HC Deb 17 June 1910 vol 17 cc1542-613

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum not exceeding £206,849, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1911, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Local Government Board."


I want to offer a few general observations on the Local Government Board to the Committee before we come to the specific questions in regards to which I believe some of my friends are anxious to bring matters under the notice of the President of the Local Government Board, and in order to emphasise their views propose to move a reduction. The first thing I have got to say is that I am very disappointed to find that the improved status of the Local Government Board is in a state of suspense. I certainly understand from the declaration made by the Government when this question was under discussion that in regard to any alteration in the status of the two Departments, the Local Government Board and the Board of Trade, whatever was done in the case of one would be done in the case of the other. I am very glad to see in the Estimates which are now being presented to Parliament that the salaries of the President of the Local Government Board and of the Parliamentary Secretaries are to be raised, but apparently that rise in salaries has not taken place. In regard to the Board of Trade I am informed that the improved status was given to these Departments from the time the present President succeeded to his office. I do not know what reason there is either connected with its finance or anything else why the same arrangement should not have been made for the Department now under consideration. It is quite obvious that these Estimates sanctioned the new salaries for the whole year, and so far as I know at all events the new system ought to have begun on 1st April, the first day after the expiration of the financial year. I hope that the President will be able to tell us that he has persuaded the Treasury to see this not very great point, but one which is of importance to the Department and which involves the just recognition of the Department. I have no doubt that the President will tell us, with his invariable modesty, that he does not like to present his own case to the Treasury. But I venture to submit to him and to the Committee that it is not his own case he is called on to present to the Treasury, and that in this matter he is acting as the representative of a Department.

I submit confidently to the Committee that there is no Department of the State which is of more importance to the community than the Local Government Board, in its wise and proper administration. It is concerned with all domestic legislation, with the administration of the Poor Law, with the care of the children. It has to supervise and decide upon more Acts of Parliament in the course of the year than any other Department of the State, and on its own merits alone it has very strong claims upon the sympathy of Parliament. I believe that in raising the salary to the same amount that is paid to any other Cabinet Minister the Government are only taking a wise course. But there is another view of this case which I am permitted to present to the Committee in the course of my remarks by my right hon Friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour). Some Members of the House may remember in the past history of the Department presidents who have been extremely successful in the administration of the office, and who just as they were in the very thick of their work have been called upon to surrender their office and to take another one, the reason being, not merely that they themselves wanted to get the extra pay—though I do not know that there is anything improper in a man accepting an office which gives him s better salary than the one he has got—but that so long as this House differentiates between the salaries paid to Ministers so long will the public think there is a difference in the status, and those officers would naturally accept the higher grade position, abandoning the one they occupy at the present time.

That is bad for the State, and it is also bad for the Department, becauses it loses the services of an extremely capable President. It is not a question of salary, but it is the fact that the Department gets a lower status in Parliament because of the differentiation between the pay given to the President and that given to the heads of other Departments. In addition to the departmental reasons, I submit that whatever has been done for the Board of Trade ought to be done in a manner exactly equivalent for the Local Government Board. I know that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition feels that this question should be looked at, not only from the point of view I have stated, namely, the retention of a man who is doing good work, but also from the point of view of those who have to form Governments. It increases the difficulty of selecting men, in filling up the different posts, when the head of the Government has to bear in mind, in offering appointments, that he is of necessity compelled-by the condition of things to offer one man a post which seems inferior to that which he is offering to another. Yet he does it because he believes him to be the right man for the place, and not because he is in any way necessarily inferior to men to whom he offers apointments of a higher grade. Therefore, I submit to the Committee there should be equality of treatment on every ground—from the point of view of the circumstances of the Government as a whole, from the point of view of the Department itself and the desirability of keeping in that Department the best man fitted for the work, or who is believed to be the best fitted, and from the point of view of the general effect on the country of these distinctions, I submit that a full case is made out not only for what the Government are doing in proposing to raise the salary when the Vote is passed—which I understand is the present state of things—but that in making the change they should see that it is identical in effect, in detail, and in date with the changes that have been made in the Board of Trade. I sincerely hope that this will be done, as I believe this is, of all times, the moment when everything should be done to give, if possible, increased authority to the Department whose estimates we are now considering. I have not examined the estimates exhaustively; it is a prolonged business to make an exhaustive comparison between the estimates of the Local Government Board and the estimates of another Department.

I know, however, that when I was at the Local Government Board there were subordinate officials, clerks and others, doing exactly the same work—involving just as much pains and ability, and taking just as much time—as was being done by men holding equivalent positions in other Departments, and they are doing that work at a very much lower rate of salary than is being paid in other Departments. I hope that in this change which is to be made it will be possible to make the whole status of the Department equal to that of other Departments in the Government. Men doing work at the Local Government Board, doing splendid work for the State, will not then be exposed to unjust conditions. They bring to their work the same ability and attention, yet they do it at a lower salary than is paid to clerks and officials in other Departments. I sincerely hope that the Government will see that this Department is put on a level with the other great Departments of the State. I wish to refer to another branch of administration by the present President of the Local Government Board. I desire to ask him a question about the Unemployed Workmen Act, and I wish to say something with reference to the Act itself. I was not responsible for its passage through the House of Commons—it was passed by my right hon. Friend, who is no longer a Member of this House—but I was responsible for its preparation. I have a full recollection of the circumstances, being a Member of the Government, and of the reasons which led to the introduction of the measure. Those who have considered the working of the Act, and many who have condemned it, I think have forgotten the history of this branch of public work, and the circumstances which led up to the passing of the Unemployed Workmen Act. There are those who condemned it from various points of view—those who believed it to be the duty of the State—an opinion I do not share—always to provide employment for those who have not got work. To those who took that view the Act did not go far enough. But it was not held by its promoters—it was not our opinion then, and it is not our opinion now—that it is the duty of the State to provide, wholesale, work for all who want it. We believe a policy of that kind would be disastrous to the best interests of the people of this country. The Act was passed as a partial experiment in the first place. Other critics say the Act is mischievous because you ought not to find any money out of public resources, whether taxes or rates, to provide work for the unemployed, entirely forgetting what was going on before this Act was passed. This Act did not for the first time create a system under which work was to be provided for the unemployed. It was being done wholesale by the corporations of the country long before the Act was thought of or brought forward.

The measure was passed in order to bring into existence a definite body who would be able to do this work in a systematic and careful manner. That is a part of the history of this question which is forgotten, I think, by all critics of the Act. You had no machinery by which you could deal with a large number of people who, from time to time, owing to the condition of trade and other reasons, were unable to find employment. If the boards of guardians under the Poor Law gave relief to those people the immediate consequence was that they became paupers. Consequently boards of guardians, in my judgment very properly, shrank from putting into force their own powers, knowing that to do so would make paupers of men who were only temporarily out of work, or, in many cases, through no fault of their own, were out of employment. To give such men relief was to put them under the disabilities of pauperism in consequence of a temporary state of things such as I have described. Yet the boards of guardians could not prevent this result if they gave work to men so circumstanced, and therefore they declined in many cases, in the vast majority of cases, and wisely declined, to regard men so circumstanced as proper recipients of Poor Law relief. How were these men dealt with? They were Assisted out of public funds, not taxes, but rates; and for the purpose of my argument, and for the purpose of discussing this unemployed question, it does not matter in the least whether the money comes out of the taxpayer's pocket or the ratepayer's pocket. I am not now discussing the question as to whether the money should be found out of local or imperial sources, though I think there is a great deal to be said for imperial sources. I am not discussing the question whether the locality where unemployment is especially acute should find money out of the rate. Where the unemployment question bulks largely in a particular district it would be difficult to find money enough out of the rates. I submit that the mere change from a corporation or committee of a corporation to an unemployment committee, and the mere change from the rates of a municipality to imperial sources, involve obviously the conclusion that before this Act was passed you were doing the same work, only by a different body of people and in a different way. What do we find? We find that the corporations were doing this work with no system—they could not help themselves—with no method, and in a manner which, in our judgment, was calculated to do more harm than good. Some of them, when they were going to do a certain work in their boroughs, and willing to employ a certain number of extra men, instead of taking a limited number of men and putting them to a definite task under proper skilled supervision and so help those men from falling into the misery of perpetual pauperism, put so many men on one day and so many men on another. I do not think there is any plan, amongst the many that people have evolved to deal with the unemployed problem, so bad as that and so calculated to do harm, and so little calculated to have a permanent effect on the ranks of the unemployed. That was going on up to the passing of the Act. The Act was passed in the first place as an experiment, and in the second place the hope and intention of those who passed it was that by having a body of this kind with some permanent machinery at their disposal, to make a real experiment in regard to unemployment. I know that there are some of my own friends who belong to the party to which I belong who think it is a dangerous form of Socialism, but I do not agree with them.


I do not know what the conclusion of the right hon. Gentleman's argument is going to be, but he is obviously defending legislation which is not in order on the Vote. Only administration arises now.


Of course, I abandon that at once, but I think I shall show when I go at once to my conclusion that I was justified in the line I was taking. I pass from the historical aspect and say that I raised this matter on the Vote for the President of the Local Government Board for the reason that having got this machinery in force, everything depends upon the way in which it is worked, and I want to ask the President, will he tell us to-day what has been the effect so far of the experiments made by the Unemployment Committees, and whether he is able to tell us as to the money which the Government found—some £200,000, I think—in their first year, and payments from time to time. I know that the President of the Local Government Board is hostile to this Act. He said so quite frankly when the Bill was under discussion, and since. I venture to say that nobody can criticise the working of the Act unless they are satisfied that every assistance has been given to those bodies to carry to a practical conclusion the experiments they, have made. To judge of it by the result of experiments which are arrested before they come to maturity is to form a very unfair estimate of what could be done. I believe myself that through these committees some very valuable information could be obtained and some very useful experiments could be made. I hope that the President of the Local Government Board, in the remarks which he will make later on, will tell us whether it is true or not that in some cases work has been arrested because there has not been sufficient funds for the purpose, and that he will tell us also what he believes to be the value or the reverse of that Statute at the present time. If he and the Government think it is useless or mischievous, then I say that the proper course is to repeal it and abandon it, but I think you ought not to paralyse it for want of sufficient funds, and that it ought to be given a full and fair trial.

I desire to say a word on another question which is one of the greatest possible importance to our local administration, and one with which the Local Government Board are especially connected. I am not going to discuss now, as it would be altogether improper, the Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws, but to deal with one question upon which they made recommendations, and in regard to which, I believe, both the Majority and Minority Reports took the same view. I mean the treatment of children in our Poor Law institutions. I have always believed this to be the most important work that falls to our Poor Law authorities, and I believe also that it is a branch of Poor Law work in regard to which the Local Government Board, the central Department, can help boards of guardians more effectively than they can in any other branch of the work boards of guardians are called on to perform. They can give them advice and make suggestions, and they can impose upon them regulations and see that the work is efficiently done. I am not going to discuss the difficult and vexed question of able-bodied paupers, and the infirmaries and the sick, and so on. All that work is of the utmost value, and in that work, too, the central Department can be of the greatest possible assistance. In regard to the children, I believe there is a tremendous field for work both by local bodies and the central office. I notice in criticisms which are frequently addressed by various bodies to the work of the Local Government Board and the work of the boards of guardians there is a most amazing want of knowledge of the facts. It has been suggested that the Government Departments do not pay enough attention to this work, and that enough has not been done. I do not believe that there is any branch of Poor Law work in which there have been such amazing changes as there have been in the treatment of children in the workhouses. I had the figures examined in order to see whether the number of children educated in schools outside the workhouses and sent by boarding-out committees to homes of various kinds, whether those figures were steadily on the increase or not. I believe it to be true that out of the large number of children now maintained out of the poor rate the number educated in schools belonging to workhouses in infinitesimal, something like 656 out of some 35,000. That is a most remarkable change as compared with the figures which existed when I first went to the Local Government Board twenty years ago, and it is enormously to the credit both of the boards of guardians and of the central Department. I hope even this small number will be reduced and got rid of altogether before we are much older. I hope boards of guardians will realise that they must take the children out of the workhouse schools and send them to schools where there will be no chance whatever of having attached to them the workhouse taint, and that they must do this if they are going to grapple with the administration of the Poor Law from the point of view of training the children so that they may be useful citizens hereafter.

With regard to boarding out children within the union, I believe the President takes a broad and statesmanlike view. The question, which is an old and vexed one, has formed the subject of so many debates in this House, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman holds the opinoin entertained by many of us, that the criticisms passed from time to time upon certain classes of schools in which these children are educated are by no means justified. I have myself examined the statistics of many of these institutions, and have endeavoured to ascertain whether the results are satisfactory in the sense of making the children afterwards self-supporting citizens, and I believe that the figures, if they could be placed before the Committee, would be not only interesting, but startling. In the great majority of cases, whether in connection with the cottage homes system or in the larger schools, the children are made self-reliant, independent, free from all taint of pauperism, and there is no pleasanter sight than to see, when old boys return to school, their affection for the place where they were brought up and their regard for their old masters. The fact that they make good soldiers and sailors and good workmen of all kinds in civil life, and have this affection for the places in which they were trained, shows that we are wasting our time in criticising the different kinds of institutions; we want rather to concen- trate our attention in getting the institutions provided in increasing numbers, in seeing that they are well managed, and in doing all we possibly can to get pauper children sent to them.

In 1909 the right hon. Gentleman had a memorial presented to him with regard to the supervision of children boarded out within the union, and he promised, I think in the House of Commons, that full provision should be made for that purpose, within the union as well as without. Having been at the Local Government Board for many years, I know the old subjects of controversy connected with this question. There are differences of opinion amongst the guardians as to the value of inspection by women, but I hold that, while no doubt you must have careful regulation and some restrictions as to the powers of the inspectors, the utmost value is to be attached to the inspection of these children by ladies, who necessarily know a great deal more about the care of children of tender years than men inspectors or men guardians. I am informed that there are not enough women inspectors to do the necessary work. The existing inspectors have to inspect infirmaries and other public institutions, and consequently children boarded out within the union have not received the amount of inspection desirable; while in many cases women are not put on by boards of guardians to visit and see that the condition of the children is satisfactory. If it is true that the promise made in 1909 has not been carried out, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will tell us why it is, and how soon we may expect effect to be given to it. When the time given for the discussion of the innumerable questions connected with this Department is necessarily so limited, I must apologise for speaking at such length; I must plead as my excuse the fact that I have been associated with the Local Government Board probably longer than any other Member of the House, and the great interest which I consequently have in the matters under its control.

