§ Mr. MUNRO
The importance of the fishing industry in the national life of Scotland and the fact that owing to the intervention of the Debate upon the dock strike this year the fishery vote was not discussed, must be my excuse in asking the indulgence of the House for a few minutes while I refer to one or two administrative problems and ask the Secretary for Scotland to give his attention to them. I need not emphasise the importance of the fishing industry in Scotland. One has only to remember that last year there were more than 89,000 persons employed in one capacity or another in connection with the industry in order to appreciate its moment to the welfare of the country. There have been certain events since last year, both outside the industry itself while intimately affecting it and also within the industry, which give rise to certain problems in connection with the administration of the Scotch Fisheries. As regards events outside the industry, I will only refer to the passing of the Insurance Act, and while I am quite aware that one must not press on the Motion which we are now discussing, any legislative topic, I would ask the Secretary of Scotland to keep a watchful eye upon the administration of that Act in Scotland, in particular as it affects the fishing interests of the country. One matter in connection with the working of that Act to which I would like to refer for a moment is the Committee of Management of the National Seamen's Union which has just been formed in connection with the Act. I am aware that the Secretary for Scotland has no direct responsibility in this matter, but I would ask him to make strong representations in the proper quarter with regard to this, that on that Committee, which affects Scotland as well as England, there is not a single direct representative of Scotland at the present time. I raised the matter by means of a question to the President of the Board of Trade in the course of this Session, and I ask the Secretary for Scotland that he should make representations on behalf of the Scotch fishermen to the President of the Board of Trade with the view of seeing whether a direct representative of the Scottish fishing industry might not be added to the composition of that Committee.
There are just one or two other matters within the industry to which I 3315 desire to allude—new since last year, or partially new. There is, first of all, the extraordinary development of mechanical propulsion in the matter of boats as distinguished from the old sailing vessels with which we are familiar. That has given rise to a variety of administrative problems in connection with the industry. One has only to remember that in the last six years the proportion of sailing boats to steam and motor-propelled boats has been inverted, namely, that while in 1906, 31 percent, of the herrings caughtwere in steam vessels and 69 per cent, in sailing vessels, in 1911, within six years, the proportion is 64 per cent, caught by steam and motor vessels, and 36 per cent, by sailing vessels. That at once gives rise to the administrative problem whether or no it would not be possible to give loans to fishermen in order to enable them to instal motor-propulsion in their boats. I am aware that at the present time a Commission is sitting to consider that subject, and I would again appeal to the Secretary for Scotland that he should see to it that that Commission reports as soon as may be in order that the Scottish fishermen may know where they are in this matter. At first sight one might be inclined to think that inasmuch as we have all these motor boats within six years fishermen do not require aid from outside by way of loan or otherwise. That is a short-sighted view. At present, under the existing system, fishermen in Scotland obtain these loans at exorbitant rates of interest, and only at exorbitant rates of interest. If my information is correct, they very often sacrifice their independence of action in obtaining these loans. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to see to it that the Commission in question should report on this subject at the earliest possible moment. Then there is the question of herring trawling, which has come to the front within the last twelve months. In the Fishery Board Report I see that it is referred to in this way, as being—fraught with far-reaching possibilities, and, further, that it spread something akin to consternation in drift-net fishing circles.I am not surprised at that, and, although I am glad to see that that matter has been remitted to another Commission to inquire into, yet it is of such pressing urgency that I appeal to the Secretary for Scotland to speed up, if possible, the Report of that Commission, so that one may have it at the earliest moment in order that the necessary administrative action may be 3316 taken on the Report. With regard to the composition of that Commission, I regret to say that it has not commanded the confidence in Scotland which one would like; but as the Minister specially concerned is not here, I do not press the matter further at this time. One other question in reference to the administration of the Scottish Fisheries to which I desire to refer is the Grants for Scottish Fishing harbours, and I am glad to be able to say that I am not in the least inclined to be critical in this matter. I am grateful to the Secretary for Scotland for the means which have been taken to secure those Grants, and I would ask him to continue the generous policy which has been obtaining during the past year in this connection. I would assure him that it is highly appreciated by fishermen, and is very necessary to their welfare. The only other topic on which I wish to say a few words is whether the Secretary for Scotland, by his good offices in the proper quarter, will endeavour to secure on future occasions that we should have more time for the discussion of Scottish topics upon the proper occasion, namely, when the Estimates are under review. I am aware that this is a matter for the Prime Minister to determine, but, if I might put it to the Secretary for Scotland, I would suggest that he might use his good offices in order that we should have, at the proper time, say, two days, for the discussion of Scottish matters, instead of discussing Scottish affairs at the fag end and in the very last hours of a dying Session. Those are the only topics which I desire to raise, and I ask the Secretary for Scotland to give them his sympathetic consideration as I am sure he will.
§ Mr. MORTON
I am sorry to have to detain the House in considering Scottish local affairs, and I regret very much it is necessary to detain anybody at all; but it is an unfortunate fact, and I do not mean about party matters, that Scottish local affairs on which the happiness and the comfort of the people largely depend, are grossly neglected, both by the Scottish Office, by the Front Bench, and by Parliament. What we want the Scottish Secretary and Parliament to do, is something for the people of Scotland, and especially to prevent depopulation, and to take care that those 89,000 people my hon. Friend has just mentioned are not driven out of the country on account of the want of better administration in Scotland. I 3317 endorse every remark made by my hon. Friend the Member for Wick Burghs (Mr. Munro). I know it may be said that this wants money, but there is plenty of money if the Scottish Secretary will only insist on having it from the Treasury. How he is to do that is a matter for him to consider. I see by the returns, that there is plenty of money, and that during the year ending March 31st, 1912, the revenue contributed in excess of local expenditure in Scotland, was £10,331,500, and in another country not so important as Scotland, namely, Ireland, instead of an excess of some ten millions, there is a deficiency of £845,500. If the Irish people can get money like that, why should not the Scottish people, supposing that it is proved, as it can be, that it is wanted for the benefit of the country. I see in that year that in Ireland £11,533,500 was spent on local affairs, whereas in Scotland during the same period only £8,311,500 was spent. I have noticed for a great number of years, no matter which Government was in power, that there was apparently no difficulty in Parliament providing money to spend by the million in Uganda, and all sorts of wild places, and for which very often there is no return. If it is useful I do not object to it, but I should like to insist that our own country should be thought of first, and if it can be proved that public money is wanted for the better government of these countries, then we ought to have it before they get it in Uganda and Lake Victoria. The matter was summed up by the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and it cannot be too often repeated, namely, that we want to colonise our own country, and especially the North of Scotland. We did hope when we got a new Secretary for Scotland that we should have a better state of things. I do not put this on party grounds, but I should like to see the Secretary for Scotland doing (what he has done to a small extent) namely, consulting the Scottish Members as to what is wanted. It is a curious thing, but it is worth noticing, that during the whole of the time from 1906 to the time when the present Secretary was appointed, the Scottish Liberal Members, as far as I know, were never consulted as to the requirements of Scotland. What I should like to see is the Secretary for Scotland consulting the majority of the Members. Of course the Liberals are in a large majority, and therefore they should be consulted, because they represent the bulk of the people. The present Secretary commenced well. He consulted them on some 3318 matters, but I am afraid he has been captured by the officials, and if we do not take care he may get as bad as his predecessor, who never consulted the Scottish Liberal Members at all. I want to try to save the present Secretary, and make him useful, not only to the party but to Scotland and the Scottish people. With regard to the fishing question, my constituents are very much interested in it, because three sides or more of Sutherland-shire are bordered by the sea or the Moray Firth.
