HC Deb 08 January 1913 vol 46 cc1285-331

  1. (1) For the purposes of the financial provisions of this Act there shall be established a Board to be called the Joint Exchequer Board, consisting of two members appointed by the Treasury and two members appointed by the Irish Treasury and a Chairman appointed by His Majesty.
  2. (2) It shall be the duty of the Joint Exchequer Board to determine any matter which is to be determined by the Board under this Act, and also to determine any other matter in connection with the Transferred Sum, or Irish revenue or expenditure, or the cost of any reserved service, which may be referred to them for determination by the Treasury and the Irish Treasury jointly, and the decision of the Board on any matter which is to be determined by them shall be final and conclusive.
  3. (3) Any vacancy arising in the office of a member of the Board, owing to the death, resignation, or incapacity of any member of the Board, shall be filled by the authority by whom the member whose place is vacant was appointed.


I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (1), to insert the words,

"(2) The term of office of a member of the Joint Exchequer Board shall be ten years, but any member may at any time resign and any member may be removed by His Majesty for incapacity or misconduct.

(3) The Joint Exchequer Board may act by three of their number and, subject to the approval of the Treasury and the Irish Treasury jointly, may regulate their own procedure.

(4) The Joint Exchequer Board may, with the consent of the Treasury and the Irish Treasury jointly, appoint and employ such officers and servants as they think necessary, and may remove any officer or servants so appointed and employed."

I think no apology is owed to the House for again bringing up the question of the Joint Exchequer Board in very much the same form as the Amendment I moved in Committee, because the discussion we had then showed the position was even worse than we had expected. Under the Bill as it stands the details as to the tenure and constitution of the Joint Exchequer Board are to be laid down by Order in Council under Clause 45. The Amendment which has been made to the Bill shows this procedure would be even more dangerous than we had expected. It is admitted on all hands that the powers of the Joint Exchequer Board are very many and very varied. I have made out a list of them; it totals to nearly twenty; and, as if these powers were not enough, the next Amend-men which stands on the Paper in the name of the Postmaster-General is to the effect that the Joint Exchequer Board are also to determine any matters referred to them in pursuance of any Irish Transfer Order in Council made under this Act. The Joint Exchequer Board is not only to deal with finance, but probably with other miscellaneous matters as well. They are to deal with extremely important and highly contentious matters without this new provision, and, as was pointed out on the previous stage of the Bill, they will be able, if they wish, with these powers to make hay of the best considered Budgets. No Chancellor of Exchequer, either in England or in Ireland, could possibly foresee what decision would be come to by the Joint Exchequer Board carrying out the absolutely inconsistent and mutually contradictory instructions which are laid down for their guidance in the Bill.

8.0 P.M.

I will only take one example. The Board, among its other duties, will have to decide what amount of the proceeds of any Customs Duty is to be allotted to each Exchequer in those cases where, in addition to the British Customs Duty, there is a surtax charged in Ireland. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, the Irish Parliament decides to put a surtax of a halfpenny per pound on tea, raising the duty from 5d. to 5½d., an increase of 10 per cent., and let us assume that surtax does not affect the yield. It is quite conceivable such an increase would diminish consumption and bring in no more money. Under the Bill neither Exchequer could foretell the result of the apportionment between the two Exchequers. At first glance, under Clause 16, Sub-section (4), it would appear that each Exchequer would receive the same proportion of the total yield as the duties imposed by each Exchequer bore to the total tax, but it would not be safe for any Chancellor of the Exchequer to reckon on the Joint Exchequer Board being guided by that provision in the Bill, because the last Amendment on which we divided is entirely inconsistent with that which is laid down in Clause 16, Subsection (4). I know it has been suggested that Amendment deals only with general taxation as opposed to Customs and Excise Duties, but there is nothing whatever in the Amendment itself to say so. It deals with Imperial taxes, and apparently it would be within the competence of the Joint Exchequer Board to take their choice between those two contradictory and different instructions. They are instructed by that Amendment to consider the amount of the proceeds of the Imperial tax in Ireland as if the variation had not been made, and to treat only the excess over that figure as the proceed of the Irish tax. I must say it seems to me that these two instructions are flatly irreconcilable. But owing to the action of the guillotine they stand on the face of the Bill without a single word of discussion having taken place on the subject. I suppose I am hardly in order in dealing with this question, which is one of great inconsistency, except as an example of the fact that the Joint Exchequer Board will, by its unfore-seeing action, make a scientific Budget absolutely impossible. They will be bound to accept the Estimates of one or the other. Let me, ask the House to picture what will happen. The Budgets in both countries will probably be decided upon at the beginning of the financial year, before the full figures on which their decisions must be based are before the Joint Exchequer Board. How on earth is the Chancellor of the Exchequer in such a case to know in what way the Joint Exchequer Board will decide the operation and yield of taxes under Clause 16, Sub-section (4)? Will he throw the loss on England or not? It is obvious that under this new Sub-section (4) of Clause 17 he may give the whole proceeds of the tax to England, and thereby do nothing to fulfil the expectations of the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer. Whatever decision may be arrived at by the Joint Exchequer Board, one or other of the Treasuries must be very much aggrieved, and the decision must lead to very great discontent and friction—friction which will make the work of the Exchequer Board extremely difficult.

What is this Board which is to arrive at this decision? In effect it is not a Board of five—it is merely a Board of one. When I moved an Amendment on very much the same lines in Committee, the learned Attorney-General stated there was no necessity for a fixed term of service on the Joint Exchequer Board. He said that what was contemplated was that certain members would be appointed while they are Treasury officials, and that they did not want the term to be either five or ten years, because it might be that the official might cease to be an official of the Treasury after a number of years and it might be required that persons in that particular office in the Treasury should sit on the Board. That is to say, the Joint Exchequer Board, as regards two of its members, is to be merely a Department of the Treasury interested in either country. That makes it clear that it will only be an independent Board in name. In fact, it will be a combination of two Departments—of representatives of each Treasury, presided over by an independent chairman. The representatives of the English and Irish Treasuries, respectively, will naturally act on definite instructions from the heads of their particular Department. They will be bound to take the official view on matters which come before them, and they will therefore counteract the power of each other: the chairman will be the Joint Exchequer Board and will have all the power. No doubt the Treasury officials will carry out the instructions of the Treasury, but on the chairman will rest the burden of the work and responsibility of this absolutely fantastic Board. Surely, instead of having a dummy Board set up in this fashion, it would be much better to have a real one commanding confidence for its impartiality in both countries.

Take the case of Canada. There you have a precedent for deciding disputes between the federal and provincial authorities although not in matters of finance. The framers of the Act in Canada, in their wisdom, restricted the powers of each body so that there could be no possible dispute over finance. Where disputes did arise they were to be referred to the Supreme Court in the case of the subordinate Legislatures, except in the case of the province of Quebec, where any dispute would go straight to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. In Canada these difficulties arise very rarely. But when they do arise, the decision of the Judicial Committee is deemed to be impartial, and no exception is taken to it by either side. Surely that precedent is a very valuable one. Matters which are to be left to be decided by the Joint Exchequer Board will be very numerous; far more numerous indeed than those which have to be decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. They will be very much more contentious, and so it will be even more necessary than in the case of the North American Constitution to submit them to a body which commands absolute and complete confidence. I do not think that the body which is proposed under this Bill will command that confidence. For one thing, the members will be removable at the will of the heads of the Treasury. It will be known that they are absolutely dependent on their Depart- mental chiefs, and it will be felt that the decision of the Joint Exchequer Board will, in fact, be the decision of a single man. I have the greatest admiration for the administrative ability of the Treasury. But I think it is most desirable that in the case of the Joint Exchequer Board this feeling to which I have referred should be avoided. The public should not be induced to believe that the members are merely taking a Departmental view. Therefore, it is that I am proposing this Amendment. No doubt the respective Exchequers will have to give the materials upon which their decisions are based, and I would suggest that it would be to the advantage of the Joint Exchequer Board that when these materials are obtained from the Treasury they should be checked and reconciled under the instruction of the Joint Exchequer Board. The present idea seems to be that the figures will be compiled from the divergent standpoints of the two Treasuries and that they will be thrown at the head of the Chairman, whose duty it will be to reconcile them.

Even if the Government do accept my Amendment, I do not say it will make the Joint Exchequer Board a satisfactory body. In my opinion the setting up of a standing arbitrator between two Parliaments is in itself a vicious proceeding. The Joint Exchequer Board will spring from a tainted and bad source. There are difficulties essential to any scheme which tries to reconcile the irreconcilable. Wherever these difficulties have arisen, wherever financial tangles have cropped up, and the Government method has throughout been to try to shuffle out of it by transferring it to the Joint Exchequer Board. It is, in fact, to be the scapegoat for the Government's shortcomings. In the interests, however, of the smooth working of the Bill, if it ever does become law, and to avoid unnecessary difficulties between two Governments, I urge that as the Joint Exchequer Board is to do work which will be largely judicial in its character the members should be secure in their office, so that, however unpopular their decisions may be, no doubt can arise in the minds of the parties interested as to their complete independence and absolute impartiality.


