§ Order for second reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
I desire to bring to the notice of the House some glaring examples of the unfortunate habit into which the War Office are falling of ordering and obtaining manufactured goods from foreign firms, to the obvious detriment of firms in this country. According to the latest Return I have seen—for the period ending 31st March, 1908—the War Office are responsible for spending no less than a quarter of a million sterling upon manufactured goods from foreign countries. That, I think, is a deplorable habit for any Government Department to fall into. No doubt the Secretary of State will endeavour to defend the action of his Department by saying that the goods purchased abroad cannot be made economically in this country. The fact, however, that while the right hon. Gentleman was spending £250,000 of the taxpayers' money in subsidising foreign labour, the Government of which he is a Member compelled' the taxpayers to find £300,000 to provide artificial labour for British workmen who have been thrown on the streets, will be a sufficient answer to any defence the 1856 I right hon. Gentleman may bring forward on economic grounds. But it so happens that in the case of the particular contract to which I wish to refer, the right hon. Gentleman is debarred from advancing any argument of that kind. The contract in question was for large quantities of a very simple class of gymnastic apparatus, commonly called wall-bars and beams, for the military depots of the country. In spite of the fact that the cost of the apparatus when ordered from abroad is somewhat greater than the cost of the apparatus when made in this country, the right hon. Gentleman sanctioned the giving of the contract to a foreign firm. In reply to a question which I put to him on 8th March last, he stated:—An order for Swedish gymnastic apparatus was recently placed with a Swedish firm, as the apparatus submitted by them was considered more suitable for the requirements of the service than the apparatus submitted by others.I think the right hon. Gentleman must have been misinformed on the first point, as I believe the contract was given, not to a Swedish firm, but to a Danish firm, of Copenhagen. As to the second part of the answer, would it be believed, in the face of that reply, that the most minute specifications and drawings of the apparatus required were issued by the War Office in their tender form? It is obvious that no question of the apparatus submitted by one firm being more suitable than that submitted by another firm could possibly arise, because by the very terms of the contract itself the apparatus could not vary from the specifications and drawings issued by the War Office themselves. Another remarkable statement of the right hon. Gentleman was that the apparatus isA special Swedish apparatus made only by these people. It is rather, dearer than the apparatus here, too.If the apparatus is made only by the Swedes, it seems on the face of it rather an absurd proceeding to give the contract to a firm of another nationality who, on the showing of the right hon. Gentleman himself, do not make the apparatus; and it would also seem a little unfair that the War Office should put British manufacturers to the trouble and expense of tendering at all. But, as a matter of fact, the right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The apparatus, which is of a most simple character, is, and has been for many years past, made by English firms to the complete satisfaction of Swedish experts. To show that I am not making wild state- 1857 ments on my own authority I will quote one or two experts on the matter. The following extract is from a letter from a firm in the North of England:—May we be allowed as manufacturers of gymnastic apparatus for the last quarter of a century, and of Swedish apparatus for the last IS years to emphatically protest against the statements made by Mr. Haldane with regard to the above (Swedish apparatus for military depots) in the House of Commons on the 8th March. The apparatus more particularly mentioned—the wall-bars (or rib-stools)—are one of the simplest pieces of apparatus to make, and we have no hesitation in saying that they can be produced as efficiently and as cheaply in England as abroad. We have fitted Swedish training colleges, schools for education committees and public and private gymnasia on the Swedish system, all over England and in Scotland. … That we may not be suspected of any personal feeling in the matter, may we say that we were not interested in the present contract in any way, but solely with our reputation as English manufacturers.I would like to give one further example of the extraordinary simplicity of this apparatus, to obtain which for our military depots the right hon. Gentleman thought it necessary to go abroad. The following extract is from a letter which I have received from a firm of manufacturers in London:—This apparatus is the simplest of all gymnastic gear to manufacture, purely joiners' work, and has been and is made not only by every maker of gymnastic apparatus in the United Kingdom, but frequently by local carpenters. May we give one instance of many—we can furnish others if required—the Marischal College Gymnasium, Aberdeen, to which we supplied all the gymnastic fittings that called for expert workmanship, but the items of wall-bars and beams were deleted from our specification on the advice of the builders' foreman of works, who, having previously viewed our outfit—in which wall-bars and beams were provided—at the Dundee Academy, was of the opinion that they could be made by the carpenters on the works. This was sanctioned by the college authorities, and the locally made wall-bars and beams are quite as satisfactory as what we, or any other gymnastic manufacturer, could have supplied.I would just like to give one more instance, perhaps an even more remarkable one than either of those I have given, to show the simplicity of the apparatus required. A British manufacturer volunteered to set up at his own expense a sample of the particular gymnasium apparatus required at Aldershot by the War Office. He did so. Having done so, he invited the Chief Inspector of Gymnasia at Aldershot to invite instructors of gymnastics, selected by himself, to put this apparatus to a severe test. The Chief Inspector of Gymnasia declined, but a little later he wrote as follows:—The double beam and the two pairs of wall-bars fixed by you in this gymnasium appear to be satisfactory up to the present date.In the opinion of the Chief Inspector the apparatus up till then appeared to be satisfactory. This piece of apparatus was Blade by two young English carpenters, 1858 one aged 15 and the other 17, who had only been in the employ of the manufacturer for about four months. Under these circumstances the right hon. Gentle man, in going abroad for this apparatus, was inflicting a great hardship and in justice upon the carpenters of this country—an injustice all the more evident when we recall the fact that at that very time when this contract was being given to foreign labour trade unions of this country, with a membership of 35,000 employed in the furnishing and wood-working trades reported no less than 10.3 per cent, of unemployed members. But it was not only carpenters and the workmen that suffered from this action of the War Office. The manufacturers have suffered very considerably in their reputation from the statement which was made by the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Mr. HALDANE
I never made any such statement. Please quote my words, not what the manufacturers say that I said.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
I will quote the right hon. Gentleman's own words: "It is a special Swedish apparatus, made only by these people"—the Swedes. Obviously, if only made by the Swedes, it cannot be made by the British manufacturer.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
The right hon. Gentleman said it was a special Swedish apparatus made only by the Swedes. Are we to understand that it is, or is not, made by British manufacturers? Obviously, the only inference to be drawn is that it is not made by British manufacturers. The inference is perfectly obvious.
The EARL of RONALDSHAY
The right hon. Gentleman says they do not make it. I shall prove that the right hon. Gentleman is not correct in his assumption. As a matter of fact, British manufacturers do make it. If they do not make this particular kind of apparatus, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain how it is that the leading Swedish experts in 1859 this country invariably use British apparatus? How was it that the leading Swedish exponent in this country of this particular form of physical training, Mr. P. Mauritzi, who, in company with Dr. Broman, introduced this very system into the Navy not very long ago, in introducing it employed exclusively British-made apparatus? I have heard no complaint that the British naval authorities considered that the British-made apparatus was not satisfactory. I put a question to the First Lord of the Admiralty upon this very point. He assured me that no complaint had ever been received from the naval authorities or experts, and that, to the best of his knowledge, the apparatus made by the British firms was entirely satisfactory. Are we to understand that in the Navy the men are receiving inferior training, and are being supplied with an inferior class of apparatus! I do not for one moment believe that to be the case. Let me here quote the words of an expert in this particular kind of physical training, Mr. A. Alexander, the late President of the National Society of Physical Education, who, I believe, is a recognised authority upon these matters. In a letter to me he says:—I should like to point out that so far as my experience goes, the Swedish apparatus made in England is much preferred by experts to that made in Sweden.He goes on to say, towards the conclusion of his letter, that His Majesty's Inspector of Physical Trainingwhile visiting this (Southport) college the other day, seemed to greatly admire the apparatus in use and inquired the name of the firm who supplied them. I gave him the address of the British firm.Let me give the House more striking proof of the obvious fact that British manufacturers not only do make this apparatus, but make it in the most efficient manner. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that at the International Hygiene Congress, 1907, it was a British firm that was awarded the silver medal for this particular kind of apparatus. British firms competed against Swedish, Danish, and other firms, and were given the highest award for this particular kind of gymnastic apparatus. Let me read an extract from an article in the "Local Government Officer and Contractor," in which was described the exhibition of gymnastic apparatus at that Congress. In speaking of the necessity of physical training in our schools, colleges, Army, and Navy, and so on, the article said:—But whatever has been the shortcomings in practice, the conviction is now rapidly gaining ground that physical training must in future take its rightful place 1860 in the educational scheme, and the gymnasium, where-ever possible, form a part of the school buildings. Some such considerations were, no doubt, present to the minds of many who were irresistibly drawn to the exhibit of Messrs. Spencer, Heath, and George, Limited, the well-known gymnasium outfitters of Goswell Road, E.C., but no doubt the interest shown was chiefly due to the remarkably attractive character of the exhibit itself. Among other things there was"—I call the House to pay particular attention to this point:—a set of Swedish apparatus (Ling's system of educational gymnastics). As we announced last week, the firm received the silver medal, the highest award for this class of exhibit.Surely that disposes of the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman to the effect that this class of apparatus is not made in this country. Perhaps I have said enough to show, in the first place, that the apparatus required by the War Office is, as a matter of fact, apparatus of the most simple description, which is quite capable of being made, and even is made, to the complete satisfaction of experts by ordinary carpenters in this country; secondly, that, whether the apparatus required be simple or complex in its design, British manufacturers are quite capable of making it. I have quoted the right hon. Gentleman himself to show that the apparatus, as made abroad, is more expensive than the apparatus made in this country. The only line of defence, so far as I can see that the right hon. Gentleman can bring forward now in support of the action of his Department, is that the apparatus, as made by the foreigner, is better in finish and more durable in character than that made in this country. I know the right hon. Gentleman thinks that is so, because in answer to another question which I put to him on the subject as to whether the foreign apparatus was more durable and better finished, he said, "Yes, and it lasts longer." I think it is quite easy to prove that that is not by any means the case. I quote the case of the special piece of foreign apparatus made and set up at Aldershot. I am informed that very shortly after the installation of that particular piece of apparatus the uprights on which it was supported collapsed. I am quite aware that the right hon. Gentleman denies that, but I would never venture to make that statement unless there were good grounds for doing so. My authority are two eye-witnesses, who declare they had seen this piece of apparatus in a state of collapse, and are prepared to make an affidavit before the Commissioner of Oaths as to the veracity of that statement. Either the right hon. Gentleman has been misinformed, or else 1861 those eye-witnesses have been under a grievous delusion as to what they saw.
I do not rest my case against foreign manufacturers only upon that. I think I can prove that this apparatus as made by foreign manufacturers is inferior in quality and in finish, and that it does not come up to specification. It was provided that the wood employed for this apparatus should be the best Swedish kind. Well, it so happened there is no wood known by that name upon the English market, and consequently further inquiries were made from the War Office, and then the War Office amplified their description, which then read as follows:—First-class Swedish yellow deal, free from sap, knots, and defects.To my certain knowledge one English manufacturer pointed out to the War Office that this particular kind of wood was inferior, and that it was quite impossible to obtain it without knots. The only answer he received was that if he could not obtain it without knots he had better not obtain it at all. I quote that to show that so far as British manufacturers were concerned the War Office attached great importance to the nature of the wood, but so far as the foreign manufacturers were concerned these restrictions were not adhered to, and if the right hon. Gentleman will go to the Albany-street Barracks he can see for himself proof of what I have stated. I desire to give the opinion of experts as to the character of the apparatus already completed in that barrack. The firm whoso opinion I quote are Messrs. Wade, who are arbitrators by appointment to the London Chamber of Commerce, and they say in a letter that they have seen the apparatus in question at Albany Barracks, Albany-street, and have examined the wood:—The uprights consist of 11 pieces of wood 9 ft. long, 5⅝ in wide, and 1⅜ in full in thickness. Of the 11 pieces only one piece answers to the specification conditions: the other 10 pieces are all more or less of inferior quality, cut from small wood, not out of deal sizes as demanded in the specification, and is wood of immature growth: each piece shows a number of both splayed and dead knots, the pith is showing in the centre of many of the pieces, and being light in die indicates that the pieces have been cut from small wood; the principal part of each piece is sap wood, and they are not straight-grained.I will only quote one more extract from the report:—The term 'to be selected from first-class Swedish yellow deal' is intended to convey that the material is to be sawn from wood of mature growth. None of the wood I saw answered to this qualification. What I did see was wood such as is used for ground-floor joists, partitions and ceiling joists of suburban houses built on speculation and where the quality is of little import.1862 I think I have said enough in the course of my remarks to show that the right hon. Gentleman unintentionally did do the manufacturers in this country a certain amount of harm by the statements he made in answer to the series of questions put by me on this point. I think I have shown that the foreign apparatus, instead of being superior, is, as a matter of fact, inferior to the English apparatus, and that it does not in many cases come up to the specification laid down by the War Office. I hope when the right hon. Gentleman comes to reply to the charges which I have brought against his Department, namely of giving contracts for manufactured goods to foreign firms, that he will say something to mitigate and to counteract the damage which is done to British manufacturers in his answers to the questions I have put to him earlier in the week.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
I will not venture to deal with the arguments urged by my Noble Friend in a case which is of very considerable importance, and upon which I am certain other Members upon this side of the House and upon the other side will speak later on. We shall all wait with very great interest the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to that particular case. I rise for a different purpose. We have all during the past week been greatly impressed by the announcement which was foreshadowed by the Minister of War some months ago, that a Territorial Reserve was to be formed to, as it were, complete the circle of the defence in this country. I was one of those who, when the right hon. Gentleman first introduced his Territorial scheme, spoke of it, I am bound to say, not with the entire approval of all the Members on this side or on the other side of the House, as a great and an epoch-making scheme. I thought it was the only scheme, while we maintained our voluntary system, which could work up the military organisation of this country effectively to accomplish all the necessities of defence. I will say this, and I do not say it with any sense of flattery at all, that the right hon. Gentleman has always in this House treated his opponents with very great consideration; he has continually given us information when we asked it without surrounding himself by an Olympian distance of secrecy, to which we have been somewhat accustomed from other right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon the Government Benches. He descends from his Olympian position from the gods to the little fishes, and more than that, he 1863 has done his own work. He has not resorted to sensational methods, and at the same time he has been his own commercial traveller. He has worn himself to a thread in working out this great organisation, which I believe to be very great. It was not great until the moment when he decided to fill up the gaps with the Territorial Reserve.
The organisation is great, and very great, in its design, and may accomplish the needs, with all the necessities, which for a generation have been desired. At the same time, there are one or two questions I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman. The good points in his organisation are many. In the first place, he is making use of the officers who have served in the Regular Army or in the auxiliary forces, and who are capable officers probably, but who are at any rate officers willing to work. Hitherto, except they went into the Militia, there was practically nothing for them to do. The right hon. Gentleman, I believe, has in his mind the idea of gathering together all the possible forces that might work for, and suit our purpose, and he would bring into his scheme all the elements in the country which could forward his organisation. I have no doubt the use of these officers will work out well. The use of the ex-reservist soldier is another matter. He is going to permit officers who have been in the Reserve, regular or auxiliary, to join the new Territorial Reserve. Will the right hon. Gentleman say why he does not make use of the soldiers—the rank and file—who have served with the colours and passed into the Reserve and who have served their time in the Reserve? The right hon. Gentleman, of course, must be aware there are great numbers of these men who still have not passed the age at which they will be entitled to be employed in the Territorial Forces, and I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he could expand his sources of supply and enlarge his reservoir by including these ex-reservist soldiers as well as the ex-service officers in his scheme. Then I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is quite satisfied with the amount of payment he is going to give to these Territorial Reservists, and also whether these Territorial Reservists are going to be adequately supplied with ammunition and firearms? I went through his scheme very carefully indeed, and it seems to me that the right 1864 hon. Gentleman was realising that probably next year he would be resisted by the Treasury when it came to supplying him with the necessary funds, and that he rather vaguely suggested that there would be equipment for the Territorial Reservists, but he said nothing in his proposals, financially, concerning that equipment, except that they were to receive one day's practice and 20 rounds of ammunition included. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman himself can be satisfied with that amount of training. No doubt it is perfectly justifiable if he cannot get all he wants at once to follow the course he is pursuing, but we must not attach too much importance to the training of the Territorial Reserve as it stands under the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman. I believe his scheme to be thorough, but to make it efficient will mean much more money than the right hon. Gentleman has at his disposal now. The Secretary for War is associated with hon. Gentlemen who claim to be the friends of economy, and who have promised to reduce the expenditure on the Army and Navy. I believe the right hon. Gentleman is one of the few Members who sit on the Treasury Bench who did not categorically state before the last General Election that they would reduce the expenditure on the Army and Navy. The expenditure on the Army and Navy has not been reduced, and, in providing this reserve, the right hon. Gentleman must also provide a large sum of money which, of course, we cannot discuss to-day, for the Territorial Reserve. This scheme involves great responsibilities in the future, which, I have no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman has thoroughly foreseen, and if he has not given the public more information, it is because he wants to go step by step. I should like to know why the right hon. Gentleman prevents a man from coming into the reserve who has not been in the service subsequent to 1st January, 1905? There are a great number of men who are still young who would be eligible if that particular condition was not imposed. I notice also that men are not allowed to remain in this reserve for more than four years. The right hon. Gentleman has done one wise thing. He has not, as was pointed out by the "Westminster Gazette" last night, made his proposals into regulations, but he has delegated authority, thus living up to the principle he laid down in 1907. He is delegating authority to those who have gained experience by these county asso- 1865 ciations throughout the country. With regard to the application of the county associations' principle to the Militia, I admit frankly that far more has been done and greater success has been attained by the right hon. Gentleman than I and those who interested themselves in the Militia and the Territorial Forces anticipated. I am not quite certain yet that his proposal is going to achieve all that he anticipates. The Secretary for War has also done another wise thing. Under the old establishment you had 73 per cent, strength, but under the present establishment you have 313,000 men, which gives you 84 per cent, strength. That is an achievement, and it is very important. Under the present establishment the balance is well preserved, and it is better than it was under the old auxiliary forces. With respect to the training, probably the right hon. Gentleman will point out that all these men have been trained before. I think any military officer will be "prepared to say that no matter what the training has been in the past, although men with previous training will automatically fall into the routine of drill more easily, the training which is supplied under these proposals is wholly inadequate, and I trust we shall have some assurance that the right hon. Gentleman is going to increase that training which, under the present circumstances, will be almost futile, and will be training merely in name. With regard to the technical reserve we have bad no indication how that organisation will be achieved. In another place Lord Lucas said they were leaving this particular reserve scheme to develop. I think it would satisfy a great number of people if the right hon. Gentleman would go a little further and say how he intends to organise the technical reserve. It is to include veteran Service men, civil and railway engineers, and telegraph personnel. The Secretary of State for War will agree with me when I say that other countries are far ahead of us in this kind of organisation. In Austria-Hungary there is a railway regiment consisting of men with special training in that kind of work. We have only had experience in the Soudan, but we may have to construct military railways in new countries, and it is absolutely essential that there should be besides the Regular fighting force this particular technical reserve, possessing the skill to do not subsidiary work, but work which runs parallel with the combatant work of an army, and also to take part in the combative work as well. That, I think, is one 1866 great thing which has been added to our auxiliary system which we have never had before. The right hon. Gentleman was one of those who, in the last Parliament, insisted with other Army reformers that our voluntary system as it then existed would be utterly useless in time of war because there was no proper equipment for a field force, no artillery, and practically no commissariat, and nothing of that organisation which was necessary to make our auxiliary forces a complete and effective weapon in time of war. We have gone a long way since then, and made some effort to get the Government to recognise the importance of our auxiliary forces. I am aware of the difficulties that were in the way. Many military officers of high distinction did not attach the same importance to this force because they saw it was an ineffective weapon. Nevertheless, those who favoured an auxiliary force believed that if you once instilled the idea of a Home Defence Army into the people of this country the right hon. Gentleman and his Department would get the money required to make it efficient.
Since then there have been other changes in the situation. We were then working in the day when it was believed that there could be no invasion of this country at all. Within the last year we have had a great deal cleared up in that direction, and I remember two speeches by the Secretary of State for War, and speeches by the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, which have cleared the ground on this point. We now believe that there may be a raid on this country with 10,000 men. We now see that it is not only necessary to have a sufficient Home Army to repel 10,000, but we want a sufficient number to repel 100,000 men if necessary, or rather, to have our Territorial Army so large that any foreign country would have to invade us with at least 100,000 men or not attempt an invasion at all. Therefore, there is a vast responsibility attached to the Home Defence Army, and it is with those responsibilities that I am attempting to deal. There is now an understanding in the country that the Territorial Force is a real Home Defence Army rapidly moving in the direction of being an effective implement of war. For this reason I ask the right hon. Gentleman to clear the ground for us a little more to-day to enable us to understand more of what he intends in the first place concerning the training of the Territorial Force, and in the second place 1867 concerning the organisation of the technical reserve, and lastly the Veteran Reserve. The right hon. Gentleman believes that a man of 55 can still do very effective service in connection with the Territorial Force in the Veteran Reserve, and he is allowing these veterans to register themselves. That is a good thing, and it is at least a start, and it is what nobody has done before. The value of uniform has been pointed out again and again, and this is a drawback to the Special Reserve scheme which has never been overcome. Anyone who reads the report of Sir John French in relation to this matter must realise that the Special Reserve force has the one deficiency of not having tradition and personnel. Now he can develop his Veteran Reserve, so that it will have associations, not in the dim past of service, but associations in the present, thus enabling them to take a pride in themselves. If he could do this he would find a wonderful response. I trust the right hon. Gentleman will get all the money he wants for this scheme, because at the most it is not much. The Roumanian Army cost £1,800,000, and I think there were either 300 or 500 thousand men. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to sufficient money, if we accept his scheme at all, to do the thing as it ought to be done; and I only hope next year he will get all the money he requires.
