§ *MR. BELLOC (Salford, S.),
in rising to propose "That this House regrets the secrecy under which political funds are accumulated and administered, and regards such secrey as a peril to its privileges and character," said: In moving the Motion which stands in my name I particularly desire to emphasise the precise terms in which it is drawn; for it is one whose purpose might be easily misunderstood, and it is one which, were it misunderstood, might give an offence or pain which I, and those who support me in this matter, particularly desire to avoid giving. I do not propose for the consideration of the House the evils that may or may not arise from the existence of great political funds in the hands of political parties. What I propose for its consideration is the secrecy under which those funds are accumulated and disbursed. That secrecy, and that secrecy alone, has furnished me with the motive for my Motion and is the cardinal point which I desire to emphasise. That great funds should be accumulated for the purpose of supporting candidates in any public interest is not an evil nor even a disadvantage. It is, under modern conditions, a necessity, and the more democratic those conditions become the more necessary will it be in 900 some form or other that such funds should exist. The expenses of travel incidental to an election, the expenses in the printing and distribution of argument upon either side, are not diminishing, they are increasing, and if no such funds were present to support any particular cause, that cause could only be represented in this House by wealthy men. It is not the existence of such reserve funds with which we quarrel. It is merely the secrecy under which in comparatively recent times and by a political development not due to individuals—a mechanical, and, as it were, unconscious development—that secrecy has come to exist. Well, then, what are the evils attaching to this element of secrecy, and how does it, in the words of the Motion, form "a peril to the character and privileges of this House"? I believe, and I hope to lead the House to believe, that that secrecy is a peril. A peril, I say, and no more. Had it existed for a longer period; had this method of secret accumulation and secret distribution become part and parcel of our political life; had it existed for two generations, then it would be not a peril but an evil, existing in fact. I merely say, therefore, that it is a peril, but an imminent peril. The first point for the House to consider is whether the secrecy of the accumulation is a peril to the privileges and character of this House; how far is it a peril to the honour of the country, and how far it affects our political morality, whether it is or is not an advantage that it should have led to certain practices with regard to public honours, I am not concerned with at present, but I am 901 asking, how far is that secrecy a peril to the privileges and character of this House? Well, that accumulation, effected as it is, secretly, is a twofold peril. It is a peril to the representative character of the House of Commons, because the mass of the electorate is, to some extent, baulked of its freedom by the secrecy. The constituencies are unable to judge by what influences and from what motives the choice of a candidate may be determined. Those influences and motives are concealed from the mass of the electorate, and this gives too great weight to a few men who are, to use a vulgar phrase, "in the know." It gives a great weight to the few men who are large subscribers in the district, and it does not give sufficient weight to those from whom the authority of this House proceeds—that is, the electors of England. That is the first part of the peril which the secret accumulation of these funds causes. I will go further than this; I will go so far as to say that until the issue was raised upon a recent occasion both in this House and in the public Press, the great mass of the electorate had not so much as heard of the existence of these party funds. It is quite impossible that under such conditions true representation should be obtained. In the second place, it is inevitable that so long as these great sums of money remain unaudited, the full initiative that should lie with the electorate first, next with the House of Commons, and lastly with the Government of the day as the spokesman of the majority, is affected. I may be told that this initiative would be equally affected and the representative character of the House equally marred were the funds in question publicly contributed and dispensed. No one can maintain that who knows anything of men. It is an essential convention of our politics in this country to pretend that large contributions do not affect the initiative of the Government, but I cannot accept that convention. I cannot believe that the payment of considerable sums of money in secret is made with no expectation of any return, and, even among the best of men, with no expectation of consequent authority. That wealth will always have its influence is true. But wealth when it acts publicly cannot dare to do what it will often dare to do when it acts in a 902 secret manner. A man will bring influences to boar privately in favour of policies which he would never dare publicly to defend. The very names of certain contributors would be a warning to the public, just as the names of others would guarantee the independence with which the funds were used. As for that argument, so common in our political life, that no such pressure is ever exercised for private objects, the answer is simple enough: First, that such purity, did it exist, would be a phenomenon unique in history—and we are not accustomed to producing unique phenomena; it is incredible that such pressure should be absent. Secondly, that the only possible motive for secrecy is the opportunity it affords for exercising that pressure. I will put a hypothetical case. I will suppose a man attempting to extend what has already unfortunately begun, the system of monopolies in matters of ordinary consumption. I will suppose a crisis during which legislative and even administrative action promptly used would prevent the formation of such a monopoly. Can anyone pretend that if this man had given largely to the secret funds those who benefited by this gift would remain indifferent? Or can anyone pretend that an action of this kind could take place where all was public and above-board? There is an example of something which has already come very close to us, and which in the near future will be a permanent and dangerous menace to the economic health of this country. Or to take another case. Let us suppose a man to subscribe so largely to the funds of any one Party that his withdrawal would seriously affect its strength in an electoral campaign. The man may, for the best of public reasons, differ on some essential point with the overwhelming majority of his own Party. If his action is secret, affecting but a small knot of men with whom he is in personal contact, and who are familiar with the danger his secession would present, may it not of itself dwarf or reduce to impotence the whole policy of the group to which he belongs? Here is no case of corruption, but is it not a case in which the power of wealth is quite unduly exaggerated, and in which the opinions 903 of one man are permitted to exercise upon public affairs a determining effect which they would never have had if his talents or public position alone were considered, and which they possess solely on account of his wealth? And is not secrecy a cause of that very individual preponderance? The secrecy of the distribution of these funds is less dangerous and more excusable than the secrecy of their accumulation. It is clear that a motive of delicacy and of good feeling prompted those who were responsible at the origin of the system to keep private sums that had been given in aid of expenses to individuals. But even this side of the matter has its perils. There is the danger of extending the class of men to whom such advantages are afforded. The boundaries are difficult to draw between a man who can afford nothing, a little, the greater part, or the whole of the expenses of an election, and unless there be publicity there is every danger that within a certain space of time the bulk of a political party will have acquired the custom of obtaining such support. There is another and a much greater danger on which I desire to speak with the fullest recognition that it is a danger only, not a present evil. I mean the danger that pressure may be put upon individuals in particular cases; and here I must publicly state that I believe such pressure to be exceedingly rare. The House will remember that some months ago a question of privilege was raised upon that matter. It was raised by the noble Lord the Member for Marylebone, and the House divided upon it and came to some valuable decision which I do not remember. I think that in this matter, as it is of such gravity, as it touches the honour of so many men, though it is a personal matter, it is right that I should make one explanation that will give my argument, I hope, a greater value. I will draw a lesson from my own example. I personally am convinced that pressure of that kind if it has been brought to bear at all, has been brought to bear so slightly as not to affect as yet the working of our political system. I know that from my own case. It was from the Party funds that my expenses were paid. It was my duty as a Catholic, speaking for the Catholics of Lancashire, 904 to vote with independence upon the Education Bill, and I have adopted an independent attitude on other occasions. On every occasion I have been absolutely free from pressure of any kind. Having made that clear statement to the House, hon. Members will agree with me that I am discussing this question in an impersonal mariner. As I have said, public pressure has not, so far as I know existed. If others say it has existed, it is for them to bring it forward. I do not deny it. If it has, I do not think it has affected our political life, and in my case it has not existed at all. But is there another form of pressure that could be brought to bear? Yes. It is possible for an unscrupulous man of great wealth to approach a scrupulous man of no wealth, and to hint to him that he is a great subscriber to the Party fund, and that the scrupulous man is expected in matters more or less neutral, or even commercial to take a certain course. My suggestion is not a chimerical one—we have come exceedingly close to it in the life of the present Parliament—and it is an extreme danger for the future. The man I picture has done a particularly wicked act, but it is impossible to pay out money secretly without there being some sense of value to be received, and it is impossible to take money secretly without some sense of dependency. Such pressure can be brought, and there is a danger that it may be brought, and we want to avoid it. Those who think they can defend this system may say: "What would you substitute for it?" My object to-night is merely negative. It is merely to ventilate the question and see what the opinion of the House is upon it. I am not proposing a positive remedy, though personally I would suggest a system such as that which obtains in the case of all other economic machinery, namely, that an audit should take place. It is generally admitted that if the secrecy with which these great public funds were replaced by publicity, less money would be required. I think it would myself. I think the Corn Law League, for instance, or any other of those great leagues for reform, had been secret in its character, they would have had more money at their disposal, but they would have done less. And if this accumulation of small sums 905 lead, as it undoubtedly would, to certain necessary and immediate reforms, such as second ballot such as the payment by the State of all strictly legal election expenses, it would be welcome. But it certainly ought not to stand in the way of an immediate and necessary political reform. I have admitted these evils are slight, but will they remain slight? We cannot go to our constituents and say they are slight at the moment, because the whole matter is in the dark; if anybody says one is expected to vote for a certain policy, because to their knowledge Mr. So-and-so has subscribed largely to the party funds what can one reply? I have myself been asked such questions as this: "Is it not the fact that the Government (not the present Government or the past Government, but any Government) have been moved by certain subscriptions?" and I had to answer: "I do not know." But that doubt exists in the public mind. I must close my remarks—I have spoken too long by begging the House to remember that the projection of this Motion is not frivolous. We do not desire to move a Motion that might excite a momentary interest. Still less do we desire to move one of which the interest would be purely personal or touched with scandal, and that note of amusement which comes to us when discussing the misfortunes and follies of others move this Motion because this is the beginning of a system which, in the near future, so rapidly changing is our system, may become the method of discipline of both political parties. We want to prevent that. We want it to become impossible in the near future that the discipline of any Party should be only made effective by a payment in secret to a fund, and a payment in secret out of that fund to a private individual. With that I conclude. I beg to move.