I beg to second the Amendment. One of the strangest facts in regard to this Bill is the casual way in which the Government have made provision for the setting up of the Joint Exchequer Board. The Bill states that it is to be a Board which is to be given enormous power, but it has very little to say in regard to the status or constitution of this new body. This Board itself is a gigantic constitutional innovation. There is nothing in the least resembling it in any Constitution in the British Empire, and, so far as I am aware, there is nothing like it in any Constitution in the world. This Board of five members, as the Prime Minister has said, is to be an independent body, acting independently. That is really all we know about it. It is not only independent of any effective control by the Imperial Parliament, but it is placed in a position of actual superiority over this House. Its decision on the most important questions of finance will undoubtedly limit the operations of both Parliaments—in fact, the key of the Kingdom's finances is to be handed over to these five gentlemen. Let us see what are the powers of this autocratic body. In the first place, it will assess the amount of the Transferred Sum on which Ireland is to pay her way; it will determine what is the yield of any tax imposed by the Irish Parliament, either by way of addition to an Imperial Tax or as an independent tax; it will determine to what extent the proceeds of any Customs or Excise Duty levied by the Irish Parliament are to be deemed the proceeds of an Irish Tax or of an Imperial Tax; it is to determine how much is to be deducted from the Transferred Sum in the event of the Irish Parliament reducing or discontinuing any Irish Tax; it is to determine whether the yield of any additional Irish Income Tax, or Death Duty, or Customs Tax, imposed as an addition to the British Duty, exceeds the British Tax yield in regard to Ireland by 10 per cent.; and it is to direct—and this is an important point—as a consequence that any excess so ascertained shall not be paid to the Irish Exchequer, but be kept by the British Exchequer.

Towards the end of the Clause it is provided that the Board is further to determine, in the event of the Irish Government taking over any Reserved Service, what is the equivalent of any saving to the British Exchequer by the transfer of such service to Ireland, and it is to decide whether the expenses of such service would be likely to increase or decrease. In addition to all that, it can direct that the Transferred Sum should vary during the ten years after the transfer. It can determine any matter connected with the Transferred Sum, or with Irish revenue or expenditure, or the cost of any Reserved Services which may be referred to it by the Imperial Treasury and the Treasury of Ireland jointly. It has powers to control the imposition by the Parliament of Ireland of any independent tax, by declaring that such tax is substantially the same as the Imperial tax. If loans are raised by the Irish Government on the credit of the Transferred Sum, the Exchequer Board can undertake the issue and management of the loan and the sum necessary for meeting the charges on the loan, and these sums are to be paid to the Exchequer Board instead of to the Irish Exchequer, The Board is to decide what is, from time to time, the true revenue of Ireland, as distinguished from the true revenue of Great Britain. In the last place, it is upon a report of the Joint Exchequer Board that the procedure of Clause 26 will be brought into operation, and the Imperial Parliament will be called upon to remodel its Constitution and revise the financial arrangements of the Home Rule Bill. I think it will be admitted that the bare enumeration of the powers and duties which are to be entrusted to this new body is sufficient to show that its construction is of vital importance. When one realises the importance of this financial body it does seem most remarkable that the constitution of the Board should be allowed to remain in a nebulous condition.

The impression I have gathered from the explanations which were given by the Attorney-General during the Committee stage, is that the Irish Exchequer Board will meet two or three times a year to deal with all these important matters which are to be committed to their care. The work will apparently be in the nature of a holiday task—something which the Treasury officials can perform in the intervals of their ordinary duties at the Treasury. They are really to come over to Ireland to enjoy themselves. That was the impression which was produced by the light and airy manner adopted by the Attorney-General. Of course, when we examine what the Board will be called upon to do, we see at once the absurdity of that idea. Their duties in respect to loans, to name no other duty, will necessitate the Board having a permanent and settled constitution, with a considerable staff working under them. It does seem strange, therefore, that up to the present time the status and constitution of the Board have not been defined. I am glad to admit that the Government have put down Amendments, which to some extent meet some of the points mentioned in the Amendment, but there are many shortcomings. There is no limitation as to the term of office for which the members shall serve. There is no provision for employment of officers. There is no provision in regard to salaries, and there is no provision for a quorum. I think the reasons which have been advanced by the representatives of the Government for leaving matters in that undefined state are wholly inconclusive. If the Joint Exchequer Board is to be established at all, it should be given a well-defined constitution, and Parliament should settle the limits of its powers, and ought also to have some control over its operations. There is one point with reference to the Joint Exchequer Board which is of great importance—it is to be called into existence for the purpose of arbitrating between the Irish Parliament and the Imperial Parliament. The two Parliaments are to have equal representation upon it, with an independent chairman as umpire. That indicates to my mind the idea that the two Parliaments are co-equal, and it disposes, once and for all, of the contention that the Irish Parliament is subordinate to this Parliament. That is the contention upheld by hon. Gentlemen opposite during the whole discussion of this Bill. For these reasons I have much pleasure in supporting the Amendment.


I have an Amendment on the Paper, and I understand the few words I intended to say in support of it will be in order now. I entirely agree "with the two hon. Gentlemen who have proposed and seconded this Amendment in emphasising the importance of the Joint Exchequer Board commanding general confidence. I have no doubt that the Amendment they propose, if embodied in the Bill, would confer upon the Board general confidence in this country; but this is a bilateral Board, and it is necessary for its success and smooth working that it should command general confidence in the two countries concerned. To make all the members of the Board removable by the King would amount to making them removable by the British Ministry—that is, removable by one side in a joint transaction and not by the other. That would be manifestly unfair, and could not command general confidence on the other side of the Channel. The only proper authority, in my opinion, to remove a member of the Joint Exchequer Board is the authority by which he was appointed. The power of removal vested elsewhere might be, and probably would be, exercised when we in Ireland did not want it, and not exercised when we did want it, and want it with very good reason. I object on principle to letting the Clause pass in its present state without any express power of removal, because that would amount to a life tenure of office for the Irish members of the Board, but not for the British members. You here would have ample means of removing any member of the Board who from any cause became objectionable, while we in Ireland would have no such power. Members of this Board, as of any other Board, would have no respect for an authority possessing no power to remove them. The result would be that Ireland would have nominal representatives on this Board, and no real representatives; and that for practical purposes the Board would be, not joint, but one-sided. I would therefore urge as strongly as I may upon the Postmaster-General to accept the suggestion to make each member of this Board removable by the authority by which he was appointed, and by no other. That is all I have to say on this aspect of the Amendment. But I would ask you, Sir, whether the fact of the latter part of this Amendment suggesting a quorum will preclude me from moving my later Amendment on the paper with reference to a quorum. If it would I would say on that subject now what I desire to say.


I understand the hon. Member refers to an Amendment which he has on the Paper to the Postmaster-General's Amendment later on. I do not think the decision on this Amendment would preclude him from moving, if we reach it in time, the Amendment to the Postmaster-General's Amendment later on.


I do not like one bit of this Bill from beginning to end. I do not conceal that. But when we are dealing with it here, and as long as it is under the control of the House, there ought to be at least some attempt made to make it appear to be a reasonable and workable measure even in the eyes of those who approve the principle of Home Rule. What are you doing? You are creating here not merely a novel body but a body with the greatest powers that you could confer upon any persons with reference in finance between this country and Ireland, and novel to the Irish people themselves. The body which above all others it will be calling into existence ought to be above suspicion, and ought to be above the influence of any party outside either the Government here or the Government in Ireland. When the Land Act of 1903 was passing through this House and when the Commissioners were being created for the purpose of working that Land Act, which only dealt with the sale and purchase of land in Ireland, great care was taken to give security of tenure and great care was taken also to have the names placed before the Committee of the House of Commons before that Bill became law, and one of the things which I remember well was most eagerly discussed and anxiously considered was not merely who the men were, and what were their qualification for discharging the duties, but to see that they were placed in a position where they could not be supposed to be subject to any influence or any prejudice in favour of one side or the other. Here you are appointing men to determine between the two countries in reference to the entire revenue that Ireland is to have and you are appointing them not merely to determine now what is to be the course in future, but you are appointing them to determine day by day, year by year, Session of Parliament after Session of Parliament, how important matters in reference to finance are to be decided; and yet this Bill, contrary I think to almost every precedent on any Bill setting up an important Board to discharge important functions, has neither determined the length of time for which they are to be appointed nor has it determined anything in reference to how they are to be paid, who they are to be, or any security for their remaining in office at all. It is not necessary to assume that either party affected in this matter will act unreasonably or dishonestly. That is not always necessary to assume when you are dealing with and making provision for the carrying out of the work of a great Board like this, but you cannot leave out of consideration the possibility of unfairness, the possibility of an attempt being made to influence one or other of the members of this Board, and therefore this House—I say this House designedly, apart from Ministers who are carrying through this measure, and apart from those who are directly considering what is to be done in reference to the position of Nationalist Ireland—this House ought to see that a body like this, about to be set up to discharge great and important duties, should be in a position which would be secure, which would render them above suspicion, and would prevent any attempt to interfere unduly with the discharge of their duties.

What is asked for by this Amendment? The Government have not attempted to show whether the members of the Board are to be appointed for the job when the occasion arises, or for a year, or for a session, or for life. Nor does the Clause say anything with reference to giving them salaries, which would show that they are officers to discharge important work, and not merely journeymen sent off to do this work. I suppose the Postmaster-General considers that this is only a small matter of figures. We have heard from time to time that the greatest difficulties have been encountered in trying to determine questions of revenue as between England and Ireland. This Clause involves the whole of these matters. They will require grave consideration. They will require very great skill, and probably a great deal of time, to work out accurately. One can hardly see why the Government will not put the provisions of the Amendment into this Bill if by oversight they have left them out. The first is that the office of member shall be held for ten years, but that any member may resign or be removed by His Majesty for incapacity or misconduct. I was not surprised to hear the hon. Member say—for I know the feeling of hon. Members below the Gangway—that because His Majesty is to have power to remove a member that is regarded as a one-sided bargain, as the Irish representatives would be there permanently, the King not having to remove them. I understand that one of the great points with the Nationalist party is that they are still loyal to the King, and that when the words "His Majesty" are used in an Act of Parliament they mean that the King will be Sovereign in Ireland as well as in England. Therefore, I think that argument carries no weight whatever. It is a slight indication of the position which hon. Members below the Gangway will occupy in their Parliament with reference to the Sovereign. I think it is an indication that they will have a very different view of their position in Ireland after the passing of the Bill from what it is now with reference to the Sovereign.

