§ Considered in Committee.
§ Motion made and Question proposed,
§ "That it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of the Salaries and remuneration 2053 of the Commissioners or others, and of the allowances and Expenses to members of advisory committees, appointed in pursuance of any Act of the present Session to consolidate and amend the Law relating to Pilotage, and of any Expenses incurred by the Board of Trade in the execution of such Act, provided that such payment shall not exceed the sum of six thousand pounds in any one year."—[Mr. Gulland.]
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I beg to move to leave out the words "the salaries and remunerations of Commissioners or others." These important matters should not be passed without discussion. If hon. Members below the Gangway think they ought to be they are perfectly at liberty, if they want to go home and go to bed to do so. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on."] I am not going to get on. Hon. Members who support the Government have no right to decide whether or not arguments for or against should be put forward. I object to all these Resolutions which are going to appoint "Commissioners or others." What is the object of appointing all these people if not in order that fat jobs may be given to supporters of the Government? No wonder hon. Members below the Gangway do not want to discuss these matters! I have taken time to see whether or not there is any justification for this Resolution. In all the preceding Pilotage Bills which have been passed—the last was passed five or six years ago—there is not one in which Commissioners have been appointed. The right hon. Gentleman asks us for a blank cheque and has not the courtesy to tell us how much money he wants, or why it is needed! What do we want Advisory Committees for? Why do we pay the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade £5,000 a year except to see that these matters are looked into? I want to be perfectly accurate in moving this Amendment, because this Resolution is one of the things which is hidden in the Clerk's desk, and with the exception of myself and possibly the right hon. Gentleman—and I am not too sure about the right hon. Gentleman—there is not any Member of the House who knows what it is about—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member is most diligent, and great credit is due to him for that diligence, on behalf of the extravagant party which he nominally supports. I propose to leave these words 2054 out in order to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of giving us some explanation of the meaning of this Resolution. Unless the right hon. Gentleman's explanation is satisfactory I shall move an Amendment limiting the amount of money which is to be spent.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Buxton)
I do not quite know why the right hon. Gentleman accuses me of discourtesy in not explaining the provisions of this Bill. I took the opportunity when introducing the Bill to explain fully the reason why the Bill was introduced, and the reason why the Commissioners are necessary.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That took place at six o'clock on a Friday evening. We are not obliged, all of us, to remain here until such an hour on a Friday evening.
§ Mr. BUXTON
As a matter of fact it was at half-past three on a Friday afternoon. I explained this was a Consolidation Bill and an endeavour to bring together in one Act the whole of the numerous local and general acts in order to bring about uniformity and simplicity in the pilotage system throughout. In order to bring about that uniformity and simplicity it is necessary to appoint certain persons, but the hon. Gentleman will be glad to know there are no new posts to be created and no new jobs to be filled. The Bill itself states that the persons to be appointed will be purely temporary, and there is no intention to appoint anyone to permanent posts, and there will be no new department created. We shall utilise the existing staff of the Board of Trade to the fullest extent for all those inquiries. The whole matter involves a comparatively small sum. It is not possible to give an absolute estimate at the present moment because under the provisions of the Bill if a pilotage authority can show that the existing syestem is a good one and a proper scheme no inquiry shall be necessary in such cases, and therefore it is not possible at the present moment to say the instances in which inquiries will have to be held, but subject to that the total cost may roughly be estimated at £1,200 to £1,300 a year for two years, and about £1,300 a year in addition. There will be nothing in the nature of permanent posts or an additional department.
§ Mr. BUXTON
There will be these inquiries and the persons undertaking them will be paid fees as is always done in such cases.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
There will be no permanent posts only temporary posts for two or three years, or longer or shorter.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I think the hon. Baronet is trying not to understand me. They will not be temporary or permanent posts. We shall appoint persons and they will be paid by fees as is usually the case in regard to such inquiries. In no senses are these posts permanent or temporary posts.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
They are not to be permanent or temporary. Possibly it is my stupidity, but I do not understand how there are to be posts which are neither temporary nor permanent. Am I to understand that a certain person at present in the Civil Service and receiving £500 a year is to be appointed to make certain inquiries under this Bill and in addition to his £500 a year is to be paid certain fees? That must be so if there are to be no posts. Why should that person not be content with the salary he is receiving, and if he is taken off his work to do something else why should he receive an extra salary? I really think we ought to have some further explanation. There is great difficulty in finding out what all these things are for, and it is the fault of the right hon. Gentleman himself for bringing these matters forward at such a preposterous hour. I do not wish to press my argument if the right hon. Gentleman will give me a clear explanation of what is going to be done with the money. He says the limit will be £2,600, and I should like to know if the right hon. Gentleman will accept an Amendment limiting the amount so that we shall have some assurance that the money will not be dissipated in some other way after Ave have passed the Resolution.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I stated that these posts would be neither temporary nor permanent because the hon. Baronet accused me of creating fresh posts to provide fat jobs for my friends. These are not posts in the sense he had in mind. These inquiries will be held by persons at the Board of Trade competent to carry them out. This kind of thing is constantly being done and they will be paid by fees. There will also be 2056 the expenses of shorthand writers and typists and other expenses which will amount in three years to about £1,300 a year. There will have to be some additional staff appointed to carry out the permanent parts of the Act which will cost certainly not more than £1,300 a year. That I think is a clear answer to the hon. Baronet.