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)

No one in the House speaks with greater authority upon these matters than the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and no one would be disposed to complain of the comparatively short time he has occupied in dealing with the important questions to which he has referred. I shall leave the part of his speech deal- ing with the administration of the Department to my right hon. Friend the President; I wish to say a few words in reference to the right hon. Gentleman's introductory remarks concerning a topic which perhaps I can handle with a little more freedom than my right hon. Friend. There is always a suspicion in some quarters of the House when the two Front Benches are found to be in agreement, particularly when that agreement wears the aspect of a consenting raid on the public purse. I have shared that suspicion myself. But times alter. I will only say that each case of this sort ought to be considered upon its own merits. There are two aspects of this case, not easy to dissociate one from the other, which perhaps ought to be kept, at any rate to some extent, separate: first, the status of the Department; and secondly, the salary of the particular person for the time being at its head. The late Government, I think through the agency of a Departmental Committee, made a careful investigation into this matter, so far as it concerned both the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board, and shortly before they left office they introduced a Bill, which never got beyond the stage of introduction, raising the status of the heads of these two Departments to that of Secretaries of State, levelling up the salaries of the subordinate officials, and placing the permanent officials on the same footing as if they had been in the service of Secretaries of State. As I say, that Bill was not proceeded with. For some time after we came into office, we took no steps in the matter, not that we were indifferent to it, but we wanted to see how far our own experience confirmed that of our predecessors. I am bound to say, having had an opportunity, first, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and afterwards as First Lord of the Treasury, of surveying, as perhaps no other Member of the Ministry would be equally qualified to do, the relative degrees of difficulty and complexity which attend the work of the different Departments, I have come to the most decided conclusion that it is impossible to treat the work of either the Board of Trade or the Local Government Board as if it were in any sense inferior in gravity, in difficulty, or in dignity, to that of other great offices of State. Circumstances have changed enormously since these two Departments were created. They were formed in both cases as a Committee. I suppose, in the first instance, it was intended that the Committee should meet from time to time. At any rate, the functions were of a comparatively humble and limited character. But Parliament, during two generations, has simultaneously heaped upon the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board an enormous and constantly increasing aggregation of new duties and new functions. I do not suppose it is possible—I speak as an old Home Secretary, with a feeling in favour of that Department—that even in the Home Department there are questions of greater difficulty to be dealt with day by day in the course of the ordinary administration than at the Board of Trade or the Local Government Board. Under these circumstances I confess I came very strongly to the conclusion—which was shared by all my colleagues—that these two Departments must be, to use a popular phrase, levelled up in status to the same rank as Secretaryships of State. I do not believe that in any quarter of the House there will be any disposition to quarrel with that part of the change. What it amounts to is simply this: that under-secretaries, assistant secretaries, first-class clerks, and all other officers of the Departments are now treated as if they were performing services of equal difficulty and equal dignity with those at the Home Office or the foreign Office. It is impossible to differentiate between the length of time that these able officers give to the performance of their duties, or the amount of skill which they bring to bear upon them, and the case of the other officers who serve the State in other Departments.

Then comes the further question of the position of the heads of the two Departments. It is extremely difficult to justify leaving these two important Ministers in an inferior position either as regards status or salary. You may say we are all paid too highly. [Laughter.] The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Islington—


No, no; not all.


Well, most of us. I do not know who the right hon. Gentleman is good enough to favour as exceptionally deserving of preferential treatment in this matter. I trust I may include myself. But however that may be, if the right hon. Gentleman's position is that, compared with other countries, we pay our officials here upon too high a scale, that is an arguable proposition—[Mr. LOUGH: Hear, hear.]—which at the proper time I am prepared to combat with all the resources at my disposal. I think it would be false economy in the strictest sense of the term to reduce the salaries which are now paid to the great officers of State. If that is so—I am bound to assume that it is so for the purpose of my argument, because no one has proposed to reduce my salary, or the salaries of Secretaries of State on the simple ground that they are paid too much—though we do find that our salaries are attacked on the score of the inefficient performance of the duties—therefore I am entitled to assume for the purposes of this argument that the scale is not an excessive one—if that is the case, I cannot see any ground on which you can refuse to give the heads of the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board salaries of the same amount as the other Departments. This House last year distinctly affirmed its opinion that this was the case by passing the Bill which removed the statutory restriction on the salary of the President of the Board of Trade.


It did not decide the amount.


It removed the limitation. As regards the Local Government Board there was no statutory restriction, and therefore no legislation was necessary. This is the proper time, now that the salary of the President of the Local Government Board is proposed on the higher scale, to say whether or not Parliament authorises the change. This matter is, I will not say complicated, but assumes an aspect of some difficulty, because at the time of the Debates of last year both my right hon. Friends, the then President of the Board of Trade and the then and now President of the Local Government Board, intimated their wish that the rise in salary, so far as the heads of the Departments were concerned, should be deferred until they had ceased to hold those posts, though not as regards the subordinate officers.

1.0 P.M.

That was a very chivalrous and proper course for the right hon. Gentlemen to take. In March last there was the change in Government offices, and the President of the Board of Trade became Home Secretary. The new President of the Board of Trade was of course free from any disability which that self-denying ordinance imposed upon his predecessor. In these circumstances, it seems to me, it would be very invidious if we were to vote £5,000 a year for the Presi- dent of the Board of Trade and leave the President of the Local Government Board on the lowest scale, although his subordinates had been raised to the level of the Board of Trade. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Burns) has no part or share in the matter at all; and I think the House will desire to take this opportunity of relieving him from his self-denying ordinance. My right hon. Friend has had to undergo severe criticism since he held his present office, but I do not think that his severest critics will contend that any man who has held the post has devoted to the performance of the duties more assiduity than has my right hon. Friend. We may at times differ on points of judgment, but there is no man amongst us who does not recognise the truth of what I am saying, that the State has in its service no more devoted servant. It would therefore be a great personal satisfaction, not only to the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues, but I believe to the great majority of the Members of this House, if on this occasion we take the opportunity to release him from the pledge which, in the altered circumstances, ought not to be regarded as binding, and in putting these two great Departments on the same footing—a footing which, having regard to the complexity and importance of their duties, they ought, I think, long since to have attained.


moved to reduce the salary of the President of the Local Government Board by £3,000.

Both myself and my friends are very sorry that this particular question should be discussed in connection with the existing President of the Local Government Board. The Minister who holds this position is one of the most popular Members of the House, and I myself can testify to his peculiarly fine and genial way with new Members of this House. Further, if the question involved the mere transfer of £3,000 from the Treasury to the pocket of the President of the Local Government Board, I do not think I should have put this Motion on the Paper. To begin with it is evident from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand (Mr. Walter Long) that this apparently is not to be the end of the matter. The salary of the President of the Board of Trade has been increased, and the right hon. Gentleman opposite justifies that on the ground that one Ministerial salary was below another, and that that involved a difference in status and reduced the office in the public estimation. That argument would make it difficult for the House to oppose a similar demand for an increase of salary, let us say from the President of the Board of Education, whose duties have been increased in about the same proportion as the duties of the President of the Local Government Board. Why could not the same argument be used in regard to the difference in status owing to the difference in salary in connection with the office of the President of the Board of Agriculture, and with regard to the salary of the Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland whose salary now is lower than £5,000, and in connection with the salary of the Postmaster-General? It is clear that the point which is actually under discussion is not confined to this £3,000 of an increase. We are laying down a principle which cannot but eventually lead to increases which I believe will amount to something more like £20,000.

It may seem a little impractical, but my objections to this increase are not solely due to the economic aspect. It appears to me that the proposal of a Radical Ministry to initiate a series of steps which are going to give rise to this new scale of inflated salaries is dead against the stream of all modern Liberal and Radical doctrine. I believe we are standing upon the threshold of the time when all these questions with regard to the existence of £5,000 incomes, on the one hand, and destitution, on the other, are all going to be reopened. Now that the political power has passed out of the hands of the comparatively rich classes into the hands of the comparatively poor, it is inevitable that the main problems of the generations to come will be that the comparatively poor will be compelled to ask whether the present gross and appalling inequalities in the distribution of wealth are really the law of nature which no human power can modify. I believe that these kind of questions on the distribution of wealth, which have been regarded as closed, which go, as Mr. Gladstone once said, to the roots of society, are going to be tried again and before a new jury. I stated my opinion at my election that the main task of the future was that the party sitting upon this side of the House should take control of that tribunal and preside over it and guide it. Holding these views, and having contested my election upon these lines of argument, it appears to me to be the height of inconsistency for this particular Government to propose a new scheme of Ministerial salary never achieved in this country before and for which you can furnish no precedent in any other nation upon earth. The Prime Minister said that to oppose increases of these salaries was false economy in the strictest sense of the term. It appears to me, if you look at it from the economic point of view, you would get the same Ministers and just the same services from them at lower salaries as you would at the higher. You might say, with regard to the permanent secretaries and such officers, that as the public service has to compete with other professions if you are to attract to it the proper people, you must pay the price, but I do not see how you can apply any such argument to Ministerial places. If you so reason you have to argue that the best men will be prevented from entering the House of Commons, and the constituencies will be prevented from electing them, because when they become Cabinet Ministers they will not get £5,000 a year. That seems to me to be stretching economic theorising very far.

In discussing this matter with Members of the House it has been explained to me that these increased salaries are necessary in order to maintain the dignity of Ministers, and I do not know where we obtained the notion that a Minister of the Crown cannot live in a state fitting his position at less than £5,000 a year. If you look at the origin of the £5,000 salaries you will find that they were suitable enough at a time when Ministers of the Crown were expected to be in what is called Society. If you look at the position of a Minister even ten years ago you will find the great bulk of them—three-fourths of them—have been drawn from some small governing oligarchy, and that social position has been a very important qualification, and, of course, if you take your ideas from that class, £5,000 a year seems a moderate sum. But why should we, the Liberal party, expect our Parliamentary leaders to take their standard of life from the wealthy and ostentatious classes? It more befits a democratic State that the leaders of public opinion should lead the quiet, unostentatious lives of simple citizens.

I have not risen merely to protest in general terms. I have risen to make a certain suggestion, and that is, that as the whole of the scale of salaries is going to be increased, would it not be better, instead of taking them separately, to appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole scale of Ministerial salaries at the same time, and to inquire into the very closely allied subject of Ministerial pensions? If all the salaries were considered at the same time, the House would know what eventual increase it would be committed to, and the scale of the various offices could be based on some logical and coherent plan—you could not only increase some salaries, but you could lower others. Under the present system of piecemeal increase of salaries what occurs is that the anomalies and the inequalities are not removed, but fresh anomalies and inequalities are created by these very increases. What is more, the matter never appears at any one moment to be sufficiently large to be worth troubling about, and those who do protest are thought to be making ungracious attacks upon the Ministers concerned. If a Committee could consider not only the salaries, but also the closely allied subject of political pensions, then I think a true advantage would be gained. I hope I am not out of order in referring to political pensions.


The hon. Member is clearly out of order in discussing the subject of political pensions. I do not think, however, that he has strayed very far by saying that this Question ought to be approached when dealing with the whole Question. Still, he cannot go at any length into the question of other salaries.


So far as many of the supporters of the Government are concerned they regard political pensions not only with disgust, but with absolute derision. I feel confident that there would be no objection in the country to a moderate system of political pensions combined with moderate Ministerial salaries. If you look at this question from the point of view of Members of this House, and consider those cases in which the arrangement ought to be adjusted, you would not start with those Ministers who have private means, but with those who have to earn their bread. Surely the position of Ministers would be better and more dignified if they were secured moderate salaries in office and moderate pensions out of office, instead of having inflated emoluments and a precarious and speculative chance of a pension after serving a number of years in office. I suggest that the Government should appoint a Committee to inquire into these two allied questions at the same time, and attempt to secure quiet and reasonable salaries leading to quiet lives in office.


I regret that the number of economists in the House of Commons is much fewer than it used to be in the old times. The Prime Minister, in his speech just now, spoke of this proposal to raise the salary of the President of the Local Government Board as a raid on the public purse, and the right hon. Gentleman acknowledged at the same time that he was accustomed to join the ranks of those who protested against such raids. With all the Prime Minister said about the status of the Board of Trade and the Local Government Board I am in full agreement, and I do not think that it is right that the heads of those two Departments should be placed in an inferior position to the heads of other Departments. The Prime Minister seemed to think there could be no logical objection to levelling up the salaries of the presiding Ministers in those two Departments. May I point out to the House that there are two ways of levelling: one is to level down and the other is to level up. In my judgment the salaries of Ministers, taken as a whole, are unnecessarily large, and by this proposal they are going to be made considerably larger before we finish with the question. Before I say anything more upon this question I hope my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board will quite understand that I feel as the last speaker felt in regard to the right hon. Gentleman and his work. No one could possibly admire more the devotion which the President of the Local Government Board has shown to the service of his office, and I rejoice that this increase is coming to him personally for two reasons—firstly, because or the close attendance and hard work he has done in connection with his office, and, secondly, because he comes, not from the patrician but from the plebeian class. I think it is very unfortunate that the House of Commons should be engaged in this barren Session in increasing the salaries of Ministers, and that Ministers themselves should be practically engaged in increasing their own salaries and then coming to Parliament to obtain sanction for those increases. When such increases as these are proposed, I at once think of those who have to pay them. Like many other hon. Members, I am very often brought into contact with large masses of very poor taxpayers out of whose pockets these increases will have to come. The point I dwell mainly upon is that the aggregate paid to the Gentlemen who adorn the Treasury Bench is quite as much as the nation can afford, and it is ample for maintaining their dignity and to carry on the work which the nation imposes upon them. The whole machine of Government is becoming too costly, and I am afraid consequentially too powerful. It was not always the Liberal method. There is a wholesome tradition of the Liberal party to watch the outgo of money from the public purse. I am not against spending public money if we get value for it, and I do not deny that in this particular case we shall get value, but it is possible to equalise the salaries of Ministers without spending in the aggregate a larger sum. Yesterday, for example, the newspapers told us that the office of the President of the Council had become vacant. There is attached to that office a salary of £2,000 a year, and I put down a question last night asking whether the office could not be abolished, or at any rate whether the salary could not be compounded and distributed and the duties transferred to other persons. If an attempt was made to save money as well as to spend it, and if an attempt was made to cease paying large salaries for infinitesimal duties and for offices which are mere sinecures, and to transfer those salaries to active Ministers like the present President of the Local Government Board, then I think the House would be well advised to acquiesce in such suggestions, but we never hear of these proposals to save money. We never hear of getting rid of sinecures; we only hear of increasing salaries.