As to the power of removal for incapacity or misconduct, these are well-known grounds for removal, and it is not to be assumed that they would be exercised arbitrarily or unreasonably. If you want an honest Board with reasonable security that it will be above suspicion in carrying out these enormous and important duties, I think they should at least be appointed for a period of ten years, and that they should only be removable by His Majesty for incapacity or misconduct. That is a reasonable thing to suggest, and I cannot understand why the Government should refuse to accept it. It may be said that it is a small matter, but I would remind the House that every company created with a capital of £5,000 has to appoint directors, and that so many of them form a quorum. What is to be a quorum here? If two meet, can they decide all those important questions? If only one is present, can he decide them? Surely, as a matter of procedure, it is necessary to have a quorum. The Clause provides that the Exchequer Board may, with the consent of the Treasury and the Irish Treasury, appoint such officers as are required. I suppose if they do appoint people they will have to be paid. When you provide for appointing people who are to be paid out of Imperial funds or Irish funds, there ought to be some provision made showing how and by whom the appointments are to be made. There is an Amendment standing in the name of the Postmaster-General with reference to the question of appeals from the Joint Exchequer Board. He wants to insert the words subject to the provisions of this Act as to appeals from decisions of the Board. Let there be no mistake. There is no appeal from the decision of the Board on questions of fact, and they are far and away the most important. The only matters that will be carried to appeal are questions of law.


We must not discuss that Amendment until we reach it.


It was not for the purpose of discussing the Amendment I mentioned it, but for the purpose of calling attention to the enormous powers this Board will have. There is no right of appeal from them on questions of fact. On all matters of fact dealing with finance they are absolutely masters of the situation. When this Amendment was before the Committee the Attorney-General stated the position perfectly clearly, when he said that matters of fact are left entirely to the Board, and that the Government did not intend to interfere with their decisions or opinions on matters of fact, I think, as Members of the House of Commons, we ought to see that things are dealt with in a reasonable way, and that proposals in the Bill are not allowed to slip through without explanation.


I cannot refrain from suggesting to the House that hon. Members who have spoken have enlarged unduly the importance of the functions which are to be attributed to this Board. One hon. Member said it is to determine the entire revenue which each country is to have, and another that its decisions might upset the best calculated Budget; but as the last hon. Member has said, it merely has to determine questions of fact. It has to decide how much money is in fact being spent on certain Irish services when the Bill comes into operation, and it has to decide how much money has come into the till, so to speak, owing to the increase of an Irish tax, or how much has failed to be collected owing to the reduction of an Irish tax, and questions of that kind. There is only one large question of finance which is referred to it. That is the decision of the point whether or not a new Irish tax is an independent tax, substantially different from an Imperial tax; but on that point there is an appeal to the Privy Council in case any dispute arises. For the rest its functions are of a much more modest kind than the speeches of hon. Members would lead us to suppose, although I do not deny that some of the functions which it is called upon to fulfil are difficult functions, for it may have to make careful calculations in certain respects, but only with regard to any margin of doubt that may exist. With regard to the great bulk of the subject referred to for consideration, that is not so. If there is a tax of £100,000, for instance, to be divided between the Imperial and the Irish Exchequers according to the yield of the respective rates of the tax, it will not have to decide any question as to whether one Exchequer or the other would have the £100,000. The question it has to decide will be whether the proportion handed over to the Irish Parliament is £10,000, or £10,400, or £10,700.


Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the question of inconsistency between Section 16 (4) and Section 17. I wished to raise this as a point of Order on the Amendment, and Mr. Speaker allowed me, as it was so very complicated, to ask for a decision with regard to it on this Amendment, instead of raising it as a point of Order.


The hon. Gentleman will do me the justice to admit that I never try to evade a question asked me, and I had it on my notes to deal with this question next. The point I am at present on is that although the sums with which the Board will be concerned will be large, and although some of the points it will have to settle are nice points, the margin of doubt with which it "will have to deal will be small, and its decisions one way or another, though it is important to get them as accurately as possible, will not make any very serious difference financially, either to one country or the other. The important thing is to have some machinery that will command more or less the confidence of the two parties concerned which will solve any points of difference which may, in fact, arise. Hon. Members who have spoken have discovered an alleged inconsistency between 16 (4) and the new paragraph 17 (4). They may have overlooked a point in Clause 16 (4) which deals with the proceeds of Customs Duties imposed under this Section and that Section 16 merely deals with the Customs Duties that are imposed in Ireland or Great Britain, as the case may be, on goods passing between those two countries, where the Customs Duties may have to be altered owing to some action on the part of the Irish Parliament; and Clause 16 (4) says that so far as any such Customs Duty is altered by the Irish Parliament it is to be regarded as an Irish tax, and so far as it is the precise duty previously imposed by the Imperial Parliament it is to be regarded as an Imperial tax. But it does not deal with the question as to how the proceeds of the tax are to be calculated. It merely says that the proceeds of the difference between the two are to be regarded as the proceeds of an Irish tax as distinct from an Imperial tax. That certainly is so. Then a later Clause, 17 (4), deals with all Customs Duties, whether on goods passing between these two countries or not, and it decides, in ascertaining what are to be regarded as the proceeds of an additional Customs Duty, that what are to be taken as the proceeds is the sum actually received over and above the money that would have been received otherwise, and not merely an arithmetical amount calculated as the ratio of the new Irish tax compared with the old Imperial tax.

The later Clause certainly covers the Customs Duty that may be imposed to go with the corresponding Excise Duty on goods passing between the two countries. But it does not deal with the same subject matter. One determines what is an Imperial and what is an Irish tax, and the other how you are to calculate what are to be regarded as the proceeds of a particular Irish tax. Now, coming to the particular proposals of this Amendment before the House, the first is that the term of office for these gentlemen who are to serve on the Joint Exchequer Board is to be fixed at a period of ten years, subject to dismissal on certain grounds. That would entirely defeat the whole purpose of this Clause, and completely alter the character of the Joint Exchequer Board. These questions which are to be decided should be decided in the ordinary course by the Treasury, but as there are two Exchequers concerned we ought to have representatives of both those Treasuries sitting on the tribunal which is to decide these matters. The idea always has been that these two gentlemen on each side would be the representatives of the Treasuries of the two countries, acting in accordance with instruction from those Treasuries, and representing the views of the Treasuries of the United Kingdom and of Ireland, respectively, and, as has already been stated, that is the reason for not tying ourselves to particular persons to constitute this Board. The intention is that they should be officials of capacity and standing, who should be well qualified to represent their respective Treasuries.

If you fix a time of ten years you entirely destroy the whole basis of the plan of the Joint Exchequer Board being a conference of the members of the two Treasuries sitting under the presidency of a chairman, because these five gentlemen would remain in office for ten years, and consequently they might continue sitting on the Joint Exchequer Board long after they may have left the Civil Service of the country to which they belong. The hon. Member has suggested that we ought to have in the Bill the salaries which we are to be paid. It is not in his Amendment partly because it would be out of order at this stage, but we discussed the matter at great length in Committee. Salaries may be quite unnecessary, very likely will be unnecessary in the case of officials, if officials are appointed. A salary for the chairman may or may not be necessary. It depends on the individual; but it is best not to indicate in the Bill the salaries to be paid. If salaries are required they will be put on the estimate, and so far as they are payable by the Imperial Exchequer, they will be entirely under the control and discretion of this House. Another point is as to the number of members to form a quorum. These very small points were left out of the Bill. They would be settled by Order in Council and Regulations made under the Bill. They are very minute to demand attention at such length from this Parliament, which is supposed to have very inadequate time for the discussion of this Bill, but since the point was raised we have put down an Amendment providing that three shall be the quorum. The hon. Member for West Meath (Mr. Ginnell) has an Amendment to provide that at least one of the three must be a representative of the Irish Treasury, but the effect of that would be that the Irish Treasury, if it wished would bring the whole proceedings of the Board to a deadlock and prevent any business of any kind being transacted, by instructing their representatives not to attend. That, of course, is a contingency which ought not to be made possible by the Act.

Personally, I do not for a moment suggest that it will occur, but if the hon. Member thinks it necessary to move his Amendment in order to provide that the Irish Treasury should be a liberty to bring the proceedings to a standstill if it thinks fit, all I can say is that it would be my duty to resist an Amendment in order to prevent anything of the kind, because if the proceedings of the Board were to come to a standstill, and as the decisions of the Board are essential for a number of things that have to be done under the Act, it would mean that the Act would not work. Therefore I must ask the hon. Member to put what confidence his convictions will allow him to do in the impartiality of the chairman who will be appointed to preside over the Board.


The right hon. Gentleman condemns this Board to work with a quorum of British members.


No; I do not contemplate that it will in fact do so. I do not for a moment expect such a division of opinion as would be indicated by the withdrawal of Irish members; I do not contemplate that anything of that-kind will happen at all. I only say that it ought not to be possible for it to happen. The next point of the Amendment is that the Joint Exchequer Board, subject to the approval of the Treasury and the Irish Treasury jointly, may regulate their own procedure. Our Amendment provides that the Board may regulate their own procedure. It would be a very unwise provision to insert in the Bill that their procedure should be subject to the approval of the Treasury and the Irish Treasury jointly. Surely it is better to leave the matter to the Board itself, which consists of representatives of the Treasury and of the Irish Treasury, to provide a method of solution in case of difference of opinion between the two. The last point in the Amendment is that the Joint Exchequer Board "may, with the consent of the Treasury and the Irish Treasury jointly, appoint and employ such officers and servants as they think necessary, and may remove any officer and servant so appointed and employed." Of course they will have inherent powers to employ officers if they think fit, and if this House votes the salaries necessary. It is not our view, however, that the Joint Exchequer Board should be erected into anything in the nature of a large Government Department. The idea is that there should be five gentlemen sitting round a table, from time to time, and settling points put before them by the two Treasuries. The hon. Gentleman said that they would meet two or three times a year. It is not at all so. They will have to meet much oftener than that when the Bill first comes into operation, but when the machinery of the Bill has been once set going, their duties would not be arduous, and certainly would not require the services of a large staff. If they had to manage any loans, no doubt it could be done through the Bank of England or the Bank of Ireland, or any large bank. I think it would be a pity to insert any provision in the Bill which would imply that hon. Gentlemen opposite are anxious to increase the number of officials and the number of salaries to be paid to public servants.