§ *MR. EDMUND LAMB (Herefordshire, Leominster)
In seconding this Motion, I only wish to emphasise a few of the points which were dealt with so ably by my hon. friend. The first one I wish to emphasise is that this is a non-party Motion. It is not an attack upon this Government or indeed any particular Government. It is an attack upon a custom which we cannot permit. I appeal to all 906 quarters of the House for support for this Motion because it is in the hope of furthering the purity of our Parliamentary system that it is moved. The second point I desire to emphasise is the secrecy of the system. We have no objection to open payments. Personally, I wish all Members of Parliament were paid and paid openly, and all the expenses of Returning officers were paid, and canvassing by paid canvassers prohibited. When it comes to posters I wish they were prohibited, and that any interference in any election by any league, whether it is the Tariff Reform League or any other, were prohibited. As a matter of curiosity, too, I would like the hon. Baronet the Member for the Wellington Division of Somerset, whom I see in his place, to tell the House what is the difference between tariff reform funds and the funds of the Conservative Party. We do not object to open payments or to honours given purely for services rendered, but we certainly quarrel with honours conferred for a secret money payment and no service at all. I do not know whether there are secret funds belonging to the Liberal Party, because I have subscribed to none and have not received a farthing from any. But the fact remains that strange people, whom nobody knows anything about, go up to another place and the matter is forgotten as quickly as possible. I think these secret payments are more injurious to the donor than to the recipients; still if we are to have a hereditary Second Chamber I would prefer that that Chamber should not be composed of the descendants of men who purchased their honours. The only honours that a Member of this House wants are the love of the people whom he has served during his life and their reverence after his death.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House regrets the secrecy under which political funds are accumulated and administered, and regards such secrecy as a peril to its privileges and character."—(Mr. Belloc.)
§ *MR. LEA (St. Pancras, E.)
said that, in taking part in the debate, he desired to preface his remarks with a word or two of thanks to the hon. Member for Salford 907 for having brought the matter forward. With regard to the hon. Member who had just seconded the Motion, he must say that he differed from him when he said that this was not an attack upon the present or the previous Government. He thought it was most essentially so, and it was with a view of proving that it was so that he intended to try and elaborate his case. He thought it would be conceded that it would not be out of place on his part to try and carry the House back to 15th July last and briefly review what took place on that occasion. It would be well within everybody's memory that on that date he was brought before the House for a breach of privilege at the instigation of the noble Lord opposite on account of a letter he had written to The Times a few days previously. That letter contained two definite charges. The first was that titles and decorations in this country of all sorts were—it was a matter of everyday occurrence—bought and sold. The second was that the proceeds of the sale of those titles and decorations went to fill the party war chests. Those war chests were kept by two men only. In the case of the Party in power the two men were, first of all, the Prime Minister, and then the Patronage Secretary. In the case of the Party in opposition, the war chest was kept by the Leader of the Opposition and by the Chief Opposition Whip. He further said in that letter that in the case of necessitous candidates grants-in-aid were given, and that later, when those candidates became Members of that House, pressure was brought to bear upon them by their respective Whips to ensure that their votes and speeches were of such a nature as to satisfy the exigencies of the parties to which they belonged. In the debate which took place on the Motion of the noble Lord, only the second part of the letter was dealt with. The first part was ignored altogether; but he was bound to say it was not left out of the division which took place on his conduct. The House took the same serious view of the allegations contained in his letter as he did himself. The noble Lord not only moved that he (Mr. Lea) had committed a breach of privilege, but he asked the House to institute a Committee 908 of Inquiry into the various charges which he (Mr. Lea) had made and to report thereon. Had that Committee been appointed its task must necessarily have been to investigate all the allegations in the letter which he wrote to The Times. He regretted that it was not appointed. Immediately afterwards he put down on the Notice Paper a Motion to this effect—That a Select Committee of twenty-one Members of this House be appointed to inquire and report to this House whether during the last four years the Prime Minister in office has recommended to His Majesty for elevation to the Peerage, Baronetage, Knighthood or Privy Council, any person or persons who have made any money payments either to party funds or any other person or persons in respect of such recommendation, and further to inquire and report whether the Prime Minister in office at the time was responsible for any such recommendation under such circumstances, and, if not, who was responsible; and that the said Committee have power to send for persons, papers and records.Had that Committee been appointed with power to compel the presence before it of bankers end pass books, he unhesitatingly said that he would have had no difficulty in proving his case up to the hilt. He did not think there was a man who could get up and deny it—either the Chief Opposition Whip or the Patronage Secretary. He had not withdrawn one word of his accusation or retracted it. On the contrary, he reaffirmed now every word that he had previously said. He would go further, and say that it was a matter of common knowledge and gossip in the House, in the clubs, and in the streets, that the titles and decorations in vogue in this country were just as lacking in dignity, prestige, and moral worth as the methods by which they were obtained were loathsome, corrupt, and nauseous. The Prime Minister said in the course of his speech—Let me add, if it is a charge against this Government, it is equally a charge against those responsible for the government of the country in previous years; and it is equally a charge against the parties of Members sitting below the gangway opposite.With the first part of that quotation he was entirely in agreement. Nay, he would go further and say that the amount of corruption which took place during the Tory regime, and for which the Leader of the 909 Opposition and the Chief Opposition Whip were responsible—
I understand that the hon. Member is making a direct charge of corruption against these night. Gentlemen. If so, he is entirely out of order.