What the people want is to be allowed to carry on their enterprises, whether fishing or otherwise, without the interference of the great companies and trusts which annoy them at the present moment. What we have been demanding is that illegal trawling should be put an end to. With regard to trawling outside the three-mile limit, I have nothing to say, because they have a right. But we have utterly failed to get the Scottish Office to do their duty and put an end to illegality. Everybody should be compelled to keep the law, whether it be big trusts or poor fishermen. We have tried by introducing Bills to amend the law in accordance with what the judges in Scotland have told us is necessary to get an end put to this illegal trawling. What we have shown is that faster police boats or cruisers are required to capture the illegal trawlers, and, above all, that there should be a heavier penalty when they are caught. We have this extraordinary fact, that the Scottish Office and the Scottish Secretary not only do nothing, but oppose the attempts of my hon. Friends and myself to amend the law. I hope we shall have a better state of things in the future. I am speaking in the interests, not merely of the party, but of the better administration of the law, especially in Scotland, with a view to preventing the depopulation which the last census has shown has been going on so seriously in the rural districts, and especially in the northern counties. We are losing to a very large extent some of the best workers that you can possibly find in the country. I do hope, although it is a late part of the Session, and we have not time to-night to discuss the matter, that the present Secretary will endeavour to insist upon a very much better state of things in the future. We know that the Front Bench could not exist except for Scotsmen. Therefore if the Scottish Secretary will insist on what is right and fair to Scotland I am sure he will get it.
3319 No doubt it wants a little more determination amongst Scottish Members themselves. I daresay we want a little more backbone. We are going to have it in the future, and we certainly have commenced proceedings this year to show what we want, and we may exert ourselves more when we come back from our holidays. There is certainly no reason why we should not be treated as well as Irish or Welsh Members. I do not object to Home Rule for Ireland or reform for Wales. They want it badly enough. But we want something for ourselves. I have no doubt the people of Scotland will presently say that they are determined to have Home Rule for themselves, not for the purpose of damaging Imperial affairs or the Imperial Parliament, but for the purpose of a proper administration of the law in our own country. I have no doubt that during the Recess my right hon. Friend will see a good deal of Scotland. I hope he will come back in the autumn with a determination to do his duty, not so much to party, as to the Scottish people whom he represents.
§ Mr. C. E. PRICE
May I refer to a personal observation made by the hon. Member for Wick Burghs regarding the official representative on the Committee of management of the National Seamen's Union? I do so because there are several similar institutions which are really national in character, but on which, unfortunately, no representative of Scotland has been placed. The same thing applies to a great many Committees which are appointed by this House to inquire into different matters which affect the country as a whole, and upon which, I regret to say, no representative for Scotland has been placed. Take, for instance, the Committee which was appointed to inquire into the effect of railway amalgamation. It will be within the recollection of the House that last year the Scottish railways issued a circular on the question of demurrage. This caused great agitation all over Scotland, with the result that a meeting was called for the Board of Trade in the hope of bringing about some settlement. I am glad to say a settlement was brought about. At all events, the railway companies withdrew a great portion of the scheme which they had placed in the circular—to the great satisfaction of the traders. Immediately after this interview took place at the Board of Trade, a Committee was appointed to inquire into 3320 the effect upon the traders of the railway amalgamation and the pooling. Whilst in Scotland there had been great agitation regarding the effect of the pooling and the amalgamation I regret to say that no single representative of the Scottish people or the Scottish traders was put upon that committee.
Take another case. Prior to that Committee, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the effect of accidents in connection with buildings. The inquiry into these accidents was brought about largely as the result of the Workmen's Compensation Act. On that Committee no single Scottish representative whatever was placed, and it was a Committee of national importance—one to inquire into accidents both in Scotland, England, and Ireland. I regret to say that no representative of Scotland was placed upon it. Anybody who knows anything about building in Scotland and England, as I do, knows that in the getting out of the schedules at the beginning, as well as in the form in which the procedure is adopted, the two systems are entirely different. But the result is that upon that Commission appointed to inquire into these accidents there was not a man capable of cross-examining a Scotch builder, because they did not know anything about the Scottish building trade. The result was it was unable to make any inquiry as to the cause of the different accidents in Scotland. I had letters from Scotland complaining about this. I wrote to the Board of Trade making suggestions, but the Commission had been appointed, and nothing could be done. Whenever a Commission is appointed of national importance in any way affecting the United Kingdom as a whole, the Scottish Office should see that some representative of Scotland was placed upon it. I think that is a perfectly reasonable and natural request, and it could be simply done. Whenever such a Commission has been appointed the Board of Trade should at once acquaint the Scottish Office and the Scottish Office should see that Scotland was represented. I discussed this matter with Lord Pentland at the time, but he said he was not aware that the Commission was formed, and therefore that he was unable to make any recommendations, but if the Scottish Office was informed that the appointment was contemplated, it would then be a simple matter for them to make their recommendation.