9.0 P.M.


The speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General and that made by the Attorney-General in Committee both show internal evidence that the Government never meant this Bill to pass, or never hoped that this Bill would pass, or they would not have submitted a skeleton Clause of this nature, which provides no constitution for one of the most important bodies set up under this measure. The right hon. Gentleman takes the same view as the Attorney-General took a few weeks ago, that, after all, the powers of this body are really of no importance whatever, or of very little importance, and that the work could be discharged by a few Treasury clerks, who could very well conduct the business that is to be conducted by the Joint Exchequer Board. It would appear that it does not very much matter whether they are offered salaries or not, or how long they will stay, and they may come and go, and be replaced from time to time. We take a very different view of the Joint Exchequer Board from that which is apparently held by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. We look through the Bill, and we find that most important duties are assigned to this Board. The learned Attorney-General on a previous occasion said all the Joint Exchequer Board will have to decide will really be matters of account, and a few accountants would be sufficient for the purpose. The Postmaster-General said that they will have to decide questions of fact, and that what would depend on their decision would be whether a small margin of expenditure was for the Irish Exchequer or the British Exchequer, and questions of that kind. The Postmaster-General, in a speech which he made earlier in the afternoon, answered some criticisms by Lord MacDonnell on the finance of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said that Lord MacDonnell stated that under this Bill it will be found that Ireland is very unfairly treated because when they come to make up the real account of what is the true Irish revenue it will be found to have been very much understated by the Government acting on the advice of His Majesty's Treasury. Thereupon, the Postmaster-General said that that will be a matter which will afterwards be decided by the Joint Exchequer Board and that if the Joint Exchequer Board proves Lord MacDonnell's view to be right, and that the true Irish revenue has been understated, then, of course, more money will have to be paid to Ireland.


Not at all. It will not be as to the statement of the true Irish revenue. It does not affect at all what will be the true Irish revenue under the Bill. It only affects the date at which the deficit will be ended under Clause 26.


Lord MacDonnell said more money would be due to Ireland, because the true revenue of Ireland had been understated, and if the account were taken between the British Exchequr and the Irish Exchequer his view was that Ire-land would be better off than she would under the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman. My argument is this: Who will have to ascertain the true revenue of Ireland, according to the right hon. Gentleman himself? It is the Treasury officials—the Joint Exchequer Board, acting on whose instructions?—acting as the right hon. Gentleman said, on the instructions of the Treasury. What are the instructions of the Treasury? They are the instructions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer who presides over the Treasury. Whose servants are these Gentlemen going to be? Who pays them? Are they going to be independent of salaries? We are told not. They are to be salaried officials acting under the Chancellor of the Exchequer and taking their instructions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. What I think we ought to have on this Board are men of independent opinion, not salaried officials taking their instructions from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is not the sort of Board we ought to have to decide these questions. The Postmaster-General said that this body will have to decide questions of fact, and the Attorney-General the other day said they would not have to give their opinion, and they would deal merely with questions of fact. The right hon. Gentleman takes the same view. I wish to call the attention of the House to one of the duties of the Joint Exchequer Board; here is one of the questions we have to decide:—

"When any reserved services is transferred from the Government of the United Kingdom to the Government of Ireland, the Transferred Sum shall be increased by such sum as may be determined by the Joint Exchequer Board to represent the equivalent of any saving to the Exchequer of the United Kingdom by reason of the transfer."

The right hon. Gentleman would say that is a matter of fact. Let him read what follows:—

"And in determining that equivalent, regard shall be had to the prospect of any increase or decrease in the cost of that service which may be expected to arise from causes not being matters of administration."

Let us apply that. Supposing that the Irish Government want to take Over old age pensions. This Joint Exchequer Board will not only have to go into the finance and find out what is the equivalent of the sum which the British Exchequer has to pass for old age pensions, but will also have to decide what is the prospect of an increase or a decrease in the cost of old age pensions which may be expected to arise, not being matters of administration. What must those causes be? They must be matters of policy.


No, no.


How is anybody going to determine what is going to be the prospective cost of old age pensions unless he takes into consideration that a Government may be in power actually pledged to lower the age at which pensions are given or to increase the amount of the pensions? Suppose the Joint Exchequer Board know that a Government is in power the great bulk of whose supporters are in favour of reducing the age, or of increasing the amount from five shillings per week to seven shillings per week, are they not to take that into consideration? I say they will be bound to do so if these words have any meaning at all.


The case the words have in mind is precisely the case of old age pensions, where the cost will be dropping from year to year owing to the fact that (he population of Ireland has declined, and the number of people who reach the age of seventy in any particular year is known to be gradually decreasing from year to year. It would not be right to give to the Irish Parliament, if they took over old age pensions, the sum which they cost at the moment, when it is known actuarily that in the course of the next so many years the cost is going gradually to decline.


Are we to understand that the Joint Exchequer Board is always to take into account any single thing they see which in the future is likely to lead to a decrease in the cost of the service, but that it is not to take into account things which are likely to lead to an increase?


If the right hon. Gentleman will read the words he will see that that is covered.


Regard is to be had to any increase in the cost of the service.


Or decrease.


Which may be anticipated from causes which are administrative. A Government may have been actually elected the great majority of whom are pledged to a very large increase in the cost of old age pensions. The right hon. Gentleman must admit that that is quite possible. Is the Board to take that into consideration? That is not an increase due to matters of administration, but it is a matter due entirely to, and the outcome of, a change of policy through the desire on the part of the electors to decrease the age at which old age pensions shall be payable, or to increase the cost. I am perfectly certain I am right in my construction of this, and under these words the Board will be bound to take that matter into consideration in saying what amount of money ought to be surrendered if the transferred service was handed over to the Irish Exchequer. I do not think he will say my second case is a mere matter of fact, and is not a matter of policy. The Attorney-General was almost denunciatory of any of those who spoke. I did not do so, and who suggested that the Joint Exchequer Board would have to decide matters of policy? When the Attorney-General and the right hon. Gentleman take that view they must have entirely forgotten Clause 23, which provides:—

"If provision is made by Irish Act for securing any loan raised by the Government of Ireland upon the Transferred Sum and for the payment of such part of the Transferred Sum as in the opinion of the Joint Exchequer Board may be required for the services of the loan in each year direct to that Board, the Board may undertake on behalf of the Irish Government the issue and management of the loan and the application of the money paid to them for the services of the loan."

That is an enormous power to give to any Board whatever. They are to be the sole arbiters as to whether or not an Irish loan shall be floated on the authority of the Joint Exchequer Board, the majority of whom are actually chosen as representatives of the British Treasury. I have always said, in case the Board were to give their sanction to the issue of a loan of this kind, it would be impossible for the British Exchequer to repudiate responsibility for the success of that loan. If by a majority of the Board the Board came to the conclusion that they would practically father this loan, there is a matter of the most serious import to the British Exchequer. It has been said by the Prime Minister, in answer to a question, that this is to be an entirely independent body, acting independently because it performs a statutory duty. The right hon. Gentleman the Postmaster-General contradicts the Prime Minister to-night and tells us it is not to be an independent body, but a body acting on the instructions of the Treasury, which is acting on the instructions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and if it acts on the instructions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it must be responsible to this House because the Chancellor of the Exchequer is responsible to this House. Certainly I cannot imagine that any Government of any kind would give powers of this kind to a few Treasury clerks to issue loans for which the British Exchequer would ultimately be responsible without having it in their minds that that matter must be a matter for the House of Commons itself, to be reviewed or criticised by the House and perhaps endorsed or perhaps refused by the House.

I think I have shown that many of these powers are not, as the right hon. Gentleman says, mere expressions of opinion on accounts on which there may be a little margin here or there, but that they are really vital questions largely affecting the Exchequer of the two countries, and embracing matters not only of opinion but matters of policy. I say if that be true, and I claim I have proved the truth of it, this Joint Exchequer Board will have enormous powers affecting the welfare of the British Exchequer and of the Irish Exchequer. I have mentioned the instance of the authority to issue a loan which is a matter of enormous importance. Suppose that the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer thought it was unfair to make the present generation pay out of revenue for some money to be expended, possibly in nationalising the Irish railways, or possibly in large works for redeeming the harbours of Ireland, or for drainage, and that he came to the conclusion that the money ought to be raised by loan on the Transferred Sum, and that these two British clerks of the British Exchequer, acting on the instructions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer here say, "No, you shall not do it; we have a majority of one here and there will be no loan;" the decision of such an important question as that ought not to be in the hands of those chance Treasury clerks. They are not even to be appointed for the purpose; they are clerks who happen to be at the Treasury at the time. All Treasury clerks are able, in my opinion, but at the same time they are generally fairly busy; I do not know men who are harder worked as a rule; but just in their leisure hours any two Treasury clerks are to be called together and to have these enormous powers. This is a skeleton Bill, which has never been properly clothed at all, and-which ought to be taken back for reconsideration on this and many other points. We are told that we need not trouble about salaries for these Treasury clerks because they have their salaries already. Yes, but not for this work. Their salaries are for work of a very different kind, and if these clerks are drawn from that work you will probably have to find other clerks to take their place in the Treasury to do the work which these particular clerks would have done if they had not been put on the Joint Exchequer Board. If the right hon. Gentleman had to work this particular Clause he would probably find that a very considerable staff was necessary at times if the Joint Exchequer Board was properly to fulfil its duties. Unless there are salaries attached to these positions, and at least one of those salaries is on the Estimates, I do not see how the British House of Commons will be able to review the proceedings of the Joint Exchequer Board. I am quite certain that no British House of Commons will ever forego the right to review decisions of a character which may be almost vital in regard to the finances of this country. The decisions will be of the greatest possible importance to the taxpayers not only of this country but of Ireland. Therefore, some salary must be put on the Estimates in order that this House of Commons may be able to review the decisions and to have some control over the action of the Joint Exchequer Board.

