. He (the surveyor) had tested them in moving the steamer in dock and found that they were capable of performing the ordinary duties of seamen. The task of moving a steamer in dock was one which boys could be entrusted with, but because they could do that it did not say that the Chinamen were efficient seamen. The surveyor added that according to the master's statement he had selected four of these men to act as helmsmen. There was a ship of 700 tons which was allowed to proceed to sea from a port in the United Kingdom with these incompetent Chinese seamen on board. In another case a steamer of 2,800 tons was allowed to proceed to sea from a port in the United Kingdom with six incompetent Chinese seamen who could not speak English on board as ordinary seamen. The inspecting officer said he was informed that the men had three years sea service, but who informed him or how did he ascertain that fact if he was not a linguist and did not speak the Chinese language? Most captains who had their certificates suspended got into that position by failing to use the lead, but how was an officer of a vessel to use the lead in dark and foggy weather when he had to deal with Chinamen who did not understand English? There was no excuse for the Board of Trade in this matter, because they had power to detain these ships but did not do so. He had also put another Question with regard to a ship called the "Siberian," one of the Allan Line, which had on board some 700 or 800 passengers. Under the Board of Trade manning regulations she should have had twenty-eight deck hands, including the officers, but she had only twenty-two, including eight qualified able seamen and twelve unqualified men. Why was this ship allowed to go to sea shorthanded? Was it safe to allow her to go to sea with twelve unqualified seamen, on whom the passengers would have to depend to take charge of the boats in case of emergency, instead i of able-bodied seamen? It was all very well for people to say that we did not want sailors nowadays because the men had only to wash decks and 184 polish brass work, but when it came to an emergency they must have competent men who would calm the fears of the passengers and get the boats out and handle them in a seamanlike manner. He had not exaggerated his case in saying that the responsibility for that rested on the right hon. Gentleman because of his surveyor having passed these unqualified persons. Then there was the case of the "Astoria," also from Glasgow. She had a small number of qualified, and a largo number of unqualified, sailors. She was supposed to carry thirty-five officers and men. She had twenty-eight, and out of those twelve or more were unqualified men. The surveyor in that case said he knew some of the men were seamen, and had been on the ship in her previous voyage. But why did not the surveyor satisfy himself that they were qualified, as it was his duty to do? He hoped now that attention had been called to these two ships a sharper look-out would be kept by the Board of Trade, and that the right hon. Gentleman would send out a notice that the law must be obeyed. What was the use of a law being made that a man should serve three years on board ship before he became an able seaman if the owners are allowed to sign men on as deck hands or seamen, or anything but able seamen? The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that under the Act undermanning was unseaworthiness. If this matter could not be dealt with by regulation ho (Mr. Wilson) would not rest until it was settled by legislation. With regard to the load-line, he was sorry to say that by the seamen, who believed he was responsible, the right hon. Gentleman had been cursed more than any man he ever knew. As a matter of fact the right hon. Gentleman was not responsible, but the seamen believed he was. The late Government in 1905 appointed a secret Committee composed of underwriters, and that Committee set to work to undo all the work of Samuel Plimsoll. They secured an alteration in the scale of the freeboard, and the alterations came into force just as the right hon. Gentleman came into office, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman could not be held to blame. He thought that ought to be generally known throughout the country. He was not satisfied with these alterations, and told the right hon. Gentleman in March last that he would wait with patience to see what effect they had on 185 loss of life at sea. His right hon. friend had made one mistake. The right hon. Gentleman said in answer to a question put last year that these alterations would not affect the old type of ships. Shortly after that the "Lebanon," an old vessel, on which the load-line had been altered by 2½inches, foundered. He believed had there been no alteration in the load-line she would have been afloat to-day. The "Dulverton" had recently disappeared with all hands. She had not been heard of for two months and he feared would never be heard of again. The "Dulverton" shipped under the old load-line 6,500 tons and under the new load-line 7,884, and now she had disappeared. He could not say whether that was in consequence of the alteration of the load-line, but he had as much right to say it might be as anyone else to say that it was not. Had there been any advantage to the shipowners in the alteration of the load-line? It was true that ships carried 1,000,000 tons more in the course of the year, but freights had fallen. Therefore it had been of no advantage to the shipowners. But if the loss of life at sea was shewn to have increased, and he would be glad to have the figures for the two years from the right hon. Gentleman—
§ *MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I might be permitted to give them now. So far from there having been an increase in the loss of life after the alteration of the load-line there has been a decrease of something like 400. They were 1,466 under the old regulations and 1,079 under the new.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said he was glad to hear that loss of life had not increased. At the same time he would remind his right hon. friend that the alteration of the load-line entailed hardships and suffering in many cases. It very often made all the difference in the seaworthiness of the ship. Reference had been made to the loss of life on railways, and it was stated that there were 40,000 men employed on railways. But on the sea there were 250,000. Even now, though there was a decrease in the loss of life, there was still room for improvement. He remembered the time when certain shipowners, at the period when there were 3,400 lives lost a year, 186 said that it could not be avoided, that it was the act of God.