The second point to which I want to refer is the fact that we only had four 3321 hours in which to discuss Scottish Estimates this year. I am quite aware it was the Government's intention that the whole of the day should be devoted to the discussion of Scottish Estimates and that it was not the fault of the Government that the whole of the day was not devoted to them. Unfortunately, a Motion was brought forward which took away the time from 8.15 onward. I knew that Motion was coming forward, as a matter of fact the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), who is himself a Scotchman, told me. I pleaded very hard with him that he should not bring it forward on the only day that Scotland had to discuss her interests. But he told me he had been in the East End and he described the conditions there, and after hearing him I felt he was perfectly justified in bringing it forward, and, in fact, he told me if he could he would bring such a Motion forward every day of the week. We know that at a time like that, when men's feelings are highly wrought, Parliament should be the safety valve, and therefore, speaking for myself, after listening to what the hon. Member for Leicester said, I had not the slightest hesitation in supporting that Motion. I did so because I fell; that the grievances of those people were grievances that ought to be discussed. It is looked upon by some as rather a grievance that an inroad should be made upon the time given to Scotch Estimates. But I do not think it was such a grievance as that of the previous year, when the Government themselves brought forward a private Bill on the day allocated for Scotch Estimates. No wonder there was a grievance when the Government themselves bring forward a private Bill on such a day. I do not blame the Government this year that only four hours were given for Scottish Estimates, but I was hopeful that the Government would have found some time in which we could have discussed these matters. The trouble is of long standing. I am not an old Member of this House. I am only here since 1906, but I have raised this question every year, and pleaded for two days for the discussion of Scottish Estimates. Ireland gets two days, two and a half days, and sometimes three days for the discussion of their grievances; and when you think of the enormous number of things we have to consider—education, which is most vital to the Scottish people, fisheries, and other great problems and the problem of the land, two days is very little time in which 3322 to discuss the whole of these matters. I trust after the unfortunate experience we have had this year of only having four hours for Scottish Estimates, that next year the Government will take the matter in hand, and next Session allocate two days to the Scottish Estimates. There is another subject upon which I have been in communication with the Office of Works, and it is with reference to the building being erected by them in Inverleith Road. I regret that the Corporation of Edinburgh did not raise the question of the erection of this building when it was first proposed, because they had the by-laws which would interfere with the authorities erecting the building. Representations were made by the Edinburgh Corporation to the Office of Works to put that building further back and they declined. If there was any authority in the country which had a right to appeal to the Office of Works with some hope that their claim would be carefully considered it was the City of Edinburgh. The Botanical Gardens, which are now the property of the Crown, originally belonged to the Corporation of Edinburgh. The Crown did not buy those gardens, they were handed over free to the Office of Works. Subsequently to that some of the adjacent land came into the market, and a speculative builder had the option of purchasing it, with the result that that locality was threatened with the possibility of having factories built there and tenements erected alongside those gardens.
An appeal was made to the Treasury to observe the amenities of the Botanical Gardens, but the Treasury made no advance in that direction. The Corporation of Edinburgh paid £10,000 for this property in order to save the amenities of this distract. In view of the fact that the Edinburgh Corporation spent £10,000 to preserve the amenities of this district, surely it was not too much to ask the Office of Works to put back a building a matter of three or four feet. I think their attitude from the first is a matter of very great regret. It is quite true that the Edinburgh Corporation unfortunately took the view which was at the time expressed by the Office of Works that no local authority had any power over any building or land which belonged to the Crown. I do not think that is a claim which ought to be maintained, for each local authority should have power to regulate the buildings in its own locality, whether it belongs to the Crown or 3323 anybody else, and the Crown ought not to be exempt from local by-laws. I regret very much indeed that the Office of Works has taken up such an attitude antagonistic to the corporation, which has met them in a very handsome manner, and although I understand the subject is still open, I hope a wide and generous view will be taken of the claims "which the corporation represent.
§ Mr. HOGGE
As the hon. Member for Central Edinburgh has referred to the building in Inverleith Road, I shall begin my remarks by adding a few arguments in favour of the Board of Works doing something to put back this building line, so that the amenities of that particular district will not be destroyed. The hon. Member for Central Edinburgh referred to the fact that this particular ground belonged to the Crown, and that the Crown claimed to be outside the by-laws of the city of Edinburgh. I do not think there is much in that argument, however much law there may be in it, because technically I believe it is the case that all the land of the country is held in the first place from the Crown, so that if you care to push that argument to extremes, then no town can be subject to its own by-laws. Therefore, I think we might put that argument on one side and allow this building to be set back. There is one other reason why the city of Edinburgh has a claim upon the Board of Works in this particular instance. The Corporation of Edinburgh have already submitted plans to the Board of Works showing how they could get exactly the same amount of accommodation as if they persisted in their original plan by even setting back the building line of the second part of the building, but up to the present moment the Board of Works have refused absolutely to consider those plans unless the corporation will consider the question of setting back the whole building line—that is, the building which is now standing and the building which is to be erected, and purchase some adjoining property so as to compensate the Board of Works for what they imagined they will lose. I should like the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East to contrast that request with the information which he gave this House not so many days ago with regard to the building line on the Embankment in London. He pointed out how, on representations from various quarters in this House, the Government were prepared to 3324 sacrifice a very large superficial area on the Embankment—I think, if I remember rightly, the cost of that area was put at £40,000—in order to preserve the amenities of the Embankment. Put tersely, that means the Government are prepared to drop £40,000 for a London scheme, while in Edinburgh they insist, in order to preserve the amenities of one of the best approaches to the city, that the corporation must compulsorily purchase, because it could not be obtained voluntarily, adjoining property at considerable cost. My colleague suggests a sum approaching £5,000.
Surely the capital of Scotland is entitled to similar treatment to the capital of England, and, if you can lose that amount of money in order to preserve the amenities of the Embankment in Londn, something ought to be done to preserve the amenities of that particular building in Edinburgh. If the hon. Member for St. George's-in-the-East has not yet selected his holiday resort, he might take advantage of the Recess in order to go to Edinburgh and visit the Botanical Gardens. He would then find for himself that there is no absence of land and there is no difficulty at all in providing the accommodation required. If he took back the building line the five feet or so that was requested, it would not seriously encroach upon the ground of the gardens. It is rather interesting to note at this late hour to-day that the Opposition benches are absolutely empty. I did not see a single Scottish Unionist Member taking any interest in Scottish affairs, and that, perhaps, may explain why Scotland returns Liberals so consistently.
I want to join in the protest made as to the allocation of the time of this House to-Scottish business and to the treatment dealt out to me the other night on the Motion for Adjournment. I think I have-more reason to make that complaint than any other Member of this House. I gave notice to the Scottish Secretary and to the Prime Minister that this question would be raised on that particular evening, and it may be within the recollection of the House that although the question was raised, no one could be found sufficiently interested to remain on the Front Bench to give any sort of reply to the issues raised by the Scottish Members. Contrast that with the treatment meted out to other interests at Westminster. The paltriest little row in London, or any little matter dealing with the administration of the 3325 Home Office, suffices to keep the Secretary on the bench in order to reply to any discussion that may be raised. But when we venture to bring up a Scottish issue, then we are treated in a fashion which is derogatory to the dignity of this House as well as to the dignity of responsible Members representing Scottish constituencies. It is monstrous, I think, that when we give notice of questions right hon. Gentlemen have not the courtesy to attend and listen to our protest. While I am complaining on this score, I should like to make a further protest with regard to the nature of a reply given by the Scottish Secretary. I do not know what specific right individual Members of this House have with regard to getting information from the various Departments, but I do know that, in view of the discussion which was to take place on the Adjournment respecting Scottish business, I asked a very reasonable question in regard to what had occurred between 1900 and 1912. I asked to be informed what Scottish Votes had been discussed, respectively, in those years, how many hours had been devoted to the respective Votes, and the amount of the Votes. In reply, the Secretary told me that I had access to the same sources of information as himself, and the inference was that it was my duty to go into the library, hunt up the volumes of "Hansard" for a period of twelve years, and ascertain facts which, in my judgment, ought to be already in the office of the Scottish Secretary.