Question, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill," put, and negatived.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "Act," to insert the words "or in pursuance of any Irish Transfer Order in Council made under this Act."


This is apparently a very harmless Amendment, although it covers a great deal of ground. On the last Amendment an attempt was made by the Government, as is always the case when it suits them, to minimise the powers of the Joint Exchequer Board. We were told that my hon. Friend had altogether overstated the extent of their duties. Certainly up to the present the intention has been that their duties should be defined by the Act. I do not think we have discussed that portion of the Bill; certainly we can have no opportunity of discussing the additional duties that may be put upon the Board by Order in Council. Since the Bill was first introduced we have had an altogether new scheme of legislation, which this House will never have an opportunity of discussing until an Order in Council is allowed to lie on the Table for forty days. It seems to me that anything may be done by an Order in Council, which is referred to as an Irish Transfer Order. Clause 45 contains a large number of heads under which this machinery of Irish Transfer Orders in Council is to operate. Apparently it is intended by this Amendment that an Irish Transfer Order in Council may contain in its own terms additional duties for the Joint Exchequer Board. On the last Amendment the Postmaster-General said that the powers of the Joint Exchequer Board were strictly limited and defined by the Bill. Immediately this Amendment is passed there will no longer be any limitation, as an Irish Transfer Order in Council may put any duties whatsoever upon the Board. I am not sure whether I should be in order in discussing the absence of control on the part of this House over Irish Transfer Orders in Council, as compared with the provisions of a Bill which has to go through Committee and Report stages. In the Bill the Government go through the form of saying that the House will still have some control over an Irish Transfer Order. It is all very well for the public to be told that the Order will lie on the Table for forty days, and that if either House petitions His Majesty against it the Order will forthwith become void. But we who have to work in this House know what an absolute farce that is. If an Order in Council dealing with I do not care what subject were challenged in the present Session, what opportunity would any Member have, unless he happened to be a Nationalist, of saying one word about it or taking the opinion of the House upon it?

That is the machinery now being invoked to create now duties for the Joint Exchequer Board, who, we are told in one breath are to settle the destinies of Ireland, while in the next we are assured that it is to be only a mere matter of a couple of Treasury clerks from each Treasury meeting around a table and deciding matters which really do not concern anybody but themselves. I protest, when important issues like this are at stake, against their not being limited by the Bill itself-Unlimited powers may be vested in this Board, of which we do not even know the names of the members. If the Postmaster-General is right, we shall never know their names, because they will simply be Treasury clerks sent in from time to time. By this Amendment we are giving up all real control over the jurisdiction and functions of this body. These matters ought to be settled within the four corners of the Act, and not by Orders in Council drawn up upon the instructions of the Government of the day. The Government say that this Home Rule Bill is to be the Charter of the future Government of Ireland; but they are careful to slip in a provision by which possibly, as the result of some new compact between the Government and their Friends below the Gangway, a party majority can get an Order in Council giving further powers which have never been discussed at all. It is a bad principle, and may contain the germs of a great deal of unfairness. In the event of there being in power a weak Radical Government under the control of a Nationalist majority, there will be no question of impartiality. The Government will simply minister to the needs of an exigent majority across the Channel or of the forty-two Members here, and there will be no real power of criticism on the part of those in this House who, in the interests of fair play, would object to any such transaction. Therefore, I hope that the House will see its way to object to this Amendment.


As the House is aware, I was not present when the Amendment was moved, but if I understand it aright from my reading of it and from which my hon. and learned Friend beside me has said, I think it is a most extraordinary Amendment. I assure the Postmaster-General that I am not saying this simply from the standpoint of party opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] From the first I have tried to argue from the standpoint of the question as a whole, and what would be the effect of the Clauses or the Amendments. It may be that I do not understand the Amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"]—and there may be others in the same position who do not understand the significance of this Amendment. After all it is a matter of procedure, and we have not had a calculation of what the effect of that procedure would be. The Joint Exchequer Board was established in order to inquire into the financial arrangements made, and the effect of the finances of the Imperial Government and of the Irish Government, as to how far the finance put forward by the Irish Government was in keeping and on the line of the purpose and intent of the Bill. If we accept the Joint Exchequer Board as the authority to determine without appeal to the Privy Council, what I want to know is: what is the authority of this Order in Council?

It is, I think, this: that without a reasoned decision, determined only by the Joint Exchequer Board itself, there may be by a Transfer Order in Council by the officials of the Joint Exchequer Board, and not by the Exchequer Board itself, and a conclusion come to under that Order in Council which will affect and seriously affect the relations of the Irish Government and the Imperial Government financially. An Order in Council has always been considered by constitutionalists as a last resource of a Government placed in a difficulty in regard to procedure. I do not say improperly so. But not being able to go to Parliament to secure the operation of a certain Act, which might well receive the approval of Parliament, they issue an Order in Council for that which may be right and just. The Executive takes the responsibility for that. The Act may be one in perfect keeping with good policy and good practice, but Orders in Council belong to a certain well understood scheme of constitutional government, and should only be resorted to, and are only resorted to, in cases where the Government cannot meet Parliament, or where there is merely, as it may be called, a mechanical exercise of authority. Here I think hon. Members will agree the position is rather different. You are making an experiment with an entirely new body. That body has to decide certain questions in relation to Irish finance and its relation to Imperial finance. If I understand aright this Transfer Order in Council it enables the Government to make an Act which though legal constitutionally if this is passed, may be in one sense an overt act, may be an act which will relieve the Irish Government of immediate difficulties, and will be used for that purpose—


The hon. Baronet misapprehends the scope of the Amendment now before the House, which does not raise the point which I think he is raising.


If I have misunderstood the purport of the Amendment I must apologise to the House, but I judged from my reading of the Amendment and the remarks of my hon. and learned Friend that this Transfer Order in Council will enable the Irish Government to do something which ought to be done only by the authority and by the determination of the Joint Exchequer Board. I imagine that there will be nothing between the action of the Joint Exchequer Board and the effect of their act. It seems to me that the Transfer Order in Council does add new machinery to that already established which will give an undue advantage to the Irish Executive.


I have noticed, as other Members of the House have possibly noticed, that all through the Debates on this Bill, wherever the Government were placed in a position of acting on, or determining, or saying how a method in the Bill was to be worked, they have had recourse either to the Joint Exchequer Board, to the Civil Service Committee, or an Order in Council; sometimes it is one, sometimes it is the other. In this particular instance it is both the Joint Exchequer Board and the provisions of an Order in Council. So I venture to think that this Amendment suggested by the Government combines about all the vices which it is possible to combine in one single Amendment. Not only is this tribunal, the Joint Exchequer Board, to have a decision on these various matters, but under this Amendment, if I understand it rightly, a new class of matters altogether is to be transferred to the jurisdiction of the Joint Exchequer Board. I would have the Committee observe that, as the Bill stands, matters which the Joint Exechequer Board has to determine are—and, indeed, the Government have confessed that they are—primarily, if not solely, financial matters.

I remember well on one occasion during our debates in Committee—and I think I was the Member who pointed it out—that it was pointed out that there was no provision for the payment of the salaries of the members of the Joint Exchequer Board. Somebody on the Front Opposition Bench—I think it was the Attorney-General—replied that there was no necessity for making any such provision for payment by this House, because he thought that the work to be done by the members would be accountants' work, and would probably be done by Treasury clerks. That was, at all events, an intelligible proposition. But that is not the proposition now, if the House passes this Amendment. If the House will consider the Amendment for a moment they will find it necessary to say what are the sort of methods which may be transferred to the determination of the Joint Exchequer Board. If this Amendment passes, what are the matters with which the Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Order in Council may deal? I would point out to the House that if we pass words in Committee dealing with the Irish Transfer Order in Council we shall never again be able in this House to have a full and complete discussion on the subjects of these Irish Transfer Orders in Council; just as owing to the fact when we had in Clause 14, I think it was, passed words in connection with the Joint Exchequer Board merely importing a reference to the Joint Exchequer Board, we were prevented from having that wide and absolutely unfettered discussion on the Joint Exchequer Board which we otherwise could have done. If we pass these words here we shall be unable to have a wider discussion which we might have on a later Clause in regard to these Irish Transfer Orders in Council. I do invite the House to look at the class of new duties which are being thrown upon the shoulders of the Joint Exchequer Board. Let me take the first of the non-financial duties. They can transfer by Order in Council any adaptation of any enactment they think proper to the Joint Exchequer Board. That is not an inconsiderable power to give a Government by Order in Council. It has hitherto been reserved to the House of Commons and the House of Lords acting in conjunction, and even under the Parliament Act it is reserved to the House of Commons. Under this Bill it is seriously proposed, and no one appears to attach importance to it which I think it deserves that the Government for their own purposes should be able by Order in Council to make any enactment they like. Having passed that Order in Council, they may turn round to the Joint Exchequer Board and say, "We have taken power by Order in Council to make these adaptations, will you proceed to make them." I do not think that is the work the Joint Exchequer Board was designed to carry out, and I shall be very much surprised to hear if the right hon. Gentleman has any proper defence to offer for that. We never heard a word about it before, and it seems to me to be a very dangerous and a very novel power. Not only do they do that with regard to some non-financial classes of subject by Order in Council, but they make provision for the carrying out of these Executive functions in Clause 45.