I am bound to say that ever since the Liberal party were returned to power in 1906 I have been disappointed that the Liberal tradition of economy in the public service seems to have been so much forgotten and disregarded. We are continually being told that the Treasury has been applied to for assistance for this or that reform or for this or that Bill; and that it is hard-hearted and cannot afford the money. Yet directly it is proposed to spend some thousands increasing salaries the Government is perfectly ready to do all it can to facilitate the proposal. I do not think high salaries ought to be the ambition of Members of this House who are called upon to serve the country in office. Money ought not to be their inducement. How often do we hear from both sides of this House taunts about Ministers hanging on to their salaries and to the sweets of office? Ministers ought to reject all such taunts and to make it impossible for anyone to taunt them in that manner. The independent Members serve their country gratuitously. They surrender their pleasures, the joys of summer, the blessings of sleep, and they spend their own incomes in cherishing and sometimes nourishing their constituencies, but they get no glory and they ask for no recognition. They do not receive penny stamps for their necessary Parliamentary correspondence, nor are seats even alloted to them at State ceremonials. They do not. complain, and I would like to see Ministers show a like spirit of self-sacrifice. We are continually being told this Session that there is no time for this, that, and the other. The Government cannot even give a day to debate the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Shackleton). Yet time is immediately found when it is desired to increase the salaries of Ministers. I do think this is a dangerous tendency. The House ought to remember that this Government will not always be in office, and that other Governments will come. Everything in this House goes by precedent, and what is being done to-day will lead to something else being done to-morrow; and what is being done by this Government will be imitated and perhaps bettered by some future Government. The things which are done in the green tree will perhaps be increased when they are done in the dry. I shall therefore support the Motion which has been made.


While I am one of those to whom the hon. Member who has just spoken referred, being perhaps almost the sole survivor of those who preached retrenchment in the public service, and while I agree that all the great virtues of thrift and retrenchment are far too much neglected, yet, nevertheless, I, for my part, cannot, under the existing circumstances, think of voting for a reduction of the salary of the present President of the Local Government Board. I limit myself, however, entirely to the present President. I think he occupies a position that would entitle him to many more thousands if it were proposed to add them to his salary, but I cannot but reflect that there may be other Presidents who will not be worth even the salary which has hitherto attached to the office, and I do think the Committee should deal with a matter of this sort not with reference to the personal virtues of the present occupant of the office, but with reference to the general principles which should guide the amount of salary paid to a Minister.

I repudiate at once the suggestion made by the Prime Minister, and which I think was made inadvertently, that the salaries of Ministers should be levelled up. I do not know how far that might lead us. The Lord Chancellor gets £10,000 a year and a retiring allowance of £5,000, whereas Ministers who sit in this House get no retiring allowance at all. They are put in the position of having to make a declaration of poverty such as is not required from the Lord Chancellor, notwithstanding that he gets a higher salary while in office. Therefore I, for my part, repudiate the idea of levelling up. I think I enunciate a sound political principle when I say that the object in this country should not be to make the salaries of Cabinet Ministers large, but rather to keep them, relatively to the duties they perform, small. A Cabinet Minister in this country should hold himself to be paid not wholly by the salary he gets, but mainly by the honour, the power, and the majesty of the position he occupies. There is another reason. It will be a very bad and unhappy day for this country when the mere salaries of office become the object of ambition and when these are so enlarged that to hold on to office beyond a proper and necessary moment may be a matter of great importance to the individual pocket of the individual Minister. That I think will be extremely unfortunate. The purity of our public life would suffer and the dignity of Cabinet Ministers would also suffer. Therefore I am entirely with my hon. Friend in the general principle that salaries of Ministers in this country should be kept relatively small and low. A Minister who has the honour to serve his King and country ought to understand that he is to be paid not merely in salary but mainly in honour and in power. I agree with the broader proposition that salaries in some cases are already too high and that they require revision from time to time. The Lord President of the Council once occupied, perhaps, the most important position in the Ministry. There was a time when the Council really performed most serious business in connection with the State, but since the education work has been taken from it the office has practically become a sinecure, and therefore, in that case, I think a reduction might be made in the salary. Indeed, throughout the whole Civil Service there are salaries not only too high, but much too low. I could name hundreds of men getting £500 a year who only ought to have £300 or £200. On the other hand, I could name those who should have increased salaries. For instance, the salary of the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury should be doubled or even trebled in order that we might have the advantage of keeping an able man at the post and prevent his being tempted out of the public service by the offer of a higher salary. Take for instance the case of Sir Charles Rivers Wilson. He was an able man, who was tempted away from the Treasury by the offer of a high position at a very large salary, and I consider he should have had a much higher salary given him at the Treasury. There are many positions in the Service where the salaries are too high. There are some where they are too low.

I come back to what I said at first, that with regard to the present holder of the office under discussion I am inclined to think, in his personal case, the salary is too low for the work he does and the principles he represents. But here again we have to deal with general principles. We must have some regard in this particular matter to broad principles. The work of the Local Government Board is, in these modern days, far too much for it to do. The major part of that work represents interference with local self-government, which formerly was left to work out its own salvation. I have never looked with approval on the increasing activities of the Local Government Board, because each new activity has been directed against local bodies, which should have been allowed greater independence. But Parliament has not taken that view, and the importance of the Local Government Board has consequently enormously increased. One may measure its importance on a cash basis. I will take the last completed figures, they are for the year 1905 –6, and it will be found that the local government expenditure very closely approximates our national expenditure. In 1905 –6 the national expenditure—and this is a larger sum than, I think, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would name—the total national expenditure, including Appropriations in Aid, was £160,000,000, and in that same year the expenditure of local authorities was only £4,000,000 less. Take, again, the debt. In that year the National Debt amounted to £788,000,000. The local government debt was £564,600,000, so that the Committee will realise that when it is dealing with the Local Government Board it is dealing with a body which controls or influences and presides over an expenditure almost equal to our national expenditure and debt. That is extremely important. Financially speaking, the right hon. Gentleman represents expenditure and debt almost as great as that which the Chancellor of the Exchequer represents nationally. I myself have always been of opinion that it has become necessary, and I believe that necessity will shortly be recognised, for us to have as solemn an annual statement of local indebtedness and expenditure as we have on National Debt and expenditure, and I trust for my part that the day may not be far distant when, following the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget Statement on national affairs we may have another statement by the President of the Local Government Board, explaining the position in regard to local government expenditure and debt, which, after all, are almost as important as our national expenditure. When you take two sovereigns out of a man's pocket, one for local taxation and one for national taxation, it matters very little to him how they are applied. They come out of his pocket under any circumstances. Therefore, if it is necessary the Chancellor of the Exchequer should give an account of his stewardship in the past year and explain his proposals for the coming year in the form of a national Budget, surely there is an equal necessity for a local taxation Budget. These things certainly add very largely to the importance of the office which the right hon. Gentleman opposite fills with such distinction, and the duties of which he performs with such ability, and, if I may say so, with such conspicuous honesty and detachment from mere partisan spirit. I therefore cannot at this moment vote for the reduction of the salary of the right hon. Gentleman, although on the general principle I hold that it is wrong to increase the salaries of Cabinet Ministers, and that it would be better to increase their honours than their cash. Perhaps when another right hon. Gentleman holds the same office I may join with those who are now removing the reduction of the salary. But I really most earnestly call the attention of the Committee, as well as of the country, to the enormous way in which local expenditure and local indebtedness is growing. This matter is very apt to escape attention. It is kept out of sight. The returns are only published three or four years afterwards. I would appeal to my right hon. Friend whether he cannot undertake to make, in regard to the local government expenditure and taxation, if not a speech, at any rate returns showing the total annual expenditure incurred, contemplated, and the total debt created. That would correspond to the return of the National Debt and expenditure which is delivered to this House and the country year by year. It is necessary—it is becoming daily increasingly necessary. I do not make any material distinction myself between local expenditure and debts and national expenditure and debts. It is useless to tell me that local expenditure represents certain advantages which have been derived from it—the use of tramways and things of that sort. So does national expenditure. It is quite useless to tell me that local debt represents certain acquired advantages. So does national debt. Have we had no advantages from the National Debt? We contracted a National Debt during the wars of Napoleon to the extent of £800,000,000.


The blowing away of gunpowder.


The blowing away of gunpowder, yes, but it saved the liberties of Europe. That was the advantage which we derived from that National Debt. We saved the position of this country as one of the leading countries in the world. You have got advantages, therefore, from your national expenditure and your National Debt, and it is no answer to me to say that you have received advantages from your local expenditure and debt and that that constitutes a difference. There is no difference, and unless your expenditure is applied to purposes of national utility, and your debt has been contracted for really national purposes and to the advantage of the country, it is not expenditure—it is waste. It is not debt—it is a robbery of the subject, and the imposing on him of a burden which he need not bear. I do admit—I am the first to admit—that the national expenditure—a great portion of it; I cannot say all—and the National Debt have been contracted for the advantage of the country, and so I believe it is true with regard to a portion, if not the whole, of the local expenditure; but they are burdens both upon the subject, they are burdens upon the same man, and when you come with great deliberation and great solemnity to exemplify and explain how the national burden of expenditure and debt is to be justified every year, and how you are going to deal with it, then you equally owe a duty to the ratepayer of the country to do the same for your local expenditure and local debt. It would be a further justification for this increase of salary, which I am glad to say my right hon. Friend is about to enjoy, that he should be allowed to perform what I hold to be his duty, and to make his Budget statement as the Local Government Chancellor of the Exchequer annually in this House, in the same way as the National Chancellor of the Exchequer makes his. If for no other reason than that, these local burdens are now becoming almost as great as the Imperial burdens, I cannot support the Motion that has been made for the reduction of my right hon. Friend's salary, for I think he is more especially entitled to the small increase which has been accorded to him.


I am glad that the first few words that I utter in this Parliament should be in support of the Vote of the right hon. Gentleman. I am sure, when one regards the events in the past since he held the Presidency of the Local Government Board, particularly in connection with the purity of local government, one can afford to tender him congratulations in regard to its march of reform. We all of us remember the unfortunate disclosures which took place in relation to several municipal bodies in and around London, and I think I may say that these would not have been possible, or, at any rate, would have been very improbable, if we had not had at the Local Government Board at that time a hard-headed President, who knew his way about. I think for the inquiries which took place and the results they gave as to the class of man who got upon these local bodies, and the methods of their proceedings, we owe the right hon. Gentleman a debt which this meagre salary is but a little payment for. I can understand the difficulty that the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Byles), and even the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles) seem to be in as to their present positions when they contrast the performances which have been made with regard to economy with the promises which were made at the time of the election. One sees how easy it is in times of excitement to make statements to the electors and the impossibility of performing those pledges when they come to be dealt with by practical persons in this House. The last speaker took exception to a statement of the Prime Minister, but he was rather unfortunate in the illustration which he took with regard to it when he asked whether it was proposed to level up the salaries of Ministers to that of the Lord Chancellor, with £10,000 a year and a retiring allowance. Has the hon. Member forgotten that the emoluments of the Lord Chancellor divide themselves into two heads? He gets £5,000 a year as Lord Chancellor and £5,000 a year as a Judge of the Supreme Court in the House of Lords, and the pension which the hon. Member would have the House regard as for past services cannot be regarded in that sense at all, because the £5,000 a year is in payment for his permanent services as a Member of the House of Lords in his judicial capacity. Therefore you cannot regard that £5,000 a year as anything more than a salary for the services which he renders as a judge. He also gets £5,000 a year for the services which he renders to the Government, as other Cabinet Ministers do.

The hon. Member for Salford referred to the office of the Lord President of the Council, and it will be in the recollection of Members of a preceding House of Commons that in their days the duties of the Lord President were performed without any salary at all, but in spite of the great professions as to economy and reform made in the campaign of 1905, hon. Members opposite when they came in forthwith gave to the new holder of the office of Lord President of the Council a salary of £2,000, although his predecessor had been content with nothing. I think in that regard it is desirable to call attention to the serious divergence between profession and performance. In relation to the Vote under discussion, I would say that in my judgment there are few men who have done their work more fairly or with more regard to the great interest which he controls than the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board. I think there are few on these benches who realise all the difficulties with which he has had to contend, but we know that he has done his work in an extremely able manner, and I hope the Committee will not go to a Division on a question as to whether his salary is to be treated differently from any other salary. The last speaker showed that the duties which fall on the President of the Local Government Board have increased. I cannot for the life of me see where is the difference between some of the principal Secretaries of State, either in point of dignity or of importance of duties, and the President of the Local Government Board. I shall give my support to the proposal, and I hope, for the credit of the House, that no Division will be taken.


The last two speakers seem to have forgotten entirely the subject which we are discussing under so much difficulty. They and the hon. Member who moved the reduction were careful to point out that they desired to make no invidious distinction against the President of the Local Government Board. I believe that this matter, which is one of great importance, and which we are discussing under circumstances of extraordinary difficulty, is a good deal embarrassed by the fact that we have to discuss the general principle in connection with a case in which we are all so much prejudiced by the individuality of the Minister concerned. I will try and dispose of that matter by assuring my right hon. Friend that I agree with every compliment which has been paid to him. He has been one of the most assiduous Ministers in this and the past Government, and he deserves to be put on a level with all the other Ministers in status and emolument, and in every other respect. I hope that disposes of the personal question. That is not the matter that we are discussing to-day at all. The suggestion is made that a great increase is to take place in the salaries of Ministers, and it is one which has been before Parliament for a long time. I object to the suggestion in the first place because of its origin. It originated from the Tory side of the House. It was a Conservative Government that brought it forward. It has a Conservative flavour about it, and, beyond that, it has a Protectionist flavour, because I was present when this consummation, which we are realising to-day, was started. It was started by an hon. Member opposite, Mr. Sinclair, who lost his seat in 1906 in connection with establishing a Ministry of Commerce. This was part of the Tariff Reform agitation, and this demand was to be satisfied by raising the status of the President of the Board of Trade and the President of the Local Government Board. The Bill was ready, a Tory Bill, and this proposal is part of the dregs of Toryism which the Ministry have been a little too fond of dangling before their unhappy followers since this Parliament met.

Then I object to this proposal on the ground that it is not an economic proposal. I think those were fair taunts which were levelled at us by the hon. Member who preceded me. He said we are always talking of economy, and yet when we come into office we have been more extravagant than any Government. I fear it is true. National expenditure has increased by about £20,000,000 a year, and though these sums are so vast, if we are ever to deal with it effectively, we must do it in connection with small matters like this. I say, then, that the broad proposal to raise the salaries of two Ministers is contrary to those principles of economy which we as a party profess. At the present time there are fifty-five Ministers, and they receive £168,000 a year. There are forty Ministers in this House and they divide between them £127,000 a year, so that this House presents the appearance of a little band of dignified persons who work very little harder, if at all, than the general body of the House, who get nothing at all for their services, while these vast sums are lavished upon Ministers. In both these respects we differ from every other Assembly in the world. Other nations pay Ministers more moderately. The highest salary, I believe, anywhere which can be compared with these is about half what is now proposed. The Ministers are paid moderately, but the Members are requited for their services. I believe the true Radical doctrine is that Members ought to be requited for their services. They ought to get wages as they did long ago. But the Tory doctrine is to give these huge emoluments to Ministers, and nothing to Members. I am still a believer in the old Radical plea, and I am sorry this precise proposal has been brought forward. I asked the question as to what Ministers get in other countries because I think the question is far broader than it appears in our discussion to-day. In France and America they get £2,400, just half what we get, and in Germany £1,800, with an allowance for expenses. These are very rich countries. Although we are greatly inflated about our own virtues—I am not inflated about my virtues, but we hear talk of our being the Mother of Parliaments, and a pattern Assembly to all the legislative bodies of the world—I believe the day is coming when we may learn lessons from other legislative bodies, and I believe that on the question that is now before us we could learn a very useful lesson indeed. This particular proposal has been considered without due regard to economy, to which we are pledged.