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Mr. McKinnon Wood)
My statement was that I had no other information than that which was contained in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I do remember my reply. I said I had no further sources of information than those to which the hon. Member had access.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Assuming that that is so, which I accept, it is of course contradictory to what the Scottish Secretary has said now, that there are no other sources of information. If there are no sources, there can be no further sources for him or for me to consult. Here, again, we have a contradiction. It may not be the fault of the Scottish Secretary, but 3326 Home the fault of the arrangements of the Scottish Office. In all the other departments of activity there are special departments-which deal with Parliamentary questions, and if you look at the replies to questions you will find Members of this House getting information, which they could get themselves if they took the time and trouble to obtain it—they would be neglecting their other work if they did it —which is supplied from the Government Offices. This is not the first occasion ort which this has been done. It occurred with regard to an answer of the Scottish Secretary to a question dealing with the Council of Education in Scotland. Several questions were put in it, but practically only two of them were answered. That is symptomatic of the kind of treatment meted out to Scottish representatives in this House. I shall deal with the question later with regard to the subject of education, but I want here and now to protest strongly against the way in which time is allocated in this House by the Government in regard to Scottish affairs. After we had had the customary twenty days of Supply for this Session the Members of the Opposition were able to obtain another two days to discuss questions of Supply. But the House was so badly attended on those two additional days that I was able to call attention to the fact that there were not sufficient Members present to make a House, and we had to wait until they came in.
Surely the representatives of Scotchmen ought to have some weight with the Government and the Scottish Secretary. That we have no weight at all is perfectly obvious. We sent to the Prime Minister a memorial signed by forty Scottish Members asking for another day for Scottish business, and although the Government gave the Opposition, who do not support them, two days to discuss business for which they could only keep a House with difficulty, they cannot grant to their supporters from Scotland the time-which we think is all too little for the discussion of Scottish affairs. Surely there is no place more than Scotland to which the Government ought to turn with some sense of gratitude. It is the sanctuary for every Liberal Minister who has committed the political indiscretion of being beaten at a by-election. We have furnished, as they did in the old country of Judæa, cities on the plains, where defeated Liberal Ministers can go for sanctuary. It seems that because of that fact, and also because of 3327 the fact that there would not be the present Front Bench if it were not for Scotland, that the business of Scotland is totally neglected. I do not think that statement can be gainsaid. There are eleven separate services for Scotland, all of them more or less important, some of them very important, which have been down for discussion on Supply for the last twelve years, and in no one of those years has more than a third of those services been discussed in this House. When they have been discussed, even the Government itself has been one of the chief offenders in introducing, as a kind of debating sandwich into the discussion, a private Bill.
§ Mr. MORTON
It is done by the chairman of Ways and Means, who is practically a member of the Government.
§ Mr. HOGGE
Whoever is responsible for it the fact remains that on a Scottish day— it is unfortunately due to the practices of the House—a private Bill may and frequently does appear. That is surely very hard lines for Scotland. There are a great many questions in connection with those services which we can only raise properly on Supply that we never have an opportunity of raising. I myself, to-night, feel that one is keeping the House unduly long on the Adjournment Day in order to draw attention to those grievances which we have when really we are all wanting to be away. There is no one in the House, and one could have a considerable amount of fun in a House of this sort, but that is not what we are here for. We are here to take the only opportunity we have of raising these questions, because we are questioned about them in Scotland. We are asked by our constituents, both by letter and by deputation, and when we are in Scotland, to get these things dealt with. They cannot understand why we cannot get them dealt with. We point out that the forms of the House shut us into a cul de sac out of which we cannot get. Until we have, as we are looking forward in the near future to having, a measure of Home Rule for Scotland, these questions will not be properly discussed. That is probably one of the best justifications for keeping the House a little longer on the Adjournment Day in order to give a practical object lesson of what a farce the whole thing is of attempting to discuss Scottish local affairs in this House. I do 3328 not want to keep the Scottish Secretary longer than any of his colleagues, but one is bound to do it in order to emphasise what a sorry proceeding the whole thing is. The review of the Scottish services is a mere farce, and the control of those services is practically nonexistent. Take, for example, the question of public education in Scotland. Not so very long ago the Scottish Secretary, in replying to a deputation of Scotsmen who waited upon him asking him to remove the Scottish Education Office from London to Edinburgh, refused to do so, although the vast majority of Scottish Members wanted it done. He asked himself and us this question, "What was the central education authority?" It was not Sir John Struthers, it was not the Office, it was not the clerks, it was not the educational experts." That may or may not be true, but it certainly does not agree with statements of other Scottish officers. The Lord Advocate, for example, in October, 1911, speaking at Bathgate, said:—The Department was my friend Sir John Struthers.If the Lord Advocate says that the Department is his good friend, Sir John Struthers and the Scottish Secretary says it is not that Gentleman, who is right? What are we to believe with regard to the Department? My Friend the Member for North Aberdeen on Tuesday last asked the Scottish Secretary the following question:With reference to the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland, "who are known as My Lords, and which is composed of the following members, namely. Lord Morley, the Secretary for Scotland, Lord Haldane, Lord Shaw. Lord Reay, and Lord Elgin, what were the dates of their appointments, and the number of meetings they have attended, respectively; as also the number of meetings of the Committee held annually since 1606; and the date of the last meeting?The reply of the right hon. Gentleman was—The Committee of Council on Education in Scotland consists of the members named, together with the First Lord of the Treasury and the Lord Advocate. The Committee was appointed by Order of His Majesty in Council on the "2nd March, 1909; the present Secretary for Scotland being appointed vice-president by a similar Order dated the 29th February, 1912. No meetings have taken place since the date named."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th August, 1912, col. 2908.]This is the Committee of Council on Education in Scotland. Presumably the Committee was elected for the purpose of doing something in connection with education in Scotland, otherwise they would not have taken the trouble to add the Secretary for Scotland on this date in February, and yet according to the reply the Committee has not met at all since 1906. It is almost as ridiculous a Committee as the Board of Trade, which includes 3329 the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Speaker of the Irish Parliament. That is not the way in which Scottish education should be controlled. Because Scottish Education is controlled in that and other ways, and because in this House we never have an opportunty of reviewing the policy of education in Scotland, there has been a great change in the policy of public education in Scotland in the last few years, and over that the Scottish Members here have had no control.