§ MR. CHARLES WILSON (Hull, W.)
asked the hon. Member if he would give a single instance of a man having lost his life through overloading. These accidents were largely attributable to the negligence of the officers navigating the ships.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said his hon. friend should read the Report of the Royal Commission. He was speaking from his own knowledge of the facts, and he did not need to read the Blue-books, but he could refer the hon. Gentleman to the book which would afford him the necessary information. In regard to the loss of life, he was proud to say that they had reduced it from 3,400 to 1,000 a year, and there was still room for improvement. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would give attention to the case of vessels which carried Chinamen on board. That was a very strong case indeed. Vessels carried about two Asiatics to one European. In the case of the vessel he had referred to it was not so. But ho could of course give the names of many ships which had gone to-sea during the past three weeks with unqualified men signed on. There was one other point. It was just about time that the Board of Trade were considering the insanitary condition of the forecastles-of vessels. The Committee would be surprised to know that more men died from consumption or diseases of the chest on board ship than on land. To his mind it was due to the insanitary condition of the forecastles. The ventilation was not proper. As a matter of fact, according to the Board of Trade regulations a seaman ought to be able to read in any part of the forecastle by the natural light. He had visited a great many ships, hundreds, perhaps thousands, and he had not found one ship out of ten where a man could read a paper in any part of the forecastle by the natural light. He hoped that the Board of Trade would not pass such ships in future, and that they would give definite instructions in reference to the subject. If the Board of Trade challenged him upon the point he was prepared to show them the ships which were not provided with this natural light. With reference 187 to ventilation, somehow or other it was thought that any kind of ventilation would do for the forecastle of a ship. If they put down a ventilator from the deck above it blew a gale of wind in the forecastle, and if it was near a poor fellow's bunk it blew on his head so terribly that he had to stuff up the ventilator with a pillow or some other material, with the result that there was no ventilation at all. He hoped that the Board of Trade would give greater consideration to this subject, because they could get perfect ventilation of a ship's forecastle at very little expense; it would cost the owners very little more in the construction of the ships and they would get better results. It was a very serious matter when they considered that these men were dying on board ship from consumption in greater numbers than were recorded on shore. He hoped that the President of the Board of Trade would cause inquiries to be made at the different ports where ships were being built, with a view to ensuring that some attention was given to these matters.
§ *THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OR TRADE (Mr. KEARLEY, Devonport)
said he would endeavour to answer the various points which had been raised. With reference to the ventilation of forecastles, the hon. Member seemed to suggest that the Board of Trade inspectors were not so diligently looking after the requirements of light and air as they should be, and was prepared to point out ships which were deficient in this particular. This matter had been sprung upon him as it were, but if the hon. Gentleman could give a case where he thought that the requirements were not as they should be, he would be very happy to be informed about it. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would take that as a satisfactory answer for the time being. He was not going to refer to the kindly observations of the hon. Member in regard to the services of his right hon. friend, nor to the increase of his salary which was suggested, because that would involve an increase of his own salary, and being an interested person, unfortunately he might come under the censure of some hon. Member if he were to say "Hear, hear," to the suggestion. His hon. friend had pointed out that the mercantile marine had become so important, and was so increasing in importance, that the time 188 had come when the Government should carefully consider the constitution of a separate Department for it, under a Minister of responsibility. The mercantile marine at the present time had a separate Department of the Board of Trade, under capable officials, with one or two responsible Parliamentary chiefs for the time being. But he was not at all inclined to disagree with the idea of his hon. friend of the growing importance of the mercantile marine of this country. Statistical information showed that as compared with the rest of the world we had nearly half the shipping tonnage, and therefore it was of supreme importance that matters relating to the mercantile marine shall be dealt with by an adequate Department. But the British Government, like most governments, were always both to increase the number of Ministers who had to be paid. Still, there was something in the suggestion not that he was, in saying that, in any responsible way committing himself to the suggestion which had been made on this difficult and very important point, though he was glad that his hon. friend had drawn attention to it. He could only suppose that the hon. Member in making the proposal was in a liberal vein, and that he really wanted to make another situation for a Minister with a good salary attached. The hon. Member had also referred to the salaries of the office of the Registrar-General, and had said that he was aware that the Department had made representations to the Treasury on the