HC Deb 15 June 1911 vol 26 cc1773-91

Postponed proceeding on Question, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution"—"That a further sum, not exceeding £8,895,000, be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil Services and Revenue Departments for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1912."

Question again put, Debate resumed.


I wish to draw attention to a matter in which agriculturists in this country are not treated fairly, inasmuch as foreign meat can be sent to Birmingham at a very much lower sum than is charged for the conveyance of home produce. I think if the Board of Agriculture is going to be of much use they certainly ought to do something to prevent British produce being penalised in its own country. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) in one of his very excellent speeches I think showed what an extraordinarily bad Bill the Liberal Small Holdings Bill was.


As it was amended by the House of Lords.


I thought the Lords rather improved it, but I suppose we differ about that. That, however, is what the hon. Gentleman showed. He also made out that landlords were very fortunate people. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I would remind hon. Gentlemen who cheer that, that a Committee set up by Mr. Gladstone who reported many years ago, stated that the landlords had lost, I think, about £1,000,000,000 of money in the last forty years through agricultural depression. I think that was the sum that they reported then, and there has been a great deal more depression since those days. For myself I think it is absurd to say that during the last forty years the agricultural landlords of the country have had a good time of it, for they have suffered most of the loss which has fallen upon the nation. The farmers have also lost a very large sum of money, so that agriculturists have suffered very severely indeed, and we do want something done for us. The labourers, the farmers, and the landlords, they all want something done for them if you are going to keep them on the land and prevent them being driven abroad to foreign countries or our Colonies. I think that one of the great faults of the Small Holdings Act is that nobody under it can own the land except the county councils. I think it is a very serious thing that under the Small Holdings Act the tenants have to pay for the land, and yet they do not get it from the county council.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Whitley)

I would remind the hon. Member that he is not allowed to touch legislation on Report of Supply: it is only administration.


I am sorry. The matter has been referred to by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Agriculture, and I was just replying to what he said. However, I will do my best to keep within your ruling. I do not know whether this defect can be altered by administration, but certainly it wants attending to in some way or another. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are continually accusing landlords of trying to evade the Small Holdings Act. But I really do not think that that is the case. The difficulty of working the Small Holdings Act is that the buildings, the water supply, and other conveniences have to be supplied to a number of houses instead of to one. It is difficult, therefore, to put small holdings on a sound financial basis, and let the small holdings at a low rent. If you take a farm of 300 acres, and turn it into small holdings of ten acres each, instead of having one dwelling house, one set of buildings, one water supply, and so on you have thirty sets, and that is the explanation why these small holdings are so heavily rented in comparison with big holdings. They cost so much more. That is a difficulty that unfortunately cannot be got over, and which I think hon. Members are rather apt to forget. These are the real difficulties of working small holdings.

Another difficulty is about the by-laws of the local authorities in respect to buildings, which prevent the putting up of workmen's and allotment dwellings. Then the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme told us how heavily these holdings were rated. It is perfectly true that the rating of these small holdings is very heavy while the stuff that comes into this country from abroad does not pay any taxes at all. Therefore the heavier you make your rates and taxes under the Small Holdings Act the more you injure your own people and help the foreigner. This is the fact. You are taxing your own people heavily, and the foreigner's goods come in and pay nothing. I am afraid until that system is altered, whether by administration or in any other way, you will never make small holdings in this country really very numerous or very prosperous. The other day it was stated, I think very truly, that it was a dreadful thing to see all our best manhood being dragged away to foreign countries and the colonies, and a naked countryside left where there ought to be lots of healthy people living. An hon. Member opposite said that the labourer got only about 11s. a week, and lived in a state of slavery. He also said that human flesh and blood is too cheap in our villages, and that the agricultural labourers were the worst paid white men in the world. I quite agree, and I am afraid that is so. They work hard for long hours and get practically no holiday. I am inclined to think they ought to have, at all events, a half-holiday once a week or once a fortnight, but under the present conditions they cannot have it. I do not see how it can be done. If you want to get people back to the land you must make the land worth cultivating. You are now putting the agricultural labourer in competition with Chinamen, who work for two or three pence a day. As long as you do that and allow the agricultural labourer to be swamped by the produce made by very cheap labour, you cannot possibly give him good wages; the thing is impossible. You cannot have very cheap imports and good wages. Not all the Radical Socialism in the world can do it. Until you recognise that you have not grasped the difficulty. Mr. Booker Washington, the leader of the coloured people in America says most distinctly how very much better off the agricultural labourers are there than are the white working people in this country.


