§ House again in Committee (according to Order).
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]
§ Clause 5:
§ Provisions as to Wales.
§ 5. The Minister shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, appoint such officers as he may think fit to constitute a Board of Health in Wales through whom he may exercise and perform in Wales in such manner as he may think fit any of his powers and duties; the Board and any officer who is a member thereof shall act under the directions, and comply with the instructions, of the Minister.
§ LORD TENTERDEN moved, after the words "The Minister shall," to insert "transfer to one Secretary of the Ministry who may sit as a Member of the Commons House of Parliament the power and duty". The noble Lord said: In moving this Amendment I should like to draw attention to the clause as it stands in the Bill. It seems that the clause is of such a nature 608 as to place the powers entirely in the hands of the Ministry of Health. The clause reads as follows: "The Minister shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, appoint such officers as he may think fit to constitute a Board of Health in Wales through whom he may exercise and perform in Wales in such manner as he may think fit any of his powers and duties; the Board and any officer who is a member thereof shall act under the directions, and comply with the instructions, of the Minister." It seems to me that if the Bill is passed in its present form the Health Board in Wales will cease to have any entity. In the first place, they are nominees of the Minister of Health; in the second place, the have their hands tied in every direction and are entirely under his command as to what shall or shall not be done
§ There is, further, no definition of the duties or powers that it is intended to confer upon the Welsh Board of Health. England, Ireland, and Scotland all have their separate Ministries of Health, and it is difficult to understand why Wales should be singled out for this particular treatment. I know that arguments used against Wales having a separate Ministry of Health have been put forward by the Government very strongly. The Government assert that there are constitutional difficulties in the way of it; but with regard to that argument I would like to point out that in 1911, when the Insurance Act was passed, there were no constitutional difficulties in the way of statutory powers being given and a separate Insurance Board being set, up for Wales.
§ We have a more recent example in the matter of the Pensions Ministry. It has only recently been decided that Wales shall have a separate Director and a separate Board of Pensions, with supreme control over all matters concerning pensions. Therefore it seems to me that there is no real justification for saying that there are constitutional difficulties in the way of Wales having the same treatment in this matter as Scotland and Ireland. With regard to the National Insurance Act of 1911, this provided for the establishment of four National Commissions with powers and duties independent of the other. By that Act Wales got the same treatment as the other three countries, and the Welsh Insurance Commissioners are in their powers as independent of England as are the Commissioners for Scotland and 609 Ireland. The establishment of the Welsh Insurance Commission by Mr. Asquith's Government in 1911 was regarded as the basis of Welsh government, for it has Parliamentary Estimates of its own and appears as an entity in all Government and Parliamentary Reports and publications. The Welsh Commission appoints its own staff and deals with public bodies—such as insurance committees, approved societies, and the Welsh. Memorial Association—without reference to, or approval of, any Department in London. By the provisions of the Ministry of Health Bill the powers and duties of the Welsh Insurance Commissioners are entirely transferred to the Ministry of Health, and the Welsh Commission is abolished. Therefore all executive authority in regard to health and insurance is transferred from Cardiff to London.
§ I have stated what Clause 5 of the Bill provides. The alterations that I desire to effect by my Amendments would make it read in this way: "The Minister shall transfer to one Secretary of the Ministry who may sit as a member of the Commons House of Parliament the power and duty, subject to the provisions of this Act, to appoint such officers as he may think fit to constitute a Board of Health in. Wales through whom be may exercise and perform in Wales in such manner as he may think fit any of the powers and duties of the Minister; the Board and any officer who is a member thereof shall act under the directions, and comply with the instructions, of the Secretary."
§ By these Amendments some sort of locus standi would be given to the Welsh Board of Health. They would be given statutory powers which under Clause 5 as it stands they do not possess. By the clause as it now is in the Bill the basis of Welsh government as laid down in 1911 is completely destroyed. Insurance committees, approved societies, the Welsh Memorial Association and the staff of the Commission in Wales will, on the passing of the Bill in its present form, pass automatically from Welsh to English control, and the Welsh Board of Health can only be an agency worked by and through permanent officials in London at their own sweet will. Such powers as may be given to it from time to time can be withdrawn from it without reference to Parliament. There is no such National Board in existence; for, as will be observed, it possesses no definite statutory powers. 610 Wales will have ceased to be an administrative unit in health and insurance matters. The position is a hopeless one, and great dissatisfaction exists among public bodies and nationalists in Wales. The following important bodies have passed strong resolutions condemning Clause 5:—The National Free Church Council of Wales, the National Conference of Welsh Education Authorities, the Conference of South Wales doctors, all the county associations of Welsh approved societies, the Federation of Welsh Approved Societies, and the Association of Welsh Insurance Committees.
§ North and South Wales are agreed in their condemnation, for both the Cardiff and Carnarvon Town Councils have passed identical resolutions of condemnation and demanding equality of treatment with Scotland and Ireland. As to the position of the Welsh Party in the matter, there is no doubt that some of them agreed to the clause before they understood the nature of the offer. They relied on Dr. Addison giving Wales an Under-Secretary and making definite provision for this in the Bill. Tile Party evidently failed either to appreciate the contents of the measure or to assert Welsh claims, for not a shred of independent authority remains in the Principality. On the other band, Ireland and Scotland get their national arrangements consolidated and extended in health and insurance matters.