The Postmaster-General will remember that on Clause 4 we had some discussion in Committee as to the transfer of various powers from an Imperial Department to the Irish Department, and it was more or less agreed, as I understood by the Government, that such transfers should not apply to powers over Customs or Excise. I confess I am rather surprised that no Amendment has yet appeared on the Paper on behalf of the Government to give effect to that undertaking. Of course, that is a matter which we shall be able to discuss on Clause 45, and I do not propose to go into it now. I say it is quite clear that such transfer of power from one Department to another could come in under the provisions of Clause 45 and be properly made by an Irish Transfer Order in Council. Are we to understand that that is also a matter about which the Government are to pass responsibility off on the shoulders of the Joint Exchequer Board, because that is a very serious invasion upon the privileges of this House I When you come to ordinary financial matters, even in matters of finance in which the Government may properly say we will turn to the Joint Exchequer Board for assistance, there are some very new and grave matters that can be transferred to the Joint Exchequer Board. There is the security for the payment of old age pensions in Ireland; that may be transferred. There is the whole question of Post Offices or trustees' savings banks in Ireland and the security for depositors therein; that may be transferred. There is the question of apportioning the capital liability of the Post Offices—a matter not without some importance I venture to say—and the question of apportioning the capital liabilities between one Post Office and another, will, I understand, also come under the Joint Exchequer Board under Clause 45. There is the question of the property rights and liabilities in connection with different Irish services; these may be transferred. I cannot really imagine a more important category of subjects, and I can assure the House that I could have gone into the matter at much greater length.

I do wish to insist upon the importance of this Amendment, which, under a very innocent guise, has been presented to the House by the right hon. Gentleman. What he is doing in effect is this. He enables the Government to make Orders in Council which, no doubt, have to lie upon the Table of the House, but then, as my hon. and learned Friend stated perfectly accurately, that is an illusory safeguard in those days, as anyone, in whatever quarter of the House he sits, knows perfectly well. It is very difficult to get the time to object to any Order in Council, and even if you do get the time, the matter comes on after eleven o'clock and it is very difficult to get up interest in connection with it. I suggest, therefore, that the very fact that the Government have taken power to do things by Order in Council is an invasion of the rights of the House, and it is very serious because they are transferring these powers to the Joint Exchequer Board which is a body not responsible as a body to Parliament. This body may have to determine matters affecting old age pensions, post office savings banks, and all the other various matters I have mentioned concerning Parliament in the most grave manner, and for which Parliament has assumed the most grave responsibility to the various people affected—to the old age pensioners, the depositors in the Post Office Savings Banks, and others—and they refer their rights and privileges to those people, and those people are to be at the mercy of a tribunal not responsible to the House of Commons, although the House of Commons has assumed, and rightly assumed, the responsibility for the maintenance of those rights and privileges. I say that is a matter more serious than it appears at first sight, and I think my hon. and learned Friend has done well to call the attention of the House to this Amendment.


I cannot help feeling somewhat surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite should attach so much importance to this Amendment which is a very small matter of pure machinery. An Order in Council providing for matters in the later Clauses of the Bill is the usual method in all important Acts of Parliament for setting at work a new piece of constitutional or administrative machinery. There are, of course, a vast number of extremely small points which it is never the custom of the House of Commons to deal with in the Bill, but which need attention when a new machinery comes into operation, and there is consequently an administrative order dealing with those minor points. Clause 45 has very numerous precedents in other Acts of Parliament. Then the question of this proposal to enable any of the matters dealt with by the Government by this Order in Council to be refered to the Joint Exchequer Board for their opinion is in no way open to objection. What will occur will, of course, be, that if there was some financial matter—the hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned one for example, the revenues of the two Post Offices—which would have to be decided as to what items of revenue are proper to the Imperial Parliament, and what items are proper to the Irish Parliament seeing their functions are very closely connected with each other, it would seem to be very natural instead of the Order in Council clearly endeavouring to state the actual revenues which are to be regarded as proper to the one or to the other, to set out in general terms the principle which may be followed and leaving the details to be worked out, instead of by the Treasury, by the Joint Exchequer Board which would represent both Treasuries. The only matters which will be referred to the Joint Exchequer Board in the Order in Council would be ejusdem generis as the matters referred to the Joint Exchequer Board in the Bill, and I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will see it is a very far-fetched proposal to imagine that the Order in Council would refer to the Joint Exchequer Board as to what adaptations of Acts of Parliament are necessary in order to set the machinery of the new Irish Parliament going. The hon. and learned Member said that we should be leaving entirely uncontrolled to the Government of the day and the Joint Exchequer Board the decision of what might be large and important questions. May I point out that before an Order in Council can be made it has to lie on the Table of both Houses, and there might be a prayer to the House to reject any of its provisions, and that would have to be taken into consideration by the Government. The present Amendment does not in any degree transfer to the Joint Exchequer Board any matter which is reserved to the House of Commons itself. It only gives power to transfer to the Joint Exchequer Board the decision of matters which would otherwise be left to the Executive Government here to do by Order in Council. If the Government wish to take some of the matters which are referred to, and which are proper to be transferred in the opinion of the Joint Exchequer Board, they are empowered to do so, subject to the provision of Parliament through the procedure I have mentioned, namely, that the Order in Council shall lie upon the Table of the House, and if there is anything improper in it an Address may be moved.


During previous discussions, when we pointed out various negligences in the text of the Bill, we were always assured that under Clause 44 there existed an unlimited power of rectifying shortcomings by the power of passing an Order in Council. Now we see that the learning and skill of the draughtsman has forced the Government to admit that this power under Clause 44, which is now Clause 45, was limited to transitory matters, but now we learn that even in this restricted class of case we shall not get the relief we were told was open to us. Before the Privy Council can arrive at a final decision they will be able to escape from effective control by shunting off the responsibility for coming to a decision upon this most unsatisfactory body, whose responsibility to Parliament is so ineffectually secured as to be totally nonexistent.


When this Amendment was moved I regarded it as a matter of regret that the Postmaster-General, when introducing it, did not give the House the benefit of his advice. After listening to the somewhat cursory remarks he has made that regret has vanished, because I do not think his speech has helped us in the least, and he has left us to arrive at our own conclusions. The right hon. Gentleman told us that this is a small matter of pure machinery. I really think that is making light of what is really a very serious matter. I expected that some explanation would be given to the House as to why this small matter of pure machinery is only being moved by the Government at this stage of the Bill. We have had no explanation as to why it was not proposed in the first place, or whether the conclusion has just now been arrived at that it ought to be put in at this point. I agree with the hon. Member for North Down (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson), that this cannot be accurately described as a small matter of pure machinery. It seems to me that we are being asked to part with a right that this House has always held very dear—that is, the right to criticise and keep in close touch, at any rate, with some Minister responsible in this House for Irish matters. I believe we are now being asked to part with that right, and we are parting with it in a manner which I do not think we ought to do in a House which is very thin and does not appreciate the importance of the point which we are discussing.

The Postmaster-General attempted to justify his proposal by quoting numerous precedents for Clause 45. May I point out that we are not objecting to Clause 45? No doubt that Clause is a very proper one in itself, with ample precedents; but what we are objecting to is the power you are investing in the Joint Exchequer Board under this Amendment. You are handing over to the Joint Exchequer Board the power to make Orders in Council, and when you consider Clause 45, you see how extensive those powers are, and this Clause 45 becomes really a serious question. I really think that the Postmaster-General did not in any way answer the very serious objection which the hon. Member for North Down put forth. He placed before the House direct suggestions as to what would be the result of this Amendment, and what would be the power placed in the hands of the Joint Exchequer Board, and I did not hear from the Postmaster-General any attempt to answer that argument. He told us there were numerous precedents, and then he said my hon. Friend was making suggestions which were very far-fetched, and very unlikely to be given effect to by the Joint Exchequer Board. I confess that I am a little tired of these constant disclaimers on the part of the Government as to what will be done under this Act, and I desire that we should be protected by the Act itself, and should not have recourse to the optimism of the Government. I think if you are handing over those powers you are parting with a very great right which this House has always regarded as very dear.

Within forty days these nebulous Orders in Council may be made by the Joint Exchequer Board, and we have only the right to pray that such Orders may be annulled. I can imagine myself or any of my hon. Friends, in a Session such as we are now going through, praying the Prime Minister that such and such an Order in Council may be annulled, but we should get no further—in fact, we might pray for forty days and get no further, because in these days there is no opportunity for a private Member to obtain any assistance from the Prime Minister when he asks for the removal of what he considers a grievance. That makes this proposal all the more serious. I am indeed surprised that the Postmaster-General did not give us a very much longer explanation and justification of proposals which really seem to me to be very far-reaching, and which, in my opinion, are very serious indeed. The Postmaster-General told us that all these proposals did was to transfer to the Joint Exchequer Board powers to make Orders in Council which this House would otherwise have. That is the whole point in a nutshell. We do not want to part with those powers. We do not want to hand over the powers this House has to the Joint Exchequer Board. We desire to retain them, and we particularly desire to retain them because we know there is not the slightest chance of our ever successfully appealing to a Prime Minister to have these Orders annulled within forty days. For these reasons and for many others I do think the House would be very ill-advised in adopting this Amendment, and I do respectfully resent the very cursory and inadequate explanations given to us by the Postmaster-General.

