§ (1.) All advances, whether by way of free grant or by way of loan, made under this part of this Act shall be made out of a fund called the Development Fund, into which shall be paid—
- (a) Such moneys as may from time to time be provided by Parliament for the purposes of this part of this Act;
- (b) The sums issued out of the Consolidated Fund under this section; and
- (c) Any sums received by the Treasury by way of interest on or repayment of any advance made by way of loan under this part of this Act, and any profits or proceeds derived from the expenditure of any advance which by the terms on which the advance was made are to be paid to the Treasury.
§ (2) There shall be charged on and issued out of the Consolidated Fund, or the growing produce thereof, in the year ending the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and eleven, and in each of the next succeeding four years, the sum of five hundred thousand pounds.
§ (3) The Treasury shall cause an account to be prepared and transmitted to the Comptroller and Auditor-General for examination, on or before the thirtieth day of September, in every year, showing the receipts into and issues out of the Development Fund in the financial year ended on the thirty-first day of March preceding, and the Comptroller and Auditor-General shall certify and report upon the same, and such account and report shall be laid before the House of Commons by the Treasury on or before the thirty-first day of January in the following year, if Parliament be then sitting, and, if not sitting, then within one week after Parliament shall be next assembled.
§ (4) Payments out of and into the Development Fund, and all other matters relating to the fund and the moneys standing to the credit of the fund, shall be made and regulated in such manner as the Treasury may direct.
§ (5) The Treasury may from time to time invest any moneys standing to the credit of the Development Fund in any securities in which trustees are by law authorised to invest trust funds.2348
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), to leave out the word "free" ["whether by way of free grant."]—(The Solicitor-General.)
§ Sir F. BANBURY moved, in Sub-section (1), after the word "Act" ["made under this part of this Act,"] to insert the words "after estimates have been submitted showing the detailed expenditure under the scheme or schemes which it is proposed to aid."
§ This will give Parliament some opportunity of controlling the action of the Treasury. As the Bill stands the procedure will be that any persons authorised under this Bill to ask for advances of grants will proceed to the Commissioners, and they will have to justify before them their application, and the Commissioners have a power of veto. If, however, the Commissioners, in their judgment, think the scheme is a good one, it is forwarded to the Treasury or to one of the Departments interested, through which it goes to the Treasury for their approval, so that practically the final approval rests with the Treasury. In the Grand Committee several attempts were made to alter the procedure so as to prevent the Treasury having the final control. I was always against that, and I believe it is right that the Treasury, which will have to provide the money, should have the final say in the matter, but I do not think the Treasury should be absolutely independent of Parliament. If we are to have a Bill of this sort the procedure is good provided the Commissioners are carefully selected, and it is a good thing that the Commissioners should go into the question and study it, which, of course, Parliament could not do. But after they have approved it, before it is finally agreed to, the Treasury should allow Parliament to understand what is going on and put some detailed scheme before the House so that they may understand what the expenditure is going to be and whether they approve. After all, it is the House of Commons which finds the money, and it ought to have some control over the Treasury. As the Bill stands the Treasury will be autocratic in the matter. The whole of the money which has been voted so far will come from the Consolidated Fund, and will be free entirely for the control of this House. I am aware that the rest of the money will have to be voted by Parliament, and that the Finance Bill will have to pass before the money for the second part of the Bill can be found, but with regard to the first part, the two and a-half 2349 millions and the half-million every five years will come out of the Consolidated Fund. Therefore what we are doing now, unless we accept an Amendment of this sort, is to leave the Treasury in full control of this two and a-half millions except as far as regards the opinion of the Commissioners. That is against all the ancient customs of the House. It is against the statement of hon. Gentlemen opposite four or five years ago that they would do their best to restore the control of Parliament over the Members of the Government, especially on financial matters. For some reason or other, ever since they have been in power they have done their best to do away with what little control was left to the House of Commons. It is for that reason that I move the Amendment, and I hope, although I have not much faith in the hope, that the Government in this small matter will do what they would be the first to advocate if they were on this side of the House. It is not impossible that within a short time they may be on this side of the House.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I think there is no difference between us in any quarter of the House on the question of the desirability of the House of Commons keeping its control over the finances of the country. What we really have to consider in connection with this matter is whether or not any of the real control of Parliament is lost in the proposals contained in this Bill, and whether, if the Amendment were accepted it would be possible for the Commissioners to carry on the business entrusted to them in a businesslike fashion. The amount is limited to £500,000, and this Parliament gives sanction to further public money being given. It is intended that the money should be expended in the various ways we discussed yesterday. It would be impossible for any business body of men who have to deal with this matter to come to the House of Commons with estimates for all the schemes before they are approved, and when they are recommended by the Commissioners. Some of them will be small, and some big. I do not know of any similar case where estimates are necessarily laid before Parliament before grants can be made. At present grants of public money can be made for various purposes. I reminded the House yesterday that under the Light Railways Act of 1896 grants can 2350 be made by the Treasury up to £250,000. Grants are made by the Board of Agriculture in regard to horse breeding. In no case is an estimate necessarily laid before Parliament beforehand under a scheme for the expenditure of money. The control of Parliament in this matter will be retained. First of all we have the Commissioners looking after the expenditure in connection with the schemes they recommend. They must take each scheme into consideration, and the expenditure must be sanctioned by the Treasury. There is no doubt that there will be a check upon the expenditure from the fact that the Treasury will be responsible for it, and that they will know anybody who desires to do so can raise a question upon it in the House of Commons. Further, the Commissioners will have to make their annual report to Parliament, and I have no doubt that there will be opportunity for discussion on the matters which are dealt with in the Report. I agree that that is discussion, so to speak, after the money has been spent, but I think that in schemes of this kind it is unavoidable. I think we must be satisfied with the check which Parliament will have ex post facto, and the sense of responsibility which will be felt at the Treasury, that in respect of anything they may do they will have to face discussion in Parliament.