There have been very few opportunities of criticism, and therefore I myself can come to no conclusion about it. It is out of touch with a great deal of opinion on education in Scotland which really ought to be recognised. Take, for example, the question of secondary education in Scotland. The provision for secondary education is extremely meagre—so meagre, in fact, that you have to make up for the absence of fácilities for secondary education by a liberal use of the trained services, particularly in the large counties in Scotland. I know cases myself where the children in order to enjoy the advantage of secondary education have to leave by train from the particular village in which they reside as early as half-past seven in the morning, and they are unable to return by train until well on to 7 o'clock the same evening. Many of those children have to walk several miles from the station to reach their homes after they have put in a long time at the secondary school. When we remember the children at that period of life, particularly girls, at the most formative period, are called upon to undergo those extreme physically fatiguing journeys to and from school, we must see that it is not good for the physical side of a great many of the girls of Scotland. It is not fair to them. The policy of the Department with regard to meeting the difficulty is to establish sub-intermediate schools. That is a good policy, and should be encouraged, but you cannot establish these schools without the provision of adequate means to supply buildings and staff. The money available for the purpose in Scotland is dependent mainly on what is known as the whisky money. It is a scandal that it should depend on that, and a scandal that has lasted too long, especially in view of the general disposition in Scotland to make sacrifices for that particular purpose. It would not be difficult to produce instances of localities in Scotland that have been prepared to erect sub-interme-diate schools to deal with the difficulty of 3330 secondary education in these particular localities, and who have had the money allocated to them by the county councils, but whose schemes have afterwards been overthrown by the Education Department. This is not the clerks; this is not the officers; this is not our good friend, Sir John Struthers. It seems to me that an effort could be made to provide money for those sub-intermediate schools, particularly in those districts which are ripe for their erection, and in which there are sufficient children, as is the case in many districts, to get this kind of education without undergoing the physical fatigue so injurious to their health.
The question of bursaries is also a matter which ought to be looked into by the Scottish Secretary. What happens to-day in Scotland is that those bursaries are going to the children who are best able to do without them. They are not sufficiently large to induce the parents of some children to make use of them for the purpose of secondary education, yet they are large enough to be a very welcome addition to parents who are more favourably situated with regard to secondary education. Investigation should be made into this question so as to have a more adequate and appropriate provision of bursaries. The question of the appointment of inspectors in Scottish schools is one that has created more dissatisfaction among the teaching profession than any other in connection with education. The Board of Education in Scotland has departed, like the English Board, from the good old system of examination of pupils in our schools, and has adopted now purely and simply a system of inspection. I am not an advocate myself of either of those particular means of ascertaining what progress a child is making educationally. Under the old system of examination the inspector used to come to the schools and put all the children through what are known as the three "R's," and according as they passed or failed to pass in those particular subjects they sent them up to the higher standards or kept them where they were. That obviously had a great many disadvantages. It meant that a great many children who otherwise would have made educational progress if they had not been trammelled by examinations were trammelled by that process, and their education was greatly injured. But this new system of inspection that has been adopted is almost as bad—not quite as bad—as the old system of examination. First, of all, we 3331 have got to bear in mind that junior inspectors for these schools cannot be appointed until they have reached the age of thirty-five years—the present maximum age for their appointment, and the commencing salary is something like £150 a year. I submit that if you consider the type of man who is appointed to inspect the teaching profession in Scotland at the present moment you will see the value of the point that I am attempting to make. A great number of these men have had no adequate teaching experience.
They are very frequently young men from the English universities, with good degrees, with good classical, mathematical, or scientific knowledge, but who are pitchforked into the schools in Scotland to inspect the work of men and women who have behind them years of experience in actual teaching in those schools, and whose teaching reputation depends very largely upon the report that they get from those inspectors. Bear in mind, too, that those inspectors only go to those schools very occasionally. You can find instances in which one of those inspectors may not inspect the class for something like eighteen months at a time. It may be, after a few hours in the school, he would examine the prepared work of the teacher of that particular class. He may, as is very frequently the case, be saturated with educational fads, and have no real idea of the work which the teacher in that class is putting in. If there is anything more irritating to the teaching profession than another it is surely having their work inspected by these young English university men; who are thrown into our schools with no knowledge at all of teaching in many respects, and many of them holding the teaching diploma by the minimum of three months that they can teach in a school in order to get it. They have never served an apprenticeship to the teaching profession; they have never gone through the training, and yet these men come in to inspect the work of those who are infinitely superior to them in very many ways. What is the result of this policy? It is that the average of Scottish teachers in our secondary schools in Scotland—many of them with extremely satisfactory university degrees, many of them with ten years' teaching behind them on the staffs of our school boards in Scotland, with rising increments of salary—when they reach the age at which they can properly be appointed to examine education in Scotland, find no inducement to make 3332 application for these posts. By the present policy in regard to these inspectorships, you shut up the one avenue of promotion to a great many excellent men on the teaching staffs of our Scottish schools. The only other post open to them is either the headmastership or the assistant mastership, but the whole of the ranks of the inspectorships are practically closed to this class of men. I think something ought to be done to open up a road of promotion to the average teacher in Scotland.
Incidentally connected with that there is the question of the money which can be provided for teachers' holiday courses. If there is anybody in a Scottish school who-has a fad it is your inspector, and there therefore has grown up in the educational system of Scotland a desire for what many people popularly call fads, and the result is that very many school teachers give their summer holiday to a course of training at some convenient centre in some branch, such as woodwork or some other science. It has been the custom to provide money to meet the expenses of those teachers who give up their holiday in order to equip themselves better for their work. Last year that money was not available, and very many of those teachers actually enrolled in those particular classes and were then informed that there was no-money available. I should like if the Secretary for Scotland would tell us-whether that money is available in this particular instance, and whether those men may safely go to those classes in future or whether they will have to bear that charge themselves and so make their conditions worse.
