§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. JAMES HOPE in the Chair.]
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
I beg to move,That the annual sum of £4,000 net be granted to His Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom, the said annuity to commence and take effect upon the day upon which the Right Honourable John Henry Whitley, late Speaker of the House of Commons, ceased to hold the office of Speaker of the House of Commons, to be settled in the most beneficial manner upon and to continue during the life of him the said Right Honourable John Henry Whitley.I move this Motion, which is in accordance with precedent, and which, I hope, will meet the general desire of all Members of the Committee.
§ Mr. CLYNES
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out "£4,000," and to insert instead thereof "£1,000."
I observe that in the Press—even in the "Times" of this morning—this Amendment is described as an attempt to minimise the services of Mr. Whitley. I can say, on behalf of all those for whom I can speak on this side of the House, that that is a wholly inaccurate description of our intentions and of our feelings. We have already, without qualification, expressed our admiration for the personal qualities and the eminent services of Mr. Whitley during his occupation of the Chair of this House. And the reputation of the late Speaker, in our judgment, has been enhanced by his refusal of the position and dignity of a peerage which His Majesty proposed to confer upon him. There is also on the Order Paper a proposal to investigate, by means of a suitable committee, the question of the expenses and emoluments attaching to the office of Mr. Speaker. It would not be proper for me at this moment to wander into the general question opened up by that proposal, but by your leave, Mr. Chairman, I should like to say that there is, in our view, a very real distinction, a real difference in substance between, say, a salary for a definite office 536 and a pension such as that which is now proposed by the Motion which the Prime Minister has moved.
In the case of salary and emoluments there is, in our view, a real case for revision, and, if I may say so, I have had a little personal experience in reaching that conclusion. A pension of this size cannot, we think, be justified if the figure is made to relate to any other State office or to the services of innumerable millions of people in this country who are in their own way rendering such services as they can to the nation. It is a fabulous figure—£4,000 a year. I am certain that millions of people who will read of it will regard it as a sum so colossal as to be beyond justification even in the case of so great and successful a personality as the late Mr. Speaker. We are taking this step on this side of the Committee not without precedent. About seven years ago, those of us who then formed a much smaller party in this House, felt that we were justified upon grounds of principle, and not because we were moved by any personal motives at all in resisting the proposal made from the other side of the House on that occasion. The predecessor of Mr. Whitley will by this time have received in pension a total sum approaching £30,000, and we say that, great and lofty as this office is, fine and successful as have been the services rendered by successive Speakers of recent years, those services do not justify so marked a distinction in the matter of reward as this sum of £4,000 denotes. Accordingly, I beg to move the Amendment, and I believe that it will command a very great amount of support if we are required to go into the Lobby in regard to it.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. May I inquire, for my guidance, whether the discussion on this Motion connects with the Motion standing in the names of the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) and other hon. Members which I see is at the end of the Orders?:The Speakership,—That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the emoluments and expenses attaching to the office of Mr. Speaker.I had been under the impression that that Motion would have been discussed soon after the present Motion, or perhaps at the same time. As things are at pre- 537 sent, the further Motion will not come on until, perhaps, 15 or 16 hours from now, judging from last night's proceedings. I should like to know whether in discussing the Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) it would be in order to refer briefly to the Motion standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh, seeing that that Motion is at the end of the Orders of the day.
§ The CHAIRMAN
In discussing the grant of a pension, the question of salary cannot be altogether ignored; but as to how far it can be gone into I can only judge when I see how the Debate progresses.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
May I ask the Prime Minister if he intends to allow time and to allocate a day for discussion of the Motion standing in the, name of the right hon. Member for Central Edinburgh?
§ Mr. MACPHERSON
I rise, on behalf of the party with which I work, to support long-standing precedent, and to grant to Mr. Speaker who has just retired, the appropriate allowance suggested by the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment suggested that the time has arrived when we ought to reconsider all these allowances. That may be true, but we have to remember that a pension is, after all, merely deferred pay. If pensions are to be altered, they ought not to be altered at the end of the period of service. Mr. Whitley took office on the understanding that he would get the appropriate allowance at the end of his service. Even the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes) does not question the devoted service of Mr. Whitley, nor does anybody in the House. The party to which I belong are unanimously of opinion that, whatever may happen in the future, on this occasion the full emolument should be granted to Mr. Whitley.