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The hon. and learned Gentleman has told us that he is not aware of any case where a similar demand has been made. I would remind him that no such Bill as this has ever before been submitted to the House of Commons. If I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman rightly, he is of opinion that it is contemplated by the Mover of the Amendment that estimates should be submitted to Parliament for each scheme before it is sanctioned. I do not understand that to be the proposal in the Amendment at all. There is nothing in the Amendment to warrant the idea that that is contemplated by the Mover of the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The point of the Amendment, as I understand it, is that an estimate should be submitted to the Treasury. If it is submitted to the Treasury, it will be possible for any Member of this House to ask a question concerning it, and in that way the control of Parliament can be preserved. There is no suggestion as to submitting estimates to Parliament, and having a discussion on every scheme.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The hon. and learned Gentleman admits that all these matters 2351 ought to be conducted in a thoroughly businesslike fashion. Is it a businesslike fashion to sanction large advances of money for particular schemes without having before you any estimates whatever of the cost they are likely to involve? That is the position with which we are confronted. We on this side of the House are a minority at present, and we must dc our best to submit to this, whether right or wrong. The decision must rest with the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I beg to move to leave out paragraph (b). I can scarcely hope that the Government will consider this Amendment more favourably than they did the previous one, but as it refers to an important subject, I wish to make a protest against what is proposed. The House will remember that there are three sources from which these funds may be derived, namely, the Estimates, the Consolidated Fund, and any moneys which the Development Board may get in repayment of advances, interest on loans, and so forth. I propose to leave out the words: "The sums issued out of the Consolidated Fund under this Section." Those sums amount to £500,000 a year. The Solicitor-General, in opposing the previous Amendment, said that the Commissioners need not submit estimates of the cost because they would have to face Parliamentary criticism. I deny that in toto. The £500,000 a year which is to come out of the Consolidated Fund will be effectively withdrawn from the control of Parliament except by the cumbrous method of an Address to the Crown. Everybody is aware of the excellent reasons why certain official salaries are on the Consolidated Fund. The salary of Mr. Speaker is on the Consolidated Fund simply to prevent the risk of capricious criticism which may be incurred when voting salaries on the ordinary Civil Service Estimates. For the same reason the salaries of the Lord Chancellor and the judges are on the Consolidated Fund. Now the Government say that this sum guaranteed under this Bill for the next five years is to be met out of the Consolidated Fund. The salaries of the Commissioners, as far as I can read it, will come out of the Consolidated Fund. On the Grand Committee the Government refused to give any guarantee whatever that the salaries of the Commissioners should be put on the Civil Service Estimates. 2352 This is repugnant to all the pledges which we heard a few years ago about Parliamentary control. It is no good saying one can move an Address to the Throne. It is only on the gravest occasions that this House has sanctioned that procedure. When this Amendment was refused upstairs the only argument put forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was, "We are going to appoint Commissioners, and the whole prospect of the Bill depends on these Commissioners being first-class men." That is true enough, but they say, "We will never get a good class of men to become Commissioners under this Bill unless they know that they have got money behind them." I thought that was a most inconclusive argument. What have these people got behind them? Five hundred thousand a year for five years. If that is going to be a solace to prospective candidates for prospective Commissionerships they must be very easily pleased. That sum is a mere drop in the bucket. They have got to deal with afforestation, co-operation, agriculture, reclamation and draining of land, and estuaries have now come in; and they have also got to deal with the construction and improvement of harbours and canals and the development and improvement of fisheries. They have also to attend to "any other purpose calculated to promote the economic development of the United Kingdom." If Clause 1 of the Bill is to be carried out it will not carry them over a single month, and probably not over a single week, and the Government ought to give some considered reason why they are withdrawing the guaranteed sum which Parliament provides from the Civil Service Estimates and placing it on the Consolidated Fund. There is no good in saying that putting it on the Consolidated Fund gives a better guarantee for the future than if it were put on the Civil Service Estimates. If this is a bonâ fide Bill, and if the objects are good, and as such as the country desires, no more guarantee is required than the fact that the objects of the Bill are good and are being approved of by Parliament, and public opinion may reasonably assume that Parliament will give its sanction if the money is placed on the Civil Service Estimates, just as we vote £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 for our Army or our Navy and £20,000,000 a year for education. It has never been suggested that the guarantee of the Consolidated Fund is required. Public opinion ensures in a far greater sense than the Consolidated Fund that these sums will 2353 be annually provided. I move the omission of the Sub-section in order to protest against the salaries of the Commissioners, and possibly of the annual expenditure being withdrawn from the control of Parliament, and I hope that the Solicitor-General will give a reply more satisfactory than that which we received in Grand Committee.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
In reply to the observations with which the Noble Lord prefaced his speech, I hope that it will not be understood that I have suggested that loans or grants should be substituted. I am not going back on that portion of the Amendment. With regard to the observations of the hon. Baronet, nobody has any reason to suppose that the Treasury would sanction the expenditure for carrying out a scheme of this kind without an estimate being before them. The Sub-section which the Noble Lord seeks to omit only provides for payment into the Development Fund of the sums issued out of the Consolidated Fund under this Section in Clause 2. Sub-section (1) states what the Development Fund is to consist of. It consists of three heads of income, so to speak. First of all such sums as shall from time to time be provided by Parliament; then this fixed sum of £2,500,000 spread over five years; and then any further sum or accretions of the same. Unless provided by Parliament, these roust come out of the Consolidated Fund. The reason is very simple. In starting a national work of this kind, and in starting it by means of this body of Commissioners who are now to be created, there ought to be some certainty, so that they may proceed with the work in a businesslike way, that they would have a certain sum of money at their disposal. It is for this class of work, small enough in all conscience—only £2,500,000 over five years. When you consider the expenditure of other countries on similar work, I think that for a rich country such as this is, and is likely to continue to be, the sum put down as a fixed sum, so that the Commissioners may have no doubt about it when they set to work, is very small; but it is a guarantee that for the work which they are called to perform under this Act, whether Parliament makes further grants or not, they will have this sum of money to begin with.