§ MR. MARKHAM (Nottinghamshire, Mansfield)
pointed out that the Motion regretted the secrecy under which political funds were accumulated and administered and there was a direct charge in the Motion of dishonesty. He submitted, that any hon. Member was entitled to deny the accusation which had never yet been denied, and that his hon. friend was entitled, seeing that the accusation had not been denied, to make the charge and to press it home.
The Motion on the Paper is: "That this House regrets the secrecy under which political funds are accumulated and administered, and regards such secrecy as a peril to its privileges and character." That has nothing to do with the making of a direct charge on the honesty of any hon. Member of this House.
§ MR. MARKHAM
On a point of order, I submit that no attack whatever has been made on the honour either of the Patronage Secretary or of the Chief Opposition Whip.
§ *MR. LEA
said that he wanted to be clearly understood. What he had said involved no personal charge either against the present Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, neither had it reference to the two Whips. It was the system that he was attacking. It was not their personal honour he was attacking; it was the party funds.
I am very glad to hear that explanation: I understood the hon. Member to say that corruption was carried out under the right hon. Gentlemen. That was a particular charge. I understand now 910 that the hon. Member repudiates it. If so, he should withdraw the charge.
§ *MR. LEA
said that he withdrew any reference of a personal nature; but he said that political corruption during the régime of the present Leader of the Opposition from 1903 to 1905 had reached such a stage that the tariff for titles and decorations was well-known in the City of London, while the percentage or commission allowed to the introducer of the customer for them was equally well known. He sincerely trusted the House would excuse any heat of words on his part. With regard, however, to the second part of the quotation from the Prime Ministar's speech it would be remembered that the hon. Member for the Clitheroe Division quickly got up in his place and repudiated with scorn any similar liability. He pointed out that the party funds belonging to that party were public and were audited. The right hon. Gentleman when he got up knew well besides that the parties presided over by the hon. Member for Waterford and the hon. Member for Barnard Castle had never filed their funds to repletion by corrupting the fountain of honour at its very source. Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition said that it would add neither to the dignity of the House nor to its proceedings to take action. When he read that over after-wards by his own fireside, he thought it was extremely kind of them, until he realised that they were the chief culprits whom he had had accused in his letter to The Times. There was another channel as well as that he had indicated to which the proceeds of these sales went, but as that was not germane to the subject now under discussion he would make no further allusion to it, except to say that that also would have to fall within the scope of the suggested inquiry. The evidence that could be extracted in that direction would, he was convinced, be more startling still when he reflected that the market price of peerages reached sometimes as high as £150,000. [Cries of "Oh, oh !"] He knew what he was talking about. Out of curiosity he had examined the file of The Times for the last four years ending December, 1907, and he would quote the dates so that Members might check 911 his figures. First of all, there were the lists of 9th November, 1903; 9th November 1904; 30th June, 1905; 9th November, 1905; and 9th December, 1905. These lists appeared during the régime, of the last Tory Government, and the Leader of the Opposition was responsible for them. The next two lists were in December, 1905, and January, 1906, when the Liberal Party was apparently preparing for its attack on the House of Lords by adding ten Members to that Assembly. Then they had the lists of 29th January, 1906; 9th November, 1906; 28th January, 1907; and 9th November, 1907. He had omitted all reference to men who had been made members of the Orders of the Bath or the Garter or St. Michael and St. George or any other tom-fool order. He left out the usual baronetcy for the Lord Mayor of London and the two knighthoods to the sheriffs for entertaining foreign potentates at their own expense. From November, 1903, to December, 1905, the Tory Party were responsible for the creation of thirteen Peers, sixteen Privy Councillors, thirty-three Baronets and seventy-six Knights; a total of 128 in two years, of which number thirty-six, or 28.1 per cent., were Members of that House. From December, 1905, to November, 1907, two years of Liberal regime, twenty Peers were created, nineteen Privy Councillors, thirty-three Baronets and ninety-five Knights, total 167, of which thirty-seven, or 22.1 per cent., were Members of that House. It would be admitted on all sides to be a most lamentable thing were it recognised inside or outside that Chamber that men went into the House of Commons with any other object than to try to do their duty according to the pledges they gave to their constituents, and yet when one pondered over these figures one could not but think that social advancement was an ulterior motive with many. Mr. Gilbert K. Chesterton in a very ably-written newspaper article last year said that rich men paid into the party funds and were made Peers, whilst poor men were paid out of them and made slaves. A terser or better description of the accumulation and administration of the Party funds system could scarcely be given. He did not say that all who entered that House went 912 there with a view to social advancement. That reproach could not be levelled against the Irish and the Lobour Parties with any degree of justice or fairness whatever. But however sincere a man might be when he first went there, however radical his views and ideals might be, there seemed to be in the atmosphere of that place a bacillus or germ, long exposure to which had a most deplorable effect. Whether that bacillus was imported by the Commissioner of Works from the Heralds' College in Queen Victoria Street, or not, he did not know. In support of that theory of his he proposed to tell the House a little story which had the merit of being perfectly true. For two years he had sat on a Committee, the chairman of which, in 1906, became a knight. At the next meeting of the Committee he noticed a sort of reflected pride in the faces of all of the Members, as they vied with one another in congratulating the chairman on his recent admission to the ranks of chivalry. But across the rippling stream of harmonious congratulations suddenly came a harsh discord. An hon. Member said—I am very sorry to have to strike a jarring note on this occasion, but you know my views on this kind of thing. I have often refused it myself before. I deem a man who accepts a knighthood rather a subject for pity and commiseration than congratulation.That summarised his views so much that when it came to his turn he pitied and commiserated with the chairman on the disaster that had overtaken him in the later years of his life. But imagine his surprise when, eight months later, the man who struck the jarring note had himself become a subject for pity and commiseration.
§ *MR. LEA
said he regretted to say that both these men posed as being Radicals. It was not only on that side of the House that some of them looked upon the sale and brokerage of titles and decorations as a disgrace to the House and the country that permitted them. In an article in the Saturday Review on 16th 913 December, 1905, headed "The Adulteration of the Peerage" the editor said—A peerage has just been conferred on Sir Herbert de Stern, who a year or two ago was made a baronet. When we remember that in 1895 Lord Rosebery created Lord Wandsworth, a near relative of Sir Herbert de Stern, we may well ask what are the claims of this family on the public, that within ten years two of its members should be given the right to sit and vote with the hereditary aristocracy of Great Britain. Out of sheer curiosity we want to know what services in court or in camp, in public or in private, have the De Sterns rendered to the British Empire, that two Prime Ministers of opposite Parties in the State should vie with one another in inviting them to take a seat among the aristocracy, the best, bravest and noblest that England can produce. Do Lord Wandsworth and Sir Herbert de Stern answer that description of aristocrats? Obviously not. Then why have they been made peers? The answer is 'money.'Then in relation to another peerage the editor went on in a very ably written article, which he (Mr. Lea) advised all hon. Members to read—With equal aversion, though of a somewhat different kind, we regard the peerage conferred on Sir Alfred Harmsworth, the founder and proprietor of Answers, Comic Cuts, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror, and a dozen other newspapers. The best way of describing our own feelings is by reporting what we gather to be the feelings of nine men out of ten, the majority of whom were either shocked or amused, according to their temperament, by the news that Sir Alfred Harmsworth was to be made a Peer.The editor concluded by saying—We cherish the belief that Mr. Balfour is not solely responsible for creations which cannot but lower one of the greatest of our institutions in the eyes of educated men. It is, however, in the power of the new peers to prove our criticism harsh. They may so amend their manners as to become indistinguishable from those amongst whom they have been promoted, and thus show that there is something in the old saying noblesse oblige.If one of the leading Conservative papers could use language of that kind in criticism of peerages which their own Party had created, what must they think and say of that Party which had rightly started a campaign against the House of Lords, and very properly informed their supporters throughout the country that it was a danger to the Constitution and a menace to their liberties, and had yet during the last two years helped to fill its war-chest by making additions to that Chamber? Twenty peerages had been created by this Government during the last two years. He hoped sincerely 914 every additional peerage they made would bring swiftly, Nemesis-like, in its train a by-election result like that in the Colne Valley, which showed what the electors thought of hypocrisy and political inconsistency. It might be asked why he had brought this matter up and what he hoped to get by pursuing it. His answer was a very simple one. When he entered that House he had certain democratic ideas which he still cherished, and he hoped, by bringing before the the House the meanness and absurdity of this traffic in titles and decorations, that the House would be moved to institute an inquiry into it all and put a stop to it. He was not a politician, and if to be a politician was to be inconsistent in one's policy, to disregard one's pledges to one's constituents, to obey blindly the behests of Party Whips and finally to leave the House with a title purchased by a big cheque and the sacrifice of one's innermost convictions, then he trusted he might always remain what he was, a very poor representative of his constituency he admitted, but at any rate, he claimed to be an honest one. The only possible excuse for these honours, so-called, was that they were given as a reward for meritorious service, but he frankly confessed he would sweep them away with as little compunction as a (sanitary inspector would display in removing an offensive nuisance. ["Oh."] By hawking them, however, in exchange for enormous cheques the Leaders of the two Parties and the Chief Whips were certainly degrading them and dishonouring those who received them for merit alone. His hon. friend was seeking by his Motion at any rate to elevate them to the only logical positon they could possibly occupy, and (because of that he sincerely hoped that all hon. Members would support the Motion.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal S.)