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I believe that every Member of the Committee will thoroughly endorse, with hearty appreciation, the reference to the distinguished 538 services rendered by our former Speaker, Mr. Whitley; but I would particularly and earnestly endorse the Amendment moved by the right hon. Member for Platting (Mr. Clynes). We are confronted with a condition of affairs prevailing in the mining districts, which has been emphasised time after time, and it is no laughing matter. The Government have had appeals of the most heart-searching character made to them concerning the appalling conditions under which men, women and children are living to-day, practically in a state of starvation. In these circumstances, we cannot support the grant of a pension of £4,000 a year to the late Speaker, especially when, at the right hon. Member for Platting has pointed out—this answers a remark made by the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson)—on the former occasion the Labour Opposition endeavoured, quite honourably, to raise this very question in the appropriate fashion after the retirement of Mr. Whitley's predecessor, and the election of Mr. Whitley as Speaker. Therefore, no onus can rest upon the Labour party that we are faced with this situation to-day. At any rate I, as an individual Member of this House, would never dare to vote for the grant of such a pension, when the same Government who propose it have reduced even the payment of unemployment benefit to young women—
§ Mr. SCRYMGEOUR
I defer at once to your ruling, and I recognise that I am not entitled to go further into that matter. I have made my point. I have drawn attention to a substantial fact. Controlled by a powerful majority and impelled by the Government Whips, this House has reduced the facilities that give even a reasonable existence to many thousands of people. To-day, we are called upon to grant a large pension to a gentleman whom we all respect, and we respect him more for having declined a so-called honour. He has said, "Keep it to yourselves. I prefer to remain in the company of those with whom I have been associated all my life, rather than be relegated to a position of an entirely different character." Speaking from the working-c ass point of view—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]. 539 Hon. Members opposite do not know, and I suppose that throughout the whole length of their natural lives they never will understand what it is to undergo the ordeal of the trying conditions which exist amongst the working classes to-day. As Members of this House we hear many agonising accounts of the conditions which confront the working-class people to-day, and we are baffled many times to know what can be done to help them. In these circumstances, let every man and woman in this House go into the Lobby with full responsibility as to what is involved in our vote. We cannot go into the Lobby to vote for a pension of £4,000 a year, when so many people today are in such sore straits.
Lieut.-Colonel JOHN WARD
Even if this were the last time that I might speak in this House, I should like to say a word on this subject, if one were wishing to reduce the salary or pension of a Speaker, I imagine that one would bring it forward at a time when the personality of Mr. Speaker was not involved, and in circumstances when it could not be considered as an attack upon the man himself, or a criticism of his work while holding the office. It is unfortunate that this question should be brought forward now, and it is more unfortunate that the poverty amongst a certain section of the community should be paraded for the purpose of attempting to frustrate the proper recognition of a public servant. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Scrymgeour) ought not to wear so good a suit of clothes as I see him in to-day. There are plenty of poor people without a coat at all. He should give them his coat; then come back and let us see how he looks then. On the same basis, apparently, I ought not to have my dinner until I have been out and found out if there is someone else who wants one. It is absurd to base what we are doing in the case of a servant of this House on such ridiculous contentions as those. It is worse than ordinary party propaganda. It is really silly. There is one other thing. I do not know what the late Speaker must think about it. Considering his conduct with reference to interruptions and disorder among those hon. Members who are now opposing his pension, in my view they are just stabbing the best 540 friend they ever had. It may be that when the next Election approaches this piece of propaganda will be used. Trot it out at Stoke-on-Trent, and see if you will get a single vote!