I intended to say something about Sir John French's Reports on the Territorial Force, but I do not want to stand in the way of others who have important questions to bring up. Sir John French remarks upon the insufficient equipment, the inadequacy of rifle ranges and medical units, upon men to train who had not horses, upon horses without training in their particular work, and, lastly, about adjutants who cannot do their work. He says:—I have been forced to the conclusion that a considerable proportion of the adjutants of the Territorial Force are either unfit for their work or do not take their duties sufficiently seriously. At present the position offers few advantages, and their are certain disadvantages which deter many keen officers from considering the possibility of accepting the position.The whole of Sir John French's Report upon the Territorial Army, as it stands, speaks well for the organisation, but not for the physical fitness of the men on the whole, or for those other things to which I have referred. He speaks well of the Special Artillery Reserve, but he said the men in the infantry were not up to the standard of the artillery, and the general 1868 impression created by his Report was that Sir John French, in trying to be fair and just, still left it for the reader to conclude that equipment was unsatisfacotry, that training was still unsatisfactory through unsatisfactory adjutants, and that the physical standard was not reached. We hope it will be reached. The right hon. Gentleman has had much to contend with. He has had his Special Reserve in competition with his Territorial Reserve, and he has only had the old lot to draw from. We really wish to help him, and we really desire to see this scheme a great success; we are as enthusiastic supporters of his scheme as any hon. Member on his own side of the House, and we sincerely hope he will continue his labour of organisation and equipment, and will give us to understand that by hook or by crook he will get the money necessary to complete that organisation, which is the only thing which stands between us and conscription.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
I desire to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for War and of the House to a matter that may appear to be of comparatively small importance, but, although it is a small matter in itself, it is one which might possibly under the circumstances have a very far-reaching effect. It relates in some degree to the condition of the soldier after he has left the service. I have observed with satisfaction from time to time that efforts are made by military officers and by organisations to provide for the welfare of the retired soldier. These efforts have been from time to time successful. They have been backed up by the War Office, and they have had the official approval of various Secretaries of State for War. It happens, however, that there are still cases of hardship with regard to men who have retired from the service under circumstances that disable them from pursuing a successful business career. I have to bring before the House one single case of peculiar hardship in this respect. It is the case of a man named Patrick Fitzpatrick, who in the year 1900 joined the Royal Garrison Artillery for the purpose of the war then going on between this country and the South African Republic. His battery was not sent to South Africa. It was sent to India. At the time he joined he was examined by the surgeon-colonel at Naas, in the county of Kildare, and he was declared to be a sound man and was taken into the service. A year after that, when his training had been completed, and before he was sent on foreign service, he was 1869 re-examined medically at Devonport by the principal medical officer of the district, and he was again declared to be sound and fit for foreign service. He went to India and served there for six years. In 1902, at the camp of exercise at Delhi, he caught a cold which developed in the course of time into consumption, and on 12th February, 1907, he was invalided and discharged at the age of 25. Since that time ho has been a consumptive inmate of the Naas workhouse. At the time he was discharged he received a pension of 8d. per day, but that pension expired in October, 1908. He cannot work, as I shall prove by documentary evidence. Dr. Waring, the captain-surgeon of the hospital at Naas, says:—I have seen pensioner Patrick Fitzpatrick, and certify he is suffering from tubercle of the lung in an advanced stage, and do not think he is capable of contributing anything towards earning a livelihood in any capacity whateverThis is borne out by another doctor, Dr. William Murphy, who, writing from Naas Hospital, says:—This is to certify that Patrick Fitzpatrick is suffering from phthisis, and is quite unable to work in order to support himself.Under these circumstances this retired soldier thought he would be justified in applying for a continuance of his pension, and he did so. He was told the circumstances of his case did not entitle him to the award of any further pension. He then took the only step which could occur to a poor Irishman, and wrote to the Member of Parliament representing the district where he happened to be suffering at the time. He accordingly wrote to me, and I addressed a letter to the War Office. I got a reply dated 30th December, 1908, which says:In the opinion of the Board of Medical Officers, by whom the man was invalided, his disability, tubercle of lung, was not the result, either of military service or of climate. The Director-General of the Army Medical Service, who has now been consulted on the case, concurs in this report.What a lot he knew about it.Under these circumstances and having regard to Patrick Fitzpatrick's short service, 7 years and 12 days, the regulations will not admit of the award of any pension beyond the 8d. per day for 21 months which he has already received, and it is regretted therefore that your application on his behalf cannot be acceded to.I should like to ask if I am to understand that if this soldier had had longer service be would have got a pension, or whether it is withheld because the disease is to be attributed to another cause, and not because he only served seven years. It follows from the reply that the disease was not contracted, according to them, on service or in the camp of exercise at Delhi, 1870 but that it must have proceeded from some other cause. What other cause can it have proceeded from? Is it suggested that he is suffering from a hereditary disease. Is it suggested that he comes from a delicate family? If that be so, I can tell the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War that this man comes from a healthy family. He has a brother at the present time serving in the Army, and he has a brother who has served his full time in the Army, and is now working in Scotland, and they are both healthy. I have had an investigation made into the records of all the hospitals surrounding the place where these men were brought up, and there is no record of any member of his family ever having suffered from the disease he is now suffering from. How, therefore, can the medical officers of the Board of Health, who never saw the man, very probably, justify the statements that they have made in their letter to me? The man when he joined the service, and again when he was sent into foreign service, was declared to be sound. He comes from a healthy family; he caught a cold, that is admitted, while he was in this camp of exercise, and from that day to this he has not had a day of sound health. What, under these circumstances, was the man to do I His application has been refused. My application on his behalf has also been refused. He has asked that his pension should be continued. I think it might be continued, even if it be not in accord with the regulations, under the head of "Compassionate Allowances." The condition of this man is well known throughout the district. What is that district? It is close to one of the largest camps in the three Kingdoms—the town of Naas is only half a dozen miles1 from the great Curragh camp. This man's condition is known in the Curragh, and when I stated that the condition of retired soldiers was a matter of some importance I had in my mind the effect that this man's position might have on the soldiers now serving in the Curragh camp. It might also affect the conditions of recruiting for your forces in Ireland. I may be told that there are abundances of applications for service in the Army at the present moment, and that you do not need any more recruits from Ireland or elsewhere. But the day may come when you want recruits. The horizon is not so clear that you can say the time is far distant when you will have to ask for soldiers, from Ireland. It is not long ago that there 1871 was an agitation—a widespread agitation—against recruiting in Ireland, the object being to prevent young men from joining the Army through patriotic motives. That agitation, which I think still exists, has had no backing from men like myself, but if we find there are many cases like this of Fitzpatrick, if we find cases of hardship of this kind to exist in any number, it may arouse us to give some countenance to that agitation against recruiting in a country which has furnished great soldiers in the past and which has also furnished men who have served with distinction in every Department of the State throughout the broad domain of the Empire in all parts of the world. If the case of Fitzpatrick becomes generally known it may have a more widespread effect on that agitation than one would imagine. It may not only keep Irishmen from joining the Army, but it may further prevent those who are not now hostile to your Empire in Ireland from giving their services when they hear of the mean and contemptible treatment to which this unfortunate man has been subjected.
§ Captain W. V. FABER
I would like to join in the vote of thanks tendered to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War by one of my colleagues for the invariable courtesy he shows to us on these benches when we ask questions which, at times, must be annoying and sometimes are, perhaps, out of place. I can assure him his courtesy always meets with a ready response on this side of the House. We thank him for it, and in the few words I am going to address to this House on the subject of the shortage of officers in the Territorial Army I would like to say I raise the question with a wish to help the right hon. Gentleman rather than to injure any scheme which he may have in view. It seems the edifice so well built up by the right hon. Gentleman runs some danger through lack of officers, and I think some means will have to be thought out of getting officers for the Territorial Force. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be like a brave man fighting against misfortune. He is invariably combating something. At one time it is the shortage of men. He succeeds in overcoming that. Then there is a shortage of horses, and I fear he will have some difficulty in dealing with that because of the lack of money; but, still, we hope that the county associations will shortly be put in a position to solve that 1872 problem. The difficulty with regard to the shortage of officers is not to be so easily overcome, and when one remembers that with a wave of the magician's wand universal service might be brought about, and the right hon. Gentleman would get rid of the difficulty of the shortage of officers and men, one wonders why he prefers to take these hydra-headed monsters one by one and strike off their heads, instead of solving the whole problem with one movement. In another place Lord Portsmouth got a significant admission from the Under-Secretary for War to the effect that in time of invasion the Territorial Army, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, unless it had six months' training, would not be fit to meet regular troops. That was a remarkable admission, and if it were true in the case of men who require six months' training, how much more true must it have been in regard to the officers who not only need more training, but who, in fact, do not exist. We are in the unfortunate position of having a force without officers, and we have the opinion of that great German expert, Colonel Gädke, to the effect that the Territorial Army in England is not now any more than before in a position to repel an invasion by regular forces. Germany is a great country, whose example we copy in a great many cases, except where, perhaps, we ought to. It is evidently the German idea that, in consequence of the shortage of men and officers, we are not in a position to repel invasion. It may not be difficult to find reasons for this shortage of officers. The first is that the class from which Territorial officers have come in the past has by reason of the weight of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, been rolled out absolutely flat. It does not exist any more. It is, of course, the landed proprietor's class to which I am referring. The second reason is, in my humble opinion, that Territorial officers do not receive sufficient in the shape of pay and allowances for what they have to do. It will no doubt be difficult for any Secretary of State for War to find more money for that, but I hope it may be possible, so as to increase the supply of officers. Another point is that the young men of the present day have not the time they formerly had to devote to service as officers in the Army. There is still a further reason why they will not join the force. I have taken in my own county a certain amount of trouble over the Territorial Army. The other day I was pre- 1873 sent at a local race meeting, and I had a talk with three young men who might have been expected to become officers. I said, "Have you gone into the Territorial Army?" They replied, "No, we belong to the jackal class; we are not going into the Army now; we are not thinking of it." I asked, "What do you mean by the jackal class?" The reply was very prompt: "We have been called jackals; we think it rather hard upon us, and, therefore, we do not propose to become officers." I said, "Do not you think anything about that; the words were only used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. There are worse things than jackals, and if you will only come and see the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, you will find an urbane Gentleman on the Front Bench, full of good temper, nothing of the jackal about him, and he never loses his temper except possibly in the small hours of the morning." I thought I might persuade them. But worse was to follow. I met a large land-owner—a Liberal land-owner—well known to the right hon. Gentleman. I said to him: "Is your relation" (I mentioned his name) "going into the Territorial Army?" "No, there is no need for him to become a Territorial officer now." I said, "Why not?" The reply was, "He is going with the Chancellor of the Exchequer through the flowery, waving fields of corn, with 400,000 paupers, on the path which leads to the gates of Paradise, and there is, therefore, no reason for him to go into the Army." I mention this because I want to point out that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War cannot eat his cake and have it. He must either side with the class from which these officers have always come, or he must go with our great Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer through the flowery meads which lead to destruction. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to get officers for the Territorial Army, he will find it impossible to get them from the class which is being rolled out flat by his colleagues and himself, because they will have neither time nor money to undertake the work, and they will be going down those flowery paths which, pleasant though they may be for the time being, will probably lead to destruction in the end.
Mr. T. F. RICHARDS
I wish to direct attention to a matter of very great importance, to an industry with which I am associated, and also to the welfare of the 1874 taxpayers of this country. I only talk in this House upon matters on which I have an understanding, and as I happen to have some knowledge of the way in which people should be shod, I venture to raise a question of footwear in the British Army. It is generally accepted that the Army moves by two forces, its stomach and its feet, and it is very evident unless a man is properly shod with good boots made of good leather, full of elasticity, which will assist him in walking, he may not be able to reach the enemy with whom he wishes to fight. In the few words I have to address to the House I have no axe to grind; I am only speaking in the interests of economy and efficiency. I am not a contractor; I am not interested in any contracts, and anything I may now say on behalf of contractors is due entirely to the injustice to which they are being subjected at the hands of the War Office Department at Pimlico. I think it is to their credit that we, on these benches, are prepared to step in between them and their employers in order to see that justice is done. I have put many questions in this House. This is my fourth Session here, and I am now driven by this means to direct public attention to the matter in order that public opinion may be concentrated upon the injustice which is being inflicted upon contractors who are endeavouring, to the best of their ability, to serve the British nation. I hope that justice will be the outcome of these remarks. I have endeavoured to find out how it comes about that His Majesty's Government have at this time of day in the year 1909 at last made up their minds that they mean to have a change in the foot wear of Tommy Atkins. I do not know why they should have chosen the machine-made article except that it is for the purpose of cheapness. Probably some people are not aware of the fact that a man who has got to walk long distances must have comfort in his boots. They must have elasticity and a certain quantity of leather to keep him off the stones. I am sure that hon. Members who, unlike myself and my colleagues, indulge in fishing, golfing, or shooting, will endorse what I say, and we shall find that there is no individual in this House who goes fishing, shooting, or golfing in the boots he wears in this House. Why is that? Because the boots we wear nowadays are made largely for riding in and not for walking. Tramways now afford great facilities and give much assistance to the working man, and he does not want such good foundations and solid founda- 1875 tions to his boots as he required in past times. The result is that the hand-sewn boot is being discarded; but I should like His Majesty's Government to give us some reason why they are discarding it in the Army? They are making rapid strides in this direction, and while they are tempting some of the boys in my own native town to become hand sewers, what is the use of it when they are strangling the trade and not encouraging any sewn work, which has been dying out except for the War Department? Wherever Army boots are made in this country the numbers of hand sewers are such that, as far as wages and conditions are concerned, we can enforce them wherever the hand-sewn trade is in operation and we are sufficiently organised to command our price; therefore, from that point of view, I would make an appeal to His Majesty's Government that for the paltry amount of difference that there is between a machine-made boot and a hand-sewn boot they should not discard the hand-sewn boot. What is the Government giving for the machine-made boot? Less than 10s. 6d.—I believe the average price is 10s. 5d.—and for that this article is a shoddy and unsatisfactory one.
I dare His Majesty's War Department to give out boots to two battalions, giving to one the machine-made boot and to the other the hand-sewn boot, and compare them, taking 12 or 18 months' experience, as to the wear of the articles and their durability and comfort to the soldiers. If they take into consideration, at the end of that time, what is the wearing capacity of the boots and the satisfaction to the men, I am quite sure that this mad idea of cheapness will be abandoned absolutely. I daresay the House would like to know what the Government could get the hand-sewn boot for. It would cost 11s. 9d., only 1s. 4d. more, and, under the circumstances, one is not surprised to find in the Press letters such as I have here, which was sent to the "Leather Trades Review" recently in this very year. It is very evident that this letter is written by a manufacturer, and it conveys, to a very large extent, the treatment that these contractors are receiving. With the permission of the House, I should like to read the letter, because it is public information, and I think the British House of Commons ought to possess what the public are already in possession of. He says:—Dear Sir,—Although Army boot contractors, as a whole, have undoubtedly had just cause for serious complaint against their treatment by His Majesty's 1876 Government from time to time, never, I think, has there been quite so much dissatisfaction amongst the majority of them in Raunds as I he unfair allotment of the recent contracts has called forth. As is only too well known, trade in the Army districts has been at a low ebb for some time, but employers have done their best to keep their hands on in anticipation of securing a share of the Government contracts which they certainly had a right to expect.In the first place, only a comparatively small quantity of boots were asked for, and this naturally induced many contractors to think that some regard would be paid to equal distribution, or as far as possible, if the nature of the tenders permitted, to spread the work over the district. Instead of this, it transpires that only three firms in Raunds have any at all, whilst one Kettering firm is reputed to have secured almost half the total amount asked for and few odd thousands going elsewhere. It is obvious that the officials at Pimlico do not favour a live-and-let-live policy. The opinion is held, however, and pretty plainly expressed, that in this surfeiting of the few and starving the many there is something not quite understood.What at first blush looks surprising is the fact that those who have secured the contracts appear no better pleased than the unsuccessful ones, who say they have taken the work at such a low price that they may well look glum about it. According to other opinions, shared by the men, who by the way, have spent the whole of their lives in making Army boots, there is no recognised standard, for some men can get boots passed which are, in point of quality, of material and workmanship, fully 1s. 6d. per pair below those which other contractors get rejected wholesale. Army boot making to-day is not worth the candle if you are outside the 'ring,' they say.Now, according to local reports, the accepted price is 1s. 3d. per pair less than last year's prices. Assuming this to be correct, by what sort of reasoning does the Government or its officials expect to get boots up to the alleged; 'standard'? or, glancing at the other side, how can those whose tenders are accepted expect to get the materials to enable them to produce boots which they may reasonably expect to get passed? One wonders whether a few rich tanners have witnessed the illogical melodrama, "An Englishman's Home." and become so patriotic as to give their stock of Army hides away?I think I had better finish the letter, because it expresses the position, and being a public statement shows that I am not unduly prejudiced. It goes on:—Assuming, as, perhaps, we safely may, that the alleged 'ring' is all moonshine, and, further, that the passing or rejecting of Army boots, which is quite a serious business, is treated as such by tile responsible officials—that it is in fact, an unquestionably fair and unbiassed test of technical skill and the highest standard of practical boot making ability—why need the Government accept such ridiculously low tenders? Why cannot they pay as much for Tommy Atkins' boots as they have hitherto? Is cur National Exchequer in such a deplorably insolvent state that we must get our soldiers' boots at sweating prices, or at such prices that those who secure the contracts must trust to the generosity of the tanner to help him to execute them?It must not be inferred that I suggest the Government should have accepted the highest tenders; this would have been neither sound finance nor common-sense spending of the nation's taxes. I do, however, share the opinion that the Government could afford to pay at least last year's prices, and this would have meant a more humane snaring of the work. The man in the street, who takes the trouble to think at all, knows that, when leather goes up he must pay more for his boots, or get an inferior article; presumably the Pimlico lights imagine they can get the same article by paying an inferior price. In concluding, I would venture to ask if it is by any sort of reasoning fair that men who have made the Army requirements their life study should find, when contracts are given out, that they have not been entrusted with the making of a single pair of boots, and should; have to discharge their 1877 men wholesale. Eighty men were recently discharged from one factory alone, and these men by the way are the pick of the Army boot makers. Need I add, that these men are neither being enrolled in the Territorials, nor singing Rule Britannia.'That puts the case in a nutshell, and I want to point out that His Majesty's Government is responsible for causing those of us who have been in the trade during the whole course of our lives, for very many years, to put our reliance in it, but there are men now walking the streets, who have served His Majesty's Government for 50 years, who have now no employment whatever, while the Government have not yet satisfied experts that they have chosen the best and cheapest article; and I am sure that the examination which is made at Pimlico will not bear the strictest investigation. I have been down there on many occasions, and on the last occasion I took my friend the hon. Member for Enfield, who happened to be like myself—a practical maker of boots. He examined six or eight pairs of "rejects" of boots, which had been cut open, and he inquired what they had been rejected for? He went through the whole of those six or eight pairs, and at the end of the time he turned round to the viewer, and said, "I will tell you what I would not do. I would not contract for His Majesty's Government, if that is the treatment that you deal out to contractors." Because we knew as boot-makers that you cannot expect in boots the same regularity that you do get in fabrics. The materials from which boots are made are not made by machinery. The materials grow, but there is no adaptability or flexibility down at Pimlico. There they choose good leather from bad, according to its thickness, or its thinness, and they have the opinion down there that it must be of a certain substance, in spite of the fact that the very best leathers this world has ever seen are of the thinnest description. Any man who knows anything about leathers knows that. But when a question is asked in this House on the subject no notice is taken of it, and I say this, with all sincerity, that there is no person outside Pimlico who is a practical man in this boot and shoe department, and I ask why, seeing that we spent £199,0000 last year, more consideration is not shown to the taxpayers? I had the honour on one occasion of going with a deputation to the War Office with two manufacturers, who, for the first time in their lives, dared to complain of the treatment they had received. I am told that men in the Army dare not complain if things are not right. I belong to a military family, being the 1878 only one of five who has not been in the Army, and my brothers told me that it would not do to complain in the British Army, and, if you did, you never heard the last of it. That is my experience, gained from men whom I have asked who had been in the Army during the time that I was working at the bench, and I have experienced exactly the same persecution because I persuaded two contractors to go to the War Office last year, because the result has been that those men have had less orders from the War Department. One of them has ceased to tender, and he is wiping his hands of the Department altogether. He will have nothing to do with Army contracts in future. He says he wants to be treated a little more fairly, and if he has a complaint to be made he wants to make it and have it considered in a reasonable fashion.
Then I want to ask, further, why it appears that some men have to send in heels of boots which are built by hand, while others can send in boots built by machinery; and how is it that some men have to send in boots which are closed by hand, while others can send in boots which are closed by machinery? Less than 12 months ago the right hon. Gentleman was receiving machine closed boots, which gave the manufacturer an advantage of 3d. or 4d. a pair, and he was not getting a penny for the advantage which he was giving to the individual contractor. These things are not satisfactory. I have no personal interest in the matter, and finding that a large proportion of the employers in this industry deal with our members in a just and reasonable fashion, I cannot refrain from raising a protest on their behalf. Not only that, but I find the members of my own union complain bitterly that their employer, who sends good boots to Pimlico, gets them rejected. Further, we must bear in mind that according to custom the Pimlico Department can rip up at least two pairs out of every 12 for examination, and even if the boots are quite satisfactory the man has to put them down again free of charge. This is a cost that is put on the top of the contract for which the Government has to pay, and as a consequence surely there ought to be a little more reason and common-sense. The standard pattern of the ankle boot of the British Army is nearly 50 years old. No alteration has ever been made, even in the eyelet. If our soldiers happen to be on the march and are surprised in the dead of the night they cannot lace their boots up 1879 without a candle, because the eyelets are on a level with the surface of the boot. I and others have suggested that celluloid eyelets should be used, as they are in nearly all other boots, so that a man can feel the holes when he is going to put a lace in, but such a suggestion is not listened to. We make another suggestion, that instead of having a strap at the back of the boot, which costs about 2d. per yard, there should be a leather strap for the pulling on of the boot below the top, so that the lace can go through and be fastened without cutting the foot and hurting the man while on the march. But no suggestion of this description will the War Office listen to. They have made up their minds that the boot that Tommy Atkins has is satisfactory, and there it must stop.