§ Lord BALCARRES
My point about Parliamentary criticism is not met. Will the Government give a guarantee that this half-million shall be impinged on to the extent of two or three thousand pounds a 2354 year and reduced by that sum—I do not say in the Bill—in order that the salaries of the Commissioners may be placed upon the Civil Service Estimates? That is the essence of Parliamentary control, and if that is refused Parliamentary control disappears.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
That is a big question which might be raised upon the clauses which provide for the appointment of the Commissioners, and if the Noble Lord withdraws now I will, when we come to it, make the few observations which I should like to make on that.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I very much regret that the Government have not accepted my Noble Friend's Amendment in this respect. The Government talk about this being a guarantee that the Commissioners will have £500,000 a year for five years. Of course, it is not so. It will necessarily depend each year on the intentions of Parliament whether or not that £500,000 is to be provided. It is an attempt to forestal the decision of Parliament in future, and it seems to me to be undesirable. If Parliament next year does nothing then there is to be no discussion as to the general policy in connection with the Development Fund, or about its administration in the year preceding. It seems to me to be thoroughly unsound finance, like so much of the finance of the present Government. It does not seem to me that you gain anything by what you propose, and I do think that it is open to the grave criticism passed upon it by my Noble Friend. Though I personally should very much regret the detailed criticism of schemes put forward by the Commissioners, because I think that discussion in Parliament, so far from diminishing expenditure, would certainly increase it under present conditions; yet I do think that a general discussion of the policy pursued in development matters is essential. Personally I do not see the advantage of making the Commissioners report to Parliament unless there are some means of discussing their proceedings on the Estimates, or in some other way.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I must confess that I do not think the Solicitor-General's reason for removing this sum from the Estimates is altogether sound. There are grave reasons why this £500,000 should not be withdrawn from the control of Parliament, and I think that those reasons are admitted to be valid in all quarters of the House. The Commissioners to be appointed under this Bill will find them- 2355 selves face to face with enormous problems for the development of the country. They may have before them any number of schemes for the study and advance of agriculture, for the reclamation and drainage of land, and various other proposals which would really require millions of money if they are to be properly carried out. We are told that it will be some consolation to the Commissioners, and fortify them in the discharge of their duties when they find that, at any rate, Parliament has placed at their disposal the sum of £500,000 a year for the next five years, which will enable them to go forth cheerfully to deal with these problems; but I submit that to withdraw this sum from the Estimates and put it on the Consolidated Fund, thus depriving the House of Commons of the opportunity of criticism, is a departure from proper constitutional practice.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I think that the concession which the hon. and learned Gentleman foreshadows is not a good one at all. What will be the effect of my Noble Friend's Amendment? It would not stop the Commissioners getting the £500,000 at all; and it would enable the House of Commons when the Estimates for the year come before it, to discuss the policy which had been pursued in the year in which the money had been
§ spent. If it was limited to the salaries of the Commissioners only, what would happen would be a Motion for their reduction. In Parliamentary phrase and custom that means that the House is not content, and does not approve of the action of the Commissioners. That might be very much misunderstood in the country. The simpler-way would have been to have £500,000 voted from year to year, and then the whole of the Commissioners' proceedings could be reviewed. That would he a businesslike course, and would be understood by the country. But to discuss the whole thing on the question whether the Commissioners should have £2,000 or £1,900 a year would really make the proceedings more or less a farce, and I am quite certain that the country, which I regret to say does not understand the procedure of the House of Commons, would be apt to be misled when it saw that because the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the President of the Local Government Board, or the President of the Board of Agriculture, had done something wrong they reduced the salary of some one else against whom there was no complaint. I hope that my Noble Friend will go to a Division on the question.
§ Question put, "That the paragraph stand part of the Clause."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 101; Noes, 23.2357
|Division No. 791.]||AYES.||[12.55 p.m.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Partington, Oswald|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worcester)||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Pointer, J.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Hogan, Michael||Rees, J. D.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Brigg, John||Idris, T. H. W.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs, Leigh)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Robinson, S.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jardine, Sir J.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jenkins, J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Causton, Rt. Hon. Richard Knight||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Seddon, J.|
|Clough, William||Kekewich, Sir George||Shackleton, David James|
|Clynes, J. R.||Kelley, George D.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lamont, Norman||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Corbett, C. H. (Sussex, E. Grinstead)||Lewis, John Herbert||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)|
|Crossley, William J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Cullinan, J.||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Toulmin, George|
|Erskine, David C.||M'Callum, John M.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Evans, Sir S. T.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Falconer, J.||Mallet, Charles E.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Marnham, F. J.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Gill, A. H.||Massle, J.||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Ginnell, L.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Morse, L. L.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Murphy, John (Kerry, E.)|
|Gulland, John W.||Nichoils, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Captain|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Norton and Mr. Whitley.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Fletcher, J. S.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Forster, Henry William||Rutherford, Watson (Liverpool)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gretton, John||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hunt, Rowland||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)||F. Banbury and Mr. Staveley-Hill.|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Magnus, Sir Philip|
§ Mr. CHAPLIN moved, at the end of paragraph (b), to insert the words: "(2) No advance shall be made by the Treasury in any year for purposes relating exclusively to England, Scotland, or Ireland which will exceed in the case of England eighty per cent., in the case of Scotland eleven per cent., and in the case of Ireland nine per cent., of the total amount advanced during that year under this Part of this Act."
I moved this in the Committee, and I think it deserves the serious attention of the Government. I am merely adopting the precedent which has been almost invariably adopted in every other Bill in which grants have been made for common purposes to the three countries. I need not quote precedents, because I am sure they will not be contradicted, and why there is a departure from the usual practice I really do not understand. Certainly we were afforded no light on that point by the replies which were made to me on behalf of the Government in Grand Committee. There is a special reason why I think this Amendment should be accepted in regard to this Bill. I will state what it was. It has been alluded to before in the Debate on the second reading. I refer to the well-known statement made by the Leader of the Irish party, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). That statement, I may remind the House, was as follows:—
Under those circumstances the Irish party had decided to support the so-called Land Taxes in the Budget.
Now this is the important statement:—
Out of the Development Fund it is proposed to create he had reason to know that within the next twelve months money would assuredly be provided for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann and other rivers…." etc.
That statement was brought before the notice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and it is perfectly true that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, hearing it for the first time, got up in his place and said he knew nothing whatever about it. From that moment to this, however, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has never withdrawn or modified the statement he
made on that occasion in the smallest degree, and we have to choose between that statement, not withdrawn, deliberately made by the Leader of one of the parties in this House and the simple statement on the part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he knew nothing whatever about it. We have, since no further statement has been made in the House by the Government in connection with this question, been left completely in the dark as to the true position.
