§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
I rise to move the important Motion that stands in my name:—
"That, in the opinion of this House, provision should be made for the payment of a salary at the rate of four hundred pounds a year to every Member of this House, excluding any Member who is for the time being in receipt of a salary as an officer of the House, or as a Minister, or as an officer of His Majesty's Household."
A question was asked in the course of yesterday's proceedings by an hon. Member opposite as to the method to be adopted for payment. I think I had better dispose of that before I get on to the general argument. It is proposed that if this Motion is adopted, and if the estimate is also carried on Monday and incorporated in that, that the payment of Members shall be by the same method as the officials of the House are paid at the present moment. The payment will be made in quarterly payments. The Vote for the payment of Members will be accounted for in the same way as the other expenses of the House of Commons. Salaries will be paid quarterly by orders of the Paymaster-General. These orders will be made out for the proper sum, less Income Tax in each case—we must safeguard the revenue—by an official of the House, who will send them to Members. Another question put to me yesterday was, what regulations are necessary? I understand, after consultation, that no regulations of any kind will be necessary at all. It will be quite a simple process. I come now to the reasons which have urged the Government to submit this Resolution to the House of Commons.
The principle of payment of Members has been repeatedly affirmed in the House of Commons by very considerable majorities. There is a Motion down on the Paper in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth (Sir H. Kimber), 1366 suggesting that without any consultation at all with the constituencies we are voting large sums of money to ourselves, and are, therefore, in the position of trustees who were utilising money that they ought to have expended for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust in order to pay ourselves. That is true of every Member who votes for his salary in the House of Commons. I had the pleasure of voting a very short time ago against a Motion on the other side to reduce my salary by £100, and I am very glad to say that we succeeded in obtaining a majority. But I see hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Front Bench opposite who have resisted Motions of the same character made by myself and others in the Unionist Parliaments which sat about five, ten, or twenty years ago; so there are many Members of this House who have times without number voted for their own salaries, and nobody put them in the position of trustees who were guilty of misappropriation. May I also point out, although I do not carry the theory of a mandate too far, that the Prime Minister, immediately before the last General Election, stated to the House of Commons that he proposed, if we got a majority in the new Parliament, to submit a Resolution to the House of Commons for the purpose of paying the Members. This was on the eve of the General Election— a very inconvenient moment to make an announcement of an unpopular character. But, at any rate, it was with full notice to the constituencies, and though I cannot conceive an election being fought merely upon that issue I do not see any other way in which you can get the assent of the constituencies to it than by putting it among the other questions which the constituencies have got to consider. The Prime Minister did that immediately before the last General Election. I only state that merely to get rid of the notion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Wandsworth.
This is the only Parliament in the world where no contribution at all is made towards the expenses incurred by any Member in the discharge of his duty, and it is only in comparatively recent times that this Parliament has been in that position. It is true that there are Parliaments where no payment is made by way of salary. In those cases there are certain contributions towards expenses. That is the case in Spain and in Italy. But taking every other great Parliament in the world there is a payment made to members of so much towards the cost of maintenance. It is said that in proposing this we are departing 1367 from some great British tradition. As a matter of fact, we are reverting to an old British tradition. The old tradition of this House was that Members were paid. [An HON. MEMBER: "By the constituencies."] They will be paid still by the constituencies. The only difference is that instead of being a charge on the rates, which I am sure hon. Members opposite would deprecate, it is a charge on the Imperial taxes. We had a discussion last week which lasted two or three hours, and was one of the most troublesome discussions on the Insurance Bill, because certain charges were put on the rates instead of on the Imperial taxes. We are now proposing just the reverse, and we are equally attacked. It is admitted that the payment was a public charge. Nominally that came to an end about two and a-half centuries ago, but not really. Payment of Members continued in a different and more objectionable form until the year 1780. Sometimes the payment was indirect, surreptitious and corrupt. Much oftener it was in the form of small offices and pensions, until at last the number and the character of these pensions became such a very great public scandal that there was an inquiry, for which, I think, Mr. Burke was responsible, after a great agitation, and as a result of the inquiry that was brought to an end.
Up to 1780 there was a real provision, an indirect, but a real one, a substantial one, in many cases a much more substantial one than the one which I am proposing now. But it was a provision of a thoroughly corrupt character. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was not legal."] Certainly it was legal. The offices were legal, and the pensions were perfectly legal, and that is far and away the larger part of the scandal. The real magnitude of the scandal was rather in the conferring of these offices and pensions, which were perfectly legal. That was brought to an end in 1780, owing to the action of Mr. Burke. So payment of Members ceased, not two or three centuries ago, but 130 years ago. Therefore, we are reverting to a much earlier tradition, and I think to a better one. May I also point out a very remarkable fact in connection with that inquiry. There was a Sub-Committee appointed at Westminster. Owing to the burning of the documents of this House I have been quite unable to get hold of the original report. There was a Sub-Committee in connection with that matter sitting at Westminster, and they recom- 1368 mended at that very date in their report, when they examined the whole situation, that all Members of Parliament be entitled to reasonable wages according to the wholesome practice of ancient times. That was the position. All we propose is that the recommendation, which was the result of the inquiry by the Committee into the conditions of that time, and which had the support of some of the greatest figures in British history, should at last get the sanction of Parliament in the year 1911. So that, in this respect at any rate, we are the real custodians of the old traditions of the country, the traditions of the ancient British House of Commons. We are the real constitutional party, and we resent the innovation, introduced, it is true, some time ago, which we think has hopelessly failed in practice. I am going to say why we are abandoning the experiment which was made in 1780 of an unremunerated Membership of Parliament. It is, for one reason, because Parliamentary conditions have completely changed during the last year or two.
The work of Parliament is greater, infinitely greater; it is greater in the quantity and volume of work. Not only that, but it is very much greater in the attention it demands at the hands of each individual Member. In the old days, how was the work of Parliament really done? Anybody who cares to look at Hansard, the old Hansard, will find that the work of Parliament was practically in the hands of very few Members. Anybody who conducts a Bill through this House knows that that is not the case any longer. On the contrary, every Member of Parliament not merely has the right to intervene in Debate, but exercises that right frequently. Another difference is this: there is a real difference in the composition of the House of Commons, the composition of its Members. I shall come to that later on, but I am dealing first of all with the work of Parliament. In the old days, fifty or sixty years ago, and even down to forty years ago, the work of Parliament was in the hands of very few Members. But still more remarkable is this: If hon. Members will take the trouble to look not merely at Hansard, but at the old Division lists, they will find that although there was practically the same number of Members in this House as we have got now, the attendance was by no means general. The bulk of Members were absent during the greater part of the Session. They were brought up for great occasions, and that only occurred, not every year, and even in the years where 1369 they had very heavy Parliamentary work it was only during a portion of the year that you had a very considerable attendance of Members. The Divisions were small; there would be a great whip up for a big Division on a big Bill. What happened to Members in the meantime? They were down in the country, in their country houses, or those who attended to business were down attending to business. There was nothing then to prevent a Member of Parliament being a loyal member of his party and giving all the support which a Government values most. I think I will not dwell upon that. I think it will be thoroughly appreciated. They came up when they were really needed, and they were conveniently absent when it was necessary to get on with business.
That really is the impression which is created by the perusal of the Division lists and of the old Hansard. I will show the House of Commons in a very complete form the difference. Take two Budgets which created a conflict with the House of Lords. Take the Budget of 1861, one of Mr. Gladstone's greatest and most controversial Budgets. Here we have got all the Division Lists of that year—(holding up a thin book). It is a fairly thin volume, yet in 1861 there was quite a long Session, there was great conflict in the House, ending in a conflict with the House of Lords, and that represents all the divisions which took place in that year. Now I come to 1909 (producing a thick volume). I think further comment is unnecessary I have here the Corn Law Divisions. This was the great Corn Law year (holding up a thin volume). Yes, it is pretty thin, but still there you have a proposal which in many respects altered the history of England, altered its social condition, whether for better or worse is a matter of controversy at this very moment; profoundly affected the rural life of England, and affected the whole industrial fabric of this country. You will see that the House of Commons settled that in a very convenient and compendious form. That shows the difference. It is not merely that. Take the Budget of 1853, which settled the question of the Death Duties. I am not sure whether it was not the first time that Death Duties were introduced. I rather think it was. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Succession Duties."] Yes, the Succession Duties on land. It was very contentious, and was violently assailed. There were fourteen Divisions on that altogether. The Government was attacked with just the same vigour—I do not like to use con- 1370 troversial language—with the same strenuousness, enthusiasm, and zeal as characterised the Debates on the Budget of 1909. Take the largest Division. In only one Division were there over 200 Members at all on the winning side. On the side in which the Government were defeated there were 163 on each side. That shows that in those days Parliamentary work was a totally different thing from what it is now. And that is what is essential when you come to consider a proposal of this kind. Members then could attend to their business, there was nothing then to interfere with that attention; they could go on for weeks attending to their business, and just come here when the Government needed them. That is what happened to the vast majority in those days.
Not only that, but the Government in those days had no legislative programme in the modern sense of the term. They had what I may call a dummy programme. At the beginning of the year, in the King's Speech, there was a list of measures, always promised, but never even introduced. Lord Palmerston always had the same King's Speeches, always had the same measures, but never carried one of them until the very end of his career. He never attempted to carry them. He always promised a reform of the Bankruptcy Laws, laws for the transfer of land, laws in regard to the representation of the people, and always a fourth dealing with the assimilation of the Courts of Judicature. Everyone knows that not one of them was ever attempted to be passed until Lord Palmerston had ceased to be Prime Minister and had vanished from the scene. In those days they had at the beginning of every King's Speech programmes which were pure dummy programmes, only intended for the shop window; but now every Government in turn makes a real effort to carry its programme, to the great inconvenience of Members and with very disastrous results to their business. That is not the same thing. I remember looking at some King's Speeches during the time the right hon. Gentleman the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, and at a time when he was doing his best to keep down the programme of the Government, as it was not a convenient season for contentious measures. But even then he had a huge programme, and as compared with what happened in the 'sixties and the 'fifties it was an enormous programme, but it was a programme of which three- 1371 fourths was carried. That, again, implies a complete change in the conditions of Parliamentary life. Now the old theory was that the less you interfered with the subject the better. [Ironical cheers.] Hon. Members may cheer, but there is absolutely no difference between their side of the House and ours, except in the subject matter of interference and in the methods of interference, and probably in the object of interference. I am really not making a contentious point now. It is a common principle. I am only saying that the laissez-faire doctrine has been abandoned by common consent of both parties. In the matter of interference, if the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) and his friends came in tomorrow they would have a legislative programme perhaps different to ours, their Bills would be different, they would involve interference with trade and commerce, with representative Government possibly, and generally with interference, not in the sense of undue interference. I do not want to raise controversial questions. It would interfere with the lives of the people in their homes, in the workshops, possibly in their amusements, when it became a question of Licensing Acts, for instance. It would interfere with the people at every point, and the only difference is not in the general principle of interference; the only difference between us would be in the direction, method, and subject-matter.
That does constitute a very great difference, because it means this: it means that the people insist upon the attendance of their representatives here. For a moment, look at the legislation of this year, the non-contentious legislation. I assume the National Insurance Bill is not contentious. Take the National Insurance Bill, the Shops Bill, the Mines Bill—they are all Bills that interfere at some point or other with the lives of the people, and they are Bills to which many Members of both parties have assented in Committee. As soon as you embark upon legislation of that character depend upon it the constituents will insist upon constant attendance, and insist upon an explanation why Members were not present. That surely makes a great difference. Not only did they not insist upon an explanation in the old days, but it was never volunteered to them. I remember, Mr. Gladstone pointed out once in conversation the great difference with regard to the work of Members of Par- 1372 liament in the old days and in his latter days. He said that then a Member of Parliament was only expected to deliver one speech between one General Election and another. He did not point out that probably he was more responsible than anybody else for altering that state of things. But now, not only is a Member of Parliament expected to address his own constituents several times in the course of the year, but he is expected to address everybody else's constituents. That shows that there is a great arousing of interest in politics in every class of the community. We have admitted people in one Reform Bill after another into the purview of the constitution, and these people have grievances that they want to have redressed, and this is the High Court, this is the tribunal, to which they appeal. Another great change that has taken place is the setting up of Grand Committees. It is only a symptom of the development which I have been pointing out. It is inevitable the moment you begin to increase your output of legislation. You must have recourse to Grand Committees or something of that kind. Yesterday the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) complained that he realty could not give proper attention to the work of the Government down here because he was busy upstairs in Grand Committee. He said, "I have no time to look after anything else." He was uttering a great truth when he said that, and I am sure he had no idea that he was helping a Motion for the payment of Members. As a matter of fact he was. That is the sum and substance of the matter, that a Member who does his duty to his constituents has very little time left for anything else—a Member who does his duty by his constituents, as I presume we are all trying to do. I come, therefore, to the next point.
I observe that one hon. Member suggests that this should also apply to municipalities. There is really no comparison. Municipalities have their own tasks, and the members of the town council give such remnants of their time to municipal work as they can. I believe some Members devote a vast amount of time to those duties. [An HON. MEMBER: "Chairmen, and county councillors."] I will come to the question of chairmen later on. I agree that it is as true of county councils as of town councils. Take town councils or county councils—there a man is in his own town or district. 1373 It is undoubtedly one of the great difficulties that we circumscribe the number of people whom we can choose from, whom we can elect as our councillors, because they have got to leave their work, not for six months of the year, but for two or three days of the week —[HON. MEMBERS: "Every day," and "No"]—or two or three days in the month. But I am coming to that later on; I only mention it in passing. All this means that we necessarily circumscribe the choice of the people and of the classes from whom they can choose Members of Parliament. And this brings me to a very vital change in the conditions of Parliamentary life from those which existed thirty, forty, or fifty years ago. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) said on Monday—and it struck me very much at the time — that the reformed Parliament in 1832 was a highly aristocratic assembly. That is perfectly true. It was a highly aristocratic assembly in the sense that really you had got the pick of the county families represented there, and practically nobody else except members of the legal profession. You cannot keep them out anywhere, whether the sphere is high or low, and in Parliament, of course, you have Members of the legal profession there. I wish to point out that the conditions do really give an undue preference to a certain section of the legal profession.
Since that date you have had a process of democratisation going on in the character of the Members of this House. You have gradually broadened and broadened the basis not merely of representation, but of choice. In the old days we had practically only two classes here. We had the great county families and the legal profession, and we had odds and ends coming in; but, in the main, representation was confined to these two great classes. Since then you have brought in one class after another—the great middle class—the labouring population, and factory representation. I think everybody will agree that this process of broadening has raised the average of the House. I do not mean to say that even in the days when it was most circumscribed you had not a small number of men whose quality could never be surpassed. I do not mean to say that anything we can do will ever introduce Members to this House that will enable us to excel the great men of the past, but undoubtedly this process has raised, and is continuing to raise, the average quality of Members of this House, and the number of men who are 1374 qualified to take part in debate. I remember the advice given to me by an old Member when I was a very young Member, and I always thought it was the best advice I over had. He said, "You all sit in the House of Commons, whether you have got particular interests to serve or not." I think it was admirable advice. You cannot do that if you have anything else to do, but at any rate it does enable you to find out what a very considerable number of Members in the House are qualified to take part in any discussion, and to contribute something towards it. I wish the Leader of the Opposition had been here; I am sure he would have confirmed what I say. His experience is very much wider than that of other Members of this House, and I am sure that would be his view. It has contributed to raising the average quality of Members, and that is very, very important at a time when the constituents demand so much attention to the grievances affecting them in their lives. What has done that? One reason why we have been able to democratise the representation of this House has been the Corrupt Practices Act. Prior to that, apart from the difficulties of getting into the House, representation in the House was confined almost entirely to those who had very considerable means at their disposal. Since then there has been a very great change in the character of this House, and men of very limited means are enabled to come in.
But, even now, membership of this House is very largely confined to four classes, apart from the other classes I shall point out later on. Men of means who have got an unearned income, and barristers with their practice in the London courts are Members. The barrister who localises is completely out of it, but even so far as lawyers are concerned you still find a small section of them, members of the upper branch of the profession, by which I mean solicitors, are excluded by the conditions of their practice. They find it exceedingly difficult to attend here at all, except they have got a practice in London. Then there are those in well-organised and well-established businesses who have efficient, and, what is even more important, accommodating partners. Then there is another class who are "something in the City." These are the main classes, and I will come to the Labour and Irish representation later on. What is the demand embodied in this Resolution? It is practically a demand from the democracy, which still is under the impression, and, I think, sound impression, that it is 1375 labouring under a good many ills that Parliament alone can remedy. The demand of the democracy is really for a free choice of doctors. Instead of confining, as it were, those who were able to remedy their evils and cure them to a small class, they say, "We want an unlimited choice in picking out the men who will suit us best." It is the same argument we had last week. This demand can only be met in two ways. The first is by raising funds in connection with some great national agitation, or an agrarian agitation, or a labour agitation, which would enable Members connected with the movement to be more or less adequately maintained during the time they are attending to the business of that movement. The second is by the organisation of capital and labour, whose business is likely to be affected by legislation. These are the only two classes outside the four I have mentioned who offer any sort of opening for democratic representation in the House, and both of them, in my judgment, are open to serious objection. One objection is that when the fervour of the agitation dies down, and when you come to humdrum Parliamentary work, it is difficult to keep up the funds. Another objection is that I do not think it is desirable— and I agree here with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald)—that any man should come here to represent any organisation except his own constituency, I do not care whether it is a trade union organisation or any other organisation.
A man ought to be here to represent the general interests of his constituents, and it is only the necessities of the case which drive a man as an expedient, as the only alternative, as the only opening, to utilise the other method in order to come here to fight for particular interests, and I do not mean to say that I have not seen some of my hon. Friends representing trade unions rather than the general interests of labour. That has been my view. But there is one thing in connection with the payment of Members—it makes them not merely trade representatives, but representatives of constituents as a whole. I speak quite frankly on this subject when I say that I think that is the only way in which you can come to a true conclusion. After the Osborne Judgment we are left face to face with this proposition. We must either be restricted to a limited choice, which we have got at the present moment, or find some method 1376 whereby men of limited means, who have a capacity as well as a desire for public service, should be able to come to this House. All these expedients left outside, there is a large and a growing class whose presence in this House, in my judgment, is highly desirable, men of wide culture, of high intelligence, and of earnest purpose, whose services in this House would be invaluable in the interests of the community as a whole, who I think would lift the level of discussion, and who would contribute to it in every respect, but whose limited means prevent their taking up a political career. That class of man is very largely excluded at the present moment unless he makes large sacrifices, which it is impossible for him to make, if he has a wife and family. Such a man, with £400 a year to fall back upon, could take his chance of earning the rest in such times as he could devote to his professional or other business. I observe there is an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee), in which he refers to this proposal as a violation of the principle of gratuitous public service. Will the hon. and gallant Member tell me, when he replies, where docs he find the principle in any branch of the public service where men necessarily devote as much time to the public service as Members of Parliament do. The hon. and gallant Member has been associated with two branches of the public service, the Army and as a Minister. In both of those branches he violated the principle of gratuitous public service, and I venture to say that no one has any reason to complain of that, not even the hon. Member himself. Really when we hear about this contamination and degradation or receiving this money for public service did he feel any contamination when he handled his monthly cheque as a Minister. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is it monthly?"] That degradation is a degradation which the hon. and gallant Member is prepared to undergo a second time at a moment's notice, and not only that, but I will say this much for his courage, that he is prepared to face it even on a larger scale than ever, nay, even for a longer period. If I may say so, there has been a good deal of cant talked about this. It has been usual whenever you had criticism of Labour Members.
After all, where is the disgrace of receiving payment for faithful and honourable service? I mean where does it degrade public life? How does it degrade public life? How does it lower it by receiving 1377 payment for serving your country in the Civil Service, in the Army, in the Navy, in the administration of justice, or in the great offices of State? Is the professional soldier less of a patriot than the volunteer? He is just as much of a patriot and a much better soldier. Take the administration of justice, and let the House mark that in the higher branches of the administration of justice the men are all paid. It is only when you come to the lower branches that you get the principle of gratuitous service. When you come to those who are able to contribute, say, a day or two per week, then I agree the service is gratuitous, but it is so because you do not take up the whole of the time, but the moment that the work becomes so insistent that a man has got to devote the same proportion of time to it as a Member of Parliament, then even in the lower branches of the administration of justice it instantly becomes paid. Why should the administration of the law be paid and the making of laws be necessarily a gratuitous service. Surely it is quite as important, if not more important, that you should get men who are able to devote the whole of their time to their work. May I say that a Member of Parliament who does his duty—and I think most Members of Parliament do—devotes much more time to his work than the judges do. Our work does not cease. There is no Long Vacation for a politician. The moment he is out of Parliament he is off to the constituency to address all sorts of meetings, and to work on Committees and other little organisations which go on outside Parliament in different ways. His work is not represented altogether by his work in Parliament and addressing meetings. Take the work of the last few days, which has taken place in reference to what is happening in another place. That is very hard work, and it is not all confined to dining. It is all very hard work when a man does what he considers to be his duty to his constituents, and I do not believe there is harder work in the public service, and I do not mean the work of a Minister only. Undoubtedly a conscientious Member does the hardest work you can put any man to in this country.
I come to local administration. The hon. Member for Mile End (Mr. Harry Lawson), a district I have heard of before, had something to say about local administration, and also another hon. and learned Gentleman. Apart from presiding officers, mayors, and chairmen of county councils, 1378 the work is nothing like as absorbing as the work of a Member of Parliament. Take the case of a great municipality like the London County Council, though I do not think it is fair that you should take that, because there you are administering the affairs of five or six millions of people, or greater than many European nations. But you can take that, and even there you are on the spot, and you are available, at any rate, for consultation for advice and for direction. You can see your partners, and you can discuss the great principles of your business. You are within easy access and that makes a real difference in business after all. If you are on the London County Council and go to a meeting in Spring Gardens, your partner or any one else can come, send in a card, call you out, and discuss any matter of business. The man who is a Member of Parliament, with his business fifty, or a hundred, or two or three or four hundred miles away, is really not available for business. I have tried it myself, and I gave it up. There is only one way in which you can do it, and that is by going down three or four hundred miles, and the moment you do that you lose touch with what happens here. Has a Member of Parliament tried this, and I put the question to any Member with experience? Supposing there is a Bill in which he takes an interest, and I put the case of a Member on the Opposition, and suppose he goes away for a day or two; no matter how quick-witted a man he is he will find it hopelessly impossible to keep up with what is going on, a fact which I have observed with the greatest satisfaction for the last few weeks. It is really the fact. I tried it many a time, and I came to the conclusion that there was only one way of doing the work effectively, and that is by absolutely refusing to have any engagement outside, public meeting or even business engagement. If you want to attend to a Bill you have to be there all the time. That is not comparable to the work of a municipality where you are engaged on a Committee for a couple of hours or for a day sometimes. In those cases you are available in the morning and afterwards in the evening, and that is a totally different thing.
I agree that when you come to presiding officers, chairmen, and mayors, that it is a different matter. Let me invite hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House to remember that the only way in which you are able to get men of that kind is 1379 by changing them every year. That is why you have got to change mayors, because the work becomes so absorbing that the man cannot attend to his business. A man who takes a mayoralty, in a big municipality practically says good-bye to his partner for twelve months, because he cannot attend to his business. He only takes it for the twelve months because he has got to go back to his business. The same thing applies to chairmen of county councils, who are changed frequently for that reason. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not in the London County Council."] I will just point out the cases where you do not change them. You do not change them in the rural districts, where you have got a considerable number of men of the leisured classes, county gentlemen who are able to attend to the business and keep the tradition up from year to year, but those are in a minority. If you take the great municipalities of the Kingdom, and I mean the counties as well as the town councils, you will find it impossible to get men to do it. I do not mind saying, although it is not relevant, that I think the system of gratuitous chairman is well worth looking at. What does it mean? I have always thought that it was a bad system, and that the Continental system was infinitely a better one, where you get a man responsible for a certain number of years and who necessarily should be paid. What is a mayor or a chairman of a County Council? He is there for a year. He cannot plan any good work. He can only attend to the general finances, and he confines his operations to some little charity or little exhibition. He cannot do what every director of a great concern ought to do, look ahead for some years. It takes a whole year to master the work, and he cannot look ahead and plan what he is to do in the second or third year and develop his work. That is why, in my judgment, many of the Continental cities are infinitely better managed than ours are because what they do is they discover a man who has shown great capacity in the course of municipal administration. They make him burgomaster, he is there for a considerable number of years, and he is able to do consistent consecutive work. Some of the ablest statesmen in Europe to-day are burgomasters of some of the leading cities of the Continent. We are constantly studying what they are 1380 doing, purely because they are men who have accumulated experience and wisdom, and who are able to give some consistency of direction to the administration of their affairs.