10.0 P.M.


This Amendment, which seems to be an extremely innocent one, is not only very dangerous but is also typical of the methods of the present Government. The Postmaster-General told us there were many precedents for this practice, but he was careful not to give us a single instance of a similar Clause in another Bill. I was reminded of the National Insurance Act, which contains a Clause giving power to the Insurance Commissioners to remove any difficulties which may arise. There have been a great many difficulties, and the necessity of that Clause is now apparent to everyone; but, when we questioned in the House whether or not it was right to part with the power the electors had given us over legislation and to transfer that power to a Department of the Government, we were told exactly as the Postmaster-General now tells us that there was a precedent for that Clause. When we looked up the precedent, we found that in some Bill introduced by the party to which I had the honour to belong some years ago there was a Clause giving power to a Department for a limited period, some two years I think, to take steps to remove certain technical difficulties of administration. That was the only precedent the right hon. Gentleman in charge of that Bill could bring forward. The Postmaster-General, warned by that experience, has contented himself by saying there are numerous precedents without giving the House a single one which they might check and investigate. The safeguard, I understand, is that an Address to the Crown may be presented by either House of Parliament after eleven o'clock. I remember my right hon. Friend below me (Mr. Stuart-Wortley), some two or three years ago thinking in some specific instance he had that safeguard, but when he came to examine the Act he found it had been so worded that he could not bring in his particular Motion to the Crown after eleven o'clock. Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that this is a safeguard. One knows perfectly well what happens. One is told, "Do not go away at eleven o'clock, because someone is going to bring on an Address to the Crown." The majority of Members cither go away or go to the Smoking Booms, and the Whips of the Government arrange that there shall be a House. Two or three of us, devoted friends to the liberties of the House of Commons, endeavour to interest hon. Members opposite in the question before the House. There are possibly three Members on the Labour benches, two or three on the Irish benches, and half-a-dozen for the sake of appearances behind the Government, but there are plenty who will come in at the sound of the Division bell. That is the safeguard which the right hon. Gentleman told us would prevent anything wrong being carried out. I think I was justified in saying it is an extremely innocent Amendment to look at, but in effect it will be one of the most dangerous Amendments which have been introduced into the Bill. The Joint Exchequer Board is going to be a very powerful body, and it is going to do a very great number of things which will reflect very much upon the life and interests, not only of English people, but of Irish people too. I am reminded of a description I heard the other day of England and what England would certainly be if we passed this Amendment. I was told:— England was an island in the German Ocean governed by Scotland, coerced by Irishmen, and plundered by the Welsh. This Amendment will certainly give power to the Joint Exchequer Board to do practically anything they like. The interests of England will be entirely in the hands of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and of the hon. and learned Member for Water-ford (Mr. John Redmond). I therefore hope hon. Members on that side of the House will pause before they go into the Lobby in support of this Amendment. They are by their professions great economists who do not desire to part with the control of the purse, but by this Amendment we shall be giving power to the Joint Exchequer Board to do anything they like under the Act and anything which the Privy Council may say they may do. It is an extremely long Clause. It occupies two clear pages and it empowers the Exchequer Board, by an Order in Council, to make regulations with respect to the relations between the Irish and the British Post Offices. That is very important. But does the House really desire to part with the whole control of everything under this Bill? Is this House to be a mere cypher; to meet at stated intervals to register the decrees of right hon. Gentlemen opposite? Are we only to have the opportunity of attending at half-past Ten o'clock to say "Yea," or "Nay." I remember it was in the days of Queen Elizabeth, when there was some foolish Member of the House of Commons, possibly occupying very much the same position as I do myself, who was desirous of protesting against the tyranny of the Crown at that moment, and Queen Elizabeth sent down to the then Speaker and declared that our privilege was merely the privilege of saying "Yea," or "Nay," and that we had nothing more to do. That is the position the Government appears to have taken up at the present moment. They allow us to vote "Aye" or "No," but nothing more.


Does the hon. Baronet suggest that he gets no opportunity of addressing this House?


I do not know that I actually go to that length, but I am prepared to say that the opportunities are not so great as I should desire, and, possibly, in the interests of the country it would be well if other hon. Members had greater opportunities of addressing the House, for then they might influence Members like the hon. Member who has just interrupted me and who really does, I think sometimes endeavour to judge the merits of the case and give a vote, not according to order, but, as his conscience directs. In such an event the old idea that the House of Commons is a governing factor in the country might be revived. Here is another point in connection with Clause 45 which is well worthy of attention, for it shows that the Clause is not, after all so simple a thing. Orders may be made, I presume, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in connection with public services, such as the administration of the old age pensions or the Post Office Savings Bank, and power is given to close the Trustees Savings Bank in Ireland. I wonder if the hon. and learned Member for Waterford really intends to close those banks. It is rather a large order, and I think we should be careful before we give power to do a thing of that kind. In fact, the gist of the whole matter is this: Rightly or wrongly, the Government say to themselves, "We are the Government. Whatever we choose to do is law, and we are not going to be bothered to come down to the House of Commons and ask for this, that, or the other. But we cannot actually say so, because it might not be understood in the country, and it might have the effect of losing us a certain number of votes. Therefore we put in safeguards which are perfectly illusory, but which will enable us to say on the platform, if the subject is alluded to, that the charge is a pure lie." Those who have studied the proceedings in this House are well aware that there are no safeguards at all. We know perfectly well, once we pass this Amendment, we tie our hands and are absolutely bound by the Joint Exchequer Board. I forget what is the constitution of that Board, but I see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in his place and is laughing. I suppose he did not hear my observations with regard to himself just now, and with regard to the Welsh nation.


I was laughing because my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General was repeating them to me.


All I can add is that the right hon. Gentleman, if this Amendment is passed, will be in a position to call a member of the Joint Board to his room and tell him to do certain things. The reply will be, "I shall be pleased to do so, but what about the House of Commons? What about the Order which has to lie on the Table for forty days"? The right hon. Gentleman will answer to that, "That is no matter to you; the Whips will see to it," and the member of the Joint Exchequer Board will thereupon go away to do his bidding.

Captain CRAIG

I do not think hon. Members quite appreciate the difficulty they will be placed in if this Amendment is carried. No one knows more about the intricacies of Orders in Council than possibly the hon. Baronet who has just spoken, but I would like to point out that there is an even greater difficulty than any he has suggested. If the wording as drafted by the Postmaster-General is accepted, no one knows what may result. One cannot foreshadow what Orders in Council may be necessary, but I should think that in connection with the Post Office such Orders may be frequently required. The right hon. Gentleman must have had a good deal of experience recently of difficulties in the Post Office in connecti6n with this Bill. He must have had an extraordinary number of representations from Civil servants in that particular Department, seeking to protect their interests for the future in regard to wages, terms of service, and pensions. Under this simple-looking Amendment this House may absolutely lose all control over such matters, and the only protection it will have will be the privilege of going into the Library to discover, if possible, whether and when an Order in Council has been made. We are told that the Order is to lie on the Table for forty days. But let the House remember how those forty days may be interpreted. If the House rises for a recess of two or three weeks everyone of those days will count in the forty days. Again, the Order may lie on the Table without any Member becoming aware of it, although it may have effects of a very serious nature. My hon. Friend (Mr. Mitchell-Thomson) informs me that the Government are reducing the forty days to twenty-one.


Twenty days on which the House is sitting.


It always means while the House is sitting.


Not the forty days.

Captain CRAIG

I was certainly under the impression that if the House adjourned for a day or two, those days were absorbed in the forty. Even if it is to be twenty-one days, it sometimes happens, as happened in the case of the Irish University Bill, that an Order in Council is made and is not discovered by those interested. It was done in that case in such a way that those interested should know nothing about it. It is possible to have these Orders in Council smuggled on to the Table, and those interested know nothing of them except by accident. One has to correspond with people all over the country to see how they are affected, and when their replies are received, the days have passed, or, perhaps, it is impossible; owing to the stress of business, to raise the question, except at a very late hour. I assure hon. Members that they are dealing with a very substantial part of private Member's powers of criticism by allowing the Government to keep from the House knowledge of what takes place in the Post Office and the relations in regard to it between England and Ireland under this Bill. Many difficulties crop up while the Post Office is under one administration. Those will be indefinitely increased when you have dual control, when part of the service is reserved to the central office in London and a separate Post Office is established in Dublin. There are bound to be conflicting interests when men are asked to serve two masters, one of them the Postmaster-General here and the other the Nationalists Postmaster in the Nationalist Parliament. You quadruple all the complaints with regard to the service and take away the ability of hon. Members to remedy any grievances. Another point is that with regard to the regulations which will of necessity have to be made by Orders in Council in connection with this Bill, this House will lose all control of policy, let alone of details. Therefore this House and the other House will have no control, and it will be possible for the Government to institute a policy in regard to a large Department which may be in direct opposition to the wishes of Members of this House. How are they to be influenced supposing this House desires to do if? Only by pressure brought to bear by a Government Department, and a Government Department bringing pressure to bear on men who have been appointed, presumably in the first instance because of their impartiality and because they represent all sides of political opinion or else no political opinion at all. First of all you treat these men as an impartial tribunal and in the second the only machinery by which you can bring pressure to bear on them is by one of the Ministers—I do not know how that would work out—going to them and saying: "Unless you do so and so we who appointed you must remove you, you lose your job because this policy which you are carrying out is not consistent with the wishes of a small caucus inside the Cabinet." I think nothing would be more dangerous than to allow that to take place and to take away from the House the freedom of criticism where anything of the sort was to be done. Therefore, I certainly shall support my hon. Friend if he goes to a Division.


This matter is one of such importance that we ought to have some exposition of the mind of the Government from the senior Cabinet Minister present. We have constantly criticised the Joint Exchequer Board upon the arbitrary powers which have been given to it. The defence that has always been made is that they were simply a body of experts who had to give an authoritative opinion on certain financial questions under the Bill, to determine what was Imperial, what was Irish, and what was British revenue, and similar questions. Under this Amendment we find that they are to be given duties which are not financial in the least. This is quite in conflict with the spirit of the Clause, because Clause 22 begins, "For the purposes of the financial provisions of this Act." Now under this Amendment they are to be given a discretion by Order in Council to determine matters, under Clause 45, which absolutely in many cases has nothing to do with finance at all. They are to be given general powers of interpretation and decision on many matters of most vital importance, including, for instance, the status of the Post Office in time of war.