I do not see how the hon. Member raises this question, on the Vote on Account.


I have said enough to show that the coloured people are better off, and I suppose hon. Gentlemen know that America is a protected country. You want to give the labourer access to the land on reasonable terms. So do I. But you cannot under the Bill of the present Government. He wants to be able to rise gradually, and to do that you must somehow or other give him better wages and fair conditions, and you must give him a chance of selling his produce in his own country on equal terms with the foreigner. Until you keep your people on the land you are bound to reduce the wages of the working people in the towns. That applies to all sorts of labour. If you keep on pushing more labour into the manufacturing and coal-mining industries you must keep wages down; the surplus labour is bound to do it.

I should like to say something with regard to meat. I see that a lot of meat is now being imported infected with worms, and they cut out the briskets and send the rest over here, where it is no doubt sold as English beef. I do not think it is right that the Americans should be allowed to cut out the diseased parts of their cattle and send them over here to be sold to a great extent as British meat. The Secretary to the Board of Agriculture has confessed that foreign meat is continuously and fraudulently being sold as British and he declines to do anything to stop it, though it could be done by administration. He quoted a law which he said prevented it, and I asked him how many times it had been put in operation in the last fourteen years. He had to confess that it has never been put in force once. That is a thing that hurts agriculture very much. Then you have the American Meat Trust, which rules the price of beef in this country. Surely that is a thing which ought to be put a stop to. I think hon. Members opposite must see that it is wrong that the consumer should be defrauded by having an article which is not what is represented, but they will not stop it because they are afraid of the butcher and the shipper. Otherwise I think the President of the Board of Trade would do all he could to prevent fraud in this trade. I hope our agricultural leaders will wake up a little and try to do something for agriculture. I think the hon. Baronet (Sir E. Strachey) was not very pleased with me at one time. I was only pulling his leg very gently. May I remind him that he has done practically nothing to prevent the fraudulent sale of foreign meat for British and that you have no right to allow cheating to go on. The hon. Baronet can do something if he likes in regard to this matter, and I hope that he will make an effort.

10.0 P.M

Captain MURRAY

I desire to direct the attention of the House to a grievance which I think requires ventilation here. I have addressed to the President of the Local Government Board on various occasions, questions as to whether it would not be possible to stop the blowing of motor horns in. London between twelve midnight and seven a.m. I think it is a grievance which requires consideration on the part of the Local Government Board owing to the insufficiency of sleep which is obtained by many people in London, especially Members of the House of Commons, on account of the excessive hooting of motor horns, the blowing of motor syrens, and such like instruments during the hours of darkness and well on in the early hours of the morning. I asked the President of the Local Government Board whether he would put a stop to this, what I term with all diffidence, hideous practice. The right hon. Gentleman replied that it would not be possible to do so because under the terms of the Motor Car Act every motor vehicle must carry and use a warning instrument of some sort in order that when points of danger are reached people may be warned. That was I he substance of the reply. May I explain to the House what exactly happens? When the streets are clear after twelve o'clock or one o'clock, as the case may be, motor vehicles of all descriptions, though I think taxi-cabs are the chief offenders in that respect, go rushing along at a pace of thirty miles an hour or possibly more. That is what occurs in the main streets. When they come to the corner of a street-leading to a main street, instead of slowing down they go past the corner at the same rate of anything up to thirty miles an hour and in order to guard themselves from running over any unwary person who may be coming round the corner, they violently blow a motor horn or whistle. This is no imaginary grievance, because since I addressed the question to the President of the Local Government Board I have received many letters from people living in different parts of London thanking me for drawing the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to this matter, calling me a public benefactor, and expressing the sincere hope that I will be successful in inducing him to give this matter his consideration and to apply effective remedies.