The following is a copy of the resolution passed by the Cardiff City Council at their meeting held on the 31st day of March last—
Moved by the Lord Mayor; seconded by Alderman Morgan Thomas; and resolved unanimously—That the City Council of Cardiff, having given its consideration to the provisions affecting Wales in the Ministry of Health Bill as it passed through the Committee of the House of Commons last week, regrets to observe that the provisions of the Bill as it now stands mark a retrograde step in Welsh autonomy, inasmuch as definite statutory powers regarding Health Insurance are withdrawn from Wales, and the Board of Health to be established in Wales is only to have such powers delegated to it (which, of course, can be withdrawn from it) as the Ministry of Health in London may from time to time determine. It, therefore, respectfully urges His Majesty's Government to take such steps and to move such amendments as will not only retain for the Principality the statutory powers which it now possesses, but will enable Wales to be given the same degree of autonomy in Health and Insurance matters as is proposed for Scotland and Ireland in the measures now before Parliament.
I have not asked for the same degree of autonomy as is given to Scotland and
Ireland, but I ask your Lordships seriously to consider whether Wales ought not to have the same statutory power as that which is suggested in my Amendment.
§ I do not think it can be imputed that gallant little Wales has done anything that should deprive her of having the same conditions for the administration of her own civil and political rights as are given to Scotland and Ireland. We are engaged at present in arranging for the determination by small nations of their own future. I do not know why we should eliminate from that maxim one of the small nations of the United Kingdom. It seems to me a very poor compliment to Welshmen, more particularly, perhaps, to the present Prime Minister, who is certainly a man of extraordinary intelligence and ability. I have never been a passive resister in national matters, and I have never failed to express my opinions, although I have not always been liked for doing so. At the same time, it is not a personal matter, but a very serious one affecting the whole of Wales and a very important part of the United Kingdom.
Page 4, line 30, after ("shall") insert ("transfer to one Secretary of the Ministry who may sit as a member of the Commons House of Parliament the power and duty").—(Lord Tenterden.)
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I explained, I am afraid at some length, the position with regard to Wales and with regard to this clause on the Second Reading, and I do not propose to repeat what I said then, except to say that the noble Lord seems to have forgotten that Scotland has its own Health Bill, and I explained the arrangements which were made with regard to Ireland on a former occasion. The new Minister of Health, as he will be, has no power to undertake and never has undertaken to get a Parliamentary Secretary for the Welsh business of the Ministry, and the Welsh Commission has been in all things subject to the Minister responsible for health insurance, exactly the same as the English Commission, and these gentlemen will be Civil servants.
With regard to the Amendment, it appears to me that it means one of two things—either to set up an independent Minister for Wales, or another Parliamentary Secretary. If it is the former, I submit that it is outside the scope of 612 this Bill; and if it is the latter, the Minister cannot be bound to delegate powers of that kind for making the important appointments referred to in the Amendment. Either this officer will be a subordinate or not. It would mean a transfer or removal of responsibility from the Minister to the Secretary. It would be in substance creating a new Minister. I submit that it is outside the scope of the Bill, the Department being for England and Wales. I must ask your Lordships not to support the Amendment.
§ LORD TREOWEN
I am somewhat disappointed at the answer given regarding this Amendment, though the Amendment itself is not one which I should be prepared to support. But I was in hopes that my noble friend (Lord Sandhurst) would have been able to indicate that it was the intention of the Government to carry out what I understand was an undertaking given to the Welsh Party in the House of Commons, that there should be an officer at the Ministry of Health who, by his knowledge of Wales and his knowledge of the Welsh language—which is even more important—would be in the very closest touch with the organisation in Wales.
I entirely dissent from a good deal that fell from the noble Lord who moved this Amendment. I dissent from the proposition that you can treat Wales in the present condition of things on the same lines as you treat Ireland and Scotland, for the obvious reason which has been pointed out by the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill. Similarly, he has explained the reason why a Parliamentary Secretary cannot be appointed. I do not understand, so far as I am informed, that any promise was given that a Parliamentary Secretary should be appointed, but that a similar course should be followed as was adopted in the case of the Education Department, where an officer was appointed who is in charge of the Welsh Department of the Education Office, and who, by his knowledge of Wales and his very great literary knowledge, is of exceptional value in the position which he occupies. That, I hope, is a matter which will yet be sympathetically considered by the Government, and possibly we may have some assurance from the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill that it is the intention of His Majesty's Government to have such an officer at the Ministry of Health who will be a Welshman and a Welsh-speaking Welshman.