There is only one other thing that I should like to say in connection with local administration. There is always a complaint made whenever any Bill is introduced, especially if it is by a Liberal Government, that we are creating a great bureaucracy in this country. Have hon. Members noticed that gratuitous work necessarily means bureaucracy? Take a bench of magistrates where the work is gratuitous. Who really does the work of the bench? The clerk to the magistrates. He is the only man who is there always and who has the knowledge for the purpose. Take again the municipalities, where you have mayors performing gratuitous services. The work is getting more and more into the hands of the town clerks. It is the one way to create a bureaucracy. It is the one way to put not merely administration but policy into the hands of officials, and that I think is a bad thing in itself. In regard to administration advice must be secured from paid assistants, but they are not always the best people to advise upon policy. The one way to strengthen and encourage bureaucracy is to get too much gratuitous work of this kind. I pass from that to one or two particular difficulties which we have to face. One is the difficulty created by the attitude of hon. Members from Ireland. They have passed a Resolution to the effect that, as far as they are concerned, they do not wish for this payment.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
In this respect we must resist what is called Irish domination, and I will give the reason why. I quite understand the attitude of hon. Members from Ireland. It is the motive which has always prompted them to refuse to take part in the official life of Parliament. They have consistently refused to take any office, either in this House or in Ireland, which has anything to do with the government of this country. I think it is not merely a personal loss to them, but it has been a great loss to the country, because I do not think there is any quarter in this House where the great Parliamentary gifts of the Members from Ireland will not be recognised. I am perfectly certain that if they had 1381 frankly taken their part in the general work of government of this country, several of them would have served in administration with great distinction to themselves and with enormous advantage to the Empire. I regret that they take that view, but I have no doubt at all, having regard to the very bitter experience of Ireland in this respect, they have found it absolutely necessary to have a rigid and stern rule, which they have carried out with an amount of sacrifice which Members are not ready to acknowledge now, but which I think will be one of the most remarkable and striking episodes in the whole history of any national agitation in this or in any other country. It is only those who know, as they do themselves, how much they have had to endure, how much they have had to sacrifice, and how much they could have achieved in the way of honours and emoluments for themselves, who know the extent, the depth, and the bitterness of the sacrifice which they have undergone now for a whole generation.
Therefore, I quite understand the attitude of hon. Members. They are afraid, possibly, that acceptance of this payment would be regarded as in the same category as the acceptance of office. It is not. It is a totally different thing. Membership of the Imperial Parliament is accepted. They are here to fight for their constituents. I do not see that the acceptance of payment as Members of Parliament has anything in common with taking part in the government of a country which does not fully recognise the liberty of their native land. After very considerable reflection upon their attitude we find it impossible to accept any discrimination. You cannot have discrimination of nationality; you cannot have discrimination of classes. It would be quite impossible to have one set of Members receiving this payment and another set not receiving it. In such a case it would become not a remuneration, not a payment for services, but a bounty. Then I think there would be a measure of degradation involved. There would be either a poverty test, or a racial test, which is even worse. Therefore we have come to the conclusion, and I have no hesitation in saying that it is the only possible conclusion we could come to, that we cannot possibly accept any Amendment from any quarter that would involve discrimination between one Member and another of this House, 1382 whether on the ground of class, or on the ground of means, or on the ground of nationality. Therefore we must, I will not say reluctantly, but resolutely resist every Amendment involving discrimination of that kind.
I will say one word on the question of amount, although that question is not to be settled to-day. I understand it will be quite in order and perhaps more relevant to deal with it on Monday in Committee of Supply. We have to decide today the principle of the payment of Members, and on Monday anybody who wants to reduce the amount can do so by means of a notice on the Paper, and anyone who wants to increase it can do it by moving a reduction, which I believe is the only method of increasing expenditure in this House. On the question of amount may I say quite frankly that it is very easy for those to whom it makes no real difference to suggest that £250 or £300 is a sufficient amount. But those who have families living in the country and who have to find accommodation here for and maintain themeslves during the Parliamentary-Sessions, which are becoming more and more strenuous, find it impossible within the limits of £300 a year to live without suffering a certain amount of privation. I should like to see any man try to do it on £300 and pay travelling expenses as well. After all, £400 a year is just the salary of a junior clerk in the Civil Service, and I do not think it is too much for the gigantic work which we have to do in this House. I agree that you should not apply a commercial standard to payment for public service. That I admit. If you apply that standard the Civil Service is most inadequately remunerated. The only principle of payment in the public service is that you should make an allowance to a man to enable him to maintain himself comfortably and honourably, but not luxuriously, during the time he is rendering service to the State. That is the only principle, and it is the principle on which we have proceeded. Take, if you like, the Post Office, a gigantic business concern to which there is nothing comparable in this country—not even a great railway company. You pay the man at the head of the concern—I do not mean the Parliamentary head—something which no man engaged in a great commercial undertaking of the kind would ever look 1383 at. But still there is an honour in the service of the State, and there are rewards which are not pecuniary, but which men treasure much more than any payment in silver or in gold. Those are taken into account; it is right that they should be, and they will be taken into account till the end of time.
There may come a time some day when the country will have to face the question of paying the great heads of the Civil Service on a commercial basis. There is a constant temptation, and it is only those who, like the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), myself and others who have had some experience, know what the temptation is. Great commercial undertakings are constantly trying to lure away our great Civil Servants by offers not of the same salary, not of twice, but of five or ten times the amount that they are receiving as Civil Servants. Some of them, for family and other reasons, succumb to the temptation, but most of them resist it. But there is an element of honour in the public service which will always be some sort of contribution and make towards the retention of these great public servants. When we offer £400 a year as payment of Members of Parliament it is not a recognition of the magnitude of the service, it is not a remuneration, it is not a recompense, it is not even a salary. It is just an allowance, and I think the minimum allowance, to enable men to come here, men who would render incalculable service to the State, and whom it is an incalculable loss to the State not to have here, but who cannot be here because their means do not allow it. It is purely an allowance to enable us to open the door to great and honourable public service to these men, for whom this country will be all the richer, all the greater and all the stronger for the un-known-vicissitudes which it has to face by having here to aid us by their counsel, by their courage, and by their resource.
§ Mr. ARTHUR LEE
I have listened with close attention to the genial and for the most part humorous speech of the right hon. Gentleman, who speaking in his official capacity as Chancellor of the Exchequer, seems to regard it very largely as a joke that there should be this raid or demand of over £250,000 per annum upon the Exchequer of this country, and indeed hinted only too plainly that the 1384 extent of the demand was not limited to the amount contained in the estimate. He hinted that other public men—like chairmen of county councils should be paid; and he very strongly expressed the opinion that there was too much gratuitous work in this country. Although we are not primarily the guardians of the public purse, I think we may be permitted to differ from him in that respect. We feel very seriously upon this subject, and we have endeavoured—I have endeavoured, I may say, after consultation with my hon. Friends who sit on this side and with their approval—to express briefly the grounds upon which we object to this Motion in the Amendment which appears upon the Paper, and which is in these words:— "To leave out from the word 'that' to the end, and to add the words: 'this House declines to provide money for the payment of Members of Parliament, because such payment would be an indefensible violation of the principle of gratuitous public service, would involve the taxpayers in heavy and unnecessary expense, and would encourage a demand on the part of members of local bodies to be paid for their services, and further because, in the opinion of this House, there would be a peculiar impropriety in Members of Parliament voting salaries to themselves.'"
When the history of this time comes to be written I venture to predict that the historian of the future will regard the particular days through which we are now passing as the "black week" of British politics. I do not expect that that view will be endorsed by hon. Members below the Gangway. Fortunately neither they nor we have any influence or control over the historians of the future. But at least we are entitled to our contention—and probably hon. Members will agree with this—that during the present week greater changes are being effected in our political institutions than have ever taken place before in the lifetime of any of us in this House. On Tuesday last we saw the actual institution, so far as this House is concerned, for the first time in the history of any civilised State, of Single Chamber Government. But that is a change, or mistake, which is at any rate not irreparable, and that can, and I venture to think will, be altered in a few years' time. But once the new system which it is proposed to inaugurate by this Resolution which the Government are moving to-day 1385 is introduced, I believe it will be almost impossible to alter it in any future Parliament; or for any future Government to return to the old system. The party which attempted that would at once be accused of trying to drive their opponents out of the House of Commons by means of the money power. I am therefore afraid if this is passed the injury will be a permanent one.
In my personal belief the effect of this change upon the public life of this country will be even more marked and even more disastrous than the passage of the Parliament Bill itself. Speaking only for myself, on this particular point, I feel as bitterly opposed to this principle of payment of Members as I do even to the Parliament Bill which is now passing through Parliament. That it is bound to have an enormous and far-reaching effect upon the political life of this country I do not think anyone will deny—certainly not the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has just spoken. He, no doubt, thinks the effect will be good. We think the effect will be evil. At any rate we think that the proposed change is both unnecessary and undesirable. I admit, of course, that there is a considerable difference of opinion in this House in regard to the principle involved. But I hope I may be credited with an earnest desire to say nothing which would offend the susceptibilities of any individual, or which would be considered in any sense as a reflection on any single Member of this House, or indeed, any section of it. I hope we may be permitted to discuss this very grave question without indulging in or inviting personalities of any sort of description. At any rate, I think I am justified in claiming that the motives of those who do not wish for this salary, and who greatly resent having it forced upon them, are at least entitled to as much respect as are the motives of those who are anxious and determined to get it. I hope, therefore, we may eschew all recriminations and discuss the case upon its merits. At any rate, I shall endeavour to do so.
May I in a few words make a preliminary, but at the same time emphatic protest against the procedure adopted by the Government in regard to this grave matter? What could be more significant of the evils of Single-Chamber Government which we are faced with in the immediate future than the attitude of the Government and the House of Commons towards this great question? Let me recall for a 1386 moment what are the actual facts of the situation and how they must strike an outside observer. I have been looking back at the dates, and I find that on May 15th at eleven o'clock at night this House passed the final reading of a Bill conferring upon itself exclusive control of the National finances. At the beginning of the very next sitting, at four o'clock on May 16th, the Members of the House of Commons embarked upon the discussion of a proposal to pay themselves salaries out of the National finances—out of the pockets of the taxpayer. That was apparently their first thought as trustees of the National finances. [An HON MEMBER: "Shame."] I think the observation of the hon. Member fully justified.
The procedure is again repeated this week. On Tuesday of this week the House of Commons finally parted with the Parliament Bill, which confers upon it complete financial control. And here on Thursday of the same week, on the very day when the Bill may become law, the Members of the House of Commons are again engaged in giving practical effect to the proposal which they discussed on a previous occasion; and as their first exorcise of the new powers which will be conferred upon them under the Parliament Bill they are proceeding without more ado, without even observing the ordinary decencies of Parliamentary procedure, to confer this benefit upon themselves. Let me make that charge good. Whatever may be the merits or demerits of this particular proposal, I do not think there is any Parliamentarian who will deny that the procedure adopted by the Government is not only unprecedented, but surreptitious. I do not believe that a change of this description has ever before been attempted; I do not think it has ever been contemplated, except by means of a Bill which would have to pass through all its various stages in this House. Let me observe in passing that I cannot see why the Government should have had any hesitation in adopting that procedure now, in view of the fact that this House has in its own hands, or will have, full and complete financial control.
It is no question of risk, or that a Payment of Members Bill would be thrown out in another place. Therefore, it is difficult to understand why the Government should have chosen to reject the ordinary procedure. And yet this measure is brought forward; and is to be smuggled 1387 through in an almost furtive manner, in the "dog days," at the fag end of the Session, when only a small proportion of the House remains in attendance. And it is to take actual effect by means of the peculiar procedure proposed before the House adjourns, and what is perhaps more significant, before the country realises in the least what is being proposed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the course of his remarks, said by way of excuse, that the principle has been repeatedly affirmed by this House. But the principle of Women's Suffrage has been repeatedly affirmed by resolution of this House. I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he considers the fact that the principle of Women's Suffrage has been repeatedly affirmed sufficient to justify a Government, if the rules permitted, in introducing it by means of a Resolution at the fag end of the Session and passing it into law in this surreptitious manner? I do not think the Government— I think they have, as a matter of fact!— but I was going to say that I do not think the Government claim that they have another mandate in regard to this question. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, it is true, referred in the course of his speech to a sentence in the speech made by the Prime Minister on, I think, 18th November last, the same day that he announced the approaching General Election, That sentence, was the merest and most perfunctory allusion to the intentions of the Government in regard to this matter. I have it here. The matter is contained in a single sentence.
It surely cannot be seriously contended that the fact that the Prime Minister included that one sentence in a speech which was devoted to another subject which was agitating the whole country at the moment, gives the Government authority or enables them to claim in any way that they received a mandate in favour of the payment of Members at the election of December last? As a matter of fact, there are few people in this country who ever heard the Prime Minister's statement, or even heard of it. I think very few even read it. Upon that point I can only state my own experience. During the last election I was fortunate enough not to be opposed. Consequently, I spent time going about in other people's constituencies, making, no doubt, very indifferent speeches. I devoted a considerable amount of time to this question of pay- 1388 ment of Members, of trying to explain it. I ventured to suggest that one of the very first acts of the coalition, in the event of their being returned to power and being in the position to pass their Parliament Bill, would be to vote themselves salaries of £400 a year out of the National Exchequer. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame."] Yes. But what was the result? I was howled down as a fabricator, as having invented another of those bogies like Home Rule and the rest, and I was assailed in no measured terms for traducing an honourable and disinterested party. And the electors entirely refused to believe there was any truth whatever in the suggestion, and yet, as a matter of fact, I was even more accurate than I anticipated, because the very next day after the coalition succeeded in getting into its own hands the supreme financial control they proceeded to take the very steps which I suggested they would take.
I contend the Government cannot in any shape or form claim that they have a mandate, and I entirely deny that the country has given any sanction, either explicitly or tacitly, to the proposal the Government have now brought forward. But if the proceeding of the Government is irregular and open to legitimate suspicion, in our view the principle contained in the Resolution is both objectionable and unnecessary. I go further and say that the Government's policy in this matter is futile, because it was almost admitted to-day, and it has been frequently said, at any rate in the past, that one of the main objects of the payment of Members was to meet the grievance of the Labour party in regard to the Osborne Judgment. That was the excuse made, and there is hardly use concealing the fact that the measure was brought in—there are many Members who are behind the Government who do not like it—frankly to square the Labour party in connection with the Osborne Judgment. The Labour party deny that it is a remedy, and they have not accepted it as such.
§ Mr. LEE
I am just showing that the attempt to square has failed, and it was even expressly repudiated by the hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Arthur Henderson) at the Trade Union Congress last year. The real fact, of course, is this, that whatever be the amount of the salary which the Government propose, it will not meet the real grievance of the Labour 1389 party in regard to the Osborne Judgment. It does not give them what they are really after, and that is, the political control of the trade union funds. Therefore, I think I am justified in saying that the Government policy is futile, because not only shall we have payment of Members, but a Bill dealing with the Osborne Judgment as well.
Last autumn an attempt was made by a number of hon. Members on this side of the House, when faced with this dilemma, to choose between the reversal of the Osborne Judgment on the one hand and the payment of Members on the other hand. Some chose the payment of Members as the lesser of two evils. Some of us ventured to predict that it was not a question of choosing between the two, but that we were to have both, and experience has proved that we are to have both and a Bill dealing with the Osborne Judgment has already been introduced. I come to the main objection to the proposals, which are so familiar and have been so often stated that I need not weary the House at any length upon them. I admit there are certain superficial arguments in favour of the proposal, and even certain minor advantages which might conceivably result from it. We all know from experience in this country that there are certain and exceptional cases of men of exceptional qualities who, from lack of means, have been unable to enter this House, or, if they do enter it, have found it difficult to remain in it. We all know that Mr. Gladstone proposed legislation for them alone. I do not say that I think his plan was practicable. I know it was rejected by his own Party. The Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day made a great point of these exceptionally hard cases. He gave us a number of different classes represented in this House, and it was only when it came down to the fifth class that the came to these exceptional cases, and yet we are to legislate, or rather not to legislate, but by means of a resolution and a subsequent estimate we are to alter the whole past practice for the sake of this fifth class to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer refers. I think that is rather a large experiment. I do not think there is sufficient to justify it.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke about the past history of this matter. I do not want to weary the House with that, because what happened in the middle ages is not of much consequence to-day. We all know that Members of Parliament in an ever-decreasing degree 1390 received allowances from their constituencies up to 1680. [HON. MEMBERS: 1780.] Hon. Members may have other cases, but it is of little consequence for the purpose of this discussion. I will take the date 1780 from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said an experiment was started in 1780, but failed, and he told us how the character of Parliament has changed; how Members have to work now as they never worked before. Surely the answer to all that is this: We have not payment of Members to-day. The right hon. Gentleman boasted about the magnificent qualities of Members and of Parliament, but we have all that now without payment of Members, and surely no one will suggest that payment of Members is necessary to effect the election to this House and the maintenance in this House of a great democratic majority.
The greatest democratic majority of modern times was elected in 1906 and remained here and worked most assiduously until 1910. I have no doubt it was the best House of Commons that ever assembled. At any rate, its Members were enabled to come here and remain here not as the result of payment of Members. In my view the disadvantages of this proposal are both cumulative and overwhelming. In the first place I think this proposal must lead to the loss of the moral authority of the House of Commons in the public mind, and if we are to have the House of Commons established as a Single Chamber with the control of the destinies of the country in its hands there is one thing it needs more than anything else, and that is moral authority. I also object to Members of Parliament in future becoming the mere paid delegates of their constituency rather than their free and independent representatives, because I believe it will lead to the extinction of that type of Member in the House of Commons who has been its peculiar pride and strength up to the present time. It will lead to the extinction of the class of Member who is active and distinguished in other walks of life, and who, in spite of having other work, does as a matter of fact attend to the business of this House because he believes it an honour and a duty to do so, but who in future will have neither time nor inclination to compete with the vast number of candidates that will come forward when the reward is not merely election to the House of Commons, but a competence—I will not say more than that—which will be paid for his work as a Member of Parliament.
1391 I think we have a notorious example before us of what happens— and I only speak of countries with which I am thoroughly familiar—in the United States of America and Canada. There we know that representative and influential men, speaking generally, have the greatest reluctance to enter politics at all. As a matter of fact, with very few exceptions they do not enter politics. How often have I myself, when I raised that very point with men of that description in Canada and in the United States, heard them reply, "Why should we? We pay others to do that for us." I am afraid that will be the case very soon here, and, as a result, I believe we will get a different type of Member in this House from that which we have been used to. We will get a type of Member and a much larger proportion of men, resembling the paid professional speakers of political parties to-day, and, while these men are able men and do good work, I do not believe they will be a satisfactory substitute for the present personnel of the House of Commons. If hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on the other side really imagine that the genuine working man will be enabled, as the result of payment of Members, to enter the House of Commons in larger numbers than at present, I ask, where do they get that experience from? I draw upon practical experience, and people who do not draw upon their practical experience are not wise. I find in the United States of America, where the salaries of Members of Parliament are higher than in any other country in the world, there is not a single genuine working man in the Congress.
§ Mr. LEE
Well, then, I grant there is one. A salary of £2,000 a year has produced one in the United States. There are three working men members of the Canadian Parliament, two Liberals, and one Conservative. [HON. MEMBER: "What about Australia?"] I will come to the case of Australia in a moment. I am only dealing now with the case of Canada, with which the hon. Member who interrupts me (Mr. Hamar Greenwood) is better acquainted than I am. If he finds any fault in my argument, 1392 he will point it out. Then there is the case of New Zealand, of which I have no personal experience, but I saw a letter from a man who lived in New Zealand for seventeen years, and he pointed out that in the case of his particular constituency the member happened to be financially embarrassed, and before the election he went round canvassing his creditors, and told them that if they would only return him to Parliament he would be in a position to pay them what he owed them. I do not want to see that happen here. With regard to getting more working men into Parliament, it is obvious to everyone that the provision of this salary does not meet the real difficulty. If the Government had proposed to pay the official election expenses—a reform which has been for many years supported by hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House, simply because we see no reason why candidates who stand for Parliament should have to pay the official expenses of the machinery for electing them—we should probably have supported them, but even payment of Members plus the payment of official election expenses does not satisfy the real difficulty in this matter. I notice that the hon. Member for Northampton has recognised that point and has put down an Amendment to deal with it. It is very obvious that the unofficial election expenses are the real obstacle to working men entering Parliament, and circumstances will make the caucus in all parties just as powerful after the payment of Members as it is now. I hope, at any rate, that I have now established my main contention that the proposal made by the Government will not solve the real difficulty in this connection, and that it will probably lower the standard of Membership of the House of Commons.
Undoubtedly it has had this effect in other countries. Anyone who has had any practical experience of foreign or colonial legislatures must admit that their standard is not as high as that of the British House of Commons. I challenge anyone to name a single paid legislature in the world which has such a well-deserved reputation for purity and independence as the British House of Commons. That gives point to the remark of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he said this is the only Parliament in the world which is not paid in any shape or form. There has not been even a suspicion of corruption in the British House of Commons in the lifetime of any of us. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated, the 1393 standard of the House of Commons has steadily improved, and it has improved under a condition of things where there is no payment of Members. Surely that is the strongest argument the right hon. Gentleman could have brought forward against his own Resolution. I do not want to dilate at length upon this point, but I would ask are we to risk all this for a gain which must at any rate be problematical, and which in my belief is ex-extremely doubtful. I will not dwell upon the unnecessary expense to the taxpayer of this proposal, but I would like to remind the House that the kind of action which we are proposing to take to-day and on Monday is of a highly infectious character. We had an admission of that in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the financial consequences of this proposal if passed will be tremendous, and by no means limited to the £250,000 proposed in the Estimate. It will open the flood-gates of extravagance in all sorts of new and unexpected directions, and how can it be otherwise? How can we possibly deny to other public men the financial reward we propose to confer upon ourselves. If this proposal is passed, we shall be within measurable distance of a situation in which people will be earning a living by voting each other salaries.
Another objection is that this system will introduce a new, and I think a debasing, element into our election contests. It will be highly objectionable to hold out to candidates for Parliament the inducement that if only they can get themselves elected, they will from that time be able to support themselves at the expense of the taxpayer. That may be the case with needy candidates, but with well-off candidates the probability of corruption will be equally great, because there will be a new form of corrupt bargain suggested, something of this kind: "If you are chosen and elected, will you devote the money that you are paid to certain matters in which your constituents are interested?" There will be a good deal of corruption of that kind which does not exist at the present time, and how will the Government deal with that? If they propose to deal with it in any shape or form I shall most heartily support them, but up to the present they have only created the danger. Then there is the argument which we often hear that the labourer is worthy of his hire. We have had a good many illuminating remarks from the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that subject. He spoke of the 1394 work done by Members of this House, and by the Judges, but surely if there was any force in that argument the logical conclusion of it should have been that hon. Members of this House should have been paid, not only as much, but even more than the Judges are paid at the present time. If it is a case of the labourer being worthy of his hire, surely £400 a year, which is the salary of a junior clerk in the Civil Service, is an insult to offer to Members of the House of Commons, and it is an insult to place their services upon a par with those rendered in that capacity. If the basis of this payment is the value of the services rendered, and in proportion to the responsibility, then certainly the payment made in the American Congress is not a penny too much. Hitherto the reward which has been considered sufficient has been the dignity and honour of the position, and I shall be very sorry to see that done away with. In any case, I contend that it will be wrong and unsafe to entrust to this new class of small-salaried officials suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the full, absolute, and exclusive control over the financial and other interests of this country.