I have attempted to show that it is the desire of drivers of motor vehicles to drive at an excessive speed during the hours of darkness. That is the only reason why they should blow their horns at all. It is not only motor horns, but. whistles and syrens of truly remarkable and alarming descriptions. I have been at some pains during the past few days to look through the advertising columns of the motor papers. I found descriptions of some of these instruments which give one an idea of the nature of the sounds which they emit. One advertisement referring to a horn says that it gives the same powerful musical note whether the engine is running fast or slow. That may be all very well on a clear road in broad daylight out in the country, but it is a different thing if you hear it at three o'clock in the morning when you are endeavouring to get a well-earned sleep. Another advertisement refers to the far-reaching note of the instrument, and states that this horn positively assures a clear road, because it is heard long before the automobile comes in view. None of us may object very much to hearing this sound in the open country, but I for one— and I believe many hon. Members will agree with me— sincerely object to these alarming sounds when they occur in the darkness and in the early hours of the morning. These motor vehicles when the streets are clear certainly exceed the speed limit as laid down in the Motor Car Act, and so far as I can see there is no single authority, either the police or anyone else, in London who takes the slightest trouble to prevent motor vehicles from exceeding the speed limit. If in these clear streets at night the policeman on the beat were at times, at any rate, to stop taxi-drivers who are evidently exceeding the speed limit, I think that some good might eventually ensue. But I do ask the President of the Local Government Board whether it is not possible, by regulation or otherwise, to do something to remedy what I venture to say is a very real grievance. It may be that he will reply that an amending Act to the Motor Car Act is necessary, that the speed limit is so many miles per hour at the present moment, and that until the speed limit is changed by Act of Parliament it is impossible to do anything which will stop motor car riders from using their horns in the manner which I have indicated. If that be so I do hope that the President of the Local Government Board can hold out to us some hope to-night of an amending Act to the Motor Car Act.


That involves legislation which has nothing to do with this Vote.

Captain MURRAY

It may be possible to apply some remedy by an Administrative Order. If that be so, I hope that the President of the Local Government Board will tell us how it is to be done. One other question on which I may be permitted to touch is the administration of regulations in respect to exceeding the speed limit along country roads. We know very well that it is customary for the police to place on certain roads what they commonly term police traps, and when a motor is discovered by one of these police traps to be exceeding the speed limit the motor is stopped when it has arrived at the further end of the trap, and the driver or owner of the car, as the case may be, is then given due notice that he has exceeded the speed limit and will be called upon in due course to appear in the proper place and receive his sentence or pay his fine as the case may be. It is an excellent practice as far as it goes. It gives the driver, whether he be a hired driver or an owner, an opportunity of knowing whether or not he has exceeded the speed limit, and when he is called before the proper person to account for his action he is able to say, so far as his own knowledge of the circumstances goes, whether or not he has been exceeding the speed of twenty miles an hour laid down by the regulation. But a new practice has now arisen.

I heard of a case a short time ago in which the owner of a motor was riding in a certain part of the country, and for all he knows or for all he knew at the time he did not exceed the speed limit. But a week or two afterwards—I am not quite certain of the actual number of days—he received a notice from the police authorities in the district through which he had been travelling, saying that on such and such a day at such art hour he had exceeded the speed limit between certain places. What I wish to submit to the House and to the Minister responsible for the administration of the Act is that it is impossible for the driver of that car two weeks after the date on which he has been driving in a certain district to say whether or not he did exceed the speed limit between certain mile-stones upon certain roads. I submit that that places the driver of the motor car in a very invidious position. It, does not give him a fair chance and it places him almost entirely at the mercy of the police. This particular practice has certainly occurred in one instance. I do not know whether it is prevalent throughout the country, but I hope that the Minister responsible will be able to tell us whether or not it is proposed to allow it to continue, and if not, whether he will take the necessary steps to bring it to an end.

Colonel YATE

I may bring back the discussion for a few minutes to the question of small holdings. I had the pleasure last night of listening to a very able, interesting and well-informed speech of the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) on the question of small holdings. He referred to the unsympathetic action on the part of the county councils, and it struck me that there may be two sides to that question. A week or two ago we had a discussion on small holdings. I think it was commenced by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Morrell). If I remember aright he gave us a most sad account of the action of the Board of Agriculture on this question, so sad an account that we all felt that there was no possible hope for the hon. Member for Burnley unless he cleared out the Agricultural Board and put a Unionist Board in its place, and then small holdings would spread like wildfire. But he was followed by the hon. Baronet the Member for North Bucks (Sir H. Ver- ney), who gave us a very interesting account of some good lady in Bucks who had defeated all the endeavours of himself and the county council, of which evidently he is such an active member, to turn her out of her small homestead—I think it was some 474 acres.