§ Mr. GEORGE TERRELL
The President of the Board of Trade told us that he explained the appointment of these Commissioners on the Second Heading. I listened with the greatest possible attention to every word which the right hon. Gentleman uttered on the Second Reading and as far as my recollection serves me no reasons at all were stated for the appointment of these Commissioners. As I pointed out at the time he ought to have obtained the information quite easily and readily before presenting it at all. Now he comes to the House and wants a grant of something like £8,000 or £9,000 for the purpose of obtaining information which could have been obtained without any cost to the State at all. It is a wicked and wilful waste of public money to conduct the business of the country in that way. I support the Amendment, because the information could have been obtained through the Government departments or by a semi-employed Member of the Government without any expense to the country at all. No explanation has been given by the President of the Board of Trade as to how the money is to be spent or how many inquiries are to be held or in how many districts it is necessary to hold inquiries. Anyone who has any knowledge of pilotage matters knows the number of districts is extremely limited. Under these circumstances, I offer the strongest opposition to this Resolution which is wholly unnecessary and support the Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to explain now that the Commissioners will be persons employed temporarily for certain inquiries when they are made. I think that is perfectly clear, and I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the explanation. He says, however, there would have to be additional assistance provided for the Board of Trade. That means permanent appointments. It means more officials at the Board of Trade, and those officials will be appointed permanently. Then I must point out his previous statement that there were going to be no permanent posts was 2057 not quite accurate. If I had not pressed the matter we should not have got the admission. I hope hon. Members below the Gangway opposite will note that fact. Under the circumstances it seems to me there are only two courses open: either I must press my Amendment to a Division or ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept an Amendment providing the moneys to be provided by Parliament shall not exceed, say, £4,000 in one year, or some such limiting Resolution.
§ 12.0 M
§ Mr. BUXTON
I do not think I could be fairly asked to do that. It is impossible to say at the present moment how many inquiries will be held, but the best estimate I can make is the figures I have given. I must ask the hon. Gentleman not to press me further. It is on record what I have estimated upon, and if I have stated anything wrongly it will be open for the hon. Member to draw the attention of the House to it. As regards the posts he has been speaking of—the Commissioners' posts and the "fat jobs," all I can say is that the two or three additions which will have to be made to the Hoard of Trade stall to carry on the permanent provisions of the Act will be Civil Servants, brought into the Service under Civil Service conditions, and therefore it cannot be a question of a job.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I will amend my Amendment. I moved to leave out the words "salaries and remuneration of the Commissioners or others," but I will now simply move to leave out the words "or others."
Then the hon. Member asks leave to withdraw from the Amendment the words "salaries and remuneration of the Commissioners"?
§ Mr. BOOTH
I take it that this Amendment has to be further discussed. To my mind these Commissioners are not required at all, and I ventured on the Second Reading of the Bill to enter my protest against their appointment. I am very glad once again to find myself in unison with the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) in opposing the creation of these posts. No case has been made out for them at all, either last Friday or to-night. I do not believe there is a single hon. Member here who would be willing to go down to his Constituents and declare that there is any need for these additional 2058 appointments. I shall look with very great interest for any action of that kind. We are continually criticised in the country for multiplying these appointments, and I sincerely hope that this is the last batch that the Government will create. I say it in all sincerity because of the criticisms which we have to fight in the country in connection with this matter. Again, I think we have cause for complaint that in the month of December we should be discussing a huge Bill of fifty Clauses which will be found to be exceedingly controversial. Since Friday last I have been approached by Members in all parts of the House to go on to the Committee to fight this Bill. I have declined to do so. I do not think that the Bill has any chance of getting through, and I believe the right hon. Gentleman, when he said it was an agreed Bill, could not have been aware that not only the pilots, but all kinds of people are opposed to it.