2.0 P.M.

But the one sound basis on which this proposal has been brought forward is that the various Ministries ought to be raised to the same level. I believe originally the proposal was brought forward, so far as it had any strength and reason, on behalf of the permanent staff in the Departments. It was pointed out that the permanent staff in certain Departments suffered in salary, and in status, because those Departments were treated differently from those of the Secretary of State. Everyone who has spoken says he is quite in favour of the levelling up, but the levelling up is not accomplished owing to the extraordinary action which the Government take. The Government are showing favour, they are picking and choosing, they are picking out my right hon. Friend, and to-morrow they will pick out the President of the Board of Trade, and they are giving them £5,000, while those who do work of equal value to the nation, and whose Departments are at least of equal status, are left out in the cold. The argument used by the Prime Minister that the time has come to level up has not been carried out by the proposal of the Government. On the contrary, they are showing favour, they are yielding to secret influences instead of putting before the House broad principles for the regulation of salaries. Look at the origin of the proposal. There was a Bill which dealt only with the Board of Trade, but that was because a Bill was necessary for that Department, and no Bill is necessary here. It was discussed and amended in Committee, and the Amendment was that Parliament, as opposed to the Ministry, should take the matter into consideration and determine what the salary should be. The Prime Minister was perfectly right in saying that this House has now an opportunity of differing from the Government's proposal, but it will have to do so with the greatest difficulty. I do not think we are being fairly treated. We should have had a day or two days to discuss this whole matter of the equalisation of Ministerial salaries, and the payment that should be made to them. Instead of that, we are called together to approve or disapprove of the step that has actually been taken. As far as the Board of Trade is concerned the high salary has been paid, I think illegally, since January. I suppose in this Department it has been paid since 1st April. I protest against either. Why should not the Board of Education be dealt with? It deals with far more important work than either of those two Departments. It has a larger staff, and the status of the Department is of equal dignity at least. And why not the Board of Agriculture? Why should the matter be dealt with in a piecemeal way? I say that the time has come when some Resolution should have been brought forward by the Government, and that the House of Commons should have taken into consideration the remuneration it is desirable to give in all those various Departments. They should all have been treated alike. Then we should have been spared this painful Debate, which has turned largely on the merits of a particular Minister, and we would have been able to consider this very large and important question apart from personal considerations. In the circumstances, we have got to take the best opportunity we can get.

When we come to look at the question, it is impossible not to see that the equalisation of the Departments might have been carried out with due regard, or a greater regard, to economy than by those methods which the Government have adopted. For instance, I quite agree that there are posts in the Ministry which might be swept out of existence. Then you would have effected economy. The Ministry in this country is the most costly in the world. I also urge, although the Prime Minister said it had not been suggested, that we might very well have discussed the question of reducing the salaries paid to Secretaries of State before increasing the level. Of course, such a reduction need not take place during the occupancy of office by any of the present Ministers. We might have made the salary £3,500 instead of £5.000 a year. There is a great deal of margin between these two sums. Why should we assume that if £2,000 is too little we should jump up to £5,000? I say we do it in that spirit of reckless extravagance which is bringing this House into disgrace in the country, and which my right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench are not doing so much as they might do to check. I think that by reducing the amount of the salaries of Secretaries of State, or abolishing some offices altogether, some reduction might have taken place in the administrative charges which involve so much cost to the country. I should like to make it clear to my right hon. Friend that I do not move in this matter because, firstly or chiefly, of the waste of money. There is waste of money, and if this House is to be extravagant, on the shoulders of the House let the blame rest. I will tell you what influences me in taking this course. This is a further step in the aggrandisement of the Ministry which is effecting the ruin of this House of Commons. [Laughter.] My hon. Friends laugh. If they will read history they will see that the House of Commons to-day is a very servile body compared with what it was in days gone by. A Motion like this would not have been discussed in the way it has been discussed to-day. Just look at what the Prime Minister has done. The right hon. Gentleman came in and made a few remarks, and left this large Question there, just as one would throw a bone to a dog. Who are we? However unworthy we may be, we still represent the House of Commons. Was my hon. Friend (Mr. Lees Smith) not entitled to propose his Amendment? No one has replied to him on the Front Bench. They have treated us with contempt, as they always do. [Laughter.] That seems to cause a certain amount of merriment, and I agree that there is a ludicrous side to the matter. I think that in the true sense the House of Commons ought to be an Assembly without a Ministry. We are not paid. Why should we be bullied by our paid servants? They not only take the money and the titles they get, but they insult us. They appoint our officers, order our business, and make whatever speeches they like themselves, and therefore the proposal now before the Committee is one for the aggrandisement of Ministers. It is a proposal of a dangerous character, and it will increase the evil from which I think we are suffering at this time in the House of Commons to a very great extent. My right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board has been spoken of in respect of one capacity only. He has been spoken of as a good head of a Department. I quite agree, but I want to tell him there is a higher dignity for him or for any Minister, and that we ought to look to a Minister from this standpoint. The real honour of any Minister in this House is that he shall be a faithful reflection of the opinions and wishes of the House of Commons, and that he shall manage to impress them upon the Department with which he has to deal. We should test Ministers by that. We should ask. Are they good servants of the House? and not merely whether they are good heads of Departments. I believe the day is coming when we shall have to look into the status of the Departments. The Government of this country is becoming a huge bureaucracy, and we are taking a long step to-day in strengthening the chains which that bureaucracy is placing on the freedom of the country. It is commonly said that, having the Departments, no House of Commons is wanted at all, and that the country would get on as well if it were not there. I am afraid we are giving strength to this view to-day. This increase of emoluments, and equally of the power and prestige of the Ministry, will give a good deal of strength to those bad conditions from which the House and the country are suffering at the present time. If we ask, "Are the Ministers faithful servants of ours, do they reflect fairly and freely our wishes, do they impress our wishes on the Departments, do they carry on our work?" I say that, judging by that standard and the answer to that question, there never was a moment more inopportune for proposing this increase of salary. What would you do at home, Mr. Whitley, if a servant came to you and said, "I want you to double my salary"? You would ask, "What have you been doing lately?" If the servant said, "I have been doing nothing; I have nothing to do," I know you would reply, "Well, let us put this off. You do not get very hard work at present, why should your salary be doubled?" We Radicals are obsessed with the idea that we can get only one thing done at a time. Very well, then, the President of the Local Government Board is doing nothing, and the President of the Board of Trade is doing nothing. Nobody is doing anything. I say that when they are doing nothing it is a bad time for them to get their salaries doubled. I say that this applies not only to the precise circumstances in which we are situated, but that it has a bearing upon the position of the House. Its authority in the country is declining, and I believe such proposals to give big salaries to Ministers are largely responsible for the decline.

We ought to have a House of Commons doing useful work for the country, and we ought to consider this question from the standpoint of the utility and dignity of the general body of the House. But that has been very little mentioned in the Debate. My belief is that we will do nothing to increase the dignity of this Assembly by passing this proposal to increase the salary of the President of the Local Government Board. We would rather increase the spirit of snobbishness and servility, which is doing so much harm in the House at the present time. The proposal seems to me entirely inopportune. I say that without making the slightest reflection on my right hon. Friend, who, I agree, was trained in a splendid school. He was a London Member about the same length of time as myself. He was a member of the London County Council. What better university could a Minister come from? He is genial, good-tempered, hard-working. But all that has nothing to say to this great question we are discussing here, and my belief is we are treating this question hurriedly and unsatisfactorily, and not arriving at any good conclusion with regard to it. I think even at this last moment we should have—and if I get an opportunity later when the other Vote with regard to the Board of Trade comes on I will plead with the Prime Minister even yet to give this House—an opportunity of looking into the whole matter of the status of these Departments, and the status and remuneration of the heads of the Departments and of equalising the whole thing. I think an opportunity like that should be given not in Committee of Supply, but that a free opportunity should be given to the House. This House would nor be illiberal in any way. It well deserves such confidence as that, and therefore it is that I will vote in support of the reduction that has been moved. I do it, not because I wish to single out my right hon. Friend, but because I think the question has not been sufficiently looked into, and that it is one which concerns the liberties of this House, and therefore should be looked into all the more effectively before any decision is arrived at.


I have listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Islington, an interest not less than that of my hon. Friends on the benches who sit near him. For they, like myself, I believe, have only discovered this afternoon why he ultimately left the Ministerial Bench himself. But I only desire to take up a brief moment of the time of the House by referring to a matter which I think is of considerable importance in reference to the Debates which have taken place on this question of the amounts of Minister's salaries. The hon. Member who moved this Amendment very properly drew our attention to how the people in the country regard this question of salaries, and also reminded us of what I believe is a fact that the scale of salaries of Ministers in this country is generally above that of Ministers in other countries throughout the world. But those of us in this House who have any knowledge of international trading know that there is a very great difference between the salary and the income of a Minister in this country and in different countries throughout the world. By that I mean to say that although the salaries of Ministers in other countries may be less than the salaries in this country the incomes of those gentlemen in most of those countries, are on a considerably narrower scale. I do not think that either we in this House or the people in this country want to see any attempt made to cut down the salaries of Ministers who serve us honourably and purely, in their service, and to drive them into those same channels into which we know Ministers of other countries are driven.


Would the hon. Member explain how it is that foreign Ministers with smaller salaries have larger incomes?


I am afraid that the hon. Member for King's Lynn has probably not much to do with international trading. It is an open secret. Perhaps it is not the sort of thing we want to say too much about in this House. I can speak of countries myself like Russia and the Argentine, and even North America, where the incomes of the Ministers of the Government are not represented by the salaries they are officially paid. Beyond that I do not think I need say any more.


What part of North America?


The United States. I do not think this House desires to see the salaries of Ministers pared down on the same lines as is done in other countries, a thing which in a sense has the ultimate effect of really making the foreigners largely pay the salaries for them. We are concerned at the present time, not with the general question of the salaries of Ministers, but with the salary of the President of the Local Government Board, and the hon. Member for Islington himself gave the greatest reason why we should fall in with the proposal of the Government and oppose the Amendment which has been put before the House by raising this salary to the level of that of the President of the Board of Trade. There is no Minister on the Treasury Bench, in my humble estimation, who deserves this recognition more than the President of the Local Government Board. It will give me the very greatest pleasure, therefore, to oppose this Amendment and support the Government on this matter, and I sincerely hope the Committee will on this matter go to a Division.


Those who sit upon these benches associated with the Labour party need have, it strikes me, no quarrel with this Debate. So far as it has gone I think it has been most illuminating for the people of the country. We have had the experience to-day of both Front Benches acting in complete harmony, and I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten a well-known passage in Scripture which says, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you." I say nothing against the right hon. Gentleman. I believe that as a servant of the State he has given of his best, but if any argument was wanted to convince me that both parties, and especially the Front Benches in this House, have come to an understanding to keep up their own dignity, irrespective of the financial considerations of this country, then the Debate this afternoon would have led me to that conclusion. What is the position we are in to-day? We are told that £2,000 a year is not enough for the dignity of a Cabinet Minister. Well, I know the right hon. Gentleman. I do not want to repeat what he himself said in former days. But on one occasion he said in a very definite way how much he thought a man was entitled to for his services. He has been reminded of it before. I know his argument. He was not going to work under trade union rates. But he has been getting the trade union rates, and I want to know now how he is going to accept 150 per cent. of an increase? We are told all along, especially by the organs of the Government Benches at election times, that the Liberal party stands for economy. The other day we had a speech from a well-known and a distinguished citizen from America, with regard to whom I regret to say the last speaker had not very complimentary remarks to make. I think there are as honourable men in America as in this country, and I do not think it is any question of their salary that leads to graft. It is the character of the individual. Where a man is sunk so low that he has no respect for his own honour, then if there is a chance of getting graft he will take it no matter what his salary may be. But the ex-President of the United States delivered a most interesting speech. He, said that the great danger to civilisation was luxury. Now so far as I am concerned I have never had the temptation, and I do not mean to say that if I was in the position of the right hon. Gentleman I would not take the £5,000 offered. That is not the point. The point is whether we are justified when this danger is recognised by the thinkers of the various civilised countries in pandering to that desire for luxury, and giving to Cabinet Ministers an amount that will enable them to fraternise with the plutocrats and what is called Society, spelled with a big S, so far as this country is concerned. I believe the time has come when the whole of the Civil Service ought to be overhauled entirely.

I believe there are many—and I think the same applies to the Army and Navy, in which there are redundant situations who are getting salaries for very little work, and some who do a lot of work for very little salary. As a trade unionist I believe in trade union rates. I believe that this House would be well employed if it were to spend the whole of one Session in discussing the entire Civil Service and the great Departments of the State. If a Select Committee were appointed this matter could be referred to it, and we should know the duties which devolve upon the heads of Departments, and those under them. I have a very strong impression that a great deal of the work that the Ministers get credit for is not their handiwork at all. I have a very strong impression that the permanent officials are largely responsible for a deal of the work of this House. I think all will agree that so far as our Civil servants are concerned there is no country where they can excel ours in respect of the services obtained from its permanent officials. I believe it would be a better way of utilising the time of this House, if instead of increasing the salary of the right hon. Gentleman from a fairly good one to a standard of luxury, it were employed in overhauling the Departments, giving to those men who do the work adequate remuneration, and giving honour where honour is due. In regard to this particular proposal I do not believe in singling out the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Trade and penalising him. But it is not going to stop here. The dignity of other Ministers who are getting £2,000 will very soon be wounded, and although we are only dealing with two Ministers in the present year, next Session, or some Session immediately in the future, there will be other Ministers coming along with the same plea and with the same argument as to the dignity of their offices, and as to their not getting £5,000 a year.