We all listened with great interest to the account, of his absolute failure to turn this good lady out and how she defeated them all, and I think we can all sympathise with her. We do not know how she acquired the holding, but I certainly suppose that she lived there all her life, and that she desired to continue to live there; and I can understand the terrible distress and anxiety and anguish which owners of land must suffer when endeavours are made summarily to eject them from their property. That brought home to us a case of what unsympathetic action on the part of county councils may be. That is the light in which it struck me, and I think that one of the things which we ought to bear in mind in the administration of these compulsory clauses under the Small Holdings Act, is that they should not be put into operation if possible where there are resident owners on the land. There can be no possible object in turning out one really good agriculturist to make place for another agriculturist who may not turn out to be as good. I hope that the Board of Agriculture, in giving instructions for the compulsory working of these clauses, will direct that the clauses should not be enforced if possible in cases where there are resident owners. There are many cases in which land may he acquired on which there are no resident owners. I once tried to bring under the notice of the board the case of glebe lands. I do not say that the board should take the best portions of the glebe lands from the village clergyman and leave the rest. But there are instances in which the village clergyman has no knowledge of agriculture whatsoever, and could not even tell wheat from barley. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] I grant you that in the olden days the abbots and priors, who had landed property, were good landowners, and thoroughly understood agriculture. Nowadays you have the College don, or men from the large towns, who have never had any agricultural experience, and to whom the management of glebe lands is a burden. I have known cases where men have lost large sums of money from want of knowledge of the management of land and want of agricultural knowledge of all sorts; yet if the glebe lands could be sold at their proper value and the money funded, many an incumbent would be largely benefitted. I am, sure that there are many cases in which this could be done, if the Board of Agriculture would take the matter into consideration, and, either by some measure or administrative step, arrange to acquire glebe lands. It might be done through the Ecclesiastical Commissioners if you like, or any other Commissioners, and I feel that much could be done in this direction for small holdings. When I speak of the acquisition of glebe lands, I do not mean the picking out of the best portion of them, but the taking up of the whole of the 100 acres, or 200 acres, or whatever the amount may be. I hope the President of the Board of Agriculture will take the matter into consideration and see whether something cannot be done.


I desire to bring before the notice of the House a matter of administration respecting the Royal parks, which has already formed the subject of question and reply in this House. Not long ago the hon. Member for Southampton (Mr. Dudley Ward), as representative of the First Commissioner of Works, was asked whether it would not be possible during these hot days to use the Serpentine for bathing and swimming in the hot hours of the day, instead of being restricted, as at present, to the early morning and late evening. On that occasion the hon. Gentleman, representing the First Commissioner of Works, was good enough to grant a small concession. He announced that instead of stopping the bathing at eight o'clock in the morning it could go on until half-past eight, and instead of beginning at seven o'clock at night it should begin at six o'clock. I am deeply grateful for that concession, but I do urge that it is not an adequate concession, and that there is no real reason why a much greater use should not be made of the Serpentine by the children of the City. I put a supplementary question to the hon. Member for Southampton and asked him, when he said some objections had peen received to those suggestions, to state what was the nature of those objections, and for the first time in my life I observed that the hon. Member looked positively shocked. An hon. Member says that he blushed, and I felt at first as if my question had been of an indecorous nature. [Sir F. BANBURY: "Hear, hear."] The hon. Baronet the Member for the City appears to think it was indecorous, but I am not quite sure that it is not what some one said of another moralist, "Only his fun." After carefully considering once more that question, I may say I am unrepentant, and I desire to repeat it to-night. I want to know what possible objection can be made to schoolboys swimming and bathing in the Serpentine in the summer months at the appointed place. The standpoint I take is this: that in considering the arrangements in connection with the public parks we should think of them primarily as a means of giving health and recreation to the children of the city; and if there are any persons of greater age who would be offended, or who would regard it as indelicate that in the broad daylight children should bathe and swim, then I venture to suggest with profound respect that the parks are no place for them, and that they should leave the parks to people able to put them to better use. I regret very much having to speak to-night in the absence of a representative of the First Commissioner of Works, but I am somewhat cheered by seeing upon the Front Bench two Ministers whose sympathies in this matter I am quite sure I can count upon and whose general popularity in every part of the House is evidenced by the remarkable outburst of cheering. I beg those two Ministers early to-morrow to wait upon the First Commissioner to place before him what I claim to be the unanimous feeling of the House, and to see to it that before he summer holidays have occurred the children of our city shall have this privilege conferred upon them.


