§ 1. £473,000 to complete the sum for Revenue Buildings.
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he had a few questions to ask upon this Vote, but before he did so be would like to recommend that the Paper containing the details of the Votes would be more strongly stitched together, because his copy was falling to pieces and he could not find the place he wanted although he had marked it. He saw that there was an increase of £62,850 for new works, alterations and additions, and Although he did not say it was not necessary he would like to have some explanation of it. He saw at the same time that while there was this large increase of £62,850 for now buildings there was also an increase in the items for maintenance and repairs. He could not see why with such a large amount of new works there should be such an increase for maintenance and repairs. He noticed that in regard to the General Post Office, called King Edward VII. building, the original estimate was £316,000, the expenditure up to 31st March was £60,000, and the Vote required for this year was £85,000, leaving a sum of £171,000 unexpended. He would like to know whether it was necessary to spend so large a sum as £316,000 upon King Edward VII. building which, he gathered, was the General Post Office in the City. He thought he was right in saying that that £316,000 did not include any expenditure on the land, but merely money spent on the building, and that was an exceedingly large sum to spend on bricks and mortar. He did not know exactly whether the item "Blackfriars new power station" meant an electrical station, but if so he would like to know whether the Post Office made their own electricity, and whether they had considered if it would not he more economical to purchase it from a company. He had had some experience of the making of their own electricity by a large company 714 in London, and they had come to the conclusion that it would have been much cheaper if, instead of putting down their own plant, they had gone to an electric supply company. Very favourable terms could be obtained from the electric supply companies for a large supply, and he suggested that it would have been wiser to endeavour to obtain electricity from a private company than to spend a large sum of more than £40,000 on a new power station. He quite admitted that if a large amount of money had already been expended on buildings and plant it might be, unless there was an opportunity of using the building for some other purpose, more economical to go on in the old way. He would like to know whether that subject had been considered and whether an estimate had been obtained from any company for the supply of electricity; whether there had been any comparison made between that estimate and the cost of the production of electricity by the Post Office; and whether an estimate had been prepared of the loss that might accrue if the existing building and plant had practically been scrapped. The original estimate for the power station was £40,000, the revised estimate was £48,500. That was an increase of 20 per cent. on the original estimate, and he would like to know why the increase was so exceedingly large. The Post Office was accustomed to spend large sums of money every year, and it was somewhat surprising with the very large experience they had they should not have been able, with the very efficient staff they possessed, to have prepared a closer estimate. He was sorry to say that the thing which had been chiefly drawn to his notice in the cursory examination which he had been able to make of the Estimates was that in many instances there had been a very considerable increase on the original estimates, and he proposed, where they had been considerable, to ask the right hon. Gentleman to give the reasons. He did not wish to cast any reflection whatsoever on the gentlemen who prepared the Estimates, but he would point out that unless some vigilance was exercised by the House of Commons the natural tendency was to allow things to be taken somewhat easily, and to rectify the errors by increasing the Estimates in the hope that no notice would be taken of 715 them. The original estimate for the new Post Office at South Kensington was £18,700, the revised estimate £21,670, an increase of £3,000. The amount expended, however, was only £1,000 up to March, 1908, and he would like to know why so small a sum had been spent. Of course, if the building had only recently been commenced there was nothing further to be said. In the case of the Post Office at Blackpool the original estimate was £15,680, the revised estimate £20,500, and the expenditure up to March, 1908, only £500. If they were really to have a Post Office at Blackpool the work ought to be set about in a businesslike manner, and so small an expenditure should not be made on a building which was to cost £20,500. In the case of Bristol also the estimate had been increased from £36,780 to £40,810, and there again only £1,000 had been spent. He would like to know the reason for this small expenditure on all these big Estimates. Had it anything to do with the alteration of the policy of the Government with regard to loans? Was it due to the fact that while they were going to undertake large works they were not able to get the money? If that was so, was that the most economical way of doing business? The whole of the staffs that would inhabit the new post offices when completed must be housed somewhere, and the consequence was that they were paying rents which it would not be necessary to pay if those post offices were complete. At the same time the sites had been bought and the interest of that money was running with no advantage to the nation. That was not a wise, economical, or businesslike policy. Hull was a groat example. The estimate in that case was increased from £40,000 to £58,000, an increase of over 40 per cent. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give a good explanation with regard to it It was not open to the same objection as the others he had mentioned, upon which only a little had been spent, because in this case £36,000 was spent up to the end of last year. With regard to Edinburgh there had been no increase. In that case the estimate was £62,000, but that was a large amount to spend on additional post offices in Edinburgh, and he would like to have some explanation with regard to that.
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)
did not complain of the class of Votes that had been placed upon the Paper, or the order in which they were placed. The right hon. Gentleman was quite right in endeavouring to secure the principal building Votes that night. Although he might not be able to obtain all the Votes on the Paper experience had shown that in the Post Office great difficulties occurred. Either they had to spend money which Parliament had not authorised or else they were delayed in starting on contracts for large works which, in consequence, might be set back owing to the bad days of the winter. He would go further and ask that in future the numbers of the Votes might be altered so that the principal building Votes might stand first on the list of the Estimates of Clause 1. The House would then always know that the principal estimates would be taken first. This particular Vote showed an increase of £86,000, and in it was the sum included for the post office in King Edward VII. Street, which was to cost £316,000. Last year, out of the sum taken, £60,000 was spent, and he would like to know whether the building was proceeding more rapidly, and whether the £85,000 taken this year was likely to be expended. He was not one of those who thought that the expenditure was excessive, but he desired to call attention to the large amount which was being re-voted, by which he meant that money already voted but not spent was re-voted. In regard to that particular building £316,000 had been sanctioned, and he would like to feel sure that the money was going to be spent this year, because they would then be able to draw their own conclusions as to the rapidity with which the building would reach completion. He noticed that in respect of these two Votes alone the amount to be re-voted this year was no less than £86,000. He did not, of course, accuse the Department, to which he was sincerely attached, of having made any wrong estimate, but he would like to see this practice of re-voting altered. The right hon. Gentleman was anxious, doubtless, to get on with the building as fast as possible, and probably he put down a larger amount of money than was likely to be 717 spent during the current year. The re-voting was in regard to the Blackfriars Power Station and several new post offices in London, and it had also reference to buildings in course of construction in country districts. The re-voting had not been confined to this year; last year there were twenty-eight items in which re-voting was necessary. With regard to the post office at Canterbury, he should like to know what progress was being made with the building, and how soon the public might expect to have an uninterrupted use of it. It was at present being used in a condition of only partial completion; there were scaffolding and other structures about, the site being occupied by the post office and the Inland Revenue office. The total amount sanctioned was £1,700, and it appeared that of that sum the amount of £1,370 was wanted for 1908–9, and that no further sum would be required; therefore, he concluded he might congratulate himself on the fact that the buildings would be finished during the current year. He noticed that there was an increase of £7,000 under the head of maintenance for the increased cost of fuel. He took it that the right hon. Gentleman in making his contracts had not only borne in mind the present rise in the price of coal, but the possible addition which might have to be made supposing the Bill now before Parliament was likely to obtain the Royal Assent. He thought that it was a very good object lesson as to the increase that must be occasioned not only to public authorities, but to poor private consumers. He desired to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman had considered the prospective rise in the price of coal in making his estimates.
§ MR. ASHLEY (Lancashire, Blackpool)
said he had not understood the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London to say that £25,500 was too much for the Post Office at Blackpool.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he did not know whether it was or was not; all he objected to was an estimate for £20,000 when it should be over £25,000. It was a bad business principle not to make the estimate correspond more or less with the amount to be expended.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said that if the hon. Baronet visited Blackpool he would find that £25,500 was not too much. What he protested against was that the original estimates were very much too small, and that they had then to ask Parliament to sanction a larger expenditure. Surely there must be some great carelessness on the part of the people responsible for drawing up the Estimates. Of course, the circumstances of Blackpool were rather different from those of inland towns, and it might be that the estimate had grown owing to the enormous increase of the population of Blackpool during the summer season; still, there must be great carelessness on the part of officials in not drawing up the Estimates for the proper amount. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell the inhabitants of Blackpool when they would get their post office? The plans were begun some two years ago, and last year the right hon. Gentleman, who had been most sympathetic, told them that the post office would be commenced early in the year, but in February nothing had been done. The first work was done some four days before the end of the financial year, and £500 put down in the Estimates had not been expended; therefore practically nothing had been done during some months. If the amount taken was to be £7,500 out of the total of £20,500, then he could not see how, at the very earliest, the new post office at Blackpool would be open before 1911; it might be finished at the end of 1910. What was really wanted at Blackpool was a post office in the summer time. At present the normal population of Blackpool was 50,000, and in the summer it was 150,000; often that number came on a day trip; and if the right hon. Gentleman could only go into the present post office and see how great was the absolute confusion which existed, despite all the efforts of the officials and of the local authority to keep order, he was sure he would do all he could to expedite the work. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give him some assurance that the work would be pressed forward rapidly.