Speaking for myself, I deplore the occasion on which we have to discuss this question. I think it would have been far better if personalities had been eliminated altogether. We could have discussed this as a general principle, with the idea of doing something of a businesslike character so far as the great Departments of the State are concerned. But I, for one, can offer no strong objection, because I know the effect it is going to have so far as the country is concerned. We on these benches have always maintained that these high salaries are not in the interests of the State, and are creating a kind of oligarchy in this country, certainly a select party, who seem to think they have a right—the Ins and the Outs—to play the game between themselves. There is no secret in the knowledge that more is done behind the Speaker's chair than across the floor of the House of Commons. Ex-Cabinet Ministers all have an idea that they may again become Cabinet Ministers, and the present Cabinet Ministers on the Treasury Bench, with those opposite, play the general game between them so far as the House is concerned. From our point of view we think this proposed increase of salary, so far as the country is concerned, will accelerate discussion on the point. Each side makes promises when on the hustings, and fail in the performance of those promises when they happen to get back to the Front Benches. The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) interjected a remark when another hon. Member stated that we have a lesson to learn from other countries. I may go a little further and say that we are looking forward to the time when this country will take its lessons from one of our Colonies—Australia. Probably the hon. Baronet is not quite so familiar with the recent political character of Australia as some of us, but if he has read all the recent debates in that country he will recognise that there is a great development there, and that the new party has taken up the running of the Government. We are looking forward to the time when that will happen in this country; and I say quite frankly that if anything would tend to accelerate and bring about a result of that kind it is the giving of huge salaries by agreement between both sides of the House. The man in the street, the worker, who has a grim struggle for existence, the great body who have the political power of this country in their hands, will look upon such action as the present in a spirit of disgust. I believe that such action as we are discussing today is in favour of the ultimate object of the party to which I belong, and while I deplore the great extravagance which is going on, I cannot say for the reason I have given that I entirely regret it.


The hon. Member asked me if I knew anything about the history of Australia and what is being done there at the present moment. I have read the history of Australia. I used to have business relations with Australia a number of years ago—long before the hon. Member came to this House. I am conversant with what is going on in Australia and I hope that what is goingon there will not go on here, in regard to the manner in which the country is dealt with. The hon. Member, as I understood him, said the Radical party on the platform were always preaching economy.


Both parties.


That would include the Radical party, and, as I said, that party are always preaching economy. Yet the extravagance and expenditure during the last few years has been something frightful. If the hon. Member opposite will look at the Civil Service Estimates he will see the enormous increase of expenditure which has arisen. If the hon. Member desires economy and to keep down extravagant expenditure, instead of talking about a paltry £3,000 increase of salary. [An HON MEMBER: "Paltry?"] Yes, paltry, as far as the salary itself is concerned. But if you look at the expenditure on the Civil Service since 1895 you will see that there has been an annual increase of no less than £14,000,000. The man who occupies a great position on the Front Bench occupies that position not because he gets £3,000 or £5,000 a year, but because he is a great Minister and doing great service to his country; and I do not know any particular reason why two great officers of State, the President of the Local Government Board and the President of the Board of Trade, should not have the same salary. Under these circumstances I think hon. Members are largely making a mountain out of a molehill. The right hon. Gentleman is going to get a larger salary, but I hope that does not mean that all the officials are going to get larger salaries, because that would increase the expenditure of the country. I hope at the same time that we shall perhaps get a little more work out of the Local Government Board. As I understand, the Member for King's Lynn has drawn the attention of the President of the Local Government Board to the very great increase in the local debt of the country. He has asked him if he cannot make some sort of statement to the House every year which will show what the local debt of the country is and how it is increasing. I think when we are going to increase the salary of the right hon. Gentleman that he should endeavour to do something for the increase. I am not for a moment venturing to say that he does not work hard. Under the circumstances, I think he might accede to the request of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, which is extremely valuable. I think that these increases ought not to be allowed to go on.


I should hardly like to vote for this particular reduction to day, because it is put before us in a most unfortunate manner. The reduction might be taken outside as a vote of censure on the President of the Local Government Board, and I should be sorry in any way to give a vote that would imply anything of the sort. I am very sorry that the Prime Minister has not taken some other opportunity of allowing us to discuss the matter without making it a personal one. We shall have the opportunity of discussing the President of the Board of Trade's salary, because this week the Prime Minister undertook that we should have the opportunity to discuss that Vote, and that there should be no guillotine. This Vote practically covers advances to two Ministers, and at a, rough estimate amounts probably to some £20,000 per annum for two Departments. There is no doubt at all that the present Government have appointed a number of extra Ministers within the last few months, and there is another bit of extravagance that the Government have got £5,000 per year for entertaining people. The Government make no Return as to that. They carry balances forward, and we do not know what they do with them. I hope we shall bear what becomes of that money. There is no question at all that nowadays we cannot get the House of Commons to take much trouble, or give much consideration to questions of economy in dealing with public money except in very small ways indeed. I should have thought that a time like the present, when all local rates and charges are going up, was not the time to increase salaries by £3,000. We have had before us the question of the payment of Members. Before you increase Ministers' salaries you might to settle that question. I am not much in favour of payment of Members myself, because I think if we were paid we would probably lose our position and become mere delegates instead of representatives. There is the question of the payment of returning officers, which is" one of the questions that ought to be settled.

I should be sorry to give a vote that would in the slightest degree imply censure on the right hon. Gentleman. What I am sorry for is that the Government are doing this work really for the Tory party. The Tories, of course, hope to get into office very shortly, and reap the benefit. I do object to the Liberal party, which is pledged to economy, being called upon to do the dirty work of the Tory party by raising salaries. I should be more satisfied with this proposal if we could get any improvements in other directions, and if the grievances in my own Constituency were settled. Quite independent of the question of salaries we want an extension of the telegraph services. This very Government refused that, and all the answer they gave me was that they wanted to increase their salaries. I am sure that the best policy with regard to this question of salaries would have been to have had the whole question considered, reduce some and increase others. Then we could have brought about what would probably be fair for all Ministers. Is this question going to stop here? It is well known you cannot light a fire and say how high it will go. I want to know what are you going to do with the Secretary for Scotland? That is a much more important office than that of President of the Local Government Board, and will not he be asking also for an increase? There is also the question of the Board of Agriculture. Is not that an important office? Then there is the Postmaster-General, whose office is, in my opinion, as important as any. If we consent to this increase, shall we not be inviting these others to make a similar requisition? With the exception of the Prime Minister, the salary of £5,000 is not wanted at all, as the bulk of the Ministers do no public entertaining. It is said that the increased salary is given because of the dignity of Ministers. I should have thought that it was the office and not the salary that conferred the dignity. I do not care to vote for the proposed reduction, but I shall claim, in accordance with the promise of the Prime Minister, to have the matter properly discussed in connection with the Board of Trade.


The first point that occurs to me is that this matter will not stop here. The President of the Board of Education, the President of the Board of Agriculture, the Secretary for Scotland, and others will no doubt follow. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir F. Banbury) said that we should be far better occupied in saving some of the many millions which are wasted than in looking after this paltry £3,000 a year. The vast majority of the citizens of this country will not endorse his description of £3,000 as being a paltry sum; but, even if it were, pounds are made up of shillings, and the millions themselves, if they are to be saved, will be saved by attending to the odd thousands. The Prime Minister, in advocating this increase, made a distinct plea for the equalisation of salaries of Ministers. I have heard many discussions in which members of the class to which the Prime Minister and many other Members belong, have spoken in severe and unmeasured terms of condemnation of the efforts of working men to secure a minimum wage. It has been stated over and over again by members of the class to which I refer that they have no objection whatever to the efforts of trade unionists, but that they do object to paying men all alike without reference to special cases or to the ability of the men concerned. But this increase is distinctly advocated because it goes in the direction of equalising the payment of Ministers without regard to their ability, fitness, or anything of the kind. Just as others have endeavoured to exclude from the Debate the personality of the President of the Local Government Board, so also shall I. I, in common with many other Members, have not always been in agreement with the right hon. Gentleman, but whatever those disagreements may have been, whether important or unimportant, well-founded or ill-founded, this is not the time to discuss them. But I want to put this point to the right hon. Gentleman, if I may, without offence. I should be the last person in the world to endeavour to pin any public man to his previous speeches in detail or in any exacting fashion; but in his previous public career the right hon. Gentleman has made many speeches in which he has opposed salaries of this kind on the ground of principle. Now he has given to him a remarkable and unique opportunity of showing that he was honest in those speeches and that he had not his tongue in his cheek when he made them. I ask him to set an example to everybody else by declining this advance, and thereby to show that when he made those speeches he was really sincere and intended to carry out the principle which he advocated.


The hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) referred to an aspect of this question which has not received sufficient attention. He asked whether or not this advance in the salary of the head meant an advance in the cost of the whole Department. I should like an answer to that question, because some of my Friends say that it will. I think the House ought to know the facts. Are we voting merely an addition to the salaries of the head of each Department, or are we voting a sum of money to the whole of the officials of the Departments? I want to know what I am voting for. Surely the Government will give us some information on that matter, otherwise I cannot support this Motion. We may be voting a much larger sum than we know. What is the sum we actually are voting? I decline to vote until I know how much I am voting away of the money of the country. My second point is this: It is very easy to talk lightly of £3,000 a year, but many of us will have to face our constituents to whom an addition of £3,000 a year in these comparatively hard times sounds a very large sum. It will be no very easy matter to justify that from the platform of a Radical. I want to dissociate this matter from any personality. It will remain long after the right hon. Gentleman who now adorns the office has left it and gone to some other position. It will never be given up once it is put on. Once it is put upon the back of a nation it remains there for ever! It seems to me that a change of this kind ought not to be made except upon a properly understood scheme Are we going to advance all salaries? If not, we ought to be told how many salaries are to be fixed at this level of £5,000 a year, and then the country will know what it is doing. But we are simply drifting now. [An Hon. Member near handed the hon. Gentleman a Return.] I am obliged to the hon. Member for this information. I do not know whether other Members of the House have seen this Return, but we are not voting £3,000 a year; we are voting £12,000 a year. We have got to go before the country and justify voting £12,000 a year for one Department. Are we prepared to do so? Is this the particular time at which we can justify a step of this sort? At any rate we cannot justify it if we are not quite plain with our constituents and tell them what we are doing. Therefore I say we ought to put it clearly that this Vote, according to the statistics given, means £12,000 a year. They put a different aspect upon the matter, and announce a thing which it is much more difficult to justify. I agree with my right hon. Friend that at any rate this change ought not to be made, except as part of a well-considered scheme. I am in an extremely painful position. I feel that in justice to my Constituents, who would not at all object to any reasonable thing, that the House should understand what this Vote is for and how much.


My hon. Friend has asked me a question, and as it does not apply to myself I have much pleasure in answering at once. He wants to know whether the Vote now under consideration by the House will subsequently apply to the Department of which I am chief. I would like to point out to him that that is answered by what has already occurred. By an Administrative Order—because no Bill was needed for the Local Government Board officials, nor even for raising the President's salary, which could have been done without a Bill—in April last £1,200 was added to the salaries of four or five of the principal officials, and a number of other officers of the Local Government Board to bring them up to co-equal status to the other officials. That was done a year ago. The hon. Gentleman is wrong if he thinks that by this Vote, if passed to-day, £12,000 additional will be distributed amongst the officers of the Department.

Question put, "That item A (salaries and wages) be reduced by the sum of £3,000 in respect of the salary of the President of the Local Government Board."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 13; Noes, 159.

Division No. 74.] AYES. [3.2 p.m.
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Gretton, John Markham, Arthur Basil
Bowerman, Charles W. Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Grady, James
Butcher, John George (York) Hudson, Walter Seddon, James A.
Byles, William Pollard Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Lees Smith and Mr. Jowett.
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Dawes, James Arthur O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Adam, Major William A. Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire) Ormsby-Gore, William
Addison, Dr. Christopher Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Pearce, William
Agnew, George William Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.
Allen, Charles Peter Elverston, Harold Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Fell, Arthur Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Fleming, Valentine Radford, George Heynes
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) France, Gerald Ashburner Rankin, Sir James
Balcarres, Lord George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Raphael, Herbert Henry
Baldwin, Stanley Greenwood, Granville George Reddy, Michael
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.) Gulland, John William Rees, John David
Balfour, Robert (Lanark) Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Robertson, sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Banner, John S. Harmood- Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Barclay, Sir Thomas Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford) Roche, John (Galway, East)
Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor Harmsworth, R. Leicester Roe, Sir Thomas
Barnston, Harry Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Harwood, George Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.) Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Sanders, Robert Arthur
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Henderson, Major Harold (Berkshire) Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Beale, William Phipson Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.) Hindle, Frederick George Sherwell, Arthur James
Bentham, George J. Hooper, Arthur George Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford) Soares, Ernest Joseph
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Boland, John Plus Hunt, Rowland Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)
Bowles, Thomas Gibson Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan) Summers, James Woolley
Boyton, James Illingworth, Percy H. Sutherland, John E.
Burgoyne, Alan Hughes Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea) Talbot, Lord Edmund
Butcher, S. H. (Camb. Univ.) Joyce, Michael Thynne, Lord Alexander
Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid) Kimber, Sir Henry Toulmin, George
Cameron, Robert King, Joseph (Somerset, North) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Carlile, Edward Hildred Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Tullibardine, Marquess of
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Kirkwood, John H. M. Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Locker-Lzmpson, G. (Salisbury) Walton, Joseph
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worcr.) Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Chancellor, Henry George Lonsdale, John Brownlee Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Lyell, Charles Henry Whitehouse, John Howard
Clough, William McCallum, John M. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.) Martin, Joseph Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Compton-Rickett, Sir J. Menzies, Sir Walter Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)
Cooper, Richard Ashmole (Walsall) Mills, Hon, Charles Thomas Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow) Mond, Alfred Moritz Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)
Cory, Sir Clifford John Montagu, Hon. E. S. Yerburgh, Robert
Cowan, William Henry Mooney, John J. Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)
Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.) Nield, Herbert Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Nolan, Joseph
Craik, Sir Henry Norton, Captain Cecil William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Nussey, Sir T. Willans

Main Question again proposed.


I wish to say a few words upon a subject always of great and general interest both to those strongly in favour of it and to those also who are opposed to it. That is the question of vaccination, in regard to which I am afraid the action of the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board has been rather retrograde. I desire also to refer to the fact that complaints are extremely common at the present time on the part of the vaccination officers. These complaints are raised on the ground that the officers have got more to do since the passing of the Act of 1907, and that they get less than they formerly got for doing it. Some of them have been prejudiced to some extent by the working of the Act of 1907, and it is on that ground that the complaints are made at the present time. If the officers are placed in that position owing to the working of the Act, and if their emoluments have fallen off, as it is stated in a certain number of cases they undoubtedly have, I venture to hope their position may be reconsidered by those who are in charge of the Local Government Board. I hope and believe that my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board will sympathetically entertain their complaints. It is not for me to say how or what ought to be done, not having the information at my disposal as to what could be done, but I venture to repeat the hope that my right hon. Friend, whom I take this opportunity of congratulating on the result of the last Division, will be prepared to sympathetically consider the matter. I said that they were prejudiced by the Act of 1907. Whether these results are the direct consequence of that Act or not, at all events the passing of that Act has been followed by results which, in my humble opinion, are at the present moment wearing a very grave and serious aspect.