613 I cannot insist too strongly upon the necessity for having somebody who is able to speak Welsh. During the whole of last year I had exceptional experience from this point of view when I was in charge as Director of National Service in Wales, and I can assure your Lordships that had it not been my fortune to have been brought up in Wales and to speak the language I should have found myself on several occasions in a position that would have been very much to the detriment of the work which we were then carrying out. I do not support the Amendment as it stands, but I hope I may ask my noble friend to give me some assurance that this will be considered by the Government, and that we may have an officer at the new Ministry of Health to whom Welshmen can look, and to whom they can go whether they speak English or Welsh, in full confidence that the special conditions in Wales will be considered.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I do not think my noble friend can expect me to bind the Minister in any particular direction, and in making appointments of Parliamentary Secretaries I suppose that in the usual course the Prime Minister would naturally be the person to determine. At the same time, from what I have observed through a series of years of my right hon. friend, I do not think he would be unsympathetic in the direction that has been mentioned. I will see that the case is clearly put before him.
If I have done nothing better, I have at least got some assurance from the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill that this matter will be, taken into consideration, and that a Welshman well up in matters of insurance and health in Wales will in all probability be appointed by the Minister. That being so, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I do not want the noble Lord to be under a misunderstanding. He seems to imply that I have given an undertaking. Of course, it will be understood that I am not in a position to do that. What I said was that I will communicate to my right hon. friend what has been said, and, knowing his attitude to questions of this kind as I do, I am sure this matter will have his sympathetic consideration.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD MUIR MACKENZIE had upon the Paper an Amendment in Clause 5, after "appoint such officers," to insert the words "being women as well as men." The noble Lord said: I think that if there is any Amendment required in the place where I have put it down, it would probably be more convenient that any such words should be put in after the later Amendments that bear upon the question of the appointment of women have been debated in this House. I therefore propose not to move this Amendment now, but, if the noble Viscount will allow me, I will reserve the right to move something of the sort on Report.
§ THE LORD BISHOP OF LLANDAFF moved to delete all words after "powers and duties." The right rev. Prelate said: It will be observed that the earlier part of this clause provides for all that is really essential in the latter part. The first part seems to give ample powers to the Minister to carry out his duties and to carry on the work without the addition of the second half, and I submit that the words proposed to be left out are unnecessary, irritating, and misleading. They are unnecessary because all that is essential appears in the first half of the clause; the Minister is there given full powers, and he is allowed to exercise his powers through officers whom he himself appoints for that purpose. They are irritating because they give an impression that this Board of Health in Wales is to be directed by an official at a great distance who is offered implicit obedience, and I do not think it is the sort of position in which people would like to be placed. I call them misleading because I do not for a moment imagine that this was the intention of the framer of the clause. I do not in the least suggest that they were intended to be in any way irritating, but I can assure your Lordships that there is a great deal of disquiet and uneasiness and dissatisfaction in various parts of Wales in regard to this Bill.
§ I have had letters and telegrams from many parts of Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire, Denbighshire, and so on, from public bodies of various kinds which show that on different grounds they are not satisfied with the tone of the Bill and with its pro 615 visions. I do not for a moment mean to say that I think that all they ask for is desirable or practicable, but it shows a good deal of uneasiness and dissatisfaction with the Bill in various parts of Wales. When we consider the very important and delicate work that will have to be done under the provisions of this Bill, the many questions that have to be dealt with, surely it is worth while making some effort to remove or to avoid anything that is likely to cause misunderstanding or to lead to any sort of hostility to the working of the Bill. We want the Bill to work smoothly and to be understood by every one. We want every one to work hand in hand in this great purpose which I think the country has at heart. We Welshmen are sometimes very sensitive. Perhaps some of your Lordships may think us too sensitive. But I am sure that the noble Earl the Lord Chairman, who belongs to a kindred race, will understand our feelings and will sympathise with us and know that we sometimes have very sensitive feelings on matters of this kind. He I am sure, if no one else does, will sympathise with us if at any time, perhaps erroneously, we think we are not being fairly treated.
§ It is well known to your Lordships that there are a considerable number of people desirous of going a great deal further than the Amendment I have put down. Some wish to have a Secretary for Wales as there is for Scotland and for Ireland. Others go so far as to ask for Home Rule for Wales. I do not ask for either of those things. I am advised that either would be quite out of order in connection with such a Bill as this, even supposing it were desirable—and that I think is a question which is open to a good deal of consideration. If the provisions of this Bill are loyally carried out (as I believe they will be), and efficiently carried out (as I hope they will be), then after a time it may be found desirable and possible to enlarge the powers of the Board of Health for Wales, and for other parts of the country too. We must get on by degrees and learn from experience. What we want above all just now is to avoid anything that will lead to misunderstanding, anything that will cause friction or hostility in the minds of any of those who have the carrying out of this Act laid upon them. I do not think that your Lordships need be at all afraid that Welshmen are going to cause trouble, in such a matter as this, in the way of resisting lawful authority. I remember a great 616 many years ago hearing the late Mr. Gladstone say, "The Welsh people are the most easily governed people in the world; they are governed by a silken thread." I do not think he was very far wrong. But we have to remember that something depends upon the answer to the question, Who holds the thread? When we have had trouble in Wales, I think it will be admitted by those who have followed history that it has usually been due to the wrong person having got hold of one end of the thread for a short while, and when it has got into the right hands things have gone smoothly again. We are not making any extravagant demands; we are asking only for a little consideration; and I feel sure that if this Amendment is accepted it will tend to make the Act work more smoothly and efficiently, and it will be a token of good will which will not be thrown away. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 34, leave out from ("duties") to end of clause.—(The Lord Bishop of Llandaff.)