I desire to take this opportunity of calling attention to a matter of very serious importance with regard to the Vote for Education in Scotland, Class 4, No. 8. We were, unfortunately, unable in the time devoted to the discussion of the Scottish Estimates the other day, owing to the press of other business, to raise this point; but I would urge that it is a very important one, and I hope my two hon. Friends, the Ministers now on the Front Bench, will be able to report the matter to the Secretary of State for Scotland and draw his attention to it. I hope I shall, in a brief statement, be able to show its great importance, and the necessity for dealing with it as quickly as possible. Under the arrangements for the Scottish Education Vote, various charges have to be met in the first in- stance, and among the other charges is the sum devoted to one of the most important departments of education, I refer to higher education. I need hardly remind the House that there is probably no money spent by this House in any part of the United Kingdom which is better spent or which is productive of more beneficial results than the money spent on education in Scotland. We have there a system of education in which everybody is consulted. It is entirely in the hands of the people of the country, who have for many years displayed the greatest interest in such matters, and the result is that education is increasing in its influence and its benefits, so to speak, every year. At the present moment we have to meet increased payments for purposes such as the superannuation of teachers. That for some time has required additional expenditure, but I am glad to say there is now a prospect of being relieved. But there has been all round a heavy increase of the claims on the education authorities, and therefore on the grant. At the same time the funds from which the grant is supplied have been decreased owing to circumstances over which they have no control. There has been a falling off in what is generally called "the whisky money," and in other branches of supply of the same kind. The result is that the education authorities in Scotland, although the claims for expenditure have increased, have had to submit to a serious diminution in the funds which ought to flow automatically to them from the Treasury. What we ask for is a distinct increase in the Scottish Education Vote. We want about £100,000 more.

The House may be perfectly satisfied that of all the money voted no money will be so beneficially spent as the money which we require to increase the balance available for higher education in Scotland. I hope my hon. Friends on the Front Bench will bring that matter distinctly and forcibly before the Secretary of Scotland, and will also remind him of the necessity of dealing with the matter as soon as he possibly can. The shortage of money has become so pronounced that the Scottish Education Board has been compelled to circularise the education authorities of Scotland, reminding them that the funds at their disposal for higher education are seriously diminished, and that they would have to reduce if necessary the amount available for bursaries, for higher education, and universities. Here, then, you have a distinct loss on what is the most valuable expenditure under the Board. I also want to draw attention to the fact that the authorities next month will have to make up the budgets under which they will have to decide what amount will be available for these bursaries and other expenditure for higher education, and these bursaries have to be granted for a certain number of years, and the number of persons to whom they will be able to grant these bursaries in the coming year will be reduced unless they can get more funds than they have. I make a most earnest appeal, in these circumstances, to my hon. Friends to lose no time in bringing this clatter, which is one of the highest importance to the best interests of the country, under the notice of the Secretary for Scotland.

May I remind them that a very numerous, strong, and representative deputation of the school authorities from Scotland came to London and had an interview with the Scottish Members. They endeavoured also to have an interview with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but with the Budget before him and the National Insurance Bill to follow they found that it was impossible for him to give time or attention to the subject. But what I want to impress upon the House is that at the very earliest possible moment the deficit which we are now suffering from in relation to the higher education of Scotland should be adequately dealt with, and we suggest, if only as a temporary grant, that at the earliest possible date we should get a sum not exceeding £100,000 for the purpose of higher education of Scotland. This should be given with the understanding that every increase given is made available for that most valuable channel in which the money for the purposes of education can be spent— that is the higher education of Scotland. When you know that at the present moment in the big towns of England, of the Colonies, and in fact all over the world, important posts are held by Scotchmen; when you remember that the sons of farmers, tradesmen, and others have been educated so as to be able to go out and take these higher and responsible posts throughout the Empire, hon. Members will see the value of the education given. I sincerely urge the importance of not allowing the education of these children to be interfered with in any way whatsoever.


I have just one or two points which I should like to bring before the attention of the Commit- tee. I want to know, firstly, whether the President of the Local Government Board can give us in advance of the publication of the Census the figures of the population for the years between 1901 and 1911. I imagine that these are very shortly to come out. I think the totals of the three countries are now known. No doubt anyone who is acquainted with population statistics will be able to calculate out the figures required, and it will be a convenience to some of us, and for a particular inquiry in which I am interested at present, if we might have the official calculations of the Local Government Board. If that can be done without waiting for the publication of the Census Returns some of us will be obliged. The second question I want to raise was raised the other day by the hon. Member for Cockermouth, but the reply to his question was not really satisfactory. It deals with a question of the allowance of spirits to officers in the Royal Navy. Apparently they are allowed, for the purposes of entertainment, to have a certain allowance of spirits duty free—


That question does not arise on the Civil Service Estimates.