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I hope this discussion will be in keeping with the usual Debates in this House. It is quite possible for the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Lieut.-Colonel Ward) to be followed by angry recriminations, and it was obviously intended to rouse passion. The hon. and gallant Member must have overlooked the fact that the only party in this House which ever had a Motion on the Paper censuring Mr. Whitley was the Liberal party. I was a member of the Liberal party at that time and voted for it, because I considered they were right. I do not want to accuse the Liberal party of trying to make amends for that act now; I do not think the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. Macpherson) was making an eleventh hour repentance by supporting this pension. And we, in moving this reduction, do not in any way desire to cast reflections or make any attack upon the late Speaker. We must look at the matter as a whole. As long as you have the tremendous extremes of wealth on the one hand—I am not referring; to Ministers and officers of this House—as long as you have enormous fortunes outside this House and all the luxury that is possible by those who control great resources, and at the other end of the scale the direst poverty and conditions under which men, who are doing arduous, skilled and dangerous work, cannot bring up their families in comfort, you will have social injustices existing. That is a point which hon. Members opposite cannot ignore. Many hon. Members opposite, I agree, recognise it and are stirred by it, and are trying to remove it. I think the Prime Minister appreciates the difficulty of trying to remove the social injustices which exist under the present capitalistic system. We on these benches can only protest on certain occasions when they offer themselves against these injustices, and we regret that the present occasion might give an opportunity to remarks like those which fell from the hon. and gallant Member for Stoke-on-Trent imputing the lowest motives to us. Such imputations are 541 altogether unjustified. The Radicals of the past, before the Labour party existed, protested again and again against these inequalities, and if the spirit of the old Radicals—
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
May I put it this way? In the past the great Radical leaders of the Liberal party have taken action such as this, and have protested against official pensions and salaries, and what the Radicals of bygone generations did, surely we on these benches representing the Socialist party can do now, and should do. This is, perhaps, the most unfavourable ground upon which we could fight. Apparently, to the unthinking, we are seeking to reduce the pension of a beloved colleague of ours who has only just left the House, and we are open to much misrepresentation in consequence. Nevertheless, we are bound on this and every other occasion to protest against the poverty of the poorer classes of this country. We can only do it in this way; there is no other course open to us. The public servants of this country are not overpaid. No one is in politics to-day with the idea of making a fortune, at any rate in this country, and we are proud of that fact. It is well known that the Speaker of the House of Commons, under present conditions, has to spend considerable sums out of his private purse, and the same thing applies to the holders of most offices of State. If we could have a just system under which the aristocracy—I use the word in its broadest sense—would fill the great offices of State and control the great industries of the country for the good of the people as a whole, it would be possible to remove the injustices and the tremendous differences between wealth and poverty against which, by the action we have taken, we are protesting to-day. We have very few opportunities of attacking the system which makes vast fortunes possible at the present time. This Amendment attempting to reduce the pension of the late Speaker is really a protest against the possibility of a lucky speculator, the man who, in many cases, does no useful work, the financial manipulator of markets, being able to 542 amass a huge fortune. [Interruption.] It is a protest against the whole system of the lucky landlord amassing a fortune.
§ The CHAIRMAN
While it may be in order for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to say that while poverty exists this grant is excessive, it is not relevant to go into the question of conditions at large.
§ Sir COOPER RAWSON
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman explain why he does not give away his Rolls-Royce and get a baby Austin?
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I do think it should be possible to keep the personal note out of this discussion. This is really in no way a personal reflection, if it is necessary to say so, on the last occupant of the Chair. Surely that is understood. While we on these benches are trying by every means to reduce the injustice which we feel is getting worse in the country, we are bound to take the action that we are taking today, and I am only glad that I have the opportunity of voting for this Amendment, as I voted for the last one seven years ago, and as I will vote on any future occasion when it is proposed to grant, by direct vote of this House, a pension of £4,000 a year to however eminent a servant, until something more active is attempted by the Government of the day to remove the avoidable causes of the poverty of the people of this country.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