matter. A careful investigation had been made of all the branches of the Registrar's Department, and he thought from what had been learned that there was ground for consideration on the part of the Treasury as to the slowness of promotion from the lower to the higher grades. An inquiry was held in 1888 when it was found that the Department was overmanned. Drastic action was taken and the staff above the grade of the second (then lower) Division was reduced from thirty-five to twenty-two to be followed by further retirements. The numbers now stood at eleven, but the result of the action then taken had not yet been finally reached, and would not be reached until 1910. This blocked promotion from the lower to the more advanced grades, and, in the meantime, the work had enormously increased, and those who had survived the cutting down were not 189 able to cope with the superior work, and consequently the lower division staff were doing higher division work, with very much lower pay, which, of course, gave rise to a grievance. His hon. friend had put forward other details, and he would inquire into them. But it was far more a matter for the Treasury, and he hoped that his hon. friend would be satisfied with the representations which had been made, and as soon as they got a reply one way or the other, he would make it known. His hon. friend had brought forward this matter with great consistency, and he knew the opinion which the hon. Gentleman held that it would be of benefit to the State to have a central place in which to keep the records of seamen, and that in the long run it would be a saving of expense. The Committee appointed in 1899 to inquire into the question of continous discharge certificates for seamen came to the conclusion that the cost would certainly not be less than £5,000 to start a central register, and it would also involve an annual expenditure of £2,000 a year. Ho did not see what success they would meet with even if this expenditure was incurred. The Board of Trade were not desperately hostile to the idea, and they did not close the door upon that proposition. The Board of Trade were not unsympathetic, and the hon. Member might keep on bringing it before the House. The new Act of Parliament with reference to A.B. rating naturally took time to get into working order. The hon. Member had been early in his complaint. Under the new Act an A.B.'s qualification was deemed to be three years sea service, and he had to prove that service. That differed from the Act of 1894 under which no seaman was entitled to the rating of A.B. without he could prove four years service. While the hon. Member complained that the new regulations with regard to manning were not yet strictly enough carried out, the shipowners complained that they were being enforced with undue severity. When they found two opposite interests holding opposite views he did not think they could be far wrong in effecting an adjustment by taking a middle course. His hon. friend the Member for Middles-brough complained that when vessels were going out to sea a number of men whom he described as the off-scourings 190 of the ports and who were not efficient men were entered as dock hands and seamen. That accusation carried with it an imputation against the officers of the Board of Trade at the ports where those men signed on. Under the Act of 1897 undermanning was deemed to constitute unseaworthiness, and consequently the officers of the Board of Trade had the power to detain ships on the ground of unseaworthiness. If the hon. Member imputed that the superintendents were allowing men to be engaged who were not competent that meant that the ships were not being properly manned.
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said that that he did not make any charge against the superintendents. His point was that the Board of Trade, by their regulations, were placing their officers in such a position that they must allow unqualified men to sign on. He was not making any charge against the officers.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
said that simply meant that the Board of Trade were putting their officers in such a position that they were bound to allow unqualified men to be engaged. Did he think it was at all likely that his right hon. friend and himself would deliberately issue instructions of that character?
§ MR. HAVELOCK WILSON
said that was not what he meant. What be did say was that in 1896 the Board of Trade issued regulations which permitted a ship to sign on men as deck hands who were not qualified. Those regulations were in force now, and if the present officials of the Board of Trade allowed those regulations to continue in force the responsibility for ships being allowed to go to sea manned with incompetent men must rest with the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member.
§ *MR. KEARLEY
asked his hon. friend to accept his assurance that they were watching this matter most carefully. A change had been made, and it might be that the very thing they had done with the intention of strengthening the mercantile marine would prove illusory, and they might find a worse state of things after the passing of the Act than existed before. The Board of Trade would not be satisfied with that state of things. They meant to have the ships properly manned. He 191 believed the shipowners were most anxious to man the ships properly, but, if the Government found that the only way in which they could secure that object was by the introduction of a manning scale, they would not hesitate to introduce it. With regard to the load-line, they had the satisfaction of knowing that the new regulations had led to a great diminution in the loss of life at sea. He hoped his hon. friend would be satisfied with the reply he had given. He could assure him that they were watching the matter very carefully, and they would do all they could to see that the mercantile marine was properly manned.