§ *THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (Mr. HARCOURT,) Lancashire, Rossendale
said he hoped the Committee would pass all these Votes, with the exception of Vote 25, which included his own 719 salary, and which would enable Members to examine him further in Committee during the currency of the present session. In regard to other departments it was immaterial whether the Estimates were passed at the moment or not, because when the discussion was over, a Vote need not be carried, but might come under the guillotine at the end of the session. But in his Department he was concerned with building operations, and in the case of new buildings he was most unwilling to proceed without definite Parliamentary authority. It was desirable that he should get the Votes as early as possible after the close of the financial year, because in England the summer was the most valuable period for building operations, and it was on that ground he wanted Parliament to give a him the authority for which he was asking that night. During the three years he had been responsible he had always taken the Votes at the earliest possible moment after the close of the financial year, and he was happy to say that in consequence there had been a great gain of efficiency in the work of the Office. He was glad to be able to assure the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, having just got the figures for the close of the financial year, that the surrenders on the whole of the Votes last year was 1¾ per cent. He was sure that this did great credit to the staff who so ably carried on the work. The House of Commons had enabled them to start early by giving them the Votes early last year. The hon. Baronet had asked why there was an increase in new works generally. There had been a progressive increase for many years, owing to the great growth of the postal service throughout the country—an increase, however, he was happy to say, which led to a large increase of revenue, though it did not come to the Office of Works, but went to the general service of the country. With regard to maintenance, it applied not only to new buildings projected, but also to the larger public buildings erected in the last few years. The cost of maintenance, therefore, was greater than it had been in the past. Maintenance did not mean repairs, which were a very different thing; it meant the maintenance of furniture, the electric lighting—
§ *MR. HARCOURT
Yes; but it came under maintenance. With reference to King Edward VII's. building, which the hon. Baronet rightly assumed was the new General Post Office in the City of London, the plans were decided upon, and he thought rightly decided upon, by the late Government. In the hon. Baronet's view of the extravagance of the late Government, he differed less from him than in regard to many other questions. He held that the building was absolutely essential to the proper conduct of the postal business of the country, and he was glad to see that rapid progress was being made with it owing to the method of construction, and he had very little doubt that the money provided in the Estimates would be spent by the end of the financial year. As to the Blackfriars Power Station, on full consideration of all the circumstances it was considered that the supply of electricity by the Post Office itself was by far the most economical arrangement that could be come to. The hon. Baronet would remember that the work of the post offices involved the use of a far larger proportion of electric light than any other kind of work. Their work was done largely at night, and, indeed, many post offices never closed day or night. The hon. Baronet had referred to the difficulty of arriving at an accurate estimate of what these buildings would cost. It was quite true that he had given a pledge to the House of Commons last year which he hoped they would see at the end of twelve months, whether he was there or whether he was not, had been faithfully observed. In the past these Estimates which had been put down in order to obtain the authority of Parliament had been conjectural Estimates before the plans and specifications had been prepared. He did not think that had been a good plan, but it had been followed by many Governments for a great length of time. The Post Office stated their wants, and generally the Office of Works made conjectural Estimates, and having obtained the authority of Parliament, they then proceeded to obtain detailed plans. In future he would not not put forward an Estimate 721 until he had more definite plans, and something in the nature of a specification which would enable him to come to the House of Commons with a formal Estimate which would be more closely adhered to. Of course that would necessarily mean delay in the case of certain post offices, and that they would have to wait another twelve months, because he had not been able to get the plans at the last moment which would satisfy the limitations which he had laid down. The hon. Baronet had asked a question with regard to South Kensington post office. In that instance there had been an extension of the plans originally prepared. There was a difficulty in supplying plans, because they had combined with the post office the Meteorological Office on the same site. That accounted for the delay. In regard to Bristol, the original Estimate did not provide for the fittings and furniture which wore necessary, because it was not possible to to arrive at a specification of those at the time the Estimate was put in. On a revision of the plans an additional story was required for the completion of the whole building. As to the charges as to economy and extravagance he would not interfere with quarrels between the hon. Baronet and the hon. Gentleman, but he sympathised with him in the accusation, unfounded he was quite sure, made against him by his colleague, that he was unpatriotic in his extravagant ideas. The excess on the building at Hull was assented to by the House last year. It had arisen mainly because the foundations were found to be more expensive than had been anticipated. The hon. Baronet knew how difficult it was before the ground was opened to know what would be found underneath it. There were difficulties in all building operations in which a state of affairs was discovered under-ground which necessarily added to the cost of the foundation. Unfortunately that was the case in this post office. There was also the enlargement of the scheme, and again Hull was one of the post offices which was down on the original rough estimate and not on the ultimate plans. That was a system which he promised should be changed in the future. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Augustine's had suggested that there should be a re-numbering of the Votes. He thought there might be something to be said for a re-numbering in the future, though the actual numbering 722 of the Estimates made very little difference as the Minister in charge could put the Votes down in whatever order he liked, and occasionally it might be necessary to put first a Vote which was not the most urgent in point of view of authority to commence building, but urgent owing to some special question which excited the attention of the House. For instance, in previous years he had put early in the list the Vote for the Houses of Parliament, because there was interest in the ventilation question, although it was quite impossible that he could spend the money until the recess, and it might well have come at the end of the Votes. The money taken for the General Post Office he could assure the right hon. Gentleman was not a token figure, but the figure which it was hoped to be able to expend in the year. There would be closer Estimates in future on the definite plans. With regard to the post office at Canterbury, in which the right hon. Gentleman was interested, there was a delay first of all as to the proposed accommodation for telephones which had not been foreseen by the Post Office when the plans were made. Then the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that ancient light difficulties arose, and if there was any difficulty in the world which was more obstructive to building, and indeed to all progress, it was the question of ancient lights. There was a slight added difficulty in the case of Canterbury due to the contract being carried out in three sections, owing to three offices being erected on the same site. As to the fuel contracts, they had been made after full consideration as to all circumstances which were likely to occur and to affect the price. The hon. Member for Blackpool had referred again to a matter which he had had very present in his mind, in fact which the hon. Member would not allow him not to have present in his mind. It was the office in the hon. Member's constituency, which was one in which he also took a very great interest, because so many of his own constituents spent their holidays there. The delay was mainly owing to difficulties with the Post Office in settling the building scheme. As the hon. Member knew no telephone exchange was included in the post office, but it was specially necessary in a place of that kind where people went for a short time, and a telephonic exchange was now being added 723 to the post office. That had necessitated the whole building being recast and enlarged, and he was glad to say the final plans had now been approved, the drawings were with the quantity surveyors, and the work would go on rapidly. He hoped the hon. Member would not assume that the future progress would be as slow as might be indicated by the amount which they thought it necessary to take this year. In the following year the progress with that post office would be much more rapid.
§ MR. ASHLEY
Could the right hon. Gentleman say if there is any chance of the post office being ready by the summer of 1910?
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he should certainly think so, but he hoped the hon. Member would not consider that he had given a definite pledge, because he had no fairy wand which would effect its completion.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
asked how it came about that out of £15,700 voted last year for the new post office at Sheffield, only £8,300 had been spent, and what special circumstance had intervened to prevent the more rapid progress of the work. It was some time ago since he had introduced a deputation to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in office, and persuaded his Department to buy the site and commence the work. At that time they were able to convince him that a new Post Office was urgently needed because the old one was insanitary to the officers and the public. How much more must this be the case now after these years had elapsed.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
was sorry to say that there had been a very unfortunate delay over the preparation of the second contract for that post office. He very much regretted it, and the matter would now go on much more rapidly.
§ MR. HOWELL DAVIES (Bristol, S.)
urged the desirability of pushing on with the post office at Bristol. He found himself encouraged by the hon. Member for the City of London to ask why it was that only £1,000 had been spent in the last Estimates upon the City of Bristol. The 724 ground for the extension of the post office was bought several years ago, and the then occupiers had removed and built elaborate offices elsewhere. For some years the work of the Bristol post office had been most inconveniently carried on. Throughout the whole history of the post office at Bristol there had been on the part of successive Governments a parsimony which had been its own enemy in the long run. The post office, as it was first built, was built very much too small, and two or three additions had been made to it already. He was not at all surprised at the explanation which the First Commissioner had given for the increase in the Estimates that a new floor had had to be built. If the extension took as long as former extensions had taken they would be wanting an additional extension as soon as it was finished. He hoped the matter would be pushed on with all speed now. They had waited for several years, and the necessity, as the Postmaster-General knew, was very great indeed.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Lancashire, Chorley)
desired to say a word on the Parliamentary aspect of the discussion as put before the House by the right hon. Gentleman. He had appealed to the Committee to give him the Votes during that sitting. So far as he and his friends were concerned they did not intend to stand in the way of that, but he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that in past years when he (Lord Balcarres) had been responsible for the Votes the House had not given the Votes of Class I. in a single day. He did not remember a single case in which they had done it. He did not object, but especially on a day when probably the whole of the evening would be occupied by an alien subject owing to a Motion for Adjounrment it might well be difficult for the Votes to be granted. If the Votes were not granted and they could not get another day for their discussion, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not take that as the verdict of the House that he was not entitled to go forward with the rest of his Votes. The right hon. Gentleman had indicated clearly enough that if he could not get the Votes of this Class it might check building operations all over the country, and that would be an unfortunate thing. 725 He quite agreed that it would be unfortunate if that were the case, but he did not admit for a moment that because the House from one cause or another found itself unable to pass all the Votes on one day, the Department was debarred from continuing the Votes. That was financial purism carried to a ridiculous extent. If he thought that danger really existed he was entitled to take a larger Vote on Account than had hitherto been the practice of the Department, and in that way he could obviate the difficulty if it ever arose. The building operations now in progress were being carried out from the money of the Vote on Account. If that money proved insufficient for the three or four months or whatever the period might be, he hoped next year the sum taken would be increased in order to prevent the anomaly of a suspension of the building operations under Class I. until Supply had been guillotined at the end of the session. Again he would make an observation not directly connected with any special item in the Estimate, but with regard to the right hon. Gentleman's general explanation. He had told them that he had given a pledge to Parliament to provide firm estimates, and that by so doing he would not have to vary the Estimates so much as in past years. He did not object to that at all, but he would rather that a fluid Estimate was presented to Parliament, an Estimate subject perhaps to large variations, than that necessary public works should be delayed. He had said that to carry out his pledge that nothing but firm estimates should be presented might delay the beginning of new public buildings. Assuming for instance that a firm Estimate only arrived in the middle of March, it would be impossible to incorporate it in the Estimates for the forthcoming year, and consequently the building would have to be delayed. There again he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman was not going to carry technical compliance with that admirable principle too far. No doubt if the Estimates were fluid and subject to large variations, hon. Members like the hon. Member for the City of London might claim that they had been carelessly drawn up, but the public service would stop if owing to the desire for that precision the Office of Works found itself debarred from presenting a general 726 Estimate such as they now presented, for instance, in the Diplomatic and Consular Vote. In foreign works it was obviously necessary that general sums should be voted owing to the impossibility, many of these places being weeks and months away from home, of getting accurate figures in time for the printing of the estimates. Sums of money were voted year after year although no specific estimate had been supplied. He was prepared to support the right hon. Gentleman in extending that principle to Votes within the United Kingdom, because although there might be technical and possibly financial objections the interest of the public service demanded that the buildings should be begun at the earliest possible opportunity. One of his hon. friends thought the Estimates were liable to increase owing to carelessness in the Department of the Office of Works. Those who made charges of that kind did not realise the difficulties which had to be faced by architects and surveyors in preparing estimates for buildings. As a rule it was the tyranny of the Treasury and financial purists who made enormous difficulties which greatly increased the Civil Service Estimates. When the Office of Works felt itself obliged to present an Estimate it had to do so subject to Treasury control, and they would probably be told that they were proposing to spend £5,000, £10,000 or £20,000 too much. Of course, the Office of Works had to acquiesce. The building would be started, and later on it was often found that the requirements of the public service demanded a building of the dimensions set forth in the original Estimate, and a revised Estimate had to be presented. Often in that way the Office of Works was blamed, whereas nobody was really to blame but the Treasury. He hoped, therefore, that hon. Members would lay the blame on the right shoulders. He urged the right hon. Gentleman in the event of his Votes not being passed—a Parliamentary contingency which might happen to the right hon. Gentleman or to any other Minister—he would not necessarily, on that account, suspend building operations in connection with works which ought to be undertaken at the earliest possible moment.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he would push on the building operations with all 727 possible rapidity. The noble Lord the Member for Chorley had expressed some doubt as to the likelihood of his getting his Votes that night before 8.15. Last year the House was good enough to give him these Votes before 8.15, with the exception of the Vote for his salary, and he hoped they would do the same again upon that occasion. Many of the works which had been referred to had already been authorised by Parliament, and it was on those works that the Vote on Account was spent. It was most unusual for the Office of Works or any other Department to commence new works in anticipation of the decision of Parliament. That would be an unfortunate rule to lay down, because Parliament was entitled to assert its authority before new works were commenced.