I intervene only for ore moment, but I hope I may be permitted to ask the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Konworthy) if he will give us answers to three definite questions which, to my mind, arise out of the speech to which we have just listened. In the first place, does he believe, or does any Member of the Socialist party really believe that the day of the removal of the inequalities of which we have heard so much and towards which we are all working, will be brought nearer by one moment by the passing of this Amendment? Secondly, I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman whether he will put his desire to equalise everybody into practice by immediately bringing forward a Motion, equally applicable to the rest of us as to him, that rather than we should vote for a reduced pension to the late Speaker, we should vote immediately for 543 the reduction of the salary of every Member of Parliament? [Interruption.] Thirdly, I would ask him whether he has entirely forgotten his earliest lessons and whether it is not the case that we have the highest authority for the statement that the poor will always be with us.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman would not be in order in going into the general social conditions on a Motion of this sort.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
I bow at once to your ruling. I have no desire to go into general social conditions, but I do suggest that when an Amendment of this kind is brought forward, and is backed by arguments such as we have heard, it is not unfair to say that those who support it by such arguments know in their hearts that it is pure hypocrisy to suggest that a vote on this subject will have any effect whatever upon the general conditions of life in this land.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
I hope that none of us is going to discuss the subject of riches and poverty on this occasion, because I believe it would be entirely out of order. All of us on these benches could show the inequalities of our present system if we thought it necessary. The only reason I have risen to speak is in consequence of a remark of the right hon. Gentleman who said that at the time the late Speaker accepted the position, it was clearly on the understanding that he was to get a pension of £4,000 a year. I was in this House at the time, and I think I took part in voting the late Speaker into the position he occupied for seven years. I have as much admiration for him as anyone in this House. He and I have been personal friends, and he has rendered me valuable help on more than one occasion. This, however, is a question of principle, and I would ask whether it is to be understood that when the present Speaker retires he is to get £4,000 per annum? I want to say quite frankly and definitely, that when I and my colleagues unanimously agreed to the present Speaker occupying the position, there was never a word said about pension.
It is on a question of principle that we are going to vote this afternoon, exactly on the same lines as the late Speaker has refused to accept a Peerage on principle. All of us on these benches believe 544 in a non-contributory pension. We agree that this pension should be paid by the State. It is a question of amount, and I am more than convinced, from what I know about the late Speaker, that he will be able to live reasonably peacefully and comfortably on £1,000 per annum. At least, I should like to get a chance of retiring on £1,000 a year. I think I could make myself well-contented, and I think every Member on these benches could on that amount. I want to repeat, that when the present Speaker retires, let it be understood that if I am in this House, he is going to get no £4,000 a year as far as I am concerned.
§ Mr. WRIGHT
I rise to make a few observations on this question from a very deep conviction. I was returned to this House by an industrial area, where we have very acute destitution and in some cases actual starvation, and I should be failing in my duty to my constituents if I did not support the Amendment. I entirely disassociate myself and my colleagues from any personal aspect in discussing this question, but we have just as much right to debate this question, it being on the Order Paper, as any other question. I feel that it is a matter of duty to raise my protest against a pension of £4,000 a year and in favour of £1,000 which, after all, is £20 a week, or ten times as much as the average man gets for working. I think that £1,000 a year pension is adequate to meet the needs of the case under modern conditions.
There have been Speakers in this House since 1377. I am not in a position to say what the Speaker was paid in those far distant times, but I have looked up the subject as far as possible. In 1817, 111 years ago, Charles Manners Sutton was appointed Speaker, a position which he occupied until 1835. He had therefore received, at £5,000 a year, a sum of £180,000. He lived until 1845 and received a pension of £2,000 a year, which, I believe, was the amount of the pension then. He consequently drew £20,000 in pension and the total amount paid to him as Speaker and in pension was £200,000. Probably Speaker Manners Sutton did not need a pension, as he was the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury who, from 1805 to 1828, a period of 23 years, had a salary of £22,000 a year, 545 which amounted in all to £484,000. Therefore, I submit that the pension to the Speaker in that case could not have been on the ground of need. The next Speaker was James Abercromby, who in four years from 1835 to 1839 received a total salary of £20,000, and retired on a pension, say of £2,000 per annum, which he drew for 19 years, until 1858, amounting to £38,000, or a total of salary and pension of £58,000.