This proposal has been defended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the ground that it is merely what he calls an allowance to make up for extra expenses. We all know that other countries started with that same modest idea. We had an official return laid on the Table of the House very recently, and if hon. Members would study what has happened in other countries they will find that they all made very small beginnings. In the United States of America they began with £180 a. year, and then by successive instalments Congress raised the amount to the equivalent of £2,000 a year. In France they started with £360 a year, and it has now been increased to £600; and, in addition, there are pensions for ex-members, for their widows, and for their children until they reach the age of twenty-one. In Australia there was an increase the other day in the payment of members from £400 to £600 a year, and it is absolutely inevitable that once salaries are paid to Members of Parliament who have control over the amount of their salaries, like all other classes who are paid wages, they will seek to raise those wages whenever they get the opportunity.
There was a very instructive Debate on this subject in the Australian Parliament last year, and perhaps the House will allow me to refer to that Debate, because 1395 it gives a practical illustration of what happens in these matters. A Motion was brought forward on 29th September, 1910, by Mr. G. B. Edwards, a Member of the Australian Parliament, who wished the question of an increase in the salaries of Members of the House of Commons to be submitted to a Referendum, which they have established in Australia, because he suggested that the recent increase in the salary had not been approved by the people. In the Debate which followed there were some very illuminating speeches. Sir William Lynes said that a salary of £600 a year was a paltry thing, that it was simply bread-and-butter, and it would be better if the salary was fixed at £1,000 a year. Mr. Higgs said:—No one is able to judge of the services of Members of Parliament and the work they do so well as Members of Parliament themselves. The public are not in a position to judge.Then Mr. Bruce Smith said:—We have all gone through a good deal of unpleasantness over it, because the public are too ready to suppose that every man comes into Parliament simply for what he can get out of it. I do not think the American rate of salary is a bit too much.Mr. Fraser said:—Speaking on behalf of the Government, the question of "Members of Parliament's salaries was handed over to Parliament by the people when they accepted the Constitution, and after some years of experience, Parliament in its wisdom came to the conclusion that the salaries were insufficient and added £200.Then Mr. Riley raised a point about the judges, and complained that they were paid from £2,000 to £3,000. He said:—And yet they do not work any harder than we do.Mr. Riley objected to a Referendum on the salary, but also said he would not object to a Referendum on the question of abolishing the Senate. Mr. Joseph Cook said:—I do not agree that we should regard ourselves as trustees of the money of the people and not increase our salary without reference to them. They trust us to spend £17,000,000 a year. They may therefore well trust us to arrange a little matter of this sort.6.0 P.M.
There is one last quotation I feel bound to give to the House, because it is such a gem. It was the last speech made in the debate, and it was made by Mr. Anstey, who opposed the Referendum on the salary. He said:—I cannot understand any body of men rushing round to the boss and taking the risk of his reducing their salary. The motion proposes to fix a maximum and minimum. I object to the minimum. I have no objection to the maximum being increased. I am satisfied with a minimum of £600 and anything upwards. That is my attitude. I offer my services at a salary and if I can get an increase I am going for it.Then the Debate was adjourned. An hon. Member asked about South Australia and 1396 what happens there. Perhaps the hon. Member is not aware of what happened in South Australia about the same time. There they had a Referendum upon the question whether the salaries should be increased by £200 a year. The result of the voting, when the people had a chance to say something about it, was two to one against it. I now come to my last point, which I am bound to raise, because I was was pointedly challenged by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who indulged in some very good-humoured chaff. He dealt with the argument, "if you do not pay Members of Parliament, why should you pay Ministers 1" I think the best answer to that is contained in a leading article of the "Daily Chronicle" of 21st January this year, where it is said:—Ministers of the Crown are paid as salaried servants, expected and required to give their whole time and full energies to the service of the State and to that service alone. This is not the theory of a House of Representatives. We want to see in the House of Commons a microcosm of the nation, and the British people, we believe, prefers that its Members of Parliament should in large measure be men still engaged in the various callings of life rather than that they should be professional whole-timers in politics.
§ Mr. LEE
Certainly it does. It of course supports the Government, but it does meet the point on which I was challenged with regard to the payment of Ministers. It applies also to other servants of the State and not merely to Ministers. It applies also to soldiers. They are essentially servants of the State. They are held accountable by the State for the way in which they perform their duties, and there are actually ways provided by our Parliamentary procedure for reducing their salaries if we are not satisfied with the way in which they perform their duties. I claim, and that is my argument, that the representatives of the people are entirely in a different category. I claim they are not servants of the State; they are not servants even of their constituencies. They are free representatives of their constituencies; at any rate, they have been in the past and I hope they will so remain. It is further not essential they should give their whole time to the business of Parliament. It is well known many of the most useful and influential Members of this House have not given their whole time. That, anyhow, is a matter of opinion. If a change of this kind 1397 is desired I maintain the people ought to be consulted with regard to it, because at least it is they who have to pay. I think this is essentially a subject that, as in the case of Australia, should be decided by a reference to the people. I feel strongly it is not fair, at any rate it is highly undesirable, to hold out this bait to men who have in their hands the power to confer this pecuniary benefit upon themselves. It is a temptation which may warp their judgment. It is a temptation, not to poor men only, but even to well-to-do and to rich men as well, because, whatever a man's income may be, whether it is £100 or £10,000 a year, his commitments and responsibilities are probably in proportion, and I venture to say there is no man, even well-to-do or rich, to whom an additional £400 would not be a real convenience. It certainly would be in my case. I say it is asking too much of human nature to bring a Motion of this kind before the House and to expect a majority of Members will seriously resist the proposal when it means an injury to their financial interests. It is so very much easier to welcome an inflow of money than its outflow. Therefore I recognise this proposal is bound to have a fatal popularity within the walls of Parliament, but I also venture to think it will be justly and greatly unpopular outside.
Above all, I object to it because I believe it will sound the death-knell of that system of voluntary service which has been the chief and unique glory of British public life. I have spoken strongly because I feel more strongly on this particular subject than on almost any other in the whole range of politics. In every election address I have issued, and in the numberless speeches I have made to my Constituents, I have expressed my repugnance to the proposal that Members of Parliament should be paid for their work as representatives of the constituencies, and the objections I felt to it when the proposal was only in an academic form have been deepened and confirmed by the effect which the near realisation in a concrete form of this proposal has already had upon the House of Commons. I have, in the eleven years I have been in this House, seen many regrettable incidents, but I cannot recall any more repellent or humiliating spectacle than the House of Commons, the very day after it has taken into its own hands by force supreme and exclusive control over the nation's financies, hungrily seizing without even a decent interval, upon the first opportunity 1398 after the Bill is passed to help themselves out of the pockets of the taxpayers. The Government in this matter appears to be insatiable. Not content in this week with dragging the Crown through the mire of party politics, not content with destroying the legislative authority of the other House of Parliament, they are now pro posing to destroy the moral authority of the House of Commons as well. It is because I love the House of Commons and am proud of it that I wish the votes of my hon. Friends on this side to save it, if possible, from this wanton and unnecessary humiliation.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The hon. Gentleman who preceded me finished his somewhat lugubrious speech by a declaration that he honoured the House of Commons. So do I. The question as to whether one honours the House of Commons or not is not involved in the Resolution before the House. He told us he was entitled to prophesy what the future historian would say about the past week. So am I. I venture to say the country has not yet become so bankrupt in the production of good reliable historians that it will be incapable of producing men with an intelligence sufficiently penetrating to tell a totally different story from what the hon. Gentleman outlined. He thinks the future historian, for instance, would not begin the tale of the payment of Members with to-day, but that he would trace, through a long series of years, the Parliamentary changes which have necessitated this change. He would certainly put all the facts before the public, but he would leave out that interesting paragraph that the Government of the day dragged the Crown into the mire. If he penetrates very carefully into detail and will read particular and certain speeches which have been delivered from the bench on which the hon. Gentleman sits, I am not sure what judgment he will pass upon the Opposition, but I am perfectly certain that the judgment he will pass upon the Government and those of us who support the Government in this respect, will be that we have protected the Crown from being dragged in the mire. That is only somewhat remotely connected with the Resolution before us.
I want to return to the point that this proposal has a history. The hon. Gentleman, in making his very interesting reply, has not dealt with what seemed to me, at any rate, to be the chief argument of the 1399 Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the whole function of the House of Commons has changed within the last two generations. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a very dramatic way, held up the records of two Divisions for two years. I should like to remind this House that the change is not merely quantity, it is also quality. The change that has taken place in our proceedings is not merely that we sit late and divide often. It is also that a whole series of questions relating to the lives of the people, conditions of labour, housing conditions, their outgoings and their incomings, right down to the humblest operation of the humblest man's life, has within the last two generations become great, pressing problems for this House to solve in the best way it possibly can. The hon. Gentleman overlooked that change. The historian of the future will not overlook it. The historian of the future will record that, towards the end of 1911 that change had become so patent that Ministers were compelled to accommodate themselves to it, and that one of the necessary steps which had to be taken to accommodate themselves to it was to see that Members of this House were paid.
The hon. Gentleman confused the analogy between Ministers and Members of this House. He said Ministers were supposed to give up all their time to the work of their office. I think I detected an emphasis on the word "supposed." I venture to say, whether we like it or not, the time has come when the average serviceable Member of this House will have to give practically the whole of his time to it. What is involved in giving the whole of one's time to the service of this House? It is not merely the coming down here at eleven o'clock in the morning, when a Grand Committee is sitting, and remaining here till eleven o'clock at night when the Eleven o'clock Rule is not suspended, and till two or three o'clock when it is suspended, but the service of this House requires a mental training and a personal experience richer, perhaps, than service in any other Department of the. State requires. Members who are going to be proper servants of the State, as Members of this House, must, for one thing, travel a great deal. The hon. Gentleman has shown the advantages of travel; he told us he had been to the United States, and had talked with rich men who are too respectable to enter into American politics.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The right hon. Gentleman did not say it, but I am saying it. He says he talked also with members of the House of Representatives. I am perfectly certain that the hon. Gentleman, in the course of his travels in the United States, must have been aware that there is nothing more futile than comparative politics, unless, when the comparisons are being made, historical conditions are kept in mind. I, too, have talked with my respectable friends in America—gentlemen who are too respectable to enter politics, and who are known in the political world as the Silver Stocking Brigade. Why do they not go into politics? It is not because there is payment of members, not because the members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate are paid, but because, up till now, the genius of America has been a business genius, and these gentlemen remain out of politics because they can get their political interests served in two different ways. There are gentlemen in Albany, if you go to that city, and there are gentlemen in Washington who have not the right of entry into the holy of holies, either at Albany or Washington, but who have a right of entry into the inner lobby, and everybody knows the sort of burden they take in their pockets when they go into those inner lobbies. These pre-eminently respectable gentlemen who will not enter politics themselves are perfectly willing, as every Industrial and Political Commission that ever sat and took evidence can prove to the hilt, to keep the politics which they think too much below them degraded by the particular methods adopted, not because Members have been paid, but because the political instincts of America have not gone on quite the same historical lines as the political instincts of this country.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The second way in which these gentlemen make their influence felt is to actually bribe the legislators. Let us put two and two together. Suppose you stop paying your members in the House of Representatives, what is going to happen? The cost of votes in that House will simply go up. There are very interesting stories told about the effect of Payment of Members in the House of Representatives. One does not care to cast stones at one's fellow- 1401 members on public bodies. But the hon. Gentleman has raised a point which I venture to say everyone who has an intimate knowledge of the operation of American politics can answer in the amplest possible way. Is there anybody in this House opposed to the payment of Members who will tell me seriously, in view of the tendency of American politics, that taking away the payment of members is going to improve the financial status of the American politician.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
The hon. Gentleman attributed the corruption prevalent in American politics to the fact that members are paid. I say that precisely the opposite is the case. I will only make one other observation on this point. As a matter of fact, the tide that is flowing in America just now towards purity, and that is going to sweep these people out of existence before, I hope, our day and generation is over, is finding the payment of members is helping it, because, as a result of the payment of members, it is able to bring to its assistance a body of clean-minded men who cannot live in America, and who cannot occupy prominent positions in American public life to-day unless their income is secured from other sources such as trusts and corporations. As to one point which has been raised, I confess I felt rather unhappy about it myself, and I therefore specifically mentioned it in my election address. When the Prime Minister was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) before the last General Election what was going to happen about the payment of Members, the answer was:—I may say at once it is the intention of the Govern merit, if they have the opportunity and requisite Parliamentary following next year, to propose provision out of public funds for the payment of Members, and they think that that intention being announced before the General Election takes place, there will be no constitutional impropriety in the provision being made effective if Parliament sees fit to approve it in the Parliament which will assemble after the General Election.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I am sorry that although I have the honour of being a Scotchman a Scottish constituency has not done me the honour of returning me to this House. Still, I did put this in my election address. [An HON. MEMBER: "How many others did?"] And I said 1402 that if I were returned, and if there were a majority returned of the same way of thinking, then payment of Members would take place should Parliament see fit to vote the money for the purpose. The Leader of the Opposition, at a Conservative banquet at Edinburgh, spoke on this subject, and judging from the space devoted to his speech in the "Scotsman" I should say he was speaking for about twenty minutes upon it. But he did not tell us whether he was in favour of the payment of Members or against it. To that extent it is possible that hon. Members opposite may not have thought much about it before the General Election. But that is their fault, and not ours. Every intelligent elector, every person who was following the issues presented to the electorate—and we must presume that the electors do follow those issues—we cannot legislate for electors who do not know what they are voting about, for that is not our fault; it is the fault, rather, of the schoolmaster—every intelligent elector knew very well that in this House the Prime Minister had stated that this Parliament was to provide enough money for the payment of Members. If anyone objects to it now on the ground that they knew nothing of it before the General Election let their blood be upon their own head.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
So far as there is such a thing as a mandate in a representative form of Government this was an exercise of it, because there was an instruction to proceed with the Resolution and to carry it into effect. The hon. Gentleman has talked about a violation of some principle. An accusation that a principle is being violated is a very interesting accusation to make, and I listened carefully in order to find out what principle was being violated and what was the effect of the violation. But the hon. Gentleman had to admit that there is no such thing as principle at all in this connection. Because Members of this House happen not to be paid, and because town councillors and county councillors happen not to be paid, that in itself does not establish the principle of gratuitous public service. It may establish the fact that there is a certain amount of practice of gratuitous public service, but there is no principle in it at all, otherwise the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding the hon. Gentleman 1403 himself would be perfectly sound. He admits he is a public servant, and that his service was given to the public. Surely the hon. Gentleman should supplement his theory by his practice. He attempted to justify his position by an extract from a leading article in the "Daily Chronicle." I rather think the point contained in that article was not that there should be no salary, but that there should be a difference of salary. I may be mistaken, but that is the conclusion which I drew from it.
With all the changes that have taken place in the service that is expected to be given by Members of Parliament inside and outside this House, precisely the same kind of work is expected from Members on these benches as from those on the Front Benches.
There is no gulf fixed between the two Front Benches and the other benches in the House, so far as the kind of work is concerned, although in regard to its quantity and detail and the application needed there may be some difference. When we come here to discuss the Insurance Bill we have to do precisely the same work with our advisers as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to do with his. When we think out principles of taxation for the purpose of taking a proper part in Second Reading Debates we have to the best of our limited ability to go through precisely the same mental operations and the same formalities as the Chancellor of the Exchequer does himself when he meets the permanent heads of his various Departments and discusses with them the Budget two or three months before it is produced here. May I say this, that the oftener that is done, and the more carefully we do it, the better the House of Commons will be and the better will be the service which we shall be able to render to the State.
If there are any consequential Amendments in our conduct—and here by consequential Amendments I mean if when we get paid changes should be made in the work that we do here, in the service we render, or in regard to the regularity of our attendance—I do not know whether it is practicable and I am not sure it is always advisable, although it is done in certain countries—still, if the hon. Gentleman, once this painful Resolution is imposed by a tyrannical majority feels it desirable, in the interests of the rectitude and honesty of public service to propose a change in the Standing Orders of the 1404 House with a view to imposing upon us better conditions of service, the Labour party will only be too delighted to help him in imposing a responsibility commensurate with the recognition which it is going to get as a result of passing this Resolution. The hon. Gentleman, in dealing with what I suppose was the principle of his Resolution, took a great deal of credit for the fact that this House had high moral authority in the country. I am not quite so sure of that. It has in one way, I admit, and I hope it will never lose it; I hope the day will never come when Membership of the House of Commons will be such a miserable thing that nobody will covet it for its own sake. But the hon. Gentleman mistakes the democratic mind. As a matter of fact the ordinary thinking workman does regard this House as being just a little bit too classy for him. The ordinary thinking workman does think, with abundance of justification, that if an injury is done to a rich man this House is far more ready to undo that injustice than it is ready to undo an injustice done to a poor man. The ordinary thinking workman is also under this impression, without in any way allowing the impression to lower his sense of the dignity of this House, that the experience of this House and the point of view of this House is not his experience and not his point of view; that, as a matter of fact, this House is very often incapable of putting itself in the shoes of other people who are not represented here. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lee) knows that perfectly well, and his party has attempted, I am sure on principle and not on expediency, to run what are known as Conservative working men. That cannot be a partisan move. I am sure it is not. It is a confession on the part of the party opposite that unless they have working men sitting on the benches behind them giving them better counsel than they get very often on these matters—unless their party includes a certain number of working men it does not represent the feelings, the experience and the desires of the country, and that is precisely the point of view of an enormous number of working men outside.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
But so long as that is the feeling this House's moral respect must be somewhat injured. I admit quite candidly, and I make the admission without the least reservation, that if we cannot do two things at the same time, namely, pay our representatives here 1405 and also maintain in the mind of the outside public that it is an honour to be a Member of the House of Commons, payment will be an exceedingly bad thing. I am bound to say that, from a fairly varied experience, tops and bottoms, ups and downs, I do not believe that the keeping of these two things together is impossible. If you say £1,000 a year I believe there would be great danger under what is done by this Resolution, but you are not giving a large sum of money. It is not sufficiently large for anyone to covet it. The man who imagines that he is going to lay by very much at the end of a year when he has got his four quarter's salary at the rate of £400, and keep perhaps two homes, travelling home for the week-end and paying the extra expenses that every Member knows are entailed by membership of the House —if anyone is coming here with that in his mind I think one Session will settle him. I hope there will be enough honour left in our political parties, because after all we have to come back to that, to talk quite straight to this sort of gentleman and not merely allow them in an easy going sort of way to come in here for charity, but to tell them they are not the sort of people we want to get here at all. When the right hon. Gentleman talks in that strain I think we might just be allowed to remind him that so far as contests are concerned, and they are very essential in this connection, perhaps contests have never been so low as they have within the last three or four elections, and they have been lowered mainly by the people who have unlimited sums of money to spend. That is how this House is being degraded. If we have no Corrupt Practices Act revision within the next two or three years this House will be far more degraded by corrupt practices than it will be degraded in a century by paying Members £400 a year. That is the reply I have to make to the moral reflections of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
My point really is that the question of corruption— I mean in its moral and not its financial sense—and the lowered tone of this House cannot be attributed to this Resolution or to the operation of this Resolution. As a matter of fact, if there is any degradation, or danger of degradation, it is going to come from totally different quarters. It 1406 will come from precisely the quarters which are opposed to this Resolution, I mean the interests which are opposed to this Resolution. The type of man who superiorly looks over the tip of his nose at a Member of Parliament because he gets £400 a year is precisely the man who is the source of nearly every one of the dangers that threaten our public life at the present moment. The man who can lead an intellectual and quiet and comfortable life upon £400 a year, and surround himself with the quiet and the leisure which are necessary to be a M.P., bringing himself into contact with all the living forces, from experiments on housing up to the very best modern political thought—that is the sort of man who will serve his State well, and who will be helpful to public life if the Resolution comes into operation.
The right hon. Gentleman challenged us to name a foreign Parliament the honour of which corresponded to ours. There is no foreign Parliament that has the history of ours. That is one point, and a very important point. You cannot have honour festooning an institution like this unless you have traditions. By and by the only traditions of good behaviour in this House will be on these benches. If this House had been established in 1872 it would not have been such an honourable thing to be a Member of it. But take the German Reichstag. For the way it conducts its business, for the public spirit which animates its Members, from the meanest member who sits in it to the most important member, and what is more important, from the point of the outside forces, which are keeping it high and keeping it stalled up, the German Reichstag is worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as we mention our own House. The right hon. Gentleman shirked Australia because he said he had never been there, so far as the tone of public life was concerned. The experiment of paying members in the Australian legislature is not a very old one. In some of the old States there was no payment of members at all to begin with, and I challenge anyone, if this House was to appoint a committee to make an investigation for comparative purposes to discover what were the relative values of the character of the unpaid members and the paid members, to produce a report showing that the unpaid members were better than the paid members. You cannot do it. Again I come back to my fundamental position. What happens? You cannot draw comparisons between England and Australia 1407 or America, because the flower and fruit of your public life here has grown up from a soil which is totally different, very much richer and of altogether different productive capacity from the soil which you have in the United States, in Canada, or in Australia. But I am rather sorry that the right hon. Gentleman had not been in Australia. I am quite sure if he had he would have met three or four of the gentlemen whose speeches he had quoted, and the advantage of having met them would have been that he would have seen that they were joking all the time. To take the last first he happens to be a personal friend of my own. I know that Debate perfectly well. I have read it, and I had the advantage of talking it over with some of those who took part in it only the other day, and of getting their opinion on what was meant. The richest things that the right hon. Gentleman quoted from Anstey, for instance, were the products of the good humour and wit which Mr. Anstey has and which he cannot possibly repress. As a matter of fact this Debate in the Australian House of Commons was a farce from beginning to end. It was raised for party purposes, and everyone who took part in it recognised it, and the whole thing was conducted in a lightsomeness of mood which apparently has deceived the hon. Gentleman, and he would not have been deceived if he had had the advantage of partaking of the hospitality and personal knowledge of the gentleman whom he has quoted.
But let me put another case. We had these men here the other day as our guests. They had dined and spent weekends with dukes and consorted with the best-mannered people in this country, people who from the point of view of dignity and style and side have no superiors. There was no reason for regretting that these gentlemen were invited to the tables of these people. At any rate, they recorded to us that so far as they could discover their hosts were exceedingly pleased with their behaviour. And if that is so really what is the use of drawing all these comparisons? When Members of this House are paid we shall get men with financial failings, as we have got men with financial failings before they are paid. I hope we shall have fewer company directors, because that form of paying oneself for being here will, I trust, before long become, if not illegal, at any rate so frowned upon by honest and 1408 honourable men that it will not be pursued with the same freedom that it is pursued now.