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
In reply to the right rev. Prelate I cannot say that, as far as my knowledge goes, the representatives of Wales in the other House showed the same anxiety as that to which he has borne testimony. I venture to say that the matter is a very simple one. These gentlemen are Civil Servants and not representatives, and it is obvious that they must therefore he under the orders of the Minister. If this is admitted, as I submit it must he, there can be no harm in the words in the Bill. If these officers were not to be under the control of the Minister it would mean that they would have power without responsibility. Further, the precise words in the Bill, to which the right rev. Prelate objects, were inserted in order to ensure that the Minister shall be able to direct one of these officers to do a particular piece of work without having to consult the whole Board. Therefore these words, I venture to say, are necessary. As well as securing efficient and prompt working, the words entail and ensure the full responsibility of the Minister. I regret to say that I am unable to accept the right rev. Prelate's Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
I must say I do not think that the noble Viscount has given a very satisfactory defence of these words. They are unusual and tend to 617 produce a sense of irritation, and are apt to be misconstrued. They add absolutely nothing, but still they have been put in and can only annoy people who do not know why they are put in.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 5 agreed to.
§ Clause 6:
§ Staff and Remuneration.
§ 6.—(1) The Minister may appoint such secretaries, officers, and servants as the Minister may, subject to the consent of the Treasury as to number, determine.
§ (2) There shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament to the Minister an annual salary not exceeding five thousand pounds, and to the secretaries, officers, and servants of the Ministry such salaries or remuneration as the Treasury may from time to time determine.
§ (3) The expenses of the Ministry, including payments to members of consultative councils and committees thereof, to such amount as may be sanctioned by the Treasury, shall be paid out of moneys provided by Parliament:
§ Provided that no payments shall be made to members of consultative councils and committees thereof other than the repayment of travelling expenses and payment of subsistence allowance and reasonable compensation for loss of remunerative time.
§ (4) There shall be transferred and attached to the Ministry the persons employed under the Local Government Board, the Insurance Commissioners and the Welsh Insurance Commissioners, and such of the persons employed under any other Government department in or about the execution of the powers and duties transferred by or under this Act to the Minister, as the Minister and Government department, with the sanction of the Treasury, may determine.
§ (5) The Minister may from time to time distribute the business of the Ministry amongst the several persons transferred or attached thereto in pursuance of this Act, in such manner as he may think right, and those persons shall perform such duties in relation to that business as may be directed by the Minister:
§ Provided that such persons shall be in no worse position as respects the tenure of office, salary or superannuation allowances, than they would have been if this Act had not been passed.
§ LORD MUIR MACKENZIE moved, at the beginning of subsection (1), to insert "Subject to subsections (4) and (5) of this section." The noble Lord said: I have no doubt that it is not intended in the construction of the new Departments to appoint a large number of secretaries, officers, and other people, as mentioned, without having first exhausted the existing officers of the different Departments which are going to be transferred to and to constitute the Ministry of Health. Provision 618 is made in the clause for the transfer of officers, and no doubt in good faith they are intended all to be used. My Amendment is not a very large or important one, but it would, I think, lay stress upon the fact that first of all existing officers are to be employed, and then that such further appointments as may be found to be indispensable should be made under the first words of the clause.
Page 4, line 37, at the beginning of sub section (1), insert ("Subject to subsections (4) and (5) of this section").—(Lord Muir Mackenzie.)
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I suggest that my noble friend's Amendment is really not necessary, and I will try to make the matter a little clearer than perhaps I did on a former occasion. This clause deals with two different categories of Civil Servants, and I submit that it should be read as a whole. One category is that of Civil Servants already employed and dealt with in subsections (4) and (5). The other category is that of new appointments to the Health Department, if and when it may be necessary, under subsections (1) and (2). Under the clause, what is intended is that the Minister will take over the staffs of the Local Government Board, the Insurance Commissioners, and the Welsh Insurance Commissioners, as a whole. If he takes over the health work from other Departments or Offices, the Health Minister and the Departments whence those people came, with the Treasury, will settle how much staff the work so taken will need, and the Minister in taking over the work will measure the amount of staff that the work will require. These persons belong to the Civil Service and not merely to one Department. Subsection (5) imposes a personal obligation on the personnel to carry out the orders of the Minister, while the proviso ensures to that personnel their rights as to pay, pension, and tenure of office. The question of new appointments will arise only after the allocation of the old staff, and I would remind my noble friend that such new appointments will only be made subject to the Treasury as to numbers and pay on the well-known accepted pre-war conditions. Of course, that proviso would not apply to the men who would not previously have been in the Public Service. I hope that I have made my meaning clear to my noble friend, and that if so he will not desire to press his Amendment.