If it were not so late one could go on to a few other topics. I see that there is a certain amount of weariness on the Front Bench at the length of the discussion that is taking place. I would remind you again unless we get the opportunity for discussing Scottish business in the ordinary time of the House, then it is only proper to take this extraordinary time for driving the lesson home—that, at any rate, there are some Scottish Members who are in revolt against this system of the neglect of Scottish affairs by a Ministry which contains so many men from Scotland, and which really ought to concern itself more in the interests of that particular country. Though I could refer to a great many more topics, I only desire to ask the Scottish Secretary if he is able to give a reply with regard to the question of afforestation in Scotland. I am not going into the merits 3333 or demerits of a policy of afforestation for Scotland. I believe that is approved, but I understand that an Advisory Committee which has been set up has had certain opportunities of discussion, and there has been a rumour that matters have gone so far that the Scottish Secretary will soon be in a position to actually name a definite Committee, which will deal with this question in the same way as the Land Court is dealing with the question of the Small Landowners Act. If the Secretary for Scotland could tell us how far that matter has advanced, and if he has appointed this Committee, it would be a welcome piece of information. I renew my protest against the treatment that we Scotchmen receive. I have in my speech attempted to give you a sample of the kind of criticism we should like to make of a great many Scottish services, and I hope that the Scottish Secretary will sympathetically consider that those points have been put before him, and that he will attempt to secure other opportunities for Scotland, as he could do as a Member of the Cabinet, and that it will have more attention both from the Cabinet and the House.
§ Colonel GREIG
There are some remarks which have fallen from the hon. Member about which I feel bound to say a word or two. I agree with him very largely that there are particular grievances from which Scotland does suffer under the present system of Parliamentary government. I agree with him that those grievances are worthy of very much more consideration than we are able to give to them, but I must confess that having listened to the hon. Member for the last half-hour that the impression was pressed home on me that the system under which we are at present working is not the result of any operation or any transaction or any action on the part of the Government. Those of us who have been here even longer than the hon. Member have realised this, that when a Parliament of this sort tries to do the business of four or five Parliaments it is almost impossible for any one Member to get the opportunity to deal fully with the grievances of Scotland, and to lay those grievances and make out his complaint. That that is entirely due to the arrangement of this House by the Government, I say there is not the slightest foundation for saying.
§ Colonel GREIG
I quite agree; there is no difference on that point, but I do think it does not advance the cause of Scotland for Members who are all heart and soul and at one in their desire to advance the interests of Scotland, to continually complain and make it appear as if the Government of the day in this House could arrange such matters as to give us all ample time.
Our energies, and the energies of the hon. Member who has exhibited so much vigour this evening, will, I think, foe well directed if we were to impress upon our countrymen at home—although I think they realise it—that the only remedy for the present state of things is the transfer to Scotland of purely domestic affairs, leaving this Parliament to other matters. If we had that, I am sure we should not have the unfortunate exhibition which we have had to-night of the apparent suggestion that the interests of Scotland are neglected by the Government. I, for one, do not believe that, and I have been, here for a longer time than the hon. Member who has just spoken. Up to the present time I know that we have not had full time for the discussion of Scottish grievances. The sole reason is the one I have indicated. I therefore quite acquit the Government, so far as I can, from any omission or commission with reference to Scottish matters.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
My hon. and learned Friend who opened this Debate began the important subject of Scottish Fisheries. I am glad to inform the House that the importance of Scottish Fisheries has by no means diminished. To-day I recived the figures from the Fishery Board as to the catch of herrings which has been made up to the 3rd of this month by the Scottish fishermen, and they are extremely striking and satisfactory figures. For this year 1,240,000 cran of herrings have been caught, as against 1,080,000 last year, an increase of 160,000. The value of that catch is even more satisfactory than the quantity, because the catch this year is valued at over £1,500,000, whereas last year the value was about £1,061,000— an increase this year of £456,000. These satisfactory figures are accompanied by equally satisfactory figures as regards the whole catch of fish this year. I will not 3335 take up the time of the House by going into statistics on this question to-night. But I think it is important to point out how flourishing a thing this great industry is in Scotland. In connection with that I would refer to another point made by my hon. and learned Friend. There has been a sort of disposition to suggest that Scotland has not fared so well as regards her fisheries in the matter of Grants from the Development Commissioners as England has fared. I am sure my colleagues the Scottish Members will be interested to know what the real figures for Scotland are. I am sure the House will recognise that the great change that has been going on in the conditions of fishing, referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Wick Burghs, the change from sail to mechanical propulsion, in regard to which he mentioned some striking figures from the Fishery Board Report, has rendered necessary the enlargement of the harbours.
A few months ago I visited several harbours on the East Coast of Scotland. I found the people were all asking for more harbour accommodation for their new form of boat. The steam drifter is very rapidly taking the place of the sailing boat. My hon. Friend says that whereas six years ago, roughly speaking, about one-third of the catch was by steamers and two-thirds by sailing vessels, last year two-thirds of the catch was made by steamers and motor boats—chiefly by steamers—and only one-third by sailing vessels. That means a great difference in the conditions of harbour accommodation. This does not apply to England so much as to Scotland. I believe that in the case of Scotland it is a matter of great importance. It is impossible for fishing to be conducted without adequate harbours. I am glad to tell the House that we have secured from the Development Commissioners over £112,000 in Grants, and loans for the improvement of Scottish harbours.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I can tell my "hon. Friend that England has not obtained anything. I think my hon. Friend is one of those who are under a misapprehension 3336 on this point, and I should be glad to give him the comparative figures. I quite agree that Scotland has, both relatively and positively, a more important fishing industry, and that it is quite right that Scotland should get more money. The money that Scotland has got from the Development Commissioners for fishery purposes is over £112,000. England has got £6,000. So that the comparison is not of the kind supposed by my hon. Friend, but the very opposite. With regard to the question of the fisheries, I should like to point out in two or three words that the Fishery Board has not confined its attention to these great fisheries, but has tried to foster fisheries which would be of immense importance and of pecuniary value to Scotland. The Board has been considering the minor fisheries— oyster, lobster, and other fisheries of that kind. They are making a proposal now for spending money upon the oyster fisheries. Some very striking figures were given in the report I have received from the Committee of the Fishery Board. They state that the Scotch Oyster Fisheries at one time were of great importance, and that the Firth of Forth beds once yielded about 30,000,000 oysters annually, which, if sold at present prices, would be worth from £200,000 to £300,000 a year, and they hope to revive that industry by careful cultivation, and by spending a little money upon it.