This brings me to my final point. It is a profound mistake for the hon. Gentleman to assume that you have not got payment of Members now. You have payment of Members now; you have payment by the classes to whom the Members belong. I wish to refer to a significant expression which the hon. Gentleman used. He said:—If this is done, it cannot be undone. The reason why it cannot be done is this: When we, who sit on this side of the House come into office, we will not be able to move that this Resolution be no longer operative, because they will tell us we are driving our opponents out of the House.But if the undoing of this Resolution would be driving their opponents out of the House, is not the failure to pass it keeping your opponents out of the House?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
But it surely cannot bring a worse type of Member than my hon. Friends. Let me say quite frankly that I doubt if there are two Members who would be here if they were not paid to be here, and therefore my remark is a perfectly proper one. Consequently, I repeat my argument that the persons who are going to come in are not going to be persons of low moral character, they are not going to be undesirable persons, but they are going to be the type of men who cannot get in here now, because when you are in here you have to live on your wits by being a company promoter, a lawyer, a half-pay officer, the son of a rich father, or that rich father himself. Consequently the people who are going to be driven out are not people who are undesirable, but people who are representative, and that is the point. Until the door is sufficiently opened by my right hon. Friend's Resolution, these people cannot come here unless they are Members of this Irish party, or Members of our own party. There is one point that I will deal with in a second. I must deal with it, because probably nobody else can deal with it in the same way. The hon. Members said something about the Osborne Judgment. There was no attempt at bargaining over that. He said at the beginning that the principle involved in the payment of Members must be justified or 1409 condemned. That ground is a totally different one from that upon which the Osborne decision has got to be justified or condemned. I accept every word my hon. Friend said in that respect. The trade unionists were driven by the sheer necessity of the circumstances to lay their heads and their funds together for the purpose of paying certain out-of-pocket expenses for the men. Theoretically, I have never justified that. I am not going to do it now. All I say is that if this House neglected to do its duty, then things had to be strained in order that the representative character of this House should be maintained. I welcomed certain things that happened which compelled this House to face its own responsibilities to tear its eyes away from trade unions for the fulfilling of the responsibilities which this House ought to do itself.
We have said all along that we desire the reversal of the Osborne Judgment, not that trade unions may pay Members, but that they may be able to do certain other things. We desire the payment of Members, because we maintain that this House, with its changed functions, widened field of operations, increased nearness to the lives of the common people must be representatives of the common people, and that their representatives ought not to be asked to come here as the private and secret pensioners of political parties, having their election expenses paid by the party opposite, or the party on this side, and when they are sent out into the country to take part at by-elections receiving fees in order to enable them to remain here—kept here on secret party funds, the subscribers to which cannot be published in the light of open day. I say that is the sort of thing that is going to degrade working men. That is the sort of thing that is going to degrade not only the working man, but the professional man, or the labourer. The man who comes in under these circumstances, belonging to either party, is the man who is going to degrade public life and lower the character of the House. If we are going to come here, we are going to be paid by the State for services done for the State in the open light of day, our Constituencies knowing precisely what we get, how we get it, and examining our operations here in justification of the way we get it. It is because I believe that will raise the dignity of the House, rather than lower it, it is because I believe that when 1410 we are paid we shall feel as proud as we do now of being Members of this House, sharing in its discussions, and taking part in its work, that I will give my heartiest support to the Resolution moved by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I think everyone will agree with me in congratulating the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), the Leader of the Labour party, on the sustained argument which he has put before the House. The hon. Member denounced the present practices on the part of both parties of paying the expenses of candidates and possibly more than their expenses. Does he mean to assure the House that all that will be done away with by the payment of a salary of £400 a year? It seemed to me that the hon. Member all through his speech was proving too much. He ought to have outlined the whole of his policy, and the Government ought to have cut-lined the whole of their policy. The hon. Member said that the main argument for paying Members of Parliament for services which hitherto have been gratuitously rendered is that private Members nowadays are really very much in the position of Ministers—in fact, he could not see the difference between a private Member who really devoted himself to the work and the Minister who is responsible for the work. Well, there is the whole difference in the responsibility which is borne by Ministers and the irresponsibility, except to Ms Constituency, of the Member of Parliament. If the hon. Member is going to argue that his work as a private Member is equal to the work and responsibility of a Minister, it is not £400 a year he must ask for. He ought to come down and ask that private Members who do an equivalent amount of work shall be paid at the same rate and receive the same emoluments. Is the House prepared for anything of that kind? The hon. Gentleman, who is a traveller himself, tells us very truly that we should all be better Members of Parliament if we occasionally travelled to the Dominions of His Majesty and also to other countries. Does he think that the man who is now coming into the House, and to whom the door of the House has been barred and bolted hitherto, is going to travel to Australia, India, go up through China, and pass over Europe? Does he think that man is going to do this on the magnificent salary of £400 a year?
1411 Let the argument be carried to its logical conclusion. If we are going to have this House composed entirely of professional politicians, and if none of them are to be men engaged in any business of any kind, if they are all to devote, as he argued, the whole of their time to the service of this House, let us understand whether that is the policy advocated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or whether, at all events, it is the policy which he intends to initiate to-day and to prosecute some other day. If so, then we shall have to say a good deal about the cost of the scheme. I could not help observing that there was a singular absence in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of any attempt to estimate the cost of this new method of payment of Members of Parliament. I do think the Chancellor of the Exchquer ought to have made some little mention of this matter in his election address. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) says: "Oh, of course, there was a mandate for this. There is no doubt about it. I put it in my election address." The hon. Gentleman put it in his election address, but how many hon. Members opposite did so? Not fifty of the whole party, and most of them, or half of them, were Members of the Labour party. How many Cabinet Ministers informed the country that they were going to propose an entirely new system of paying Members of Parliament? I believe there were three, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not one of them, and yet the proposal mostly concerned him. We are told that because a mere handful of Members mentioned this question in their election addresses, although scarcely a Cabinet Minister did it, we are to take it that the country gave a mandate for what is nothing short of another revolution. Supposing that the party to which I belong were returned to power and to put in their programme compulsory training for military service, supposing that thirty or forty candidates put that in their election addresses, and that none representing the Cabinet had mentioned it, would the hon. Member for Leicester say that we had a mandate from the country for imposing compulsory military service?
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
Yes, certainly, if the Prime Minister of the day said before the election: "If you return me, I will impose compulsory military service."
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
We know now when the people of the country are supposed to be possessed of information as to the intentions of Ministers when they get into power. If the Prime Minister chooses in one sentence in a sidelong way—in a sort of periphrasis—to say, "If you return me to power, I will propose compulsory military service," if the Prime Minister were to put it in one speech, and if a few others were to put it in their election addresses, would it be right to say we had a mandate to produce something like a revolution in His Majesty's military service? I am sure the hon. Member would be the very first person to take up the attitude taken by my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment. He would be the first person to say, "Whatever the merits or demerits of your proposal may be, you ought to have put this before the country fairly and squarely, and you ought to have given the people the opportunity of saying whether they desired the great change which you advocate." I am one of those who have always been in favour of the great principle of gratuitous public service The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that you do not have gratuitous public service now in the Army or in the Navy. We do not apply that principle of gratuitous public service to the professions. You enter a profession in order to have some career before you and some means of livelihood. But what we say is that this great principle of gratuitous public service has for over a century been one of the great guiding principles in all the administration of our affairs not only here but throughout the country. I believe that it has encouraged those who have leisure to give that leisure for the good of their country and of their fellow-men. It has inculcated this great principle in English politics: instead of looking to see what they can get out of it for themselves, they look to see what they can give out of their leisure and of their talents to their country.
For my part I sincerely believe that if we change this principle at the top, and if we set the example in the House of Commons of abolishing this system of gratuitous public service and turn ourselves into a salaried body, we shall break down that principle throughout the country, and we shall alter the tone of our relationship to our constituencies and do much more harm than any good that could possibly result. It would be better to arrive at some honourable method by which hon. Gentlemen who represent labour may be admitted into 1413 this House. I am heartily glad that there is such a large representation of labour in this House. I should like to see it increased, and not decreased. But I will ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to sympathise with our position, that while many of us would like to see some means by which men not rich in this world's goods might find it easier to get into this House, yet we are not willing to break down this great principle of gratuitous public service and force salaries on a great majority of Members of Parliament who do not desire them, because they believe that it is not for the good of the constituencies or the good of the country. What ease has been made out for so great a change? The Chancellor of the Exchequer says that physically, before his eyes, the whole tone and quality of work in this House have improved and advanced. I have had myself the honour of sitting in this House now for over twenty years. I know from my own experience that that is so. The quality of this House is certainly better, so far as ability and knowledge, experience and debating power go, than any House in which I ever sat. Nobody can say, if he looks over the Statute Book, that social legislation has been long delayed, or that social legislation when it has come has not been well done by Members of this House.
The present system has produced an ample supply of men of character, of independence, of knowledge, and of experience. I do not believe that the country suffers as some hon. Members would make out, and as the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself makes out, from the loss of men who would possess incalculable knowledge and be of incalculable benefit in this assembly. I believe that if these geniuses are about, and if they are to be found in any locality, you could not get them for £400 a year. With parties so anxious as they are at the present time to recruit their ranks from men of ability and knowledge and with these wonderfully great gifts and great abilities, I believe there are many ways by which these men, with those extraordinary and brilliant talents, can be got into this House. I cannot help thinking, if the hon. Member for Leicester informed the Chief Whip on the other side that he was aware of the existence of some men endowed with these marvellous capacities and of such incalculable benefit to this assembly that he would be a great rival of my Noble Friend the Member for Chorley in obtaining the services of those young men as Members in 1414 this House. I think that probably we may lose at the present time some talent, but it is probably a gain to the localities, and I am not sure that it would be a good thing to drain from the localities all the best of the ability and talents. What we want in this House is not more talkers but more thinkers. I think that the oratorical surface water is often a great hindrance to legislation, and what we want are the deep springs of thought and deep down knowledge.
Are we going to increase the supply of that by paying ambitious young politicians £400 a year? I believe that this policy if ever adopted is much more likely to increase the ranks of the talkers than the thinkers. Everyone of those gentlemen, relying as he will have to do to a very large extent on that £400 a year will naturally cast his eye more upon the reporters' gallery than upon the Chair. He will be almost bound to advertise himself in order that his salary of £400 a year may be something in the nature of a permanent salary. I am not one of those who ever did use the argument that £400 or £200 or £1,000 a year, or any other sum being paid to Members is likely to increase the risk of corruption in the country. I am still an optimist, though the Government make it very hard for me at times to be so. I believe that education and public opinion are all making for pure public life in the country, and I do not believe that corruption is likely to ensue from the mere payment of Members of Parliament. But I think that a loss of independence will ensue. The hon. Member for Leicester admitted that there is corruption in the United States Legislature, and he asked if the salary were done away with there, would anyone here say that that corruption had ceased. He really invited one to enter upon a region in which there can only be prophecy. All we do know is that our Members of Parliament are not paid and that there is no corruption, and that there they are paid, and that there is corruption. That is all we know. I do not think it was worth his while to put that question to anybody, because I cannot conceive how anybody could answer that question. I said I believed there would be some considerable loss of independence if Members were paid. We are supposing that owing to our voting a salary of £400 a year, a great number of men who could not otherwise exist in this House are induced to come into it. Then what is their position? A year or so before an election they want to 1415 use their independence. Some new subject has come into the party like Home Rule in the opposite party, or Tariff Reform in the party to which I belong. They want to vote against the majority of the supporters of the Government for the time being. They have not made up their minds in the same direction as their chiefs and as their Whips. What is going to be the position? The party Whip has them in the hollow of his hand.
He would be able to say to that man: "You are just beginning to get a foothold on this Parliamentary ladder; you are an ambitious man, I shall not run you at the next election, and that £400 a year on which you are relying will no longer be yours." That is quite possible. [An HON. MEMBER: "Impossible."] I will leave it to the House to say whether it is possible or impossible, whether in the great tension that would then exist and the great excitement as to whether the Government were going to be put out or not, it would be impossible to bring this kind of pressure to bear on men who, if you deprived them of their salaries, drop off that ladder on which they so earnestly desire to rise, and which would deprive them of something more than that—the ambition of a position in their own homes, with their own wives and families, which they earnestly desire to retain. I believe that would make the country less and not more independent. I believe that, on the whole, this system of gratuitous public service has worked well, and has produced men of character, ability, knowledge, and experience that it is a dangerous thing to alter it, and that by altering it the country is not likely to be better, but would be worse served by the new plan of getting men to enter this House under the inducement of paying a salary of £400 a year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said little or nothing about the cost. He seems to approach all new taxation with a gay and lively heart. I wish I had the same gaiety and the same buoyancy when I approach the question of taxation, whether of the ratepayers or of the taxpayer. On that question, indeed, I am not an optimist. I have become a pessimist. Yet the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a light-hearted way, is adding £250,000 a year to a present taxation; £250,000 continued over five years is £1,250,000, which is a fairly substantial sum to draw from the pockets of the taxpayers.
1416 If this House is to be paid, what about the Second Chamber? It will not rest there. Hon. Gentlemen opposite hold the view that there ought to be a Second Chamber. At all events, they have not at present opened their hearts to the constituencies and informed them that the Preamble to the Parliament Bill was only meant to deceive. At present they lead people to believe that they share the views of the Foreign Minister that there ought to be a Second Chamber in this country. Holding that view, I do not think they will deny that they will say that the majority of that Second Chamber ought to be elected, and not even selected, and ought to be representative of all classes of the people, including the working classes. If that is so, then the Second Chamber also will have to be paid. Say there are only 400 Members: we can hardly give them less than ourselves. But, taking 400 at £400 a year, you will have nearly half a million instead of a quarter of a million per annum to be found by the taxpayer. But the policy of the opposite party is to invent yet more Houses of Parliament. There were two Houses proposed in the former Home-Rule Bill, but I do not know whether there are to be one or two in the coming Home Rule Bill. Then I am told that in a very short time there is floating into this House a Home Rule Bill for Scotland. I am not in the secrets of the party, so I do not know whether they are going to copy the Colonial Constitution, and give Scotland two Houses, or whether poor little Scotland will have to do with only one. [An HON. MEMBER: "We want only one."] Some hon. Gentleman—I do not know whether he is the future Prime Minister of Scotland—says that they want only one. I am going to presume that they copy the other constitutions of the Colonies, and that they will have two Houses for Scotland. How long will Wales be waiting for its two Parliament Houses? And then, all these being part of the federal system, there must be two Houses over them all to which they all will come.
So that shortly we are to have ten Houses, the members of all of which are all to be paid handsome salaries of £400 a year. That is a pretty little Bill, amounting to many millions a year. I do not see anyone representing the Treasury present, but I think it is well worth while to have this argument developed. Then we all know that there is an opinion that returning officers' expenses, after all, ought not to fall wholly upon the candidate. That opinion, to a certain extent, is shared on 1417 this side, and I rather think I agree with it myself. That quarter of a million is only a decoy duck. It is nothing to that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to lead us into. We are to have returning officers' expenses for Members of Parliament elected to ten different Houses, and they will all have travelling expenses. They all ought to travel, we were told by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), because he will admit to the House no one who is connected with any bank or company or place of business; he must give his whole time to the work. Let the Chancellor of the Exchequer put up the Bill before us and before the country. We want to know what it is going to amount to. I think that when the Bill is put up I will not even be sure of his buoyancy. I am not sure he will not have rather a shock himself, though I admit it is difficult to shock him. Now, another Member ridiculed the idea that there would be any demand for payment of members of local bodies because we have salaries for ourselves. It is quite ridiculous, of course; the work of this House is so aborbing compared with the work of the county council. The county council member, after all, does his work somewhere near his home. Somebody will go and see him and consult him whether or not to enter into a contract. Let me give a little of my experience in that respect. I have had the great advantage of having been both Secretary to the Treasury and Chairman of the Finance Committee of the London County Council, and I tell the House candidly that if you do your duty as Chairman of the Finance Committee to such a body as the London County Council you will find the work as I found it, every bit as hard, onerous, and responsible, and it took as much out of me, as the work of the Secretary to the Treasury. Of course the Secretary to the Treasury has a highly paid staff; he can press a button and a man cleverer and better informed than he is comes into the room and prompts him in all he has got to say in this House. I am not allowed even a typewriter in my position as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the London County Council. That is not the only position of the kind. There is a gentleman who presides over the whole of the education work. There is another who presides over the £10,000,000 capital invested in the London tramways.
I have seen it for over twenty years in this House and five years on the London County Council, and I say, if a man really 1418 does his duty to the London County Council, he does as much work as the average Member of this House. Let me say also that he cannot do it in the evening hour, though he may sometimes do it both in the evening and in the midnight hour. All-night sittings are not uncommon on the London County Council. We have no bar there, neither have we a cup of tea. After all, I believe that demand will arise if this House votes itself salaries, and particularly if it is unconditional, because, as I understand, all we have to do is to take the oath and sign the book, and we go on to take £400 a year, though we may not appear again during the five years, and we stop away for the whole of the rest of the time. Some Members do that now. I know hon. Members who scarcely attend the House once in two or three years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] I do not know whether any condition is going to be imposed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Which side?"] [Other HON. MEMBERS: "Both sides."] You had better not ask the names—both sides. [HON. MEMBERS: "Name, name."] They may have had excuses. But will the Government consider whether they will attach any conditions or not, or whether we will simply be allowed to take the £400 a year without taking any part in the work of the House. I say that would aggravate the conditions under which other bodies work. Do we put in more time than the members of the London County Council, who are paid nothing for it? Are we to get £400 a year for occasionally looking in here, hearing a few speeches, and then, when tired, going away?
All these things will have to be considered. I believe that once you break in upon our present system you are going to find it very difficult to man some of our most important public bodies. On the London County Council the strain is greater than ever; it is more and more difficult to get good local men, and recollect that election expenses are very heavy. I say a situation will be created that will call for practical statesmanship, and in the end, if we admit the principle for ourselves, I do not say we shall have to admit the principle for ourselves, I do not say we shall have to admit it for all public bodies, but we will very likely have to admit it in a modified degree for some of the more important public bodies, where the work takes most of a man's time, energies, and thought. After all, these are considerations which this House ought not to lose sight of. I do not base my own 1419 strong objection to payment of Members of Parliament so much upon the cost as upon the fact that I do not believe you are going to get into this House a better representation, a better body of men under the new paid system, than you have had during the last twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years. The system which denies M. P.'s any salary gives them the glorious and honourable position of being associated with their constituents as men who are not paid, who seek no reward in that way, and who give their services freely to their constituents because they are bred up to it, because it is bred in their bones, because it is the great tradition of this country that they should give out of their leisure and their means for the service of their fellow countrymen.
Mr. CHARLES FENWICK
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has devoted a considerable portion of his speech to the question of a mandate. He declared that the Government had no mandate for the, question now before the House. He told us also that in his opinion not fifty Members on this side included payment of members in their election addresses. I will make this frank confession, that so far as I am concerned personally I did nothing of the kind. At all events, whether the Members of the Government included payment of Members or not, they did not expressly exclude payment of Members, as did the party to which he belongs, in the year 1900, with respect to the Education Act and the Licensing Act. They expressly ruled out these questions from their programme and from the cognisance of Parliament and then they dealt with them. I do not intend to follow the right hon. Gentleman in his speech, but I should like to congratulate the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and through him all the Government, for the courage which they displayed in bringing this subject before Parliament and before the country. It is now, I am almost ashamed to say it, twenty-three years since I first brought this subject up in the House of Commons, and in season and out of season throughout the whole of the twenty-six years I have been in the House I have endeavoured to keep the question alive, sometimes with ill fortune, and other times with good fortune, in so far as I was able to carry a majority of the House with me or not. The Chancellor of the Exchequer on this occasion, it seems to me, will be much more fortunate than I was, 1420 because even when I got a majority I was not able to give effect to it. He will get a majority, I presume, to-night, and on Monday he will be able to give practical effect to it. I listened with a great deal of attention to the speech of the Mover of the Amendment, and I may say at the same time I have listened to it with a great deal of regret, more especially to some observations which he felt himself called upon to make in the course of it. Speaking of the character of the representation we were likely to get when payment of Members was established, he referred to them as something in the nature of professional politicians, just as we got now in the case of both parties in their agents who stumped the country in support of their candidates.
I have already said I have been now twenty-six years a Member of this House, and no man can be a Member of this House for that length of time without his powers of discernment being completely obscured, and fail to see that we have that character with us now. The professional politician is a living entity at this moment. I do not wish to be offensive or to speak disrespectfully of Members on either side of the House, but I have witnessed and noticed the professional politician on both the Front Benches whether it be a Liberal or Conservative Ministry that is in office. It is not the backwoodsmen, not the back bench men, who are usually professional politicians; it is men, many of them, who occupy scats on the Front Opposition and Front Treasury Benches that are professional politicians. Although that is perfectly true, I do not think anyone will deny that it is equally true when I say this, from the abundance of my experience, of the machinery of this. House, that it is with the greatest difficulty we can secure the services of the Front, Opposition Benchmen upon any of our Public and Private Bill Committees. There are Members on both sides of this House many of whom give four days a week to Committee work, serving from three to four hours a day, either in the Grand Committee or in Private Bill Committee, and unless the Bill under consideration relates to a Department over which the ex-Minister has had charge, and expects probably to take the charge again, it is almost impossible to persuade him to serve on that Committee. I have served the House for many years as a Member of the Committee of Selection. For the last two or three years I have had the honour of serving as Chairman of that 1421 Committee, and I tell the House from my experience that it is with the utmost possible difficulty that we can get these Gentlemen who have been in office and who expect to be in office again to take their fair share of the work either in the Grand Committees or Private Bill Committees. The right hon. Gentleman went further, indeed, he went so far as to say that if we give up the principle of gratuitous service and take up the principle of payment of Members, not only shall we have the professional politician, but the tendency of that will be to reflect upon the dignity of this House. It it well known in this House that there are between forty and forty-five of us here who are here because they are paid, and who could not be here unless they were paid. I should like to ask him or any of his colleagues who have taken part in this Debate what evidence is there to show that the class of representatives drawn from the working classes is likely, by reason of the payment of £400 a year to be different in character from the men who now occupy the Labour Benches. I say the observation of the hon. and gallant Gentleman was unworthy of him, and reflected ungenerously upon the reputation of my hon. colleagues who sit round about me. To the credit of Labour Members, and to the credit especially of the Labour party, no one, I think, can successfully charge them with having done anything to interfere with the dignity of this House. The traditions of Parliament are just as generously guarded by us who are in receipt of pay as they are by hon. Members in any other quarter of the House, no matter where they sit.
§ Mr. LEE
The hon. Gentleman has referred rather pointedly to me, and is misrepresenting what I meant. What I said was that under the system of payment of Members a very large proportion of hon. Gentlemen now sitting on the Labour Benches would not be returned to this House, but would be shouldered out by professional politicians.
I am glad to have the hon. and gallant Gentleman's explanation, but I do not agree with him. I will tell him why. I think the probabilities are that you will find more Labour Members than we have now if payment of Members is established, and you will have men more independent than are the general bulk of Labour Members at the present time. Some of us have had experience; some of us have had to maintain our in- 1422 dependence, and at considerable personal sacrifice. At the same time, I must confess that whatever personal sacrifice we have had to make, my honest belief is that in future, with payment of Members you will have a larger proportion of Labour Members in this House exercising greater independence than ever they have done. I was pleased to hear my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer insisting upon the idea that with payment of Members you must in future have men regarding themselves, not as the representatives of a special or particular class, but as representatives who must look after the interest of their 'Constituencies, and do the best they can to promote those interests. We must take a wider and broader view of the responsibilities which are cast upon us, and when we are free from any financial obligation to our constituents and depending upon the State for our support, I expect that in future more men of sterling independence will be found who will not give in to this particular body or the other, but will follow the guidance of their own individual conscience. I have already told the House the interest I have taken in this question ever since I first entered Parliament in 1886. Perhaps more surprising than anything else in the whole of my experience is the fact that the strongest opponents of payment of Members have been those who cither themselves personally or their relatives have drawn most heavily upon the public funds of this country. When I first raised this question I was opposed—I will not mention any names—by one who was in receipt of a very handsome pension, and died, leaving estate worth nearly £100,000. He drew his pension for many years, and he steadily voted against my Resolution. On one occasion I was called upon by a friend of mine, I am sorry to say no longer living, and who was an opponent of mine. He said, "Well, Fenwick, if payment of Members were intended for yourself and your colleague"—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Morpeth—"I should vote for it at once," but he could not vote for it as it was to be extended to all the Members of the House. Yet he himself at that moment was in receipt of the pension of £1,600 a year, and was one of the strongest opponents of this proposal. I repeat that those most strongly opposed to payment of Members are those who have been drawing most from the public funds of the country, and decency itself, it seems to me, ought to have warranted their silence.