To make quite clear what I mean, I hope the Committee will allow me to go back for a few moments to the time between the issue of Lord Herschell's Report and the passing of the Act of 1898. At that time, roughly, the position in regard to vaccination was this: Something like one-third of the local authorities of the country had declined to do their duty in carrying out vaccination, and the consequence was that out of the 900,000 children born every year 300,000 of that number were going unvaccinated altogether. That was the position with which the Local Government Board found itself confronted at that time when I had the honour of succeeding to the control of that office, and the problem before them was this: how to restart vaccination and to bring the practice into general observance again.

The number of children at that time unvaccinated was increasing year after year, and if the position had been left as it was I have little doubt that vaccination would I have become of rather rare occurence in a very few years. The Committee will perhaps remember Lord Herschell's Commission recommended the introduction of that well-known individual the conscientious objector. I could not accept it, and when I introduced myself a Bill upon this question, the conscientious objector was not included in it, but was beaten in Committee, and I very soon became conscious that I only had two alternatives, either to drop the Bill or accept the conscientious objector. I accepted what I considered to be the least of the two evils, and I determined to go on, and my action was followed by a most singular and remarkable success, in the immediate increase of vaccination all over the country. I will give the Committee two or three instances in support of what I have said upon this point. In one of the East End Metropolitan unions the number of vaccinations in the twelve months to September, 1898, performed by public vaccinators, was 336; in the twelve months ending the following September they were 1,130, that is to say, nearly four times as numerous. In three other unions in the metropolis there were 1,181 public vaccinations in the first nine months of 1898, and 2,441 in the first nine months of 1899. Now I go to unions in Yorkshire and I find the aggregate primary vaccinations done by the public vaccinators in the East Riding for the three months ended September, 1899, was 60 per cent. more than in the like period of 1898. May I say a word on the figures that are to be found in the Report of the Local Government Board? I remember that in the year 1898 I was supplied by the Local Government Board with some figures which do not altogether tally, and I will point out how the mistake arose. These are the figures given to me at that time. In 1898 the successful primary vaccinations numbered 500,314, and the number of conscientious objections were 203,430. Those conscientious objections were made not on behalf of the children born in that year, but a great many were on behalf of children born in previous years. I come to the year 1899, when I find that the number of conscientious objectors fell to 32,341, while the primary vaccinations increased to 669,349, the only difference between my figures and those of the Local Government Board at the present time contained in their record is that the conscientious objections in 1898 were 47,000. The general results of the Act to which I have alluded show that in 1899 the exemptions were 32,000, and so on we go to 39,000, 41,000, 33,000, 37,000, 39,000, and 43,000 until the present Government came into office, and then they went up to 52,000. What I want to especially call the attention of the Committee to is that in 1907 they were 57,000, and that was the year of the passing of the Act by which the statutory declaration was substituted for the necessity of going before the magistrate for the purpose of getting exemptions.

What were the exemptions in the following year? They went up from 57,000 to 162,800 in 1908, and to 190,000 in 1909—that is to say, they went up from a percentage of 4.6 in 1905, the last year in which the other party were in power, and they have gone up from 4.6 to 20.8, and that has been done in two years after the passing of the Act. I see no reason at the present rate of progress why it should not amount to 30 or 40 per cent. in 1910, and if it proceeds to increase with anything like the rapidity that it has done I think vaccination will be in a dangerous position in this country. That is my excuse for calling the attention of the Committee to this question at the present moment. I think anyone who gives any attention at all to the position of vaccination in this country, both before the passing of the Act of 1898 and up to the time when the right hon. Gentleman opposite thought it his duty to make a change providing that in future exemptions could be obtained by a statutory declarations, and everyone who observes these figures, which I have obtained direct from the Local Government Board, must see that the position is one of a grave and serious character.

I have taken the opportunity of reading what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Act of 1907, and I find that he laid a great deal of stress upon the course that he was taking and the arrangements he was making in the hope that it might produce a very successful working of that Act. But what is successful and what is unsuccessful in this matter depends very much upon the view you take of what constitutes success and what does not. People who are very much opposed to vaccination will no doubt say the Act of 1907 has been entirely successful and has done a very great work. I do not know what the personal views of the right hon. Gentleman are about vaccination, but I am quite sure that whatever they are he honestly tries to administer the Acts which are the law to the best of his ability in every way. When we are confronted with results like these in so short a time after the passing of an Act to amend the Act of 1898, I think he will allow that I am at all events justified in taking this early opportunity of pointing to some of the consequences which have followed, and I hope he will take into his most serious consideration the question whether steps ought not to be taken to discourage this enormous increase in the exemptions from vaccination, which, if they continue at their present rate, must end by constituting a great danger to the country.


I wish to call the attention of the Committee to a question with regard to the loans granted under the Small Holdings Act of 1908 for the purchase of land and the adaptation of buildings. It is more especially with regard to the adaptation of buildings on small holdings that I wish to speak. County councils have first of all to obtain the approval of the Board of Agriculture to their plan and have then to get the sanction of the Local Government Board to the loan. There has been very serious trouble in two respects. First of all, there has been delay in securing the sanction of the Local Government Board after the Board of Agriculture have approved of the scheme; and, secondly, there has been serious trouble in the alteration of the terms on which loans are granted for the adaptation of buildings and for fencing. I was vice-chairman of the county council committee of Dorset, and we took over a farm last Michaelmas and sent our plans to the Board of Agriculture, who provisionally approved of the scheme on 14th September. The plans as approved were submitted to the Committee on 22nd September, and the county architect was instructed to obtain tenders, and on 6th October the Board of Agriculture finally approved of the scheme. We therefore took over the land and put our tenants on the holdings. On 3rd November we applied to the Local Government Board for the loan, and on 23rd December they returned the plans requesting certain additional alterations. On 29th December they got the alterations, and then we heard no more till 26th February, when an inspector was sent down to see about the drainage. We understood that because some of the drains of the different buildings ran through a well which had been used by the former occupier the Local Government Board would not approve of the scheme. On 22nd March they sent down another inspector, and on 9th April they sent down a third inspector. On 14th April I personally urged upon the right hon. Gentleman to give us the loan. He said there was some question of the possibility of the contamination of the water supply which prevented them sanctioning the loan.

Finally, the sanction to the loan was given on 28th April—six months and three weeks after we had originally applied for it and the plans had been approved by the Board of Agriculture. After that approval was given we had to spend some £60 more on a drainage scheme which meant the alteration of the existing rents. This delay very much upset every one of the small holders on this particular plot. We had to send a sub-committee to visit the small holders, who were in a state of discontent, and five of them refused to pay the half-year's rent due at Lady Day until the works of adaptation were proceeded with. You thus had the whole of the tenants of this particular farm in a state of anger with the county council, disheartening the whole of the small holdings movement, merely because the right hon. Gentleman's Board were pleased to hang up for seven months the loan which we asked. Surely they could have given us the amount originally asked for and made a proviso that the drainage alterations should be carried out afterwards. No, we were not allowed to spend a penny till the whole was carried through. Then we had to spend an additional £250 on the farm, and on 17th March we asked for that loan, and also for a very much larger loan in regard to another farm of some 800 acres, which we were taking over. We sent up a request for some £2,000, which was to be spent on the adaptation of this farm. We heard nothing for two months and a half, not until the Vote for the salary of the President of the Local Government Board was about to come up for I discussion in this House, and then, two days previously, we got the sanction for this loan. There again the tenants are naturally very much upset at having to Wait so long for the buildings and the adaptation of the premises, which the county council months ago promised at the earliest possible date. At our last monthly meeting, as we were still unable to get the loan, we proposed to go on with the work and spend the money—I suppose totally illegally—out of county balances, because we found it impossible to keep these men waiting any longer. One and all were refusing to pay any further rent, and demanded compensation because the buildings were not provided by the time they were promised. There is another point upon which the trouble has arisen, and that has been the alteration in terms originally arranged. We originally asked for certain terms which were allowed in regard to the period of repayment. For instance, fifty years was decided upon as the period for repaying loans for putting up permanent buildings, but those terms, although approved in very many cases by the Board of Agriculture, have been altered by the Local Government Board. We object to that very strongly. There surely ought to be one Board with power to carry the Act out. After the plans have been provided, after we have got the land, and after we have made agreements with the tenants, along comes the Local Government Board and upsets the whole state of affairs by altering the terms on which the loan is granted. I think this Committee will see it is almost impossible for the Act to be worked satisfactorily if, after we had made arrangements and got provisional agreements with the tenants signed, we are to be compelled to charge an increased rent in every case owing to the action of the right hon. Gentleman's Board in reducing the period of the loan. It is generally rumoured there has been considerable friction between the Board of Agriculture and the Local Government Board on this question of loans.




The fact remains that time after time the terms granted by the Board of Agriculture have been altered by the Local Government Board. There is another matter. Take the case of fencing. The Board of Agriculture has always suggested that a twenty years' loan is sufficient for providing creosoted wood fencing; the Local Government Board reduced the term to ten years. Then, in a case in which it was proposed to provide solid iron fencing we asked for a term of twenty-one years and the Board of Agriculture approved. I think every Member of this Committee who has had anything to do with estate management would expect solid iron fencing to last for at least twenty-one years, but the right hon. Gentleman's Board, after six weeks' delay, fixed the term at ten years, and it was only by means of great pressure that we got it increased to fifteen years. Seeing that we have thirty-eight holders on this estate, and that we were spending £380 upon iron fencing, the difference between twenty-one and fifteen years represented a difference of from 7 to 9 per cent. on the rent. That amount, at any rate, had to be added to the rent, and the result was that our committee unanimously decided to carry out no further scheme under this Small Holdings Act which required the raising of loans until we had got some guarantee that the arrangement approved of by the Board of Agriculture would receive the assent of the Local Government Board, and that the latter should not arbitrarily alter the conditions sanctioned by the former Board. Surely it should be sufficient for the Local Government Board to say that there was adequate security for the money borrowed, and that the council which was borrowing was not outrunning its rateable value? Of course, the object of the Act—an object approved by Members in all parts of the House—is to bring more people on to the land. To achieve that end different parties adopt different methods. The method of hon. Gentlemen opposite is that of making the people county council tenants. Some hon. Members below the Gangway wish to substitute State ownership for the present proprietorship of land; we on these benches desire to see more owners of land; we desire to see a larger number of people occupy the land, and I venture to assert that the action of the right hon. Gentleman's Board in upsetting the relations between county councils and their tenants is taking the edge of keenness off the men who desire to come back to the land and to settle there. You cannot keep them there without buildings, and if you are going to increase their rent is it likely that you will be able to attract men to the land? Naturally enough, the men who are now coming on to the land are the keenest of the whole lot; they are the men most likely to make a success of this attempt to put more people on the land, and the action of the right hon. Gentleman's Board is gravely endangering this movement. I sincerely hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some pledge that in future there will be none of these unnecessary delays; that there will be no sending inspector after inspector to alter some drainage scheme and not giving us the money for the period for which we ask it; that there will be no more alterations of the terms of loans approved by the Board of Agriculture which involve the charging of increased rents to the tenants. I believe that at the bottom of the whole scheme is the increasing desire of the officials in all Departments of the State to get a greater grip over the various local authorities. This is a very serious matter. The apparent desire is to make the local bodies merely registrars of departmental decisions, and if this process is to go on it will, I believe, be very bad for the country. I think it is full time that attention was publicly called to this matter, and I hope we shall have some assurance that in future we may be allowed to manage our own local affairs without this increasing interference on the part of various Government Departments.


moved that Item A (Salaries and Expenses) be reduced by the sum of £100 in respect of the salary of the President of the Local Government Board.

I am sure we ought to congratulate the President of the Department on the Vote which has taken place to-day, because as long ago as 1903 we were all very desirous that the Local Government Board, which has more to do with municipalities than perhaps all the other administrative Departments put together, should be given the status which has been conferred upon it by to-day's Vote. The matter I wish to bring before the House is one of great concern to municipalities; it has to do with the action of the Local Government Board in refusing in any way to meet the almost unanimous desire of municipalities with regard to the extent of the period of loans for the building of schools.

The President of the Local Government Board is very much interested in the building of working men's houses, but the municipality who was forced to build these and make repayment within thirty years would show a serious loss in their books and in working their administration. I think that they, in building workmen's houses, are allowed by the right hon. Gentleman a period of fifty or sixty years, but when it comes to the building of a school, which is of a much more substantial character than dwellings of that character, then the right hon. Gentleman, no matter what pressure is brought to bear, refuses to give way. In taking up that attitude he is not only taking up a position in direct opposition to municipalities, but he is taking up one in direct opposition to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and everyone who has had the administration of the Education Department in their hands. Previous to the Act of 1902 this matter was left in the hands of the proper authority, and that was the Education Department. I know not what was in the minds of those responsible for the 1902 Act, why they should have taken this power from the Minister of Education and handed it over to the Local Government Board, but previous to that Statute the Minister of Education was responsible for granting the loans to local authorities. The municipalities formed a deputation and saw the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 15th March, 1907, and there was also present the First Lord of the Admiralty, who was the Minister for Education. The Prime Minister then said:— Then the third point was as to the period for repayment of loans. Undoubtedly it does seem an anomaly that the period for repayment in this particular case should, in consequence of recent legislation, be as short as thirty years, whereas in the case of other classes of building, which are not primâ facie more durable in their character, it should be as long as fifty, or in some eases sixty, years. I think that is a matter which is well worthy of consideration, and without coming to any definite pledge about it I will promise to take into account the representations you have made. That was what the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer said, and he was seen on 18th March last year, and he then said, speaking with all the authority of Prime Minister and the head of his Cabinet:— There was one point upon which both the Chancellor of the Exchequer and himself thought that something might be done and done without waiting for the general distribution which he thought all of them as educational administrators were agreed upon as necessary; this was with regard to building charges. The Chancellor and himself were agreed that the length of time which was at present, permitted for the repayment of these Grants was very much too short. He could not help thinking himself that the life of the schools, particularly those built in these days, and according to modern requirements, was very much underestimated when it was treated as having come to an effective end at the close of thirty years. The municipalities attached, naturally, great importance to the Prime Minister's words, and they expected that when he so declared himself these views would be carried into effect, but the local authorities have had communications with the Local Government Board. They have repeatedly referred to the statement made by the Prime Minister, and what amazes me more than anything else is that the Local Government Board, in justification for the action that they pursue, should hide themselves behind one or two words which have sometimes appeared in the educational reports.