So far as the bottom of the boot is concerned, there is no one connected with the House who uses a strong boot who has leather filling put in between the insole and the outsole. Everyone else has a common piece of felt, but in the soldiers' case they fill it up with solid leather. I asked why they put in big lumps of leather which are not used for wear, but only for stiffening, and they said, "it is the Army orders." I said the Army must be mad to make a suggestion of this description. Instead of making the boots flat bottomed they make them bible-backed to make people believe it is solid leather. Those who understand the making of boots know that solidity is not required between the outsole and the insole. When we sew an ordinary hand-sewn boot the needle goes through the insole, and there is a solidity there which cannot be pulled out even by putting the insole under your foot, but with your machine-sewn welted boot there is a small thin leather lip, which is run round the whole of the insole, and then the upper is sewn on to it. Those who do a lot of riding can afford to wear welted boots, but a man who has to walk will never wear them, because they will not last long enough, and have the reputation in my trade of being objected to because they are not generally capable of repair.
I think the Government could protect themselves. I know they are afraid of a ring, but the idea in Northampton is that the ring have the orders, so that instead of escaping the ring the ring has the War Department at present. Under these circumstances I want to know why the Government cannot protect themselves in just as sensible a way as they have pro- 1880 tected themselves against the wholesale clothiers. They have put down a tailoring establishment in Pimlico, and they can put down a boot and shoe establishment, and by that means they could have practical men always at their beck and call. I know the largest buyers in the United Kingdom have to adopt this policy to protect themselves against the contractors, and surely the Government, for the small sum of £5,000 or £10,000, could protect themselves in a similar way, especially if they are going to experiment, as they are doing, in teaching boys the art of hand-sewn work who have never been hand-sewn men before. If the object is to draft the boys into the regiment so that they can become regimental cobblers, how beneficial would they be to the Government if their ability and knowledge were used. I do not blame the Secretary of State for War when one considers that he has for the past four years had his mind concentrated on the Territorial Force and the reorganisation of the British Army. I do not blame one individual for not knowing everything, but I think when we make so many appeals we ought to get a little more attention, and I strongly protest against these men who have come forward and proved their case being persecuted as a consequence. This is not the last which will be heard of boots in this House if the matter is not rectified.
I have asked a few questions in the House about the women button-holers at the Pimlico tailoring establishment. These women for 16 years have had a certain rate of pay for piecework—in other words, the harder you work the more money you get. They have averaged a good wage—23s. a week. The War Department have come to the conclusion that 28s. for a woman is too much. I do not think so. Any woman who does the same number of hours as a man, and does as much work, ought to have as much money, and I am astounded to know that the Government should have, gone out of their way to lower their wages from 28s. to £l 5s. 6d. It is all very well to say women ought not to earn so much. Several of them are widows, and are the breadwinners of their families, and have to keep a shelter over their heads in a place like London. I wonder that some of them are capable of doing it. I know that operatives in factories where machines are introduced cannot always demand the same wages if assistance is going to be given by the firm, which costs the firm something to give, but there is no assistance given to these women, and they have deliberately 1881 and quietly reduced the wages. It is very rough. You cannot expect my vote when Ministers want their salaries raised from £2,000 to £5,000. I am wondering whether this reduction has been brought about for the purpose of finding this £3,000 a year. I am really against reductions, and I have not yet moved a reduction of Ministers" salaries, much as some of them deserve it. But I regret exceedingly that the Government should have lowered these wages, because from each poor person they are getting a miserable £7 10s. per year. When they tell me they are prepared to pay the best wages, and they say they are paying the best wages, I ask them whether they are prepared to pay the same wages as some of my friends in Leicester, who have seats in this House, are paying to-day? It is all very well to say you are going to pay the best wages when you find a woman was getting 2s. or 3s. more than the average, but when men are receiving 5s., 10s., or 15s. more than you are paying in London for capable, competent measure cutters, you are not prepared to rise. Where does your quid pro quo come in under circumstances of that kind. It is regrettable that the Government should have reduced these women's wages, and I shall raise this question whenever I have an opportunity whilst the wages of operatives are being decreased.
§ Mr. PHILIP FOSTER
I wish to appeal to the Secretary of War with reference to two subjects on which I have asked questions. After the eulogy passed on him by the hon. Member (Captain Faber), I shall probably find him in a generous mood. I want to appeal to him on behalf, first of all, of certain sergeant-majors and colour-sergeants in the Special Reserve. I understand that a sergeant-major who has been put in the Special Reserve receives 3d. a day less than the old depot-sergeant-major used to receive, and he, at any rate, whatever the War Office may think, thinks he is doing the same amount of work or possibly more, because he gets the six months' drill of all those who enlist into the Special Reserve. Not only does this man get 3d. a day less pay, but he gets, on completion of his service, 3d. a day less pension—3s. 9d. against 4s. This seems rather hard on these men. The colour-sergeants who are brought into the Special Reserve from their battalions are receiving 6d. a day less than before, and there is the anomaly that, supposing a Juan misconducts himself slightly, and is 1882 sent back to his regiment, he at once automatically gets the 6d. a day again. The amount at stake is very small, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is felt very much indeed by these reserve non-commissioned officers. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to give these men their little extra pay which they feel they ought to have, and which would remove a very great deal of unpleasant feeling towards the War Office.
One other question with regard to the Yeomanry. So far as I understand it, there are at present men serving and getting the old rates of pay, which are a fairly considerable salary. But under certain circumstances they come under the new rate of pay. Of course, if a man joins now, he goes at once on the new rates of pay, but if he is promoted to be a corporal in this year, or promoted from corporal to sergeant, he automatically comes under the new rate of pay, which is a very considerable reduction. I do not think that is much encouragement for a man to do his best to get promotion. I wish to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, until all ranks come under the new rates of pay, which will be next year or the year after next, to let a man when he gets promotion continue under the old rates. It would be a great encouragement to the men, and I think it will do good. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do wish him well as regards the Territorial Army. Not long ago I went through an election which I fought very largely for him as against compulsory service. If he can possibly see his way as regards the Yeomanry camps to get forage and supplies from the district I am sure that would have enormous effect towards getting the recruits which he so much desires. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to be generous at this particular moment, and I am sure his generosity will have the reward it deserves.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
I wish to direct attention to what I think is certainly the most serious thing which presents itself as regards the Army, namely, the shortage of 1,000 officers in the Special Reserve. Anyone who has' had experience of military matters will realise that such a shortage is a serious danger to the country. It is all very well to say that officers of the training corps would fill up this blank. Given time, it may be possible to train them sufficiently to do their duties; but we are not sure of getting time. It does not do to gamble with time. We 1883 have already seen the unwisdom of that, Rosyth is a clear instance where two years were wasted. We are now doing all we can to make up the time which was wantonly and foolishly lost, but we never can make it up. In regard to the young officers' training, that cannot count for much. It is quite insufficient to qualify them as leaders of troops in time of war; they will be blind leaders of the blind, and to put the lives of brave men in charge of insufficiently trained officers, however valiant they may be, is something worse than a blunder—it would be a crime. Nothing could excuse such a mad experiment. Thoroughly trained officers are vitally necessary if troops are to be led in the best way in war. It is only by having efficient officers that you can attain victory. You may improvise infantry very quickly, but you can only do that if you have officers, commissioned and non-commissioned, sufficiently trained. It is no use trying to go into battle with a mob. No victory was ever gained in that way. I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to fill up this most grievous gap of 1,000 officers, because if we had trouble with any foreign Power whatever it would be quite impossible to improvise officers at short notice.
§ Mr. ARTHUR Du CROS
I wish to call attention to the question of the regulations affecting enrolment in the Army Motor Reserve. As the Secretary of State for War is aware, any persons engaged in the motor trade are excluded from service in the Army Motor Reserve. The conditions say that persons applying for enrolment in that body shall possess a car and have practical knowledge how to use it. They also give the commanding officer discretion to refuse the applications of claimants for admission. The commanding officer in this case exercises his discretion by refusing, broadly speaking, anybody engaged in the motor trade. I have letters in my hand bearing on that subject, which I will read. An application was made by a gentleman who was in a very responsible position in the motor trade. He was known to myself as eligible in every respect for service in any branch of His Majesty's Forces. In reply to his application he received a letter from the adjutant, who said:—I regret to inform you that the commanding officer is unable to recommend for commissions in the Army Motor Reserve gentlemen who are engaged in the motor trade.Of course, I understand it is necessary that certain qualifications should be re- 1884 quired in the case of gentlemen applying for commissions in His Majesty's forces, but I have never yet heard that a distinction has been made as against individuals engaged in one particular trade, and that, as in this instance, in regard to gentlemen engaged in the trade which most fits them for this particular service. This gentleman wrote asking—(1) whether, in the eyes of the commanding officer or members of the corps, any particular stigma attaches to the motor industry; (2) whether there exists a War Office Regulation whereby a number of gentlemen who are exceptionally qualified are precluded from giving their services to the nation; and (3) if neither of the foregoing, what then is the special objection to members connected with the motor industry. The answer he received was simply this:—I am directed to inform you that the question of recommending gentlemen for commissions in the Army Motor Reserve is left entirely in the hands of the commanding officer who does as he thinks best.That correspondence took place in 1906. Three years have passed since then, but the position remains the same. An application was made in the early part of this year by a gentleman who was being pressed to accept a commission in another branch of the Service. That gentleman, who is a man of means, and who represents all that is practical in the motor world, preferred, if he was going to serve in the forces, to serve in the Army Motor Reserve. The reply he received was in the following terms:—The conditions certainly are actually the same as they were before, but it is not desired to lose the services of men like yourself. What we cannot quite see our way clear about is how to actually let two or three in without having undeshables down on us.He did not get a definite answer at that time, but he received a letter, dated 22nd April last, containing the following:—I now write to say that I do not see my way clear to make exceptions in the rule hitherto applied as regards the admission of gentlemen connected with the motor trade into the Army Motor Reserve.I think that was a most unfortunate decision, and a very invidious distinction, as against a number of men who are particularly fitted for service in this particular branch of His Majesty's Forces. The effect of this is that, claimants may be admitted from any other trade. It might be possible for undesirables to find admission to the Army Motor Reserve, but, on the other hand, desirable gentlemen who are connected with the motor trade are excluded. I know the Secretary of State for War has always said that the success of the voluntary system to a large or, at 1885 all events, to some extent, depends on the goodwill of employers. I know that to be the case. The right hon. Gentleman has appealed to them on more than one occasion to assist in the Territorial scheme. I have always encouraged the enlistment of men in the Territorial force, and, as a matter of fact, the concern with which I have the honour to be associated has to-day a battalion 1,000 strong. It is up to its full strength. This regulation which excludes certain gentlemen from the Army Motor Reserve has left an unfortunate impression on the mind of employers in the motor industry. It appears to me to be a useless and very undesirable regulation. It is very mischievous, inasmuch as it has antagonised men who are engaged in that trade. I understand that the regulations are at this moment under consideration. I hope that this objectionable distinction which has been applied to one trade will be eliminated. Motorists, as a body, are very anxious and willing to give their services to the State, and it does seem a hardship that they should be excluded from doing so in the particular branch of the Service in which they are most fitted to serve. If I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman's Administration has been distinguished by very broad-minded considerations, and I am sure he does not agree with a distinction of this kind, which, I understand, came into being for a reason which, in my opinion, does not carry any more weight. I believe it was feared that if men connected with the motor industry were admitted into this corps they might endeavour to take the opportunity of advertising particular makes of car. That was in years gone by, and I am sure if any danger of that sort did exist it has long since passed away. Everybody knows a great deal about the names of motor makers now, and I do not think members of that trade who enlisted in this branch of the Service would endeavour to push their business under the circumstances. I think that was an unworthy suggestion, and I have heard no other suggestion to account for the peculiar and unprecedented regulation which excludes men connected with the motor industry from this branch of the Service. If the right hon. Gentleman could see his way to alter the regulations so as to leave the Army Council to find out what gentlemen are eligible for the corps, I think he would be rendering a service which would be greatly appreciated.
§ Mr. ROWLAND HUNT
I want to call the attention of the House to the question of placing contracts abroad. Manufacturers in this country are obliged to comply with the fair wages clause. An hon. Member on the Labour Benches said that the Government gave their contracts abroad for the sake of cheapness, and that the mad idea of cheapness must be abandoned. I quite agree that cheapness in these matters is not everything.
If Free Trade and cheapness means the same thing, then you must have cheap labour. The consequence is that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Haldane) has been obliged to reduce the wages of the women employed by the War Office. I must say I cannot see how it can be right to do as the right hon. Gentleman has been doing in getting contracts from abroad. We have heard of the action of the Navy in getting Norwegian granite, and not only have 700 skilled, honest men been driven to America in that one industry, but the moment the Norwegians succeeded in ruining that particular kind of granite industry up went the prices. Surely it cannot be right to lay down that in this one country men shall not work unless at a certain rate of wages, when work is taken from men in other countries who work for less. I believe it is quite right that men should be paid not less than a certain amount, but when you say that men in this country must not earn their living except, at certain wages, and then have the War Office or the Navy going to countries abroad where the men are allowed to work for lei3 than what they are allowed to work for here and deliberately buying from them the things made by cheap labour, surely there cannot be any sense in such a proceeding. That is what the right hon. Gentleman does, and I cannot see that there is any answer to that. Every industry which is carried on in this country pays rates and taxes, probably amounting to £10 or £15 on every £100, but while you make your contractors in this country pay rate?, and also taxes to the British Government, you buy the products of cheap-foreign labour, which does not pay a penny to you in taxes. These are points with which I hope the right hon. Gentleman will deal. What is to happen if he continues to pursue the principle of giving to foreign workmen a very considerable advantage over the workmen of this country? [An HON. MEMBER: "Or workwomen."] It does not matter whether it is men or women, it is all the same. I do not see how we can back the right hon. 1887 Gentleman or the Admiralty up in buying goods abroad under these conditions which I have stated, and which I think cannot possibly be excused.
I think I may be allowed to say something about the food supplied to the Territorial Army, to the men and to the horses. I can take the case of the Shropshire Regiment, which I know, and I know several other regiments as well. In this matter the right hon. Gentleman goes on the same principle, only perhaps it is rather more difficult to apply. The contract for the meat for the men in the Shropshire Territorial Yeomanry was 4½d. a pound, and, of course, it was foreign meat. But I do not think you are justified in asking men to be patriots and to take all the trouble of defending their country and then feed them on bad foreign meat just because you can get it cheaper than you can get good British meat. Of course the right hon. Gentleman himself altered the conditions of the meat supply. He said, "We will not have English any longer; we will have foreign." I believe that he also has foreign oats for the horses. I think that is rather hard on the farmer, over whose land the yeomen often ride. You use their land and then you will not make any return to them at all by buying their stuff, because the oats and all these things also come from abroad. The oats supplied to the regiment to which I have referred were so light that there was no nourishment In them. You had only to blow in the manger and the oats were scattered all over the place. The right hon. Gentleman must understand that a very large number of Yeomanry are farmers, and that sort of thing is not likely to help recruiting. As there were so many complaints made to me personally I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have the matter put right in order to give the patriotic yeoman as much encouragement as he can. One hon. Member said a great deal about boots. I should think he is very probably right. There is an enormous difference in boots. I would like the right hon. Gentleman to have a pair or two of the American soldier's boots brought over here, so that he might look at them and see how enormously superior they are to ours.
§ Mr. ROWLAND HUNT
I only put it to the right hon. Gentleman that he might get a pair of American soldier's boots to 1888 look at to see how much superior they are to our boots, so that we might be able to get boots like them. Of course, they may be a little more expensive—I do not know—but the trade unionists who went to America said they were cheaper. But, at all events, they are better; and even if they are more expensive, of course America, being a protected country, can afford to pay for them. On the question of the saddles, the saddles of the Yeomanry are, I believe, the same as when I was in it a year or two ago. The difficulty, I believe, is that they are very like ordinary hunting saddles, and when you come to ride on them for a long time they very soon become so flat that they give your hors? a sore back. Some of the saddles that we had in Africa had no stuffing but a rug instead, and so you never got the stuffing rubbed down. They have the further advantage of being very much cheaper and very much lighter, and I cannot help thinking that it might be worth the right hon. Gentleman's while to see whether these saddle? would not be very much better at all events for the mounted infantry in this country. And now a word or two about the Territorial Army. We all understand what an enormous deal of trouble the right hon. Gentleman has taken about it, and what a very excellent organisation he has set up. I know that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that I am rather an opponent of his, but I hope he does not think that I do not recognise the enormous industry which he has put forward in this matter. But, of course, I do not dream of his scheme being of any use. There are very many objections to it besides its inefficiency. There are a great many young men in this country who would be very glad indeed to join the right hon. Gentleman's Territorial Army if they could. They cannot do it. The force of circumstances is too much. They could not make their living if they did. Their employers would not let them go. There are, no doubt, a lot like these. On the other hand, there are a lot of other men who have a very considerable amount of pressure put on them, and are compelled to join practically whether they like or not. Those are two great objections.
Another objection is that you are asking 300,000 men out of the millions of able-bodied men in this country to take upon themselves the whole duty and responsibility, when any danger or trouble arises, of defending their country and their women and children, and you are letting off the whole of the rest of the hundreds 1889 of thousands of men in this country with more time and more leisure, and allowing them to do absolutely nothing. The huge majority of these 300,000 are working men, earning from 15s. to £2 or £3 a week as long as they keep their health, and you are asking those men to defend not only their country and their women and children, but to defend the prosperous people who are too idle to take any part in defending themselves. The position, to my mind, is quite indefensible. Surely, the right hon. Gentleman must agree that it is the first duty of every man to learn enough to be able to defend his country in times of national emergency. But, under this Territorial Army scheme, you are making the poor defend the rich.
The numbers of this Territorial Force are not at present what the right hon. Gentleman wishes them to be, and, in fact, it might very well happen that we should not have enough men, even with the small training they get, to defend our country against a raid of 70,000 or 100,000 men, which the right hon. Gentleman himself said was possible. In case of the country being at war we should be perfectly certain that the force would be available on the first opportunity. Under this Territorial scheme, however, we are distinctly not safe. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that as Minister for War he is responsible for the safety of this country—at all events, if the invading army succeeded in getting past the fleet. That being so, if he says that the present Territorial Force is sufficient for our purposes he is putting himself and his opinion in direct opposition to the grave warnings of the great military commanders who are free to speak their minds. I think that is a very serious thing. The right hon. Gentleman must know that the Territorial Army is hopelessly inefficient both in numbers and training, especially in regard to officers. There is only one possible way in which we can get officers, and that is by making everybody servo. For my part, I should let every man have an equal chance to become an officer, and it is only by making everybody serve and by giving this opportunity to rise in rank that the country, in my opinion, can be made safe. In regard to the Veteran Reserve, the right hon. Gentleman said that the supply of rifles, ammunition, and uniform, without which Reserve men would be useless, is under consideration. I suppose it will be under consideration this time 1890 next year, and perhaps this time the year after. I believe that at heart the Secretary of State does believe that everybody should learn to take part in the defence of the country either by sea or land; but until we get that we do need at once a National Reserve with uniform, rifle, ammunition, and everything in readiness.
We must have in this country at the present time at least 200,000 or 300,000 men, of whom, at all events, a great number have been well trained and who are able to shoot. There are considerable numbers of men who could be organised into companies in the different counties, and who would be qualified for garrison duty if they could not do anything else. If they were organised into companies they could meet once a year and do a little drill. The company is a unit that could be moved about. I think you will find that men so trained would be a great deal better than lads of 17 or 18 years of age, and it would make an enormous difference-to our chance of peace if the enemy knew that we had got 200,000 or 300,000 soldiers of from 30 to 50 years of age all properly organised and in readiness. I am very pleased that the right hon. Gentleman should be the first War Minister to take this matter up, and I can assure him if I can afford any help in any way I shall be only too delighted, but I do hope that this matter will not be given the go-by for the sake of a little money. It can be done extremely cheap. Probably you could get men for registration at £l a year each, and if you take the interest on the uniform and ammunition and rifles—I worked it out for myself some years ago—it would cost under another sovereign, so that at all events you could get 200,000 or 300,000 men for under £2 each, and they would be really ready and well trained. I sincerely hope that until we get universal military training, we shall have this great national reserve as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. F. W. VERNEY
I wish to draw attention to one point. You cannot take up any Army report without being impressed by the fact that everybody who has any interest in the Army—the professional heads of the Service and everybody else—has but one idea about the officer—that he shall be more and more highly trained. The hon. and gallant Member for St. Andrews (Major Anstruther-Gray), whom I heard make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman for the better training of officers and non-commissioned officers, said that without very highly-trained 1891 officers and thoroughly competent noncommissioned officers, victory could never belong to our Army at all. I agree with him, and I must say that I also agree with what fell from the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir G. Parker) on the same subject. But there is one very curious omission, which seems to be common to every speech that has been made on this subject. When you increase the efficiency of your officers, when you demand from them much higher and more expensive training, when you demand from them work of an entirely different kind from what was demanded only a few years ago, which is within the recollection of a good many of us, surely there is one thing which is absolutely essential, and that is that in one way or another you should improve their pay. If they are to be skilled servants of the State, then I say that everybody who understands the position of skilled workmen—and there are many in this House who do understand that position, because it is one they still continue to hold—should support our giving the necessary amount of increased pay which that skilled work rightly demands. I believe that the working men of this country are thoroughly right in asking for what is really necessary as remuneration for skilled work whether in the Army or anywhere else. They demand it for themselves, and rightly so, through their own organisations. Surely, then, our national organisation should be ready to increase the pay which better work from more highly trained men rightly demands I We all know that there is a tremendous shortage of officers. We all of us know, who have anything to do with the Army, that an officer can never hope to rise in his profession unless he goes through the Staff College. It was stated to me quite recently by one of our greatest authorities on military matters that if an officer hopes to rise in his profession the one thing he should do is to go through the Staff College.