§ LORD BALCARRES
said he drew a clear distinction between new works and new services. The Office of Works would be justified in beginning new works, but not new services. They often began new works in anticipation of Parliamentary sanction.
§ MR. WATT (Glasgow, College)
called attention to the small sum allocated to Scotland in this Vote. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had any Scottish blood in his veins, but he should imagine he had not, judging by the Vote. He hoped that in future he would keep in mind the fact that the population of the country north of the Tweed was about one-seventh or one-eighth of the United Kingdom and that that proportion of his expenditure ought to go to Scotland. He thought also that more of it should be spent in Glasgow; most of the money for Scotland in this Vote was being spent in Edinburgh, £62,000 for a post office there, and £22,000 for new Law Courts, while Glasgow had to be content with a paltry £1,850. He hoped the First Commissioner of Works would in future see that in giving Scotland money it was equally distributed.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT (Down, N.)
called attention to the fact that there were not forty Members present.
§ House counted; and forty Members being found present,
§ MR. HICKS BEACH (Gloucestershire, Tewkesbury)
said the speech of the hon. 728 Member for Glasgow was a most extraordinary one coming from a member of the party of economy. Here they had an hon. Member solemnly complaining that more money was not spent in the first place north of the Tweed, and, secondly, in his own constituency of Glasgow.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
said the hon. Member had argued that money ought to be spent in Glasgow because it was being spent in other parts of the country. He presumed that the Minister in charge of the Vote had selected the places where the expenditure was most needed. It was a most extraordinary thing for an hon. Member to upbraid a Minister for not spending more money in his own constituency. He wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question in regard to the new post office at Borden Camp, one of the military stations in Hampshire. What was the necessity for erecting a post office there? He would also like to know if the War Office was going to contribute anything towards the cost. Was the amount to come entirely from Post Office funds, or would any of it appear on the Vote for the War Office? He thought the War Office should contribute if the new post office was required entirely for the use of the military authorities.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
stated in reply to the hon. Member for Glasgow that his countrymen had in the past been so insistent and successful that they had obtained almost everything they wanted, and poor England was now trying to make up leeway. In regard to the Borden Camp post office, that was dealt with in the Estimates last year.
§ MR. COCHRANE (Ayrshire, N.)
desired to join his brother Scot in his protest that Scotland was most grossly neglected by the Treasury. They could vote handsome sums of money to Ireland, but their bowels of compassion did nut extend to Scotland. He would be able on another Vote to show how a most important building had been neglected by the Treasury.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that the complaint of the hon. Member for Glasgow 729 was not that there was in Glasgow any necessity for a new post office or other new building. What he argued was that there was a given sum going to be spent in Great Britain, that Scotland contained one-seventh part of the population of Great Britain, and therefore the sum to be spent should be divided by seven, and one-seventh given to Scotland.
§ SIR. F. BANBURY
said that that was what the hon. Member said, and it would be a very serious thing if they were going to spend money according to the population, and not according to actual requirements. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for informing the Committee that he intended to abide by the statement he made last year to the effect that, as soon as it could be done, the Estimates for buildings would be put upon a firmer basis. He approved of the promise that the Estimates should be put on something like an accurate basis. Unless that were done it was impossible for the Committee to know what amount of money was being spent, and he was sure that that was not at all in the interest of the House of Commons itself, or of the country. When he made a remark about the increase in the number of buildings for the post office, and that the time had arrived when it was unnecessary to spend more money on buildings, the right hon. Gentleman said that there had been a great increase in the post office work. He did not think that such an increase had been going on; there had been an increase in the post office expenditure, but not of the work.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
Not so great as in the expenditure. There had been also a great increase in the expenditure on the telegraphs. He thought the right hon. Gentleman had quite inadvertently omitted to answer an important question put by the hon. Member for the St. Augustine's division of Kent. The vote for fuel amounted to £52,000 compared with £46,000 last year. He would like to know the reason for that increase of £6,000, because it was well known that there had been a large fall in the price 730 of coal during the last few months. He himself had made contracts for coal recently at considerably lower prices than last year. His hon. friend near him pointed out that there was a large item for candles included in the Vote. Candles were an old-fashioned means of illumination—he used them himself. When they were spending £48,000 for electric apparatus and electric light in the General Post Office, and the sub-offices, why should they go back to candles?
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that the estimates of the coal contracts were made not now, but in the end of the year—December; and probably the price of coal was higher last December than it was in December twelve months ago. There had also been a larger consumption of coal on account of the larger number of offices. It was a question of amount of coal consumed rather than an enlargement of price.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he was not aware that the coal contracts were made in December. It was quite true that in last December the fall in the price of coal had not taken effect. But he would say that December was the very worst month of the year in which coal contracts should be entered into.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he did not mean to say that the contracts were made in December, but that he had to make up his Estimates in December.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said the right hon. Gentleman did say that the contracts were entered into in December, but he now understood that the sum in the Vote was practically an estimate of what the cost of the coal would be and not an accurate statement of the cost.
§ MR. C. E. PRICE (Edinburgh, Central)
said he did not know why the hon. Gentleman opposite should urge for a larger amount of money for Glasgow at the expense of Edinburgh. There was no capital in the Empire on which there was so small an expenditure of public money as on Edinburgh. Several hundred thousand pounds more had been spent in 731 Glasgow than in Edinburgh. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was responsible for the choice of sites for the post office buildings in the provincial towns. Last summer he had been in Stornoway, and was bound to say that the new post office there had been placed on the most inconvenient site, far away from the business part of the town. He knew that the same complaint had been made in regard to various other towns in Scotland; and in choosing sites for new post offices greater attention should be paid to the convenience of the business part of the community.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ 2. Motion made and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £342,900, 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, 1909, in respect of sundry Public Buildings in Great Britain, not provided for on other Votes."
§ MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
said he noticed that there was an increase on this Vote this year of £59,900. That increase was largely accounted for by expenditure on two or three large buildings. The first was for the buildings in Spring Gardens for the official residences of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the First Sea Lord. He wanted to know what progress was being made with those buildings and when they might look forward to the much desired and long expected opening from the Mall to Charing Cross. He saw that there was still £34,000 to be expended after this year for the completion of the buildings, but he supposed that most of that would be for internal fittings, and that it was possible that the roadway might be opened before the buildings were finally competed. He also asked whether any further negotiations had taken place with the London County Council in regard to the widening of the approach of the new roadway on the eastern side of Drummond's Bank. Six or seven years ago when he was at the Office of Works certain negotiations 732 were entered into with regard to the demolition of the buildings opposite Drummond's Bank. He asked whether there was any chance of a better approach being made than he was able to effect. The right hon. Gentleman had been so fortunate in the many negotiations he had conducted that he hoped he had had greater luck than he (Mr. Akers-Douglas) had in his dealings with regard to this site. He looked forward to the new Mall as being one of the finest additions ever made to the appearance of London. They knew what the effect would be inside the Park, and it would be a great pity if it was marred by the narrowness of the approach. He understood that the buildings when completed would be occupied by the First Lord of the Admiralty and the First Sea Lord, and that their present residences would be handed over for official Admiralty purposes. He took it that considerable alterations would be necessary, and he trusted that in the interest of the entrance to the Horse Guards Parade there 'would be some alteration so as to bring it into greater touch with the existing Admiralty buildings. He would like to see, if money were forthcoming, the removal of that very insignificant building alongside the Admiralty—the present Pay Office. The next item to which he wished to draw attention was the amount of £10,000 out of the required expenditure of £58,500 for the extension of the National Gallery, width he understood would cover only a portion of the site occupied by St. George's Barracks. That led him to ask whether those barracks were now empty, excepting that portion used, he believed, by the Recruiting Department. He took it that that was not yet empty, for there was an item down on the same page for £25,000 for the buildings in Great Scotland Yard for the new Recruiting Station. He might say that that was an admirable site for that particular purpose. The right hon. Gentleman could not have had a better. It would take some time to complete the new building, but when completed he understood that the whole of the barracks behind the National Gallery were to be taken over so that the National Gallery could be made secure from the risk of fire—a subject much discussed of late, and space would be found for very much needed extension. He wished also 733 to ask a question in regard to the proposed expenditure of £95,000—£5,000 of which was to be spent this year—for additional Courts of Justice in London to the west of the existing Royal Law Courts. That Vote of course committed them to the policy of building more Courts in London. He noticed that the hon. Member for Preston put a question that day to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to whether, in his opinion, it would not be more desirable to increase the powers of the county Courts in order to lessen the work of the Courts in London, but he did not get a specific answer. However that might be, he thought it was apparent that the site proposed was a reasonable and proper one on which to place the new Courts. When he was at the Office of Works great complaints were made against the idea of building on that space. Personally, he had never had any sympathy with those complaints, because that site was purchased for the purpose of building law Courts, and although the garden ground was extremely ornamental and desirable, considering the enormous cost of the land in that particular neighbourhood he did not think they would be justified in continuing to occupy it as an ornamental garden. Some day or other the new Courts would have to be built upon it. He asked whether the item included the cost of any temporary Courts which would be constructed before the permanent buildings were erected, or whether it was the total expenditure for the additional accommodation required for the Judges of this country. There was an item on the next page in regard to £3,000 for alterations in consequence of changes at the Treasury and the Home Office. He thought that that meant changes in respect to the occupancy of the Home Office and the Local Government Board, which latter Department was to be transferred to the new building in Parliament Street; and that the Home Office was to occupy the space thus vacated. Were there no other new dispositions in contemplation? It was in his recollection that the whole of that space would be wanted for the work of the Home Office, and that great inconvenience existed now in having some departments housed outside the present building. There was one item which he did not understand and he apologised for raising a question about it, because it was in 734 italics. In connection with the Stationery Office, £5,000 was voted on account last year for the erection of a warehouse. He would like to know what the actual sum spent was, because if the hon. Gentleman would look at the Estimates for last year he would see that in this respect he had a free hand, and he saw no further amount was asked for this year. He thought he was right in concluding, therefore, either that the work on the warehouse in question was concluded for the sum of £5,000, or else that the warehouse had been abandoned. Then, in regard to the Duke of York's military school, there was an item of £5,000 for the removal of furniture from the present school to the new school at Dover, and he would ask when the buildings would be completed, or whether they were completed. He took it that they were, at all events, to be completed this year, or otherwise this item for furniture would not appear on the Estimates. He would like to know, in addition to the time at which they would be completed, when it was expected that the transfer of the school would take place to much better and healthier surroundings, on a site adjoining Dover Castle. There was another question which he thought arose on this Vote, although he had not been able to put his finger upon the item which he understood was included in public works. It had reference to the maintenance of Walmer Castle. He thought that was transferred within the last three or four years to the Office of Works, and included in the Vote for it, but he did not see any item down for the maintenance of the house and grounds. The House would remember that on the resignation of Lord Curzon as Lord Warden the official residence was given up and the historic rooms were thrown open to the public, as were also the gardens, and they were, he understood, in future to be maintained by the Office of Works. But he did not see any item down with regard to the cost of maintaining the gardens, and he would like to know why it was. Further, he understood from the Press that the present Lord Warden was likely to occupy an official residence at Dover Castle. He did not know whether that was true or not, and whether, if so, that portion of the historic building 735 would come under the Office of Works or remain under the War Office. He would like to know whether any extension was contemplated in consequence of the Lord Warden taking up his residence at Dover Castle.