§ Everyone who knows the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford and his practice in this House is aware that he is not reckless in his statements, but rather precise than otherwise, as the leader of a party, in the statement he makes. In view of a statement of that kind, which has hitherto never bean withdrawn, it is more than ever necessary we should adopt the usual, and I believe I may say the invariable, precedent that has been adopted in other Acts of Parliament making grants to the three countries in the same way that is done in this particular Bill. For this reason above all, supposing there is anything to warrant the belief that "within the next twelve months," which is so precise, "out of the Development Fund money would assuredly be provided for the drainage of the Barrow and the Bann and other rivers." What is going to be left for the purpose of agriculture in England, or for any of the other great works mentioned in regard to England, and in Scotland, if anything of that sort were to occur? I think I have made out a sufficiently strong case for the insertion of the Amendment, and I hope that the Government will give me some very different answer to that they have given me in the Grand Committee before they decide finally to refuse this Amendment.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
While not in any way complaining of the observations made by the right hon. Gentleman with reference to some difference of opinion as to the statement supposed to have been made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I hope he will not expect me to enter into that question now. He was perfectly 2359 right in bringing that controversy forward as an argument in support of his proposal that this money should be voted in certain fixed proportions to England, Scotland, and Ireland respectively. Wales, in these matters, has never had anything like an equivalent grant, for educational purposes or otherwise. I make that statement, however, not as Solicitor-General, but as Member for Mid-Glamorgan. There is a great difference between the money here concerned and money such as educational grants. In the latter case it is regular annual expenditure, and when you have regular annual expenditure it has been considered right by Parliament to allocate the money in certain fixed proportions, although there has always been a controversy as to whether those proportions were fair as between the three portions of the United Kingdom. Here there is a great difference in the kind of work for which the money is required. One year you may have considerable expenditure in England, and the next a large expenditure in Ireland, with possibly none in England at all. The same thing may happen in regard to Scotland. It is nothing like regular annual expenditure for a fixed purpose. The discretion of the Commissioners in this important work would unquestionably be largely hampered if Parliament said to them that before recommending any scheme they must consider whether or not the Treasury would be likely to say that the respective proportions would be not complied with. The Government think it better to allow the Commissioners full discretion. It is almost impossible to have fixed proportions when you are dealing with expenditure for schemes of the kind here contemplated. I have no doubt that, as has been said over and over again, pressure will be brought by those who are interested in expenditure in one particular district, and those interested in expenditure in another. I hope, however, that the Commissioners will not succumb to pressure of that kind, but will consider the general interests of the United Kingdom as a whole in recommending schemes. This question does not divide Members according to strict party lines at all. The same proposal was brought forward in Committee by the right hon. Gentleman when, out of 40 Members present, eight voted for the Amendment and 32 against. That shows an enormous preponderance of opinion in favour of the course adopted in the Bill so far as 2360 the Committee was concerned. Of the eight Members who voted for the Amendment, five were Conservatives and three Liberals, six were Englishmen, and two Scotsmen, whereas the 32 included a certain number of Conservatives and representatives of all four nationalities. I submit that in this matter the House ought to come to the same conclusion as the Committee, and leave the Commissioners unfettered discretion in the allocation of this expenditure as between the various parts of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
While we are indebted to the Solicitor-General for the statement he has made, personally I am not impressed by, or much interested in, his account of the proceedings before the Committee. My views about sending Bills of this kind to a Standing Committee are well known, and need not be repeated. The mere fact that the eight Members in favour of the Amendment included six Englishmen and two Scotsmen, whereas the 32 against the Amendment included all the Irishmen present is in itself significant. The Solicitor-General has ignored the real facts of the case with regard to this allocation of money. I do not suppose that my right hon. Friend would wish to adhere rigidly to the proportions set out in his Amendment, but he has taken the proportions adopted in 1888 by the late Lord Goschen and adhered to ever since. If it can be shown that the relative proportions are not fair, the necessary alterations can be made. It is the principle to-which we attach importance. The Solicitor-General is entirely mistaken in saying that this system has been adopted only when dealing with money voted annually for certain specific purposes. I was a Member of the Government who adopted the system, and I have been a Member of successive Governments who have followed it. The origin of the system was a precisely similar proposal as regards a sum of money as that which we are now considering. The State decided that certain public money should be applied to purpose which had hitherto been provided for by local funds. In that particular instance the proposal affected Great Britain alone. It was naturally urged by the Irish Members that if we were going to give this money out of public revenue in aid of what would otherwise have been local expenditure, an equivalent grant ought to be made to Ireland. From that time onwards, whenever money has been voted out of Imperial revenue in aid of local expenditure, if it has not been found desirable to 2361 effect the same reform in all parts of the United Kingdom, equivalent grants have been made. What are you proposing to do under this Bill? I am not talking about the machinery or the method, to both of which I have a strong objection, but to the financial proposals. You are doing exactly what Parliament has done before in regard to the distribution of burdens. You are simply asking the State to pay money which otherwise, if the work were done, would have to be paid by the local rates.
The Solicitor-General says that this Amendment would curtail the powers of the Commissioners. That is one way of looking at it. On the other hand, I believe it would be an enormous advantage to the Commissioners. Nothing has been more remarkable in the legislation of the present Government than the way in which Parliament has been invited to avoid the settlement of difficult and complicated questions by passing them over to a body of Commissioners charged with extraordinary powers, to whom is left the solution of problems which the Government itself is not prepared to face. Now, I said yesterday, when the Solicitor-General altered one of the Sub-sections of Clause 1 from "canals" to "inland navigation"—which I think everybody who has taken the trouble to study this Bill must admit to be true—that it was making the thing a farce if you are going to charge the Commissioners with these powers and not to give them the money necessary. I repeat that if you adopt my right hon. Friend's Amendment that you will be aiding rather than impeding the work of the Commissioners. What would be the result? That at the beginning of each year the Commissioners would know that there would be a certain sum available for the three Kingdoms. Not only would the Commissioners know this, but the local authorities and Government Departments upon whose initiative these grants will have to be made, would know, and they would, to the best of their ability, shape their applications to the money available. The Commissioners would be able to take the applications from each country, and deal with them according to the money available for each country. They would therefore be much more able to make good use of their money. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). What did the hon. and learned Gentleman say? He said that this money 2362 would be available for the drainage of the Bann and the Barrow. Hon. Members below the Gangway know what the cost of dealing with these rivers in even an elementary way would mean. We are told that the Leader of the Irish Nationalist party is quite confident this money is to be available for these two purposes. We are told also that all the local work of England, Scotland, and Wales is to be provided for out of the same fund. The Solicitor-General says that this can be easily settled by the Commissioners, who on earth are these Commissioners going to be, and where are they going to get their powers to enable them to arrive at these remarkable decisions? You are going to put before them alternative proposals—one, say, for Ireland for drainage, and one, say, for Scotland for some technical education scheme, and one for England for the improvement of rural transport, of which we heard so much last night. Just look at the variety of these things! They involve a totally different kind of consideration. They will vary in the amount which each will cost. And it is because Parliament cannot see its way out of these difficulties itself that it is leaving them to be solved by the Commissioners. There is another aspect of the case, and a very important one, to which I would call the attention of the Solicitor-General. We have never yet succeeded during our discussions on this Bill in ascertaining from the Government what power Parliament will have to review the proceedings of these Commissioners, and the expenditure of this money. So far as I can tell, on careful examination of the Bill, the only possible power Parliament will retain over the expenditure of the money is by raising the question on the annual Vote of the Treasury. According to what the Government said, the Treasury has apparently complete control, and therefore it may be possible on this Vote, which covers a whole multitude of subjects, for it to come in. £500,000 is to be voted for this work, and it has been so carefully arranged that it will not otherwise come under the review of Parliament. Therefore you are going to leave it to the Commissioners to decide, not only between the comparative advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of local work, but between the claims of the three countries, and to leave them this immense work without Parliamentary reference or control! Recent events in this House lead me, and many others, to believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member 