§ MR. WILKIE (Dundee)
said that last year when a change of Government took place some of them thought that they had got in the right hon. Gentleman an ideal President of the Board of Trade and an ideal Parliamentary Secretary, but he feared the influence of the permanent officials had been too strong even for the present President of the Board of Trade, from whom so much had been expected. While in the past they had been delighted with the right hon. Gentleman's speeches throughout the country, judging from some of the speeches he had made from the Government Benches, one would imagine that he was a railway director, or a shipowner, instead of the energetic Member for Carnarvon. They expected when they elected such an advanced Government that they would have these matters set right. He had upstairs last session advocated some improvements which were necessary in the manning of vessels with the view to the safety of life and property at sea. The last Liberal Government considered the question of manning, and he found that recommendations of which they approved went beyond what the present Government were apparently prepared to accept. He would suggest that those who wished to inform themselves as to the necessity for the better manning of ships should read the evidence which was given before the Committee that inquired into the subject. For instance, the captain of the "Marlborough" writing in reference to the vessels being over-loaded and undermanned said —I am not very soon frightened, but I do not see why my wife should be made a widow 192 in order that another man should handle a. little coin, I know he needs.He had been some time without a ship, and his father persuaded him to give her another trial. The father never saw his son again, for the ship disappeared. The cases were innumerable which proved the necessity for a proper scale of manning. In the interest of seagoing labour the Government ought to deal with this-grievous question. In shipping legislation which had already been passed, provisions were included requiring that captains, mates, engineers, and cooks, should be properly certificated; but the ship constructor, who knew the construction of his ship, and was the most required of all, especially in cases of stress and storm, was not even required to be carried, or to be certificated. On this matter evidence was given before the Committee, who made certain recommendations. [The hon. Member read the recommendations of the Committee.] Notwithstanding those-recommendations, they were still where they were in regard to this very important matter. Another complaint which he wished to bring before the President of the Board of Trade was that the ship surveyors who could be appointed under the new Act had not the training necessary properly to qualify them for the important duties they bad to perform. He was informed that they had little experience in ship construction, and, if that was so, he could not understand why the Board. of Trade should run counter to the practice of Lloyds or of the Admiralty in the matter. He earnestly hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would seriously consider the subject. He understood that engineers were being appointed, and, while he had nothing to say against them in so far as their knowledge of the engines or the driving power was concerned, he did not think their knowledge of ship construction was such as to fit them for the position of ship surveyors so well as men who had been trained as shipbuilders. It was said that they must proceed cautiously in these matters, but he would remind hon. Members that two or three Royal Commissions had recommended what he was now urging, and he thought the time had arrived when Parliament should no longer allow the lives of men to be endangered on account of the action of some shipowners. He hoped that a proper understanding would be 193 come to on the subject of the sufficient and efficient manning of vessels.
§ Mr. JOYCE (Limerick)
called attention to the delays which occurred in the conveyance of Irish products to this country, and asked whether the President of the Board of Trade could do anything to remove the causes of complaint by making representations to the railway companies. In a letter which he had just received, Mr. Robert Gibson, butter merchant, Limerick, stated that four boxes, containing altogether two cwts. of butter, sent by Holyhead on Saturday to Harrow-on-the-Hill, had not been delivered by Tuesday night. The consignee at Harrow-on-the-Hill, in a letter to Mr. Gibson, said that his stock of butter was sold out, that orders were waiting execution, and that he had to telephone to London for Danish and Normandy butter. The English merchant complained of the inattention of railway companies in this matter, and said it was no wonder that there was so much foreign competition. This state of affairs had been going on for many years, and, now that he had called attention to it, he hoped that something would be done to effect a remedy.
§ MR. R. DUNCAN (Lanarkshire, Govan)
said the present position of the mercantile marine, and the prospects which the future had in store for it, required that proper arrangements should be made by the Government Department for the development of the industry.
§ MR. C. E. PRICE (Edinburgh, Central)
said that he quite agreed with what had been said in regard to improving the status of the office of the President of the Board of Trade. Ho remembered the time when the President of the Board of Trade was not in the Cabinet, but now his position was more important than that of the Secretary of State for War. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the improvements which he had made in the Board of Trade Journal, but further improvements were desirable. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman should copy in the Journal extracts from the Consular Reports, which contained a great deal of information. He also suggested that the Consular Reports themselves were capable of improvement, because many of the 194 Consuls had had no business or any other training. When the Consular Reports spoke of the increase of trade in foreign countries it was important to know what was the effect of that trade on the condition of the people. From Washington, for example, it was reported that, although wages had generally advanced, they had not done so to the extent of the increased cost of living. Now, what was the value of that trade to America? The same thing applied to Germany. A short time ago a report was issued by the inspectors of factories in Leipzig as to the condition of workers in that city. That report ought to have been embodied in the Consul's Report. Unless they had this information they could never have an appreciation of the fair balance as to the effect of trade between two countries. There was nothing more misleading than to say that we had increased our business with a particular country by 30 per cent. if there was a decrease of 25 per cent. on profits. We must know what was the real benefit to us or to, say, the United States or Germany, as to the volume or value of the trade between these countries.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he had no reason to complain of the discussion, but he appealed to the Committee to allow the Vote to be taken in order to give time for important matters connected with the Home Office Vote to come on, as arranged.