§ SIR WILLIAM BULL (Hammersmith)
asked, in regard to the extension of the Law Courts, whether it was intended to make any extension in the western area. He would be very sorry to see that piece of land built upon, not only because of the beauty of the grass and flowers and because it was one of the playgrounds of the children living at the back of St. Clement Dane in some of the slums, but because any building on the lawn would mask and hide that beautiful building, the Bankruptcy Court. He would like to be informed whether Street, the architect, knowing that extensions were contemplated, prepared any plans, and if not, whether the First Commissioner of Works had any idea of the kind of architecture which it was intended to adopt. It was a very important matter.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that he could not fix the exact time when the roadway through the new Admiralty buildings, which were to be put up at the end of the Mall, was likely to be open, but he thought in less than two years. The structure was going up now pretty rapidly, and he hoped they might open the road through into the Mall before the internal work of the buildings had been completed. Only one half of the buildings that were being erected would be devoted to the First Lord and the First Sea Lord; the other half would become part of the Admiralty buildings. When the residence at the old Admiralty had been vacated and adapted for Admiralty uses he would gladly consider the suggestion, which had been present to his mind, that the building linking the beautiful Horse Guards with the other block should be brought into a greater measure of harmony. It might be necessary to reface the Paymaster-General's office, and he did not imagine that the artistic value of that curious building would suffer thereby. With regard to the houses still standing, the right hon. Gentleman 736 would remember that the late Government considered that they had done their part in clearing the roadway through into the Mall and making way for the new Admiralty buildings. Any further development of the site on the Trafalgar-square side must be more in the nature of a Metropolitan improvement. With regard to the National Gallery extension, money was taken in the Estimates for building on part of the ground which had been already cleared, and, he was glad to say, he was just making arrangements by which at last the surrounding grounds would be finally cleared, so that the National Gallery should be isolated and danger from fire averted. The scheme for the Law Courts provided four new Courts. The gardens on the west of the Law Courts had always been looked on as a necessary site for further buildings; from the very first that had formed part of the scheme, and they had, therefore, never been occupied by anything in the nature even of permanent garden decorations. The late Mr. W. H. Smith generously bore the expense of laying out those gardens, but when it was suggested that there should be a fountain put up, the proposal was resisted on the ground that it might hinder the subsequent use of the gardens for building purposes. The changes in the Treasury and Home Office were perfectly simple. The Home Office required a great deal more accommodation, and it would take over a large part of the Local Government Board offices. He hoped it would be possible to house under one roof all the departments of the Home Office, which it was necessary and desirable to have together. The Duke of York's School would be completed at the end of the year. Walmer Castle had now become an historic building, and did not appear specifically, but in the general provision for ancient monuments and historic buildings. He understood privately that the Lord Warden did not intend to occupy premises in Dover Castle.
§ SIR C. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
, who was indistinctly heard, was understood to comment on the unsightly appearance of the Museum in Cromwell Road, and said that the two small and insignificant towers on it spoilt the 737 effect of the domes. The figures which surrounded the building appeared to be on very slender stems, and always gave one the impression in wet weather that they were trying to protect themselves from the rain.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY
said that some mention had been made of the new Duke of York Schools at Dover, but there was a question hardly less interesting to those who lived in London, and that was what was going to become of the old Duke of York School buildings in Chelsea, and the extensive and beautiful grounds surrounding them. London Members, especially, would be interested to hear what was going to be done with that important national asset. He hoped it was not to be handed over to the speculative builder, which would be in his opinion a very great misfortune.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that the site would be sold, but it might be sold with conditions as to the style and value of the buildings to be erected upon it.
§ MR. LANE-FOX (Yorkshire, W.R., Barkston Ash)
, who had given notice of an Amendment to reduce the Vote by the sum of £4,524, the amount of the rents paid for the offices of the Department of the Board of Agriculture, said he had no desire to reduce the Vote, but wished to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of replying. He desired to draw attention to the inadequacy of, the premises of the Board of Agriculture. The situation of those offices was absolutely unsuited to the very important work which the Board had to carry on. The importance of the work was very great and would become greater. He had great sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman who must, in the great experience he had had of small holdings, have seen the inadequacy of this small holding. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give some assurance as to his intentions with regard to future accommodation for the Board of Agriculture. Everybody who went to the Board of Agriculture knew how difficult it was either to find the official required, or to transact business there. He had occasion to go 738 to the Board for some information, and went to St. James' Square, where he was informed that the official he desired to see was at Whitehall Place. He went to Whitehall and found the official, but was told that the information he required was at St. James' Square and Delahay Street. He had either, therefore, to go back for the information or wait until a messenger could go to St. James' Square and Delahay Street and bring it back, so that he might discuss the matter in company with the official he was dealing with. Let hon. Members consider what such an experience would mean to an unfortunate and perhaps elderly agriculturist who made a great expedition from the country believing that the question in which he was interested was the one question in the world. If he had to tour around in that way, it would be impossible for him to do anything. But if it was inconvenient to the public it was even more so to those engaged in the Department itself. The Intelligence Department had been driven out to make room for the new Small Holdings Commissioners, and it was only recently that the right hon. Gentleman who represented the Board of Agriculture in the House of Commons had been given accommodation at Whitehall Place. It was a scandal that for all these years the representative of the President of the Board of Agriculture had had no place where he could do his business, either in this House or at the Board of Agriculture. Thanks to the right hon. Gentleman some accommodation had now been provided somewhere in the roof of the building and a room secured for his accommodation at Whitehall Place. But other accommodation was lacking, and the whole thing required revision. The legal adviser to the Board was housed in St. James' Square, and his understudy at Whitehall Place. There were no doubt many occasions under the Small Holdings Act when they might require the attendance of their legal adviser at the head office of the Board, and many occasions when the officials there would not have the time or opportunity of consulting him. Then there was the question of the typists. At the present time the typists of the Fisheries Department 739 were compiling the records in Delahay Street, another set of typists were compiling other records at Whitehall Place, and it was quite impossible to interchange these typists, although in the Fisheries Department there might be great pressure whilst in other Departments the typists were doing nothing. The work of the Board of Agriculture was increasing every day, and the difficulties involved correspondingly increased. It was obvious if they compared the expenditure of this country upon agriculture with that of other countries they would before long be bound to increase the British expenditure. Under present conditions agriculture was put in the background. The offices of the Board were most inadequate, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give the Committee some idea of what were the proposals to remedy that state of things. What was wanted was a central office in connection if possible with the Department of Woods and Forests with which in the near future there would be a considerable interchange of work. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would realise the difficulties of the present situation, difficulties which were felt, not only by the public, but by the officials of the Board of Agriculture, who were greatly hampered in their work, although they were not allowed to say so.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said the hon. Member in moving to reduce this Vote had taken a course necessary under the procedure of the House in order to extract the statement he desired. He moved to reduce the Vote by the amount of the whole of the rents of the offices of the Board of Agriculture. His arithmetic was not, however, quite correct. The real rent paid was £3,870. The hon. Member had not the least wish to reduce the rent, but rather to obtain a building which would cost a great deal more. The hon. Gentleman had spoken with some justice of the small holding of the Board of Agriculture being inconveniently placed. He himself admitted the inconvenience of the arrangement. It was one of the many inconveniences which he had inherited from his predecessors. But it had been his object during the last two years to en- 740 deavour to remedy those inconveniences, and he had been looking about in order to find a way of bettering the Board of Agriculture in this respect. He recognised the enormous inconvenience of the present distribution of the offices of the Board of Agriculture and had every intention of re-housing the Board at the earliest possible moment. He had various sites in his mind, but the hon. Member would quite understand that it would be most unwise to make any statement as to them at present because that would only put up the price against him. The hon. Member, might, however, rest assured that everything that it was possible to do would be done.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY (St. Andrews Burghs)
understood that the new Duke of York's School at Dover would cost something like £300,000. They had not been told what the estimate as to the value of the old school was, but it was presumably a good deal more than that. The point he wanted to make was that whatever sum was realised over the £300,000, the cost of the new school, ought to be devoted to the orphans of soldiers and not taken for any other purpose. If the right hon. Gentleman could give them that assurance it would be a source of great satisfaction to all who were interested in the matter.