said he had come to the conclusion, after listening carefully to the speech of the hon. Member who had just sat down, that in his estimate peers and peerages were, like faith, "the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen." He would have no difficulty, if he so chose, in giving not fewer than 100 peerages whose patents 915 were simply steeped in corruption. He would not do so, however, for there was no use in hurting people's feelings. He was not going to make a personal speech, although the temptation to do so was very great. Where was the brave Leader of the Opposition on this occasion? [An OPPOSITION MEMBER: Where is the Prime Minister?] He appeared to have fought as shy of this as he did of discussing tariff reform in the last Parliament. Upon such matters as these he had a great belief in the intelligence of the House. [Cries of "No."] He did not know whether they could or could not judge the present by the past, but he happened to know something of the way in which peerages in times past had been created. Every time a man was addressed as "My Lord," he must feel very uncomfortable when he reflected how some of the peerages had been got. He thought there would be a great advantage accruing from the publicity of Party funds. By way of illustration he would first of all begin with the Liberal Party. It was well known that the late Mr. Rhodes gave £5,000 to the Liberal funds, and, as was usual, it was not acknowledged. This fact was subsequently brought as a charge against the Liberal Party, and it was alleged that the correspondence on the subject was in existence. If that money had been given openly and above board how could such a suggestion have arisen? The very idea of secrecy in these matters was objectionable, and if people got money why should they not openly acknowledge it? After the lapse of eleven years a gentleman, who was almost as famous a supporter of the Union as Mr. Piggot, came prominently before the public. He referred to Mr. Terah Hooley. He was a pious man, and a friend to the Establishment, and he gave a communion service to St. Paul's Cathedral. His name was on every man's lips, in fact "Hooley, Hooley was the man." Hooley was not forgetful of the Party funds, and he sent his Party a cheque for £30,000. Now what became of that cheque? This was towards the end of the Jubilee celebration. Then came the revelations of 1898. [An OPPOSITION MEMBER: But they did not cash that cheque.] He was coming to that point. That 916 cheque was sent back with a kind of Joseph-like chastity to Hooley when he was found out, and the result was that Hooley never got the baronetcy which was supposed to be the price of the cheque. Would it be believed that the secret service fund for that year was raised by £30,000 which was exactly the amount of the cheque sent back to Hooley? He thought in this matter he had been perfectly impartial for he had given an instance from both Parties. He thought himself that these honours might very well be sold openly and above board. Were it not that peers were hereditary legislators and had the power of supervising all the legislation of that House, he did not see why anybody should not buy a peerage who was fool enough to do so, provided the price were only regularly paid. But the sale and brokerage of honours was no new thing. The documents were still in existence in which the Lord-Lieutenant of the day founded the Order of the Knights of St. Patrick, whose jewels were now the subject of a mystery. For his part, if he were Chancellor of the Exchequer he would create new honours, and raise revenue by the sale of them. He would re-duplicate the Garter. He would give them Garters on both legs. He would import the honours possessed by the King of Siam, "Brother of the Moon," "Half-brother of the Sun," "Arbiter of the Rise and Fall of the Tides," "Possessor of twenty-four Golden Umbrellas." What a gold mine was here for the Chancellor of the Exchequer ! The foundation of all this craze for honours was that men were ashamed to be humble and poor. The saying of John Bright, spoken in the middle of the nineteenth century, that the purest Member of Parliament was Andrew Marvell, who was not ashamed to take wages from his constituency and thereby was able to resist the corrupters, was worth recalling; and that great statesman went on to declare that when men without titles and without property qualifications sat in the House it would then truly become what Edmund Burke said it was—The true reflex, the express image, of the feelings of the nation.
*MR. BUCKM ASTER (Cambridge)
moved to amend the Resolution by inserting after the word "administered" 917 the following: "Especially the way in which large sums, derived from the secret funds of the Tariff Reform League and other similar societies, are spent in electoral contests without being returned in the candidates' expenses." He said the Amendment was not framed to divert attention from the Resolution moved by his hon. friend, but rather to direct it to some particular, and he thought, important illustrations of what the Resolution sought in general terms to condemn. He thought it was desirable that he should call the attention of the House for a few moments to the provisions of the Act of Parliament whose operation was frequently avoided through the instrumentality of bodies like the Tariff Reform League. By the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883 it was provided that any candidate who made payment to any agent or servant, excepting those expressly mentioned in the statute, was guilty of an illegal act which carried with it, as its consequences, the deprivation of his seat if he was elected, in some cases his disqualification from sitting as a Member of Parliament for seven years, and his punishment with a fine of £100 if the act was brought home to his knowledge. There was no doubt that that statute had done great service in curtailing the most reckless expense that used to be incurred at elections in the olden times. It had been of great service in securing more honest representation than before, but no one who had followed political events closely could fail to see that its whole purpose was avoided, and that its terms were entirely circumvented, by the action which political organisations took on behalf of a candidate, which he was wholly unable to do for himself. The Tariff Reform League was the best illustration which he could find of such an organisation as he referred to, and yet it was difficult to know whether it was right to describe it as a political organisation at all, for to this moment the question whether the Tariff Reform League had swallowed the Party opposite or the Party opposite had swallowed the Tariff Reform League, was a matter of considerable doubt. So also was the question of its construction. It was a strange body composed so far as he could see of free traders who had lost 918 their faith, and Protectionists who had found their opportunity. The original purpose for which it was constructed was professed to be the creation of a scientific tariff.
§ MR. MARKHAM
Is the hon. Member in order in discussing the question of scientific tariffs on the Amendment now before the House? I beg to call your attention to the Amendment.
The Amendment which the hon. Member is moving makes specific reference to the Tariff Reform League. I think, therefore, he is in order in discussing the objects of the league within reasonable limits.