Then came Mr. Speaker Shaw-Lefevre from 1839 to 1858, and we have the authority of a former Member of this House, once an Under-Secretary, the late Mr. G. W. E. Russell, that it was on the suggestion of Mr. Shaw-Lefevre that the pension was increased from £2,000 to £4,000 a year, because he said that as he did not want the pension, which had hitherto been one of £2,000 a year for two lives, to be a burden on posterity, he would rather take a pension of £4,000 a year for his own life only. Now what did Shaw-Lefevre (afterwards Lord Eversley) receive as a matter of fact? As Speaker for 18 years, he received £90,000, and in pension (£4,000 a year for 31 years) he received £124,000, or a total of £214,000. On these grounds, we object to paying a pension of £4,000 a year to the retiring Speaker, and if I stood alone I should protest against it under modern conditions. The facts about other Speakers are similar to those I have given. Mr. Speaker Brand was followed in due time by Mr. Speaker Peel. Next came Mr. Speaker Gully, who in 10 years received in salary £50,000 and for four years a pension of £4,000 or a total of £66,000.
I submit that we are not against a pension. We are in favour of pensions for all, and until pensions are provided for all, especially where they are need pensions, apart from the personal element altogether, I submit that it is a disgrace to this nation, which cannot afford pensions such as these which originated in days when conditions were entirely different, and when we have millions of people in this country who are destitute, and many on the border line of starvation. I should be failing in my duty as representative of the Rutherglen Division if I did not raise my voice in protest against voting a sum of £4,000 a year to the retiring Speaker, 546 without in the least degree having any bias. I received many acts of kindness from the ex-Speaker and I had a high personal regard for him, as we all have on these benches. As has been said, positions of disorder have not been confined to one side in this House during the last five years. When there has been any disorder it has very often been provoked by other Members. There is no personal element in what I am doing, but I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have no exception at all to take to the observations which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition. The whole House is united in the respect which is felt for the late Speaker. I think it was on Mr. Speaker Peel's retirement that Mr. Keir Hardie first moved an Amendment like the one which has been moved to-day. It was also moved in Mr. Speaker Gully's time and in Mr. Speaker Lowther's time. It has been moved again to-day, and this is the first time, if my memory serves me aright, that it has been moved officially by the Opposition. For myself I regret it. I say that frankly, for I think it is a mistake. I entirely agree that it has been done on principle; I accept that statement certainly. Having said that, I think I have every right to inform the House why in my view this Resolution has been moved time after time. This is the only sum of money granted as a pension to anyone who serves this House in a political capacity, and it has been given, I understand, to Speakers in the past as a tribute to a great office and the dignity with which this House has always desired to clothe that office.
The Speaker is almost the only man in politics—I include the Prime Minister in the list—who is completely debarred from entering any kind of business or from seeking to promote his own welfare, and it has always seemed, and rightly seemed, that in the Speaker's case, as in my view in the Prime Minister's case, when his term of office is done he should not enter into the ordinary competition of the market-place with other people, but should preserve for the rest of his life the dignity of the great office to which he had been called. That is the reason undoubtedly why those who went before 547 us decided on giving such a pension as was thought in those days sufficient to maintain the Speaker in a position of dignity and in a position where he would be completely relieved of all anxiety as regards the future. To-day, of course, the value of that pension is very much smaller than it was owing to the decrease in the value of money, and very much smaller owing to the taxation that is imposed upon it, I have not been able to trace the history of the word "net" which appears in the Motion, but it does not mean "net" in the sense in which we understand it. This particular pension is subject to Income Tax and Super-tax. I think the word was used in the old sense as meaning that no one is to have any portion of it before it gets into the Speaker's pocket.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, Sir. That was explained, I think, on the occasion of Mr. Speaker Lowther's resignation, when the then Leader of the House said that the amount was liable to Income Tax and Super-tax. As I say, those were the views of chose days. Those are the views which are held on our side of the House, and, from what my right hon. Friend said, on the Liberal Benches also. The Official Opposition take a different view, as I say, on principle. I accept that certainly. I think that in this particular instance it is a pity, because I should like to have unanimity in the House. That we cannot have, and I accept the position. The only plea that I would make to the House now is that we should proceed soon to a decision, because I can see quite clearly that in a Debate of this kind we might wander very far from the point at issue, which is a simple one. The principle has been declared. We have had stated clearly and temperately where we stand in the matter. The sorriest tribute we could pay to Mr. Whitley would be to have a rambling Debate. I therefore hope that the House will come to a decision now. That will be the best tribute that we can pay to the late Speaker.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I am not going to enter into any acrimonious discussion. I am 548 not going to say a single word against the merits of the late Speaker, because no one has a greater right to render him a tribute than I have. Some of his kindness has been expressed not only in the House but outside. I wish, however, to say this: It is not a question of the amount of money that is to be received as a pension by the late Speaker. The question is, what is the relative value of the services rendered by all the servants of this House. Who are the servants of this House? All of us. I suggest that, though I am not a very prominent Member of this House—only when the newspapers take advantage of my activity—the Speaker is not worth £10 more than I am when he is doing nothing and I am here. Take the values of all of us. If it is a question of services rendered, the Speaker has simply to stand in the same position as any other Member of the House, because after all he is a Member and nothing more and nothing less.