1423 It is unfair to tell us, it is not true to tell us, as we have been told, that the Members on that side of the House are altogether opposed to payment of Members. We have had some very recent experience to show that there is a considerable division on that side of the House on this subject. I remember that on the second occasion when I brought this question before the House, on the following morning I received an anonymous letter from a Member of the Tory party, urging me not to be discouraged by my want of success, and assuring me that there was a considerable number of Members on his side of the House who were equally favourable to the principle of my Resolution, but were only restrained from voting by party considerations. Are there hon. Members who will to-night vote against this Resolution simply on party grounds? What are the opinions of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) with respect to this Resolution? We know how strongly he wrote to the Press urging the leaders of his party to take up the question at the time of the last General Election. What is the attitude of the Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding) to-day in reference to this question? We know what he had to say in a letter which he wrote to the newspapers on the 26th September last. What has the Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool (Mr. Watson Rutherford) to say on this question? The Member for the West Derby Division of Liverpool issued what he called a Tory Democratic programme in which he said that Members of Parliament should have free railway travelling to and from the House of Commons, and be paid a reasonable stipend. Then he went on to say—The days are prone by when more wealth ran be a qualification for Parliament, or the absence of it any bar.On previous occasions we have been told that there was no difficulty on the part of the industrial classes of this country in finding representation in this House. All that they had got to do was to club together their pence and their shillings, and they would be then able to support their own representatives in the House of Commons. That might have been proved at that time, though I consider that it never was fair that the Labour party should be considered the only one which was to tax itself in order to find representation in this House. But now that 1424 condition of things is entirely altered. The declaration of the law which has been altered from what we considered it was for very many years, makes it impossible for us to collect subscriptions either compulsorily or voluntarily from members of our trade associations in order to gain representations in this House. [An Hon. MEMBER: "NO."] But it does. At any rate, the hon. and learned Gentleman, if he takes part in this Debate, I hope will be able to enlighten us on that point, and tell us how we can proceed either voluntarily or by compulsion to obtain subscriptions from members of our trade societies in order to pay their Members in this House. We cannot now take that line of action. It has been rendered absolutely impossible to us, and unless we carry this Resolution for payment of Members a large number of us on these benches will have to clear out of the place altogether. One speaker opposite who preceded me in the course of this Debate declared that he would like to see the number of labour representatives in Parliament considerably increased. I am not sure whether he did not say doubled, but certainly he expressed his desire to see the number considerably increased. That cannot be, in my judgment unless we have payment of Members established. There has been hurled at us the accusation that members of the Labour party—I resent the accusation as strongly as I possibly can—that the Labour Members are anxious to take money by means of a principle such as this out of the pockets of the taxpayers in order to put it into their own. That is an unworthy accusation, and unworthy especially of those who make it. It ought never in my judgment to have come from such a quarter. I have always said that I think the Government would be very much more successful in their action than I ever was in dealing with this question. In doing so they need not be afraid at all of the results that are likely to follow, for on the highest opinion and authority of some of our best Colonial legislators, the principle in the Australian Parliaments, at all events, has been attended with great good to the country and to all it concerns. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said that if payment of Members is established little taxes would have a tendency to increase. I do not think that this is one of the taxes which would be increased. Besides, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the keynote of his speech, gave the strongest possible reason why payment of Members has become a 1425 necessity. When I first entered this House an Autumn Session was the rarest thing imaginable, and now it has become a permanent institution whichever Government or party is in office. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] At that time Members were allowed to go on their holidays and rest quietly until Parliament reassembled again in the following year. No pressure was put upon them to address meetings during the recess, or very little pressure indeed. Now the pressure is continuous throughout the whole of the year, involving a considerable expense to Members of this House. Therefore I do consider that the sum that is named by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not excessive, and though twenty years ago I said that something like £350 per annum would meet the situation, the circumstances have so completely changed that I think the sum proposed is a reasonable sum, and I hope that it will be soon established as part of our Constitution.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I desire to point out an objection to payment of Members rather from another point of view than the one that has been already stated. Here we are upon this ocasion at the very first moment at which the House of Commons feels itself free from what it calls the thrall of the Peers bringing in a proposal for the purpose of paying its Members. I oppose the proposal because I know it is a matter that has never yet been before the country in any single way that I know of. It is perfectly true that certain Members mentioned the matter casually, but in my part of the country not a single Liberal Member even went so far as to mention the question of payment of Members in his election address. It really is too ridiculous. We come in here day after day when some big measure is brought in, and we are told that that is the measure on which the election was held, that it is the people's will, and the one particular thing which they wanted. One day it is Home Rule, and the next day it is the Budget, and then it is Free Trade, and then it is the Veto. It would really be interesting to know on what the election was held, but of one thing I am perfectly positive, and that is that it was not held, in Scotland, at all events, on the question of payment of Members. I went through all the election addresses of the Scottish Liberal Members, and I do not think that one of them mentioned it at all. Take, for instance, the election address of 1426 the hon. Member for South Lanarkshire. He referred to Home Rule, and said:—The fear of Irish legislation need not have any deterrent effect upon electors of Liberal or free Trade tendencies at this election.Thus he touched upon Home Rule, and there would be some reason for bringing it up; but there was not one single Member that I could see that touched on the question of payment of Members. There certainly was not one Cabinet Minister who did so. We have got the Prime Minister for the national benefit, and he never said a word about it in his election address. We had the Secretary for War, who certainly never mentioned it, not that he wanted payment of Members as far as he was concerned. You have got the Chancellor of the Exchequer, did he put it in his election address?
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
The right hon. Gentleman's election address was issued in my Constituency as far as he could do it in the form of Form IV. I make no complaint. We had also the Chief Whip, and he said nothing about it, and the Home Secretary, in an address which was full of every sort of fantastic scheme you could possibly think of, or not think of, did not say a word as to payment of Members. He ended up with a good deal of "muddled malevolence." [HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] There is nothing wrong in that expression, it is not my own, it is the expression which the Home Secretary used in his election address. We know he issued a famous manifesto rather before the race started. He has a companion who sits in the Labour party, a distinguished politician, who put payment of Members in his address, and certainly I do not think that the omission of the mention of payment of Members could have been an oversight on the part of the Home Secretary. Take the hon. Member for Forfarshire. He got in on ploughmen's half-holidays, small holdings, and whether the election should be on a Saturday or a Thursday. Not a single Liberal Member mentioned payment of Members.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Master of Elibank)
I mentioned payment of Members at nearly all my meetings.
MARQUESS Of TULLIBARDINE
The right hon. Gentleman was careful not to commit himself in his election address, and that is the point.
§ MASTER of ELIBANK
The miners of Midlothian were perfectly aware that I was in favour of payment of Members because I had, speaking for myself, at many of my meetings suggested it as an alternative coarse to the complete reversal of the Osborne Judgment. The Noble Lord is correct when he says that I did not actually mention the subject in my last election address.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I do not know if the Labour Members are anxious to take it as an alternative. If so, it would make a great deal of difference as to my view of the question. There was not much political money in payment of Members so far as Scotland is concerned, otherwise I am certain that every single Member would have spoken of it. Their chief subjects were land legislation, Free Trade, black bread and offal. I am against the proposal, because I do not honestly think that it has been before the country. It is all very well after the election addresses are out, and at the last moment, to begin talking about payment of Members. Mixed up with talk about the Peers and the Veto and Free Trade, you cannot say that the people have had a proper chance of discussing it. I do not think we ought to spend this very large sum of money on this purpose. Some hon. Members say it is a mere flea-bite. It is more than you proposed for the promotion of small holdings in Scotland, about which we have been talking so much; it is a great deal of money. I am against the sum of £400 because I do not think there is any principle in it. How is the sum arrived at? It is certainly not enough to attract first-class brains to come into Parliament. Such people could still do better outside. It is too much for a fool, and it is not enough, as the hon. Member for Leicester pointed out, on "which to live in comfort for most people. I must say I have had very little support from hon. Members opposite when I have been trying to get certain adjutants of Yeomanry more than £100 a year when they have got nothing else. I cannot see really that it is going to have the effect which hon. Members opposite, quite rightly, I think, desire, of helping to get more Labour Members into the House. I think it is going to have the opposite effect, and I think that is why the Liberal party did it. [An. Hon. MEMBER: "We will risk it."]
Some little time ago the hon. Member for Leicester explained that certain of the parties, old established parties, and he 1428 might have added other parties, had certain sums and had invested funds to defray the election expenses of candidates, thus when they get them paid the small wage they would still be able to have the same control and keep their Members here. But the Labour party are not in the same position. It would be very much better for them if the election expenses had been paid, for the working men would have been able, somewhere or other, to scrape enough together for them to subsist on in London. The Labour Members would not find any difficulty in getting together that sum, because it would be gathered every year, and would be sufficient to keep them here. It is, however, a very big demand on funds when perhaps you have three elections in two years. The election might come at a time when the labour funds, just as at present, are not very large, or as large as some hon. Members would like. I am perfectly certain, to use language familiar here recently, that you have been had. If it was intended, as I understood from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a sort of tip or grant-in-aid to hon. Members, such is only given to those who require it and in necessitous cases. It is not a sufficient payment all round, it is not sufficient to help those who are really hard up, and it does not help to get them into Parliament. I think obviously it would have been much better to have paid the cost of the railway journeys or something of that sort. I cannot see why some hon. Member opposite, who perhaps lives in the North of Scotland, should receive only £400, although he has very expensive railway journeys, while, possibly since the Budget, "poor" men like the hon. Member for the City of London, who has only to take the Twopency Tube or the Underground, and gets to his constituency for twopence or a penny, should receive the same sum. The other man has got to pay something like £8 to get to his constituency and back, so that really I do not think it works out fairly or helps people who are living at a distance as a great many of the working men Members are. There is another point. I am perfectly certain the matter will not end here. If you are going to have payment of Members, where are you to cease? There is the House of Lords. Hon. Members are talking a great deal to-day about making at least 500 new Peers. I do not know what the monopoly value of a Peer is at present; it has probably gone down a good deal. But no 1429 doubt some of those 500 who are to be created and to vote straight will have to receive salaries the same as Members in this House, and it is only fair that the salary should represent the interest on what they have paid for their titles.
MARQUESS of TULLIBARDINE
I am afraid that these matters at present do not affect our Chief Whip. But there is very little value in it at present, and I do not think the rate of interest would be high. If you pay this House you will have to pay the other. Then hon. Members opposite say that there is to be Home Rule for Scotland. Will they deny the Scottish Members what Members have here? Before the payment is made, I think the Scottish people ought to be consulted on the subject. The answer would probably be that the average Scotchman would prefer to keep his money in his own pocket. Then there are the county councils and the Territorial associations. I have frequently heard men say that they cannot afford to remain in the Territorial association because they have to travel thirty or forty miles by train. If you pay Members here you will logically have to pay all these different councils elsewhere. It is not a question of whether it is right or wrong. I am not suggesting that there will be corruption. But you must consider where the money is to come from. If you have to provide this money you will find it difficult to get all the money you want for the various social improvements about which Members are always talking. I do not think we ought to begin by paying ourselves, especially as the matter hag never been put to the country. I would like to see every Liberal Member go to his Constituents and say, "The question at issue is whether or not I shall put £400 into my own pocket." If that were done, I think very few of those who are in favour of the payment would come back here.
§ Sir JOHN BARRAN
The Noble Lord opposite has spent much time and anxiety of mind on the subject of what his colleagues did on the question of payment of Members at the last election. It may be some consolation to him to know that one, at any rate, of his opponents, namely, myself, made specific and definite reference to the question. If he had extended his researches he would probably have found that what was the case in regard to the right hon. Member for Midlothian 1430 (Master of Elibank) and myself was the case with many other Members, and that they gave their constituents clearly to understand that they would be entirely at liberty to deal with this question. On one point I am rather inclined to agree with. the Noble Lord. Considering the length of time that this topic has been before the country there has not been that amount of sane thought and discussion which its importance warrants, and there was a danger that we might drift into the position of enacting the Payment of Members without having quite thought out all its bearings and results. For that reason I welcome the opportunity for the perfectly frank expression of opinion which has been. afforded on the present occasion. Approaching the matter with that frankness, which is desirable, I say for myself that I accept the principle of the Payment of Members, but with a considerable measure of reluctance. I do not think that any Member of this House, and perhaps least of all those who are most convinced that a change in our system is necessary, can see the passing away of the purely voluntary system without a sigh of sentimental regret. No one pretends that that system was perfect, or that Members of this House under the old conditions were entirely single-minded and had a perfectly clear and crystal purpose in coining hero and in their action as Members. But I think that everyone appreciates the value of that great tradition of voluntary service in this country which has been nowhere more finely and more strikingly illustrated than in the service rendered in this House.
At the same time I regret that it has been impossible even to bring forward any suggestion for the blending of the principle of voluntary service with the principle of remunerated service; and that no one has found it possible even to adumbrate a method or scheme whereby the State might take over those obligations which at present rest on other shoulders, and do it in such a way as to lay no stigma on those who would in that way obtain assistance from the State instead of from the sources from which it at present comes. I should have been glad if such a proposal had been possible, because I am convinced that, whatever else payment of Members. may achieve, it will not bring us better personal service from any one individual in this House than is at present rendered by that individual in the cause of the State. But I frankly recognise that no workable suggestion does exist, perhaps 1431 no workable suggestion can exist, for combining the two principles. On the other hand we are faced by the plain and bald fact that, in the evolution of the political system of this country, a demand has arisen for the representation of every interest, and for the expression of every point of view, which can only be adequately satisfied by the presence in this House of men whose presence is absolutely indispensable if the House is to be an efficient organ of public service, but who cannot be here, as many of them frankly confess, unless they receive for the time given and the labour performed assistance from some quarter—assistance which is properly tendered to and most honourably received by them.
If that is recognised, and I think it is universally, it leads inevitably to the recognition of another fact, namely, that that being so, it is far better that the State should provide the means whereby those Members of Parliament can be here than that the means should be provided from their present source and through their present channels. I feel to the full the attractions of the principle of voluntary service. I recognise how fine and noble that principle in its highest form has been. I recognise that it has had one very great and beneficial effect on the public life of this country—I am speaking of a long period, of generations, even of centuries—namely, that it has again and again led men to stop merely the amassing of money and the thought of amassing money, in order that they might be free to give; and in that way it has prevented in this country the growth of certain of those evils which have been referred to as being present in the social life and legislatures of other countries. I feel all that fully. But I feel on the other hand the dangers which no sensible man can refuse to recognise—the danger that a precedent may be set up which may be made, rightly or wrongly, the basis of a claim for further remuneration in other directions, the danger of the professional politician, for what that is worth; and what to my mind is perhaps the greatest, the danger that the placing of this important sum in the hands of the great parties of the State may lead possibly to an increase in the grinding power of the party machine, which may very possibly shut out the in-dependent man, the man who deserves most to be here, for the very reason that the party machine having a large and certain permanent fund at its disposal, 1432 will have every inducement and temptation to increase the power of its caucus. I feel these dangers. I think they ought to be watched and most studiously guarded against. But when you have added them all together, I do not think they compare with or can for one moment overbear the supreme and dominating facts that Members of this House to a considerable extent are receiving and must receive assistance, that it is far better that the State should administer that assistance, and that payment of Members is the logical outcome and the climax or natural cap of forty years free education and a democratic system of government. That being so, it follows as a matter of course that I shall vote for this Resolution, but I shall do so with two reservations. The first has regard to the fact that there is no reference at present made to the payment of the expenses of the returning officer. I think a far stronger logical case can be made for the payment of those expenses than for the payment of the expenses of the Member after he has been returned, and in voting for the Resolution I shall ask for a distinct understanding that that other matter is not merely to be attended to with the least possible delay, but introduced with proper simultaneous safeguards against the abuse of this system, and for the protection of the electorate against merely vexatious candidatures, which may well arise from the combination of these two payments.
My other reservation has reference to the amount of the salary proposed. That is to be debated on another occasion, and I do not wish to refer to it at this moment further than to illustrate my own position. Payment of Members can be introduced on one of two principles. One is that the State is behaving like an individual or a company which goes into the market and endeavours to get at market price the best article it can obtain for its purpose. You may regard payment of Members as a bid for brains on those lines. On the other hand, you may regard payment of Members as merely the taking over by the State of those obligations which, under the present system rest on other shoulders. Whichever view you take of the principle underlying the present proposal, it appears to me that the sum suggested is equally inadequate. It falls between two stools. As a salary it is ridiculously low. No one will suggest that any man who does the work of this House fairly and 1433 conscientiously should properly receive so little as £400 a year. It is preposterous as a salary. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself virtually admitted that, "because," he said, "properly speaking it is not a salary, although it is true it is so described in this Motion." I think he referred to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, and he suggested that £400 a year was utterly inadequate for the service? rendered by that right hon. Gentleman to the House and to the country. I need not go any further in order to prove the inadequacy of the salary. If you take it on the other hand, merely as expenses, as allowance, I question for one thing whether it is not higher than it need be, and for another thing whether it is going to operate fairly. Speaking as a country Member, I would like to admit the force of what was said by the last speaker, when he compared himself with the position of a man coining from any part of Scotland, or the North of England to the position of a Member who lived in London or close to it, and not only has one establishment only to keep up, but has practically no travelling expenses.
I earnestly hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not closed his mind to the possibility of differentiation combined with a possible reduction in the amount which is proposed for the annual salary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer in these days does not have the experience of a request for a reduction of amount proposed so often that he should shrink from giving it fair consideration. I trust, therefore, that when he sees how far there is force of opinion behind this view in the House that he will undertake to consider whether that particular matter could not be rectified. It does not touch the principle, as to which I have made up my mind. Frankly, I accept it, and I believe if introduced with proper safeguards, if sustained by high views and the intrepid expression of opinion, and the conduct of every Member of this House, it is not going to bring any of those dangers of which we have heard this afternoon. It is going to give us, if not a better, at any rate a fuller, choice of men to serve their country in this House. Above all, it is in accordance with the natural evolution and development of our political institutions in this country.
§ Mr. DUKE
I cannot help but feel that there is a great deal to regret in the circumstances under which this discussion is 1434 raised upon this occasion. His Majesty's Government wind up one of the most memorable weeks in English history, in which they have broken the Prerogative for all practical and useful constitutional purposes, and broken down the credit of the Peerage, with a proposal to subsidise the House of Commons! That proposal is made in a speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer characterised by unusual gaiety. The hon. Gentleman, the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) referring to the right hon. Gentleman on the front Bench as making a lugubrious speech. I cannot help feeling that there was a great deal more practical sympathy and practical appreciation of the seriousness of this matter in the speech which one heard with so much intellectual delight from the hon. Member for Leicester than the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench. In the gaiety of the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we were urged on amid cheers, and laughter to make a raid upon the. Exchequer; that was not so in the corresponding speech.
I approach this subject with I am sure an earnest, a sincere desire, to see, as far as I can, whether the refusal of this proposal would mean banishment from this House of any one of the hon. Members below the Gangway on the opposite side whose services this House values. I confess if I believed that would be the result I should not vote against this proposal. But from long observation, and from a considerable period of experience in this House, I am convinced that no man whose services are desired by a constituency fails to find his way here. It is not the question of finding £400 apiece for any body of Members in this House that is at the root of this matter. The real question here is the conversion of our system of Government into a new system of Government in which this House becomes the Grand Council for the Government of the nation and the Supreme Government of the Empire with a properly apportioned and adequate remuneration for the great services which would belong to the Members of the Grand Council. Will anybody suggest that there is any proportion between the services which the Chancellor of the Exchequer described in almost grotesque proportions, and this pittance of £400 a year? Is there any of the Members to whom we have listened, and to whom we are accustomed to listen, from below the Gangway on the other side for whom £400 a year 1435 would be thought of as an adequate remuneration for the. services they render here or outside? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] Well, all I can say is that when hon. Members come here with the abilities they possess, and profess, only argumentatively—because I am sure it is not seriously professed—that something much less than £400 is what they can command in the market, they really know much better markets to which they can take their abilities.
Hon. Members are not here for the £400 a year or for any other remuneration. They are here for the services which they are able to render to the working classes of this country, of whom for the most part they are direct representatives. Is it accurate to say that there is no means of those hon. Members being retained in this House except by payment out of the Exchequer? It is absolutely inaccurate. Hon. Members are here, and have been here for years. That, in point of fact, is an answer. With regard to the other matter, every constituency which sends a Member to this House if it in truth values the services of that particular Member, if it in truth intends to be represented by that particular Member, is able with practically no sacrifice to secure those services. A penny a month on the part of 6,000 electors—and I suppose there is hardly a Member here who represents less than 6,000?—a penny a month on the part of each of them would give that representative £300 a year. [Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] I am not setting that up as an example necessarily to be followed. But we all know quite well that whether we are paid politicians or paid Members of any voluntary association that the one object of the member so paid is surely not that of money? That does not exhaust the matter. It is open to this House to authorise each of the constituencies of this country to pay its own Members. Is there any constituency in this country of which it is believed that if, at the present time, you put it to the poll of the electors in that constituency you could say of a certainty that it would decide to pay its Member? For my part I have the very gravest doubt on that subject. If I were satisfied that the constituencies of this country were ready to pay their Members—and it is a matter which rests entirely with the constituency——
§ Mr. DUKE
I do not quite follow the hon. Gentleman's interruption, and it would detract me from the train of thought that I desire to present as briefly as possible. There are two methods by which this suggestion of imperative necessity is defeated. It may well be that in the long run it will be found that some payment should be made to Members for their expenses. That is not what is proposed here. If what were proposed was that a constituency, subject to proper regulations, should bear the burden of the returning officer's expenses, there would be some sense in it, and it would be very difficult to find a real answer to that proposal. If it were proposed that when a Member is in attendance here in London his expenses during his attendance should be borne either by his own constituency or out of the Exchequer, it would be a proposition which would be capable of being supported in argument as not making any great inroads upon the Constitution, but if you propose to pay the House of Commons and to pay those who are to be the supreme masters of the affairs of a great kingdom and Empire and to offer them payment which would bear a true relation to the great duties which devolve upon them, then I say this Resolution is a grotesque proposition and can only be presented as the precursor of some proposal for adequate remuneration to Members for the services they render here. I can conceive that were we to depart from a time-honoured system of Government, and break down the old system and establish a great council of the kingdom, proper regulations should be made by men who govern the kingdom for governing it. But we do not attend here as Ministers of the Crown, and there are grave reasons, therefore, why we should not receive money out of the Exchequer.
Right hon. Gentlemen who sit upon the Treasury Bench are men of great influence and authority, but, in fact, they are the servants of this House and of the constituencies which send us to this House to represent them, and you confuse the position of Ministers of the Crown with the position of those who share the Sovereignty of this country and direct the conduct of Ministers of the Crown, if you pay Ministers of the Crown with positions on the Treasury Bench at salaries at £5,000 a year, and if you pay the man who exercises the real power in the constituencies, out of the same fund as if they were servants of the Crown, with a pittance of £400 a year. This is a proposal for dealing with. 1437 the necessity which at the present time has not proved itself. It is really part of the scheme for altering the form and substance of the Government of the country. It is the last of them, and I must say it is the most far-reaching, but like the others it has not the sanction of the constituency and I venture to suggest just now if it were left to each constituency to rate itself for the payment of the services of its present esteemed Members many of us would go without our salaries.
That is a pretty good test if my calculation is accurate as to the real popularity which there is attending this proposal in the country, but I would not rest it upon popularity. It might well be that the Government were right in taking an unpopular course with regard to many great constitutional questions, but this is a constitutional question of the gravest kind and the Government might propose to decide it in advance of any expression of opinion from the people of this country. The time will come when they will have the opportunity of ascertaining whether the people of this country really desire their Members should be paid or not. For my own part I think in the present state of political opinion in this country the most likely result is that the constituencies will declare against payment of Members, and I very greatly suspect that the furtive manner in which this proposal has been introduced and the singular occasion upon which it is presented to the House of Commons, are really the result of this, that His Majesty's Government think it is a desirable and essential change, but that at the present time they have not the courage to take the verdict of the constituencies upon it.