I thought it might be connected with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury for a reason which I will give in a moment. This allowance in the case of the Admiralty is equivalent to an allowance of £100 a year, and that seems to me to affect the revenue of the country pretty considerably. This duty free allowance of spirits is equivalent to no less than £100 a year, and the official explanation of that is that it is really necessary for admirals and flag captains to entertain.


That does not arise on the Civil Service Estimates.


The other point I wished to raise is in connection with the Naval Prize Bill.


That, too, cannot be raised on this Vote.


In that case I will only ask for a reply in regard to the Census question.


I wish to back up the appeal which has been made by the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Ainsworth) for increased aid in connection with the higher education of Scotland. I would point out that in consequence of the demands which will be made on local education authorities for teachers' superannuation the authorities will either have to sacrifice efficiency in education or impose an additional education rate, which in some cases will amount to about 2d. in the pound. Under these circumstances the local education authorities have an extremely strong case to put before the Treasury, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give favourable consideration to the demands we are making. I wish to raise the question of the conditions of service of prison warders in Scotland. The rates of pay of these servants have been under the consideration of the Treasury, and a fresh scheme has been issued providing for the remuneration of these servants. They complain, justly, that the scale of the new scheme is not adequate, and that the terms of payment are not equal to those prevailing in English prisons. The scale of the different classes of prison warders in Scotland has not been raised to the level of the scale in England, and that arises from the fact that in all branches of the Civil Service in England they receive a preferential treatment. This is due to a state of things which formerly existed under which the cost of living was higher than in Scotland, but this cannot be said to be the case now, apart from the Metropolis, and consequently there is no case for differentiating in the scale of pay for civil servants in England and in Scotland. When the matter was brought before the representative of the Post Office he said the reason for this differentiation was that Scotchmen were more frugal, and consequently ought to suffer by having a smaller salary. Surely we should not penalise any class for their virtues. The Treasury seem to be following this course in relation to the prison warders in Scotland by keeping the Scotch scale lower than the English scale, thus penalising them in the same way.

There is another matter which, I think, ought to receive the attention of the Scottish Prison Commissioners. I am sorry the Lord Advocate is not in his place to listen to this grievance. The Scottish prison warders claim that they are entitled to a weekly rest day. This principle has been admitted in the case of the police in England, but in Scotland it has not been admitted. The Secretary for Scotland, speaking in Edinburgh some months ago, said he was quite in favour of giving a rest day to the police in Scotland, but it was not a matter of administration, and many of the Scottish local authorities were opposed to it. With regard to prison warders, however, he is not in this position, because he can make this concession. The Secretary for Scotland said that all classes of Civil servants should have this weekly rest day, and so we now call upon him to exercise his discretion by an administrative act, and confer this boon upon Scottish prison warders. He may say that it will be necessary to apply to the Treasury for some increase in the Grant for Scottish prisons, but I contend that this will not really be necessary At the present time there is a much smaller number than usual in the Scottish prisons. In recent years there has been a falling off of serious crimes in Scotland, and shorter terms of imprisonment have been imposed. Consequently you have now a smaller staff than is provided for in the Estimates. In one of the largest prisons in Scotland there is at the present time a considerably smaller number of warders than is provided for in the Estimates, and therefore it would be possible within the provision made in the current Estimates to obtain the necessary staff to give this weekly rest day in all the Scottish prisons. These are the main points which I wish to bring forward in relation to Scottish administration. It seems improbable Scottish Members will have another opportunity of dealing with various matters arising in connection with Scottish administration, and we can only regard it as unfortunate that we have not the Lord Advocate or some other Minister representing Scotland here to listen to these grievances which we wish at this time to ventilate. I hope, however, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will give sympathetic and careful consideration to these demands when they are put before him, as I have no doubt the Secretary for Scotland will do in due course.