§ *MR. BUCKMASTER
said that if his hon. friend would have a little patience he would find that his observations were strictly in order and strictly relevant to the Amendment. He was going to point out what the original purpose of the league was, and what its actual operations consisted of. So far as he could understand, its original purpose was the creation of a scientific tariff. Hon. Members on that side of the House at least might be pardoned if they found it difficult to know what a scientific tariff might be. He rather gathered that it was meant to be a tariff which would afford satisfaction to the legitimate commercial aspirations of the members of the league, and at the same time, it might be incidentally, avoid ruin to British trade. It was not surprising that the difficulty of constructing such a tariff soon proved too much for the intellectual energies of the League, and they devoted themselves to a more congenial occupation. If there was a Conservative candidate able to lisp their shibboleth and who would subscribe to their fund, he could have the Tariff Reform League at his disposal. No sooner did the electoral contest begin than some shop-front was blazoned with the legends of the league, and pamphlets issued promising cure for all the ills of the body politic by acceptance of the principles of the League. But the matter did not end there. Hired agents beat with impartial foot at every door, and paid canvassers solicited 919 votes nominally on behalf of the league, but in reality on behalf of the candidate. They all knew the process. The paid canvasser went round and asked each elector what his particular trouble might be. Was he suffering because the price of bread was high? Tariff reform would at once cure all that. Was he suffering from the yet harder pinch, a lack of work? Tariff reform would provide him immediately with constant employment. Was he, as a small trader, suffering from acute competition? Tariff reform would instantly remove his difficulties. The only thing that stood in the way of tariff reform—and here he agreed with the canvasser—was the Liberal Party; and as soon as the destruction of the Liberal Party was secured, the way to his blessed and promised relief was open and plain. [OPPOSITION cheers.] It was not often that they had the advantage of having such preposterous doctrines approved of on the floor of the House. It was not often that hon. Members opposite were sufficiently candid to own that the people who were canvassing on their behalf made the price of provisions low or high according to the complexion of the persons from whom he asked their votes, and that all the electors had to do was to secure the return of a Conservative candidate, and all these promised blessings would instantly flow. But the real mischief lay in the fact that if these things had been done by the candidate himself, he would have been declared to have been guilty of illegal practices and his election would have been instantly declared to be void. But, in fact, there was not less illegality when these things were done under the cover and shadow of a body really acting as his agents. Whenever there was a debate in the House on tariff reform, they had a somewhat elusive and etherealised essence of the doctrine with which the late Prime Minister used at once to soothe the impatience of his followers, and to charm the sense of humour in the House. But in the constituencies a very different propaganda was carried on. Pamphlets were distributed, containing promises on one and the same page, that tariff reform would increase employment, raise wages, lower the cost of living, keep out foreign manufactures, and, at the same time, 920 another pamphlet issued and circulated by the same hand asked in these words—Does the working man intend to allow his better self, and his intelligence to be beguiled and befooled by false representations put forth for party purposes by unscrupulous persons simply in the hope of self-aggrandisement?He was bound to say that he was amazed [OPPOSITION ironical laughter]—or he might have been amazed—to think that anyone could justify the language of such a document, as that—Put forth for party purposes by unscrupulous persons simply in the hope of self-aggrandisement.He would have thought that hon. Members opposite would have been anxious to repudiate language of that description, would have been anxious to say that that was not the means by which their elections were influenced, and by which they owed their position in this House. But as he understood they accepted and adopted those tactics, which pointed to the party character of the acts done and were in fact, if not in the letter, violations of the Corrupt Practices Act of 1883. Further, they knew that a Licensing Bill would shortly be introduced into the House, and the mere fact that it was going to be introduced, without any knowledge as to what its contents were to be, caused the wealthy brewing interest to become an organised body opposing the Liberal Party. But did anyone suppose that the use of the large funds at the disposal of what was euphemistically called "the trade" was confined to the issue of illustrated pamphlets and pictorial placards depicting clergymen of the Church of England, soldiers, drooping widows and little children gathered together under a banner which bore the inscription: "Bee" expanded into the word "Debenture"? They knew well that no election would be fought from now until the time when they again sought the confidence of the country, at which every public-house would not be made a committee room against them, in which the wealth of the brewers, subscribed in secret, which they could not trace, would be used against them by means which, if used on behalf of the candidate would most certainly be an illegal and in all probability 921 a corrupt practice under the Act of 1883. He knew it would be said that they had similar organisations which might be guilty of a similar offence. It was said that there was an organisation which supported the Liberal Party—the Free Trade Union. But then its subscription list was always open. It was not possible for a man to go down on the eve of an election and make a large subscription to the Free Trade Union and have the fact concealed. And, remember, this concealment was of the utmost importance in the consideration of the case. If they found on the eve of an election a man made a payment to the funds of such a body as the Tariff Reform League, and then immediately after that the Tariff Reform League blossomed into activity in his division, and that these practices were pursued throughout the election it would not be hard for a Judge to find that in point of fact though the Tariff Reform League were posing as an independent party, they were in reality the agents of the candidates whose cause they pleaded. But even if it were suggested that they on the Liberal side were affected by the same trouble, he was not concerned to argue this matter from a party point of view. Let them admit at once that there were unworthy motives placed before the electors on both sides in electoral contests. Let them admit that there was base coin in circulation in political controversy. Surely all Members of the House should be glad to join in taking steps by which the currency might be cleansed. This was a matter which affected not one party or another only. It went far deeper, and affected the welfare of the State. Was there anyone in the House who thought that if an elector had been cajoled or coerced or corrupted into giving his vote, he remained an honest, self-respecting citizen? Everybody knew that he at once depised the man who had influenced him and the cause in whose behalf he had been negotiated. He was convinced that many poor people in the country had foresworn their allegience to either one or other of the great parties in the State, because they realised, or thought that they realised, that after all in supporting them they were once more supporting the privileges they sought to destroy. 922 He himself had no sympathy with the views of the hon. Members sitting immediately opposite to him (the Labour Party); but he recognised that their strength lay in the very fact that, by reason of such means as he had mentioned, the electorate had day by day been losing confidence in the great and the wealthy parties in the State—parties that they believed no longer shared their views, no longer were able to realise their hopes, and no longer were able to give effect to their aspirations in this House. He felt that they owed a great debt of gratitude to those hon. Members, not for the views they expressed, but because they had taught men that it was possible to legislate without the inheritance of great estates or the possession of great names. They had done more. They had attempted by direct appeal to the electorate, and not by indirect and stealthy and unlawful means, to awaken their interests in political affairs. He believed the future of either of the great parties in the State depended on which of them would be able to direct and to guide and govern those awakened aims. It was impossible for anyone to look far forward into the darkness which always hid the future. But, unless the lessons that other States had taught were void of meaning, it was in the unlawful use and the stealthy use of wealth in influencing the decision of the electors that they had at once the greatest menace to society and the greatest danger to modern civilisation. He begged to move.
§ MR. SOARES,
in seconding the Amendment, said that after the very able and eloquent speech to which they had just had the pleasure of listening, he felt that very few words were necessary from him. The hon. Member for Cambridge had raised a question of the gravest importance and had advocated it in such a manner that he thought the whole House must be in favour of his proposal. What it meant was that if our present practice in these matters continued it would practically put an end to the statutory limitations of amounts which, under the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act, could be expended on elections. He was present at the Mid Devon election, and it might interest the House if he told 923 them the names of the various leagues and societies which took part in it. There were the Primrose League, the Tariff Reform League, the Rural Labourers' League, and whether or not the Unionist Free Trade League was present he was not quite sure. He was afraid that league was a little wobbley on that occasion. There were also the Association for the protection of "the trade," otherwise known as the Brewers' League, the Protestant League, the Free Trade League, the Socialist League, and not less than two of the women's leagues, whose names he did not know. At any rate, he believed that two woman suffragist leagues were working during that election. A well-know Parliamentary agent who was present during that election told him that over and above the legitimate expenses of the candidates, these leagues amongst them must have expended no less than £1,500. He thought that that kind of extra expense was not good for the purity of elections, and he was sure that every Member would fed that, on whichever side of the House he sat. He hoped the Solicitor-General was preparing the Bill which they had been told was to be introduced on this subject by the Government, and he sincerely trusted that the hon. Gentlemen would turn his attention to this branch of the question. He begged to second.