I have no complaint whatever to make as to the increased skill which is demanded from our officers, or from the men also. I heard with great interest the hon. Member for Gravesend refer to the technical instruction which could well be given to our officers, to the immense advantage of the Army and of the country at large. I entirely agree with what he said, but I do say that it is not right or fair in the least to demand a very great increase of knowledge in the services they render to the 1892 country unless you come forward with an adequate and fair amount of pay. I am perfectly aware that the right hon. Gentleman himself has no power over the purse of this country, but at all events I hope he will represent the matter to the Treasury as one of simple fairness and justice. I have been looking into the question of the pay of the ordinary officer of the line, and I believe it cannot be contradicted that there has been no very substantial increase. I quite admit there is some improvement in the condition of officers of the line, but there has been no very substantial increase of pay of the ordinary officer of the line since the days of Queen Anne. I venture to state that as a fact, and I believe that if anyone takes the trouble to investigate the matter they will come to very much the same conclusion. Yet the position in the ordinary officer of the line to-day is very different from what it was two or three hundred years ago. In almost every other profession you can name where, there is skilled work done, there has been an increase in the pay of those who are responsible and in authority. I believe that the increase of pay in the Navy has been considerable. I know that the increase of the men's pay in the Army has been considerable, and they now occupy what I believe is generally considered to be in that respect a very good position. I quite admit that there are other matters, excluding the mere question of pay, in which the position of the men may be still further improved. But if you demand increased general and technical knowledge—which I think in itself is an extremely good thing—then there ought to be adequate payment for it. I should be very glad to see men trained in some form of trade at our great military depots in polytechnics and in engineering shops, and I hope that trade unionists will not object or raise any difficulty in the way of these men continuing in any trade when they leave the Service, and that we shall not see—what is now so commonly seen—old soldiers carrying messages here and there instead of being employed in some skilled work, very often depending entirely on what after all must be a miserable pension that A man gets when he leaves the Service. I do ask the right hon. Gentleman to bring all his influence to bear upon the Treasury to give the right amount of money representing the amount of work which is now demanded from the officers and non-commissioned officers, and, the moment you 1893 get into skilled occupations, from the men also. I hope that by so doing he will help to diminish the shortage of officers, which is now so alarming a symptom in our military system, and I hope that we shall see our officers put on a somewhat different footing in regard to the pay which they may reckon upon.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for WAR (Mr. Haldane)
The subjects which have been raised in the course of this Debate have been so manifold and the field covered is so vast that it is impossible for me to answer all the questions which have been put to me. I think it would be most convenient if I began by simply alluding to certain great features which have been in the main prominent in the Debate. There was, for instance, the speech of the hon. Member for Ludlow (Mr. E. Hunt), which raised the whole question of compulsory service. He gave to me some kind pitying words about the Territorial Force, but he thought it would be better to revert to something which would be much bigger. Then I see sitting near the hon. Member for Ludlow the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. P. Foster). I had an hon. Friend on this side of the House who was so convinced that the hon. Member for Ludlow was right that he resigned his seat in the Stratford Division and went there to champion the cause of compulsory service. Not only that, but he was supported through thick and thin by the hon. Member for Ludlow, notwithstanding that it was the hon. Member who was sitting behind him who was the orthodox Conservative candidate. What happened? The hon. Member who now sits for Stratford came forward and said: "Away with all this nonsense. I am a common-sense Englishman," and the electors were so entirely of the mind of the hon. Member for Stratford that, notwithstanding the eloquence of the hon. Member for Ludlow, my poor Friend could not get 500 votes. That is not the only thing to which the hon. Member for Ludlow referred. What was the meaning in the mouth of a really good Protectionist, and I think he is a really genuine Protectionist, of those mysterious allusions to American boots. You cannot have things in this world both ways. You must choose one way or the other. I quite agree that you ought to buy the best things wherever you can get them.
That brings me to the speech of the Noble Lord who represents Hornsey (Lord Ronaldshay). He began by saying that 1894 we spent, according to the Estimates, £250,000 on things which we ought to buy in this country for Army purposes. That is quite true, but it is an illustration of, I think, a certain want, if I may say so, of profundity in the contemplation of the argument that is put forward for that kind of view. I looked into the items which make up that £250,000, and what are they? I see copper amounts to £83,000, and I ask, how am I to buy copper in this country? I find acetone amounts to £72,000. I do not know whether the Noble Lord has studied this product, but I think he will find it very difficult to get in this country. I hope some day we may get it made in this country, but at present we do not make it in commercial quantities. Then there is a sum of £32,000 for walnut used for the stocks of guns, and walnut cannot be got in this country. There you have £187,000 out of £250,000 spent on things which you simply cannot get in this country.
§ Mr. HALDANE
We always make an offer to the manufacturers of this country to produce horse shoes of the quality and price, and we are very glad if we can get them, but unfortunately we do not always get them. The Noble Lord went on to discuss a question to which he devoted the greater part of his speech. That is the question of the apparatus which is used for the teaching of a certain system of gymnastics used in the Army. I was enabled by his remarks to arrive at the fact of the perusal by the Noble Lord of letters from an author whose productions have come very much before me. I mean letters from one of the manufacturers who has got a grievance upon this subject. I have read and re-read his letters. I know every phrase in them, and I think the Noble Lord has also read and re-read them. Let me first of all tell him how it was that we came to buy those things from a Danish manufacturer. A little time ago, as the result of careful scientific investigation, the conclusion was reached that the exercise to which a recruit was put was a bad one, and that it was not suitable from a medical point of view as chest-stretching exercise. As a result a new system of gymnastics was introduced, which required, among other things, certain additional apparatus. The system was the well-known Swedish system adopted in foreign armies. We wanted the apparatus for it, I am giving the 1895 report from the experience of the Inspector of Gymnasia. First of all he applied to two well-known British firms for the gymnastic apparatus, and an order was given to them in the first instance. Some of the apparatus which they supplied was very good, but there was another part that was not so satisfactory. Accordingly it was impossible to go on with what he had got at that time. Moreover, it was very expensive. He went to another British manufacturer and gave him an order which was quite satisfactory as to parts, but not so satisfactory as to other parts, and where again the price was very high. He heard then of a certain Mr. Larsen, a very well-known Danish manufacturer of Copenhagen, who manufactured the whole of the apparatus for the Danish Army, and who was also very well known in this country as a great manufacturer of apparatus for schools, and who had done a great deal of business in this country. Then Mr. Larsen submitted designs, and the designs proved—I am quoting from the report made to me—and the apparatus which was constructed according to them proved to be eminently satisfactory and suitable both as regards design and quality for the purpose for which it was required, and the prices quoted were substantially lower than those of the British firms who had not furnished what we wanted. After this the British firms' representatives came and looked at the designs and apparatus. One tendered and the other did not care to go on with the transaction. The inspector of gymnasium arrived at the conclusion that the apparatus of the type designed by Mr. Larsen was the most satisfactory in design, suitability, and cost of any which had been submitted to the War Office. There was no doubt about Mr. Larsen's capacity, and the result was that he got the contract, and that the work has been very satisfactory. I ask, in face of all that, what would any rational person, as well as a War Minister, do? My business is to get the best article I can for the Army, and when I find I am getting this article from a gentleman who, although his business may be conducted abroad, has had great experience here, and is able to supply all I need, I have gone there. As regards the allegations of collapse, it is quite true we did have one, but the report I have is that bad treatment had something to do with it, and not any inherent defect in the apparatus. Quite apart from the inspector of gymnasia, a very distin- 1896 guished colonel of Engineers, with large practical experience, whom we sent to make a special inquiry, has reported to me that the quality of the wood is perfectly satisfactory. From beginning to end, I have investigated this matter with great closeness, because I had not only a large number of questions as well as private communications. I am satisfied that we have got the best apparatus under the contract, and that we have got the things at a moderate price, and that what has been furnished is satisfactory as regards the specification.
I pass to the next subject, which is quite a different one, and which was raised by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir G. Parker). He spoke of the Territorial Reserve, and, in a very friendly way, for which I thank him. He asked a question, and I think it was really the main question put—How do you propose to use this Reserve? As regards the Territorial Reserves, which is separate from the trained and technical Reserve, although you may have your full establishment complete up to strength in time of peace, you always have some deficit if war breaks out, and you must provide for waste of war and for insufficiently trained recruits. If the Reserve wanted is 100,000. you would have 300,000, so that yon will be able to have it at war strength while you are getting your recruits. Then the reason why we do not have Volunteers in connection with the Reserve is because it was deemed essential that the Reserve for the Territorial Force should be, completed from the men of the Territorial Force, and that it would be better to have men trained under a uniform system than to take men trained under a different system. The men who are to serve in that Reserve are men who must have done at least two years in the Territorial Force before they can pass into that technical Reserve. I mean two years in addition to the two years of other service. Then I come to the technical Reserve.
§ Mr. HALDANE
These men who go into the Territorial Reserve are all men who have had their training. He will notice that the Regulations carefully stipulate that the full 15 days in camp have to be made up. Shortages in camp may be made up from those reserves, and the result is that we anticipate we shall 1897 be able to put everybody in the Reserve who chooses to go to camp for the third or fourth year, so that he shall not forget what he has known. These are men who have had a substantial amount of training during their four years' service before they entered the Reserve, and in the circumstances we thought we had done enough for a start. As the hon. Member pointed out, we are consulting the associations on the matter, and it may be that in the course of a year or two, as the result of experience, we shall find that there are better and wiser provisions than those which we have put into the Order. We think, however, we have hit upon something which makes a sufficient start off, and it is on that basis that the regulations were framed.
Passing to the Technical and Veteran Reserves, that is a very different matter in many respects. Taking the Technical Reserve first, I have been convinced for a long time that, notwithstanding our voluntary system, we have in this country an enormous reserve of highly trained people, who would be most useful in time of war, not merely men who have been trained in military matters, but men trained in what I may call scientific occupations, such as telegraphists, railway men, and all sorts of people who are required in war, particularly in connection with engineering work, who would be an immense source of strength. There are also the highly trained men who have passed out of the Reserve, but who have still, at any rate for Home purposes, a good deal of fine fighting quality about them. There are highly-trained regular soldiers, between 32 and 40 years of age, or even older, to the number of some thousands, passing out of the Reserve every year, and there must be an enormous number of them in the country. What we want to do is to get a register of all these men in each county, and when we have got that register it will be time to say how, in the case of a great national emergency, the men may be used. They may afford, for instance, a third line behind the Territorial Army. You may very simply and cheaply be able to frame a machinery by which these highly-trained men can be brought into organised corps, should the necessity arise. You may be able to produce, in case of a national emergency, four divisions of men of the highest training as Regulars to put behind the six regular divisions that you have in the country for the purpose of Home defence. I am not talking of what I think 1898 it is necessary for the moment to do; I am only pointing out the purpose of the Reserve. Having these great resources in the nation under our voluntary system, the object of the War Office has been to ascertain what these resources really amount to, and to get a view of them before proceeding to take any steps in the direction of advising the nation as to what further use can be made of them. We want to see where we are, what great reserves of strength there may be in the country, and how best they could be made use of should the occasion arise. These men are of a special class, who do not want training; some of them are of the keenest patriotism; and I do not doubt that if a great national emergency should arise, and an appeal were made, these men would come forward in great numbers, and all that would be wanting would be an organisation for them to come into. When we see what we have got, when we know what this survey—it is really not much more than that—produces in the first instance, we shall know what the Reserve is worth as an asset and for forming a third line.
Sir GILBERT PARKER
Has the right hon. Gentleman in his mind that this Reserve shall always be a Reserve by itself? He does not anticipate, I gather, attaching them meanwhile to any individual unit of the Territorial Force?
§ Mr. HALDANE
No, that is not my idea at present. In the first instance, I want to see the Territorial Force self-contained, with its own Reserve. Then we have this Reserve, which seems to me rather to belong to a third line. It has impressed me very much that this country has great and economical resources in reserve, if only it is possible to draw them out. But we must see what is there, and what the class of man is, before we can be in a position to do more than speculate upon it; that is why we have not gone further than to provide practically for a census in each county and a registration of those who are willing to come forward.
Another topic raised was that of the shortage of officers. It was raised in connection with the Special Reserve by the hon. Member for Andover (Captain Faber) and in a more general form by the hon. Member for Bucks (Mr. Verney) and the hon. Member for St. Andrews (Major Anstruther-Gray). With regard to the general shortage of officers, considerable alarm has been expressed at the idea that candidates are not coming forward- 1899 Candidates are coming forward, but unfortunately we have to cut them out more freely than used to be the case under the old régime.
§ Mr. HALDANE
That is an instance of popular misconception. Here is an ex-officer who does not know the system under which we are working. That system is that, first of all, we have an examination in the nature of a sifting process for determining whether boys should become candidates for Sandhurst and Woolwich. Nobody knows more about this matter than the hon. Member for Aberdeen University (Sir Henry Craik), who had a great deal to do with working out the system. We rely on the leaving certificate as giving us the general class of public schoolboy who is well qualified to be a candidate for Sandhurst or Woolwich. Do I understand that the hon. Gentleman does not agree with that?
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I should like to have said a few words before the right hon. Gentleman spoke. I can now only speak after he is finished. But I do not wholly agree.
§ Mr. HALDANE
My proposition is that we regard the leaving certificate as a proper test whether a boy has gone through his career at a public school satisfactorily. If he has passed and has secured the leaving certificate, we regard him as fit to be a candidate for Sandhurst or Woolwich. But in all public schools that cannot be so, as many of them have not the leaving certificate. That is the case with one of the best public schools for Army purposes—namely, Wellington—and yet the other day, so little is the qualifying examination a barrier for well-trained boys, that out of 30 candidates from Wellington 28 passed the qualifying examination. To provide for the case of those who have not been able to take the leaving certificate, because the school has not got it, we have a qualifying examination. That qualifying examination, which appears to be such a terror, includes a certain number of simple subjects. I am glad to say that English includes not merely grammar and spelling, but a certain capacity to express ideas clearly in English. If a man cannot do that he cannot write orders. To-day the Army officer must be 1900 a more scientifically trained person than he used to be. The whole standard has risen. I am not sure whether I have said it before in this House, but I certainly say now that, great as is my respect for the German soldier, I have much more dread of the German staff officer. He is the formidable person; and until we have something like the standard of training of the Continental officer generally, from whom the staff is evolved, we shall not be in a satisfactory position. The Committee presided over by the right hon. Member for the St. Augustine's Division (Mr. Akers-Douglas) decided some five years ago that we must raise the standard. Accordingly, in place of the old nugatory qualifying examination, which used to be the only portal through which candidates could pass, we have now two examinations. The qualifying examination may take the form either of I he leaving certificate or the qualifying examination outside the leaving certificate, which is a very fair examination. I am considering that examination in detail, to see whether it is too hard in some subjects and too light in others, and whether it is worked in a rational fashion. That examination is to sift out the candidates. The result is that those who go up for Sandhurst and Woolwich are very much fewer than used to be the case, not because there are fewer candidates, but because we have well sifted them before they go up for the competitive examination. It is only for the competitive examination that there is any falling off. I have the figures before me, and I see that upon the average of the last half-dozen years we have admitted to Sandhurst and Woolwich a rather higher annual average than in the half-dozen years preceding that period. It so happens that at the last examination in June we had an altogether exceptional number of vacancies for officers in the Army. To begin with, we had some 220 regular officers in the depots of the Special Reserve battalions. Then, again, we had an exceptionally large number of vacancies for Woolwich, which we shall not have the next time. We had 80 vacancies for Woolwich and 220 for Sandhurst, contrasted with 56 for Woolwich and 116 for Sandhurst at the previous half-year's examination. The result was that, having that exceptional number, those who passed were not as numerous as the vacancies. It is a great mistake to suppose that there is really any visible shortage in the number of people who desire to enter the Army.
1901 My hon. Friend (Mr. Verney) referred to the question of pay. I have always felt that the British officer is underpaid. That is a question which the nation will have seriously to consider. But, on the other hand, the British officer is immensely better paid than the Continental officer. If you compare his pay with the pay of an officer on the Continent you will find that it is enormously higher. Further than that, it will be found not to corn-pare at all badly with the pay in the Civil Service. With allowances, a subaltern entering the Army gets about £145. Let that be contrasted with what a young man entering the Civil Service gets. First of all, he enters the Civil Service through a very keen competitive examination, and reaches the higher age of 23 before he is nominated to a vacancy, and then only gets £150. If you contrast the number of chances in after life, I think the prospects of an officer in the Army are very much more brilliant.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I am perfectly certain that it was not the filthy lucre, but the prospect of the glory of such a demise which influenced the hon. and gallant Member in entering the Army.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I quite agree that the Army is more expensive, but it is also more glorious. Well, when you get to the higher commands the number of prizes is very considerable indeed. I have no doubt that if you compare the Army with the Bar you will find that the average officer is much better paid than the average barrister. I know something of the latter profession, and when you consider the larger number of people who make nothing at all, and contrast it with the £145 paid to the subaltern in the Army, it is not unsatisfactory. I know the day when I should have been thankful if I had been able to make at the Bar anything like £150 per annum. Notwithstanding all that, I am far from overlooking the serious state of the matter.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Pay and allowances. You will see the figures at page 199 of the Army Estimates. Something has been done within the last year or two to improve the position of affairs, but I quite 1902 agree that the subject is one which will have to come up at no late date. Reference is made to the Special Reserve of officers. There again, what I have to say is that under the old Militia system the number of officers was rapidly shrinking. The situation was very serious, and there was no obvious way of arresting it. In the case of the Special Reserve we are relying very largely upon the Officers' Training Corps, whose work is now beginning to mature. Some of those concerned are enlisting recruits in advance. I heard of one young cavalry commander who went down to Oxford the other day and delivered a speech on the subject. I was told about it immediately afterwards, and it was said that his was one of the finest speeches that had been delivered at Oxford for some time past. He took back with him a certain number of members for the Officers' Training Corps. That process has been going on at Cambridge and the other Universities, and I hope it will go on to a considerable extent in the Territorial Forces, and that the public schools will do their part in the matter. We shall see in the next year or two whether the remedy which we provide for what I agree is a serious state of things is continued in the case of the Special Reserve.
§ Major ANSTRUTHER-GRAY
Are we to wait two years before we get this shortage of a thousand officers made up?
§ Mr. HALDANE
Will the hon. Gentleman tell me what is his suggestion? His party studied the matter for ten years and apparently regarded the problem as insoluble. We at least have got a solution. I think it was a little hard that the hon. and gallant Member should say, "Are we to wait for two years?" when hon. Gentlemen opposite had ten! I pass to the next topic. It was said that there was also shortage of officers for the Territorials, and the hon. and gallant Gentleman said that we were driving out the country gentleman. I cannot help thinking—the hon. and gallant Gentleman will forgive me for saying so—that more nonsense is talked about the country gentleman than on any other topic. The country gentlemen are being replaced by new country gentlemen. They may have made their fortunes in business, they may have derived them from abroad, but there are as many well-filled and luxurious country mansions in this country now as at any other time.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Let me finish the question which I was leading up to; that is the state of the officers of the Territorial Army-to-day, after 16 months' trial of the new system. The total establishment of officers was placed at 11,267. We had on the 1st July of this year, on the active list, 9,526. In addition to that, we had on the unattached list, 729, together with R.A.M.C. and general hospital officers who become effective on mobilisation—732; a total of 10,987 out of 11,267. I think that that, within 14 or 16 months, does not look as if the country gentleman had so completely disappeared! I think if the hon and gallant Gentleman looks at the matter correctly and more closely he will be able to take a more cheerful view of the matter. I pass from the question of officers to a question raised by the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. P. S. Foster), that of getting supplies in the district. I quite agree it is very desirable not merely in the case of the Territorials, but in the case of the Regulars, that supplies should be got locally as far as possible. We have instructed our officers to do that, and they do try as far as they can to get their supplies locally. Of course they have to consider the question of price. Subject to that, preference is given to the locality. There has been a transition, and there has been some friction and some disappointment to begin with. Reports from the camps this year show that matters are going as well as could be expected. To speak again about the sergeant-majors and colour-sergeants of the Special Reserve, they do get slightly less than they did. They get somewhat less than the sergeant-majors and colour-sergeants of the first and second battalions. That is because they have less to do. This matter has been gone into very closely, and I cannot venture to overrule the decision come to. The question of boots has been referred to. The matter is one as to which is the better, hand-closed boots or machine-closed boots. This is one of those matters which can only be determined by the opinion of the experts and experience; but we have no reason to think that the machine-closed boot is worse for walking than the hand-closed boot. My hon. Friend beside me the Financial Secretary (Mr. Acland) has decided to provide himself with a pair of each kind, and he proposes to walk in them. Pending his authoritative pronouncement on the subject, I am unable to say more at present The hon. Member for Kildare (Mr. John O'Connor) 1904 raised a matter with which no one can help having the greatest sympathy. He mentioned the case of a soldier who sickened early of consumption, and was retired. The law under which the Army is constituted admits only of a permanent special pension where a man is retired owing to, or his collapse is the outcome of, his military duties. It is not like a wound or injury received by a man in the course of his military duty. When this matter was discussed in the House, I think two years ago—I believe it was raise d by the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Summerbell)—the conclusion that the House appeared to come to was the conclusion which the Government came to, and that was this: It is very desirable that provision should be made for those who are invalided through no fault of their own; but if you do it for the Army, you will have to do it for the Navy, and for the Civil Service, and for the whole of the Government employés. It is not possible to draw a distinction between these and the rest of the civil population. However sympathetic we may be on the point the case is one which raises the principle—
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman this question? Is it not a fact that tins man was a sound man, and declared to be so? Is it not a fact that at the Camp of Exercise, Delhi, he caught this cold, which developed into consumption? Is it not a fact that that affected his constitution; that his consumption arose from the performance of his military duties—arose, in fact, out of his employment?