I desire to emphasise the words of truth which have fallen from the hon. Members for Argyllshire (Mr. Ainsworth) and Lanarkshire (Mr. Pringle) with reference to both education and the prison warders of Scotland. It is absolutely necessary Scotland should not be neglected in this Parliament, because, unfortunately, the Scottish Members having been silent during the last few years, the interests of Scotland have been greatly overlooked. We only ask for £100,000 more. I think the taxation of Scotland is greater in proportion to our population than either England or Ireland. We give much and we get little, but I hope this demand for an increase will not be overlooked by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, who is here now. My object in rising was to say a word on behalf of Kew. Kew Gardens is a delightful spot to visit. I had occasion a few years ago to call attention to the conditions of labour there, and I found many men who had not had a Sunday free for thirteen or fourteen years. The First Commissioner of Works was good enough to look into the matter, and he gave those men every alternate Sunday. They were deeply grateful for the improvement in their position, but, unfortunately, the Board of Agriculture, whilst willing to make changes, were not so generous, because I dare say the Treasury were not so considerate towards them, and the result is there are men there who only have one Sunday in six. I think it is hard those men should not be able to be with their families every alternate Sunday, or, if they desire it, be able to go to church, or have the privilege of visiting their friends, and in this way have a little of the enjoyments of life. I think the conditions of labour are such that the wages might be improved, to the extent of 2s. per week. The average is exceedingly small, much below what is paid outside Government service, and, as the Government service is so generous in other departments, I think those men might be considered to a greater extent than they have been considered during the last few years. I speak, then, for an increase of wages; that these men should have every alternate Sunday instead of one in every five or six; and that their wages should not be in any way reduced. I hope the Treasury will look into the matter. I am sure, if they do, they will be ashamed of what has been done during the past few years, and will immediately remedy the matter.


I only desire to say a few words in support of the hon. Member for Argyllshire (Mr. Ainsworth), but I cannot help saying a word with regard to what the last speaker has said. I quite agree with him that if the Secretary for Scotland can do anything to improve the position of the prison warders of Scotland they deserve it. I do not know much about prison warders. They have no doubt an unpleasant task, and if we can render it less so, we ought to. As to education, undoubtedly we do want more money. Scottish people are proud of their elementary as well as of their higher education. It has been useful all over the world. John Knox established a good system 300 years ago. He established it by means of a charge on the land. That was remitted to a certain extent by the Education Act of 1870. I am glad to see the Scottish Whip (Mr. Gulland) is in his place. It is extremely unfortunate that at this late hour we should be obliged to call attention to this matter. Apparently the Government think anything is good enough for Scotland, both in educational matters and otherwise. But Scotland gets on in spite of all that. There are continual extra charges for education, but still we all admit that education must be proceeded with, so as to enable us to compete with the world. Education at the present moment in Scotland is carried on more economically than it is in England or Ireland, especially Ireland. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I do not say anything against education in Ireland beyond the fact that the English Government in that country makes it very expensive. I do not charge the Irish Government with any responsibility for that, but I do charge the British Government with being responsible for extravagant management of Irish schools. [An HON. MEMBER: "They are meaner in Ireland than they are in Scotland."] All I wish to say is that the Treasury takes advantage of our economy in Scotland, and thinks that because we are more economical than England that advantage can be taken of the fact. Consequently money is refused which is absolutely necessary. The grants for education are continually increasing because the Department makes demands upon the teachers and members of the school boards which are advancing every year. No doubt that is very properly done, but; it costs money, which should be forthcoming. I cannot understand why we cannot be allowed an opportunity, except at a time shortly before eleven o'clock at night to discuss such an important matter as the education of the Scottish people. I am perfectly aware that the education given to the Scottish people has given them all over the world a position which the people of no other country possesses. This is not a party question, and we want the Government to recognise that fact, and we want the education of Scotland settled on business and educational lines instead of being treated simply as a party matter. I hope that I shall be able to-night to find out from the Scottish Whip where the Scottish Secretary is and whether he will give an undertaking to repeat to the right hon. Gentleman my statement that there is a very strong feeling among Scottish Members that these matters ought to be attended to in the interests of the country. There are, no doubt, many other questions we should like to discuss, and as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury is here I should like to call his attention to the growth of tobacco in Scotland, and to the fact that we have an Act of Parliament making it legal. The Treasury is giving to Ireland £6,000 for five years for the purpose of promoting the growth of tobacco in Ireland, but Scotland cannot get a penny. They tell us to go to the Development Fund, and we go there, and we do not get any "forrader," and we have not grown any tobacco yet, because the Treasury refuse to find any money.