I call it most unfair because the Education Office is in full sympathy with the desire of the municipalities to get this extension carried out, and they have pointed out that there can be no continuous policy at the Education Office. That is true; the only continuity of policy has been in the Local Government Board, but we have had now nearly forty years of educational administration, and it is really about time that the Minister of Education knew what were likely to be the requirements in the building of a school to-day, and that the municipality should not be year after year subjected to altered conditions in regard to a school that should be erected to meet modern requirements and should be compelled to erect a school which should not be considered proper in thirty to forty years from now. I do not think that in any school we should anticipate that any municipality building or erecting a school to-day would be likely to build a school which would meet with the requirements of the future. I do not know whether it is intended to put the screw on, but the position is a serious one, because education is growing at a great rate, and whether they are men or women who are put on education committees, no sooner do they get working than they have a desire to see the education of this country advance. To those who have visited other countries it has naturally filled them with an increasing desire to bring our methods more in accordance with some other countries in this matter, but every effort in the way of increased education means an increasing rate, and the figures grow to an enormous extent. The figures from 1901 to 1907 show an increase in the elementary school rates of over 32 per cent., and in non-county boroughs the increase was at such a rate as 83 per cent. The result of these increases are that those who take an active part in our municipal life in regard to education become marked individuals. That being so the man who is in favour of the reduction of the rates will point out that they did not have education when he was a boy, and they had no need for it, and he is now becoming the man who is being returned into your municipal life at the expense of those men who have believed in education, and have done, and are doing the best they possibly can to extend it. Municipalities and those responsible for the administration of education do not mind taking upon their shoulders their fair responsibility. It is a shame that on top of that come these people and say, "you shall not only be obliged to provide an ever-increasing sum for your education, but you shall also not be permitted to have for your schools the same period granted to you that we grant for the building of your workmen's houses." It rests entirely in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman—he could do it to-morrow, he has the power to do it, but, unfortunately, he has the power to keep it as it is. There is no opportunity given to us in these democratic days of raising such a question as this except by moving a reduction in his salary. It is my intention to do that because it is the only way in which we can bring this question forward, and I only hope that such will be the feeling of the House that the right hon. Gentleman, able as he is, will yet realise that he is blocking the way to progress towards education, which we all want.

4.0 P.M.


I propose to address myself to one specific point only. It is the question of the boarding-out of children with special reference to the recent order of the Local Government Board. Hitherto there have been two systems of boarding-out in England and Wales. As regards the children boarded out within the union we can get no official information whatsoever. There are some seven thousand of these children. They are under no inspection by the Local Government Board, and they are for the most part not looked to by any boarding-out committee. There are only a little over a hundred unions where such boarding-out committees are appointed, and the only supervision of these children is by the relieving officer and the medical officer. We have had in the Poor Law Commission a short and decisive sentence as to the merits of that system. They tell us that no effective supervision is found and that the whole system is never satisfactory, and yet the class of children who are being provided for under that method is gradually increasing. The second system is carried out in the case of children who are outside or beyond the union where their families live, and the two features in that system are these. In the first place there are voluntary unpaid committees, and those committees must be formed. Further, one-third at least of those committees must be women. The name of every single member of the committee has to be submitted to the Local Government Board and to be individually approved, and you have under that system local supervision carried out under stringent regulations.

The second feature of the system is that there are local government trained women inspectors who look after these children all over England and Wales; they travel all over the country. They not only visit the houses where the children are, but they do what is a very different thing, inspect them, and inspect them thoroughly. They inspect everything regarding the treatment of the children. They inspect them as regards health, housing, food, clothing, and general treatment; and it needs special training to carry out such an inspection properly, and it needs also—and this is my main point—that the inspectors shall be women. Men have turned out to be complete failures for the purpose of domestic inspection. The abuses which have been discovered have been discovered only because the inspectors were women. But it is not only a case of discovering abuses, there is another purpose served by inspection, and that is to do credit to those foster parents, many of whom show affectionate care and regard for the children put under them; and they are relieved from all suspicion which sometimes attaches to making money out of foster-children. The right hon. Gentleman, and indeed the whole Committee, are aware that in the boarding-out of children there are considerable dangers to be incurred, and we must attempt all over the country to institute a system which experience has proved to be the best, and as regards that second system, which at present is confined only to the children who are without the union, the Poor Law Commission says that it has proved to be wholly satisfactory, and, when best carried out, an ideal system both for boys and girls—and especially for girls. Last year this question was raised in Committee, and it was pressed upon the right hon. Gentleman from different quarters of the House that he should do what he could to apply to the boarded-out children inside the union the same conditions which have proved so efficacious in the case of children boarded-out outside the union. He said on 17th June:— I can assure the House that we do not intend to lose a day in extending to the children within the union the advantages which the children out of the union now receive in the way of sympathetic attention. The boarding-out Order was issued on 31st December, and came into force on 1st April. Here I come to the complaint which I would like to address to the right hon. Gentleman, while at the same time gratefully acknowledging that he has taken a considerable step to meet the objections which were raised, and that he has shown most sympathetic treatment of the interests of the children in general. Let me take this objection under two heads. First of all as regards the local supervision by means of boarding-out committees. There is no obligation imposed on the guardians to appoint a women's committee or a committee with women on it. There is an alternative offer under Article 2 of this Order which is, briefly, that the guardians may either place the children under a boarding-out committee, one third of the committee consisting of women, or under a committee of the guardians. The first alternative is that which has proved so admirable in the case of the beyond-the-union children, but it had already been permitted under the order of 1889, and all that has been done is to make it now not compulsory but compulsory optional. Previously it was merely optional. It is the other option which goes with it that seems largely to defeat the purposes of this Order, because the other option is that the children should be placed under committees of the guardians. That is the system which has so remarkably broken down, and which it was intended to remedy. It is true that the guardians are allowed to co-opt persons of experience outside their own body, and that the Local Government Board may even compel them to co-opt such persons. That is necessary, because out of the 638 rural boards of guardians there are no less than 226 boards on which there are no women at all, so that the power of co-opting in the forming of these committees is an important one, for observe that there is no requirement that there should be a woman on these committees, nor is there a suggesttion in the order that women ought to be put on. What you have, therefore, is this extraordinary contrast of the case of the children boarded-out without the union and those boarded-out within the union. In the case of those without the union, one-third at least must be women. As a matter of fact, I believe they are almost altogether women, and there must be that committee. In the other case it is left to the option of the guardians who have hitherto shown themselves so negligent on this whole matter. Can the Committee give any rational ground for the distinction that is made between the treatment of children near at hand and those who come from a distance? The children near at hand, whom you might expect to be best treated, are put under the most inadequate supervision, while the treatment of children who come from a distance is under the most careful supervision. What I would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to do is to recognise the cardinal fact that experience has taught that the inspection of children is work which can be carried out adequately only by women, and that it ought to be compulsory for the women's committees to be formed.

The other point I can put in a single word almost. It relates to the Order so far as it concerns the central inspection— the inspection by Local Government Board inspectors. There are 7,000 children on the within-union system. There are under the beyond-union system 2,000. The number of inspectors who have been hitherto employed for the 2,000 children is three. There have been three qualified women, who find it takes their whole time going over England and Wales to do their duty towards those 2,000 children. There are now to be three or four more inspectors appointed. That is to say, there are to be six or seven inspectors who are to look after not only the 2,000 children, but the additional 7,000 children. The new inspectors have got other work of inspection of a laborious kind in addition to looking after boarded-out children. They have got the duty of inspecting Poor Law schools, homes, infirmaries, maternity wards, and so on; and, I understand, those duties being very heavy, as yet there has not been any inspection of the boarded-out children within unions. The point, therefore, as regards central inspection, is that the additional women inspectors who are appointed constitute an inadequate addition, and will only mean that the original 2,000 children get less care than they did before, while the other 7,000 children are already not looked after at all. Here is a matter of Poor Law reform which requires no legislation which I think everybody will agree has been forced upon him by the Report of the Poor Law Commission, and towards which the right hon. Gentlemen has shown himself most sympathetic. But the reform is inadequate on these two grounds—first, that it does not make it compulsory to have inspection compulsory; and, second, that he has appointed an inadequate number of women inspectors.


I should like to express my agreement with what the speaker who has just sat down has said as to the necessity for the inspection of all boarded-out children by women. There are actually boards of guardians in England with women upon them who have selected children's committees and have omitted the women from those committees. As chairman of a Boarding-out Committee, it appears to me to be absurd for men to undertake those duties, which can be better undertaken by women, and I have reason to believe that the President of the Local Government Board very much agrees with that view. I should like also to enforce upon him the necessity of entirely removing the children from the workhouses. I know that he has done a great deal, and that he has suggested a great deal more, which has been prevented by local apathy. In some unions he has broken up the sleep of generations. But, so long as there are 25,000 children in the workhouses, and so long as there is a stream of children passing through the workhouses, we cannot let this matter rest. It was in 1896 that a Departmental Committee recommended that children above the age of three years in no circumstances should be allowed to enter the workhouses. Now, although when the children have entered they are disposed of in various ways from the workhouses, there is still a great stream of children going into them. The Committee say:— We consider it highly inadvisable that children should, even for a short time, be allowed to enter the workhouse, and when we find that some of these children have been inmates of the workhouses for many months, we deem it our duty to enter a strong protest against the continuance of such a state of things. This was in 1896. Of course, in the fourteen years that have elapsed since that Report was published a great many boards have carried out that recommendation; still there are 25,000 children in the workhouses. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Walter Long) opposite said that an immense change has come over the administration of the Poor Law. That is quite true, but I think the right hon. Gentleman puts too much stress on the fact that there are only 650 children in the workhouse schools. I agree that that is a very great advance, but it is not merely the discontinuance of the workhouse schools that we desire. There are still too many children in the workhouses and going out to schools. I daresay the right hon. Gentleman and myself do not quite agree as to which is the best institution in which children should be trained, but I think we take him a very long way with us if we go by his speech of last year. I understand him to have said last year that he did not desire that children should go into the workhouses. Exactly; and that is the point I wish to enforce on the President of the Local Government Board.


I do not wish to be understood as meaning that they are in all cases to prevent children going into the workhouses. In the case of very young children that is obviously not possible. The children, wherever possible, should be taken from the workhouses to a home or educational establishment outside.


I was referring to children over two years of age.


I beg pardon.


I am glad of that interruption, for it brings out the fact that the right hon. Gentleman does go with us in desiring to keep children above three years of age out of the workhouses. We may differ as to which of the other kind of institutions, or of other methods of dealing with them, we should prefer. I prefer boarding-out or cottage homes, although I do not exclude some of the other aggregations. Still, the less aggregation you have the better. I wish to point out that, except in a few unions, all the children receiving in-relief go through the workhouses. There are 70,000 children receiving in-relief; these go through the workhouses. There are 70,000 in at one time, and, from the calculations I have made, I think it is probable that no less than double that number go through the workhouses in the year; that is, something like 150,000 children go through the workhouses in one year. I think that is a fact to which we ought to pay very serious attention. I am not quite sure whether I quite appreciate the figures which the President of the Local Government Board has given as to the children in the workhouses at present. There is still a slight increase. In 1908 there were 22,350; in 1909, 23,773, and this year 24,175, which is a slight increase. That may be due to the slight increase in pauperism that has just taken place. That total includes 7,128 in infirmaries. Of course, sick children dependent upon the Poor Law must receive nursing and medical treatment. Many of that large body the right hon. Gentleman has secured the removal of, for instance, the Carshalton children, and I have no doubt he will secure the removal of more; but there are many unions up and down the country where the children are mixed with the adults in the infirmaries. I think that is most unsuitable, and I do urge on the right hon. Gentleman that he shall press, so far as he can, for separate treatment.

With regard to the older children I do not know whether one has to argue with anybody. Is there an opponent in the House to getting the children out of the workhouse? I have a dozen extracts here which would show how opinion entirely centres on this point: that the children should never enter the workhouses. I am not quite sure that the President of the Local Government Board has gone as far as he can in enforcing on boards of guardians the unsuitability of the workhouses for children. Article 100 of the General Consolidated Order of 1847, made by the Commissioners under Statutory powers, runs as follows:— The guardians shall not admit into the workhouses, or any ward of the same, or retain therein a larger number of the different classes than that heretofore or hereafter from time to time to be fixed by the Commissioners. It would appear to me that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Local Government Board would have the power to say that the workhouse is not a fit place, or that the children as a class are not a fit class to be taken to the workhouses. By making that declaration he would enforce upon those unions which have not dealt with this question that the time is very brief in which they will be allowed to tarry with it. I am quite sure that in every quarter of the House the President of the Local Government Board will be supported in dealing with recalcitrant boards. May I mention one? There is York. It is reported that York Union has persistently refused to do anything to change its work-house accommodation for years past, notwithstanding that a Parliamentary Secretary gave very special attention to them. There is the report of Dr. Ethel Williams to the Royal Commission on the condition of children in the workhouses. She stated:— The retention of children in workhouses is always unsatisfactory, even where they have special attendants they are never completely separated from the ordinary inmates. I saw children detained in workhouses as a regular method of dealing with them. In York certainly the children were dull and inert. They stood about like moulting crows, and did not seem able to employ themselves with any enthusiasm or vigour. The arrangements for their tendance and training are never as good as in an establishment wholly given up to them. The separation from the ordinary inmates of the workhouse was very incomplete in each case I saw. One of the very best steps which I think the President of the Local Government Board has taken is in increasing the number of women inspectors. I agree with a previous speaker that the number he has appointed cannot possibly overtake all the work that is given to them. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will support them in the recommendations that they make. One of these inspectors visited a Midland union in March, and made recommendations. This is how her report was received by the board:— She recommends (1) that the children should be removed entirely from the workhouses—(laughter); (2) better accommodation for the nurses; (3) that the nursing staff should be increased—(oh, oh!); (4) provision should be made for an infectious ward; (5) provision should be made for a mental ward … That shows the state of the workhouse—no infectious ward; no mental ward— (6) the laundry should be enlarged, and up-to-date machinery provided—(laughter); (7) food safes should be provided for the infirmary ward; (8) the bath taps should be fitted with removable keys; (9) the elder children attending school should be provided with tooth brushes, and have their teeth periodically examined. A member remarked:— She didn't want much, did she? I hope the President will support the inspectors in their recommendations when they have to deal with unions of that kind. With regard to the treatment of children out of the workhouse, it is a matter of great satisfaction that the President is an upholder of family life, and of those methods by which each child can receive individual training suited to its needs. In the Debate last year the right hon. Gentleman said:— We must get rid of institutional life as rapidly as possible. The Local Government Board has no love for institutions as institutions, for they frequently lead to abuses and are often detrimental to the children. I should like to refer to the circular published to-day; many things I was about to ask for, I should now have to thank him for; but as other Members desire to speak I will conclude by urging that the children should, as soon as possible, be entirely severed from the workhouse.