2363 for Waterford knew very well what he was talking about when he said that this money would go to Ireland. What is the latest evidence we have on the subject? It is to be found in the Debates on the Finance Bill. I appeal to the House—not to one side alone—to whom have the most generous concessions been made? Has it not been to the Irish Members? So it will be with the Commissioners! There is no doubt that you get a greater unanimity of opinion about any given work in Ireland than you do from any part of England or Scotland. I am not very much impressed by the 32 to 8 votes argument. But I am surprised that Englishmen and Scotsmen should be willing to walk so contentedly into this difficulty! Because I am satisfied when you come to the distribution of this £500,000 between the different countries that Ireland will be absolutely certain by unanimity of opinion, by concerted action, and greater power of pressing their case, to get the larger amount. I think, speaking with no disrespect to the Solicitor-General, that it is a profound misfortune that we are debarred from the principle laid down by a great Chancellor of the Exchequer, and followed by every Chancellor of the Exchequer; that we are asked to depart from this, and adopt an entirely new system which has never been adopted before by Parliament in dealing with these grants. And we are doing it at the invitation of the Solicitor-General alone, and not by either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or by a representative of the great Treasury Department which is specially concerned in this particular work. I believe that those who sit on this side of the House will feel that it is neither right nor proper that we should be asked to depart from this system laid down years ago, and followed since, and without, so far as I know, any reasonable complaint on the part of anybody.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
Perhaps I may be allowed a word of reply. The right hon. Gentleman, of course, has had much greater experience than I have had in the application of moneys according to the equivalent grant system. But I remember the origin of it very well; I was a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman in the House. It is perfectly true that in making grants to relieve local taxation that the equivalent grant system has been adopted. But this is not that case at all. The most analogous to this are the cases where grants are 2364 made either by the Board of Agriculture or the Board of Trade for fisheries or for harbours; and these grants, so far as I am aware, have never—the right hon. Gentleman never said they were—been allocated according to this equivalent grant principle. The Government have said again and again that these grants were not a contribution to the local rates at all. We avoid, so far as we can, any relief to the local rates by any of these grants which we shall make under the provisions of this Bill.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
That is not the point I raised. I was dealing with a totally different question. In moneys allocated in regard to any public expenditure in Great Britain and Ireland the money is given to the Department concerned and by them distributed. It is not given to a central body to distribute, as they think well, between the three countries. Money hitherto given to the Irish Government has been spent at the desire of the Irish Government, and could not be spent outside, and in the same way money distributed by the Board of Agriculture or the Board of Trade is money given to them for the purpose of distribution within Great Britain or Ireland. In each case the Central Department has control of the money which Parliament has said is available. In this particular case you are going to distribute the money without any guidance from Parliament.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
Sums of money allocated for similar purposes have never, so far as I am aware, been allocated upon the equivalent grant principles. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Irish Members, by reason of their pertinacity and their persuasiveness, will obtain more than their full share of these grants. He was speaking as a right hon. Gentleman who has held office, and will again, I have no doubt, rather than as an Irish Member. I understand that he will be transplanted to more congenial soil before, to the loss of Ireland and to the gain of the other constituency, but I might point out to him the powers of the Irish Members cannot be exercised upon the Commissioners, however they may press their views upon the Government. These Commissioners will be perfectly independent in every possible way. The Treasury, no doubt, make the grants, and they cannot refuse what the Commissioners recommend, but the Treasury cannot make any grant where the Commissioners do not so recommend, so that, really, full 2365 control is vested in the Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman was, in truth and in fact, thinking of the pressure that might be brought to bear in this House, and I daresay also the pressure of votes. As regards the concessions on the Finance Bill, they were made, not because of any pressure in this House, but because of the justice of the case.
§ Mr. DILLON
On entering the House just now I found a leading Irish Member—in fact the Leader of an Irish party, who sits for an Irish constituency, and who obtained hospitality in Ireland at a very critical stage of his career—engaged in a furious tirade against the possibility of Ireland getting more than her fair share. That is a new doctrine in this House, and I do not think it will be very popular in South Dublin. Fortunately for himself, the right hon. Gentleman is going to take his departure, and that constituency will know him no more. The right hon. Gentleman's zeal to prevent Ireland getting more than her fair share under this new system appears to have outrun his discretion and his memory. He is entirely mistaken in his view that these proposals of the Government are against all precedent and against all well-established practice. That is absolutely untrue. This system of the proportionate grant is a very modern invention; it never was heard of until quite recently. I remember very well when the idea was first introduced by Lord Goschen. Up to that date no such thing was ever heard of in the finances of this House. What was the other branch of the right hon. Gentleman's argument? That it has been the unbroken practice ever since it was introduced by Lord Goschen—
§ Mr. DILLON
If that was not the argument of the right hon. Gentleman that that has been the practice ever since, what was the point of his argument? By far the strongest case in connection with local grants took place under the Agricultural Bating Act passed by the Tory Government. Was it on a proportion such as the right hon. Gentleman proposes in this case that that money was apportioned? Nothing of the sort. In regard to Ireland the principle was applied that each country should take according to its needs, with the result that Ireland, being an agricultural country, got a very large portion of it. That was the practice of the right hon. Gentleman's own Government long after 2366 Lord Goschen introduced the equivalent grant system. Under the Agricultural Bating Act and the principle of distribution adopted, the Irish landlords got about three times as much as they would have got under the equivalent grant system. I opposed that with all my might, but the principle was put in force and the Irish landlords got the benefit of it. Take another case. Attempts were made to apply the principle of the equivalent grants to the education grants made to Ireland, so that whenever a fresh grant was made to England Ireland was to get her equivalent on the very principle set forth in this Amendment. What was the result? The result was that Ireland was most disgracefully treated. We get the equivalent grant for one year, and then when the Estimates for English education went up by millions the Government forgot to increase our equivalent grant. We have again and again brought forward this grievance from which we have been suffering. This artificial system was put forward for one year, then it was dropped, and although the amounts voted for education rose in England increased enormously we got nothing whatever. It was a bad system and an unfair system, and was very seldom put in force. With regard to the fear entertained by the right hon. Gentleman that we shall get more than our share, I might point out that the Commissioners about to be appointed will most likely be all Englishmen, and that probably not more than one member of it will be an Irishman. So far from getting more than our fair share, our experience has always been, except in the case of old age pensions, that we always get less than our share. It sometimes suits Members of the Opposition to describe Irish Members with contempt and at other times to describe them as more than a match for the other 600 English and Scotch Members in the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Trinity College (Mr. J. H. Campbell) takes that view. So that if that is true no country was ever better served than Ireland is by her Nationalist party, since its 80 Members are more than a match for the rest of the House of Commons. If there is a word of truth in that—and of course there is not—the moral to be drawn from it is that the Nationalist party are the most powerful party that ever sat in any Parliament, and ought to obtain the support not only of their friends but also the support of the Member for Trinity College (Mr. J. H. Campbell). The only case 2367 recently in which Ireland has got more than her share is under the old age pensions scheme. I want to call attention to this subject because it has been continually thrown in our face. May I point out that no Irishman ever asked for old age pensions. The system was introduced by Englishmen on the demand of the Radicals and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham to suit the needs of this country. We did not clamour for old age pensions, therefore, it is not fair to throw it in our face that we are getting more than our share. It frequently happens that your system of taxation crushes the Irish people, although it looks fair, and now when you have given old age pensions in utter ignorance of the condition of our country you suddenly discover that unwittingly you have given us much more than you originally intended. That is the history of the old age pension system, and whilst we recognise that it is a great benefit, I am bound to say that if you had had the common-sense to offer us the money we could have made ten times better use of it, and we should have done ten times more good for Ireland. That is a fair example of the way this House, with the best intentions, through looking to what suits this country best very frequently wastes money. I rejoice that the Government have had sufficient sense not to listen to this Amendment for one moment, because it would be most unfair. You are going to trust this matter to thoroughly competent hands, and to an independent board, and surely they ought to be entrusted with full discretion to spend the money to the best advantage.