The values that some people create in their own minds are values due to position—social values, values of parades and functions and hospitalities, we are told. I have to "stand" as much in hospitality, in proportion to my means, as any Speaker, and sometimes more. I have to borrow money to pay my expenses sometimes. All this sort of thing is advanced as an argument in favour of extravagant pensions. I should say that the late Speaker ought not to be under the obligation of finding refreshments for all and sundry. He ought not to be compelled to go down on his knees to anyone, because in this House he is greater than all during the time that he occupies his position. Therefore, in supporting this Amendment, it is not a matter of what the late Speaker was or was not; it is a matter whether we will continue this evil system which grew up in evil days, in the days of corruption, which history can prove, when the Speaker of the House of Commons was very often used as an instrument to support reactionary Members on behalf of people outside.
When we start giving pensions, let us be fair all round. We have other servants in this House, some of them working from nine in the morning till the House rises the following morning. They do not have a chance of going to bed then, and they work for 30s. a week. Where do they come in when you are 549 giving pensions? They get the sack and no pension. When the House rises in five or six weeks' time, they will go looking for a job somewhere else, and will be signing on at Employment Exchanges. With all due deference to the Speaker, I say that the men and women who are working in this House for our convenience, are deserving of better treatment than they are getting from this honourable House. That is a reference to what takes place inside the House, and I am not taking you to Dan and Beersheba. I should have thought that Labour Members of Parliament would worry themselves more about the rotten wages and long hours of the employés of this House than about giving £4,000 a year to a man who is already well situated. I am not going to transgress the Rules, because I know very well that if I did I would soon be under the harrow. On principle I am supporting this Amendment in favour of £1,000 a year. I would retire to-morrow morning if you would offer me such a pension; in fact I would retire now. I believe a lot of others would vote for it, if they had the opportunity, in order to get rid of an inconvenient Member from the Back Benches.
§ The CHAIRMAN
There is no question of an allowance or pension to the hon. Member in the Motion before the Committee.
§ Mr. JONES
I have no hope in that direction. I want to add my little word to what has been said. I go down to my own constituency and find how difficult it is for men and women who are entitled to an old age pension to get it. Then I come here and see how easy it is for other people to get pensions. Men and women who have worked 50 years in one factory have almost to go down on their knees to get a pension of 10s. a week. Here, after seven years of service, very splendidly rendered, a pension of £4,000 a year is suggested. I want to say in all sincerity that if a man with seven years' service is entitled to a pension, £1,000 a year is a splendid allowance. We also say that better consideration should be given to the men and women who have to find that money in the long run. This House does not pay it. The man outside will have to pay it. The ordinary man in the street will have to 550 find the money. I associate myself with the Amendment as a protest against a system which is altogether wrong. There should be some relationship between the reward for services renderd in this case and the reward for services rendered by the other people who have to foot the bill.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I beg to submit one or two points to the Prime Minister, especially in favour of the Amendment. In the first place, I maintain that this House which has the insolence as well as the stupidity to pass 10s. a week as a pension for old age pensioners, should at least hesitate to put side by side with that a pension of £4,000 a year. In my humble judgment there should be no pension payable by the State of less than £150 or more than £500 a year. A second reason which urges me to support the Amendment is that I believe to-day's vote will be accepted by the workers of the country as a solemn pledge on the part of the Labour Leaders not to accept salaries of more than £2,000 a year when they become Ministers of the Crown.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I know what I mean without that interruption. When the Labour Government took office the figure of £2,000 was positively suggested.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