§ LORD MUIR MACKENZIE
The explanation which the noble Viscount has been good enough to give really, as far as I was concerned, did not require to be given, because I absolutely understood the clause in the way he describes, and accepted it as such; but he has pointed out that the first thing that comes is the transfer of the officers, and therefore I suggest that the clause should read in the form I proposed—the logical form in which it should appear. That is brought about by the very simple process of saying "Subject to subsections (4) and (5) of this section." Then, after you have transferred these officers under the conditions there mentioned, you will proceed to appoint such new people as may appear to be indispensable. That is what he has said is the intention of the Bill, and I suggest that it would be best described by beginning with the words I have proposed. If the noble Viscount sees difficulty about it, it is not a matter of great importance and I do not press it, but I should rather like to ask him to consider it before Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD DOWNHAM moved, in subsection (1), after the words "The Minister may appoint," to insert "one Parliamentary Secretary and". The noble Lord said: If your Lordships will look at the first three lines of Clause 6 and also at the last three lines of Clause 7, I think it will be fairly obvious that it is the intention of the Government to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries to the Minister of Health, and that both those Parliamentary Secretaries and the Minister of Health shall occupy seats in the House of Commons, and none of these three Ministers of Health for England and Wales shall sit in this House. The object of my amendment is to limit the power of appointment of the Minister to one Parliamentary Secretary instead of two, or more.
§ The power to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries, with seats in the House of Commons, was not in the Bill when it went to Grand Committee, but was slipped in by the Parliamentary Secretary during the course of proceedings in Grand Committee, with the simple remark that it might be advantageous to the Minister of Health to be able to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries. It may be advanta 620 geous to every Minister to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries instead of one, but that is not the question we should ask ourselves. The question is whether, particularly in these days, with an enormous Budget and expenditure, it is necessary to appoint two Parliamentary Secretaries to any Minister or any Department. I think there might have been something to be said in favour of appointing two Parliamentary Secretaries if the Ministry of Health had been established a year or so ago when the Local Government Board was doing an immense amount of war work and before it was intended to place all the ordinary work of the Local Government Board in another Department.
§ What has happened since those days? Since the Ministry of Health Bill has been introduced and carried through the House of Commons, the Local Government Board has rid itself of all the enormous amount of war work which it was carrying on. There is the whole supervision of the military tribunals. I know what an immense amount of time they occupied. That is all gone, because the work of the military tribunals has been suspended. Then again there is the work connected with the Belgian refugees. For the most part the Belgian refugees have gone back to Belgium. Further, the work connected with distress due to the war, air raids, and so on, is now infinitesimal. There is also the work connected with the Civil Liabilities Committee. That was personally entrusted to me before I was President of the Local Government Board. It has now been transferred to the Minister of Labour, and now we hear from the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill that it is intended very shortly to transfer to some other Government Department the enormous work done in connection with local government which is not connected directly with health.
§ Will not that Government Department come to us and say "Very well; if we are to undertake all this work, which was hitherto clone by the Local Government Board, must we not, too, have another Parliamentary Secretary added to us?" It was the fashion of the last. Government—and I think there was much to be said for it, because we were at war—to establish new Department after new Department. No less than six new Departments were established with Ministers drawing the salaries of Cabinet Ministers, and no less than nine Parliamentary Under-Secretaries 621 have been added during the last few years. Now, when we are hoping to get back to something like a peace establishment, we are asked to sanction the appointment of two more Under-Secretaries, one for England and Wales, and one under the Scottish Bill (which I have in my possession). I think it is time that some protest was made by those who consider that we ought to endeavour to get back to a peace footing and that the time has arrived when we should seriously review this constant attempt to add to the official Members of the House, of Commons.
§ I should like to look at this question also from another point of view. Not so very long ago it was usual, in forming a Government, if the principals of the great spending and administrative Departments were not in this House, that those Departments should be represented by Parliamentary Secretaries. If any one will cast his eye over the list of the members of this Government he will see how few of the great spending and administrative Departments are represented here either by the principal officer or by the Parliamentary Secretary. Since I have had the honour of being a member of your Lordships' House I have observed that, if you want to obtain any information about a great spending or administrative Department, you have to rely upon one of the very courteous officials, who will read you out an answer obtained from a Department with which he has no connection and into which he does not go in the ordinary way which alone will enable him to obtain real knowledge of the Department and what is going on there.
§ This is the first time on which your Lordships have been asked in a Bill to sanction this new departure. I hope that you will seriously consider whether you will set up this Parliamentary precedent and whether, by passing this Bill in its present shape, you will subscribe to the new doctrine that the House of Commons is to be omnipotent and that this House is to be robbed of much of its efficiency. What I cannot help thinking is that the matter of public health is as much a concern of your Lordships as of the other House, and if there are to be three Ministers for Health for England and Wales, it is quite possible to find in this House at least one efficient member to represent the work which is done in connection with the Ministry of Health. I beg to move this Amendment which confines the power of 622 the Government to the appointment of one Parliamentary Secretary, instead of allowing them to appoint two or more Parliamentary Secretaries in connection with the new Department.
Page 4, line 37, after ("appoint") insert ("one Parliamentary Secretary and").—(Lord Down-ham.)