§ Mr. WILLIAM JONES
There seems to be, in this matter, a joint conspiracy on the Front Opposition Bench to leave Wales out. On the Committee upstairs we resisted this Amendment, because we thought it would be better to let the Commissioners frame their own schemes, and that all the money should be "pooled." As far as Wales is concerned, wherever we had an equivalent grant under the Goschen scheme we always used it fairly and squarely for legitimate development. Wales is the only part of the United Kingdom that used all the "whisky money" for education. There is not a single county in the whole of Wales that used the Goschen money to relieve local burdens, or for selfish interests, for they spent every penny of it on higher education and secondary schools, and if under this Bill 2368 we had a scheme from Wales I should be opposed to any political pressure being exercised upon the Commissioners. I rather fancy that the pressure will be brought by the joint action of county councils which are composed of both Liberals and Conservatives and Churchmen and Nonconformists. The county councils will say, "Here is a scheme for the development of the agricultural interests of Wales," and they would press it forward on that account. You could not do that under this Amendment, because Wales would be completely shut out, and Wales as a national entity would not be mentioned at all. An overwhelming majority on the Committee resolved that the whole of this money should be "pooled," and that the claims should come from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and it was resolved that the Commissioners should act according to the merits of the respective schemes placed before them. That was the view of some hon. Gentlemen opposite—in fact, the Government made a concession to the Noble Lord opposite by appointing a Royal Commission instead of an Advisory Committee. In Wales we are quite satisfied to put our schemes before this independent body, believing that they will deal justly and fairly with the various needs of the Principality.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The speech which has just been made by the hon. Member for East Mayo has convinced me that the Amendment we are discussing is a necessary one. It is clear that if my right hon. Friend again seeks the suffrages of South Dublin his action to-day will be brought up against him. What better illustration could we have that pressure is going to be put; not upon the Commissioners, but upon the Government? The Solicitor-General said he had no doubt pressure would be brought upon the Commissioners by those who were interested in obtaining grants, and he said he hoped the Commissioners would resist any such pressure. The hon. Member for East Mayo said the Nationalist party were very powerful—
§ Mr. DILLON
I did not say that. What I said was that from what had been said on this point the Opposition seemed to think ours was the most powerful party that ever existed in this House.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am aware that hon. Members below the Gangway are thorough Parliamentarians. I believe that pressure will be put upon the Treasury not to sanction the schemes of the Commissioners. The Commissioners may say, "Very well; we think a certain amount of money should be given to England and Wales," and the Irish party will say, "Oh, if that is done there will be no money left for us." They will then go to the Treasury and say, "Do not you sanction this scheme." The result will be that the Treasury will not sanction the scheme, because they know what will happen if they do. The Commissioners may put forward a scheme for Scotland, and the same thing will happen. In process of time a scheme will go up for Ireland necessitating a large grant of money, and hon. Members below the Gangway will go to the Treasury and say, "This scheme is all right; you can sanction this," and the Treasury will sanction it. By that means hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway will have more than their share of the grant. It is because I do not want them to have that, and because I do not want pressure to be put upon the Government, that, if my right hon. Friend goes to a Division, I shall have the greatest pleasure in voting with him. There was in Committee a general consensus of opinion that the first thing to do was to establish, free from any pressure, or advance any particular interest, and it was for that reason that the Commission was set up. I am very much afraid the acceptance of his Amendment has rather dulled the antagonism of the Noble Lord the Member for Marylebone; but I cannot help feeling that the Commissioners are only human, and that the final power rests with the Treasury, and that the course I have outlined is as certain to be carried out as the fact that I am here addressing the House. I warn my Noble Lord that his Amendment is not far-reaching enough to outwit the astuteness of the Irish party. I therefore sincerely trust we shall show our desire to avoid any possibility of pressure being put upon a Government Department by adopting this Amendment. The hon. Member below the Gangway (Mr. Dillon) brought forward instances which he said showed it would be a mistake to maintain relative proportions throughout the Kingdom, and one of his instances was the Agricultural Rates Act. Ireland only received her 2370 proper proportion, but it happens that a larger proportion of Ireland is agricultural than England.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Quite so, nor ought it to have been. That was a special grant for a special object, divided according to the proportion of agricultural land. Ireland happened to have a larger population, and she therefore got a larger share. That was a perfectly proper manner of proceeding, and has nothing whatever to do with the manner of proceeding in the present case. Any number of schemes—God knows how many—will be brought before the Commissioners, quite without regard to the question whether they benefit any other part of the United Kingdom. I hope we shall show, at any rate on this side of the House, that we are anxious there should be no pressure or any corrupt methods brought to bear upon the Treasury. I shall therefore, if my right hon. Friend divides, vote for the Amendment.