I will deal first with the point raised by the right hon. Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long) as to the steps we are taking with regard to children boarded out within the union. So far as it was possible to keep the pledge given to the House last year, I think the House will agree, when they hear the facts, that we have done so. In June last I promised closer attention to this matter, and that there should be no difference between children boarded out within and without the union, so far as inspection, control, and supervision by the Local Government Board were concerned. That promise has been kept by the "Boarding-out (within Unions) Order," issued in December last. In April we appointed three highly skilled and qualified inspectors, whose appointment, without any disparagement or depreciation of our previous inspectors, the country has welcomed unanimously as a great contribution to the keeping of our promise. Beyond that I am at present engaged in appointing a fourth lady inspector for the West Country, including Wales, and in that case I think we are justified in appointing a Welsh-speaking lady, so that Welsh children, and children in the West part of the country, may be inspected by one who can speak their language. Therefore, since June, we have have raised the number of lady inspectors from three to seven. They are the best ladies for these posts that I can possibly secure. They have the advantage that their previous experience has given them a knowledge of hospital, infirmary, and institutional life that our previous inspectors did not have. They are adapting themselves very rapidly to the inspection of scattered homes and boarding-out institutions in which the Poor Law children are placed, and, from all the information I have received, they are giving every satisfaction and doing their work very well indeed. It has been suggested that the addition of four is not sufficient. It has also been suggested that the method of appointing the paid visitors and the visiting committees of the guardians—I think it was the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Butcher) who described it as a compulsory option which we give—was not working quite so satisfactorily as he would like. On that point I have only to say that I intend to keep the promise I made to the State Children's Association. They came to see me about two months ago. I repeat the promise I made to them to the House. It was this: That at the end of a reasonable interval—I trust it may be less than a year—I would prefer six months myself—after the appointment of these ladies I shall review their inspection. I shall have from them, and from my chief officer, Mr. Davy, a report as to how the new Order is working. If I find that the alternative option, or compulsory option, that the work of the visitors is not being as well done as it might be, I will not stick punctiliously to my promise. I shall do what is best, and I shall probably ask the House—as I am sure in advance they will allow me to do—to issue a revised new Order based upon the experience and circumstances revealed by the new inspectors in the first six or nine months of their work. I can only say that that is the safest and best thing to do. If I find that our form of personnel for health visitors, or guardians' committees, or other branches of this work is not working satisfactorily, and as we would like, I will not stand upon the order of our doing, but I will do in this particular matter what is best in the interests of the children. It is only right that I should deal with another point in connection with the children, and that is this: I have taken a considerable amount of trouble, as was my duty, to anticipate the ordinary discussion on the Local Government Board Estimates, which generally comes in about the month of July. I have provided Members, not only those who are interested in this subject, but Members of the House of Commons and the public generally, with a new Circular and Report of Children under the Poor Law, with proper figures, diagrams, and illustrations that will give Members of Parliament—if I may say so—a view of Poor Law children at a glance that has not been previously done. If they do me the honour to read my Circular and Report, which was in their hands this morning, I think they will find some of the criticisms that they have made and some of the suggestions which they have put forward have been adopted, particularly in regard to the advice and suggestion that I should bring pressure to bear upon boards of guardians with a view to their doing what they are reasonably required to improve the conditions and education of Poor Law children.

I come to a question raised by my hon. Friend (Mr. Toulmin). He quoted—in the usual way of the House of Commons—I have done it myself, and I therefore do not complain—a specific case, and gave it rather too much of a general application. He brought in York. If the hon. Gentleman had known how I have been wrestling with York, instead of directing my attention to it, he would have sympathised with the difficulties that I have had with that particular board of guardians. I am glad to know that hon. Members who know York better than myself confirm that view.

I only say this, the Chief Secretary for Ireland has power to suppress boards of guardians which in his judgment are not acting according to the public interest. I have never asked for such arbitrary powers, but I must frankly say I sigh for them occasionally when I read the reports of our own inspectors, such as those with regard to the York board of guardians and institutions. This Debate will have served one purpose if it will have convinced the York Board of Guardians that my predecessor and myself have been very reasonable in our attempts to persuade them to do the right thing, and I think the time has arrived when publicity is given to the matter that the York Board of Guardians might come to a repentant and con- trite spirit, and carry out, living as they do in one of the best counties in England, their duty in a sportsmanlike spirit, and will extend that hospitality, which is peculiar to Yorkshire generally, to the children in their charge. If they do that, the little child, not for the first time, will have led them in the right direction.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wimbledon raised the question of vaccination, and he referred to the position of vaccination officers. I am pleased to see, however, that the subject of vaccination is more interesting, and that there was more time devoted to it than to the salaries of the vaccination officers important though that subject is. It is only right that I should say a word or two about the vaccination officers before I deal with the question of vaccination itself. I ask the attention of the House to the facts. There are 1,420 vaccination officers in England and Wales; they are all paid by fees. Out of the 1,420, 400 give their whole time to the work; 1,020, out of the 1,420, hold other appointments, such as relieving officers or registrars of births, marriages, and deaths, and other appointments. Hon. Members should bear that in mind when considering the question of their total remuneration. Vaccination officers, speaking generally, do not depend really upon their work as vaccination officers for their living. The guardians who know them and are their direct employers are more competent in my judgment than hon. Members or myself to fix their remuneration, except in a few instances, where Poor Law guardians are swayed either by anti-vaccination ideas or other notions of that kind. The fees are paid and fixed by consent of the Local Government Board. Some people talk as if the minimum fee of threepence was adhered to, and that 9d. for every successful vaccination alone was paid. In many cases where the population is dense the minimum fees of 3d. and 9d. respectively yield, so the guardians think, sufficient remuneration, but where the population is not so dense the 3d. fee becomes 6d., and in some cases 9d., and the 9d. for successful vaccination becomes a fee of 1s. 6d. or 2s. 3d., and the average remuneration of these gentlemen for this work is very often from £150 to £200, and in some cases the fees reach £300. The justice of each remuneration is determined by the individual merits of the man's work, and this must be so, because a general rule is impossible by which you can raise or add to the fees whether the salary has been diminished or not. Being a practical man and anxious for good administration, I wish to say that you do not get good administration where there is a substantial grievance. I have looked at the question from this point of view with the object of dealing with what is reasonable in the complaint which I have received. I find that since the Act of 1907 was passed, when I only carried the principle of helping the conscientious objector one stage further than the right hon. Gentleman himself took the question, the exemptions have increased from 57,675, or 6.2 per cent., to 190,000, or 20.8 per cent. The exemptions have in some cases caused a diminution of income to some of the officers. I find that out of the 1,420 vaccination officers, it is alleged that 487 have sustained a loss, but out of that number 217, or nearly half, have been paid by their guardians a gratuity to make good the loss, and this has been done with the consent of the Local Government Board. In the remaining cases vaccination officers have not always seen their way to apply for compensation, which is not my fault, or else the guardians have declined to pay gratuities. These two classes of cases have to be met. Various suggestions have been made to meet these cases—a number of which I cannot consider—but I am prepared to receive both from vaccination officers and the guardians a statement of their grievances as applied to each individual case where a reduction has been sustained, and I am prepared to meet them as fairly as in the interests of the public I have a right to meet them. I think that is sympathetic and fair to the vaccination officers, and I have nothing more to say upon vaccination. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chaplin) suggested that the increase in the number of exemptions was a retrograde step and one from which he feared serious consequences. That, of course, is a matter of opinion, and upon it the House is rather sharply divided. So far as we can gather, although the exemptions have increased from 6 to 20 per cent. between 1907, 1908, and 1909, I am very glad to inform the House, taking London, I see from the 1909 Report of the Local Government Board that in 1908, a year after the passing of the Act, although the exemptions were rapidly increasing, there was not a single case of smallpox admitted to the smallpox hospitals of the Metropolitan Asylums Board.


A very happy coincidence.


And the happy coincidence has continued since 1909. I do not share the alarming fears and suggestions of some people that one of the results of exemption under the Act of 1907 will be a serious increase in smallpox cases, and there is no reason to assume it will have that effect at all. Have we not all of us at different times, from the point of view of different theories we hold, rather attributed to the things we dislike theoretically many causes that other agencies have subsequently tended either to palliate or entirely remove? I think both the vaccinator and the anti-vaccinator have not sufficiently given credit to the effect of the education of the individual and of the improvement in domestic and public sanitation. I am positively convinced, taking a view of the whole situation, that neither the views of the one nor the hopes of the other have been justified by the last two years. It is with peculiar pleasure that I am able to say there are no immediate signs or even prospects of the alarms and fears of hon. Members with regard to vaccination being proved by facts and results.

The next point I have to deal with is a serious one. The hon. Member who represents one of the Dorset constituencies (Sir Randolf Baker) raised the question of small holdings loans. If time permitted, I should be able to answer the three cases he gave in a satisfactory manner. Here, again, a special case has been cited, and a general application has been given. I ask the House to listen to these figures with regard to small holdings. In less than two years the Local Government Board have sanctioned £1,184,000 for small holdings to fifty-three county councils and five councils of county boroughs. This is for 78,000 acres of land which have been abstracted from the rest of the agricultural domain for 6,534 small holdings. Despite that large number of small holdings, that large sum of money, and these large number of loans, there have not been more than twelve cases of disagreement either with those who applied for the loan or between the Local Government Board and the Board of Agriculture. I put it to my hon. Friend: What firm of lawyers or solicitors would have been able to sanction over £1,000,000 worth of loans and to have purchased 78,000 acres of land in two years with only twelve cases of disagreement? It seems to me those figures alone dispose of the suggestion that either the Board of Agriculture or the Local Government Board have either been inefficient, dilatory, or obstructive in any work they have carried out in regard to this particular matter.

Let me take, for instance, the case my hon. Friend mentioned. He said the Council of Dorset applied for a loan, and the Board of Agriculture granted it. It is, of course, the business of the Board of Agriculture to get as many people on the land as quickly as they can, and not to inquire too closely into the financial or public health conditions under which they are so placed, but I come in as a financial supervisor. We have a right to be reasonable, and certainly not to be obstructive, but we have no right to sanction loans too readily for houses and small holdings. There are farm premises, it may be cowsheds or pigstyes, from which certain matter trickles possibly into the well from which the water supply comes. It is not fair to the small holders that they should be allowed to dump themselves on small holdings or pieces of land under insanitary conditions. It is not fair to their neighbours. It is a bad investment of their skill and labour.


For a very long number of years—for something like a century—that system of drainage on the chalk has been going on, and men who farmed 180 or 190 acres have been content to live under these conditions, like their predecessors, they never grumbled or complained, yet now, when the land is cut up into small holdings, we are asked to expend a large amount of money and to increase the rent, thereby rendering the successful working of the scheme still less probable.


In other words, the former proprietor was willing to take the risk and die like a man. We were asked to impose a similar disability on somebody else who takes only part of the land. It is a very serious matter indeed. In this particular case we only did what as a Board of Health we were bound to do. We did our best to protect the small holder from a polluted water supply. But I repeat that when there have been only twelve cases out of nearly 6,500 in which disputes have arisen I think that is, broadly speaking, a sufficient answer to the complaint.

The other point was raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for the Strand, and it had reference to the unemployment question. The right hon. Gentleman wanted to know what had been the effect of the Act in the last five years, and what work had been arrested by its administration. Practically no work that should have been carried on under the Act has been arrested by any action of the Local Government Board. We have had here and there distress committees—mainly in London or the neighbourhood—who have asked to do things outside the Act and beyond their scope, duties, or financial obligations, and they have been restricted to their duties and powers. But nothing has been done to arrest the work of that particular body. I think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to say that, considering how many people have expressed their opinion about this Act in various forms some attempt ought to be made to get their views embodied. The Royal Commission on the Poor Laws—the Majority and Minority Reports—the Poor Law Conference, the municipal authorities, the unemployed committees and distress committees have all expressed their opinions about the working of the Act in some way, and I am prepared to consider whether a Memorandum or Report giving the views these publicists have expressed should not in some form be presented to Parliament, so that before we decide the question whether this Act shall be repealed, or amended, or continued, Parliament may be in possession of the opinions, and judgments of those who are most competent to express a view upon this particular matter. If that should meet with the approval of the right hon. Gentleman I will undertake to consider it.

The hon. Member for King's Lynn made a statement which has appealed to me on many occasions during the last ten or twelve years, that it is not altogether fair either to the greatness or the dignity of local government in this country that there is no annual review of the Local Government carried on in England and Wales by 25,000 local authorities, with a revenue as large as the Imperial expenditure and a debt also as large as the National Debt. It is not dignified either to the local authorities and the work they do, the loans they raise, the expenditure they incur, and the debt they create that we should not be in a position either on their or on our own behalf to publicly discuss in some form of survey the question whether this expenditure, debt and loans contracted are justified by the assets and by the results secured. I am quite prepared to take into consideration the suggestion made by my hon. Friend, and also to consider whether we cannot do what he asks us to do. I have done my best in my own Department to persuade nearly all the local authorities who are responsible for returns and reports which they send to the Local Government Board to summarise still further their ordinary annual statements, so that they shall come to us sooner by a, year or eighteen months than they now do, and that we should come to some understanding of what they are doing two or three years earlier than we do now.


I was particularly referring to the United Kingdom. I believe Scotland and Ireland would be on a different footing.


I shall be pleased to convey to the Chief Secretary for Ireland and to the Secretary for Scotland the views of the hon. Member. I am sorry that time precludes me from making any further observations. I can only assure the Committee that the various points which have been suggested to me I will give sympathetic attention to. I will do my best to carry them out in the spirit in which they are put forward.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give us any assurance that he will prolong the period for the repayment of loans? It is perfectly necessary both in the interests of education and of the ratepayer.


Time only allows me to say what I have hitherto said with regard to this matter on previous occasions to deputations and elsewhere. That is that in special cases of proved hardship I am prepared to give special consideration to local authorities on loans to be borrowed where the facts and circumstances justify me in so doing. When I add to that this fact that out of 900 applications which were made to me last year in connection with loans for public buildings, mainly school buildings, in only twenty-eight cases was there an application from the local authority promoting the loan for variation from the period laid down by the Local Government Board, it shows it is not so serious as has been represented. I am willing, in special cases of proved hardship, to give special consideration to local authorities where the facts, circumstances, and difficulties of the loan justify me in so doing.


The right hon. Gentleman's answer on the point of loans is most unsatisfactory. It does not depend on individual cases, but also on general rule.

And, it being Five of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Monday next, 20th June.