§ *MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
said that he was not prepared to give way unless he was assured that they would have another evening on which they, could discuss Board of Trade matters which he and his friends wished to bring forward.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he could assure the hon. Gentleman and his friends that if they were anxious to raise matters of principle there would be another opportunity later on, before the Estimates were disposed of, of discussing them on the Appropriation Bill.
§ *MR. MORTON
said that as it appeared that this would be his only opportunity of calling attention to various matters in connection with the railway service of the country he desired to take it. First of all he wanted to call attention to 195 the necessity of sleeping car accommodation in third class railway carriages when that accommodation was provided on first class carriages.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
objected, on a point of order, to this question being raised on the Vote before the House.
said a discussion on that point would not be in order. He was aware that the hon. Member had already tried to insert provisions of that sort into Bills, but they did not arise now, and it was not desirable to discuss them.
§ *MR. MORTON
, on the point of order, urged that he was surely entitled to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he would not see that the public travelling third class had these facilities. Why should not the third class passengers have those facilities as well as the first class passengers?
said that under the Vote he was only entitled to discuss questions of administration, and not any proposals requiring legislation.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he had some further points to call attention to. The Board of Trade should protect the public against the railways and not shield the railway companies. These monopolies and concessions which were granted by Parliament to a company were supposed to be for the advantage of the public. The hon. Member for Dulwich complained that people "nagged" at these companies and objected to competition, but what should we do in these days without competition? On the north side of London, where there was competition, the service was much better that in the south, where there was practically none.
observed that again the hon. Gentleman was referring to matters which could only be cured by legislation.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he was replying to the speeches of the President of the Board of Trade, and the Member for Dulwich.
said that it was not in order to discuss the question of competition if the policy advocated involved legislation.
§ *MR. MORTON
said that ho would of course obey the ruling of the Chair, but ho submitted that a humble man like himself had a right to discuss what right hon. Gentlemen had discussed; they were told by the late Mr. Gladstone that they were all on an equality in the House. They were told they must not "nag" these companies; but they required criticism. For instance, the condition of Ludgate Hill station showed the necessity for somebody besides the Board of Trade looking after these questions. They were told that last year the companies proposed to spend £40,000 on the station, and he was glad that they were beginning to do some work, but the public had not had any assistance from the Board of Trade in getting that matter attended to.
said the Board of Trade had no power in regard to the question of providing stations for a railway company.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
appealed to the hon. Member and the Committee to allow the Vote to be taken in order to give time for important matters connected with the Home Office Vote to come on, as arranged.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he was not prepared to give way unless assured that he would have another opportunity of raising the matters which he wished to bring forward.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
pointed out that the hon. Gentleman would, at any rate, have another opportunity on the Appropriation Bill,
§ *MR. MORTON
said he was not inclined to wait for the Appropriation Bill, and observed that he wished to call attention to a number of matters in order to get justice done. He remembered a very great man, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, telling them that it was not only the right but the duty of Members of this House to call attention to these matters, so that they might get their grievances redressed. This was his only opportunity of getting those grievances redressed. He hoped the Board of Trade in making their inquiries would consult other people besides the companies, otherwise they would have the right to say that the Department acted for the latter and not for the public whose servants they were. He would also like to call attention to the question of tube railways, of which he was in favour, because it was necessary to get people in, out, and about London as speedily as was possible. The construction of these railways had, however, been very expensive. Some years ago the Board of Trade said that in regard to these tube railways, where the trains ran every two or three minutes, they would not allow any physical junction, but now they had allowed a physical junction at Camden Town. This matter needed watching by the Board of Trade, and he was sorry that such a physical junction had been allowed.
said that obviously the Board of Trade had no control over these matters of the tube railways, power to do which would be contained in Act of Parliament. He had been listening attentively to the speech of the hon. Gentleman who had been speaking for a long time. He had been waiting to see if the hon. Member had any special grievance directed against the Board of Trade, but apparently he had not.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he had a special grievance, although he did not desire to be out of order in any sense or to take 198 undue advantage of the opportunities allowed him by the rules of Order. He only regretted that some arrangement appeared to have been made that night in regard to other matters. [An HON. MEMBER: Made publicly.] No, made behind their backs with a view of depriving them of their rights as Members of the House. He would, however, say no more now.