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I am informed that there are two or three Amendments on the Paper dealing with this subject. There is another in Clause 7 in the name of my noble friend below the gangway, and a third, also dealing with much that has been mentioned by the noble Lord below the gangway, which stands in the name of Lord Bledisloe. What I am told is that the Amendment is unnecessary as the word "Secretaries" in the clause covers more than one Secretary, and this is common form. For example, it is in the Local Government Board Act, 1871, the word meaning a Secretary, Parliamentary or not. At the same time, as the noble Lord has raised the question, I am quite willing to argue it now. I think this Amendment of my noble friend does not reduce the number of Parliamentary Secretaries, but ensures that there should be one Parliamentary Secretary only in the House of Commons, which means one in your Lordships' House. This is rather a delicate matter, because the first result of this will be that there will be an end of the Lord Chamberlain playing a hand in what I think will be an extremely interesting Department. After that mild joke, I might say that I have always sympathised with what was said by the noble Lord—which, I think, gains a certain amount of acceptance with your Lordships—in regard to important Departments being represented here by what Lord Beaconsfield used to call the "janissaries of the bedchamber." And it stands to reason that those of us who do that work cannot be conversant with it to the same extent as would be an Under-Secretary who lives and has his being within the walls of the Office which he represents. I venture to say that there is another side to this question, and it is this. By the Bill one of the Under-Secretaries may be in your Lordships' House. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent that. When it comes to distributing the Offices of the Government, if this were put in the Bill would it 623 not tie the hands of the Prime Minister in arranging the representatives of Offices in either House of Parliament? I would respectfully suggest that, so far as my recollection goes over a long period, that business has generally been done by arrangement between the Prime Minister and the noble Lord who leads the Government in this House. I do not think that any provision of this kind, laying down that there should be an Under-Secretary in this House or in one House or the other, has found its way into an Act of Parliament, and I submit it should not find its way into this Bill. I cannot agree to the Amendment.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I cannot feel that the House will be entirely convinced by the explanation which my noble friend opposite has given in reply to the strictures of the noble Lord below the gangway. It is very likely that in ordinary times, had such a proposal as this appeared in a Bill, it would have passed without, much comment here or elsewhere. The fact is, as the noble Lord pointed out, that the creation of these minor Ministers in great numbers has become almost a disease, and that when a proviso of this kind appears in an Act of Parliament it is assumed almost as a matter of course that there will be a duplication of Ministers serving this particular Department.
The noble Viscount stated that he himself might be affected by the appearance of an Under-Secretary because the work which he is doing would then fall into the hands of somebody else. We all agree that nobody could do this particular work better than my noble friend; and he gives the closest attention to it. It is quite true, although it is not invariably the fact, that those members of His Majesty's Household who are entrusted with the care of Departments in this House do not always get the same advantage as those who are permanently attached as Under-Secretaries to a Department. But still there are exceptions. I can recollect, my own first appearance in this House, holding a post in Her Majesty's Household as it then was, and representing the Board of Trade here. There was a great deal of work at that time in connection with the early stages of electric lighting—so much so that I was given a room at the Board of Trade, where I attended very day and was given the services of a private secretary there. When the business of a Department demands it I conceive that the same might 624 easily happen, and I have no doubt sometimes has happened, to other noble Lords.
What we feel is that, as matters now stand, the provision in Clause 7, subsection (5), is something of a challenge, and it is to that that my noble friend's Amendment is directed. I should go so far as to say that if the Minister sits in the House of Commons and the Department can be as well represented here as it is now by the noble Viscount, a Parliamentary Under-Secretary ought to be dispensed with altogether and his salary saved. There is no reason why this Department more than others should necessarily have two Ministers sitting in the House of Commons. I confess I cannot see that any answer has been given to the Amendment of the noble Lord.
§ VISCOUNT MIDLETON
I should like to add one word with reference to what has occurred in your Lordships' House before on the question of these additions to Ministers. The House of Lords considered the whole of this question four years ago in great detail, and I remember well—when all parties in this House agreed on a Resolution inculcating the severest economy on Public Departments—a speech made by the late Lord St. Aldwyn with regard to the danger of the increasing absorption of representation in the House of Commons by the Government. There were two points of view which your Lordships considered. The first point of view was as to the division between the two Houses. The noble Viscount in charge of the Bill said that there was an objection to tying the hands of the Prime Minister. I confess that that objection sits very lightly on me. I should like to see the Prime Minister's hand tied a great deal more than they are at present in this matter.
I think the present representation of the Government in this House tends to become a farce. Men with great experience have to address themselves to members of the Government, and those noble Lords who reply do their best to interpret what has been put before them by the Office of which they are not members, and of which, therefore, they can only act as the spokesmen in this House. But that is not the point of view which I think should most strongly influence us. I call your Lordships' attention to this—that as soon as we passed the Resolution for ecenomy, and as soon as the Government appointed a Committee with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to 625 preside (which was occupied for four months in recommending retrenchment), the Government on its own motion added more than 50 per cent., almost 100 per cent., to its Parliamentary Representation and to those who are paid to represent the Government.
The fact that at this moment there are something like 70 or 80 members of Parliament sitting in the other House who are attached to the Government is becoming a grave danger to the State. You cannot bring forward any Motion without finding on an ordinary occasion that you are confronted in that House by 70 or 80 gentlemen whose votes are already decided; and in a House which is not always as full as it used to be, it makes a material difference. I think it is most demoralising to the House of Commons itself. In regard to the appointments made under these new Ministries, there has been shown absolutely no desire to study the fact that the public purse at this moment is strained to the uttermost.