§ Mr. HALDANE
His condition did not arise from any specific military duty. What happened was that he contracted a cold, and that it went on day by day and week by week in the ordinary course of his employment. All we could do we did, and that was to give him for 21 months a temporary pension.
§ Mr. HALDANE
Yes, I know; that is all the Regulations entitled him to. But the application of the principle suggested would go far beyond anything else contemplated. I cannot ask that the Army shall be differentially treated; that those employed in it should be given treatment not given to any other class of the community.
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR
Does the right hon. Gentleman wish it to go forth—as I shall take care it shall go forth in the district about the Curragh Camp—that this man contracted this disease in the service of the State, and that he is at the present moment a pauper inmate of the nearest workhouse?
§ Mr. HALDANE
No matter where the facts of this case are known, it is impossible to treat the Army differentially from the Navy or from ordinary civilian employment. We have had to apply that principle from the very beginning, and we would not be justified in granting a pension to a man whose illness does not specifically arise out of his military duties. All that could have been done was done, and that was to grant him a temporary pension as compensation for the loss of employment. I think I have now answered most of the points put to me. There were one or two points made by the hon. Member for Hastings (Mr. Arthur Du Cros), I will look into the questions he has raised, and I will see what is the nature of them. They may be matters which are worthy of reconsideration, but I cannot pledge myself without considering them, especially as they only came to my notice for the first time this afternoon. I think I have now answered all the questions raised.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
After the reference made to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, I think he will not think it unfair that I should rise and say a few words. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with some of the points already which I desire to raise, but he appeared to me to be labouring under some misapprehension with regard to the facts. He knows I have for many years had very close connection with this question of the admission of officers to the Army, and that as Chairman of the Army Qualifying Board I have necessarily become very minutely acquainted with all these things. I am afraid I cannot accept Ins description of the position of things at the present moment as quite accurate. It is quite true we attempted in the Advisory Board, of which I was a member, to revise the conditions of admission to the Army. We attempted to gather the best pupils from the public schools of the country by encouraging candidates who had taken a leaving certificate in some approved school. That certificate meant not merely passing an ordinary examination, but afforded evidence to character and fitness 1906 all round, and that is a matter the importance of which I would like to urge very strongly upon the right hon. Gentleman. We could not get a sufficient number of those candidates from the public schools. We found that our plan of getting, from the best known educational establishments in England, candidates fit physically, men tally, and morally to be selected as good recruits for the officers of our Army, would not work, because the career did not attract them. We had to try a subsequent and an additional loophole, and that was the qualifying examination. I am sure most Members of the House listening to the right hon. Gentleman would have thought that this qualifying examination was some additional bar and difficulty. It was instituted because we could not get, as the Advisory Board wished, a sufficient number of pupils with "leaving" certificates, and all that they meant, that we had to resort to this qualifying examination—I have been for five or six years chairman of the Board which directs this qualifying examination, and therefore I cannot but know it as few other men know it. The right hon. Gentleman cannot but know we in the Qualifying Board have been urged by the War Office -still further to lower our examination. If he will look at the correspondence he will find remonstrances against that in my own writing—
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
We resisted it, but I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we were asked to make the change very recently.
§ Mr. HALDANE
I hope the lion. Gentleman brings his great knowledge to bear on every suggestion. We treat his opinion with such respect that we made no change that I am aware of lately.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
You asked us to make the change, and you asked us to be more lenient than we were in the examination, which was to be considered as a qualifying examination and test of fitness. It was intended only to be a sifting examination; there was something afterwards to come. I can only say of some of these candidates—I speak from their papers—that if he expects to get an adequate report from some of them upon long and elaborate orders when they are entrusted with them, he will be greatly disappointed. But I want to get past this aspect of the 1907 matter. I do not trust to examinations altogether. Far from it; I do not think there could be a more unfair test than a mere examination. We require a test of physical fitness, and moral and intellectual fitness. But if you do have an examination, it must be an adequate examination. You must not take your officers from men who cannot write a short letter with a decent amount of spelling according to orthodox rules. There is a larger aspect of the question. The right hon. Gentleman knows that those who advised him from the schools have stated that this difficulty of getting officers lies far deeper than examinations. It is a fact that the social change with regard to officers is very considerable. The social attractions are not all that they were. I do not want to discuss that, but I say they do not attract the same class. You must needs look to boys trained at the public schools and who are trained for professions. These boys will compare the Army as an ordinary means of livelihood with other professions. Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that the headmasters at public schools, as one man, advised him that unless he could make the Army officer's position, I do not say equal, but nearly equal in its prospects with other professions, it will not attract the proper people to the Army. It is not a question only of the pay of the subalterns. The pay of the subaltern is quite enough. A young man of 18, 19 or 20 gets into an attractive occupation which he has chosen for his life, and his parents know generally that at that age they have to pay a good deal for him, and they do not grudge expenses for uniform, and so on. The defect lies deeper than that.
When a man enters a profession he looks before him, and he wishes to know whether his prospects 10 years ahead will enable him to marry, to bring up a family, and to support them. That is the difficulty. You pay quite enough to your subaltern—I do not want you to pay any more—but if you arc to attract the proper class of men—such men as you attract to the home Civil Service and to the Indian Civil Service, such men as you attract to the medical and legal professions—you must give them a prospect that 10 or 12 years hence, after they have entered that profession, they may be able to earn a living wage upon which they could marry and support and bring up a family. That they cannot do at present, and that is what, I am convinced, is causing this shortage of officers. 1908 When the Advisory Board tried a scheme to attract the best boys from the public schools they had to give it up, and instead of making the qualifying examination merely a beginning for a competitive examination, we have had to go lower and lower in our qualifying examination, and the competitive examination had to be abolished altogether. I urge the light hon. Gentleman, as one of the best things he can do for the Army, to appoint a small Committee of inquiry to take council with the headmasters of the public schools, with those who know what the tendencies are of young men who are seeking some sort of employment and are choosing their path in life, and this small Committee in consultation with these men can advise him as to the extent to which it is necessary to add to the pay of the officers. And if he would act on the advice they give him I am convinced that 20 years hence he would find the officers' establishment enormously improved.
§ Mr. PHILIP SNOWDEN
I want to call the attention of the House to a few matters connected with the administration of one or two of her public Departments. When in Committee of Supply a few nights ago I made an attempt to raise one or two matters in connection with the Inland Revenue Departments. As the Vote had to be taken at 10 o'clock there was practically no opportunity for a reply from the Treasury Bench. The matters to which I called attention upon that occasion were the amount of the remuneration which ought to be given to the pension officers for the special work they had to do in carrying out the Old Age Pensions Act and also the change recently brought about by order of the Treasury, calling upon certain Civil servants to retire at an age earlier than had previously been the rule. The Secretary to the Treasury did say a few words in reply to the first matter I have mentioned, but on the other question of the compulsory retirement of officers of Customs and Excise he did not touch. I do not see any representative of the Treasury on the Government Bench now, and I do not suppose that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is really responsible for the administration of the Department, has done me the honour to read what I said the other night; but if he was here now I would like to take advantage of his presence to repeat some of the points I made the other night. Very briefly summarised, my case was that 1909 the amount of remuneration paid by the Treasury to the officers who had done this work admittedly so well was altogether inadequate. The Secretary to the Treasury, in the few minutes left to him the other night, did make an attempt to give me a reply to the case which I put. I think, however, there will be very few dissentients from, my opinion when I state that the excuse put forward on the part of the Treasury officials was one of the weakest and lamest ever made from the Treasury Bench. The only thing the right hon. Gentleman said was that the payment had been allocated on some definite plan, but either from forgetfulness or some other reason he did not inform the Committee what was the nature of the plan under which the money had been allotted. As a matter of fact, it is quite impossible for anybody acquainted with the amounts received by the different officers to come to the conclusion that these payments have been made upon any well-ordered plan. I can put before the Secretary to the Treasury cases where £9 or £10 was paid to one pension officer who dealt with approximately the same number of claims as another officer who received an honorarium of twice that amount. Then the Board of Customs and Excise do not take into consideration that the mere number of claims is no just basis for estimating the amount of renumeration an officer is entitled to. For instance, it would not be at all a fair reward for the amount of work done to pay a uniform sum per claim. There is no comparison in the amount of work necessary for the investigation of 500 claims in a closely-packed urban area, and a similar number of claims in a thinly populated country district. The amount of work would probably be 20 times as much in the latter case. I shall not pursue this point any further, because the right hon. Gentleman told us the other night that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made up his mind that he was not going to do anything further in the matter, and I will pass over the question by simply saying that I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that nothing which has happened in connection with Civil Service administration during this generation has caused such intense and widespread dissatisfaction as this payment for old age pension work. As a consequence, the whole of the pensions officers of the country are indignant, and the whole Service is seething with discontent. The feeling of the Service is happily expressed in a letter which I quoted two or three 1910 nights ago, in which a supervisor says that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will never get pension officers to work for him again as they worked last year.
Another subject I wish to refer to is the fining of pension officers for an alleged breach of an official regulation. I have said before that I do not blame the Parliamentary representatives of the Government in this House because they have given answers put in their hands by Treasury officials. I have raised this matter by questions in this House on several occasions, and on each occasion I have received an answer differing materially from the replies given on other occasions. In reply to the last question I put to the Secretary of the Treasury on this matter a few weeks back, in which I asked him to tell me how many of the officers who were fined had admitted that they had seen the Board's, letter before communicating information to the Press, the right hon. Gentleman said four had admitted having seen that letter. Now, I have in my possession letters from 13 out of the 14 officers who communicated information to the Press, and the reason why I have not had a letter from the fourteenth officer is that we cannot find him. There were 14 officers- implicated, and 13 of them were fined. In reply to my last question, the right hon. Gentleman stated that four of them had admitted to the Board's inspectors that they had seen the circular before the information was communicated to the Press. I have received letters from each of these 13 officers, and 12 out of the 13 definitely and without the slightest hesitation state that they had not seen the circular when they supplied the information, and the thirteenth is not quite certain. I wish to give them another instance to show how unreliable is the information given by the Treasury officials in reply to questions put by hon. Members in this House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, speaking on 25th March last, said the amount of remuneration paid for pension work was from 25 per cent, to 50 per cent, of the officers' salary for the quarter. The next time the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to this question he said it was from 10 to 75 per cent., and recently the Secretary to the Treasury said it was from 15 to 75 per cent. These statements prove that there has been no recognised system at all of allotting the money to these officers.
The third matter I wish to raise is one which I mentioned the other night when the right hon. Gentleman had no opportunity of replying, and it relates to the 1911 superannuation of those officers who are compulsorily retired. I hope the right hon. Gentleman, when he replies, will give the Treasury defence for their action in regard to this compulsory retirement, and its consequent deprivation of a very considerable part of the pension earned by these officials. Short articles appeared in the daily papers this morning, in which the statement is made that owing to the non-delivery of new pension books before the beginning of last month some 30,000 old age pensioners were not able to draw their pensions on 1st July. A fortnight ago. I put a question on this point, and I received a letter from the right hon. Gentleman asking if I would be good enough to postpone my question. I did so, although I thought it was an unusual request under the circumstances. I do not want to suggest any reason why I was asked to take that course. Probably the real reason is that it would take some time to collect the information. But when the right hon. Gentleman does reply, I should like him to state whether the statement to which I have referred, which appears in the Press this morning, is approximately correct. If it is correct, then it constitutes nothing short of an official scandal that the business of a Government Department is so badly mismanaged that 30,000 payments due on a certain date could not be made. I do not think the Treasury officials are showing that sympathy with the administration of this Act which they ought to show. By way of corroborating that statement, I will mention a case that happened in my own Constituency. There arc two or three Irish Members present to whom, I think, this case will appeal. An old woman from Ireland, who lives in my Constituency, made an application for an old age pension, and she stated her age was just turned 70. The pension committee granted a pension, and the pension officer raised no objection. When she had been receiving this pension for three months, a letter was received from the pension authorities of the Government saying that, according to the Census Returns in the records of the Government, the old lady was only 66 years of age, and on the strength of that letter the local pension authority suspended her pension. Three months later another letter was received from the Government Department stating that they had made a mistake, and that the old lady was not 66 years of age but turned 70. Acting upon 1912 this letter, the pension committee appealed to the Treasury for the payment of the arrears of the suspended pension, and it seems almost incredible, but the Treasury sent a curt reply saying they had no power to pay the arrears of the pension.
I wish now to refer to some of the regulations which the Treasury have framed to carry out this Old Age Pensions Act, and I wish to mention two of these regulations in particular. I do not think they are justified by the terms of the Act itself in giving to these two regulations to which I allude all the authority of law. The first regulation is in regard to absence from the country, which fixes an arbitrary limit of eight years. Now too Act itself says nothing about that point. A man might be out of the country occasionally during 20 years provided his absence does not exceed eight years, and I cannot find anything in the Act which entitles the Treasury to fix such an arbitrary figure as that. That is very unjust. A man may be out of the country for a period not exceeding eight years, but if he lived in Lancashire and went to the Isle of Man for a single summer only, or a single week only, and gave up his residence in this country, though he might have spent the whole 70 years of his life in Lancashire, under this Treasury regulation he would be deprived of his claim to an old age pension. The other regulation I wan: to refer to is the amount which the Treasury have fixed as being the value of board and lodgings offered to the old people who live with their relatives or old friends. The very high figure which the Treasury has fixed has deprived many old people with a small income of their claim for an old age pension. I do not see any representative of the Local Government Board on the Treasury Bench or I would have referred to the administration of the Act under the Local Government Board; but there is just one other matter in the Department of the right hon. Gentleman upon which I want to say a word or two. I have raised this question before several times in this House during the last three or four years. What I allude to is the civil rights or political rights of Civil servants. In reply to a question put to the Prime Minister about 12 months ago—I think it was at the end of October last—the right hon. Gentleman said the Government appreciated the importance of this matter, and that it was being considered by the Cabinet Committee. At intervals I have repeated the question, and the stereotyped answer 1913 I have received is "That the matter is still under the consideration of the Cabinet Committee." I want to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the necessity for spurring on the investigations of this Cabinet Committee. It is very necessary that there should be uniformity of treatment in the different Government Departments. There is at present the greatest disparity as between Department and Department. Under the Treasury regulations a Civil servant cannot be a member of a political organisation, but the Post Office permits its servants to be members of a political organisation. The postmen, who are organised in trade unions to the extent of 37,000, are members of the party represented by this Bench, and of that participation in political activity by postmen no recognition is taken, whilst in the Inland Revenue Department servants are transferred to other parts of the country for simply giving political addresses. I do not think a Cabinet Committee is a proper tribunal for the consideration of a matter like this. It is a question which ought to be considered by a Committee of this House, and I would like to ask either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Secretary to the Treasury what his opinion is in regard to the transference of the consideration of this matter from a Cabinet Committee to a Special Committee of this House, with power to take evidence and to ascertain what the opinion of the Civil Service is upon the matter.
I wish to refer to the treatment of the women who have been sent to prison in connection with the suffrage agitation. These women put forward a claim to be treated as first-class prisoners. It is hardly necessary for me to say they do not put forward that plea because they are afraid of the rigours of imprisonment. Women who are prepared to face death by starvation for the sake of conscience or conviction are not likely to be deterred by the mere rigour of English imprisonment. They demand to be treated as first-class prisoners on principle. The Home Secretary told me a week or so back that the law recognises no such thing as political prisoners. I have no knowledge of what the law does or does not recognise, but I know in practice different standards of imprisonment are recognised, because these women are put in the second class. There is a first, a second, and a third class, and these different classes would not exist if there was not some necessity for discriminating in treatment as between 1914 prisoner and prisoner. The right hon. Gentleman ought to have told us that he has no power to order these women to be transferred to a different class. He has, however, done it already. He did it in the case of Mrs. Cob-den Saunderson, two or three years back, and he has released some before their punishment had expired. Surely, if he has power to remit some part of their sentence, he must have power to order the conditions under which they shall be treated in prison. I raised about a fortnight ago the question of the punishment inflicted upon these women in consequence of their praiseworthy mutiny in gaol, and the right hon. Gentleman gave what practically amounted to a blank denial of the charges implied in my question. I implied that these women had been put in underground cells which were cold, damp, and dangerous to health. I have had placed in my hands this morning a statement made by a lady who has just recently been in prison, and who is one who suffered exceptional punishment on account of prison mutiny. I am not going to pledge myself as to the accuracy of all the statements which she makes, but her statement is at least entitled to as much credence as the excuse offered by the prison officials. It appears in the papers published this morning. I am not going to read it all. They were not prepared to be stripped before women of abandoned character and to be mauled by men doctors, or to have other indignities inflicted upon them, and they therefore told the Governor they must either be put into the first class or they would obey no such regulations. The young lady says the Governor said he had no power to put them into the first class, but Mr. Gladstone had the power to do it. I will leave the Home Secretary to reconcile his statement and the statement the Governor of the gaol is reported to have made. She says she broke three windows because the cell in which she was placed was so badly ventilated that it was dangerous to health, and for breaking those three windows she was-brought before the Governor and sentenced to solitary confinement for eight days:—I was straightway taken to another cell, where the ventilation being as bad as the first, I broke three more panes of glass. This resulted in my being moved to one of the horrible cells rightly named 'the dungeons.' These cells are about half a foot below ground level and very damp; water spilt on the floor took days to dry up. It was always twilight there, and dark by five-o'clock; an inch-high gas-jet in the corridor outside the cell and shining through a pane of glass above the door was the only light. The window panes were of opaque glass an inch and a-half thick, and were heavily barred. The only furniture was a plank bed fixed in 1915 one corner about three inches from the ground, and a tree-trunk clamped into the wall with iron. I sat on it for about two minutes and was chilled to the bone by the icy cold emanating from the walls; after that I sat or lay on the bed planks. There was no sign of there ever having been a hot-water pipe; the cells had never been warmed since they were made. We received about a pint of water a day to wash in, and every utensil was defective. The cells were verminous, and I distinctly smelt sewage. I was in one of these dungeons for seven days.That, I submit, is a charge which requires to be treated, not with laughter, as the right hon. Gentleman seems disposed to do, but seriously. I want to know how it is political prisoners in Ireland can be treated as first-class prisoners, whilst political prisoners in this country cannot] How is it one of the Irish Members who last year came within the clutches of the law, for, I believe, addressing a public meeting and taking part in the cattle-driving agitation, was sent to prison, and was permitted to have his own books, his own writing material, and, I believe, his own meals brought to him I believe, since the mutiny of the Irish prisoners some 20 years ago, every prisoner in Ireland—no matter what his offence may be—is entitled to wear his own clothes. I am going to read a word or two expressing the opinion of a gentleman whose views upon this and every other question will be received with great respect from the Members of the Treasury Bench. He is a man who was a colleague of theirs only two or three years ago. I refer to Mr. Bryce, who is now our Ambassador at Washington. Mr. Bryce, in 1889, wrote an introductory letter to Dr. Sigerson's book upon political prisoners. It was at the time the Coercion Act was being rigorously administered in Ireland. I will quote two or three sentences:—I have read the details you give regarding the recent treatment of political prisoners in Ireland as compared with that followed in oilier countries not only with interest but with regret and shame, for I bad not known how much the recent practice of the English Government in Ireland falls below that of other countries, and even below that of English authorities sixty years ago.He then says it may be difficult to define a political offence, but he thinks that where the motive is not a personal one, where the offence has been committed, not to meet any personal satisfaction or advantage, but for some public object, it might be treated as a political offence, lie goes on to speak about the treatment of political prisoners in Ireland, which could not have been more harsh than the treatment of these women. I commend his words to the Home Secretary, because I think they are so apropos, and so aptly 1916 describe the attitude of the Government to these suffragette prisoners:—Such methods are not only cruel: they are foolish and impolitic. They attempt to fly in the face of the general sentiment of mankind which recognises the wide difference between crimes which arc always crimes and acts which, even if it is necessary to punish them, may be the result of mistaken views of right, and may hereafter be judged very differently from the way in which we judge them now.This was a Tory Government which inflicted this rigorous punishment upon Irish political prisoners. I do not know whether Mr. Bryce would repeat his statements now that a Liberal Government is responsible for even more infamous treatment of women in this country. He further says:—It is some little comfort to learn from your pages that this relapse into barbarism of which the Irish Government has been guilty, this vain attempt to degrade a cause by trying to degrade its leaders, did not proceed from the British Parliament, but from purblind officials of the ruling caste.It seems to me nothing less than a public scandal that the sentences which have been inflicted upon these women should be so excessive in comparison with their offence, and that there should have been such a disparity in the sentences which have been inflicted by different magistrates for apparently similar offences. I will give an illustration. Two or weeks ago—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think the sentences inflicted by magistrates can be discussed to-day. Then? is no Minister responsible for them. Of course, the administration of justice is quite apart from other administration.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I bow to your ruling, Sir. I had some doubts whether I should be permitted to raise this question. I do hope that when the Home Secretary replies he will say something on the superannuation question, and also as to the excessive charges for the Revenue Department, because, although the Estimates at the present time are practically the same as a year ago, we constantly hear of Revenue stations being closed and of officers being worked overtime to a scandalous extent. I hope we shall have some explanation of the reasons why the Treasury have adopted this policy.