§ MR. R. DUNCAN
wished to call the Chairman's attention to the fact that at ten o'clock when he was making some remarks, he told him that it was ten o'clock, and he was not in order in continuing.
said the hon. Gentleman must have misunderstood him. He said the hon. Member's remarks were not in order. He said nothing about the clock. He did not intervene to stop the discussion.
§ MR. R. DUNCAN
said it was rather a painful position when a Member was compelled to appeal to the House from the Chair itself. He had asked, pointing to the clock, whether it was a case of the clock, and was told so. ["Order, order."]
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution to be reported.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £128,735, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908, for the salaries and expenses of the office of His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Home Department and subordinate offices."
§ MR. MOONEY (Newry)
said he was sorry that this Vote had come on so late in the evening, but it was no fault of theirs, and in spite of the declarations of the hon. Gentleman, there has been no underhanded dealing in this matter. It 199 was announced that the Home Office Vote would be set down about eight o'clock, so that hon. Members might discuss other matters.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he understood that the debate on the previous Vote would be adjourned at eight o'clock, and proceeded with on another occasion after the Home Office Vote.
§ MR. MOONEY
said the only reply he could make to that was that the Irish Members were not responsible for the hon. Gentleman's understanding. He had placed on the Paper a Motion to reduce the salary of the Secretary of State by £1,000, but he was glad to say that an amicable agreement had been come to which was quite satisfactory from the Irish point of view, while at the same time it safeguarded the public interest, in regard to the affairs of Messrs. Kynoch, of Arklow. The terms of that agreement were in possession of the Secretary of State, who would no doubt make the House acquainted with the facts, because he repudiated statements that there was anything underhand in the arrangement. He had seen it stated that a personal attack was being made on the Secretary of State, but he wished to say emphatically that there was not a single Irish Member who would attack the Homo Secretary, with his name and his record. When they saw a company going to Ireland, anxious to spend capital in that country, and doing something which they thought was going to stop the flow of emigration, it was only natural for them to do everything in their power to prevent that industry being suppressed, or to remove from the public mind any idea that there was an attempt to suppress that industry. He regretted that there did arise in connection with the Arklow factory the idea that certain inspectors of the Government had taken action against that factory which they would not have taken against an English company in like circumstances. Perhaps that feeling was wrong, but still it was there 200 The agreement come to had entirely removed that impression from their minds, and under these circumstances he only rose to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, and he did not intend to move the reduction standing in his name.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. GLADSTONE, Leeds, W.)
said he quite accepted the statement that in any action which the hon. Member and his friends thought it their duty to take there was no personal fooling with regard to himself involved. In a similar strain he could only say that, so far as Messrs. Kynoch were concerned, he had not been animated by any feeling of hostility or prejudice against them. In his judgment he had a very clear public duty to perform, and he had discharged it to the best of his power. In those matters it was always desirable, if they could, to come to a settlement which was consistent with public duty and with the public interest. As his hon. friend had said, his Department had come to an arrangement with Messrs. Kynoch. As this was a matter of considerable public importance it was not desirable that he should content himself with announcing the fact that a settlement had been arrived at. He would, therefore, put the House in possession of the terms of the settlement. The conditions which had been accepted by Messrs. Kynoch were these —Messrs. Kynoch agree to withdraw their appeal to the High Court and to accept the decision of the Essex Quarter Sessions. They will write a letter to the Chief Inspector of Explosives undertaking not to use mercuric chloride, or any ingredient which has a masking effect on the Abel heat test, and generally to observe the terms of their licences. Messrs. Kynoch to indicate to the Home Office the explosives now under seizure in the magazines which contain mercury, and to hand them over to the inspectors to be ultimately dealt with as the Committee appointed jointly by the War Office and the Home Office may recommend. The Home Office agree that the oases now pending against Messrs. Kynoch shall be withdrawn. That all explosives not containing mercury shall be released, and that the magazines required by Messrs. Kynoch 201 for trade purposes shall be cleared of their present contents —namely, the explosives seized under the Act, by concentrating the seized explosives in such place or places as may be approved by the Chief Inspector.Those were the terms on which this matter had been settled, as he believed, in the public interest and to the advantage of everybody concerned. He could say with the utmost frankness and confidence that His Majesty's inspectors had never shown any partiality in the discharge of their duties —duties which they had performed admirably and without fear or favour and with great advantage to the country. Within the scope of their duties His Majesty's inspectors would be at all times glad to advise and consult Messrs. Kynoch or any other public company concerned in the manufacture of explosives with regard to the due development of a legitimate business. As far as ho was concerned, he fully appreciated what had been said. He had been in that House twenty-seven years, and his views about Ireland were well known. Perhaps he had been somewhat unfairly accused of an apparent desire to do some injury to what had been, and he hoped would always be, a thriving industry in Ireland. That recalled to his mind that twenty-five years ago his first legislative child in that House was a Bill called the Arklow Harbour Bill. That Bill, of which he was in charge, was a Bill for the benefit of Arklow. It provided a Treasury grant of £15,000 for the improvement of Arklow harbour, with a further loan of £20,000 or £30,000. He hoped his hon. friends opposite would therefore realise that his connection with Arklow was not wholly a bad one. He might explain that the settlement did not go beyond his own Department, and had nothing whatever to do with other Departments which might be concerned in the manufacture 202 of explosives, such as the War Office or the Admiralty. As far as his own Department was concerned this was the conclusion they had come to, and he hoped it was a satisfactory one.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said a flattering tribute had been paid to the right hon. Gentleman and all his family; they were most excellent people; the hon. Member had employed exactly four and a half minutes to say that, and had then sat down. Then came the right hon. Gentleman who had eulogised hon. Members below the gangway, and said everything that was pleasant —that an agreement had been come to, and the agreement was satisfactory; and then he too, sat down. Surely, merely for this, there was no reason why the Board of Trade Vote should have been passed. What was this sudden agreement which had been arrived at between hon. Gentlemen below the gangway and the right hon. Gentleman?