§ MR. C. E. PRICE
called attention to the condition of the buildings opposite Downing Street, occupied by the Board of Trade. Two houses had been recently cleaned and greatly improved in appearance, and if that could be done with the Board of Trade buildings they might greatly add to the beauty of the street. He was not quite sure that the right hon. Gentleman could do anything to effect alterations in the War Office, but the passage which had been built across the front greatly detracted from the appearance of the interior the moment the door was opened. It destroyed the appearance of the staircase and the whole effect which the architect intended in designing that staircase. A wall which faced right opposite the door-way was a great blot on the appearance of the building on entering. He was not sure whether it could be made better by 741 placing a clock on the wall, but certainly at present the appearance on entering was disappointing in the extreme. The right hon. Gentleman's attention, he believed, had been drawn to the danger likely to arise by placing a light opposite the statute of the Duke of Cambridge. He regretted that the Westminster authorities had not agreed to place a light on the other side, for it would certainly preserve the monument from the risks which might be run in time of excitement. The chance of a bomb or something of that kind being placed in the neighbourhood of the monument under shelter of the darkness would, in his opinion, be a very serious thing. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had been past the place at night time, but he could assure him that at present it was a very serious defect. With regard to the suggestion of placing new buildings on the green spot next to the Law Courts, he thought that it would be indeed a pity to cover that open space, which was a welcome relief to the eye, and certainly the Royal Courts of Justice would not be made less impressive by leaving that ground untouched.
§ *MR. REES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said that on page 49 of the Estimates he found that the provision for coal and firewood for England and Wales and Scotland was £2,000 more than was provided last year, while gas, the manufacture of which was not indirectly I connected with coal, was £500 less. He did not quite know whether the higher amount of coal was in consequence of our having more public offices, or whether it was in anticipation of the increased price, resulting from the Eight Hours Bill, or the fear thereof which, he saw, was taken into account in letting offices in the City, in which firing was included in the rent. If the right hon. Gentleman could kindly explain that, he would be grateful. As to the open space on the west of the Law Courts, it was a comfort to people going to and from the City to see the refreshing green area. It was a place of light, refreshment, and peace. If that could be spared it certainly would I a source of enjoyment to many, though it might be that it was inevitable that 742 it should be built upon. He thought it was extremely probable that the Marble Arch did not come under this Vote, but he would welcome a statement from the right hon. Gentleman as to what was happening there, because it was rather difficult to follow what was intended in the present state of progress.
§ *MR. FELL (Great Yarmouth)
said it should be remembered in connection with the new Law Courts, that a great number of tall buildings had been erected in the vicinity of the open space proposed to be built upon, and that questions of light and air rights might be raised. He saw that a small amount was asked for this year, which looked as if the new buildings were not going to be pushed forward with all speed. The necessity for the new buildings would be admitted by anyone who saw the loose horse-box which was put up in the Central Hall, and where a Judge of the High Court sat. Anyone who had seen that structure must have come to the conclusion that the sooner that state of things was remedied the better. He hoped that the £5,000 they were now voting would enable the new Law Courts to be commenced-this year. The lofty buildings to which he had referred overlooked the open space, and he was afraid that, unless some great care had been taken to preserve rights of air and light, some difficulty might be experienced with regard to those rights. He hoped, however, that care had been taken, and that it would be all right. He hoped the buildings would be rapidly completed. He knew they were comprised in the original design, and he had sufficient faith in the great designer of the Courts to believe that he had arranged that any additional Courts which might be erected should not spoil the harmony of his design.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said the Question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for St. Andrews Burghs as to the value of the old Duke of York's School was one which the hon. Member would forgive him if he said that, even if he knew the value accurately, he would not state it, 743 when the Government was going into the market to sell it.
§ MAJOR ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
said he had not asked the right hon. Gentleman to state the value, but to say that any surplus which there might be over the £300,000 should be devoted to the orphans of soldiers.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he had thought that the hon. Member was objecting. As to the disposal of the surplus, that was entirely a matter for the Treasury, subject to the Acts which governed the ownership of the site and school. The hon. Member for Edinburgh had asked him a Question with regard to the buildings of the Board of Trade. As soon as he had put up the new buildings the present ones would be dealt with. As to the passage at the War Office, they attached value and importance to it, and the plans of the architect had been faithfully carried out. A clock was being prepared under his direction to be placed on the blank wall on the staircase, to which the hon. Member had alluded. As to the lighting of Whitehall, that was not a matter within his control; it belonged to the City Council, and he could not interfere with them. The hon. Member for the Montgomery Boroughs had asked him as to the item for coal. There had been an increase in the number of larger buildings, and the item included the prisons of England. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth had referred to the question of the Law Courts. He could assure him that the buildings would be pushed ahead with the greatest possible speed, and that no trouble would arise with regard to light and air rights. As to the loss of a pleasant garden, he was very conscious of that fact, but if the use of a plot of vacant ground for twenty years as a garden was to be made the foundation of a claim that it should not be used for building purposes, it would not encourage them in similar circumstances to lay out vacant spaces temporarily for purposes of pleasure, if, at the end of twenty years, that very fact was to be advanced as a reason for not building on them according to original intentions. They would simply put up hoardings as was done in Leicester Square for many years.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would within the next twelve months be able to lodge the Board of Agriculture in one building. It was very inconvenient to the officials of the Board of Agriculture to have their offices in four separate places in Whitehall and St. James's Square. It was also very inconvenient for agriculturists who came up from the country not to be able to find the office of the Board of Agriculture. The fact of a visitor from the country having to run backwards and forwards between Whitehall and St. James's Square was not calculated to put him in a good temper with the Board or enable him to do his business within a short time. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell them, now that various departments were to be housed in the new block in Great George Street, whether it would be possible to give the Board of Agriculture either the existing Home Office or the existing Local Government Board office? If he could not do that, what use was it intended to make of the old War Office in Pall Mall? Was it intended to use it in future as a Government Office, or to sell it, or what was proposed to be done with it? The hon. Member for one of the Scottish constituencies had complained that more money was not voted for Scotland in the present Estimates. He wished to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that there was an increase in the amount of money to be spent in Scotland in the present year, under various heads of this particular Vote. For instance they would find that on page 48 the amount for maintenance and repairs of public buildings in Scotland was £2,000 more in the coming year than it was last year. Under Sub-head 5, there was an increase of £300 for coal and firewood.
§ MR. HICKS BEACH
said there was an increase under Sub-head 6 of the same Vote of about £230. If, again, they turned over the page, there was a large increase under Vote G, Sub-head 7, of about £400 for furniture; and he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman why it had been necessary to increase 745 these various items in the current year in the case of Scotland alone.
§ *MR. MORTON (Sutherland)
was sorry to notice that there was a considerable increase in the total Vote notwithstanding their pretended economy, and a very large part of it, £14,250, was for furniture. When they were well off, and had plenty of money, they might be extravagant in regard to furniture which they ought to curtail when there was need for economy. He was afraid waste was going on somewhere, especially in regard to this item. He quite admitted that it was necessary that they should look after their public buildings, but there was no occasion that he knew of to be extravagant. Although they had not the details which would enable them to criticise the Vote very closely, he was afraid there was apparent extravagance when they had to pay in the coming year over £50,000 more than last year. In regard to Scotland they paid too much towards the revenue of the country generally, and did not get their fair share back. They did not get anything like the proportion they were supposed to have on what was called the equivalent grant, viz., that they ought to have 11 per cent.
§ *MR. MORTON
was very sorry the hon. Member opposite was allowed to allude to the expenditure in Scotland.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he wanted to say, with regard to those items, that they did not get their fair share as regarded public buildings and other matters, and he did not think, therefore, there was any reason to complain that on this Vote Scotland had too large an amount. He would like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would give a little more information with regard to the new Law Courts in the Strand. He was as much in favour of open spaces 746 as anyone, but they could not have open spaces everywhere, or they would have no property to pay rates and taxes. That part of London was provided fairly well with open spaces, and he was not anxious to preserve the Law Court gardens as an open space. But the item was new, and it had never been explained what was going to be done eventually with the £95,000, of which £5,000 was on the Vote as a commencement. He would like to know what was the scheme that the right hon. Gentleman expected to carry out. Could the plans be seen of what was proposed? Did they want four new Law Courts? He dared say that even £95,000 would not complete the scheme. They seldom had a scheme without having a revised estimate. With regard to the item of £14,210 for the maintenance and protection of ancient monuments, £3,935 of that was appropriated to Scotland. They had not much information as to how that money was to be expended. He did not think they did enough in maintaining those old monuments, but he would like to know what was going to be done so that they might see whether the money was properly spent or not. A certain sum had already been spent on the Law Courts at Edinburgh, and a further sum was now asked. He thought part of that was for the acquisition of ground, as well as for the buildings. Would the right hon. Gentleman tell them what was the present position of things, whether the building was being gone on with and whether it was likely to be completed within a reasonable time. At present before the alterations were made there was no doubt that the building was a disgrace to the country, to civilisation, and to such a handsome city as Edinburgh, and he trusted that something would be done to give them a decent and respectable Court. He was aware, of course, that all these matters cost money, but it was their duty to find out as much as they could with a view to letting people know that they did a least attempt to know somethin about the way the people's money was being expended. They did not get many opportunities of discussing these things and perhaps if they did not discuss them 747 now they would not have another opportunity, because the Government would take care that the Vote for the right hon. Gentleman's salary would never come on for discussion; it would be no doubt guillotined in accordance with the new but not improved procedure. Therefore it was their duty to take that opportunity of discussing the Vote as well as they were able and to get as much information as they could. The right hon. Gentleman knew that he took an interest in these buildings and that he had no desire at all to be offensive to him personally in making these inquiries, but he was cure that people of Scotland, especially in regard to the matters he had mentioned would be obliged to him if he would give them the fullest possible information.