§ Mr. CLAUDE HAY
I also wish to say a word or two on the question of the treatment by the Treasury of the Excise officers who have had to carry out certain duties in connection with the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act. I was not present in the House when the Secre- 1917 tary to the Treasury the other day gave a very short and unsympathetic reply to the case presented by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), but I believe the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion announced that he and the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not propose in any way to mitigate the circumstances under which these officers worked. The information which reaches me from outside, and which, I believe, reaches every other Member of this House, goes to show that there is a very grave state of discontent among these officials who have from time to time received warm encomiums from the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to the way in which they have carried out very delicate and responsible duties. I believe if the Treasury remain adamant on this point they will find that the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act will not be so well carried on, and that further expense will be thrown upon the public, because the investigations will not insure that economy which should be observed in the administration of the Act. It may also be if these officers are not encouraged in every way to do their work grave cases of injustice may arise, and persons who are entitled to pensions will not receive them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, on more than one occasion, has stated in the House of Commons that he has not received complaints from the officers concerned, but I am in a position to say that we have scores of complaints which must have reached high officials at headquarters, and I want the Secretary to the Treasury to tell us whether he or the Chancellor of the Exchequer has seen these documents, or whether they have been pigeon-holed by the permanent officials.
May I also say a word with reference to the treatment of the suffragists in prison. I am aware that the arrangements within our prisons have to a certain extent been altered, so that male political offenders who, when suffering imprisonment some years ago enjoyed certain advantages, cannot now enjoy them if they are incarcerated. I believe it is largely upon that ground that the Home Secretary has felt himself unable to mitigate the treatment of these ladies, who are, to all intents and purposes, political offenders. But does ho not think that the time has arrived when he, as the Minister responsible, should evolve a code of prison rules which would create a class of prisoners to which female political prisoners could be allotted? Without expressing any opinion upon the 1918 character of the offence, I do believe that however hostile a man may be to female suffrage, he would be the last to say that a woman who was imprisoned as a political agitator should be treated as a murderess or as a rabid criminal. May I be permitted to say a word or two in respect to a matter which I have on many occasions brought before Parliament—the action taken by the Home Office—the most unsympathetic action—by which contracts for canvas, for which the right hon. Gentlemen is responsible, are placed abroad? I am referring to the contracts for canvas which is worked up into mail bags in our prisons and supplied by the Home Office to the Post Office. Surely it is only reasonable that the ratepayers' money should be applied to keeping in steady employment the Workers of our own country when the work is needed to meet Government requirements? It seems all the more ridiculous that the right hon. Gentleman, for some trivial economy, should go abroad for this canvas when we have it emphatically stated to this House by the Secretary of State for War that the canvas supplied to his Department is of British make, and is made within these islands; and when we also know it is stated by the First Lord of the Admiralty that every yard of canvas supplied to the Navy is of British manufacture, and has to be manufactured in this country. Indeed, the First Lord of the Admiralty this Session announced that there was an express clause in the contract for the supply of canvas for Admiralty purposes by which the manufacturers pledged themselves to see that the goods supplied are manufactured in the United Kingdom. Why, then, if these two great spending Departments make that salutary rule, should the Home Office go abroad? Let me point out that, quite apart from any Free Trade argument, the right hon. Gentleman by his action has created a situation which has rendered it difficult for manufacturers to compete successfully against their foreign rivals. It is well known that the taking away of these contracts for mail-bag canvas has reduced the output of a number of factories in Scotland and in England which have for many years supplied these goods to the Homo Office, and they are not now able, in consequence, to manufacture the canvas at a rate which enables them to compete successfully with their rivals abroad, who are not bound by the Fair Wages Clause or by our Factory and Health Acts. The matter has been 1919 brought before the right hon. Gentleman repeatedly. I appeal to him to reconsider the whole situation, and to take a leaf out of the book of the War Office and the Admiralty, who are larger consumers of canvas than his Department, and who nevertheless find that they can get what they require from manufacturers within this country at a price which they deem to be economical, and of a quality which they own to be suitable for their purpose. I venture to say, and I believe the Postmaster-General will not contradict it, that if that right hon. Gentleman were responsible, as the Home Secretary would like him to be, for the supply of canvas, he would not pause long before he made it his business to see that the canvas was manufactured within this Kingdom. I have not got the details here this evening, but, as a matter of fact, I could give chapter and verse as to the number of factories which supply canvas and the number of persons who have been thrown out of employment by the sending of these contracts to Belgium. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give some definite reply on this subject. I hope likewise that the Secretary to the Treasury will not content himself this evening with a very short and indefinite reply, such as he gave to the House of Commons a few days ago, but that he will categorically state to the House the reasons why he thinks the remuneration given to the Excise officers is adequate, and based upon some good sound rule of payment according to the amount of work done. Perhaps he will also state why he thinks he is justified in causing men to be superannuated before the date which they might reasonably expect to be fixed, and thus mulcts them of a considerable portion of the sum to which they might not unreasonably have looked forward?
§ Mr. HUGH LAW
I would like to say a few words also with regard to the treatment of women prisoners. I do not propose to go into the merits of their cases. I will content myself by saying that, as out of evil good often comes, so I hope there will be a tardy recognition of what we have long fought for on these Irish Benches—the recognition of political prisoners. It seems to me that what common justice appears to demand and common-sense also is that there should be a distinction between political and ordinary crime embodied before very long in the English law. The other thing, which I hope will come out of these occurrences, is a very 1920 thorough reform of the whole prison system. I think that the Home Secretary will probably agree with me that already the attention which has been directed to our prisons, through the action of the commonly called suffragettes, has resulted in reform, which I have no doubt is exceedingly welcome to himself, and I have no doubt that these reforms will eventually go far beyond the appointment of a woman inspector, and result in a more decent treatment of all classes of prisoners. I hope also, if it will not lead to the abolition of the punishment of solitary confinement, it will bring about, at any rate, a very great diminution in the use of that punishment as it exists at present. If that should be so, I do not think any of the women, who have gone to prison, will regret it. They do not regret it for the sake of their cause, but I think that they, and everyone else will have cause to rejoice if that result comes about, as I have some confidence that it will, because there are certain things which only need to be brought to light, in order that the general sense of justice and the general good feeling, which is very permanent in this House, and which, I believe, actuates the present Home Secretary, may be asserted. These things only need to be revealed in order that the abuse shall be swept aside.
I turn to the matter upon which I intended to address a few words to the House. It concerns another question to which attention was called by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden), the administration of old age pensions. That is a subject, which, of course, by means of question and answer, has frequently been raised here, and the House will pardon me, if on this, probably the last, opportunity we shall have of discussing it, I say a few words as to the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act, particularly with regard to Ireland. I do not propose to say anything about that famous review of our old age pension cases, which was ordered by the Treasury, and which has ended as we rather expected it would in no very great results one way or another, but I want to refer to the ordinary administration of pension appeals. The appeals in regard to old age pensions in Ireland are dealt with by the Local Government Board, and I want to direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to two points. In the first place, it appears from information which I have received, that there is often very considerable delay in the case of an appeal. For instance, I have sent to me the case of a poor old 1921 woman, whose pension was appealed against by the pensions officer on 27th February, and when my informant wrote to me, on 14th July, nothing more had been beard of the case. I do not want to make too much of that; there may have been special reasons, and it would be obviously unfair to blame either the right hon. Gentleman or the Local Government Board, or anybody else, if it be an exceptional case, but I have some reason to think that there is delay which no one would defend, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will intimate in the proper quarter that delays of that sort are exceedingly improper, and likely to cause very great hardship, and ought not to take place.
The other point is one of greater substance. From such information as I have, it appears as if, at any rate, a very considerable number, I think probably the majority of the cases, which go on appeal to the Local Government Board are refused by them, and in fact in a great many cases which have come under my notice pensions already granted, and which the people have already been in receipt of, have been withdrawn. I do not mean to pretend, and it would be absurd to do so, that that necessarily shows that the Local Government Board is wrong, but I find that in nearly all the cases, the ground of appeal against a pension is age; it being alleged that the claimant is not 70 years of age, and there is very frequently a conflict between the local testimony on the one hand, in other words, the testimony which the claimant can produce, and the Census Return on the other. I heard of a case the other day, for example, in which the Census Return of 1851 showed the claimant to be 63 years of age, which would make her one year of age in 1847, but I have, on the other hand, the testimony of two men who I personally should be inclined to believe, that they themselves saw her herding cattle and going to school in the year 1847. If they did, and the Census Returns are to be believed, she must have been an exceedingly large and healthy child then for a child of one year of age. But the Secretary to the Treasury will say, and probably most people will say, that if you have a conflict between people's memory on the one hand and documentary evidence on the other, especially official evidence, or presumably a careful Return, like that of the Census, it is only reasonable to suppose that the memory is wrong and the Return is right, but we have to remember the manner in which these par- 1922 ticular Returns in Ireland were prepared. If is common knowledge that in Ireland, at any rate, the earlier Census Returns were prepared in the most careless way possible.
In the first place, the population took no particular heed of the process. They did not regard it as being of any importance, and it is generally understood that there was a tendency to understate the ages, especially in the case of boys. I do not know whether the Secretary to the Treasury has heard this before. I dare say he has, but it appears that at that time in Ireland the idea prevailed that the making of the Census was preparatory to the enforcement of compulsory military service, and, whatever may be the case in England, in Ireland then there was a great tendency to understate the age for that reason. But that is not the end of it. In addition to that, the compilers of the Census acted in the most casual manner. I have a case sent to me in which in a certain parish the Census Return for the entire parish was made by a policeman who spoke no Irish, whereas the people of the parish spoke no English. The policeman called to his assistance as his interpreter a shebeener locally called "the Barrister" and also a considerable quantity of whisky. He sat down in the shebeen, and with the assistance of "The Barrister" and the whisky this policeman proceeded, stimulated by what he had taken elsewhere, to set down the names and ages of all the inhabitants in the parish. I am credibly informed that he did not visit any of the houses, and that he continued to work to the end under the conditions I have described. I have no reason to suppose that that story is not reasonably correct, and if that is true I belive, in a greater or less degree, in regard to the Census of 1851, the same thing happened all over Ireland, and it does seem to me a little too bad that old people who are believed by their neighbours to be of the proper age, and who, at any rate, are within a few months of it, should be deprived of pensions, and in some cases of pensions which they are actually receiving, and which are taken away from them merely because either their ages are not found in the Census at all or because their ages as given in the Census do not bear out the presumption that they are 70 years of age. I think it is not too much to ask, that where there is such a conflict between Census Returns so compiled, on the one hand, and respectable local testimony upon the other— 1923 where for example the parish priest is willing to give his certificate, to the best of his belief, having heard the testimony of credible persons, that he believes the persons to be 70 years of age—I really think that ought to be sufficient, and that under those circumstances the Local Government Board ought to take a more favourable view than they have hitherto done of these pension claims.
§ The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Mr. C. Hobhouse)
The hon. Member who has just sat down has called the attention of the House to certain alleged hardships in the administration of the Old Age Pensions Act in Ireland. Let me, in answer to him, very briefly say that the administration of the Act is referred to the Local Government Board in Ireland, over which I have no jurisdiction, and with whose decisions I have no power of interference, and all that I can do is to represent to my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary the alleged facts which he has brought to the notice of the House. The hon. Gentleman who first of all this afternoon raised the question of old age pensions and other cognate subjects, is in the habit of coming down to the House, and on the strength of correspondence, no doubt correspondence sent to him, which he gives to the House in perfect good faith, he is in the habit of alleging facts to have taken place, which upon examination will not always bear the interpretation which he has put upon them. For instance, the other day he gave the case of two officers, whom he alleged if they had been given the three extra months which the Treasury were prepared to give in such cases, would have got another year's service added on, and would have received an extra increment of pension.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
What I said was that if the officer had been given three weeks' more pay he would have come within the limit of three months of the completed year.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
Just let us see if that is the fact or not. Because, after all, the justice of the allegation consists in the correctness of the facts. The one was the case of a clerk at Birmingham and the other was the case of an officer at Leeds. The principal clerk at Birmingham reached the age of 61 on 5th August, 1908. His pensionable service began on 25th November, 1869, and similarly in the case at Leeds the officer reached 61 years of age 1924 on 21st July, 1909, and his pensionable service began on 17th November, 1869. Even the three weeks, which would have broken the rules, added to the three-months, could not possibly have given an extra year's pension.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
According to the figures the right hon. Gentleman has read out the officer was born in the first week of August, that is, three months and three weeks, exactly what I have said.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
The hon. Gentleman suggests that if a certain period had been added to a certain other period the man would have got an extra pension. What would he have got the extra pension for?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
That is exactly what he would not have done. It would have been for commencing and not for completing a year's service. You cannot make a rule and then deliberately go behind it on every occasion where possible hardship occurs when a particular date brings a particular officer very near to a fixed date and consequently creates a hardship. You must have a hard-and-fast date which is applicable to all servants of the service concerned, otherwise you will have to inflict great hardship; in fact, it would be impossible to maintain any rule at all if you were to break the rule in favour of a particular officer whose time was nearly affected by the date of retirement.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
It is just as well to restate, what the hon. Gentleman has not mentioned, that at the time this superannuation rule was imposed, namely, 1897, upon the officers of Inland Revenue, but not the officers of Customs or Excise, they were specially warned that the Board reserve for future consideration the question of a further reduction to 61 or 60 as the age of compulsory retirement. No such change will be made without due notice being given." Six months' notice was given of the intended change, and then came in that further period of three months' grace, so that in the case of officers retiring on the earliest date after the notice was given nine months had elapsed before they were called upon to retire. I do not think the hon. Gentleman can possibly say that due notice was not given or that unfair advantage was taken of these particular officers.
1925 The hon. Gentleman passed to the question of fines in the case of 14 particular officers. As a matter of fact, it was not 14, but 15—a small point, but the hon. Gentleman likes accuracy, and so do I. I had the case of these 15 officers looked into exceedingly carefully by an officer who is not concerned; and I myself saw the papers when the fines were originally imposed. There were four officers who distinctly wrote to the "Civilian" after receiving the circular. There was one doubtful case, where it was impossible to say whether or not the officer had actually received the circular before he wrote. All the remaining officers wrote before they received the circular, but they could undoubtedly, after receiving the circular, have requested, by writing, cancellation of the information given. In three cases the officer requested cancellation by letter. In the last case but one cancellation could have been requested, but only by telegraph, and in the fifteenth case the officer received the circular after publication. What the hon. Gentleman has not told the House, and what it is desirable should be made perfectly clear, is that there were general instructions laid down and constantly acted upon forbidding officers to give information to the public. The order in question is No. 62. It is unquestioned that the general circular exists, and is constantly acted upon, and that the officers were punished for disobedience to the general instructions, as well as for disregard of the particular circular.
The hon. Gentleman went on to deal with the question of the non-delivery of old age pension books, and said 30,000 people were unable to draw their pensions in consequence of the non-delivery of the books. As a matter of fact, the number is a little larger—I think it is 31,000. The reason for that is that in 7,000 cases the pensioners were absent from their homes, and in the remaining 24,000 cases there was a variety of reasons—sickness and reasons of that sort—why the books could not be delivered. On the other hand, it is unquestionably true that a certain number of books could not be delivered because there were not persons enough to deliver them. I have made arrangements within the last eight or ten days to increase the number of Excise officers available for the purpose of delivering pension books, and I hope, apart from these cases of pensioners being away from their homes, etc., the number of cases where Excise officers are unable to deliver pension books to the pensioners will be reduced to a very small number 1926 indeed. I would point out to the House that when we have to deal with so large a number of pensioners it is inevitable that mistakes should occur. I do not think there is any person in the House who does not recognise that mistakes are inevitable, and that really they are not altogether inexcusable. The hon. Gentleman also referred to the Revenue stations we have closed up. He knows quite well, as the House knows, that an amalgamation has taken place in the Customs and Excise, that a large portion of the Excise work has been transferred to the county councils, and that consequently the amount of Excise work is very largely diminished.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
Has it not always been stated that the old age pension work is compensation for the licensing work?
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
To a certain extent that is so, and the result is that a number of stations have been closed and that the area of work has been redistributed. I cannot off-hand give the number of stations closed and the number opened, but I should say that on a balance of the whole the difference is not large. That is the reason for the alteration of the areas, and it is also the reason for the closing of a considerable number of stations. The hon. Member went on to refer to the subject of civil rights. He will not expect me to make a pronouncement on that subject. The question has been discussed by a Committee of the Government, and is still under their consideration. I do not think the hon. Member for Hoxton raised any point which I have not endeavoured to cover.
§ Mr. CLAUDE HAY
I asked if the Secretary to the Treasury could tell us whether he or the Chancellor of the Exchequer had received any complaints from Excise officers. The Chancellor of the Exchequer recently said that he was waiting for complaints in order to consider them.
§ Mr. HOBHOUSE
I understand that at the present time these complaints are being compiled and transmitted to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. CLAUDE HAY
Is it not a fact that these officers have received curt replies refusing consideration of their complaints?
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
The hon. Member for Hoxton raised a question about con- 1927 tracts for canvas for mail bags. I was a little surprised to hear that he considered me responsible for the present system, whether good or bad. What I have done is simply to accept the precise arrangement which was come to in 1905 between my predecessor at the Home Office and the Postmaster-General of the time. I do not think it is a very serious point, because the contracts placed abroad for canvas for mail bags for 1909–10 will only involve payment of £4,520 in respect of two contracts, as against 17 contracts placed at home. I will make this concession to the hon. Gentleman. I do not think the present system is satisfactory, for the simple reason that two Departments are concerned, namely, the Post Office and the Prison Commissions. That being so, it is very difficult for the Home Office to follow the details of these matters. It may be best to transfer responsibility to the Postmaster-General, with whom I will confer. Without making any pledge, I undertake to see what can be done in regard to the matter.
The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) has at some length made a considerable number of allegations against those who are concerned with the administration of prisons. He raised the question of political offenders. Political offences were not really known to the law, although the first decision was prescribed for offences by the law relating to sedition and seditious libel. I do not propose at this moment to go deeply into that. I know what is in his mind in regard to a certain class of political offences. But I do not understand why, if anybody chooses to break the ordinary law, he or she should be immune from the consequences of breaking the law. How are you to draw a distinction between one offender and another I You may have a political motive, and under that you may break a window or knock a man down. How far is the hon. Member going—where does he stop—at what time does he say that the offender ought to go to the first division, or the second division, or the third division?
§ Mr. H. GLADSTONE
If the hon. Member leaves it in my hands, I tell him frankly that any person who breaks the ordinary law should suffer the consequences of breaking the ordinary law. That is my opinion, and I think the 1928 magistrates have acted quite discreetly and according to law in the action they have taken with respect to persons who have been guilty of these offences. I presume that the hon. Member has read the Act of 1898. That Act vests in the Court discretion to say to what division an offender should be committed. I have never denied that under the powers possessed by the Home Secretary in connection with the exercise of the prerogative of mercy in a particular case, a person who was sent to the second division might properly and constitutionally be put in the first. But when courts of law, not only courts of summary jurisdiction but "he High Court itself, commit prisoners to a particular division, then the Home Secretary would be acting wrongly, and outside his constitutional function, and in express contradiction of the terms of the Act of 1898, if he took it upon himself to override the judgment of the court, and set aside the commitment of a prisoner to a particular division. It would be wholly wrong to do so. I know quite well with regard to this matter that I do not occupy a very comfortable position, and I have not occupied a very comfortable position for the last three years, but this I do know, that if I were to adopt the course suggested by the hon. Member my position would very soon become intolerable. I should land myself and my colleagues, and perhaps Parliament itself, in the position of producing a dispute between the Executive on the one hand and the judiciary on the other. The hon. Member knows quite well that one of the fundamental principles of liberty in this country is that the judicial authority should be completely independent of the Executive. What would be said if the Executive authority, in the face of the Act of 1898, took upon itself the power and privilege which the law distinctly puts into the hands of the Court? So, therefore, I say that the power rests with the magistrates. But I agree that the law does make distinctions between offences. The law of 1898 recognises it somewhat more plainly than any law which has been previously passsed. Before that Act there were only two divisions known. There were the first class misdemeanants and then there were all the other prisoners put together. Practically there was no distinction except between the class known as first class misdemeanant and the others. The Act of 1898 altered that, and set up in its place the first, second, and third divisions. So therefore it is perfectly clear that the law already does 1929 recognise a distinction between offences and offenders, and it is the duty of the court of summary jurisdiction, the High Court, or any other court, to consider the nature of a particular offence, the character of the particular offender, and according to the evidence before it, to commit the offender to such division as it thinks right.
The hon. Member has said that I transferred Mrs. Cobden Sanderson from the second to the first. I did not. I have explained to the House several times what I did. It was in 1906, and there was a disturbance and some dozen ladies were arrested. I think the magistrate committed one to the third division and the rest to the second. When a prisoner whose character and antecedents are good is committed to the third division, the practice of the Home Office, ever since the Act of 1898, has been, to call the attention of the court to the provisions of the law, in the hope that the spirit and the letter of the law will be observed, and I did call the attention of the magistrate at that time to this, and the result of that was that 10 or 12 prisoners, including, I think, Mrs. Cobden Sanderson, were transferred by the direct and official act of the magistrate himself to the first division. Then in February and March, 1907, a large number of suffragettes went to prison. I think they amounted altogether, in two lots, to 115. The magistrates committed them to the first division. The first division is not punitive. Those who framed the Act of 1898 I suppose thought that any prisoner committed to the first division would be a prisoner who would not be of an ordinary character, and would not require strict discipline. As a matter of fact, there is little or no power of preserving and enforcing order among prisoners committed to the first division if they prove disorderly. The first division simply means detention, without any other punitive consequences. What happened after these 115 ladies were sent to the first division? If I remember aright, they protested against privileged treatment. They said: "Give us the prison dress. We will wear the prison dress; we will be treated as other prisoners; we do not want any distinction. We want to show the world that we stand by our principles." That was their attitude when they were actually in the first division. The discipline and the management of the prison were seriously imperilled. It is quite clear that, under the arrangements as they exist, it is impossible to be re- 1930 sponsible for order in the prisons if those who are committed to the first division refuse to keep order. The magistrates, since then finding, I suppose, that these ladies persist in disorderly tactics, assumed, I suppose, that the first division was not enough, and since then they have committed them to the second division. Now the hon. Member says that they are petitioning for the first division, but when they were sent to the first division they made a grievance of that fact, because they said they were given privileges, and they wanted to be treated as ordinary prisoners. I do any best, but whatever I do in this matter is wrong. I am very sorry, but I have done my best, and I can do no more. I pass on to another part of the hon. Member's speech. He made a great number of very serious charges against the prison officials, and, of course, against myself as responsible for prison administration.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
I made no charge. The only reference I made was to read an extract from an article which I had seen. I did not pledge myself to the accuracy of a word of it, but I considered that these women should be at least as much believed as the statements of interested officers.