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I have not made any agreement at all with hon. Members below the gangway. I stated expressly that the agreement was between Messrs. Kynoch and my Department.
§ MR. MOONEY
said they were not acting for Messrs. Kynoch, nor had they any interest at all in Messrs. Kynoch, who were free to make whatever bargain they liked with the Government.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said ho thoroughly understood that. What he meant was that hon. Members represented the constituency in which were the works of 203 Messrs. Kynoch, and they were anxious that the works should be continued there. The right hon. Gentleman had continued those works in Ireland.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
was understood to say that so far as his Department was concerned, the agreement at which they had arrived on this matter had no reference to the continuance of the works at Ark-low.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he could not understand what all this shaking of hands was about. He saw no reason why the important debate on the Board of Trade Vote should have been hurriedly concluded in order that this short statement might be made. He was interested neither in Kynoch's nor in Ireland, but he was interested in the safety of His Majesty's sailors and soldiers; and if, in order to please hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, orders for ammunition were to be given to a firm which apparently had taken a course to prevent the proper testing of their ammunition, he would most strongly protest. He did not think the Home Secretary had given a satisfactory answer or a proper explanation of what he had done in the matter. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the appeal had been withdrawn.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said he was much obliged to the hon. Baronet for giving him this opportunity of explaining the matter. He thought that before the hon. Baronet imputed motives to him and charged him with actions which might bear serious and dangerous results he should at least have made himself acquainted with the elementary facts of the case. Any one who had followed the ease knew very well that upon his instructions and responsibility a prosecu- 204 tion had been instituted against Messrs. Kynoch for a certain infringement of the law, and that judgment was given against them and confirmed at quarter sessions. Messrs. Kynoch appealed to the High Court, and delay occurred in hearing the appeal; and in the interval it was not possible to follow up the prosecution. What the Home Office wanted was a clear admission by Messrs. Kynoch that they had infringed the law; what they wanted was prevention of a repetition of the offence with which the firm was charged. Messrs. Kynoch had withdrawn their appeal, and in so doing had admitted the justice of the action taken against them; they had given the Home Office everything that was wanted by an undertaking that they would not in future put the unauthorised ingredient, chloride of mercury, into their explosives, that they would not put in any ingredient that would have the effect of masking the Government test, and that they would strictly observe the terms of the licence under which they were allowed to manufacture. Was anything else wanted? That had been his object from the first, and with that he would have been contented months ago. Messrs. Kynoch chose to fight the case before the law, but had now consented to accept the decision of the Court, pay their costs, and pay their penalties, giving an undertaking that the offence should not be repeated.
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
said there was no undertaking, but the licence prescribed certain conditions and Messrs. Kynoch did not observe them.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
wished to know what guarantee they had that Messrs. 205 Kynoch would not do the same thing again.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said that Messrs. Kynoch all through had contended that they had not infringed the terms of their licence, but they had now given up that contention. The Home Office claimed that a certain construction must be put upon the terms of the licence, and Messrs. Kynoch had now accepted that construction and promised to abide by it. The Home Office had now got all they wanted. Messrs. Kynoch, though perhaps late in the day, had acted in a proper spirit. He had been made the target of uncomplimentary remarks from gentlemen connected with the firm, but to that he was indifferent. He had given the House the terms of the agreement, and he challenged any hon. Member to say what more ho could have done in the public interest and for the maintenance of the law.