§ MR. COCHRANE
said he did not intend to raise again the absorbing topic which was of interest to Scotland or to congratulate the hon. Member for Gloucestershire for his exceeding industry in going through some of the items in which he had discovered that a few hundreds had been spent in Scotland that were not spent last year. He observed that the hon. Member included in Scotland Great Scotland Yard which also appeared on the same Vote, but he could assure him it was an entirely different place. He really desired to recall the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to his eagerness in closing up the open spaces in London under his charge. He could only presume that he had one eye on the Land Values Bill which the Government intended to prosecute to its success or failure. He seemed to want to cover over with buildings that part of the garden connected with the Law Courts which had been open some twenty-five years. That appeared to be a question which legal Members were more qualified to deal with than he was. He could only think the right hon. Gentleman, in desiring so speedily to build over that ground, had some idea that taxation would be imposed on unoccupied spaces which would touch the pocket of the Treasury of which he was so close a guardian. He desired to ask a question connected with a point the right hon. Gentleman had raised himself, 748 which had filled him with some alarm, viz., the question of the Duke of York's School. For the first time, he thought, the Committee had been informed that that school, not only the buildings he understood, but the admirable open space which surrounded them, would be put up for sale. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to measure them that it was not his intention to let out as building lands, possibly for the erection of streets and houses or factories, that open space which had been a great pleasure as a health resort to the whole of the somewhat crowded neighbourhood of Chelsea. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman in his eagerness to cover the ground with buildings would spare at least one or two of those open spaces and that the ground surrounding the Duke of York's School would remain an open space for the benefit of the public.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said the new public offices at the corner of Whitehall had been allotted a long time ago, and would shortly be occupied by the Board of Education and the Local Government Board. The accommodation vacated by the Local Government Board would then be occupied mostly by the Home Office and partly by the Colonial Office, but it was all required for the extension of these two offices. Immediately the old War Office building in Pall Mall ceased to be a Government office it passed out of his control to the office of Woods and Forests who were proposing to let it out on building leases. The whole policy for many years had been to concentrate Government offices in the neighbourhood of Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament. The hon. Member for Sutherland had complained of the increase in this Vote by £14,000 for furniture, and certainly if it had been a normal year he would be with him. But this happened to be a year in which they were occupied with a new block of public offices, and he was sure the hon. Member's tender heart would not wish to turn even his colleague of the Local Government Board into an unfurnished office. £13.000 for furnishing a great block of public offices and £5,000 for the Duke of York's school furniture removal made £18,000, although the increase on the 749 Vote was only £14,000, so that in other directions he had made an economy of £4,000 in order to meet the special demands made on him in connection with these new buildings. The extension of the Law Courts had been discussed for a great many years, and he and many of his predecessors had convinced themselves that the accommodation was urgently required owing to the fact that two new Judges had been appointed. It was proposed to carry the thing out as a continuation of the original plans. Judges, Bar, solicitors, suitors, and officials were all agreed as to the necessity of the Courts, and there was no other place to put them except this vacant space.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
Yes, Sir. The hon. Member would be pleased to know how far he was making sixpences go in Scotland.
§ *Mr. HARCOURT
The bawbees being distributed over some of these heads. He was spending a certain amount in the preservation of the historic parts of Edinburgh Castle, Arbroath Abbey, Dunfermline Palace, Dunblane Cathedral, Bothwell House, Stirling, Linlithgow Palace, Brechin Cathedral, Fort-rose Cathedral, Glasgow Cathedral, St. Andrew's Cathedral, St. Andrew's Castle, and some miscellaneous monuments, chiefly prehistoric.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
stated that he had already announced that the site was for sale. It would, of course, be sold, subject to existing Acts which affected it, and any conditions the Treasury might make as to the character of the buildings to be erected upon it.
§ LORD BALCARRES
hoped that some portion of the site now occupied by the Duke of York's School would be preserved as an open space. The value of open spaces in the Metropolis increased every day, and if the First Commissioner would make representations in that direction to the Treasury, no doubt they would receive due consideration. With regard to the Paymaster-General's Office, it was a building with some historic associations, and he was not aware what could be put in its place which would more worthily occupy the ground. He hoped, however, that the right hon. Gentleman's improvements would be limited to removing anachronisms and excrescences without adding new masonry to old buildings. With regard to the National Gallery, he was ready to acknowledge that the right hon. Gentleman was spending the money well. The hon. Member for Sutherland was surprised that the Estimate showed an increase. The hon. Member ought not to be surprised, because there was an increase of £1,000,000 on the Post Office Estimates, and £670,000 on the Civil Service Estimates. Next year there would be a gigantic increase on the Navy Estimates, and the same thing was going on all round. He thanked the right hon. Gentleman for the increase in this particular Vote, because there were few ways in which the money could be spent more profitably. One of the items set down in connection with the extension of the National Gallery, was the new site and buildings for the Recruiting Station in Great Scotland Yard, which was very suitable and extremely central. In a foot-note it was stated that the accommodation which this building used to have behind the National Gallery would in future be adapted to extend the National Portrait Gallery. Few public institutions were more valuable than that, and it was now in a very congested state. Therefore, he thought the right hon. Gentleman was doing well to make provision for its enlargement. He was a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, which he 751 considered was a very important institution, and sadly needed extension. It was a sad thing, month after month, when interesting and valuable portraits were offered, that the trustees had to consider whether they were justified in accepting a picture which they could not exhibit to the public. He hoped that in deciding upon these extensions the claims of the National Portrait Gallery would not be overlooked. He was not pressing the right hon. Gentleman to make a grant at once or complaining of the amount being voted towards the National Gallery, but he urged that in complying with the demands of the National Gallery they should not encroach upon the space which would legitimately fall to the extension of the National Portrait Gallery, because there was plenty of room for both. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make an ample extension in that direction whenever the finances would permit.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that with regard to what had been said about preserving the open space in connection with the Duke of York's School he would see that the views which had been expressed were placed before the Treasury. In reply to the noble Lord the Member for Chorley he might say that he had neither the money for nor the intention of altering the Paymaster-General's Office. As for the National Portrait Gallery, no Vote was put down for its extension, but that had always been present to his mind and it was one of the objects for which he desired to clear the site behind the Gallery. All his plans for the extension of the National Gallery had always left a place for the extension of the National Portrait Gallery, which was greatly needed, and when he could get rid of the Recruiting Station and obtain the money from the Treasury or anybody else that would be done.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
expressed his gratitude to the right hon. Gentleman for what he had done in many ways to improve the accommodation for Members in the House. He had, however, risen simply for the purpose of asking what was the actual amount the right hon. Gentleman was going to spend on historic buildings and prehistoric 752 monuments in Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman had read a long and startling list and he did not quite grasp what the amount was.
§ MR. LANE-FOX
said he understood the right hon. Gentleman to state when dealing with the question of ancient monuments in Scotland that certain sums had been spent in repairing cathedrals. His experience was that Scotland was very ably and thoroughly represented in the House, and generally she got a great deal more than she was entitled to. [Cries of "No."] Well, if she did not, that was not the fault of her representatives. He wished to know why cathedrals in Scotland should be repaired at the public expense, while English cathedrals were not. Two years ago he asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for a grant in favour of an English cathedral, and he received a point blank refusal. Why should there be any difference between Scotland and England in that matter?
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he did not see why public money should be spent on cathedrals in Scotland, while the same thing was not done in England. He wished to know when the entrance to Trafalgar Square, at the end of the road in front of Buckingham Palace, would be open for traffic. The road had been open for two years, and he could not see why the part to which he referred should not be made available for traffic, even though the official residences in connection with the Admiralty were not yet completed. It would be a great public convenience if the road into Trafalgar Square were open. It might not be possible to open the road in a finished state, on account of the building operations, but he did not see why there should not be a temporary opening for vehicular traffic. He 753 thought about £20 would do the whole thing. The proposed extension of the Patent Office might be necessary, but he wished to know why so large a sum as £90,000 should be spent upon it. He should think that owing to the protective policy of the President of the Board of Trade there would be an increase in the amount of work done under the new patents law, but the sum proposed to be spent in extending the office seemed to be very large. He could not join the hon. Member for Great Yarmouth in expressing confidence in the design for the extension of the Law Courts. He thought he was correct in saying that Judges, barristers, and suitors were agreed that the ventilation and accommodation in the Law Courts were unsatisfactory, although the outer shell was beautiful. The hon. Member had said that in the new building there would be light and air. That was exactly what he understood there had never been in the present buildings, and if there was the same error in the design of the new buildings they would be as unsuitable for their purpose as apparently the older buildings had turned out to be. As a protest against money being spent on Scottish cathedrals, he begged to move to reduce the Vote by £500.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £342,400, be granted for the said Service."—(Sir F. Banbury.)
§ *MR. HARCOURT
expressed the hope that the hon. Baronet would not carry his protest further. The history of the responsibility of the Crown for the slight maintenance of certain ecclesiastical buildings was this. After the abolition of Episcopacy in the Established Church of Scotland the obligation of supporting certain collegiate and ecclesiastical buildings was transferred to the Crown. The expenses of these repairs were borne by the hereditary revenues of the Crown up till 1832, and then transferred to the Vote for public buildings on the recommendation of a Committee of this House which sat in 1831. The whole thing amounted to very little in money. It was an obligation which this country 754 took over with the Union, The road from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square would be known as The Mall. It was not possible to open it in the way suggested by the hon. Baronet until the new buildings were nearer completion. The hon. Baronet would understand that if the road at that point were opened, traffic would have to go through what was practically a builder's yard when building operations were going on. It would be impossible for the contractor properly to carry on his work if traffic went through there, and in the event of accident to any member of the public he was not sure on whom the liability would fall. It was necessary to keep up the hoarding when the foundations were being put in. The superstructure was now going up which included the arches. The sum stated in the Vote for the Patent Office included the cost of the site as well as the buildings, and therefore the amount was not so large as it seemed on paper. The work of the Patent Office had very largely increased as the result of recent legislation, and the effect of that increase had been generally to the advantage of English trade.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
said he would vote against the Amendment if there should be a division. The cathedrals in Scotland were great historic monuments. It was for want of a little money applied at the right time that these monuments were allowed to go to wreck and ruin. That was the case of a historic building for which a small sum was required at present in order to save the expenditure of a greater sum in future. The hon. Member for the Barkston Ash Division had stated that Scotland got too much and England too little.
THE DEPUTY- CHAIRMAN
It is out of order on this Vote to discuss the general finances of the two kingdoms.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON
said that if it had been in order to read an official Paper which he held in his hand he would have been able to show that Scotland not only contributed more than her share, but that she did not get all she was entitled to.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said there were cathedrals in England of great historic interest which were in want of money. Winchester Cathedral was as great as any in Scotland, and it had fallen into decay. A short time ago he had, out of his slender means, contributed for the repair of that cathedral.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that that was no reason why the Government should cut out the "predominant partner," and only give to the more importunate member of the Union. He was not aware of anything in the Act of Union which compelled Great Britain to undertake the repair of these particular places. He gathered that a certain number of buildings were taken over under the Act of Union. If they were bound under the Act of Union to maintain them he would not go to a division.