§ Mr. H. GLADSTONE
What was the nature of this statement which the hon. Member read out? The lady spoke of the dungeon to which she was committed. There is no dungeon at all. I have been in all these cells myself quite recently. It was described as icy cold, as never having been warmed, as damp, and having a smell of sewage. Before the hon. Member gives currency to these statements, he should really inquire if there is any truth in them? Has he ever been in Holloway himself?
§ Mr. GLADSTONE
I will give the hon. Member every facility for an inspection of the cells, and that will be quite sufficient to dispose of these false charges so far as he is concerned. I take it that the hon. Member does not make himself responsible for those charges. I think his authority said that the cell was six inches below the ground outside. It may possibly be that the floor of the cell is four inches or 1931 perhaps six inches below the level of the ground, but practically it is the ground floor, and on the level of the ground outside. The hon. Member seems to think that when I visited the prison the cells were specially prepared for my inspection. That was not so. I gave very short notice. I telephoned up to the prison that I was coming myself, and I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I gave no time at all for the cells to be washed, cleansed, disinfected, fumigated, and properly drained, and for all those processes which, if the allegations are half true, would be necessary to make the cell proper and decent. These are called special cells. As soon as these ladies arrived they were placed in the ordinary cells, and they at once proceeded to break all the glass which is provided in tile interests of the prisoners themselves, so that it may be possible for them to look out and have that little amount of relaxation. They broke every pane of glass, and they are still pursuing those tactics. It is quite obvious, that we could not leave them in the cells with broken panes. They would have caught cold, and then I would have been arraigned here for that. Therefore we had to remove them to cells where they could not break glass. These special cells are, I admit, for the more disorderly prisoners, who have a tendency to do as much mischief in the cells as they possibly can. In regard to the charge that the cells were damp, I went round and felt every one of the walls, and I will undertake to say that they are as dry as any wall in the House of Commons. They are ventilated and warmed in precisely the same way as other cells. It is difficult to keep a prison cell at an ideal temperature. Sometimes, in a change of the weather, it is too cold and sometimes too hot, but on the whole there is very little variation at this time of the year. The temperature is perfectly normal, as I am quite sure the hon. Member himself would be the first to admit. As regards the smell of sewage, there is no sewage near it; it is ridiculous. As to there being vermin, why the one fault of our prisons is that they are perhaps too clean. Everyone who has made any study of our prisons, however cursory, knows quite well that every prison authority makes it his first duty to battle against the possibility of some prisoner being in a verminous state. Before these ladies were admitted the cells 1932 were personally inspected by the Secretary of the Prison Commission, and I saw them myself subsequently. I undertake to say that these charges have been put about to discredit the Government, to discredit myself, and to discredit all concerned, and they have been put about for an obvious reason. They are disgraceful charges, which ought never to have been made.
If the hon. Member will do me the honour of spending a little time in Holloway, I can assure him that no inconvenient results would follow, and he shall have ample opportunity to see the exact conditions under which the suffragettes are imprisoned. I have never pretended that our prison system is perfect. We are always improving it in some way or another, and one of the great difficulties we have to fight against is that these prisons were built a great many years ago when there were different ideas of prison treatment. They are great, costly buildings, and we have to make the best of what we have got. Having made the best of our prisons, we have to administer the law as we find it, and that is precisely what I am doing in this case. I have never desired to keep anything back in regard to prison treatment. I am most anxious that every Member of this House should see for himself the exact conditions which prevail. I am always ready to receive suggestions, but it does make me somewhat angry when charges are made by ladies, whether they have been to Holloway or whether they have not, which are really without foundation. I have myself interviewed suffragette ladies who have been in Holloway, and I have asked them questions about it. I am quite satisfied that if all these ladies are asked about their treatment in Holloway the vast majority of them will say that though they did not like the second division, and thought they ought to have been sent to the first, the cells were clean and healthy, the food was ample and good, and the prison staff would be difficult to improve. I hope that the hon. Member will by personal examination satisfy himself that we are not so black as we are painted.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to assure the right hon. Gentleman that I really raised this question for the purpose of hearing his explanation. Whenever I have approached him privately in regard to the treatment of these women I have always 1933 been received most courteously, and he has always given attention to my representations.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
On a point of order, I should like to know whether it is not the usual custom before we take up another subject to allow those Members who want to speak on old age pensions to do so. I have given the usual notice, and I should think that before a new subject is entered upon that I should be allowed to make my remarks.
§ Sir J. H. DALZIEL
I desire to mention a matter which I endeavoured to bring under the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty at Question time to-day. It refers to the treatment of the Press in the naval review of last Saturday. From the answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave this afternoon I think he himself was prepared to admit that the arrangements were not all that could be desired, and I should not have referred to the matter again when the right hon. Gentleman personally expressed his regret, but for the two remarkable statements which he made in his reply. Let me say in the first place, speaking on behalf of many of my friends who were there, I was not there myself, either on the "Seahorse" or the "Adriatic," but speaking on their behalf I make no complaints to the right hon. Gentleman for not supplying food on the occasion. If they are the guests of the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of the Government they naturally are content to accept the provisions for their convenience that may be made. What they do complain of is in the case where by invitations of the Government it was necessary to leave their homes in London at say 8 o'clock in the morning, that it is too long for the Government to ask them to wait until half-past ten before it is possible to get any refreshments. They think if it was not the intention of the Government to provide refreshments of any kind that an intimation to that effect ought to have been conveyed on the invitation, so that they would have realised that there was no possibility of obtaining any refreshment, and, of course, they would have taken their own steps to do so. The right hon. Gentleman admits that the arrangements 1934 were not all that they should have been, and therefore I will not unnecessarily dwell upon that aspect. The point is that food ought to have been provided for sale if it was not the intention of the Government to treat them as guests in a proper fashion on board the "Seahorse."
I come to two statements which the right hon. Gentleman made in his reply, and on which an even more important question is raised, and that is the accuracy of the information supplied to the right hon. Gentleman and the replies which he gave. We cannot expect the right hon. Gentleman to have personal knowledge of what took place. I do not even blame him for any want of attention in regard to the arrangements. I assume ha had subordinate officers who would take the responsibility, but it is to him we wish to make the complaint. The two statements to which I take exception, and which I venture to say are totally unfounded, and on which the person supplying the information, whether willingly or not, is misleading the right hon. Gentleman, were, in the first place, to the effect that there was a canteen on board, where food could have been obtained; and, secondly, to the effect that there was a unanimous request by the Press representatives that the "Seahorse" should stay longer at sea than was otherwise intended. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do not raise a question of this kind without making all reasonable investigations into the accuracy of any complaints that may be made. I can assure him he is totally and entirely misinformed by his officer when he says that the Pressmen were consulted or made anything like a unanimous representation with regard to remaining on the sea. I know several gentlemen who were there, and who scoured the whole boat and made inquiries of every officer, until in the end they succeeded in getting a little bread and butter at a late period of the day from some of the tars. The right hon. Gentleman may take it that it is not true to say that any canteen was provided on board where provisions could be purchased. Therefore I am entitled to ask him how the officers who gave the information came to make such a remarkable statement. In my opinion, he was trying probably to explain or minimise probably his own neglect of the matter, and in that way he has made statements which cannot be proved, and which are unfounded.
I come to the other point about the unanimous request. How could a unani- 1935 mous request be made without a large number of those making it knowing something about it? No representation at all was made. They were not consulted, but without doubt, having no food, no refreshment, not even a glass of milk, at a late hour of the day, I should say if they had been consulted they would have voted unanimously that the captain should have steered to the shore. Therefore his information on that point is totally unfounded. With regard to the hour at which the "Seahorse" returned, the most interesting part of the review took place about 4.30. To have returned to shore at that time would not have enabled the Press representatives to have been able to see certain manuvœres which I understand took place. It seems to me we have the fact that, although it may have lasted longer than was originally intended, there is no explanation of why some provision was not made for the Press representatives. We all know that it was no personal discourtesy on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, but that in this case someone has blundered. The right hon. Gentleman has expressed his regret, and so far as I am concerned I leave the matter there, but I do object to misstatements being made in reply to me as they were, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will do me the favour of making further inquiry, and that when he does he will admit any statement I have made was absolutely right.
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. McKenna)
On the general question I take the somewhat unusual course of acknowledging in the fullest terms that a blunder has been made, and I am very sorry for it. I regret it exceedingly. Every word that fell from my hon. Friend in the early part of his speech was absolutely true. The fact that the Pressmen had to travel long distances to get there, and that they might have to travel long distances to get home, and they might have no opportunity of getting refreshments on arriving at Portsmouth—all these are facts which ought to have been anticipated, and I greatly regret that they were not. I think it is impossible after the event to do more than this, and to promise, so far as I can, that it shall not happen again so far as I am concerned. As to the other point raised by my hon. Friend, as regards the subject-matter of the reply, let me say this—I will inquire most carefully into the accuracy of the statements which I made. I will investigate it as 1936 carefully as it is possible to do, and I will be glad if my hon. Friend will allow me to send him privately the result of the information which I received. If he wishes to put another public question on the subject I shall be most happy to answer it. Let me also take this opportunity of saying that when I replied to-day I observed that the representatives of the Press, although suffering under provocation, had not in fact complained to me. I did not mean to imply that my hon. Friend ought not to have complained on their behalf. Quite the contrary, I should lie glad that any Member of Parliament who was aware of the facts should bring them to my knowledge, but I do wish to take the opportunity of saying that the Pressmen themselves had shown me no discourtesy when they did not personally complain to me. I hope my hon. Friend will be satisfied with the reply I have made.
§ Mr. CHARLES DUNCAN
I wish to refer to the position of the Customs officers; but it is not very encouraging when the representative of the Government concerned has left his place, and it is therefore impossible to receive an answer to any complaints I may make, however reasonable they may be. I want to deal with a section of men numbering 830, who for a considerable time have had practically no hope of promotion. Last year when I laid their case before the House I received some little encouragement from the Secretary to the Treasury, who admitted that there was very little hope of promotion as far as these particular officers were concerned, but hinted that there was a possibility of some solution of the difficulty being brought about within a reasonable time. This question has been hanging on since November, 1907. The men were then asked by the Board of Customs, owing to the breakdown of the present classification and the absence of promotion, to draw up a new scale of pay on the lines of the Second Division clerks; and the Board themselves promised to support that scale, provided it was not too costly and that the men were reasonably unanimous upon it. In response to this request the officers drew up a scale of pay roughly upon the following lines, namely, to start at £70, rising by £5 per annum to £90; then to advance by £7 10s. per annum to £150; and then to advance by £10 per annum to £300. This particular scheme was approved by the Board of Customs; but because a few of the younger men were not in complete 1937 agreement with it the whole scheme was withdrawn, and since 1907 no improvement whatever has been suggested. On 25th June last year I introduced a deputation of these men to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. They placed their scheme before the right hon. Gentleman, but from then till now very little progress, if any, has been made. A good deal of correspondence has passed between the Financial Secretary and myself on this question, and on 2nd November last the right hon. Gentleman wrote:—The proposals put before me at the deputation which you introduced last June have been the subject of careful examination and thought. I have come to the conclusion that the case of these men had better be decided at the same time as, and concurrently with, the arrangements which are being made as regards the Excise staft.There, I suppose, the right hon. Gentleman is alluding to the fact that an amalgamation scheme is at present being considered. The Customs officers desire that, inasmuch as a Committee has been appointed to consider this amalgamation, their case also should be considered by the same Committee. They have placed their scheme before the Secretary to the Treasury, and they are exceedingly anxious that their views upon it should be put before this Committee. They think it scarcely fair that the question should be allowed to go by default, that no statement of their case should be put forward, that only the superior official should consider and decide whether the particular scale of pay suggested is a fair and proper one, and that they themselves should be left entirely to the mercy of the chief officials without being consulted in any way whatever. While realising that the officials of the Treasury will have their views, the men themselves, knowing that the matter has been postponed all these years, and that there is no hope of promotion under existing circumstances, feel that they have a very real claim to be heard by the Committee. The Secretary to the Treasury has made a statement upon which the men concerned lay great stress. The right hon. Gentleman says:—'It is quite true that a scheme of promotion has been approved by the Customs for examining officers and assistant clerks, and it looked at one time as if the system could have been agreed upon by the various parties concerned; but owing to certain circumstances a number of the Customs officers fell away from the scheme. The matter therefore required further consideration.He went on to say, however, that he intended to set before the Committee a scheme which would render more hopeful 1938 the claims of this deserving class. We are anxious to know what that particular scheme is. We have never had the slightest information in regard to it. One of the schemes which the men themselves have laid before the Treasury has been sanctioned by the Board of Customs, and the men are exceedingly anxious to know whether the scheme which the Secretary to the Treasury has in his mind will be better or worse for them than the scale accepted some time ago by the Board of Customs themselves. I think I have put before the House a plain and reasonable case on behalf of these men. Twice this week I have endeavoured to raise the question, but on each occasion have failed. Tonight, the only opportunity I have had, after waiting patiently for a long time, the only representative of the Government who could have given me a reply has left the House, and I suppose the matter will be hung up again for another 12 months. That is not a fair or reasonable way in which to meet a case which a Member of this House has a right to put forward; nor is it quite the consideration which the officers on whose behalf I speak have a right to expect. It is not as though the representative of the Government did not know. He knew well enough that I wished to raise the matter on Monday. As a matter of fact, I gave way on that occasion in order that he might reply to the speeches which had been made. I believe he was conversant with the fact to-night also, because he crossed the floor of the House and asked if I was going to speak on the question, and I told him "Yes." Now, having put the case, the whole matter is to go by the board, the men are to have another year's disappointment, and I am to receive no answer whatever. We have put the ease in a reasonable way, and I think I have a reasonable complaint against the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I do hope that in some way this will get to his ears—I suppose he will be able to read the reports of the speeches made to-day—and I hope that the complaint that I make to-night—that I make quite seriously and earnestly—will receive some attention, and that these men will be given the same opportunity to state their case before this particular Committee. I should like to ask that some definite assurance should be given that the scheme submitted by the deputation on 25th June, 1908, will be laid before the Committee in the evidence to be taken; and in that way, I venture to 1939 say, and only in that way will the particular officers concerned receive anything like satisfaction in the treatment of their case.
§ The PRESIDENT of the LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. John Burns)
My hon. Friend the Member for Barrow (Mr. C. Duncan), with great force and directness, has detailed to the House the grievances of the Customs officers, whose position he has referred to, and whose complaints he has voiced this evening. In the unavoidable absence of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury—[Several HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] It would be as improper for me to say where he is, as it is improper to ask. The chief point made by the hon. Member was that the grievances of certain men should come before the Committee. I can assure him if that is his chief point that the men will have an opportunity of submitting their views to the Committee. If they do so, he can rest assured that those grievances will get that consideration that they are entitled to.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
I am sorry that the Financial Secretary has run away. I quite agree with the remarks of the hon. Member opposite with regard to him. So far as I am personally concerned, I am sorry he has not shown the usual courtesy by remaining to hear what one had to say, he having had notice that I wished to make some remarks in regard to old age pensions. I am not going into the question of old age pensions generally, but there is no doubt there have been cases of hardship by the Local Government Board deciding differently in different cases. I do not want to make much complaint about that at the present moment, because with so many cases of course difficulties are hound to arise. We hope, however, presently with the improved and reformed Local Government Board of Scotland that better may be done in the future. At the present moment it comes rather hard upon us that there is no appeal from what appears to be the crooked decision of the Scottish Local Government Board. I hardly know where that Board is, but I believe it exists somewhere if you look into the financial accounts. I gave notice that I wish to call attention to some matters concerning Sutherlandshire particularly. I have been asked by several officials to bring these matters before the House seeing that they have no redress otherwise. I have a 1940 right to do so, and a right to have the opportunity to do so. The first case to which my attention has been drawn by some of my Constituents is with regard to the penalty or fine charged upon certain officials because it was said they had given news to some paper. I am strictly in favour of regulations being kept. We must have regulations. But what does occur to me is that looking at the question independently, this £10 fine on these not too well paid officials was very harsh. It ought to have been reduced or never made. To my mind a reprimand would have been quite sufficient. I admit the matter ought to be taken up, but a reprimand, instead of a financial disaster of this sort, would have been quite enough for these officials on this occasion. It has been admitted that with regard to most of them, that they knew nothing of the circular of 26th September. It is said that four out of the 15 did know something about it. It is admitted that those concerned did not know of this circular of 26th September until afterwards. Of course, I know that there was amongst the general regulations a prohibition against giving any news. I do not deny that that is right, but I should like to appeal to those concerned to reduce this fine at least, or not to enforce it, because it is rather harsh, and quite unnecessary for the body of officers who, I am sure, are invariably trustworthy and intelligent, and who usually do their duty ably. They are not too well paid. Before the Treasury seeks to increase the salaries of those well paid officials through the Bill now before the House they had better do something for those officers who are so poorly paid. I shall not be able to vote for increasing these big salaries until I see the minor ones attended to. The next question I wish to ask about is with regard to the gratuity or payment that was supposed to be made, to these Inland Revenue officials for their work in compiling the register and looking after the cases of old age pensions; work which lasted from 1st October to 31st December. So far as the cases brought to my notice were concerned, these officials got about £20 for that work. On the very lowest calculation, the pay for this overtime ought to have been about £70. It has been positively refused that their case should be reconsidered, and they have been told that they will get nothing. There was another class of officials—clerks of the local committees. In a case I have before me, the clerk to the local committee got £164 for doing 1941 about half the work or less than half the work. That is eight times what the Inland Revenue officials were paid. I do not want to say anything against remunerating clerks of the Local Committees, but when a clerk gets eight times what the other gets it looks as if there was something unfair somewhere, and it ought to be reconsidered before it is passed away from. Take the case of Sutherland, with which I am particularly acquainted. There is a very scattered population, and long distances have to be travelled to get the necessary information. In one case an officer had to attend to a district from Cape Wrath to St. Abbs Head. One officer had something like 800 square miles to attend to, and about 400 eases. In this particular ease he travelled 1,300 miles to get the information that was required for the 400 cases, yet he only got £20 for that. I am sure one has a right to ask that the Government should consider each of these cases upon its merits, and each case upon the amount of work done, because it often happens that those who do the least work get the most pay. The President of the Local Government Board will agree that this is usually the case, and I would like to have some promise from the Government that they will at least consider the position of those poorly paid officials, and if they find they have not been sufficiently paid up to the present they will see that their cases are investigated, and they are properly remunerated. These are hard-worked officials, and they are but poorly paid. I hear no complaint about their work in Sutherland, and therefore, I hope, that we may succeed in getting the President of the Local Government Board to assist in reconsidering these matters. They had three months' work, during which period they had to work very hard, and to work overtime; and I am glad to know that they did their work so well that every person who was admitted to be entitled to a pension received that pension on 1st January.
My third point covers the question of superannuation. That is a matter which very particularly concerns the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. We are told that there is a Departmental Committee called the Hobhouse Committee sitting, or about to sit, to consider the question of the amalgamation of those two services. What we want to know is, What are the terms of reference to that Committee? Do they cover the points in dispute and the grievances complained of by those officials? It is: always unfortunate that a large body 1942 of public officials like these,, who have serious work to do in looking after the finances of the country, that where grievances exist among such bodies of public servants that, instead of having the matter considered by a Committee of this House, or by any other Committee, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government appoint a Departmental Committee, but in doing so say that such Committee is not to inquire into the grievances of these public servants. I am afraid the Committee will not do so, otherwise we should not have the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Financial Secretary saying that under no circumstances would their case be considered any more.
I do not think that is a fair answer for any Minister to make in this House. If it is shown that there is some grievance in regard to the payments for this particular work, which ought never to have been called gratuities, no Minister of State, however big he might be, has any right to say that the matter shall not be considered. We are entirely within our rights here in bringing these complaints of grievances before Ministers. Our remedy for grievances is to bring them forward, and it is the very foundation of our Constitution that before the Government shall get money they must first settle with us over these grievances. My difficulty is, Who is going to answer me? I know the President of the Local Government Board, who is present, would answer if he could; but, of course, he cannot take any responsibility in the matter, and that I fully appreciate. Otherwise I am sure he would do so. I have seen him on other occasions, such as that of the reception of the men of the fleet in the City, representing in a most beneficent way the whole of His Majesty's Government. But that was an occasion on which he could do so. I do not think he can do it for me this afternoon. I suppose the Patronage Secretary says we do not care about the Member for Sutherland; he is only a humble and a poor man. I want to know why is the Secretary to the Treasury no there? Where is the Patronage Secretary, and why did he let the Secretary to the Treasury go away? There are other people here waiting to put their grievances before the House, and I hope the President of the Local Government Board will convey to his colleagues that they ought to be here on this financial night, and that no excuse, except illness, ought to have kept them away. We pay them; we want them to understand they are our 1943 servants, and that they wear our liveries, and they take our pay. If there is any Minister of any account whatever to give me some assurances with regard to these matters, I shall be obliged to him, and I shall be quite willing to recognise that at any rate some of the Government are here to do their duty.