I agree, but I was asked a question and that was why I explained the reason I mentioned £2,000 and not £1,000. I seriously put it to the Committee that the time has arrived when the payments made to Parliamentarians who hold office, Ministerial or otherwise, should be models of moderation and not models of extremism. The Prime Minister adduced as a reason for this Resolution that ex-Speakers, as well as ex Prime Ministers, should hold themselves aloof from competition in the market—which I fully endorse—and that they ought to live in what he described as dignity and comfort. Now that is, I would submit to the Committee, an erroneous old-world notion which is sticking to us still at a time when it ought not to apply in any serious manner. There was a time when this Parliament was only nominally elected by a democracy and when Ministers and officers of Par- 551 liament were considered to be next to the Throne. Their functions, their private lives, and the amenities extended by them were so designed as to approximate closely to the hospitality displayed by Royalty. Those times have gone. We are no longer in a position to take the view that those who hold office, either as Speakers or as Ministers of this House, ought to vie with Royalty in their private lives. The life of a Speaker of this House, during his term of office or in his retirement, should be the life of an average citizen of this country. Parliamentarians who have held office ought to live lives such as they themselves have helped to shape for the citizens of this country and not seek to go far above that level. On those grounds I suggest that retiring Speakers as well as Ministers should now begin to regard salaries, emoluments and pensions, not with the old-world notion of so-called "dignity," expressed in flippant extravagance, but in relation to the real necessities of life as expressed in the lives of millions of citizens of this country.
§ Mr. HARDIE
As one who, during five years in the House of Commons, has been protesting against the cobwebs of tradition which bind Parliament, I desire to express on this occasion what I deeply feel on this subject. We are often told when questions of this kind arise that the responsibilities of office demand certain things. But if we were to deal with this matter on a business footing we should first ask ourselves: Why should the expenses of an office, which is concerned with conducting the business of the State, be included in the salary of the person holding that office? Why should not any expenditure which is necessary for the carrying out of the duties of any office, be met directly by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? If that system were adopted, it would relieve the occupants of these offices of considerable trouble. May I use as an illustration the statements which are at present being made, from an historical point of view, in regard to the financial difficulties into which many gentlemen in this country have been put by accepting the office of Prime Minister. Why should any occupant of that high office get into financial difficulties merely through the fact of being a Prime Minister? 552 Is it not absurd that the expenses of the office, which may vary from year to year according to the conditions, national or international, should be included in the salary of the occupant of that office?
I hope the Committee will realise that this is not so much a personal question as a question of reorganisation, of getting away from the conditions of hundreds of years ago, and bringing our selves up to date. I put it to the Committee, as one with some business experience, that in order to get the best return and the best men, we ought to dissociate entirely the expenses of all offices of this kind from the salaries attaching to those offices. At election times one hears it said, "Just return me, and I will do the work, and the honour will be quite enough for me." That principle ought to be carried out. The honour ought to be quite enough and the expenses attaching to the office ought to be met directly by the Exchequer.
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is getting rather a long way from the terms of the Motion. The hon. Member is opening up a very interesting question, but one which is really quite different from the subject of the Motion.