In line 2, after the word 'administered,' to insert the words 'especially the way in which large sums, derived from the secret funds of the Tariff Reform League and other similar societies, are spent in electoral contests without being returned in the candidates 'expenses.'"—(Mr. Buckmaster).
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)
said he had had the pleasure of listening to the hon. Member for Cambridge on more than one occasion, and although unfortunately, the hon. Member differed from him in politics, he had never listened to his speeches without feeing that he brought to bear a large mass of information and singularly clear ability in endeavouring to] put before the House the views 924 which he was quite certain he sincerely held. On this occasion he must apologise to the hon. Member for saying that he could not congratulate him upon his speech. In the first place, he believed it was entirely out of order, because the Motion was to call in question the use of political funds in a way which they knew perfectly well in this House. What was the meaning of the words "political funds"? It meant money that was given to one of the two great Parties in the State, either the Liberal or the Conservative Party, and had nothing to do with the Tariff Reform League, any more than it had to do with the Suffragist League, the trade unions, or the Irish National League.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that the hon. and learned Member who moved the Amendment alluded to the very large amount of money which he said had been expended by, or was in the possession of, the Tariff Reform League. As far as he knew the Tariff Reform League was rather desirous of obtaining money. He believed that the Engineers' Trade Union had funds amounting to £300,000. [A LABOUR MEMBER: £800,000.] Well, £800,000. He did not wish to exaggerate. At any rate, it was far richer than the Tariff Reform League. He did not complain of hon. Members below the Gangway, when they used the funds of the Engineers' Society in defence of the objects of that body, and for purposes which they believed to be proper subjects of political warfare. Why did not the hon. Gentleman attack the Engineers' Fund or call attention to the way in which it was administered.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said that the Tariff Reform League balance sheets were also published year by year, and he believed that the hon. Member could see a balance sheet of the Tariff Reform League by giving a sovereign to the funds of that league. 925 He need not continue the subscription, and a sovereign was not much to pay for the information he desired.
§ MR. BELLOC
rose to a point of order. He said his Motion concerned the secrecy with which these funds were accumulated and administered, and that alone. That being so, surely the remarks of the hon. Member were out of order.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he had already ventured to say that the Amendment was out of order, but as it was before them he maintained that he had a right to answer the arguments of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He suggested to the hon. Member that he should subscribe to the Tariff Reform League. Then he would find out whether anything was done by that league against the law, and if he thought they had done wrong he could bring an action against them. That would be a much simpler way of proceeding than discussing the matter in that House. It seemed to him that the Party opposite had got Tariff Reform League on the brain. A short time ago those of them who belonged to the Tariff Reform League were held up to ridicule, and when he was Member for Peckham he was told by the Radical Press that at last the Lord had delivered him into the hands of his enemies. Perhaps He had for the moment, but he was not sure whether in the long run, it was not a greater service to him than anything else that could happen. That was the view which hon. Members took then, and it was quite different from that which they adopted now, because the whole of their speeches were directed against the efforts of the Tariff Reform League.
§ MR. BELLOC
May I press Mr. Speaker for your ruling on this matter? Is it not the secrecy of these funds which is under discussion, and have the remarks of the present speaker anything to do with the question of secrecy?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I do not see that the hon. Baronet is violating the rules 926 of the House in any way. I must say that I had grave doubts whether the Amendment was in order, but I was persuaded by the hon. Member for Cambridge that it was in order, and as he has started that hare we must hunt it.
§ MR. BELLOC
With the greatest deference to your ruling, is not the Amendment also directed against the secret funds of the Tariff Reform League?
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
Be quiet. He is going to tell us something about the funds of the Tariff Reform League.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
said he could quite understand that the hon. Member did not like the turn which the debate had taken, and for once in his life he had made a mistake. He ought to have listened to the Amendment of the hon. Member which referred to the affairs of the Tariff Reform League and then have taken his objection. The way the funds of that league were administered had nothing to do with the House any more than the way in which the trade unions or the Engineers' or the Suffragist League administered their funds had. He supposed it would not be in order for him to refer to the orinigal Motion. He had had a good many years experience in the House, and to the best of his poor ability had always endeavoured not to contravene its rules. He would like, however, to have an opportunity of speaking on the original Resolution, and he would suggest that the Hon. Member should withdraw his Amendment so that it would be in order to discuss the original Motion. He only rose to call the attention of the House to the effort of the hon. and learned Member to draw a red herring across the path, because he could not believe that one whom he regarded as being among the ablest Members of the House could have made the speech he had if he had not some ulterior motive. He hoped the few words he had said would convince the hon. and learned Gentleman that the best thing he could do to retrieve his reputation would be to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said it was quite true that the Tariff 927 Reform League was a red herring drawn across their path, and he was glad to have the metaphor recognised by one of the exponents of that policy; but the hon. Baronet was somewhat in error when he said that they had tariff reform on the brain, because that was the very last place where they would find tariff reform.
§ SIR F. BANBURY
I beg to correct the hon. Member. I said that tariff reform was on the brain of the Party opposite.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
agreed. He would never have thought of suggesting that there was any brain on the other side of the House. He had risen for the purpose not of discussing tariff reform, because, although it might enter into that debate, it was not the subject-matter before the House. Although he was a poor man he was disposed to pay a sovereign subscription to the Tariff Reform League if he could get the information offered. Did the hon. Baronet say that by the payment of one sovereign he could have a list of the individual subscribers to that fund?
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH
said that that was poor information for the money. How ridiculous it was to compare that information with the information given by the trade unions. If the election expenses of by-elections were prepared properly, they ought to show how much was spent by the Tariff Reform League.
§ SIR RANDAL CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
expressed regret that he had not been present earlier in the debate, but he had been informed that the hon. Member for East St. Pancras had referred to him by innuendo—the hon. Member not having the honesty to speak outright had indulged in innuendo. The innuendo had been reported to him, and now, at the eleventh hour, and when challenged, the hon. Member for St. Pancras had had 928 the courage to acknowledge that his previous remarks referred to him. He could not find language to speak of the hon. Member's statement in more moderate terms, but the hon. Member would know what he meant when he said that he gave his statement a denial of the most absolute character.
§ SIR RANDAL CREMER
said the hon. Member had had his innings. It was now for him to say that there was not a shadow of truth in the hon. Member's statement. The hon. Member made a similar statement in a daily newspaper in July last. That statement was submitted to the chairman of the Kitchen Committee of the House of Commons. The chairman of the Kitchen Committee agreed that there was no foundation in fact for the hon. Member's statement, and that he (Sir Randal Cremer) had used no insulting language in Committee on the occasion in question. He did not say to the chairman of the Kitchen Committee anything of a slanderous character on the occasion. He had been a member of the House of Commons for twenty-two years and this was the first time he had been charged, and upon such authority. He was sorry the chairman of the Kitchen Committee was not present to justify him and to confirm him in the statement he was now making that there was not the shadow of foundation for the statement made by the hon. Member for St. Pancras.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
Do I understand the hon. Member to apply that expression to the hon. Member for Haggerston?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
It is not a proper expression to be applied in this House to the speech of any hon. Member. The hon. Member will at once withdraw the expression.