§ *MR. BELLAIRS (Lynn Regis)
said that in his judgment if the right hon. Gentleman had insisted on unconditional surrender, and if the case had been carried to the Appeal Court, the Government would have had the decision of the Appeal Court instead of the decision of the other Courts which Messrs. Kynoch had already described as ludicrous. In any case there were one or two uncertain features about the agreement, respecting which he would like to ask a few questions. He wanted to know whether the agreement which the right hon. Gentleman had made in any way bound the Admiralty and the War Office?
§ *MR. BELLAIRS
said there were about 3,000 tons of this stuff in our Navy and Army, and if the decision of the 206 Committee which Messrs. Kynoch had agreed to accept was against the contractors who supplied it, the Government should be free to sue for the money which had been paid for the cordite. He wished to know whether the evidence given before the Committee and the Report would be published. His third question referred specially to the Homo Office. Did the contract leave the Home Office free to proceed against the contractors for fraud? Messrs. Kynoch now acknowledged that the chloride was an illegal ingredient, and it was put in by order of the directors and the management. Clearly the Home Office should proceed in some way against the contractors for fraud. Messrs. Kynoch would now plead that they yielded in this agreement to the force of the great majority of Liberals in this House. Only two days ago Mr. Arthur Chamberlain, addressing a meeting of the shareholders at Birmingham indicated clearly the view that his company was the victim of politics, crushed between the hammer of Radical in-tolerance and Cecilian indifference: —Last year he congratulated them on their latest victory over a Radical slanderer, but the Radicals had never allowed them to forget that they had a political vendetta against them. And just at this time their old wounds had broken out afresh and were now bleeding. By reason of the re-opening of the question by the cases of two of their Ministers, Lord Portsmouth and Lord Tweedmouth, they were not in the humour to do justice to a Chamberlain.… On the other hand Kynochs suffered from the coolness of the Unionists because they believed the chairman to be tainted with Radical views in the matter of licensing and tariff reform. At the last general election he freely used his money and poor influence to secure the return of the Radical opponent to the Hon. Evelyn Cecil, and though he failed to prevent his election, the effort was not likely to make him persona grata to those who supported the Cecil family.That showed very clearly the line that would be taken by Kynochs Ltd. in 207 reference to to-day's agreement, namely, that the Government used the political forces in this House, the vendetta as Mr. Arthur Chamberlain called it. Messrs. Kynoch had agreed to accept the Report of the Committee which the right hon. Gentleman in conjunction with the Secretary of State of War had appointed, but what did Mr. Arthur Chamberlain say of that Committee? He derided the Committee as being the reverse of impartial, as it included the Government experts. He said —Was it not perfectly evident that if the Home Office inspectors who had been so bitter against them thought they had the ghost of a chance of disproving these statements they would have been as eager for arbitration as the company were? The fact that they refused arbitration was to anyone who had ever watched' Pretty Fanny's ways' a proof that they had no case.He imagined that "Pretty Fanny" in this case was his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The threat in regard to the removal of the works from Ireland was raised in 1900 in order to obtain a larger share of contracts, and it was raised again to-day. Messrs. Kynoch had threatened to remove from Arklow unless they got larger contracts. Mr. Arthur Chamberlain's explanation of how the manufacture of cordite was lost to Ireland in 1902 was the difficulties placed in the way of the Irish manufacture. He stated further that when the manufacture of cordite was taken away from Ireland and given to England, Arklow began to sink into the state of poverty and starvation from which it used to suffer. What was the real state of the facts? At Arklow in 1900 a quantity of cordite was rejected because it was full of physical impurities, because the chief inspector of explosives reported that it contained a large quantity of stones and nails. These things might 208 have been put in through the malice of the workmen, but obviously it was the duty of the inspector to reject all that cordite. In 1902 the cordite was rejected because it could not pass the heat test which was the only test they possessed —as Messrs. Kynoch well knew —to protect from destruction our soldiers and sailors and the men who worked in the mines of the country. They deliberately with the connivance of the directors masked the heat test by using mercuric chloride. That was the whole truth with regard to Messrs. Kynoch. They removed from Arklow because the cordite manufactured there was bad. But there were even more serious indictments against the firm in regard to other matters. They had boon found fault with because the cordite which was rejected by the Homo Office Inspector managed to find its way out of the country. The harbour by-laws of all port authorities prohibited the export of explosives which had been rejected, but this cordite was sold to the Japanese.
The hon. Gentleman was proceeding to allude to the cause of the disastrous magazine explosion in the Japanese battleship "Mikasa" when, it being Eleven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.
§ Committee also report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.