§ Mr. WALTER M'LAREN
I desire to say a few words both upon the Motion before the House and also to explain the motives that induced me to put down the Amendment which stands in my name. I have listened to the whole of the Debate, and I confess that the speech of the hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, if you strip it of its exaggerations, awoke an echo in my sentiments. I deeply regret the necessity of having to resort to the payment of Members. My whole feelings are against it, and there was much that appealed to my sentiments in the speech of the hon. Gentleman, but when I come to analise the proposal, and I have thought over this question for a long time, I am compelled to come to the conclusion that while my feelings are so strongly against 1438 it it may also be my prejudices, and I am convinced that reason is in its favour. Therefore while I deplore that we have come to a period in our history that seem to favour this change I would gladly be spared the necessity of seeing it carried out, if possible. I also believe it might be carried out in a different manner. There is a precedent for giving pensions to ex-Cabinet Ministers of £l,200 a year when they make the declaration that they need it. I believe without any serious distinction being drawn between different Members of the House, a similar declaration might be made by those Members who need a salary. I do not think it would hurt them in any way. There is another side to this question raised by an hon. Member opposite, and that is whether a Member who is extremely irregular in his attendance is to be entitled to this salary. There was a Member of this House who went away for a long period to South Africa, and absented himself from Parliament. Such cases are extremely rare, but I think if such cases arose they should be dealt with. I do not say that payment of Members would deteriorate the House of Commons; if I thought so I would unhesitatingly vote against it. My own personal feelings are entirely against the proposal, yet I admit fully that the reasons are weighty in favour of it, and T do not, therefore, feel justified in voting against it.
With regard to the Amendment which I put down, I desire to say that as a matter of principle I do not think we would be justified in taxing women and making them pay towards our salaries. I frankly admit there is no way to avoid it if salaries are to be paid, because these salaries would come out of the common fund. But as one deeply interested in the movement of the enfranchisement of women, I do feel that we do an injustice to women in this matter. I have asked myself what I should personally do, I asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what portion of the taxes came out of the pockets of women. I did not get any information upon the subject. I shall endeavour, however to make my own calculation, and I shall give that portion of my salary which comes from the taxes paid by women towards the cause of women's suffrage. Supposing that portion came to £50, there are 400 of us in favour of the women suffrage movement, and if we all gave that proportion of our salaries towards that movement we should subscribe £20,000 a year to the cause of justice for women. 1439 I merely put in that protest. This question had attracted a good deal of attention outside, and I think it is desirable that such a protest should be made in order that the country may see that we are conscious that by this proposal we are actually going to saddle the women of the country with a small expense for our own benefit. Does the House know that in the Grand Committee on the Mines Bill fifteen men have deliberately taken away the means of livelihood of a large body of women workers on the pit-brow, and yet we are now proposing to take women's money to pay our own expenses. I put in that protest against the whole scheme, and I frankly confess that while I shall vote for this Resolution, I deeply regret the necessity for this Motion.
§ Mr. SANDYS
As I understand the hon. Member who has just spoken, he would prefer an arrangement for the payment of Members on a similar basis to that of the pensions which are allotted to Cabinet Ministers who declare that they are unable to maintain their position. I cannot agree with the hon. Member, and, in my opinion, the remedy he suggests appears worse than the evil. Although I am opposed myself to the principle of the payment of Members, I think the suggestion put forward by the hon. Member would lead to a great many difficulties and misunderstandings. A good deal has been said in the course of this Debate about the attitude taken up by the constituencies on this question at the last General Election. Personally I gave this question the most prominent place in my election address. At the last election I did not address a single meeting without fully explaining my views upon the payment of Members, and on some occasions I devoted the whole of my speech at the smaller meetings to laying my views on this important question before the electors. The result was that my majority was increased from 1,000 to 2.000, and I am told that the reason for this was that I took up such a very strong line of complete opposition to the proposal that Members of Parliament should receive payment.
§ Mr. SANDYS
Yes, they were very definitely before my constituency. With regard to the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he led us to believe that 1440 this proposal for the payment of Members was merely a reversion to the old practice which had been carried on in past generations in this country. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is very accurate in his history so far as this matter is concerned, and there is really no connection whatever between the present proposals that Members of Parliament should receive payment out of the public Exchequer to the system which prevailed at the end of the seventeenth century under which Members of Parliament received payment from their own constituencies. As a matter of fact, the conditions were quite different. At that time there was very little honour and a great deal of trouble involved in being a Member of Parliament and there, was great unwillingness to serve and also great unwillingness on the part of Constituencies to send a representative to Westminster at all. Under those circumstances some pecuniary advantages had to be held out to induce them to put up with the inconvenience of long journeys and the long absence from their business, estates, and homes. At the present time the conditions are perfectly different, and there is in this country a large class of well-to-do citizens who are only too anxious to give their time and service to their country in the House of Commons without any hope of pecuniary reward whatever, and wishing for nothing but the dignity and honour which rightly attaches to the Membership of this House. It is because of the fact that we have in this country at the present time this state of things that I am inclined to think that there is a danger by this proposal of destroying the enormous amount of unpaid public work which is one of our national characteristics and which arouses the admiration and excites the envy of many of the most intelligent of foreign critics who visit this country.
I think we should hesitate before we take any steps in the direction of destroying and undermining a public spirit which leads men to give gratuitous service for the benefit of their country. This is one of the most important assets we possess in England, and we possess it to a much larger extent than any other country in the world. We are told that one of the results of introducing this system of payment of Members will be that we shall get a larger number of working men included in this House, and that this House will become less "classy." That is not the experience of the United States. I will not trouble the House with a quota- 1441 tion which I have here from Mr. Bryce's "American Commonwealth," but I may say that he points out that the result of payment of members in America contributes to keeping up a class of professional politicians, whilst it does not in any way encourage the election of working men to the House of Representatives. Who is this new system going to attract? It is highly probable that it will attract the class from whom the professional politicians are usually recruited in other countries, namely, unsuccessful barristers, needy journalists, and the jack-of-all-trades and masters of none whom we find so largely represented in other legislatures. All this sort of people will come forward in order to try and get a seat in the House of Commons so long as their election expenses are paid by some political organisation. With regard to the question of election expenses it is evident that the Government are not in any way by this proposal attempting to remove the real obstacle which stands in the way of men with brains, determination, intelligence, and independence, of whom we have heard so much during this Debate, becoming Members of this House. Surely it is not Payment of Members which stands in the way, but the payment of election expenses. If election expenses could be reduced by Statute I think the real obstacle would be removed, no taxation upon the country would be required, and a very considerable proportion of the millions of money which are wasted upon election campaigns would be saved, and might be diverted to a more useful purpose. As a matter of fact, the Government have no intention of doing anything of the kind.
They are perfectly willing to provide a salary for their adherents out of the public purse. [HON. MEMBERS: "YOU are going to get it."] Oh, yes, but we do not want it; we are not asking for it. It is entirely for the benefit of hon. Members who sit on the other side of the House. The reason why they are determined not to touch this question of reducing election expenses, while they are willing to provide salaries for Members of Parliament out of the public fund, is apparent. They are determined to ensure the allegiance of their supporters. They are going to make it quite impossible for the poor man to get into Parliament unless he is willing to sacrifice his independence by receiving substantial assistance from some party organisation, and when they have got him here they intend to create a class of professional politician upon whom they can 1442 absolutely rely. Men of this character will be able to draw their salary from the National Exchequer, but they can only ensure their re-election, and they can only guarantee a continuance of their means of livelihood by the most complete and absolute surrender of their independence and by the most complete obedience to party discipline and organisation. I say not only will this tend to enormously increase the despotic power of party organisation, but in the end it must, I greatly fear, tend to lower the standard of public life in this country. We all remember the Panama scandals in France. They were brought about by the corrupt influences over the French Members of Parliament, and it is a well known fact—it has been time after time disclosed in the American Press—that railroad and other corporations have their lobbying influences over Members of the House of Representatives. We do not want that sort of thing to occur in this country. I cannot help recalling a remark which was made by Sir William Harcourt so long ago as 1871, when he said:—Once pay a Member for his votes collectively, and he will soon find a market for his individual vote"This was a very serious view to take of the situation. I hope and I trust it was an exaggerated view. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) in the course of his speech, put a query to Members sitting on this side of the House, which was answered by one of my hon. Friends. I should like to give another answer. The question was whether in the opinion of any Member sitting on this side of the House corruption would cease or tend to diminish in the American House of Representatives if the payment of Members was removed. The question reminded me of the story which was told of an American who was discussing this very question about the salaries of his Congress men, and who expressed his opinion that they would steal worse if they did not get it. Even if the consequences were not so disastrous as that, I feel confident this proposal, if carried into effect, must undermine such political independence as is still left. Look at the position of the man who is entirely dependent upon his £400 a year. He has given up the best years of his life to political service, and is consequently entirely unfitted for any other form of lucrative employment. Is a man like that going to risk his seat and salary by giving an unpopular vote? Surely the temptation to vote for safety will be very much stronger than it is at the present time.
1443 It is perfectly obvious, if you pay Members of Parliament, you cannot very well refuse to find adequate remuneration for the Members of the House of Lords for the execution of those responsible duties which we understand are assured to them under the provisions of the Parliament Bill, and, if, as we understand, large additions to the hereditary peerage are actually going to be made—creations which we are told are to be based on worth rather than on wealth—surely it is necessary we should face the situation at once and make adequate and proper provision for them. I cannot help thinking it would help them if they were assured of their quarterly cheque, and, what might appeal to the Government, I feel perfectly certain it would help to keep them straight. It has also been pointed out we must, perhaps not on such a generous scale, make some provision for our County Councillors, our Borough Councillors, our Urban District Councillors, and even our Parish Councillors. If you once admit the principle, surely all public work must be paid for according to what it happens to be worth. The question is: Where is the money to come from? Fortunately, the Prime Minister some years ago gave us a very interesting solution of the financial difficulty. Speaking on March 29, so long ago as 1899, on this very subject, he used these words:—The total charge involved would be about £250.000 a year. That sum might very easily be obtained without imposing any additional taxation. A small charge like this could be met by re-arranging the salaries upon a more moderate scale.I sincerely hope the right hon. Gentleman still intends to carry this admirable suggestion into effect, but I am bound to admit so far as I can see there is no tendency in this actual direction at present, because so far from reducing salaries I understand since they came into power the Government had created no less than about 4,000 new offices, costing the country about £750,000 a year. I hope Members of this House will give the most serious consideration to this question before they conic to a decision of a most momentous character and one which is bound to have the most far-reaching consequences. I think we who are Members of this House should hesitate long before we abandon this splendid tradition of unpaid public service, which has surely been one of the glories of public life in this country. It is this, I believe, which has through all the changes and vicissitudes 1444 of our national history enabled this House to retain the esteem and confidence of our own fellow-countrymen and at the same time to command a position of unique respect among the legislative assemblies of the world.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MUNRO-FERGUSON
I do not think the change proposed will have nearly such great or grave consequences as seems to be anticipated by many of the speakers to whom I have listened. It is a long time since I accepted the proposal for the payment of Members, and I am glad to find myself of the same opinion still. There has certainly been no want of warning to the constituencies, because there could not have been a plainer statement than that made by the Prime Minister before the last General Election, and many of us have advocated the payment of Members to our constituents, and it has so far as I have been able to judge been received with very general approval. I appreciate the value of gratuitous public service as much as any Member who has spoken. There will always be a vast field for gratuitous public service in this country, but, even in the gratuitous public service as we know it, there is assistance given in several directions. I sit on a county technical committee upon which any member can claim his travelling expenses. It is the same with an agricultural college with which I am associated, and, long ago, I urged that members of county councils should have their travelling expenses paid. I think it is highly desirable that that should be done. There may be some disadvantages in the payment of Members. No one could be less fond of the professional politician than I am. On the other hand there are considerable advantages, and whether we think that the disadvantages or the advantages predominate payment of Members has for many reasons become inevitable. There is too much difference in this House in the financial position of its Members. They are men doing exactly the same work, and there ought to be equality of opportunity. You cannot get that without payment of Members. No doubt much might be done by the payment of the returning officer's expenses. Indeed, I think that will have to be done, for it would result in great economy in the amount of money spent, at any rate in England, where registration work is done on a singularly extravagant and ill-regulated scale. That should form part of any final scheme. No doubt there might be some modification in the pro- 1445 posal to pay £400 a year, such as taking into consideration the railway expenses of those who live at a distance from London. On the whole, however, I think the proposal made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the best, and I support it most cordially. We have heard a great deal about the glories of gratuitous public service—sentiments which I reciprocate. But we have heard nothing of the system of the party fund which accompanies the glory of gratuitous public service. I know something about that subject, and I, for one, would like to see the system of party funds brought to an end. The only hope of attaining that is through some such policy as that now put before us by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I am bound to say that a man paid by the State will be in a far more independent position than one paid out of any sectional fund, or by a trade union, or in any other way that can be conceived. I believe that, under the system of payment of Members, you will, in actual circumstances, obtain a higher degree of independence than you reach under the present system of payment from party funds of individual expenditure or by receipt from other sources. My right hon. Friend the Member for the Wansbeck Division (Mr. Fen-wick) and I certainly are not accustomed to undervalue independence, and we have shown the value we attach to it, neither of us has altered his view on this subject during the last twenty-five years. I was in this House in 1884, and I have been a Member of successive Parliaments. I therefore know the weaknesses which attach to it, and I am firmly convinced that the change that will be brought about by the proposals of the Government will not be nearly so grave or serious as has been assumed by many Members. They certainly will not tend to bring in any form of corruption. I am glad to think that this Assembly is singularly pure, and I believe it will give that added independence to Members of Parliament which is cherished both by the House and by the constituencies. If anything could discredit a Member of Parliament with his constituents it would be a feeling that he did not possess that independence and that courage of his convictions which is essention to every Member of the House if he is to render any public service to be appreciated by his Constituency.
§ Mr. CAVE
I think all of us who have listened to the Debate to-night and who have listened to some of the Debates on 1446 the National Insurance Bill must have been struck with a certain contrast. A year ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that he intended to wage war against poverty, and, for that purpose, he raised an enormous sum by new taxation. In the Debates on the Insurance Bill he has, quite properly in most cases, husbanded his resources and has refused appeal after appeal for greater expenditure on such things as sickness benefit and other matters for the relief of poor people. But to-day, when a demand is made upon him for a quarter of a million of money to be paid, not to poor people, at all, but to Members of this House for work which they are able and willing to do for nothing he has promptly consented to that expenditure. I hope the public will note that fact. It seems absolutely wrong, if the funds are insufficient for the relief of sickness, that they should be at once forthcoming in order to pay for labour now rendered gratuitously, and rendered by ourselves. That leads me to make another preliminary observation, and it is one that weighs very strongly with me. I want the House to note that we are asked to vote money to go into our own pockets. This Resolution, if it passes in its present shape, will bring funds, not only to future Members of Parliament, not only to those whom you wish to bring into this House but to ourselves, to everyone who votes for the resolution and to everyone who is in the present House of Commons, and I think it is the worst possible example for this House to set to all others that Members now in this House should condescend to vote money to themselves. After all, we are here as the guardians of the public purse. Are we going to dip our own hands into it? We are trustees and dispensers of the public money. Are we going to pay it to ourselves? I appeal to hon. Members whether they really think, in a proposal of that kind, that we are adequate and proper and competent judges. No one can be a judge in his own case, and I think myself that this Resolution, if it be passed, ought at all events not to apply to Members of the present House, but only to those who may come into the House at some future time. I have put an Amendment down with a view to raising that special point, and I shall endeavour to take the sense of the House on it.
If we agree to vote this yearly sum of £250,000 to begin with—a sum which is certain to increase—what will be our answer to the next demand made upon us 1447 for money? If we say public funds will not bear the change, the retort will be obvious, "When it was a question of voting money for yourselves, you found the amount at once. Why, when we come to you for money for a public purpose, do you at once plead economy and want of funds?" The retort will be so strong that it will be difficult in many cases to resist it, and this expenditure may be an excuse, perhaps a, ground, for expenditure on even a larger scale. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his opening speech, saw the difficulty and attempted to meet it by pointing to cases where Ministers have voted against a reduction of their own salaries. Everyone knows the reason why that has been allowed. The reduction of a Minister's salary is moved, not in order to deprive him of the wretched £100, the amount of the reduction, but in order to raise some public question, and Speaker after Speaker has ruled that, as an exception to the general rule, a Minister may vote against a reduction of that kind, but on the express ground that he is voting on a public question and not really and truly upon the payment of his own salary. I think that answer disposes entirely of the argument put by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Then it is said it is all very well to say we are voting money for ourselves, but we have a mandate for the purpose from the people. I think the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) was the only one who used that argument. I noticed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressly said he could not say there was a mandate. He disclaimed any suggestion of a mandate, but he quoted a sentence used by the Prime Minister before the election. But does anyone say that that issue was really before the electorate? Does anyone say it appears in any substantial number of candidates' addresses? I read a good many addresses on the other side and I do not think I saw one where it was put forward in the address itself, and there was only a small number of such addresses where this particular plank in the platform appeared. I am certain no one would say that was a real issue at the election. It was not an issue upon which the electors voted. It has been stated time after time that the Parliament Bill was the issue at the election. Hon. Members opposite at all events cannot say that payment of Members was a matter which determined votes, and really, if one is to speak frankly 1448 and truly, is it suggested that the country voted upon this question? I should be astonished if any hon. Member opposite says "yes." The right hon. Gentleman said we work harder than we did, and therefore deserve to be paid. It is perfectly true that we work harder. We spend more time than our predecessors did, but we do all the extra work for nothing, and no one has grumbled at it. No one says it is badly done. But I do not think we shall work a bit harder as paid Members, nor do I think the increase of our work has been made a reason by anyone for demanding to be paid. It is said, "you will bring to the House candidates who cannot now become Members." The Chancellor of the Exchequer suggested that Members of the local bars, and country solicitors could not come to the House because they were too busy at home, and business men who carry on their business in the country were prevented from coming, but does anyone say that £400 a year will bring into this House men of that kind who are worth having? To not one of them would it make difference enough to enable him to come up to London and spend a great part of his year in the business of this House. £400 a year if it is looked upon as an engine for getting good men into the House, is worth nothing at all. The hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) suggested that Members ought to give their whole time. You will only get the less good men for this sum. If it brings into the House men of special training it will only bring inferior men who have not succeeded in their profession. I say that with the knowledge which we have of payment of Members in other countries.
Let me now deal with what I believe to be the real point of the whole proposal, which I frankly admit is a very serious and a very important one, and that is the question raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) whether this sum will enable more working men to come to the House. No one values more than I do the presence in the House of Labour Members who have a special knowledge of Labour subjects. In Debate after Debate, especially in those Debates in which we criticise the administration of the Home Departments, we have felt the great value of having in the House men with first hand knowledge of the subjects they have to deal with, and I think there is nobody in this part or in any part of the House who does not welcome the presence of Labour Members 1449 with special knowledge of that kind. But let me say that if in order to bring into the House forty or fifty Members of that kind you are going to pay 670, it is rather a curious way of doing things. I see the difficulty of discriminating. I do not think any of us in this quarter of the House would suggest that payment should only be made to a man who said he was in need of it, or would suggest any discrimination of that kind. But it does seem a somewhat extraordinary way of going about it to have to pay £250,000 in order that a tenth part of that sum, or less than a tenth part, should find its way into the hands of those who are in such a position as to require it. Is not the answer to this to be found in the experience of places where members are paid? The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) reminded us of the United States, where Members are paid and where there is but one working man in the whole assembly. In our Parliament, where we pay no one, we have forty or fifty working men, and therefore we should consider whether the payment of Members is a means of getting working men into the House. It seems to have the very opposite effect, and for a reason which I think we can understand by the study of other countries and of our own Colonies. The representation seems to be competed for by men of a different class, and by a different class I do not mean the working class of which I have been speaking, but men who come into the assembly for the sake of the income they will derive. You get the unsuccessful professional man, the man who has been unsuccessful in other branches, not the experienced Labour man, but the man of a type we do not get in the present House, and whom we would not welcome. I think you would bring about a result you do not desire, and you would not bring about the result which you do desire.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Wansbeck Division (Mr. Fenwick) said something which I ventured to question at the time because he put it in far too general terms. He said that under the law as it stands working men cannot make a collection, either compulsory or voluntary, for the purpose of sending Members to Parliament or bringing forward candidates. I differ from that statement. I do not think it accurately represents the law. It is quite true that as the law stands they cannot use the organisation of the unions for the purpose of making a collection of that kind, nor can they make a levy on 1450 their own members, nor can they use the headquarters of the union, which is organised for another purpose, in order to make this collection. But everybody knows that it is open to a trade union to form by the side of the union itself a voluntary organisation for political purposes. There is nothing in the world to prevent working men from attracting to that organisation the members of the union or all who desire to join, and levying on those members a voluntary contribution for the purpose of sending a Member to Parliament. It is done in Australia, and it can be done here, and so I say there is a ready financial solution of the difficulty; and until that has been tried and has failed I do not think hon. Members connected with the Labour party are entitled to say that the only way open to us is that now suggested.
I should like to ask another question of hon. Members below the Gangway. The Leader of the Labour party (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) referred to the Osborne Judgment, and used a phrase which I heard for the first time. He said the unions had strained the law before the Osborne Judgment was delivered in order to use the funds collected by the union for the purpose for promoting the return of candidates to Parliament. He used that as an argument for this Resolution. Does he mean that if this Resolution is passed there will be an end of the proceedings which were declared illegal in the Osborne Judgment? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes" and "No."] One hon. Member of great authority says "Yes" and another says "No." I think we should understand here from Members of the party opposite what are the views they take. I notice that the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division (Mr. Barnes) not long ago said:—It seems to me as if we are to have payment of Members thrust upon us.Rather a strange phrase that in view of the Debate to-night. He went on:—Even if we do, it would be absolutely no answer to our demand for the reversal of the Osborne Judgment. That we will go for all the same.I would like to have that put quite clearly before the House, for if that is the attitude of the hon. Member and his friends, then the whole argument of the hon. Member for Leicester founded on the Osborne Judgment falls to the ground, for this Resolution would have no effect whatever on their efforts to deal with the situation and to obtain the reversal of the Osborne Judgment. I do value more than I can say the present position and character of his House, the variety of interests repre- 1451 sented here, the absolute certainty which we all have that against no Member of the House can any charge be made of anything which is not in accordance with the strictest and purest dealing in all matters relating to public affairs, the absolute confidence which all have in the votes and the action of the Members of the House. Is it quite clear that if you make this change you will retain all these advantages? It is a fact that if Members are paid, a vote given in the Lobby might upset a Government, or cause a dissolution, and so might deprive a Member of this House of his income or livelihood.
Must not that affect his independence in giving his vote? Is not it, at all events, probable that the mere fact of a man's vote affecting his living may have some effect on his mind? Hitherto he has been free from any risk of that kind. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Leicester that there was corruption in the legislature of the United States, and he asked the question would it cease if the salaries were taken away there. I quite agree that, if there be any of the Assembly of the United States who now can be accused of corruption, if they were deprived of so much a year they would not cease to be corrupt. They might become more corrupt. I can quite believe that when once you have started the system of payment and thereby endangered the purity of the Assembly the mere removal of that payment might not at once purify the Assembly. The system has established itself, and it may take time to amend it, but I do believe that there, as elsewhere, the abolition of the system of payment for this particular form of public service would do much to lead to greater purity in the Government. There is one other point, not a new one, but one in which I take a special interest. Local work which is done by the local bodies is of immense importance. The members of local bodies are now very large in number. They do very excellent work without payment. In fact the system of voluntary public work extends from the least important form of local body, such as a vestry or parish council, right up to town councils, county councils, and this House itself. It is something peculiar, I think, to our country, and I beg the House to pause before taking a step which will be the beginning of the destruction of this system.