§ *MR. MORTON
said that in regard to the question of the repair of St. Andrew's Cathedral, although it was not specifically mentioned in the Act of Union, a bargain was made between the two nations that certain castles, palaces and other buildings were to be kept in repair at the national expense. He would be the last person in the world to vote public money for sectarian purposes, but he hoped they would still be allowed to carry out honestly a bargain made between the two countries at the time of the Union. He was astonished to hear that the richest Church in the world was allowing Winchester or any other cathedral in England to go to ruin. There was plenty of money belonging to that Church, so let the hon. Baronet appeal to them. He had always heard that whenever the disestablishment of the Church of England took place—he did not know when that was going to happen—the cathedrals would be claimed and preserved as public buildings.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he was only trying to answer the hon. Baronet who repre- 756 sented the City of London; and to explain that the small sum asked for for the repair of St. Andrews Cathedral, was part of the bargain made at the time of the Union.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he wished to explain as to the Act of Union. He did not say that the maintenance of these buildings was specified in the Act of Union, but that the Act of Union set forth that Great Britain was to take over all the obligations of the Crown of Scotland, and the maintenance of this building was one of these obligations.
§ MR. FELL
said he was delighted to hear his hon. friend bringing up the question of the Board of Agriculture and he hoped before long to see all the departments of that Board under one roof. He saw that there was a considerable increase in the cost of electric current this year, and also that there was an item of £3,000 for carrying out alterations and changes in the Home Office. It seemed to him that that was rather a large sum, as he understood that it was the expense of interior decorations. If so, he hoped those responsible would have the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman's well-known artistic taste.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he was afraid those alterations were merely structural. If the hon. Member only knew the difficulty of making these internal structural alterations he would not say that £3,000 was too large a sum.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
said that the hon. Member for Sutherland had stated that he would be the last man to agree to a Vote for sectarian purposes, and yet the hon. Member had voted the other night for what was clearly an Irish sectarian University. Before they went to a division on this very considerable. Vote for Scotland they were entitled to know whether Ireland was to have an equivalent grant given to her.
§ MR. T. L. CORBETT
thought that when voting large sums of money for pre-historic buildings and cathedrals Scotland they were entitled to know whether an equivalent grant was to be given to Ireland.
§ *MR. LUPTON (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said he wished to draw attention to the new vaccine-station at Enfield, which was built for the purpose of a cruel kind of vivisection. He understood that calves were at that institution strapped down to a table, and that 150 wounds were made with a knife in their skin for vaccination purposes. These wounds were then rubbed with some virulent matter. The calves were then removed to their stalls, and their heads strapped up to prevent them from licking their wounds. In a few days pustules developed, and the calves were then again strapped down on the table, and the pustules were scraped off to make what is called "vaccine lymph."
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he wished to thank the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation in regard to St. Andrews Cathedral. He understood that though that Cathedral was not mentioned in the Act of Union, it was a perfectly agreed understanding that that building was to be maintained. He would, therefore, ask leave to withdraw his Amendment.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £52,400 (including a Supplementary sum of £13,000), be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of pay- 758 ment during the year ending on the 31st day of march 1909, for Expenditure in respect of Diplomatic and Consular Buildings, and for the maintenance of certain Cemeteries Aboard."
§ *MR. HICKS BEACH
moved the reduction of the Vote by £100 in order to call attention to two items—£9,500 for the erection of a new Legation at Adis Abeba, and £4,500 for the erection of bungalows at Peitaho, the estimates for the total cost of these works being not yet fixed. Why should they be asked to make those Votes when the Estimates for the whole of the work were not yet settled? That was not a good way of doing business. He had no doubt that a new Legation at Adis Abeba was necessary, but he was not quite so sure about the bungalows at Peitaho, which he supposed were for the use of the students and members of the Legation during the hot season, and would consequently not be occupied all the year round. He quite realised the desirability of our representatives having a summer resort outside Peking, but if it were possible would it not be more economical to hire bungalows for the summer months than to build them Then he wished to draw attention to the new Consulates to be erected at Cairo, Port Said, Dakar, Mouravia, Stanleyville, Boma, and Seoul, and to the rebuilding of the Consulate at Nagasaki. No doubt new Consulates were necessary, but he asked whether the Government were taking any steps to improve the position and status of the Consuls in various parts of the world who were looking after the interests of British trade. Then as to the new Consulate at Mukden, he saw that the Estimate was £10,000, while only £1,000 was taken for this year. At that rate it would take ten years for the completion of the work, and he hoped that time would not be occupied as it was most important to British interests and commerce that we should have a Consulate in that part of Manchuria as soon as possible. The sooner it was in working order the better it would be for this country. The point in the Vote, however, that he particularly wished to draw attention to was the voting of certain sums of money for building at Adis Abota and Peitaho, when 759 the Committee were given no idea at all as to what the total expenditure on those two items are likely to be. That he considered to be a novel and undesirable method of controlling the expenditure of the country, and on that ground he begged to move the reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £52,300 be granted for the said Service."—(Mr. Hicks Beach.)
§ *MR. FELL
said that he also had a notice down to reduce the Vote in order to call attention to the excessive cost of the Embassy at Paris, although it might seem a little invidious to do so, because the Vote showed a marked decrease from last year to the extent of £25,000. He considered that Consuls were required in a good many places where they were not now provided, although he could not touch upon those matters upon the present Vote. His reason for objecting to the large expenditure on the Paris Embassy was that there were not sufficient Consuls in these new and growing countries, while perhaps we were too well-supplied with Embassies and Legations in the old. No doubt the Cairo Consulate was commenced to be erected at an unfortunate time, as there had been a great development of the building trade in Egypt in the last few years which had doubtless added to the cost. The original Estimate was £6,000, but he saw the cost was now put down at £11,000. It might possibly be explained that the increased cost of building was the cause of the error in the Estimate, but things were duller at the present time in Egypt and there might be a saving next year. With regard to the Dakka Consulate he was glad to see that the final Vote they were asked for £3,000 would complete it. It was a very small place on the West Coast of Africa, and they were spending £10,000 upon it, which seemed to be a considerable sum for the kind of bungalow building which would be put up. Then with regard to Stanleyville, he viewed the proposals there with extreme pleasure, because it would give them some opportunity of getting information from that great 760 country, and of learning the truth about the Congo, apart from the pro and contra statements which were now put forward. At Teheran, the capital of Persia, they were spending £5,000 for the erection of houses for military attachés and student interpreters. He considered that that was a good sign as those student interpreters would be exceedingly valuable in the future in helping us in regard to the position which we should hold in that country. He would be glad to see a Consulate at Mukden, and his objection was that we had not enough of these Consulates, especially in new countries like the great territory of Manchuria, which would in time to come probably be a great place for the development of British trade. He could not help noticing that the £20,000 item of last year did not appear in this year's Estimates, so that it appeared that no further sites were to be acquired this year. That he regretted exceedingly. Reverting to the Paris Embassy he said it was the spoilt child of their Embassies, and the sum which the existing magnificent palace had cost was extremely great, and he feared from the way they were voting money on that Embassy from year to year, that they might be induced in the future to vote further large sums for beautifying that great palace and the gardens which made it certainly one of the most beautiful embassies in the world. It was quite true that it was necessary that we should have a great Embassy at Paris, but it must be remembered that now Paris occupied a very different position from what it did in the past. It was at one time the diplomatic centre of the world, but whether that attribute had passed to Berlin or the United States he would not stop to discuss. They ought, however, to consider whether they ought to spend much more on that gorgeous palace. He noticed a curious remark which had been made about that palace. It was said that Lord Rosebery found among the old furniture in the Foreign Office some old tapestries, which were sent over to adorn the Embassy in Paris. That was another example of that Embassy being the spoilt child of such institutions. They had not too 761 many old tapestries in England, and yet those were sent over to adorn the Embassy in Paris. Then as to the Chancery attached to the Embassy in which the official work was done, he had opposed the Vote of £5,000 last year, and he seemed to have done so correctly, because none of the money was spent during the year, and evidently none was wanted. Of course they voted it, but still it was not needed. In this year for the Chancery, however, there appeared an item of £5,400, and he could only regret that so much was being spent upon it. He supposed it was to be completed. But that was not the whole amount that they spent upon the Paris Embassy, because there was an item for electric lighting, and in another item of £28,270 for maintenance, repairs, etc. It was said that it included maintenance and repair of plate, and the State rooms and Chancery furniture and charges for maintenance, including those of the grounds and gardens. There was a note to the effect that it included the Paris Embassy, so that not only were we spending in the last two or three years great sums in repairs, and £5,400 on the Chancery, but an indefinite sum in this way. He considered that some drag must be put upon the expenditure in Paris, and he therefore supported the Motion for reduction.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said that an hon. Member particularly wanted to know what would be the ultimate cost of the new legation house at Adis Abeba. He had carefully avoided putting any sum in the Estimates because he was not able to give what it would cost exactly, as he had not been able to get exact figures, but he believed it would cost £20,000, and he had sent a man out there to superintend the work. The building at Peitaiho was a necessary summer residence for the Minister and the Legation at Pekin, as they really could not remain in Pekin during the summer. That, he believed, would cost £8,000. Those were the latest Estimates, but they were not so closely trustworthy that he could put them in the Estimates. The Government did not provide all Consuls with houses, and they were only provided with them in distant places where it was difficult to get accommoda- 762 tion or where there were special causes. He had nothing to do with the status of the Consuls, as that belonged to the Foreign Office; he had only to get the Consul a house if he was asked to do so and when he could. As to the Mukden Capsulate, there was no intention to spread the cost over ten years, but he had taken only £1,000 of the £10,000 because that was all that could be spent this year. After this year the money would be rapidly spent, indeed very rapidly, and there was no intention of spreading the expenditure over ten years. The hon. Member for Great Yarmouth asked about the Paris Embassy. The Chancery was very old and was very unfit for the amount of work that had to be transacted there. The increase at Cairo was due entirely to the fact that the original Estimate was merely a rough one which was sent him by the Consul, and he was endeavouring to avoid a similar thing occurring in future. An. hon. Member had referred to the sites. The House of Commons was good enough to give him £20,000 last year for the purchase of sites without his telling where he was going to buy them, because obviously if he stated where he was going to buy he would put up the price against himself. If none of that £20,000 was spent it was only because an agreement about one of those sites could not be made till after 31st March. If it had been paid over before the end of the financial year it would not have appeared in the Votes, but next week he would pay £13,000. In future he thought it was hardly worth while to ask for a Vote for a lump sum of which he could not give any details, but he could assure the Committee that if he had an opportunity during the year of purchasing suitable sites where they wanted them he should not hesitate to do so and come to the House for confirmation of his action. He might mention that a site for a new Legation had been given to them by the Bulgarian Government and he would proceed to erect the house as soon as possible
§ MR. BOWLES (Lambeth, Norwood)
said the right hon. Gentleman had stated that he could not put on the Estimate the cost of certain buildings because he had no idea of it, but if he would look at the Estimate as it stood he would see 763 that that was a very novel doctrine on his part and that of his office. The outstanding characteristics of the Estimates was that they never did know what the total cost of any one of these buildings was. He would take the new Consulate at Cairo. It was originally said it would cost £6,000. The House of Commons last year voted £4,000. £11,000 was spent and they were now asked for another £2,500. Having spent £11,000, that was to say £7,000 more than the House voted, and £5,000 more than the total Estimate, the right hon. Gentleman now asked for a further £2,500. In the face of such an Estimate as that it was somewhat courageous on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to suggest that he did not put in the departmental Estimate for big works because it was not close enough. If hon. Gentlemen looked at Item 8 they would find exactly the same thing. The right hon. Gentleman or his predecessor came down and asked for £7,500 for a new Consulate at Cairo. The House granted £5,000. The right hon. Gentleman spent not the £5,000 granted; not the £7,500 he said it would cost; but £9,000, and now came and asked for a further £700. The fact was that the right hon. Gentleman and his department had no notion what these works would cost. Hon. Members had only to look at the Estimate to see that the administration of the money voted for these purposes was in a most confused condition. What happened was that the right hon. Gentleman came down year after year with a long list of works and the amount he required for them, and directly he got the money the whole thing went by the board. He took money for various items and diverted it to some other purposes. He did not think any hon. Member could look through the Estimates seriously and without prejudice without becoming perfectly aware of the confused condition of them. If it was only to mark his displeasure and what ought to be the displeasure of the Committee at this continual upsetting and falsifying of the Estimates, on the faith of which the Committee granted continually these large sums, he should have no hesitation in following his hon. friend into the lobby.