§ Mr. HARDIE
All these things lead up to the question of pensions in one form or another. I am not going to bleat about my respect for the late Speaker. He knows what my feelings are, and I do not worry about the opinions held by any of my colleagues in Parliament in that respect. I am speaking now without any personal feeling at all and entirely on the basis of principle. All those who bleat about dignity in this connection do not understand what it means. The mere fact that the British House of Commons has conferred the honour of the Speakership upon a man should be quite sufficient to carry that individual with dignity through the remainder of his life. The Prime Minister, in extenuation of his plea that this grant was necessary, said that it was in order to keep up dignity. Money does not keep up a man's dignity. If it did, all the financial twisters in London would be honoured to-day, but they are not. It is not a question of what a man has, but of whether a man is held in respect by his fellows or not. That is what constitutes dignity and I 553 hope, to-day, this Committee by its vote will show that it is prepared to keep up with the times and to go forward in the direction of proper business organisation by detaching the expenses of these offices from the salaries. Let us not have Prime Ministers' widows pointing out how they have suffered because of the fact that their husbands have held office. Do not let us go to the nations who are associated with us saying, "Here we have ruined a man, denied him all business outlets, and now,
|Division No. 213.]||AYES.||[4.39 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Albery, Irving James||Edge, Sir William||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Edwards, J, Hugh (Accrington)||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Elliot, Major Walter E.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Ellis, R. G.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||England, Colonel A.||Lamb, J. O.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon, Stanley||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Fairfax, Captain, J. G.||Livingstone, A. M|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Fanshawe, Captain, G. D.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Benn, Sir, A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Fenby, T. D.||Loder, J. de V.|
|Bethel, A.||Fleiden, E. B.||Lougher, Lewis|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Forrest, W.||Lowe, Sir Francis William|
|Bird, Sir. R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Foxcroft. Captain C. T.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lumley, L. R.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen|
|Brass, Captain W.||Ganzonl, Sir John.||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||MacIntyre, Ian|
|Briant, Frank||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||McLean, Major A.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Gower, sir Robert||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Grace, John||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Grattan-Doyie, Sir N.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Burman, J. B.||Hacking, Douglas H.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Hamilton. Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Hammersley, S. S.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Harland, A.||Morris, R. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J.A. (Blrm.,W.)||Harris, Percy A.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Harrison, G. J. C.||Nelson, Sir Frank|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Christie, J. A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Haslam, Henry C.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nuttall, Ellis|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Henderson, Capt. R.R. (Oxf'd, Hen ey)||Oakley, T.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivlan||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Cohen. Major J. Brunel||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Owen, Major G.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Penny, Frederick George|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hills, Major John Waller||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Couper, J. B.||Hilton, Cecil||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Preston, William|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Holbrook, sir Arthur Richard||Radford, E. A.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Holt, Capt. H. P.||Ramsden, E.|
|Crookshank, Cpt.H. (Lindsey, Galnsbro)||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hopkinson, Sir A. (Eng. Universit'es)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hume, Sir G. H.||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hurd, Percy A.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Rye, F. G.|
|Dixey, A. C.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Drewe, C.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Duckworth, John||Jephcott, A. R.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
§ after we have had his services, his widow and family may get into poverty." That is not a dignified position, but dignity is not a question of money at all. The respect of one's fellow citizens in a nation of honourable men ought to be quite sufficient for anyone.
§ Question put, "That '£4,000' stand part of the Question."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 224; Woes, 103.555
|Sandon, Lord||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray, Fraser||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Savery, S. S.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid||Wayland. Sir William A.|
|Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. C. (Dumbarton)||Wells, S. R.|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple.|
|Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Skelton, A. N.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)||Tichfield, Major the Marquess of||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Smithers, Waldron||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Womersley, W. J.|
|Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Sprot, Sir Alexander||Waddington, R.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Strauss, E. A.||Ward, Col. I. (Stoke-upon-Trent)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Streatfeild, Captain S. R.||Warrender, Sir Victor||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Styles, Captain H. Walter||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Major Sir William Cope.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hayes, John Henry||Sexton, James|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hirst, G. H.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shepherd. Arthur Lewis|
|Amnion. Charles George||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shlels, Dr. Drummond|
|Baker, Walter||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shinwell. E.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Kelly, W. T.||Smillie, Robert|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Kennedy, T.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Broad, F. A.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Smith, H. B. Lees, (Keighley)|
|Bromfield, William||Kirkwood, D.||Snell, Harry|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lansbury, George||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Buchanan, G.||Lowth, T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Lunn, William||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cape, Thomas||Mackinder, W.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||MacLaren Andrew||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Tinker. John Joseph|
|Compton, Joseph||March, S.||Townend, A. E.|
|Connolly, M.||Maxton, James||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. [...]. P.|
|Cove, W. G.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Murnin, H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Harry||Palln, John Henry||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Dunnico, H.||Paling, W.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col D. (Rhondde)|
|Gardner, J. P.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Westwood, J.|
|Gillett, George M.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gosling, Harry||Potts, John S.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Riley, Ben||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ritson, J.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Groves, T.||Saklatvala, Shapurji||Wright, W.|
|Grundy, T. W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Hardie, George D.||Scurr, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. Whiteley and Mr. T. Henderson.|
§ Resolution to be reported To-morrow.