1452 The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke, I think, with not a very full knowledge of the work done on some of these bodies. He seemed to think that the work was light, and that heavy work fell only upon the chairman or the mayor, and that they were changed often. I have considerable experience of many of these bodies, and in my experience the bulk of the members of a county council or district council do a great deal of hard work week after week and day after day. The chairman of the different committees really in some cases, carry on a business for the public benefit. They give sometimes their whole time and often a great part of their time to it. The chairman of the county council, so far from being frequently changed in my experience is very rarely changed indeed. Of course, I do not refer to the London County Council; but in the case of rural county councils the rule is, I believe, not to change the chairman unless he gives up office or for some other reason is unable to serve. I have known chairmen of committees for twenty years consecutively to carry on the same work, and the chairmen of county councils in the same way go on year after year doing public work gratuitously. The work of an active member of a county council, or other bodies, such as town councils, is no less arduous than that of a Member of this House. If we pay Members of this House, then these men must have a very strong claim. If so, I think it is a pity, because it destroys the whole system on which public work has been done in this country. It is not only a question of expense, though of course the expense would be very great indeed. The charge on public funds would be many millions a year, even if only estimated at £50 a year each on the average. I do not anticipate that that would come at once, and I only mention it as showing that we are dealing with a very large question. But more than the question of expense there is the desirability of having regard to what has been called the withering of the spirit of gratuitous public service.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I wish to address myself principally to the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) and others who have joined with him in suggesting that the paying of salaries for Members of Parliament, especially in the United States, is a cause of political corruption in that Republic.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I understood the suggestion was that whereas in this House of Commons no salaries are paid, and there is no corruption, in America salaries are paid and there is corruption. I think that it is a fair deduction to make from the remarks of the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the payment of salaries has something to do with the tainting of the Parliamentary life of the American Republic.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
I think I am putting it fairly. More than that, I think that that feeling is very widely held in this House and out of it by Gentlemen very few of whom have had the opportunity of travelling in the new world. As regards the hon. and gallant Gentleman I listened to his speech with considerable attention because of the regard which I bear him. As an ex-Canadian soldier myself I know his contribution to military life in Canada is remembered with gratitude by a large number of officers there today. But on this point he is wrong. It is quite true, as he says, that certain of those persons having a tinge of superiority whom you find in every country in the world, say that they enter into public life with reluctance in the United States, because public life is tainted. Now public life in the United States is a vastly different calling from public life in this country, which has the longest and, therefore, the noblest form of public life of any country in the world. Men are reluctant to enter public life in the United States, first of all because the tendency in a new country is to struggle to get rich quickly, and generally without regard to any scruples whatsoever. In this, country it is almost impossible for a Mr. Hooley, for instance, to enter the House of Commons, although I believe at one time he was a candidate for Parliament. But in the United States the names that are most familiar to the readers of newspapers in this country are the names of men of exactly the same type as Mr. Hooley. The struggle to get rich keeps a large number of men from going into public life in the United States. There is another reason. In America they have a residential qualification. Every Member of the House of Representatives or of the American Senate must have a residence in his constituency.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
It is a custom so honourably observed that it has become an unwritten law, and I thought myself it was the law. A man who enters the House of Representatives or the Senate must have a residential qualification. In this much wiser and better country in every public way we do not insist upon a Member living in his own constituency, and that gives a much wider choice, because we do not require a residential qualification as they do in the United States of America. Again, in this country a very large number of the Members are fifty years of age or over. In the United States most men are dead by the time they would have been fifty years of age. Some of the most respected Members of this House of all parties are men who have retired from an active life into the leisure of the House of Commons, with a view possibly to retiring into a serener atmosphere later on. In the United States that class of man, a most valuable and most experienced and substantial class of the community, has practically no existence.
Another point is that in the United States it is as difficult for a rich man to enter the Houses of Parliament as it was for the rich man of old to get through the eye of a needle. My well-intentioned illustration is slightly inaccurate, but it conveys my point. I admit that in the United States there is great corruption, although I think it is exaggerated. That corruption is not due to the salary. Corruption in the United States is due, first of all, to the fact that it is a new and not entirely developed country. There are millions of acres, what we would call Crown lands, still to be granted by the Government, railway charters to be given, water rights to be given, things that have been parted with in this country years and years ago, and I doubt not, from my reading of the parliamentary history of this country, parted with under the same corrupting influences which are now being used in the United States. Then I submit to the House, with special earnestness, that corruption in the United States has grown to its enormous dimensions just as the Protectionist system has developed, and at the present moment a Member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate is nearly always a man whose particular interest or interests are known, and as a rule the firms, to whom Protection is 1455 essential, are known to have such and such a man as one upon whom they can rely, having bought him body and soul.
Let us remember also that whilst corruption has grown with Protection it has declined as Protection has declined, and now in the public life of the United States you have a number of men like Professor Woodrow Wilson, President of Princeton University, and other men, who would rank with the best of our own public men in the great home country. The wave that is now sweeping over the New World and breaking down the barriers of Protection means the annihilation of the trust system, and at the same time is purifying the Legislatures both of the States and of the American Republic itself. There is another reason why the American Senate is especially corrupt. It is one of the smallest governing bodies in the world, and the smaller your legislative body is the more easy it is to corrupt it. One of the best things about the English House of Commons is that it is so large, the majorities as a rule are so large, the parties are so numerous, that an individual vote is not worth a shilling to anybody. That, to my mind, is one of the best safeguards for the purity of the House of Commons—to have the number large. I think the suggestion made by the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) comparing this Mother of Parliaments with the Colonial Legislatures of a few years' growth, and the American Parliament, which stands out fairly as what I would call myself a most eccentric development from the Parliamentary point of view, is not a fair comparison. This House cannot be compared with any other House; it is the standard for all other Houses. [An Here. MEMBER: "It is unpaid."] Not because it is unpaid. A large number of the Members of this House are paid. Most of the Members who have taken part in this Debate have been paid, or were recently paid Members. As to the fairness of that statement, all I will say is that I do not know any difference between a Minister's salary and a private Member's salary. The Ministers at their work have a much easier time than the ordinary backbencher—a very much easier time. They can depend upon a trained Department to exhaust every possible argument for and against, and another thing they do not have to spend half of their lives trying to get on their feet in this House.
1456 I submit that this Parliament, with its spirit and its traditions behind it, cannot be compared with any other Parliaments, the best of which compared with our own may fairly be called mushroom legislatures. Here you have men drawn from all classes of life who are proud to serve in the House of Commons, not because of any hope of reward, £400 or otherwise, but because it is the finest vocation traditionally for the Englishman, the Irishman, Scotchman, or Welshman. You have not got that spirit in any other part of the English-speaking world. I do not know what the spirit is of other Continental countries. I submit that the payment of Members will not change the complexion of this House very seriously. I believe it will go hard at election time with those who are here now, not because of their knowledge of questions or their personal capacity, but who are here perchance because, entirely because, of their social prestige and great wealth, both of which are admirable and desirable qualities, but are not essential qualities for a Member of Parliament in a democratic state. I put it that the great objection to the payment of Members made by many hon. Members is this, that they have got, it may be unconsciously, a distrust in the democracy of this country. Why are they afraid of bringing into this Chamber what are called professional politicians, if the democracy of this country is allowed to select whoever it will? Is any hon. Gentleman afraid to run the gauntlet as a candidate? I believe myself it is getting harder and harder to get into this House; it is getting harder for those who have least capacity and harder for those who have some capacity.
§ Mr. HAMAR GREENWOOD
For a Parliamentary career. No one knows better than the hon. and gallant Gentleman himself that some constituencies in this country are corrupt—I am not speaking now in the individual sense; they are corrupt as to the atmosphere and condition of the constituency. When they ask for a candidate they ask for a man of great wealth. I submit the possession of great wealth is a most desirable thing, but when I find a constituency asking for a man of great wealth, and for no other qualification, I say that is a corrupt constituency, and that a man, if he has only that qualification of wealth, is an unworthy Member of this great representative Chamber. There is just a tinge of 1457 the snobbery of the plutocrat in regard to this payment of Members. A greatly respected Member of this House, who still represents the industrial classes of this country, and who is a great captain of industry himself, said not long since he would not touch a farthing of the £400. Why would he not? Because he is the son of a very rich father. I say that when a man is so rich that £400 a year is nothing to him, perchance a week's income, the refusal to take that £400 is a differentiating of himself from other men in the House quite as capable and quite as loyal to its best traditions as he is, and there is just a suggestion of the snobbery of the plutocrat about it. I myself believe that, after all, in the representation of the democracy of the country, the choice should be made as wide as possible in respect of those to be returned to this House. I think the fact that a man is afraid to extend the area of choice for fear he should himself be kept out is evidence of personal doubt as to one's fitness and capacity for membership.
I quite agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Fareham as to the dignity and honour which goes with membership of this House. But why be so unfair and why be so mean and selfish as to restrict the area, as to restrict the opportunity of other men not rich, nor highly placed socially, to enjoy this great dignity and this great honour, that ought to be open to everybody who has the capacity to be a candidate and who has the good fortune to enjoy the support of his fellow electors.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot hope at this period of the Debate to add anything that is new to what has been already said. It is my task rather to summarise what the course of the Debate has been, and to recapitulate the objection which we take to the proposal of His Majesty's Ministry. In the first place, I cannot help observing the total disparity between the means and the end exposed by the arguments of some of the hon. Gentlemen who have spoken. The hon. Member for Leith Burghs (Mr. Munro-Ferguson) said there was too great a disparity in this House between the means of Members. I beg to make two observations on that remark. In the first place it will be admitted that once a Member enters this House there is no distinction known on account of any circumstances of that kind. We meet in friendly intercourse, we have sympathy one with another absolutely without regard to casual, 1458 or, what I will call, vulgar distinctions of that kind. But if it be true that there are great disparities here, and it is true, will there not always remain some, and does the hon. Member really suppose that the payment of a salary of £400 a year to each Member of the House will do anything to equalise the wealth or expenditure of various Members who sit in this Parliament. Then take again the argument of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He said that there has been a great change in the conditions and the work of this House, if we survey what has happened during the last fifty years or so. Nobody doubts there has been a great change in the whole of our national life which finds reflection in this House, but what has occurred in this House is not different from or antagonistic to the general movement of our civilization. Life is becoming much more full, work is becoming strenuous, and the demands and pressure on our time are much greater. Does the right hon. Gentleman really think, or does anyone really think, that this sum of £400 a year can be said to be any counteraction against those inevitable tendencies, or can give any compensation, if compensation be needed for them.
It seems to me that arguments of that kind which have been introduced to us throughout the Debate are irrelevant. They may be very interesting, they may be subject for much speculation, as to whither they are leading us, but they are quite irrelevant to the subject which we have now to consider. The hon. Member who spoke last, in justifying this Bill, thought it necessary to make some very severe strictures on members of other Legislatures. I think that is an undesirable course, and ought to be an avoidable one.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think the hon. Member, if he will permit me to say so without discourtesy, was happy in the manner or method of his argument. I think that really without arguing that other bodies are corrupt, or without seeking to explain the faults which any of them have shown, we can judge this question in relation to our own situation, which is different from theirs, and it is in relation to our own situation that it ought to be done. What are the grounds of objection to the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend earlier in the 1459 proceedings to-day? In the first place he said that this proposal was a violation of the principle of gratuitous service. The Chancellor of the Exchequer asked us where do we find that principle. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) repeatedly inquired. I think we find that in every public representative body that exists throughout our land, if it be not strictly a principle, it is the universal practice. It is one which has been the admiration of foreign countries, on which publicists have commented with respect, and to which they have attributed much of our success. I think it would be a great misfortune if we abandoned that principle or practice, call it which you will, and turn the whole House of Commons and the members of other bodies doing public work of a similar kind, though in smaller areas, and on a lesser scale, into salaried officials. I do not think it necessary to follow the comparison between the case of Ministers which the hon. Member for Leicester referred to and the payment of Members on those benches. Hon. Members on these two benches are only paid when they happen to occupy one and discharge functions as Ministers of the Crown. When we are not Ministers of the Crown we stand in exactly the same position as every other Member of the House.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
And we seek to draw no distinction between their position and ours. Between the position of Ministers and the position of any other Member of the House there is a clearly marked distinction which I should think no one can fail to see. Ministers are servants of the Crown; they are whole-timers; they are bound to place their services, in their offices and in this House, before every other consideration, and to give up every other occupation in order to fulfil those duties. For my part, I do not desire to see this House composed exclusively of whole-timers. I quite admit that it is desirable, not among Ministers only, but that among Members in an independent position, there should be some who ordinarily can devote the whole of their valuable time so that they may become as it were real experts in the business which we undertake. I think it will be the gravest of misfortunes if the whole body of the House, or the great majority of the House, were to be wholly occupied in the 1460 service of the House, and were to be divorced from the life, the industry, and the commerce of the country which we have to represent here. I join with the desire expressed by other Members, and which is common to every side of the House, that all the different phases of our national life may find representation here. That will not be the case, and you will lose some of the most valuable elements of the present and past Houses if you try to set up the same rule as to the private Member that you set up to the Minister and say his whole time is to be at the service of the House of Commons.
The hon. Member for Sunderland used an argument which surprised me until I consulted "Dodds' Parliamentary Companion." He said that those who had observed Ministers at their work in this House knew that their task was far lighter and demanded much less of them than is demanded of the ordinary Back Bencher. I say that that statement filled me with amazement until I consulted this handy book of reference and discovered that the hon. Member only came into Parliament at the same time as the party opposite came into office. There is another objection involved in the alteration of our practice which appeals to me with great force, and which has already been alluded to by my hon. Friend (Mr. Lee). I think that if we accept salaries from our constituents, as Members of the House of Commons, it will tend not immediately, but in course of years, to alter the relationship which exists between Member and constituent, and in that sense to degrade the position of a Member. I agree with the hon. Member for Leicester, and we all agree with him that we are not sent here as delegates but as representatives exercising our own judgment on the facts as they are disclosed here, often for the first time, and that we are not bound hand and foot to execute the decrees that are sent to us by any body amongst those whom we represent; but if we receive salaries as Members of Parliament I think there will be a growing demand from Members for services that they ought not to be called upon to fulfil, and a growing inclination to resent the absence of the Members from any little local show or function at which a few of his constituents desire to presence, and that when he does not attend they will ask him what he is paid a salary for if he cannot attend all kinds of shows. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] I believe that to be a grave danger and every Member of the House will agree with 1461 me that if that should be the result or anything like it it would be a degrading position for all classes of Members in the House or all Members in the House utterly irrespective of their class or condition. I pass to the second part of my hon. Friend's Amendment, that this is an unnecessary expense thrust upon the country. I will not add anything on that subject to what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) said. I think that it is a peculiarly inappropriate time, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is begging us to assist him in limiting expenditure on matters with which he desires to deal and with which the House desires to deal on behalf of the very poor of the country; I do think that this is a most inopportune time for the voting of salaries by Members of the House of Commons to themselves. The third point of my hon. Friend's Amendment is that this is only a beginning, and will encourage further and wider demands. It is not merely admitted, but it is evident from the cheers which greeted that statement, that many Members desire it, and many Members in this House think that if you vote salaries to Members of Parliament you cannot refuse permission to county councillors to vote salaries to themselves. The Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks he can draw a distinction between the chairman and other members of the county council and between mayors and other members of the borough councils. That is the distinction which is drawn now between Ministers and independent Members of this House, but if you extend payment beyond the ranks of Ministers and apply it to all Members I should be interested to find whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with all his skill and agility, can prove that it is right to do here what it is wrong to do there, and that we are entitled to vote payment for ourselves and to refuse it to other men who do similar work, and in many cases give up an almost equal amount of time to that work and make sacrifices equal to those that we are called upon to make here.
Lastly, my hon. Friend says that there is a peculiar impropriety in our voting these salaries to ourselves. Again, reference has been made to the case of Ministers, My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston has dealt with the ordinary case in which a Minister votes upon his own salary, and he has shown how entirely different is that posi- 1462 tion from the one with which we are face to face to-day. But there is a parallel as between Ministers and this proposal. I have sat in several Parliaments now, and in two of them at least, I have seen Governments drawn, one from the party opposite and one from this party, propose to raise the salaries of certain Ministerial officers. Each time a special provision has been made by the Minister that the change should not take effect until the next Minister came into the office. So strongly was that felt in a recent case in which changes were made that the one Member whose office was not changed, and who, therefore, did not have the advantage of the increase of salary allocated to his office, would never have got it from his own colleagues, because they felt a delicacy about making such a proposal, if the Leader of the Opposition had not risen in his place and given notice that he should make a motion on the subject. Ministers had this feeling of delicacy for themselves. Ought not we who are not Ministers to have it for ourselves? Let me add that the Government which makes this proposal in regard to Members of the House of Commons has within the last few weeks or months issued a circular to every local authority throughout the United Kingdom, not dealing with salaries—I think they have no power to pay themselves salaries—but forbidding them to appoint to any office of emolument in their gift, not merely any sitting member of the council, but any man who has been a member of the council within the preceding twelve months. Does it come with good grace from a House of Commons which supports the President of the Local Government Board in issuing such a circular to the local authorities, without reference to the people, not as a policy for the future inapplicable to ourselves, not merely from henceforth even, but from the beginning of the Session by a retrospective Act, to vote this money for our own payment? I think there is something shocking in the proceeding. I am sorry that, though there be a majority in favour of the payment of Members of this House, they should not feel the same delicacy about making the payment applicable to themselves that has been felt by Ministers, and enforced by Ministers on the local authorities throughout the country.
There is one great ground on which this Resolution is urged. It is said that it will enable men who would be valuable additions to this House to come here and 1463 give their services to the public who cannot otherwise do so. Will it? The Chancellor of the Exchequer enumerated the classes of men whom he would desire to see here, and who are excluded. He mentioned lawyers in local practice, solicitors, men of business who have not partners so accommodating or businesses of such a character that they can discharge the whole of their obligations upon their partners. How could the Chancellor of the Exchequer use that argument in favour of a salary of £400 a year? It is not that class of man who will be induced or enabled to come.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I simply enumerated the classes who at present come. Then I went on to say there is another very large class—the clever educated trading man who would be very valuable if we could get him into the House of Commons, but who could not afford to come here as he has to earn his living in other ways. I mentioned those who could come now.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No. The right hon. Gentleman referred to barristers in local practice and solicitors. He said he had tried it himself and had been obliged to give it up. I do not say that they were the whole of the people who were excluded. I am not suggesting that; but they were among the excluded people whom, in putting forward this Resolution, the right hon. Gentleman said it was desirable to admit. I say that this Resolution will not help them to come. It will not enable the man who has no partner to do his business to come to this House. It will not enable a solicitor in practice hundreds of miles away to give up his business and come. The instances adduced are wholly irrelevant to the Motion. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said in relation to these people, and with very considerable truth, that fifty or sixty years ago Members could attend to their own business as well as to the House of Commons. Now, he said, no time was left for anything else. That is the sum and substance of it. But these men cannot give up everything else. The kind of men I have alluded to, who would be in many cases extremely valuable men if we could get them, cannot give up everything else to take a precarious £400 a year in the House of Commons for as long as their constituencies remain of the same mind. The payment of this money to men who have given up everything else in order to 1464 come to the House, and who have nothing to depend on but this money, lays us open to a serious danger. It is a common complaint of the Back Benches of the Opposition, from whichever side the Opposition is drawn, that the Government is obtaining too great power and authority over the House. What is so great a weapon as a threat of Dissolution held over their party? How far greater will the terror of a Dissolution be if it means not merely the loss of a seat in the House, but the loss of a livelihood, and perhaps the only livelihood that a man at the time of life he has reached can draw?
The hon. Member for Leicester asked what we were afraid of. He acknowledged that it was the general desire of both parties to secure representative men of the working classes, as well as of other classes in agreement with their political views among the representatives in this House. We all desire to do that. Then he asked what did we fear, and, with a gesture to some of his hon. Friends, he said, "Could anything be worse than what we now have on these benches?" I will not follow him in his inquiry into the evils of the present House of Commons. Let us assume that everybody in this House of Commons is perfect. Let us assume that in past Houses of Commons there have been undesirable Members in every party. It is not for fear of letting in representatives like the hon. Gentleman himself and his colleagues that we oppose this Motion. One reason, in addition to the others which have been given is that we believe it will not admit men of that stamp and calibre, not men like those who were Members of the House of Commons long before I was, and who have for years commanded the respect and I might almost say the affection of the whole House of Commons, like the right hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Burt). It is not for fear that that kind will come in. We all welcome them. It is because we believe that this will turn to the profit, as we think it has done in other countries, not of the man who comes here because he is a genuinely earnest politician, interested in these affairs, and anxious to accomplish a work, but of men who, having failed in other departments, whether as workmen with their hands or as workmen with their heads, being gifted with glib tongues and easy manners, find this the easiest and simplest way of procuring a living.
If I thought that the payment of Members would send us no others than such as we have been accustomed to, much as I 1465 regret it, I should not view it with the horror with which I confess I now do. Because I believe that it will not serve the objects which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have most at heart, and that it will not in the main and in the long run give us that type of man which we all desire to see, but the new and undesirable type of professional politician in the sense in which we have not got professional politicians, that I oppose the Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer so strongly, and echo what was written by Mr. Gladstone long years ago:—For my part, I trust of all the changes that may in the course of generations be made in the constitution of the country, the very last will be the payment of Members of this House.
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
The right hon. Gentleman has ended his speech with a quotation from Mr. Gladstone, and has given it with the authority of the great name of that statesman. But every Member of this House is well aware that in his later years Mr. Gladstone, as the fruit of his long experience, held quite a different view, was himself prepared to bring in a measure for the payment of Members of this House, and was dissuaded from doing so because of a disagreement with Members of his own party on certain questions of detail. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has raised objections to this Motion of my right hon. Friend on two grounds. He objects to the substance of the Motion itself on the ground of principle; and he objects to the occasion on which it is proposed, because, he says, that it is improper that Members of this House should vote salaries to themselves. Well, the Members of this House are, of course, in a somewhat delicate and embarrassing situation. If we assume—which for the sake of argument we may do—that the payment of Members of the House of Commons is a good thing, there is no other body that has the power to effect that payment, except the Members of the House of Commons itself. We are in charge of the duty of the management and control of the finances of the nation, and if we do not order the payment of those salaries no one else can. But the right hon. Gentleman says that, at all events, if it has to be done by order of this House of Commons, the House itself ought to vote the salaries for its successors, and the Members themselves who vote not straightway come into the enjoyment of the payment that they have ordered.
1466 Before the last election, in words of the Prime Minister, which have been quoted more than once, full, clear notice was given to all who were concerned in the most distinct and emphatic terms, amounting indeed to a Parliamentary pledge, that a measure for the payment of Members would be introduced, not merely in this Parliament, but in this Session of this Parliament. The hon. Gentleman opposite who has made a speech to us this evening, has told us that he himself, on the strength of this pledge, largely conducted his own electioneering campaign, and, in his judgment, profited thereby. It seems a somewhat odd doctrine that hon. Members opposite are to accept the Prime Minister's pledge when they think it may serve their purpose in electoral contests, but when that pledge comes to be put into operation what has been said has to be ruled out of court as a thing of no account. Far more important than this, of course, are the grounds of principle which have been argued with so much force and cogency. If I may respectfully be allowed to say so, by the right hon. Gentleman. He fears and believes that one of the chief effects of this measure will be, to quote the words of the hon. Member for Fareham, who moved the Amendment, to lower the moral authority of the House of Commons in the mind of the nation. That I am sure is the feeling that leads so many hon. Members opposite conscientiously to object to this measure because they believe it will lower the prestige of Parliament and will lower the calibre of the House of Commons.