§ *MR. LEA
said that in deference to the Speaker's ruling and with great respect he begged to withdraw the expression. When he made the statement with regard to the incident which, occurred in the Committee he spoke the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There were men in that House whom he could cross-examine under oath to prove the truth of every word. He did not think he ever wrote to the Daily Chronicle; but he believed he wrote to The Times. The words he had used that night he wrote in that letter some months ago. Every word of that statement he was prepared to swear to on oath. It could be proved. If it could be proved before the Committee that he had told an untruth in the matter he would at once resign his seat.
§ SIR RANDAL CREMER
said he could only by the indulgence of the House ask permission to postpone the question until the chairman of the Kitchen Committee was present. The chairman of the Kitchen Committee would testify to the accuracy of the statement he had made, and repudiate the charge which had been brought against him.
§ *THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir SAMUEL EVANS, Glamorganshire, Mid.)
Since the debate began, and until the small and unimportant incident which has just occurred, there was ample good-humour throughout almost the whole of the discussion. We have had most interesting speeches on two questions rather diverse. The first question was with regard to the secrecy of the accumulation and administration of Party political funds and the other interesting topic ingeniously grafted upon that, of the administration, particularly at election times, of certain funds of certain leagues. Upon this occasion I am not going to say anything about the Tariff Reform League or any other particular league or association which may be comprised in the 930 Amendment, I do not desire to introduce anything which may cause bitterness on either side of the House. The foundation of the speech of my hon. friend who moved, was that, in his opinion, Party political funds were an absolute necessity in this country. He boldly said, and everybody admired him for it, that he himself had benefited from these funds. If in that way we have men returned to the House of the calibre and character of my hon. friend, I think he is right in what he said, that political funds, if not a necessity, have a useful and healthy function in this country. One thing must have delighted everybody, and that is that it has never been suggested from beginning to end that the receipt of any portion of these funds has influenced the vote of a single Member in the slightest degree. I do not know whether it is necessary to state my own view with regard to the secret administration of the funds. I am not speaking as a member of the Government or on behalf of the Government; this is not a Motion directed against the Government; the qualification which I possess for speaking with reference to these funds is that I know nothing at all about them. I think I did apply when I was a green youth eighteen years ago before I came to the House, to the Party to see whether or not they might give some assistance to a poor but, as I thought, a humble deserving object. I had already been chosen unanimously by the constituency which has returned me ever since, to be their candidate, and the answer I got from those to whom I addressed my communication was that as the constituency had taken the choice of their own candidate into their own hands the Party funds had no play in the matter at all. I have never contributed and have never received, and that is my only qualification for speaking on this occasion. But, seriously, I think there is a difficulty in this House of Commons passing a Resolution that no domestic arrangements ought to be made by any Parties in the House or in the country with reference to such matters unless they are published in the light of day to the whole world. There will, I am certain, be great danger and great peril arising from passing a Resolution of that kind. With regard to the Amendment, I am entirely in accord with my hon. and 931 learned friend with regard to the advisability of having in this country as far as possible perfect purity in electoral contests. There is purity in this House and no one will say that there has been a suggestion of any want of political purity on the part of the humblest Member of this House. I might almost go further and say the poorer the man is the less does anybody suspect his purity; but it has struck a great many in this House that electoral contests are open to the possibility of becoming influenced more and more by the wealth of great persons and associations. There is a tendency to revert to the huge expenditure upon elections which took place before the Corrupt Practices Act. It may be that an Amendment in the law in this direction is required and if the House passed a Resolution in the terms of the Amendment we shall have to do our best, if we cannot punish that state of things under the Corrupt Practices Act, to ensure electoral purity by strengthening the law in that respect. But we have much in our hands already to do, and if I, speaking as a Member of the House of Commons, may be allowed humbly to offer a piece of advice, it would be that the Amendment should be withdrawn if the mover withdraws his Motion. If not, I will declare what I am going to do and what I think many right hon. and hon. friends on this side will do; if my hon. friend who moved the Resolution persists in going to a division, then we cannot vote for that without the Amendment being tacked on to it. Therefore, if he will not withdraw the Motion, I hope the hon. Member will not withdraw his Amendment either.
§ MR. MARKHAM
said it was a very extraordinary defence when the Solicitor-General told them this was not a Government question. There was no charge whatever made in that House, at all events he did not identify himself with the charge, directly or indirectly, against the personal honour of any Member of either Front Bench. It was purely against the system, and he deeply regretted the tone of levity which had characterised the debate. Outside the House at all events the country felt very deeply on this question. The simple question that the country asked was 932 this. Were they living in an age in which titles were bought and sold for money, and was any party in the State privy to that proceeding? It would be ludicrous for any of them not to be fully aware that such a state of affairs existed. He maintained that it was a grave danger to the State that large funds should be placed in the hands of one man only to administer. When the country was made aware that peerages carrying with them legislative powers were openly sold, and that such honours were being bought for considerations of hard cash they would be inclined to resolve that the hereditary rights of legislators should be curtailed. The whole system was indefensible from beginning to end. It was a grave danger to the State that large funds should be in the hands of one man. An easy remedy was open to the Government—namely, forthwith to throw all election expenses on national funds. Every rich man in the House became a peer, a baronet, or a knight. ["Why are not you one? "] He was too poor for that. [" Oh, oh."] These men got their titles because they gave large sums to the party funds, and it cast a stigma on the large number of worthy men who had done good service to the country to classify all of them with the men who openly bought their honours. He maintained that the Amendment was not an honest Amendment, but was designed to shelve the question and to baulk discussion. Why should the hon. Member single out one league and not mention the other societies? Why should he not mention the Free Trade League as, well? He hoped that the hon. Member's constituents would bear this action in mind ["Oh, oh !"] and if they did not he would make it his business to go among them and tell them.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG (Down, E.)
said the last speaker had opened his eyes to a large extent to the bitterness of feeling that seemed to exist on the benches opposite when one differed from another on a matter of this sort. He wished to direct attention to a subject which had been neglected by hon. Members, who had taken part in the discussion. The Amendment referred to "the secret 933 funds of the Tariff Reform League" and the original Motion referred to the privileges and character of the House as being imperilled by the secrecy with which political funds were administered. Hon. Members, no matter what constituencies they represented, knew nothing whatever of what was going on in secrecy. If there was secrecy, he held that the House had nothing to do with it. How could the House interest itself for a moment in the contests which took place in the various constituencies. He wished to dissociate himself from party in this matter. He believed that Ireland was freer from secrecy in connection with its political organisations than perhaps any other part of the United Kingdom. They had branches of the United Irish League in the south, and Orange societies in the north, but in regard to finance they were not at all strong. This Amendment referred just as much to the funds of the United Irish League and the Orange societies as to the funds of the Tariff Reform League. He had the honour to belong to the Orange body and the Tariff Reform League, and he was proud of it. The Amendment was absolutely futile if it was meant to prevent organisations being formed for the purpose of securing a representative of a particular interest in a particular constituency. In his own particular case he fought his election on tariff reform lines. [A NATIONALIST MEMBER: And against Home Rule.] What were the facts? There was not a Member representing an Ulster constituency who, he could safely say, had been offered directly or indirectly assistance by the Tariff Reform League, Free Food Union, Irish Land League, or any other association, to return them to the House of Commons. He thought the speeches which had fallen from hon. Members opposite had been greatly exaggerated. He did not believe that hon. Members were influenced in the slightest degree by the Tariff Reform League in their action in this House or their allegiance to their 934 party. He admitted that some hon. Members might be more interested in the Amendment than in the original Motion, because they thought that behind what appeared on the Paper a very direct attack would be made on the Tariff Reform League, but he believed that it would have no effect whatever on that magnificent organisation which was doing so much for the country. The seconder of the Amendment had tabulated a large number of organisations which he said had interfered in the Mid-Devon election. No Member who had gone through a serious contest such as that could have failed to discover that small knots of interested people formed themselves into what they called a society and did their utmost to return a candidate of their choice. Was it to be assumed for one moment that if cither the Resolution or the Amendment were passed by the House, those who were interested in votes for women would cease to form themselves into what they considered a fair organisation, with the necessary means at their back, to enforce their views on the candidates in any constituency? Was it to be suggested for a moment that those who were earnestly in favour of temperance reform would cease to form themselves into organisations to urge their views upon the two or perhaps it might be three candidates in an electoral contest? Or was it to be expected that a particular class, say railway employees, which combined against another class of employees such as engineers, would be prevented by any such Resolution or Amendment as was before the House from forming themselves into a society to forward their opinions and lay them before Parliamentary candidates? No candidate could, in his opinion, be harmed by any associations of the kind which could be formed. If he was in order he would ask permission to move to amend the Amendment.