§ Mr. W. P. BYLES
I am glad the hon. and learned Member has resisted the Amendment. I have risen merely to express my astonishment at the arguments which have been brought forward by the Unionist party, who want to draw this distinction between Ireland, Scotland, and England, and to separate the United Kingdom into three parts. If these arguments had been addressed to the House from these benches we should unquestionably have had the old nickname applied to us, and have been reminded that we were Separatists; but, coming from the Unionist party, it looks as if the old traditions of Unionism have been quite forgotten. Was not Ireland to be treated as a county? Nobody thinks Yorkshire or Lancashire is going to get too much. It is admitted that, if a larger need arises in Yorkshire or Lancashire, it should have the application of a suitable amount from this fund; but, if Ireland should happen to want rather more than some other part of the United Kingdom, then careful restrictions are to be imposed that equivalent money should be spent in other parts of the United Kingdom. Until you give Ireland leave to raise her own taxes and spend her own taxes upon her own people and needs, these difficulties will continually arise. Once let Ireland tax herself and spend the money upon her own needs and these difficulties will be solved; but so long as Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, 2371 it should be treated as part of the United Kingdom, and should have as strong a claim upon any fund of this nature as any other part of the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
Perhaps the House will permit me to say a few words in reply to the various observations made in the course of this Debate. The Solicitor-General, to my surprise, rather advocated opposition to my Amendment on this ground: Very little may be wanted in one year in one country, and nothing at all might be wanted for England during a single year. That was rather a curious argument to come from the Treasury Bench after all the speeches of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and his enthusiastic determination to provide funds year after year for English agriculture, and it gives rise to some very curious reflections. The Solicitor-General was also opposed to any restrictions on the powers of the Commissioners, but it is for the Government to determine matters of high policy, and to insert them in their own Bill, and what I call high policy is the policy which has now been adopted for a certain number of years in nearly all cases of this kind. One or two instances were cited to show the precedents I have quoted—break-downs altogether. The hon. Member for Mayo quoted the case of the Agricultural Rates Act, but my hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Sir E. Banbury) answered that point, and I think I am right in saying that the money in that case—so far as Ireland is concerned—was distributed as nearly as possible in the proportion which I am advocating. Indeed, I believe Ireland got a little the best of it, as she generally does. Again, the hon. Member for East Mayo referred to the case of the old age pensions. I say that that has no analogy to the Amendment I am now moving, or to the circumstances which we are discussing. This Bill deals with a limited sum, but there was no limited sum in the case of the old age pensions, except that which was sufficient to fulfil the requirements of the Act. It is said that Ireland has got a great deal more than her share of those pensions. I know nothing about that. All I know is that in the case of Ireland old age pensions were required for a certain number of people who complied with certain conditions as to age and other matters, but that has nothing whatever to do with the Amendment I am now asking the House to ac- 2372 cept. One of the reasons which has been urged in support of this proposal is that there is reserved to Parliament no power whatever of discussing the question of how the money is distributed. No answer has been given to that by the Treasury Bench. It is of no use to tell us it can be discussed on the Treasury Vote. That opportunity would be quite inadequate for a question of this kind. Another objection urged is that it will lead to scrambles for the division of the spoil. This Amendment-would at least remove that objection. There would be no possibility of a scramble between the three countries each for their own share, for the distribution would be prescribed according to precedents which have constantly been adopted in past years. Then the hon. Member for East Mayo talked of the attitude adopted by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Dublin (Mr. Walter Long); he described it as extraordinary. I think the attitude of the hon. Member himself in one respect in this Debate is still more extraordinary, because one of the grounds on which he opposed my claims to support for this Amendment was based on the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond)—the Leader of his own party. What did that hon. and learned Member say?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It can hardly be necessary to repeat the speeches of all Members for the benefit of those who do not happen to hear them.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
The hon. and learned Member for Waterford made a very important speech bearing on this question, which I wished to recall to the attention of the hon. Member for East Mayo. But in view of your ruling I will content myself by simply reminding him that it embodied one of the chief justifications I put forward in support of this Bill. I think it was very unfortunate the hon. Member for East Mayo did not hear it. It was desirable the House should be afforded some information as to the observations of the hon. and learned Member to the effect that he had positive assur- 2373 ances that enormous sums would be given out of the Development Fund under this Bill for Irish purposes during the present year. I may observe that the hon. Member for East Mayo, who was in the House when my right hon. Friend the Member for South Dublin commented on the great concessions to Ireland, had no reply to make. The hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has conclusively shown how pressure may be brought to bear in
|Division No. 792.]||AYES.||[2.5 p.m.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craik, Sir Henry||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter (Dublin, S.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fell, Arthur||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. G. (Winchester)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Fletcher, J. S.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Gibbs, G. A. (Bristol, West)|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Gretton, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hamilton, Marquess of||Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Clyde, James Avon|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Hazel, Dr. A. E. W.||Pearson, Sir W. D. (Colchester)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Astbury, John Meir||Henry, Charles S.||Pointer, J.|
|Barker, Sir John||Hobart, Sir Robert||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Barnard, E. B.||Honiman, Emslie John||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Hyde, Clarendon G.||Reddy, M.|
|Beale, W. P.||Idris, T. H. W.||Rees, J. D.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Boulton, A. C. F.||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Brigg, John||Jardine, Sir J.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Jenkins, J.||Robinson, S.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Kekewich, Sir George||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Byles, William Pollard||Kelley, George D.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Kilbride, Denis||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Clough, William||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Laidlaw, Robert||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Seddon, J.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Lamont, Norman||Seely, Colonel|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Crossley, William J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Steadman, W. C.|
|Cullinan, J.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.)||Stewart, Halley (Greenock)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||M'Callum, John M.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Dillon, John||Mallet, Charles E.||Toulmin, George|
|Dobson, Thomas W.||Marnham, F. J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Massle, J.||Verney, F. W.|
|Erskine, David C.||Masterman, C. F. G.||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Evans, Sir Samuel T.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Gibb, James (Harrow)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Gill, A. H.||Mooney, J. J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Murphy, John (Kerry, East)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||Napier, T. B.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Gulland, John W.||Nicholls, George||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Nolan, Joseph||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Norton and Mr. Whitley.|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Partington, Oswald|
§ Mr. ARTHUR FELL moved, in Sub-section (2), to leave out the word "five" ["the sum of five hundred thousand pounds"], and to insert instead thereof the word "one."2374
§ regard to the allocation of these funds. I do earnestly urge that we ought not in these cases to depart from the almost invariable practice with Bills presented by this Government during the period they have been in office.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 26; Noes, 125.