My hon. Friend also referred to the question of trawling for herrings, and he quoted passages from the Report of the Fishery Board for last year, in which they recognised very fully the importance of that question in relation to other forms of fishing. I have made inquiries, and so far I have only heard of one case of trawling for herrings this season, and that was not a case in which pecuniary success was obtained. Of course, it is rather later in the year that that form of fishing is tried. I received a deputation of gentlemen representing Scotch fishermen on this question of trawling for herrings, and I found what they suggested is that an inquiry should be made. I asked them this question: "Would you desire that restriction should be placed upon Scotch and English fishermen, while the German and Dutch and other foreigners are free to use this method of catch," and they said "No," they did not desire that, and I think we agreed that this question could only be treated internationally. We must recognise that we are not dealing, except in a small degree, with inshore fishing, but that 3337 we are dealing with the open sea, and if this proves a method of fishing so successful as to be prosecuted to any great extent, and if it it proves dangerous for the fish supplies, then it can only be dealt with internationally. I recognise that, and I gave instructions to our delegate on the International Council that he should ask that council to make inquiry into the matter, which they consented to do. Besides that, a Committee has been set up by the Government for the purpose of considering the question of limits in territorial waters and this question of trawling for herrings.
§ Mr. A. C. MORTON
The same deputation asked that you should get power to prohibit the sale of trawled herrings.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
One Gentleman made that point; he made no direct suggestion in his speech, but when pressed he did give that answer. I am not at all sure that that is a practical proposal, but it is a matter which will be considered by the Committee, and having set up a Committee it is not right that I should attempt to lay clown its policy. There is another Committee dealing with the question of Grants to fishermen, and my hon. Friend urged that we should press this Committee to report as soon as possible. A short time ago I made inquiries as to when the Report was likely to be received, and I was informed that the Committee at that time were inviting the Scottish Members interested in Scotch fisheries to give evidence. I do not know whether any hon. Member has found it convenient up to the present to do so. But I think it was a reasonable thing, and I only express the hope that some of the Scottish Members will find it convenient to attend.
§ Mr. MORTON
We have asked the Members of the Sub-Committee, of which I am Chairman, to give evidence. I and the hon. Secretary, Mr. Cowan have signified to the Departmental Committee our willingness to do so. We think that that will be enough, but have asked every Member of the Sub-Committee to give evidence if he chooses.
§ 9.0 P.M.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I am very glad to hear what my hon. Friend said, and that is an answer to my hon. and learned Friend on this point. The hon. Member for Sutherlandshire (Mr. Morton) asks me to take steps to prevent depopulation. I cannot help thinking that a very important step 3338 in that direction was taken when the Small Landholders Act was passed. I trust I shall have the support of my colleagues from Scotland in the attempt which the now Board of Agriculture are making to give exclusive attention to Scottish interests, and to develop the Small Landholders Act and plant as many as we can of these excellent applicants now asking for small holdings. My hon. Friend also said that he hoped I should see a good deal of Scotland during the holidays. I thank him for that kind wish, and I may say that there is nothing more agreeable to my taste, and as soon as I get rid of this prolonged debate on the adjournment, and after I have had an opportunity of clearing up arrears at the Scottish Office I intend to go to Scotland. My hon. Friend, the Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. O. E. Price) made an appeal to me with which T have a good deal of sympathy, and he narrated a number of cases in which there were no Scottish representatives on Committee. I cannot help thinking that a Committee considering national questions without a Scotsman upon it would be a very poor Committee indeed.
§ Mr. C. E. PRICE
In order to carry out this suggestion will the right hon. Gentleman bring the matter before the Cabinet, and insure that, no Committee shall be appointed in the future without it contains a Scotsman. I do not want a Committee dealing with a national question appointed unless there is a Scotsman upon it.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I am entirely in sympathy with my hon. Friend's view on that matter. With regard to the speech of the hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Hogge) the point upon which he dwelt most was the question of the time given to the Scottish Estimates, and the time given for debating subjects in which Scotland is exclusively interested. Upon that subject I entirely agree with the hon. Member for West Renfrewshire (Colonel Greig). Nobody denies, I do not deny and the Prime Minister does not deny for a moment that inadequate time is given to Scottish Estimates, but it is equally true that inadequate time is given to English Estimates in regard to which millions pass through without any discussion at all. Therefore the evils of deeper root than my hon. Friend has yet discovered, and it is a question of the system.
Hon. Members must be content with one speech and not take up additional time with interruptions.
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
I agree with my hon. Friend a remedy ought to be found, and a remedy I think we are all agreed, is to be found in devolution to local centres. I must say a word on the specific charge which the hon. Member brought. For my own part, I was etxremely anxious more time should be given to the Estimates. There were certain items of information which I thought ought to be given to Scotch Members, and which I wish to state to the House, but which I had no opportunity of stating. The hon. Member for East Edinburgh knows that was my view at the time, and, when he spoke to me of raising the question on the Adjournment, I told him that, and I told him also that the arrangement of the business of the House was a matter outside my authority and jurisdiction. I thought that he assented to that view. If I had thought otherwise, I should have acted otherwise; but I thought he assented to my view, and in fact he did in words assent to it. With regard to the Prime Minister, whom he somewhat criticised, he answered that very question that very day. Take the attitude of the hon. Member himself. It was no fault of the Government that the Estimates did not have the whole day devoted to them. The Government set down that day, but a matter of pressing importance interrupted the discussion. My hon. Friend was one of those himself who thought it was of such pressing importance that the Scotch Estimates ought to be interrupted for it. He was one of the Gentlemen who rose in his place to support the Motion. I do not blame him for it, and I have no right to criticise him. I think the matter was of great urgency and importance, but surely after supporting the cause of the interruption it is not fair of him to turn round and blame the Government for the interruption. That is not reasonable, nor is it reasonable for my hon. Friend to do that when he was one of the hon. Members who told against giving two extra days for Estimates. That I think is a little inconsistent. I do not think it is very profitable to discuss that question, because on the general question we are all agreed that Scotch Estimates do not get nearly enough time. Neither do English Estimates, and the remedy is one which must be found in the wider solution to which I have referred.