That is not so, and I must ask the hon. Member to confine his remarks within proper limits.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I want to draw the attention of the Committee to these appointments. Every Government Bill that is now brought forward contains provision for the appointment of Commissioners. The right hon. Gentleman has hinted that these particular appointments are to be temporary. I must say I have no faith in that. Xo doubt while the right hon. Gentleman is in office he will do his best to keep them temporary, but I fear that when once the House has sanctioned this expenditure of £2,600 per annum we shall ever effect any economy under this head. I am of opinion that the expense will grow rather than diminish. The Government, in bringing in a Bill like this, necessitating a 2059 Money Resolution like this at the beginning of December is subjecting its loyal and patient supporters to more than they can stand.
§ Mr. MARTIN
I know that it is quite impossible to offer any arguments at this time, but I should like to bear out what the hon. Member (Mr. Booth) has said as to the feeling in the country, especially among Liberals, against the large number of officials who are created practically under every Bill we have had before us since I have been in the House. I know that is the feeling among Members on these benches, especially the Labour Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I believe they have great difficulty in explaining it to their Constitutents.
That is a general comment on a matter of policy. If the hon. Member has any further remarks to make he must confine himself to the Amendment before the Committee.
§ Mr. MARTIN
The Amendment is to cut off expense which I object to. I protest against being obliged to discuss a serious matter of this kind, in which we are all interested, at this hour of the night. The Committee is not ready to listen to arguments. If the Government have no time this Session to put through Bills of this kind, let them wait until next Session. I dislike very much voting against the Government's policy, but no argument has been offered in opposition to the remarks of the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury). It is said that these appointments will not be permanent. It makes very little difference whether they are permanent or accidental, so long as they cost money. That is what the country is thinking about—the large amount of money spent under Bill after Bill that comes up. It would be much better for the Government if, instead of attempting to overwork Members who attend here—we are warned that there must be 300 here all the time—
§ Mr. MARTIN
The question is whether we should pass a Resolution providing for 2060 an indefinite number of Commissioners. The President of the Board of Trade tells us that while he thinks the cost will be £1,300 a year he is unwilling to assent to a limitation of £4,000, which is nearly three times as much as he thinks the cost will be. I repeat that it is against the interests of the Liberal party to have these Commissioners and special agents and all kinds of officials appointed under almost every Bill that is brought forward.
This is the third time I have asked the hon. Member to confine his remarks to the Amendment before the Committee and not to deal with general matters in regard to which other opportunities are open to him in connection with the proceedings of this House. If I have to call him to order again I shall have to put the Rules in operation and ask him to resume his seat.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
Before we support the Government in this blank cheque let us consider the figures which have been put forward. £1,300 a year permanently, quite contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman explained to us. You are going to vote that. To whom s We are not told. An extra staff of the Board of Trade. What for? We are not told. A second £1,300 a year for two or three years to Commissioners to make inquiries in different parts of the country which ought to be made before the Bill is introduced. The right hon. Gentleman will not take a limit of £4,000. Let us offer him a limit of £6,000. Surely we ought to put some sort of limit upon voting money after Twelve o'clock at night on such an explanation as we have had, just to show that the House of Commons is not a farce and still has some control over the finances of the country.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
Surely the right hon. Gentleman will say something. Will he accept no limit whatever? He is asking us to pass this Resolution giving him a blank cheque for the appointment of Commissionerships and other appointments, which he says are neither temporary nor permanent. He gives us officers, as he pretends for three years, and has to admit a moment later that half of them are permanent, and he will accept no limit, whatever. His own figures amount to £2,600 a year. He has been asked to accept £4,000 and £6,000 as a limit. He has refused the £4,000 and gives no answer to the £6,000. I think he is trifling with the House. Surely it is not consistent with the dignity of a 2061 Government Department and a Member of the Cabinet to treat the House in this way. The whole of the right hon. Gentleman's attitude this evening has been endeavouring to conceal the true facts of the case. It is one of the most barefaced attempts to keep facts back and conceal the whole truth that we have seen even in years "which are full of barefaced attempts of a
§ Captain JESSEL
The President of the Board of Trade has given us no proper explanation of these figures. In reply to the hon. Member for the City of London we were told that these figures were neither permanent nor temporary. In the course of the said speech we find that £1,300 is for occasional Commissioners,
§ similar kind. I must press the right hon. Gentleman to give some sort of reply before the matter goes to a division.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 131; Noes, 18.2061
|Division No. 377.]||AYES.||12.15 a.m.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Malley, William|
|Adamson, William||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Hazleton, Richard||O'Shee, James John|
|Armitage, Robert||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon., S.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Higham, John Sharp||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Holmes, Daniel Turner||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Black, Arthur W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pointer, Joseph|
|Boland, John Pius||Hudson, Walter||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||John, Edward Thomas||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Brace, William||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Reddy, M.|