It is no good the Postmaster-General shaking his head. It is so. They are to determine any matter which is referred to them by Order in Council, but such Order in Council may refer to them the peculiar dispositions and the peculiar rights and respective functions of the Imperial and the Irish Post

Office in times of war. That is a matter of the greatest importance on which a very inadequate reply was given the other day, but it is only one example of many. Now the whole status and position of this Board is to be transformed by this Amendment, by giving them general powers of interpretation. Is that really in the mind of the Government that they are to occupy with regard to the Government of Ireland Bill the same kind of position as the Insurance Commissioners have with regard to the Insurance Act? It is a matter of considerable constitutional importance. We have been told again and again that hitherto the Board was only to fulfil the functions of inferior Treasury officials, to ascertain and record facts. Now they have the power of legal interpretation, and if that is so the whole structure of the Bill is altered, because if you look at the terms of Clause 45 they are wide to the last degree. They do not refer merely to Transfer Orders in the first instance, but they refer to—

"any other matter which it seems to His Majesty necessary or proper to make provision for the purpose of bringing this Act into full operation or for giving full effect to any provisions of this Act."

Therefore, if some hitch occurs in the working of this Act, all the Government have to do is to issue an Order empowering the Joint Exchequer Board to give effect to the provisions of this Act, and the opinion of the Joint Exchequer Board will be final. This was never explained in the first instance, and it has never been appreciated until to-night, and if the Govern-men really mean to constitute this Board of Treasury official legal interpreters and people who are able to decide on points of policy their motives in this matter ought to be explained. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to say whether I have put the proper construction on the Amendment or not.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 301; Noes, 173.

Division No. 499.] AYES. [10.28 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Beauchamp, Sir Edward
Acland. Francis Dyke Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury) Beck, Arthur Cecil
Addison, Dr. C. Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)
Ainsworth, John Stirling Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Bentham, G. J.
Alden, Percy Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.) Black, Arthur W.
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.W.) Booth, Frederick Handel
Arnold, Sydney Barton, William Bowerman, Charles W.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Beale, Sir William Phipson Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)
Brace, William Henry, Sir Charles O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Herbert, General Sir Ivor (Mon., South) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Brocklehurst, William B. Higham, John Sharp O'Doherty, Philip
Bryce, J. Annan Hinds, John O'Donnell, Thomas
Burke, E. Haviland- Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. O'Dowd, John
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hodge, John O'Grady, James
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Hogge, James Myles O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)
Buxton, Noel {Norfolk. N.) Holmes, Daniel Turner O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Holt, Richard Durning O'Malley, William
Byles, Sir William Pollard Hope, John Deans (Haddington) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey O'Shee, James John
Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood) Hudson, Walter O'Sullivan, Timothy
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Hughes, Spencer Leigh Outhwaite, K. L.
Clancy, John Joseph Illingworth, Percy H. Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Clough, William Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus Parker, James (Halifax)
Clynes, John R. John, Edward Thomas Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe) Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Pirie, Duncan V.
Cotton, William Francis Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) Pointer, Joseph
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Jowett, Frederick William Pollard. Sir George H.
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Joyce, Michael Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Crooks, William Keating, Matthew Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Crumley, Patrick Kellaway, Frederick George Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Cullinan, John Kennedy, Vincent Paul Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Kilbride, Denis Pringle, William M. R.
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) King, J. Radford, G. H.
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Dawes, J. A. Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
De Forest, Baron Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Reddy, Michael
Delany, William Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, cockerm'th) Redmond, john E. (Waterford)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Leach, Charles Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Devlin, Joseph Levy, Sir Maurice Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
Dickinson, W. H. Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas Rendall, Athelstan
Donelan, Captain A. Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Richards, Thomas
Doris, William Lundon, Thomas Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Duffy, William J. Lyell, Charles Henry Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Duncan, c. (Barrow-in-Furness) Lynch, A. A. Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor) Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Elverston, Sir Harold McGhee, Richard Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Robinson, Sidney
Esslemont, George Birnie Macpherson, James Ian Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Falconer, James MacVeagh, Jeremiah Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Farrell, James Patrick M'Callum, Sir John M. Roe, Sir Thomas
Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles M'Curdy, C. A. Rose, Sir Charles Day
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson M'Kean, John Rowlands, James
Ffrench, Peter McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Rowntree, Arnold
Field, William M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward M'Micking, Major Gilbert Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Fitzgibbon, John Manfield, Harry Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Furness, Stephen Marks, Sir George Croydon Scanlan, Thomas
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Martin, Joseph Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.
Gill, Alfred Henry Mason, David M. (Coventry) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Ginnell, L. Masterman, Rt. Hon. C. F. G. Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Gladstone, W. G. C. Meagher, Michael Sheehy, David
Glanville, Harold James Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Sherwell, Arthur James
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Menzies, Sir Walter Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)
Goldstone, Frank Middlebrook, William Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Millar, James Duncan Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Molloy, Michael Snowden, Philip
Griffith, Ellis J. Molteno, Percy Alport Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) Mond, Sir Alfred M. Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Gulland, John W. Money, L. G. Chiozza Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)
Hackett, J. Morgan, George Hay Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton) Morrell, Philip Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Hancock, John George Morison, Hector Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Tennant, Harold John
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Muldoon, John Thomas, James Henry
Hardle, J. Keir Munro, Robert Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Nannetti, Joseph P. Verney, Sir Harry
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire) Needham, Christopher T. Wadsworth, John
Hayden, John Patrick Neilson, Francis Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Hayward, Evan Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Walton, Sir Joseph
Hazleton, Richard Nolan, Joseph Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Helme, Sir Norval Watson Norton, Captain Cecil W. Wardle, G. J.
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Waring, Walter
Henderson, J. M, (Aberdeen, W.) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney) Williams, John (Glamorgan) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)
White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen) Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
White, Patrick (Meath, North) Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough) Young, William (Perth, East)
Whitehouse, John Howard Williamson, Sir A. Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Whyte, A. F. (Perth) Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Captain
Wiles, Thomas Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton) Guest and Mr. Webb.
Wilkie, Alexander
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Falle, Bertram Godfray Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas
Aitken, Sir William Max Fell, Arthur Moore, William
Amery, L. C. M. S. Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)
Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R. Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)
Archer-Shee, Major Martin Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Mount, William Arthur
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Fletcher, John Samuel Newman, John R. P.
Astor, Waldorf Forster, Henry William Newton, Harry Kottingham
Baird, J. L. Gardner, Ernest Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Gibbs, G. A. Nield, Herbert
Balcarres, Lord Gilmour, Captain John O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Baldwin, Stanley Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K. Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton) Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)
Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester) Gordon, John (Londonderry, South) Parkes, Ebenezer
Barlow, Montague (Salford, South) Goulding, Edward Alfred Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Barnston, Harry Grant, J. A. Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)
Barrie, H. T. Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.) Peto, Basil Edward
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Guinness. Hon. W.E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Pollock, Ernest Murray
Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Hall, Fred (Dulwich) Randies, Sir John S.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth) Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Rawson, Col. R. H.
Bigland, Alfred Harris, Henry Percy Rees, Sir J. D.
Bird, A. Harrison-Broadley, H. B. Remnant, James Farquharson
Blair, Reginald Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hewins, William Albert Samuel Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid) Hickman, Colonel Thomas E. Salter, Arthur Clavell
Boyton, James Hill, Sir Clement L. Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Bridgeman, William Clive Hills, John Waller Sanders, Robert Arthur
Bull, Sir William James Hill-Wood, Samuel Sandys, G. J.
Burdett-Coutts, W. Hope, Harry (Bute) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Burn, Colonel C. R.> Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Smith, Harold (Warrington)
Butcher, John George Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Spear, Sir John Ward
Campbell, Capt. Duncan F. (Ayr) Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.) Horner, Andrew Long Starkey, John Ralph
Campion, W. R. Houston, Robert Paterson Staveley-Hill, Henry
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Hunt, Rowland Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Cassel, Felix Hunter, Sir Charles Redk. Stewart, Gershom
Castlereagh, Viscount Ingleby, Holcombe Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Cator, John Jessel, Captain H. M. Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)
Cave, George Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Kerry, Earl of Talbot, Lord Edmund
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Kimber, Sir Henry Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Chambers, J. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Knight, Captain E. A. Thynne, Lord Alexander
Cooper, Richard Ashmole Larmor, Sir J. Touche, George Alexander
Courthope, George Loyd Law, Rt. Hon. Bonar (Bootle) Tryon, Captain George Clement
Craig, captain James (Down, E.) Lee, Arthur H. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Lewisham, Viscount Wheler, Granville C. H.
Craik, Sir Henry Lloyd, George Ambrose Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R. Wills, Sir Gilbert
Dalrymple, Viscount Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee Worthington-Evans, L.
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Lowe, Sir F. W. (Edgbaston) Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Denniss, E. R. B. MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh Yate, Col. C. E.
Doughty, Sir George M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Younger, Sir George
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Magnus, Sir Philip
Duke, Henry Edward Malcolm, Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.
Eyres-Monsell, B. M. Middlemore, John (Throgmorton) James Mason and Mr. Stanley.
Faber, George D. (Clapham) Mildmay, Francis Bingham

It being after half-past Ten of the clock, "Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Orders of the House of the 14th October and the 30th December last, to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments moved by the Government of which notice had been given necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at half-past Ten of the clock at this day's sitting.

Government Amendments made: In Subsection (2), after the word "and"[and after the decision of the Board"], insert the words "subject to the provisions of this Act as to appeals from decisions of the Board."

In Sub-section (3), leave out the words "owing to the death, resignation, or incapacity of any member of the Board."

In the same Sub-section, at the end, add the words:—

"(4) The Board may act by a majority the quorum at any meeting of the Board shall be three; subject to the provisions of this Act the Board may regulate their own procedure.".—[Mr. Herbert Samuel.]