When the Education Bill was before this House, about ten months ago, I ventured to prophesy that the figure which had been adopted as the expenditure of the Ministry in the first year would be doubled. It has been doubled. Next year it will probably be trebled. I have never wished in any way to assume that we ought not to make wise expenditure because we are so largely in debt, but I do believe that one of the greatest evils which has arisen during the war has been this enormous increase of the salaried members of the Government and of the Civil Service who are employed under the Government. It has been absolutely destructive of all possible economy in any other Department. When people see appointments made by the dozen, many of the men have not enough work to fill the day, they feel that in all public and private economy they have the worst example which could possibly come -from the Government.
This is a new Ministry. It has to work through Committees, rightly or wrongly, which will be to a large extent paid and subsidised. Therefore, if they are to be justified at all, they must be justified on the ground that they take a great deal of labour off the immediate staff of the Ministry. That being so I feel that the 626 only protest we can make is that the Amendment to reduce the Parliamentary Secretaries to one instead of two should be carried, and we should in this House at all events show that we are determined to press for economy in the public services.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I have had a good deal to do within the last few years with Public Departments, and so far from the officials not having their time fully occupied, as was said by my noble friend who spoke last, my experience is that their hours are extremely long, and their duties of the most assiduous nature. Many of them get to the office at ten o'clock in the morning and leave at eight at night. Their time is most fully occupied, far more so than is the case in the private offices that I have come in contact with. I regret very much if my reply was not satisfactory to my noble friend the noble Marquess, but I may point out that the War Office has three Parliamentary chiefs in it—the Secretary of State; the Financial Secretary to the War Office; and the Under-Secretary of State, who, it so happens, is in this House. Then the Admiralty have the First Lord, the Secretary to the Admiralty, and a Financial Secretary to the Admiralty. Those are great War Departments. Surely, my Lords, we are now setting up what is probably one of the greatest peace Departments that has entered into the minds of statesmen in this country, or any other country; and the Minister, after full consideration of what his work is to be in its initial stages, how it is likely to develop, and the necessity for developing it with the utmost rapidity while at the same time ensuring that the work shall be properly done, feels that this proposal should be agreed to, and I should greatly regret if your Lordships felt it your duty to deprive him of one of the chief officials who would help him to carry out his duty. Your Lordships will, of course, do what you think right in the matter, but I urgently ask you to support me in opposing the Amendment.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
As I have an Amendment to the subsequent clause to much the same effect, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a few words on this matter, about which I feel very strongly indeed. My Amendment is a modest one. It is simply to the effect that if the Minister is himself a member of the 627 House of Commons it shall only be lawful for one Secretary of the Ministry to sit in that House. This Bill contemplates the possibility of three Ministers, including the Head of the Department himself, all sitting upon the overcrowded Front Government Bench in another place, a most uncomfortable, and, I may tell your Lordships, a very undignified position under the existing conditions of overcrowding. How is it possible to justify in that event three Ministers? Nothing that the noble Viscount has said to us this afternoon has given any reason whatever for having in that House, as representing this Department, more than two Ministers at the most.
I venture to suggest to your Lordships, in these matters concerning public health, the actual administration of which throughout the country rests after all with our county councils, our borough councils, and other health bodies, that with regard to the constitution of those bodies there is a bigger representation and a more authoritative voice in this House than you will find in the other House at the present time, or I believe at any time. That is to my mind one very good reason for having within the four corners of the Bill provision for at least one representative of this Department sitting in this House.
I have a further objection to this multiplication of Ministers, about which even the Treasury nowadays does not seem to have any very sensitive conscience. It is this Every additional Minister that is appointed results in a company, a platoon, if not a battalion of permanent officials who gather round that Minister—Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.I have had the experience of serving in a Ministry which has to say the least of it been well equipped in the matter of numbers, and my great objection to this multiplication of Ministers, and through Ministers of officials, is that you destroy to a large extent the efficiency of the work done, and almost invariably it involves considerable delay in the execution of that work.
628 I should like, if I may, to give your Lordships an illustration which has come to my own notice during the last few months where the Head of a Department in consequence of the considerable pressure put upon him—and quite justifiable pressure—from some important trade interest, decided to make an Order in reference to a certain controlled commodity. Purely as a matter of courtesy he wrote a Minute to the Head of another Department who might conceivably in certain circumstances be to some small extent affected. There was no reason why he should do so, but as a matter of courtesy he did it, and that Minute passed through the hands of no less than twelve different persons, all of whom made absolutely unconvincing minutes which were neither instructive nor useful. I perused them all myself, and I can tell you their nature. "Is this a matter which should be approved?" What do you think should be done in this matter?" "Does this meet with your approval?" "Is not this a matter that this Department should have a. say in?" and so on. Having passed through no less than ten officials it had to rise through all these officials again, and eventually passed through the Head of the Department before it was finally transferred to the Department which initiated this particular matter. As a result no information was conveyed except to the effect that the other Department saw no reason why the Order should not be made. It was a matter of great urgency; yet owing to this multiplication of officials, all apparently seeking to justify their departmental existence, extreme and unfortunate delay was caused. I should like to put that before your Lordships as a convincing reason why you should not unduly multiply either Ministers or Government officials. It is not for me as a new Member of your Lordships' House to press the point so ably put by my noble friend Lord Downham, but it seems to me, in matters affecting public health, that rather than have three Ministers in the House of Commons you, with your very special knowledge of these subjects, are entitled at least to one.