|Bryce, John Annan||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone. E.)|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Keating Matthew||Robinson, Sidney|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Kilbride, Denis||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clough, William||King, J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cullinan, John||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Scanian, Thomas|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Levy, Sir Maurice||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lewis, John Herbert||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Doris, W.||Lundon, Thomas||Sutherland, John E.|
|Duffy, William J.||Lynch, A. A.||Sutton, John E.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Macpherson, James Ian||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Falconer, J.||McGhee, Richard||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Martin, Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Meagher, Michael||Webb, H.|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||White, J. Dundas (Tradeston)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Morison, Hector||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Muldoon, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Munro, Robert||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Nicholson, Sir Charles (Doncaster)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Nolan, Joseph||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Winfrey, Richard|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Hackett, John||O'Connor, John (Kildare)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Doherty, Philip||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Hardie, J. Keir||O'Donnell, Thomas||Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Terrell, George Wilts., N.W.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Watt, Henry A.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Pringle, William M. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M||Sanders, Robert||Banbury and Mr. Rawlinson.|
§ and the other £1,300 is for permanent officials of the Board of Trade. The speech of the President of the Board of Trade has been most unsatisfactory. He refused to accept the offer to reduce the expenses to £4,000 or even to £6,000. I was glad to find myself voting with the hon. Member for East St. Pancras. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] 2063 Well, then, I was surprised he had not the courage of his convictions, and that he did not go into the Lobby with us. He knows as well as we do that the people in St. Pancras are poor and cannot put up with these extravagant salaries. The matter should be adjourned and the President of the Board of Trade in consultation with his expert advisers should give the matter full consideration and get all the facts. I therefore move that the Chairman report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
Surely we are not going to be treated with this discourtesy. Is the right hon. Gentleman not going to take any notice of anything that has been said?
§ Mr. COURTHOPE
I wish to repeat the question which I asked a moment ago as to whether the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade should continue to treat the Opposition with the discourtesy which he has shown. He has given us absolutely no explanation whatever of this Bill. He has given no answer to the Amendment moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), and he made a statement which he admitted a moment or two later is in part false. He has given estimates which he has to admit he does not himself rely upon; and I do think we are entitled to ask for further explanation of the proposal of the Government and some further justification of the estimates and figures which they put before us previous to our being asked to pass a Resolution such as that which you, Sir, have put from the Chair. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not continue to be so discourteous. Because we happen to be discussing the matter at this hour is no reason why we should not be treated with proper courtesy.
§ Mr. BUXTON
I intended no discourtesy. The hon. Gentleman simply moved the Adjournment of the Debate, and he asked no further question. I should have been very glad to answer any questions he might have asked. Various questions were put to me which I had already answered, and I can assure hon. Members that no discourtesy was intended.
§ Captain JESSEL
I moved to report Progress because the right hon. Gentleman had not answered the questions put to him.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The right hon. Gentleman has not given any reason why he should not accept the Motion for the Adjournment to report Progress. The right hon. Gentleman simply got up and said that he had answered the questions previously put to him. He gave no reason why the Debate should not be adjourned. I propose to give reasons why the course proposed by my hon. Friend should be followed. The right hon. Gentleman does not quite know whether it is going to cost £3,600 a year or more. This is an important question, and an adjournment of the Debate would give him an opportunity of consulting with his advisers, and of coming down to the House and being able to tell us, in the adjourned Debate, when it is resumed, what is the exact amount which he thinks the new Commissioners, or the new people, whatever you may call them, will cost. It may be possible that, on further consideration, he would be able to accept a money limit to the Resolution. In those circumstances I think I have advanced some strong arguments, which deserve an answer, for the Motion to report Progress and ask leave to sit again—first, economy; secondly, good management; and thirdly, the interests of the House of Commons.
§ Question, "That the Chairman do now report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and negatived.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, to add at the end of the Resolution the words, "Provided that such payments shall not exceed the sum of £6,000 in any one year."
§ Question proposed, "That these words be added to the Resolution at the end thereof."
§ Mr. BUXTON
I think the hon. Member who proposed the limit of £6,000 originally did not make things quite clear. I thought he meant that the limit was to be £6,000 in all. I could nor accept that, as part of the expenditure will be permanent. I am willing to accept the proposal of the hon. Baronet that there shall be a limit of £6,000 in any one year.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolution, as amended, put, and agreed to; to be reported To-morrow.