The strength of the House of Commons lies above all else in its representative character; the more it is the real mirror of the nation the greater its authority will be. The House of Lords is more picturesque, the Privy Council contains perhaps a greater number of illustrious names, the Government Departments have within their ranks a greater number of experts on the details of government, but this House is strong, and stronger than all of them because it is the Commons House, and the more it can be made truly representative of the whole body of the nation the greater will be its authority for the masses of our countrymen. If you want an Assembly which is a mere show, a mere platform on which eloquent orators may disport themselves and win the applause of crowded benches and the attention of crowded galleries by eloquent epigrams and apt quotations, then, indeed, let your 1467 House of Commons consist solely or mainly of cultured men of wealth and leisure, but if you want to get a real business-like Assembly, which will truly represent the firm common sense of the nation, if you want an Assembly which is to be approved by the people because it is efficient and which is to be active because it is sincere, then you must have an Assembly thoroughly representative of every class in the whole community.
I think it is true to say that this country was never so badly ruled as it was in the eighteenth century, when this House was full of Members of the landed gentry, often the nominees of the other House, most of them men of leisure and means. That was the period in which the condition of the people sank to the lowest ebb, in which legislation for the benefit of the country was never more neglected, in which the national finances got into the greatest disorder, and that was the period at which our national trade was at its lowest ebb. And it is worth while remembering that then, when the House of Commons was a thoroughly aristocratic Assembly, was the period when its Debates were of the most disorderly and indecorous character. I think, after a careful examination, this House has nothing to fear, if the effect of this measure be to have introduced into its ranks a larger proportion of men drawn from the classes of men of moderate incomes than it now contains. The second objection raised by hon. Members opposite is that this payment will be derogatory to individuals who accept it, that in some subtle way the individual Member of the House of Commons will gradually in the course of time find himself on a lower plane from the fact that he is receiving pecuniary emoluments in respect of his Membership of the House. It is a new principle; that the acceptance of public money for public work carries some taint of shame with it. When we remember that all the great Statesmen of the past, men whose names are illustrious in our history, made no difficulty about the acceptance of salaries attaching to their offices, and received large emoluments which were the payment for their services to the State, is surely a strange doctrine that when payment for public service in respect it is true of other and different functions, but still for public work, received by Gladstone and Disraeli, by Peel and Bright, and many of the other illustrious names which the House cherishes, should be held in these days to cast a stigma upon those 1468 who received it. Then, again, it is said that these men would be induced to go into the House of Commons for the sake of the livelihood they would get, and that apparently is the argument which carries most weight amongst those who are against this proposal. It is said that adventurers will get into the House of Commons, and that needy men of a lower order will make their way here for the sake of the payment which is to be given. We all know that in political matters it is much more easy to stand than to sit. I think the electors can be well trusted to be on their guard against men of that character, and you may be abundantly sure that when payment of the Members of the House of Commons is made the electors will be more on the qui vive than ever they were before, and they will examine more scrupulously than hitherto the personal characteristics of the men who come before them and ask for their support. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment we are now considering said the effect of our proposal would be that you would get a class of men of the order of the paid professional speakers who are attached to the parties, and that men with eloquent tongues who are skilled politicians will soon find their way here for the sake of the salaries.
I seem to remember that there was, not long ago. a movement amongst the party opposite to secure at all events an element of labour representation in the ranks of the Unionist party, and a fund was raised by certain newspapers and by public subscriptions for this purpose. I know nothing about the personal character of these men, but I believe they were men who sprung mostly from the working classes who had been engaged in professional political work for some years, and they were assisted to stand. I have no doubt that they were guaranteed remuneration by their party if they succeeded in entering the House of Commons. All those gentlemen were defeated by the largest majorities known in any of the constituencies of the whole country.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Perhaps I am speaking of the election in January, 1910. I remember my attention being called to the majorities, which ran into thousands, and they were most striking. It is possible that at the election of December last these Gentlemen somewhat improved their posi- 1469 tion. I know it is rather invidious to refer to particular candidates in this way, but I mean no offence to them, and I use the illustration in answer to the argument of the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee) who seemed to think it would be as easy to get into the House of Commons as a man can go into a trade or business, and that the ordeal he has to pass through of an election by a great constituency is a thing of no account. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says, "Why make this change? The House of Commons does its work well now. We have labour representatives here, Members are willing to give days and months of service every year to the Parliamentary work, and what reason is there that you should make a change of this character, when this is a most perfect body?" No argument is more likely to be acceptable than to say to those who compose this Chamber, "Here you are. Can you imagine a Chamber better composed than one which is so made up?" Fortunately, the House of Commons has never in the past been so complacent. If this House in the past had been willing to accede to that argument no change could have been made, because no one could imagine a better body than those who now sit upon these benches. Under those circumstances there would have been no Re-form Bill of 1832, no Ballot Act, and all the suggestions for the various franchise reforms would have been met by the argument, "The House of Commons works very well; why make any change of that character?" We all know from our own experience, if we have had any part—as I for one had for some years—in the actual work of political organisation, how real the difficulty is when in any particular constituency the moment comes for the selection of the individual who is to be the candidate at the next election. We all of us know that again and again the people of the locality have said: "Oh, yes, So-and-so would be the ideal Member; he represents our views; he speaks well; he is generally popular; he is a sound politician and a student of public affairs, but, of course, he cannot afford to go into Parliament, and he has to decline our invitation." How many times does that not occur? We know that very case does again and again arise, and there can be no doubt in the mind of any of us, if we are sincere and look the matter squarely in the face, that if it had been possible, and if it had been easy for men who had not a golden key to enter these doors this House would be even more representative 1470 of the people and even more perfect for its work than it is at the present time. It is true we have, fortunately, many representatives directly drawn from the working classes, and to-day, as on previous occasions, there have been many testimonies from all quarters paid to their value and ability as an element in this House. I believe, if it were put to Members of this House by secret ballot whether they would wish, if they could, to exclude from this House all the Labour Members, there is not a single Member in any quarter of the House who would cast a vote for such exclusion.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
We all recognise their presence here does enable this House, as it was not able to do in the past, to look at workmen's questions from the inside and not only from the outside. Let it be remembered that before hon. Members on those benches came into this House their advent was dreaded, and the possibility of trade union agitators coming into this House and constituting a revolutionary element was regarded as one of the greatest dangers that could fall upon the House of Commons. That fear has been dispelled by our experience. And so it will be with the dread of the professional agitator, the needy adventurer, whom hon. Members opposite think will coma in as the result of this measure if we pass it. Let it be remembered further that this proposal—and I do not think this has been sufficiently emphasised today—is not intended to facilitate the entry into this House of Commons merely of representatives of the working classes in the ordinary acceptance of the word. It is not only a question of the artisan or the labourer, it is not only a question of the miner, the carpenter, and the engineer or the seaman; but there are vast classes of our fellow countrymen who at the present time are really very inadequately represented on these benches, as all of us would agree, if we were to analyse the composition of the House. The shop-keeping class, the clerks, the farmer, and men of that grade of life are absolutely insufficiently represented in the House of Commons as we now know it. If the effect of this measure be to facilitate the entry into this House of some of those men, who might by the help of this payment make other arrangements during their absence for the management of their business, we 1471 shall halve a House of Commons more truly, as I say, a mirror of the nation than that which we are acquainted with to-day. The right hon. Gentleman said: "Oh, but surely you cannot expect to get middle-class people to come here for a payment of £400 a year." The right hon. Gentleman said, "You could not get men of the type described by my right hon. Friend as desirable candidates who are now excluded, as they were men for whom £400 a year would not be adequate. But great numbers of these men have other sources of income; they are able to devolve some part of their business on partners or managers, and in most cases, although £400 a year might be inadequate as a sole source of income, it would enable many to become candidates.
The question of election expenses is a separate question. It is the desire of the Government that a measure should be passed to place the payment of official election expenses on public funds. I think it is agreed in all quarters, and I hope no very long period will elapse before it is effected by legislation. But if official election expenses are so paid, there are other expenses which must be met either from trade union funds, if our measure dealing with the Osborne Judgment is passed into law or by public subscription or in other ways. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in an argument which I venture to think was felt by many hon. Members to be cogent and unanswerable, showed the necessity for this measure in the existing condition of things. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, says we are abandoning the principle of gratuitous public service. But there is no such principle. Public service is gratuitous in some cases: it is not in others. There is no universal principle. There are some forms of public service which are, and should be, and are likely to remain gratuitous.
Let me take an extreme case — that of some local governing body which makes but a very small demand on the time and attention of its members—say, for instance, membership of an urban district council. It is perfectly obvious that for public service of that kind no one would suggest there should be remuneration by way of salary. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this form of voluntary service is of immense strength to the nation; the unpaid work which is done by members of public bodies, of chambers of 1472 commerce, and of organisations of that kind, have contributed enormously to the successful conduct of our political, social and economic affairs. At the other end of the scale of the public service there are some forms which cannot be gratuitous. Persons called upon to perform the duties of officer of the State, whose whole time for long hours daily is demanded by the service of their Department, are properly remunerated from public funds. People, like judges—those whose duties are exacting—must necessarily by common agreement be remunerated from public funds, although their service is a public service. Therefore, at one end of the scale there are forms which need not be remunerated, and at the other end there are forms which must necessarily be remunerated. The only question is whether the work of a Member of Parliament ought properly to fall into one category or the other. We submit to the House that the time has come when it is essential that remuneration should be made in order to enable a man of small means to enter this House in view of the demand made upon their time by Membership of it. The days have gone by and are far distant when attendance at this House was a light thing, when Members attended here in small numbers for short Sessions, and 12th August was a sacred day, when the House took a holiday on Derby Day, when Committees were few, and when the work of the Chamber was far lighter than it is now. Now you have a degree of exaction on Members' time and attention which makes the past conditions quite incomparable with the present. You can no more compare the present House of Commons with the House of Commons of forty or fifty years ago than you may compare an express train with the coach of an earlier period. The right hon. Gentleman says it is not desirable that all Members of the House should give the whole of their time to its service. I am sure we all felt that there was much cogency in that argument, and that if we had all the 670 in attendance every day, and all of them desirous of making speeches on frequent occasions, the business of the House, and especially of the Government, would soon be involved in chaos. But the business of the House requires that Members who take part in it should be available, that they should be within reach, in other words, that they should be in London, and it is essential that Members who wish to be true Parliament men shall be resident in London, and for that purpose it is 1473 necessary that they should be either men of means or that some payment should be made.
This is a point to which I would ask hon. Members opposite to address themselves. What is their alternative to our measure of payment of Members from public funds? They declare, and no one doubts their sincerity, that they are anxious to see that there should be men drawn from all classes in this House. How are they to be got here? The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lee) says that hitherto the reward of Members of Parliament has been the dignity and honour of the position. But a man cannot subsist on dignity and honour. There is a Russian proverb which says the nightingale does not live on songs alone, and the Member of Parliament who has no other resource would find himself hard put to it if he had to subsist merely on the dignity of the letters that follow his name. By some means or other a Member of Parliament must have an income. He must have a minimum of £400 or £500 a year. There was once an Act of this House, in the time of Queen Anne—she is dead, and the Act has been repealed—to the effect that no Member was admissible to this House unless he had a property qualification in real estate of £600 for a county Member and £300 for a borough Member. You have, in fact, by the mere pressure of economic circumstances, a property qualification in active operation. Unless by some means or other a man has an income of £300, £400, or £500 a year he cannot in fact be a Member of the House, not by any system operating by force of law, but by the mere fact that it costs so much to live in London and attend the House. How is this sum to be obtained if we are not to limit membership of the House to men of large means? At one time cases were fairly frequent in which funds were raised locally in the constituencies for the support of Members. I am speaking of the old days when wages were paid, but since that time there have been constituencies where funds were raised in order to keep men in Parliament. That method is wholly out of fashion in these days, and indeed it is putting a fine on the public spirit of a constituency if they select a candidate of small means.
What other alteration is there? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher) said: "If you had these paragons of capacity, these men who are so desirable as Members of the House, means would very soon be 1474 found by the Patronage Secretary on one side or another. They would soon arrange to enlist such desirable recruits." That means that you are to throw these men on the funds of the party to which they belong, that they should depend for their livelihood in some form or another upon the subscriptions which are given to the party funds. I cannot understand how any hon. Member can think that that is a better means of securing the independence of this House and raising the status of Parliament than the open public payment of salaries by order of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
If they have to rely upon £400 a year, that will not relieve them from the necessity of getting their election expenses paid.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Election expenses is another case, and I have already dealt with it. I am speaking now of how we are to ensure that it shall be possible for men whose incomes are very small to remain Members of this House when once they are elected. The right hon. Gentleman suggested that the private funds of the parties should be the source they should rely upon for the livelihood of such men. I am sure that, on further consideration, he will see, if that was his alternative, that he cannot compare—if you take the character and dignity of this House into consideration—the open public payment of Members, whose salaries will be on the Estimates, with a payment of that kind. The only source suggested is that hon. Members shall be paid from the funds of the trade union. My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester dealt with this very fully, with that candour and sincerity which have given him so strong a hold on the confidence and the attention of he House. He said, speaking as a Member of the Labour party, that he had never regarded as an ideal arrangement that the remuneration of Members of Parliament should be derived from the funds of sectional organisations. The hon. Member for the Wansbeck Division (Mr. Fenwick) has pointed out the disadvantages of payment from party funds. We have all had experience in the last few years of the pressure, the invasion that may be made on the independence of Members who have to look for their livelihood to payments made by some organisation. We all remember the circumstances of the Constituency of Morpeth, represented by the oldest Member of the House (Mr. Burt). We know the pressure that 1475 was brought to bear upon him to adopt a particular course, the penalty if he did not do so being, not that his Constituency would vote against him, but that his salary would be withdrawn. I cannot understand how hon. Members can make out that it would tend more to the dignity of the House that Members should be dependent for their salaries on outside organisations representing sectional interests rather than on the taxes of the nation. I have been watching all through the Debate whether the hon. Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith) would be in his old place or in his new place to give the House the benefit of his advice on this subject, for it is not long ago that he wrote a letter to the Press saying that although in the abstract he did not very much like the system of payment of Members, he thought that in the existing political conditions it was a desirable and necessary course. He wrote:—There are many and grave objections to the payment of Members, but there is on the other hand this overwhelming merit, that it safeguards the independence of Parliament by making the representative the servant of the country and not that of a caucas or a Union. I am myself a reluctant convert to these views, but I contemplate with grave anxiety the prospect of a blank non-possumus in Unionist circles to the claim that an unsubsidised workman shall have access to the House of Commons.Surely it is a better thing that you should make open and acknowledged payment from an unchallengeable source to a Member, payment which would subject him to no manner of control, than continue the somewhat spasmodic methods which now prevail. Moreover, this method of trade union payments can never meet the case of the other classes to which I have referred—farmers, shopkeepers, and clerks with offices. There is no satisfactory alternative to the public payment from public funds for public work. Long ago John Stuart Mill, in a striking passage, wrote—An unpaid legislature is an institution essentially aristocratic a contrivance for keeping the legislature exclusively in the hands of those who can afford to serve without payment. Of the able men the country produces nine-tenths at least are of a class that cannot serve without pay—
§ Mr. POLLOCK
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that John Stuart Mill was in favour of the payment of Members?
§ Mr. POLLOCK
He actually wrote and spoke against it. I will have great pleasure in giving you the authority.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Like Mr. Gladstone, John Stuart Mill held different views on this particular subject at different periods of his life. I forget whether it was the earlier view which favoured the payment or the later view. [An HON. MEMBER: "Seventeen majority for the Government"—in allusion to the result of a Division in another place.] It is a good augury that on the night on which one further step is being taken in this House towards the establishment of full self-Government in this country, in the other House a still greater step has been taken in the same direction.
§ Mr. KING rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the question be now put," but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
In the short time available—[Interruption]—I desire to call the attention of the House for one moment. [An HON. MEMBER; "Seventeen for the Government"—referring to the result of a Division in another place.] [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I congratulate the Government on their temporary victory. I beg—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order."] I cannot help regretting that this House for the first time has thrown off all control on the first opportunity the Government has taken of voting money to Members of this House.
§ Question put, "That the words pro-posed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 265; Noes, 173.1479
|Division No. 319.]||AYES.||[10.38 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Barnes, G. N.||Brace, William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick S.)||Brady, Patrick Joseph|
|Adamson, William||Barry, Redmond John||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Barton, W.||Burke, E. Haviland|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Benn, W. (T. H'mts., St. George)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Alden, Percy||Bentham, G. J.||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Boland, John Plus||Cameron, Robert|
|Baker, H. T (Accrington)||Booth, Frederick Handel||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Bowerman, C. W.||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hughes, S. L.||Pointer, Joseph|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Clough, William||Johnson, W.||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Radford, G. H.|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushclifle)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Reddy, M.|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Richards, Thomas|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jowett, F. W.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Crean, Eugene||Joyce, Michael||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Crooks, William||Keating, M.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cullinan, John||Kelly, Edward||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Kilbride, Denis||Robinson, Sidney|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol S.)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Dawes J. A.||Lansbury, George||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Delany William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rl'nd. Cockerm'th)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Dewar Sir J. A.||Leach, Charles||Rowlands, James|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Doris William||Lewis, John Herbert||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Duffy, William J.||Logan, John William||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lundon, T||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid,)||Lynch, A. A.||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Macdonald, Ramsay (Leicester)||Sheehan, Daniel|
|Elverston Sir Harold||Macdonold, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Sheehy, David|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary N.)||McGhee, Richard||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Esmonde, Dr John (Tipperary N.)||Maclean, Donald||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Essex, Richard Waiter||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smith, H. B. (Northampton)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Smyth, Thomas F.|
|Farrell James Patrick||Macpherson, James Ian||Snowden, P.|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||WacVeagh, Jeremiah||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||M'Callum, John M.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|French, Peter||M'Curdy, C. A.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Field, William||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crowe)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Sutherland, John E.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meagher, Michael||Sutton, John E.|
|Furness, Stephen||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Menzies, Sir Walter||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffffe)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Glanville, H. J.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Mooney, John J.||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morgan, George Hay||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Morrell, Philip||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Greig, Col. J. W.||Muldoon, John||Wadsworth, John|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Munro, R.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Munre-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Walters, John Tudor|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Neilson, Francis||Wardle, George J.|
|Hackett, J.||Nolan, Joseph||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Norman, Sir Henry||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Hancock, J. G.||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rosendale)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Webb, H.|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Harmsworth R. L. (Caithness-shire)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Doherty, Philip||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Donneil, Thomas||Wiles, Thomas|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Dowd, John||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Havelock-Allan Sir Henry||O'Mailey, William||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Neill, Or. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wilson, W. T. (Wnthoughton)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Henry, Sir Charles Solomon||Parker, James (Halifax)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Hodge, John||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pirie, Duncan Vernon|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)|
|Amery, L. S. M. S.||Arkwright, John Stanhope||Balcarres, Lord|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Baldwin, Stanley|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Barlow, Montagu (Salford, South)||Gibbs, George Abraham||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Barnston, H.||Gilmour, Captain J.||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Goldman, C. S.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Goldsmith, Frank||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Parker, St- Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Bigland, Alfred||Gretton, John||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bird, Alfred||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Boyton, J.||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Rawlinson, John Frederic Peel|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Harris, Henry Percy||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Butcher, John George||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Campion, W. R.||Hills, John Walter||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hoare, S. J. G.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Cassel, Felix||Home, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cator, John||Horner, Andrew Long||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Houston, Robert Paterson||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Cave, George||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Stanier, Beville|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Ingieby, Holcombe||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Kerry, Earl of||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stewart, Gershom|
|Chambers, James||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Swift, Rigby|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Clyde, J. Avon||Larmor, Sir J.||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmols||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Lewisham, Viscount||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lloyd, G. A.||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Faber, George Denion (Clapham)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||Macmaster, Donald||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Fell, Arthur||M'Mordle, Robert||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Meysey-Thimpson, E. C.||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Younger, Sir George|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Forster, Henry William||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount Valentia and Mr. Sanders.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Mount, William Arthur|
§ Main Question put. The House divided: Ayes, 256; Noes, 158.1483
|Division No. 320.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Crooks, William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bryce, John Annan||Crumley, Patrick|
|Adamson, William||Burke, E. Haviland||Cullinan, John|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher Burns,||Rt. Hon. John||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Alden, Percy||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Byles, Sir William Pollard||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Cameron, Robert||Dawes, James Arthur|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Delany, William|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Barnes, George N.||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Hey wood)||Dewar, Sir J. A.|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Chancellor, Henry George||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Doris, William|
|Barton, William||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Duffy, William J.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Clancy, John Joseph||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Clough, William||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Clynes, John R.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon Augustine||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Eawards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Boland, John Pius||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Cotton, William Francis||Esmonds, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Brace, William||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Falconer, James||Lewis, John Herbert||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Logan, John William||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|French, Peter||Lundon, Thomas||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Field, William||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Robinson, Sidney|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||McGhee, Richard||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Glanville, Harold James||Maclean, Donald||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Or. T. J.||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Goldstone, Frank||MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Rowlands, James|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Macpherson, James Ian||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Greig, Colonel James William||M'Callum, John M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Meagher, Michael||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Sheehy, David|
|Hackett, John||Menzies, Sir Walter||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Hancock, John George||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Mooney, John J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Morgan, George Hay||Snowden, Philip|
|Harmsworth R. L. (Caithness-shire)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Muldoon, John||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Munro, Robert||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Sutherland, John E.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sutton, John E.|
|Hayward, Evan||Neilson, Francis||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Joseph||Taylor, Theodore S. (Radcliffe)|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Norman, Sir Henry||Tennant, Harold John|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hodge, John||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Doherty, Philip||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Donnall, Thomas||Wadsworth, John|
|Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||O'Dowd, John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. sir Rufus||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire||O'Malley, William||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Johnson, William||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Webb, H.|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. Hmts., Stepney)||Pease. Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Joyce, Michael||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Keating, Matthew||Pointer, Joseph||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Kelly, Edward||Power, Patrick Joseph||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs. N.)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pringle, William M. R.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Radford, George Heynes||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Rattan, Peter Wilson||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Lansbury, George||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rl'nd, Cockerm'th)||Reddy, Michael|
|Leach, Charles||Richards, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bird, Alfred||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Boyton, James||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Chambers, James|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bridgeman, William Clive||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Bull, Sir William James||Clive, Captain Percy Archer|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Burdett-Coutts, William||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Butcher John George||Cory, Sir Clifford John|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Campion, W. R.||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)|
|Barnston, Harry||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Cassel, Felix||Doughty, Sir George|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Cator, John||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cautley, Henry Strother||Falle, Bertram Godfray|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Cave, George||Fell, Arthur|
|Bigland, Alfred||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Finlay, Sir Robert|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes||Lewisham, Viscount||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Sanderson, Robert Lancelot|
|Fleming, Valentine||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Forster, Henry William||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Lyttleton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Stanier, Beville|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Wor. Droitwich)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Gilmour, Captain John||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Goldman, Charles Sydney||Mackinder, Halford J.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Macmaster, Donald||Stewart, Gershom|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||M'Mordie, Robert||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Swift, Rigby|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Mount, William Arthur||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Newdegate, F. A.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Hills, John Waller (Durham)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Horner, Andrey Long||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Pease, Hebert Pike (Darlington)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Peel, Hon. William R. W. (Taunton)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Perkins, Walter Frank||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Peto, Basil Edward||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Younger, Sir George|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Larmor, Sr J.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.— Viscount Valentia and Mr. Sanders.|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Rothschild, Lionel de|
§ Viscount VALENTIA (standing in front of the Table)
was understood to say: By mistake I have been counted in the Lobby as having voted.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
directed the record of the Division to be corrected accordingly.
Resolved, "That, in the opinion of this House, provision should be made for the payment of a salary at the rate of four i hundred pounds a year to every Member of this House, excluding any Member who is for the time being in receipt of a salary as an officer of the House, or as a Minister, or as an officer of His Majesty's Household."
§ Adjourned at Twenty-seven minutes after Eleven of the clock. "