§ *MR. REES
said it was not easy to get accurate Estimates from the uttermost ends of the world, and to his mind it was somewhat surprising that the Estimates were as accurate as they were. One hon. Member had drawn attention to the item for bungalows in China, but if he had seen the houses of Pekin in the summer he would acknowledge that these seaside bungalows were absolutely necessary in order that the officers who occupied stuffy houses in narrow streets in the capital, who suffered, and probably shortened their lives from the want of change of air, might do their work under better conditions. A little more familiarity on the part of hon. Members with these places would explain to them the increase in the Estimates, quite apart from the necessity of keeping up our prestige, which in these countries was closely bound up with the accommodation of our officers, which should h the best possible. He wondered if Sir N. O'Conor, whose death all deplored, would have lived longer, had he not been cooped up in Peking, in the quarters in which he (Mr. Rees) first saw him.
§ *MR. MORTON
gladly recognised that on this Vote as a whole there was a reduction. He quite agreed with the remarks that had been made about the Embassy at Paris. That Embassy had always been a spoilt child for various reasons, because, he supposed, Paris used to be regarded as the centre of the world and of fashion. But now that France was a Republic and was endeavouring to lead a democratic life we might surely manage the Embassy on democratic lines, and more economically. He did not think the Embassy was much use any way. If one wanted them to do anything they did not do it, and if one was in Paris he had far better apply to the municipal authority, who would always put themselves out to oblige one. A good deal of criticism had been passed on these Estimates and the right hon. Gentleman had said last year he was endeavouring to bring about a better system. But these blunders were not confined to works in foreign countries; some of them occurred with regard to 765 works in London itself. What happened in all public offices where it was easy to get and spend other people's money, was that a sort of Estimate was put before the House of Commons, which was thus persuaded to commit itself to the undertaking. Then the next year or the year after the Government came down and said they wanted more money, and the buildings having been commenced the House was driven to make additional grants. But considering that the officials who prepared these Estimates were properly paid, and the right hon. Gentleman was a practical man, he thought the gentlemen who got out the Estimates should be made responsible and should complete the buildings within the estimated sum. They had heard of cases where the Estimates had been made too low intentionally in order that the work might be started.
said that these were questions which could not be discussed on this Vote. The method of dealing with Votes in future had already been explained.
We are on a special Vote, but the hon. Member is talking about the general principles of estimating, instead of confining himself to the particular Vote.
§ *MR. MORTON
said he would confine himself to the items on the Paper before him. The item first spoken of was the original Estimate of £6,000 for the erection of a building at Cairo. The item on the Paper before them had now been revised, and was put down at £11,000.
THE DEPUTY - CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is repeating arguments which have been already used on this Vote, and in regard to which an explanation has been given.
§ *MR. HARMOOD - BANNER (Liverpool, Everton)
said an abbreviation had been made by the right hon. Gentleman against which he must enter his strongest protest, and that was as to his intention to omit in future any reference to new sites, and buildings, and works in connection therewith. He was referring to page 29, and the omission of £20,000 which was entered last year.
§ *MR. HARMOOD-BANNER
The right hon. Gentleman had explained it in his way. He was not going to put in an Estimate for the acquisition of sites, but was going to to treat them as the subject of Supplementary Estimates at the end of the year, and that was what he ventured to protest against. It deceived the public, as it had already deceived the hon. Member for Sutherland, who had congratulated the Government on the Estimates being £20,000 less this year than they were last year, whereas the £20,000 which had been omitted was exactly the sum which the hon. Member said had been saved. It was a wonderful method of financing. If they allowed the method of Supplementary Estimates to pass without protest, the right hon. Gentleman might next year spend £150,000 on sites at Pekin, Abyssinia, and other outlandish places, and then could come and say, from the way the House treated it to-day, that they had accepted the principle that he was to go about the world purchasing sites on undivulged Estimates, and that they would give Supplementary Estimates to confirm the action he had adopted. He hoped his protest would be observed, because he trusted that it was not the usual character of Government proceedings to omit such items in order to show economy in their administration, and then to bring them in as Supplementary Estimates. It was rather a bad precedent, and he hoped they would hear that the Government would not omit this Estimate, but would now include a sufficient sum for next year. He quite admitted the principle that they must not disclose the sites they were going to acquire, but here they were 767 giving a blank cheque to purchase property all over the world, to be dealt with in the form of a Supplementary Estimate. That was a proposal against which the House should protest, and should not accept in principle as regarded the future. Unionists were always being taunted by the other side with not being correct economists, but they had never done such an act as to omit an Estimate of importance, oft such importance as to lead the hon. Member for Sutherland to think that it was an economy when it was not an economy. It was a concealment of expenditure which they certainly ought not to approve.
§ MR. ASHLEY
said they were asked to vote £20,000 for the erection of an official residence at Addis Ababa. That was a large sum of money. Personally, he had every wish that the very distinguished diplomatist, Sir John Harrington, representing us, should have a proper house to live in. But there was, in his opinion, one great disadvantage—it was that the capital of Abyssinia was moved from one part of the country to another, perhaps to a place some 200 miles distant, and having spent £20,000 or £30,000 on a house, they might find that the expenditure was absolutely useless, owing to the diversion of the capital for a new one, settled upon by the Emperor of Abyssinia. That was well-known of the Abyssinian people, who were compelled to adopt the plan, because they had no fuel except wood. When all the wood was consumed, they
§ moved the capital to some other part of the country. Therefore, he protested against sinking such a large sum of money in the present capital of Abyssinia, when they knew that very possibly in ten or fifteen years the money would be found to have been absolutely thrown away. No one grudged, he least of all, spending money on any reasonable accommodation that might be given Sir John Harrington, but he did not think they ought to enter upon an expenditure which in the long-run might mean the outlay of very much more money, because they might have to build another house when the capital was removed to another part of the country.
§ *MR. HARCOURT
said he was in close communication with the Foreign Office and Sir John Harrington as to the advisability of building, as to the particular plans, as to the cost, and as to the necessity of erecting a house. But he could not put forward any views of his own, even if he had any, or if he had the special knowledge of Abyssinia possessed by the hon. Gentleman. But as against the views of the hon. Member, he had the knowledge possessed by Sir John Harrington and the Foreign Office, and he was obliged to take their information in the circumstances.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes, 28; Noes, 189. (Division List No. 67.)769
|Ashley, W. W.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Balcarres, Lord||Du Cros Arthur Philip||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Duncan, Robert(Lanark, Govan||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fell, Arthur||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Forster, Henry William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hamilton Marquess of||Younger, George|
|Bull, Sir William James||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Cave, George||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington||Hicks Beach and Mr. Gibbs.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Beauchamp, E.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bell, Richard|
|Agnew, George William||Barker, John||Benn, W.(T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Berridge, T. H. D.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Barnes, G. N.||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Boland, John|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)|
|Branch, James||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Brigg, John||Hudson, Walter||Radford, G. H.|
|Brodie, H. C.||Hyde, Clarendon||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jardine, Sir J.||Reddy, M.|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Rees, J. D.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jowett, F. W.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Joyce, Michael||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Byles, William Pollard||Kekewich, Sir George||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Cameron, Robert||Kelley, George D.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Laidlaw, Robert||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Lamont, Norman||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Lehmann, R. C.||Rowlands, J.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Levy, Sir Maurice||Runciman, Walter|
|Cleland, J. W.||Lewis, John Herbert||Russell, T. W.|
|Clough, William||Lough, Thomas||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Lupton, Arnold||Seddon, J.|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Shackleton, David James|
|Crean, Eugene||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Crooks, William||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Crosfield, A. H.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Snowden, P.|
|Dalziel, James Henry||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||M'Callum, John M.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||M'Crae, George||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Micking, Major G.||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Delany, William||Mallet, Charles E.||Stewart Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Dillon, John||Marnham, F. J.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Massie, J.||Stuart, James (Sunderland)|
|Duffy, William J.||Meehan, Francis E.(Leitrim, N.)||Summerbell, T.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Menzies, Walter||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Tomkinson, James|
|Essex, R. W.||Middlebrook, William||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Mond, A.||Vivian, Henry|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Montagu, E. S.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Mooney, J. J.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n|
|Gilhooly, James||Muldoon, John||Waring, Walter|
|Gill, A. H.||Murray, James||Wason, Rt. Hn. E (Clackmannan|
|Glover, Thomas||Myer, Horatio||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Gooch, George Peabody (Bath||Napier, T. B.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Grant, Corrie||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Nolan, Joseph||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Gurdon, Rt Hn. Sir W. Brampton||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Halpin, J.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Wiles, Thomas|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||O'Doherty, Philip||Wills, Arthur Walters|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Dorbyshire, N. E.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Malley, William|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Whiteley and Mr. J. A.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Partington, Oswald||Pease.|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)|
§ And, it being after a quarter past Eight of the Clock, and leave having been given to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10, further proceeding was postponed without Question put.