§ Mr. R. L. EVERETT
There is one thing in regard to this Bill which we are about to read a second time which has not yet been said. Hon. Members have discussed everything except the Bill itself, and I believe that is the custom when the impropriation Bill is being dealt with. I wish, however, to point out a unique circumstance, and it is that this Bill contains for the first time an enormous sum of money devoted to old age pensions for the people. This Bill deals with £126,500,000 devoted to all manner of services, but it is quite a new thing to see in this measure what has been in no Bill of its kind before in any previous year, namely, that £9,660,000 are appropriated for the veterans of industry, relieving those in great want of relief and bringing joy and gladness and comfort into the homes of multitudes of people. When we go back to our constituents, if we have nothing else in our hands but the Appropriation Bill as the work of this Parliament, we should be carrying a rich harvest to the people's homes. We have got this glorious Bill providing old age pensions, and here is the measure finally appropriating close upon £10,000,000, which is to go into the pockets of these poor old people. There is not a village in the land or a street in any town where there will not be many poor people gladdened by the receipt of this money, which will find its way into their homes. I feel that I could not part with this Bill without calling attention to this glorious feature of it, and reminding the House that this large sum is being devoted for the first time to this special object. I think hon. Members of this House are to be congratulated that it is their privilege to pass such a glorious measure for the good of our fellow creatures.
§ Mr. H. B. LYNCH
This is one of the rare occasions on which it is possible to raise questions affecting our foreign relations; and as there is a blocking Motion against the particular subject I wish to discuss, I think I may say that this is the only occasion which will occur for a considerable 1944 time upon which it will be possible to discuss this question. My object is to elicit from the spokesman for the Foregn Office some statement as to the policy which it is proposed by His Majesty's Government to pursue in relation to Persia under the new circumstances which have recently arisen in that country. I may remind the House in raising this subject of Persia that it is not one which has recently arisen on the field of our foreign politics, but Persia is our next-door neighbour in India, and it is quite certain that if the independence of Persia were to fall it would devolve upon this country the defence of a frontier of 700 miles on the west of Afghanistan against Russia, one of the first-class military Powers of Europe. I wish to make my remarks very brief, and I shall endeavour to invest them with a character as uncontroversial as possible. I recognise to the full the very difficult and delicate situation in which the leaders of the Nationalist party in Persia have been placed after the brilliant victory which they have achieved over the forces of reaction. There are at present distributed over Persia Russian troops numbering between 6,000 and 7,000 men, and consequently I should be particularly anxious to avoid saying anything which might increase the difficulties of the new Nationalist Government in the face of that very peculiar situation. I think there has been no more remarkable revolution within the memory of those present than that which has recently occurred in Persia. We may be inclined to compare it with the revolution that recently took place in Turkey, but I think even the comparison is in favour of Persia. Let me remind the House of the facts. As the House knows, the revolution in Turkey was the outcome of two revolutionary events, one in July last year and the other in May of this year. In July of last year the Constitution was restored by the Army corps of Salonika, and in May of this year the same troops marched upon Constantinople and deposed the Sultan, who had been unfaithful to his promises to maintain that Constitution. Both these objects have been accomplished by one single blow in Persia. The Nationalist forces who marched into Tehran not only re-established the Constitution but they did more, for they effected the removal of the Shah, who had been responsible for most of the miseries which had befallen his country. There is also this to be said in favour of the Persian revolution, and it is, that whereas the Young Turks had a free hand, the 1945 Persian Nationalists were acting in the face and against the remonstrances of two great Powers who overshadowed their country on the north and south, namely, Great Britain and Russia. Let me remind the House that both these Powers, who have undertaken the guardianship of Persia, have made repeated remonstrances to the Nationalist forces, urging them not to advance on Tehran. The Consuls-General of the Russian and British Governments made formal representations to the Leader of the Nationalist forces in the capital of the South of Persia to the effect that they should on no account send reinforcements to the General who was operating in the North. The Russian and British Diplomatic representatives at Tehran, when the Nationalist forces had approached the capital, informed the Nationalist leaders—these are the words of Lord Crewe, in the House of Lords—"that the only way to avoid foreign intervention was to give the Constitution that has now been established a fair chance." The Nationalists knew the Constitution which had been established was a bogus Constitution, and they determined, in spite of those remonstrances, to go to the capital and endeavour to obtain guarantees for its proper execution. Let me call the attention of the House very briefly to an important statement made by "The Times" correspondent at Tehran as late as 8th July. The House will remember a large force of Russians had proceeded in the direction of Tehran, and he said:—The landing of the Russians has thoroughly taken the wind out of the revolutionary sails, and while individuals talk wildly and foolishly about their intentions, the revolutionaries as a body seem to realise that the game is up.I think I may therefore maintain that the task accomplished by the Nationalists, in face of all those remonstrances, was as remarkable a feat as any which stands on the page of recent history. I think it is important, when we are considering what the future relations of this country are going to be to the new Government, that we should consider very briefly what the character of this revolution is. It has been said that the Persian people have never been willing to make any great sacrifices for their country. I think that accusation has been entirely disproved by recent events. There have emerged two considerable leaders of the Persian Nationalist forces. One operating from the South is known as Sardar Assad, a Bakhtiari chieftain, whose friendship I have enjoyed for many years past. He started out at 1946 the commencement of this year from where he had long been staying for his health, for his native mountains, where he arrived in February or March of the present year. The task before that man was certainly stupendous. His own tribe, the Bakhtiari Clan, had been divided by the policy of the Persian Royalist Government into two parts. Certain sections of the clan were favouring the Shah, and certain sections had espoused the Constitution. He brought the two parties together, established comparative unanimity among them, and in the early summer of this year he started out against all these odds, against all the risks of foreign intervention, at the head of no more than 800 men, from the Persian capital of the South, Ispahan, on his journey of 300 miles to the capital, Tehran. There were large forces of Royalists established between those two centres. He took a westerly road, skirting the great Persian mountains, and he took these Royalists forces in the flank, and arrived at the walls of Tehran. The other Nationalist general, the Sipahdar, was marching at the head of 2,000 men from the North. These two forces endeavoured to join hands, and ultimately they succeeded in effecting a junction. They were opposed by the only organised body of men in Persia, by forces of troops commanded by Russian officers, and trained in the best method of modern strategy. The House knows the result. The Nationalist forces were completely successful. These two bodies, numbering not more than 4,000 men in all, entered Tehran, deposed the late Shah, and put on the throne his son, under the regency of the head of the Royal tribe of Persia, a man who has been described by our late Chargé d' Affaires at Tehran as a personage who has never meddled in politics, and has always given excellent counsel to the late Shah, and whose character is of the most disinterested description. I think we may claim for these Nationalists that, first of all, they can fight, and that they are willing to lay down their lives for their country, as they have proved in recent events; and, secondly, that they are willing to make considerable sacrifices. These chieftains have sold large portions of the tribal lands, which had a considerable value attached to them; and, let me tell the House, they have sold those great portions of tribal land, commanding important positions in the South, in order to enable them to espouse the constitutional idea. Then, instead of seizing the Crown 1947 of Persia, which was within their reach, they acted in a strictly constitutional manner, put the son of the reigning monarch on the throne, and gave as a Regent one of the most trusted men in Persia.
§ Mr. LYNCH
I think it is necessary to give some description of the manner in which that new Government was constituted before you can lay down a policy towards it. The object of this expedition was to establish guarantees for the maintenance of the Constitution of Persia, and I think we may say that the two leaders who are in charge of that movement can certainly be trusted, from all their antecedents, to maintain order in Persia, and, more than that, to respect in the most scrupulous way the lives and property of all Europeans in Persia. It has sometimes been said, at all events of the force operating in the North, that they are a band of Revolutionaries, a band of Anarchists, effecting an entrance into Persia. That is not the case.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Really the hon. Member is getting no nearer to the subject under discussion. Will he kindly put away all that, and make his point to the Foreign Office?
§ Mr. LYNCH
I am asking the Foreign Office for the support of the present Government of Persia. It consists mainly of two individuals. One is the leader of the Nationalist forces, which came from the North, and the other is the leader of the Nationalist forces which came from the South; and I wish to show they are most deserving the confidence of this country. I should surely be entitled to give evidence, as it has been challenged in more than one quarter that these leaders are capable of maintaining order in Persia, to show by their credentials that they are. One of these leaders is one of the wealthiest men in Persia, a man of good education, and while he was in com- 1948 mand of the Nationalist forces at Resht, he received letters from all the foreign Consul-Generals—from the Turkish, the British, the Russian, and the German Consul-Generals—stating that during the many months he had maintained order at Resht they were thoroughly satisfied. Then as regards the other leader, Sardar Assad, let me remind the House that the Bukhtiari have been responsible for the protection of a British trade route for the last ten years, and during all that time there has scarcely been a single robbery; at the present tin e, while in certain districts of Persia great disorder prevails1, no disorder prevails on that particular trade route. That being the character of the men who have effected the present revolution and are now conducting the Government in Persia, may I come to the needs of the existing situation? I think the first requirement of the situation in Persia is that there shall be a rapid and progressive reduction of the number of Russian troops in that country. I have the figures here, and I find that there are no fewer than 4,000 Russian troops distributed over the Northern Province, Azerbeizan and other places, and another 1,700 at Kazvin. There are 600 at other places in North Persia, besides the ordinary consular guards, so that we may say that, in round numbers, there are at the present moment between 6,000 and 7.000 Russian troops in Persia. It must be obvious to the House that in the face of a force like that—a force three times greater than any force which would be required to march from one end of Persia to the other—it is extremely difficult for the Government established in Tehran to maintain an independent policy of action. If the object is to maintain the independence of Persia, surely you ought to remove as soon as possible this standing menace to the independence of the country. There is, of course, another requirement which we might press on the Persian Government, and that is that they should, as far as possible, introduce into all the great Departments of Administration expert advisers drawn indiscriminately from foreign countries. That was the reason of the great success achieved by Japan, and, as I have reason: to believe that the Nationalist leaders in Persia are fully alive to this necessity, I trust that the mere mention of the subject will suffice. I mention it not so much to impress this view on the Persian Government as to assure the House that the Nationalist Government of Persia are pre- 1949 pared to engage such foreign experts, and so introduce order in all parts of their Administration.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Order, order. The hon. Member ought to make this speech in the Persian Parliament. It has no relevancy to the Foreign Office Vote. I have already warned him three times. I must ask him now to direct his attention closely to the matter before this House, or else I will have to request him to resume his seat.
§ Mr. LYNCH
The last point I wish to raise is the question of our entente with Russia. It is an essential part of that entente that the independence of Persia should be maintained, and I hope that this aspect of the subject will be brought horns to the Russian Government by our Minister for Foreign Affairs. Certainly the Russian Government have repeatedly declared that their policy in Persia is based on the maintenance of her integrity and independence. But I cannot see how the presence of this vast number of Russian troops in Persia is compatible with that declaration. I hope it will be made abundantly clear to the Russian Government that, unless proofs are given of the sincerity of her declaration by a rapid reduction of the Russian troops, and of the sincerity of her intentions with regard to the independence of Persia, the entente with Russia will be considerably weakened, if not vitally affected.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. T. McKinnon Wood)
I think I shall be in order in assuring my hon. Friend that the Government have viewed with satisfaction such development of constitutionalism in Persia as has taken place, and are most anxious to see that development of constitutionalism successful. We have already shown our views on that subject by our recognition of the new Shah and of the new régime. That course has also been followed by the Government of Russia. With regard to the presence of Russian troops in Northern Persia we have expressed our hope to the Russian Government that they will see their way to reduce the number of troops there. The Russian Government some time ago gave us an assurance of their intention to withdraw a considerable proportion of the troops. Since then, however, certain events have taken place which have altered the situation, but I understand it is their desire still, as soon as settled government is insured at Tabriz, greatly to reduce the large number of Russian troops in Northern Persia.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I desire to call the attention of the House to a matter dealt with in the Debates on the establishment of the Court of Criminal Appeal. I do not stay to speak of the alterations which will become necessary in that Bill, owing to the Amendments-introduced last year, but I wish to express a hope that the chaos wrought m the work of the King's Bench Division by the extra duties thrown upon the judges through the passing of the Criminal Appeal Bill will receive prompt attention. The Government could assist to alleviate that chaos in two ways—either by introducing a Bill and carrying through Parliament a proposal for the creation of two-more judges, or it might by Resolution of the House act under the Railway and Canal Commission Act of 1888. In that case their ameliorating influence would be confined merely to the appointment of one fresh judge. Therefore, although to some extent some of the remarks I may make might possibly prove the necessity for two judges the greater in this case will include the less. The state of affairs which has been brought about by the passing of this Act is this. At the present time the judges of the King's Bench Division are taken away for the purpose of dealing with criminal appeals under this new Act. They have been taken away for a very considerable number of days in the course of the year—some 61 days I think I am right in saying, out of a very limited period of time. Three judges are taken away during that period,, and in addition one judge is kept sitting almost continuously in chambers dealing with the question of leave to appeal at any particular time. That will be extended in future when the cases come to be heard in court instead of in chambers as at the present time. The consequence is that there is a very woeful block in the King's Bench Division at present. The arrears a month ago amounted to 646 cases, as against 500 odd in the corresponding period of last year; and the arrears in the Divisional Courts are 138 cases, as against a very much smaller number in the previous year.
For these reasons I venture to submit that the matter is a very important one for the Government to consider and a very urgent one for them to deal with in the near future. This is by no means a new question that I am bringing before the House. Some 12 or 13 years ago the representatives of the Bar and other associations pressed the Government very 1951 strongly. At that time, which was before 1899, the judges of the King's Bench Division were rather against an increase in their numbers, and they were fighting against it as far as possible. They made every effort, by extra work and so forth, to prevent, any further addition being made to their numbers. But early in 1899 the Lord Chief Justice, who at that time was Lord Russell of Killowen, saw the impossibility of carrying on the contest any further. In that year, in the speech which he made in November, 1899, in addressing the Lord Mayor, he said he could not help expressing, as he had publicly done before, his regret that the Government and the Legislature had not given effect to the suggestion which the Bar Council, representing the Bar of England and the Incorporated Law Society, representing the great body of solicitors, had made, and in which the Bench of England concurred, namely, the suggestion that there should be at least two additional judges appointed.
The Lord Chief Justice said that, comparing the number of judges, he would not say with those of Scotland or Ireland, but with those of any country having to administer a system of settled law it became obvious that the Bench in England was undermanned. At a later period, and only two years ago, we find that the judges are getting more and more unanimous in the opinion that extra judicial strength is required at the present time, and in July, 1907, a promise was made on that subject by Lord Loreburn in the House of Lords, dealing with the necessity for more judges in the King's Bench Division, and he moved on that occasion for the appointment of a further judge in language which was reported in "Hansard," but with which I do not propose to trouble the House at any length. He said, however:—Our Weal should he as far as we can, to see that that there are no arrears in any Court; it is a high ideal, but one at which we should aim, and I believe that in substance, with an adequate number of judges it might be attained. In many instances the delay of justice is almost equivalent to the denial of justice, and it is a very lamentable state of things that there should be long lists of unheard eases, which are the occasion of great expense, uncertainty, and continued mortification to His Majesty's subjects.Nothing could be better expressed than this view of the Lord Chancellor. Further on he says:—Next comes the King's Bench Division, and I am glad to see the Lord Chief Justice present, for Lord Alverstone is the highest authority in regard to the business of that Division. There is now, substantially, the same amount of arrears that there has been for the last ten years—that is to say, about 500 cases still 1952 remaining unheard. I do not know how long a period of waiting that may mean, but I do know it would be much better—and I am quite sure the Lord Chief Justice will agree with me—if the whole of those arrears could be swept off. They have been existing for about ten years and have continued substantially at about the same level, therefore it may be fairly inferred that if once that, incubus was removed the King's Bench Division would be once more in smooth waters.That was the state of things in 1907. But the arrears now are very much greater. The result of that Motion was that one further judge was appointed, and subsequently to that Motion appointing the extra judge came the Court of Criminal Appeal. On the passing of that Bill not only was a promise made in this House frequently by the Attorney-General, Sir John Lawson Walton, that if the work in the King's Bench Division was delayed by the extra work caused by that Bill the Government would immediately take steps to have fresh judges appointed. Not only were assurances given frequently to this House, but Lord Loreburn, in the House of Lords, when pressed by Lord Halsbury and Lord Lansdowne as to the inadvisability of taking away the judges of the High Court from their normal work to do this new kind of work, made it clear that he was anxious that no such trouble should arise, and after having been pressed upon the point he said:—I put aside the question of the necessity of appointing more judges. We are not so impoverished that we cannot afford £10,000 or £20,000 for such a reform.That amounted to a definite pledge from the Lord Chancellor that in case that Bill were passed, and any substantial inroad was made upon the time of the judges of that division, more judges should be appointed. One wonders, for the moment, what could have changed the Lord Chancellor's opinion since that time. One cannot help thinking that some permanent official thought it desirable, in view of economy, that there should not be an additional judge and did not remember the pledges. Certainly, so far as I am aware, the whole of the judges of the King's Bench Division, unlike their predecessors some 12 or 13 years ago, are unanimously of opinion that two more judges are necessary to properly transact the business of that division. I have heard that a Memorandum has been submitted to the Government unanimously by the judges, saying that it would be a necessary and desirable course for the Government to pursue. If that is so, I see no reason to doubt the rumour I heard upon that point. Surely that is very strong evidence of the urgent necessity of the case I am submitting to the Government.
1953 As regards the question of the work of the judges, I remember when the extra Chancery judge was appointed some suggestion was made that the common law judges possibly did not do such hard work as their brothers in the Chancery Division. As a result of that a very careful census was taken of work done in the past, and in the particular year it turned out that the judges upon circuit, though they had, of course, to spend a considerable time in travelling about from place to place, had worked some 295 hours more than they would have done if they had had the full time in London. That amounts to 79 working days. I have called the attention of the House to the views expressed by all the professional tribunals, and how we have been met by the Lord Chancellor. We have had the advantage of certain Commissions. We had a Commission appointed in 1907 by the Lord Chancellor to inquire into the work of the King's Bench Division. It contained many eminent men upon it, including the present Attorney-General. I do not wish to ask the result of the inquiries of the Commission. They have never come to light in the shape of a public report at all, but one may come to the conclusion that though they went very carefully into the matter they found that such reforms as they could suggest without the additional assistance of the King's Bench Division were of minor importance. We believe we were indebted to the Attorney-General for certain minor reforms, which were unsuccessful, and which have been abandoned, and we have not had very much from the Commission. Another Commission was appointed by the Lord Chancellor dealing with some suggestion that it would be possible to increase the jurisdiction of county courts and so relieve the High Court.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
None of these matters really arise on the Appropriation Bill at all. What the hon. and learned Member suggests would have to be done by legislation.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I press most strongly upon the Government that they will not shelve this question of the cost of criminal appeals, which is of vital importance to the business community in the way of justice to suitors of every kind, by any further promise in the future, but really will take steps to remedy an admitted and a growing evil. If the money which we are voting for the Court of Criminal Appeal is to be voted, let it be of some use to the country at large instead 1954 of being a source of considerable inconvenience. If you take away judges from the one purpose for which they were originally appointed and use them for another you will be doing more harm than good, and will be robbing Peter to pay Paul, and the effect, instead of being good to the country at large, will be distinctly evil. I press upon the Government that they will use the special powers they have under the Railway and Canal Commission to appoint an extra judge, having regard to the fact that, for the purposes of criminal appeal and the Railway and Canal Commission, judges are taken away.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir W. Robson)
My hon. and learned Friend will not think it due to any discourtesy on my part if I deal with his remarks—I was going to say with exceptional brevity. It is somewhat difficult, and indeed dangerous, to follow him, because, after all, the strict scope of the Debate on this subject is really very narrow. If I understand your ruling, Mr. Speaker, we can only deal with the insufficiency of the number of judges so far as that may be due to causes affected by the subject-matter of this Bill—the drafts on the time of the judges in connection with the work of the Railway and Canal Commission and the Court of Criminal Appeal. I confine the discussion to these two points. I think if the whole time taken up by the Court of Criminal Appeal were added to the time taken up in connection with the Railway and Canal Traffic Commission, the case would still fall something short of what would be required to warrant the appointment of an additional judge. Of course, what has been present in the mind of my hon. and learned Friend is something more than the condition of things brought about by these two demands on the time of the judges. It has been pointed out that the Railway and Canal Traffic Commission and the Court of Criminal Appeal make drafts on the time of our judges at a time when these judges are already found to be insufficient for the general purposes of their work. That is a subject on which I do not like to enter. It is indeed a subject on which I may not enter, not only because it would be going beyond the bounds of strict order in this discussion, but because my lips are sealed while the Joint Committee of both Houses appointed for the purpose of considering the whole of this question has not reported. Whatever views have hitherto been entertained, and whatever expressions of opinion may have been given by 1955 the Lord Chancellor, they must be modified according to the Report which that Committee will, no doubt, in due course present. It is not open for me on behalf of the Government to offer any general expression of opinion at present. I hope we will not have to wait long before the Committee makes its Report, and, whatever the Report may be, it will be the duty of the Government to make up its mind on the whole question after due consideration of the facts which my hon. and learned Friend has stated with, I think, accuracy. Really, the facts are not very much in dispute. The state of business in the courts, the difficulty of working off arrears, and the increasing demand on the time of the judges are matters of common knowledge to us all, and they will have to be considered by the Government in whatever light is thrown upon them.
§ Question, "That the Bill be now read a second time," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for to-morrow.