§ MR. BELLOC
rose in his place and claimed to move, "That the Question 935 be now put"; but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ CAPTAIN J. CRAIG,
continuing his speech, moved to amend the Amendment by the insertion, after the word "funds," of the words "at the disposal of the Liberal Party or."
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY, (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
in seconding the Amendment, said he would only make a few observations, as he hoped the House would come to a decision on this matter, and would not allow the question to be talked out. Everybody knew perfectly well that at elections much of the propaganda used, and a good deal of the funds which were spent, did not come from the electors,
§ but from the funds of various parties. He ventured to say that no party was innocent in that connection, and it was time that they seriously took the subject into their consideration and dealt with the matter radically, so that they might prevent the transfer of seats being effected by money raised in this manner He begged to second.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
In line 2, after the word "funds," to insert the words "at the disposal of the Liberal Party or."—(Captain J. Craig.)
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 53: Noes, 153. (Division List No. 15.)937
|Aclad-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Avers-||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Balcarres, Lord||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Nield, Herbert|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||O'Grady, J.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fell, Arthur||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Forster, Henry William||Richards, T. F. (Wolperh'mpt'n|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Guinness, Walter Edward||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hamilton, Marquess of||Seddon, J.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton|
|Cave, George||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Helmsley, Viscount||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Keswick, William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain Craig and Sir Frederick Banbury.|
|Curran, Peter Francis||McArthur, Charles|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Bennett, E. N.||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.|
|Agnew, George William||Bottomley, Horatio||Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boulton, A. C. F.||Cotton, Sir H. J. S.|
|Alden, Percy||Brace, William||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christehurch)||Bramsdon, T. A.||Cremer, Sir William Randal|
|Astbury, John Meir||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Brunner, Rt. Hn. Sir J. T. (Ches.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Byles, William Pollard||Duckworth, James|
|Barker, John||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)|
|Barnard, E. B.||Chance, Frederick William||Elibank, Waster of|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Bell, Richard||Clough, William||Evans, Sir Samuel T.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lough, Thomas||Seely, Colonel|
|Ferens, T. R.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Shackleton, David James|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lynch, H. B.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Maclean, Donald||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Macnamara, Dr. Th mas J.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Glendinning, R. G.||M'Crae, George||Snowden, P.|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Gulland, John W.||M'Micking, Major G.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs. N. W.)|
|Hall, Frederick||Maddison, Frederick||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Marnham, F. J.||Summerbell, T.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Micklem, Nathaniel||Verney, F. W.|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Vivian, Henry|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Wadsworth, J.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Murray, James||Walsh, Stephen|
|Hodge, John||Nicholls, George||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent|
|Holf, Richard Dinning||Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncast'r||Wardle, George J.|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Horniman, Emslie John||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Hudson, Walter||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Idris, T. H. W.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Pirie, Duncan V.||Whiteley, Rt. Hn. G. (York. W. R|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pollard, Dr.||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshre||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Kelley, George D.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Richards, Thomas (W. Monmth||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Lamont, Norman||Ridsdale, E. A.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Robinson, S.|
|Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Robson, Sir William Snowden||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Belloc and Mr. Edmund Lamb.|
|Lehmann, R. C||Rogers, F. L. Newman|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Rose, Charles Day|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Rowlands, J.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."938
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 134: Noes, 60. (Division List No. 16.)939
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Clynes, J. R.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Agnew, George William||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Helme, Norvol Watson|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Hemmerde, Edward George|
|Alden, Percy||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Cremer, Sir William Randal||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Curran, Peter Francis||Higham, John Sharp|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Dalziel, James Henry||Holt, Hichard Durning|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Horniman, Emslie John|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N||Idris, T. H. W.|
|Barker, John||Duckworth, James||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Johnson, John (Gateshead)|
|Beaumont, Hon. Hubert||Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire|
|Bell, Richard||Elibank, Master of||Kekewich, Sir George|
|Bennett, E. N.||Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Kelley, George D.|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Everett, R. Lacey||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)|
|Brace, William||Fenwick, Charles||Laidlaw, Robert|
|Bramsdon, T. A.||Ferens, T. R.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Findlay, Alexander||Lamont, Norman|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fuller, John Michael F.||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Byles, William Pollard||Fullerton, Hugh||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Glendinning, R. G.||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich|
|Chance, Frederick William||Griffith, Ellis J.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gulland, John W.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Clough, William||Hall, Frederick||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Lough, Thomas||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk. Eye||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Snowden, P.|
|Lynch, H. B.||Pirie, Duncan V.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Maclean, Donald||Pollard, Dr.||Strauss, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Price, C. E. (Edinb'gh, Central||Verney, F. W.|
|M'Crae, George||Real, Russell (Gloucester)||Vivian, Henry|
|M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro'||Wadsworth, J.|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Rees, J. D.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|M'Micking, Major G.||Richards, Thomas (W. Monm'th||Wason, Rt. Hn. E. (Clackmannan|
|Maddison, Frederick||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n||Watt, Henry A.|
|Marnham, F. J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Whiteley, Rt Hn. G. (York W. R.|
|Micklem, Nathaniel||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Rogers, F. E. Newman||Wiles, Thomas|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Rose, Charles Day||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Murray, James||Rowlands, J.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Nicholls, George||Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Nicholson, Chas, N. (Doncast'r||Seddon, J.|
|Norton, Cant. Cecil William||Seely, Colonel||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Buckmaster and Mr. Soares.|
|O'Grady, J.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Acland-Hood. Rt. Hn. Sir Alex.||Forster, Henry William||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)||Shackleton, David James|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Glover, Thomas||Summerbell, T.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Guinness, Walter Edward||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry. N.||Hamilton, Marquess of||Taylor, John W (Durham)|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hodge, John||Valentia, Viscount|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Houston, Robert Paterson||Walsh, Stephen|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hudson, Walter||Wardle, George J.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Jowett, F. W.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Cave, George||Keswick, William||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Coates, E. Feetham (Lewisham)||M'Arthur, Charles||Wortley, Rt. Hon C. B Stuart-|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||Nield, Herbert|
|Craig, Captain James (Down. E.||Nussey, Thomas Willans||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Viscount Morpeth and Mr. Claude Hay.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Fell, Arthur||Robinson, S.|
§ Main Question, as amended, proposed.
§ And, it being after Eleven of the Clock, and objection being taken to further proceeding, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to interrupt the Business.
§ Whereupon Colonel SEELY rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. 940 SPEAKER withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question, and the Debate stood adjourned.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. GEORGE WHITELEY, Yorkshire, W.R., Pudsey)
gave notice of a Motion to suspend the Eleven o'clock Rule To-morrow (Thursday),
§ Adjourned at seventeen minutes-after Eleven o'clock.