§ I move this Amendment with the object of ascertaining, if possible, on what grounds the Government have fixed upon the sum of £500,000 as the amount to be spent after Easter next year. We really 2375 do not know whether £100,000 would be as useful under the circumstances or whether £1,000,000 would be anything like sufficient. Our experience is that if we vote £500,000 that money is spent, but whether it is spent usefully or not is sometimes very doubtful. This whole thing is an experiment. In the initial stages we are bound to go slow, or we shall make some terrible mistakes. It is so with every new enterprise. The Commissioners will be new to their work, and if they have £500,000 to spend in one year they will feel bound to adopt schemes, proposals and suggestions which come before them, in order to absorb that amount. It may be they would do that against their better judgment. We hope the Commissioners will be very able and prudent men, because on that depends the success of the whole new undertaking. The safest way would be to begin with institutions which are already conducting these experiments, and which are sadly in want of funds. You should assist bonâ fide schools which are experimenting in these matters; for instance, schools like that at Oxford for afforestation and agriculture. I went to the opening of that school last year, which is connected with my old college of St. John's. The funds of that institition are not large. Experiments in afforestation are being conducted at that school, and there are gardens and nursery grounds. A sum of £500 to an institution like that would go a long way. I ask are there many other such institutions in the country to which £500 or £1,000 might be given in as safe a way as in the case I have mentioned? I doubt if there are half a dozen in the country. To such institutions £500 or £1,000 would be of immense assistance. I am only afraid of their feeling bound to spend the money this first year, and spending it on objects which may be unsuccessful, and which, therefore, may do more harm than good. Every failure which they have will naturally prejudice them in the eyes of the country.
§ Amendment not seconded.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE moved, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert the words: "The Treasury may accept any gifts made to them for all or any of the purposes for which advances may be made under this Part of this Act and, subject to the terms of gift, apply them for the purposes of this Part of this Act in accordance with regulations made by the Treasury."2376
§ This Amendment was proposed upstairs, and in substance at least, accepted by the Government with the assent, I understand, of all sections of the Committee. It is simply to give the Treasury power to accept gifts to be applied in the administration of this Act, which, I understand, would not be possible unless special authorisation is inserted.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I accepted the substance of the Amendment in Committee, and now that it has been put in legal form I am pleased that an opportunity is given to people to direct their benevolence into this channel.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS moved, in Subsection (4), after the word "may" ["as the Treasury may direct"], to insert the words "by Minute to be laid before Parliament."
§ Amendment made.
§ Mr. CECIL HARMSWORTH moved, at the end of the Clause, to add: "(6) No advance shall be made to a public authority (other than a Government Department), university, college, institution, or association of persons, or company, unless such public authority, university, college, or association of persons, or company, is prepared to devote to the purpose for which the advance is made a sum of money out of its own funds equivalent to the advance."
§ I put the Amendment down rather with the object of directing attention to a very serious danger than with any hope of the Amendment being accepted in its present terms. I have no wish to deprive any educational institution even of free grants, but in regard to local authorities the old rule might well be observed that they should show by a financial contribution, or in some other way, that they are deserving of a grant. Yesterday there was some little confusion in regard to this question. It was stated by one right hon. Gentleman that this Government had frequently granted money without requiring any contribution from local authorities. I have entirely failed to find any such cases except the one instance of the Congested 2377 Districts Board in Ireland. Under every other statute in any way similar to this, as far as I am aware., it has always been required by Parliament that the local authority should make an equivalent grant, or, at all events, a substantial contribution, to the purposes for which the advance is made. I should like an assurance that this difficulty is met in some part of the Bill.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I beg to second the Amendment. The Solicitor-General was not able to assent to our proposal that the advances under the Bill should be made by way of loan, and it would remove a great many of our difficulties if he would accept this Amendment. It needs very little argument to prove that it is sound on financial grounds, but I am certain it will prove in the future, as it has proved in the past, of very great assistance to local promoters of any proposed scheme that the grant should have this condition attached to it. By this means they would be able to induce that local help which is an essential condition of real success in such a scheme. If the Solicitor-General were able in any way to meet this he would do only what in practice will be found almost essential, and what it will be expedient to lay down as a general rule in an Act of Parliament applying to all cases.
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
I think the principle which has been enunciated by my hon. Friend (Mr. Cecil Harmsworth) in regard to local authorities is a perfectly sound one, speaking generally—that is to say, that there ought to be an effort made locally by the community itself in addition to the effort made by the State in regard to educational work. My hon. Friend is perfectly right in saying that there is no provision in this Bill expressly saying that a definite and specific sum should be contributed by a local authority, or by any of the institutions which are mentioned in the Bill and the Amendment. The Amendment is, as I think the hon. Member himself will admit, quite inapplicable to universities, and so forth. If they have no moneys already, how are you to expect them when making application for a grant to provide an equivalent sum? They cannot do that out of funds which they have not got. It would make an application nugatory if we were to say, when they came to us for assistance, "You cannot get this from the State unless you contribute some part of the money required." Nor do I think it would be right in every case to say that a public authority should 2378 contribute a half. The Commissioners may take the matter into consideration and apply the principle which my hon. Friend seeks to apply by the Amendment. Subsection (1) of Clause 1 says: "The Treasury may, upon the recommendation of the Development Commissioners appointed under this Act, make advances to a Government Department, or through a Government Department to a public authority, university, college, institution, or association of persons or company (not trading for profit), either by way of free grant or by way of loan, or partly in one way and partly in the other, and upon such terms and subject to such conditions as they may think fit," for certain specified purposes. The Commissioners, therefore, will have it fully in their power when recommending a scheme to recommend whether it should be carried out by money wholly granted by the Treasury or on condition that part of the expenditure should be contributed by the local authority. Even if they did not do that the Treasury themselves might say, "We will contribute so much, but we think that the local authority ought to come to the assistance of the State and make their fair contribution towards the necessary expenditure." I hope my hon. Friend will not press the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
In reply to the hon. and learned Gentleman, I would point out that Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 is no direction to the Commissioners in the way suggested by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. I gathered that the hon. Member wished there had been some indication given to the Commissioners that in making a grant they should keep in view whether the body making the application is prepared to contribute a sum equivalent to the grant. I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that it is not the intention of the Government that the Commissioners should make advances without considering this principle. But the intention of the Government goes for nothing unless it is put in the Bill. What we want is to have the intention of the Government expressed in the Bill. There is no reason why the direction should be made mandatory so long as there is something in the Bill to show that these facts are to be kept before the Commissioners. How are the Commissioners to know what the desire of Parliament is unless it is in the Bill? They will say, "We can only interpret the desire of the Parliament by what is in the Bill. There is nothing in 2379 the Bill as to the necessity of our asking these institutions or local authorities to provide part of the money." The hon. and learned Gentleman made what seemed to me a startling assumption. Does he really mean to say that universities and colleges have no funds?
§ Sir SAMUEL EVANS
No surplus funds to provide for the particular purposes for which they require aid.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I very much doubt that. There are, I believe, many colleges and educational institutions which have funds. I do not see where the word "surplus" comes in. If these institutions choose to extend the scope of their work they can use their own money, supplemented by the money of the State. I think the Amendment is a sound one.
§ Mr. CECIL HARMSWORTH
I am sure the Solicitor-General feels that the principle of the Amendment is sound; but, having regard to the limited amount of time available for the business to be done, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.