§ On Question, Whether the words proposed to be inserted shall stand part of the clause?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 56; Not-Contents, 21.629
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Knollys, V.||Ludlow, L.|
|Crewe, M.||Llandaff, L. Bp.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Monson, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Oranmore and Browne, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Askwith, L.||Pontypridd, L.|
|Howe, E.||Avebury, L.||Revelstoke, L.|
|Northbrook, E.||Barrymore, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Bledisloe, L.[Teller.]||Rotherham, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Blythswood, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Brodrick, L.(V.Midleton.)||Southwark, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Chaworth, L.(E. Meath.)||Strachie, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Downham, L.[Teller.]||Stuart of Wortley, L.|
|Erskine, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Allendale, V.||Faringdon, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Devonport, V.||Forester, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Haldane, V.||Forteviot, L.||Treowen, L.|
|Harcourt, V.||Greville, L.||Weardale, L.|
|Hood, V.||Harris, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L|
|Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.)||Kenry, L. (E. Dunraven and Mount-Earl.)|
|Birkenhead, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Jersey, E.||Hylton, L.|
|Curzon of Kedleston, E. (L. President.)||Lytton, E.||Inverforth, L.|
|Sandhurst, V. (L. Chamberlain.)||Ranksborough, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Annesley, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Colebrooke, L.||Shandon, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Elphinstone, L.||Somerleyton, L.[Teller.]|
|Chesterfield, E.||Glenarthur, L.||Stanmore, L.[Teller.]|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ LORD ASKWITH moved, after "determine" at the end of subsection (1), to insert "and in the making of such appointments shall give equal consideration to the suitability of persons of both sexes.''
§ The noble Lord (who was indistinctly heard) said: This Bill is peculiarly interesting to very large numbers of women, and it is one which women are peculiarly fitted to deal with. Your Lordships the other night threw out an Amendment for the appointment of a Women's Council. In this they agreed with the other House, and they appeared to agree to the principle that there should not be discrimination between the sexes. If so, it will scarcely be logical to throw out what I think is a useful amendment in favour of equal consideration.
§ I am aware that there is a Committee sitting under the chairmanship of the noble Viscount, Lord Gladstone, with regard to the Civil Service. I see no reason why with a Bill of this kind the House should wait for the consideration of that Committee. This is either a shuffling Bill—in which event women might come in on the re-shuffle—or it is, as I hope, a preliminary 630 Bill. If it is a preliminary Bill, it is desirable that the groundwork should be fixed. Many of your Lordships will have had experience during the war of the advantages of having women in your offices. You know how well women have been able to do their work. They are now likely to be pressed still more to go into the Civil Service; and although the Civil Service Commissioners may at the present time have to return only second-class clerks who are males, yet second-class clerks are not the only officers covered by this Amendment. The Amendment should help the Minister to exercise a wise discretion. I have endeavoured to obtain a wording which may avoid the appearance of dictation to the Minister that he is to do this or that, which no other Minister in the country has placed upon him. I think it is a natural aspiration on the part of women that they should have something to do with the appointments under this Bill, and I think it will be a matter for which they will be thankful if this Amendment is accepted.
Page 4, line 39, after ("determine") insert ("and in the making of such appointments shall give equal consideration to the suitability of persons of both sexes".—(Lord Askwith.)
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
Before the noble Viscount answers, I should like to make an observation. I have an Amendment which follows, and Lord Selborne has one also* to the same effect, which is more definite in its terms. The difficulty is that it suggests that the discrimination which would have to be taken into account would be a discrimination simply on account of sex. I am quite aware that the rules of the Civil Service Commissioners come in there and cause a difficulty. A woman in the ordinary case has not qualified herself by going through the conditions necessary in order to make her eligible, and if what the Amendments of Lord Selborne and myself say were all, I think it might give rise to some danger to the prospects of the appointment of women. What I draw your Lordships' attention to is this, that during the war a considerable number of women have been employed in the Civil Service who never complied with these preliminary conditions, yet they have not only been educated in their work but many of them have done very well indeed, and been quite fit for the occupation of high posts. For that reason, speaking for myself, if the Government would agree to accept Lord Askwith's Amendment—although it is wider, still it declares the principle and avoids the technical difficulty to which I have alluded—I should be content, and would then not move my Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT SANDHURST
I cordially agree with much that was said by the noble Lord below the gangway (Lord Askwith), and also with what was said by the noble and learned Viscount, as to the way a great number of women have performed their duties during the war. I think it will render matters short if I say at once that I gladly accept the Amendment of Lord Askwith.
§ * The Amendments on the Paper in the names of Viscount HALDANE and the Earl of SELEORNE were as follows:—