3340 My hon. Friend talked about the Education Department, and he quoted a speech of my right hon. and eloquent Friend the Lord Advocate. My right hon. Friend the Lord Advocate—I do not know whether it was after a dinner or on an occasion of some ceremony—paid to the very able head of the Education Department a compliment, which was not original, but which was a very handsome compliment. "The Scotch Education Department is Sir John Struthers," by which he meant Sir John Struthers was the heart and soul of the Department. Sir John Struthers is the extremely capable head of the Education Department, a man thoroughly capable of administering education, and he has done an enormous amount for secondary education. The Lord Advocate did not mean there was nobody else who had anything to do with education but Sir John Struthers. My hon. Friend has taken the statement with that literalness which has given Scotchmen the reputation of not being able to understand a joke. I do not think there is any truth in that remark. I take Scotchmen to be the greatest humourists in the world. My hon. Friend said the provision of secondary education in Scotland was unequal. He must be aware that the Act which improved secondary education in Scotland and found more money for it is not of ancient date, but is the Act of 1908. He made one complaint which I do not think is altogether reasonable. He said Scotch children in rural districts could not obtain secondary education without travelling by train. You cannot put an adequate secondary school in every village, nor can you put one in scattered parts. It is necessary to travel by train. Really our fathers and grandfathers in Scotland would have thought little of that if they could have got for the same amount of trouble in travelling the kind of secondary education now to be obtained in Scotland. My hon. Friend talks about sub-intermediate schools. I do not like that phrase. The fact is that every elementary school can come into this class if it observes certain easy conditions. He told us there ought to be Grants for the purpose, but there are Grants for the purpose, and they are better than the old Grants. If you have scholars in these supplementary courses, receiving instructions in languages, mathematics, etc., they get 50s. instead of the normal Grant of 22s; and, in addition to that, when an additional assistant is employed for the ordinary work, to set free the master for higher 3341 instruction, a special Grant of £40 or £50 is given towards the salary of each such assistant.
The hon. Member for East Edinburgh complained that we used to have examination, but that now we had inspection. Examination was bad, and inspection was not perfect; but, at any rate, it was better than examination, and, therefore, I do not understand my hon. Friend's complaint. I do not see what other alternative there can be. If the school is up to the standard he deprecates examination for that purpose, but there must be some system of inspection. He criticised the present system. I am with him in that, and I hope we shall be able to bring about a change by which we shall have experienced inspectors in all cases. He is a little in error in supposing that the junior inspector enters at £150 a year; he really enters at £200, and he rises to be senior inspector as vacancies occur; but our policy is to get rid of that class, and to appoint more experienced inspectors.
§ Mr. MORTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly deal with the question which I raised with regard to illegal trawling?
Mr. McKINNON WOOD
Certainly. There was rather a curious incident this afternoon. A Gentleman came to me and said he had been interviewed by the wife of the captain of a trawler who had been fined a heavy amount for illegal trawling, and he asked me if I could not do something to secure a mitigation of the penalty. I promptly replied that I could not, because my hon. Friend the Member for Sutherland would strongly object to the mitigation even of a single shilling. In regard to this matter generally I may say I hope to get some personal acquaintance with the fishery cruisers during the recess, and to visit the Hebrides and the Northern Islands, and perhaps I shall be in a better position to discuss this matter when the House reassembles.
The other two points raised were those relating to holiday courses and a Grant for teachers. That is not a matter for the Scottish Office or the Education Department at all. The Grants to teachers are matters which are within the competence of the secondary school committees, who give these Grants, or not, as they think right, according to the necessities of the people and the circumstances of the case. I do not think there is any reason why we 3342 should interfere with local discretion in these matters. I am not in favour of too much interference with local discretion where the work is being competently administered. The last point raised is the question of afforestation. What the hon. Member told me was entirely news to me. I have had no report yet from the Advisory Committee. So far as I know it has only met twice, and it certainly has not prepared any report. It has made some suggestions to me about augmenting its numbers, which I am at present favourably and sympathetically considering. The question of afforestation is part of the whole question of agricultural development in Scotland. We have a big work there, and we must not neglect one part of it for another. The question of afforestation is not a matter upon which we should come to any sudden, hasty resolution. It is a big question, involving time and careful consideration. I do not propose to announce any policy on the matter until I have had the benefit of the advice of the Advisory Committee which has been set up, and which includes gentlemen who are enthusiastic upon the subject. I think I have dealt with all the points raised by my hon. Friends as shortly as I can. I hope the House will not think I have taken too much time, inasmuch as we have only had four hours on the Scottish Estimates.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN (Lord of the Treasury)
There was one point raised by two hon. Members which was not dealt with by my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland, because it touched the Department for which I answer in this House—I mean the question of the new building in Inverleith Eoad. Perhaps I may recite the facts quite briefly, and state the present position. In 1909 the Office of Works prepared plans for the erection of additional laboratories and other buildings in the Royal Botanical Gardens. They went before the Dean of Guild Court and the plans were approved. In 1910 the building was erected, as regards the essential portion of it. At the time the plans were approved it was made quite clear that it was intended to complete the further part of the buildings as soon as opportunity offered and the money was voted by Parliament. In 1911 further application was made to the Dean of Guild Court. On 7th September the agent for the City Council was present and raised an objection to the new section of the building on the ground that the building 3343 line was not 30 ft. from the centre of Inverleith Road, but, the matter having been considered, the objection was withdrawn, and the plans were approved by the Dean of Guild Court. Some days afterwards, on 20th September, the City Council passed a resolution under an Act of 1906, with the intention of preventing the First Commissioner of Works from erecting buildings nearer to the centre of the road than the 30 ft. line. They applied to the Courts for an injunction for the purpose of preventing the First Commissioner from erecting the second half of these buildings. The reply made by the Lord Advocate was that the Crown was exempt from the provisions of the Act of 1906. The judge, in giving judgment, was of opinion that in respect of these new buildings the Crown enjoyed no right of exemption, because they were new buildings and wore not in existence at the time of the passage of the Act of 1906. On that decision the First Commissioner appealed, and the Appeal Court allowed the appeal—they did not go into the wider question of the rights of the Crown as regards local buildings—on the ground that these were the completion or expansion of existing buildings, and therefore the Crown enjoyed this right of exemption by Section 78 of the Act.
That is the history of the case to-day. Now I come to what is the present position of affairs. It is that if the building has been erected at a distance of 25 feet from the centre of Inverloith Road there is no question that the First Commissioner enjoys the legal right to erect the other half of the building in the same building line at the same distance from the centre of the road. The First Commissioner, in answer to a question, said he would consult the city council before proceeding further. Consultation has taken place, and the position at present is this. The city council is anxious that the First Commissioner should set back one-half of the building, thus making two frontages to the same building, and to give land to provide the accommodation which would be lost by setting back that line. To that the First Commissioner replied that he could not agree to the suggestion for this reason, that to have two building lines on one building first of all would spoil the look, and secondly would not achieve the purpose for which the city council is standing out, namely, a new building line in the 3344 road. The case at present stands as follows: Either the First Commissioner will complete the building on the existing line, or, should the city council be willing to bear the expense, he is willing to remove the existing building, to set it back 5 feet, and to complete the second half of the building on that line. Of course, if the Office of Works is put to the expense of setting back the existing building, they will expect the city council of Edinburgh to meet the expense of that operation.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD BENN
What the Office of Works require is the same accommodation as they have now and they require the cost of providing accommodation to fall upon the persons who wish the building destroyed and set further back. We have invited the city council to confer with us in the matter.