HL Deb 01 July 1924 vol 58 cc73-86

Order of the Day read for the House to be put into Committee on re-commitment of the Bill.


My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill. I wish to take this opportunity of saying two or three words on the present position of the Bill and the Amendments. Your Lordships may recollect that on the Second Reading of the Bill various points were brought up by noble Lords which, in their opinion, required amendment. All those matters have been most seriously considered by the Government with a view to arriving at some agreement and meeting the views of noble Lords as far as possible. Various negotiations have taken place, and I think I may say that on the main points a large measure of agreement has been arrived at. There are one or two points not perhaps of a major character in regard to which the Government have not been able to meet the representations which have been made, broadly because to do so would run the risk of upsetting what I think I may call an agreed scheme.

This Bill is really the outcome of an agreement which was reached at the Imperial Conference last autumn after prolonged discussions and delicate negotiations, and, therefore, there are certain amendments which the Government have felt they could not accept because to do so might, in their opinion, jeopardise that settlement. I would venture to suggest to your Lordships—I will not say more now—that in the discussions on these Amendments no real danger should be run of upsetting the settlement which was arrived at with so much trouble after such prolonged discussions last autumn.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Arnold.)


My Lords, before the House goes into Committee perhaps your Lordships would permit me to draw attention to three small points which, for obvious reasons, I do not want to raise in Committee myself. At the same time, I should like the points considered, and I would appeal to the noble Lord, the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, to be good enough to consider them between now and Report. They are, I am sure, points which could not possibly upset any agreed settlement, the importance of which your Lordships will all realise. I will merely detain your Lordships by mentioning what those points are. The first is really only one of form. Clause 1 repeals a previous Act, and Clause 2 proceeds to say that for certain purposes that Act is not repealed. That seems to be rather a clumsy way of doing things, and, as other people besides trained lawyers will probably have to understand this Bill, I think it is desirable to make the matter clear in some alternative form.

The second point that I would like to draw attention to is Clause 7 of the Bull. That takes power to amend this measure in the future by Order in Council. I think these Orders in Council ought to be presented to Parliament. I do not ask that there should be an affirmative Resolution, or anything so strong as that, because the purposes for which the Orders in Council can be made are carefully laid down in the Bill, but I think Parliament ought to be cognisant of what is done. The other point arises on Clause 9. Under that Clause it is possible for the Government to defer bringing this Bill into operation for a century, and I am certain that that is the very opposite of the intention of the Government. I suggest it is not a very nice Parliamentary form. At the same time I am certain that an Amendment there is not really necessary. I think if the Government would tell us that they do intend to bring the Bill into operation as soon as they possibly can under these powers, the necessities of the ease would be met.


May I say, in regard t) the various points which have been brought to my notice by the Lord Chairman, that the Government will, of course, take them into most careful consideration. I should like, if I may, to have the opportunity of doing that, and of making a further statement about them on the Report stage.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Amendments made by the Select Committee agreed to.


WHEREAS by the Imperial Institute (Transfer) Act, 1902 (hereinafter called the Act of 1902), as amended by the Imperial Institute (Management) Act, 1916 (hereinafter called the Act of 1916), the management of the Imperial Institute is carried on under the Secretary of State for the Colonies by an Executive Council constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 1916 for the purposes mentioned in the Act of 1902, and such other similar purposes as the Secretary of State for the Colonies may determine having regard to the commercial, industrial, and educational interests of the Empire:

And whereas the Imperial Institute Building and the Endowment Fund mentioned in the Act of 1902 are vested in a body of trustees called the Imperial Institute Trustees, and the income of the said fund is payable by the said trustees to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and the Imperial Institute Building is under his management:

And whereas various other property, rights, obligations, debts or liabilities in connection with the Imperial Institute have become the property, rights, obligations, debts or liabilities of the Secretary of State for the Colonies:

And whereas by Royal Charter dated the twelfth day of June, nineteen hundred and nineteen, a body was incorporated by the name of the Imperial Mineral Resources Bureau for the purposes mentioned in the Charter:

And whereas the future of the Imperial Institute and of the Imperial Mineral Resources Bureau was discussed at an Imperial Economic Conference held in London in the year nineteen hundred and twenty-three:

And whereas certain resolutions were adopted at that Conference recommending to the Governments represented thereon the amalgamation of the above bodies, the making of further arrangements in regard to the management of the amalgamated body, and annual contributions to its maintenance for a period of five years out of moneys provided by Parliament of nine thousand pounds, by the Governments of the self-governing Dominions and India of eight thousand pounds and by the Governments of the Colonies and Protectorates of eight thousand pounds:

And whereas it is desirable to empower the governing body hereinafter constituted of the Imperial Institute, in co-operation with the Governments represented at that Conference, or such of them as for the time being may be making contributions for the purpose, to maintain galleries for the exhibition of Empire products; and to accept and expend such additional contributions towards the maintenance of such galleries as may be provided by Parliament, and the other Governments as aforesaid:

LORD ARNOLD moved, in the paragraph beginning, "And whereas certain resolutions," to leave out "to its maintenance," and insert "towards the expenses of the Imperial Institute." The noble Lord said: This is really little more than a drafting Amendment but it brings the Preamble more in conformity with the main body of the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 10, leave out ("to its maintenance") and insert ("towards the expenses of the Imperial Institute ").—(Lord Arnold.)

LORD ISLINGTON moved, in the paragraph beginning, "And whereas certain resolutions," to leave out "of nine thousand pounds." The noble Lord said: The object of this Amendment is to avoid having two separate funds in support of the Imperial Institute. I understand that this specific figure was placed in the Bill at a time when it was not contemplated that the exhibition galleries would continue as part of the Imperial Institute. I am glad to say that, largely owing to the public spirit of Lord Cowdray, they are to become a permanent part of the Imperial Institute, and it would be more convenient that the sum of money that is to be granted whether by the Exchequer in this country or by the Dominions, Colonies and Protectorates, should be a lump sum towards the maintenance of the Institute as a whole, including, of course, the maintenance of the galleries. There is no doubt that the Dominions and Colonies will not separate their grant and give one portion for the executive operations of the Institute and the other for the maintenance of the galleries. They will give one sum, and it appears to me that it will be for the future administrative convenience of the Institute that one sum should be mentioned, whatever the sum may be, and that it should not be separated into two. That refers equally, of course, to a subsequent Amendment which I have on the Paper.

Amendment moved— Page 2, lines 11 and 12, leave out ("of nine thousand pounds ").—(Lord Islington.)


This is an Amendment which the Government feel obliged to resist, because it would strike at the root of the settlement which has been arrived at. The figures in the Preamble are really an historical fact and a record of what happened at the Imperial Economic Conference last autumn. It establishes the proportion in which the expenses of the Institute are to be borne amongst the three parties. Take India, for instance. She made a condition that the whole of her contribution must be spent on the Institute and not on the galleries. South Africa also made a similar condition, and if these words are deleted and the other Amendment to which the noble Lord has referred is accepted on Clause 6, the arrangement which has been arrived at would be upset. This Bill has been circulated to the Dominions and any substantial alteration of this sort would raise, I think, questions in the mind of Dominion Ministers. I hope your Lordships will not support the Amendment. It is one which the Government, for these reasons, feel should not be accepted.


I hope the noble Lord will not press the Amendment. I do not think he considers it a very important one. He does not propose to ask the Dominions not to subscribe these sums of money in portions. All he wants is that it should be differently stated. I feel that to alter the form of the Preamble now, after it has been circulated to the Dominions, will have the appearance that you are desirous of going behind the decision of the Imperial Conference and, as it were, releasing the Dominions from the pledge they have given to subscribe these particular sums of money. That would be most unfortunate. There is also the other point to which the noble Lord has referred, that it will not do to put all these sums of money against the galleries, because some of the Dominions will not have anything to do with the galleries. I think the noble Lord will realise that he is suggesting all sorts of difficulties if he persists in his Amendment. This was a very delicate matter, very nicely adjusted, and it was only with great difficulty, in the Committee over which I had the honour to preside, that we persuaded everybody to come into line. I do not say that the Amendments of the noble Lord would necessarily upset the balance, but there will always be a little risk, and I should be very sorry, unless it is very substantial, that the question should be pressed.


I have no desire to press the Amendment. I do not regard it as so important as the other Amendments which have been so generously met by the noble Lord opposite. I only moved it in order to emphasise the entirety of the Imperial Institute and the fact that the operations of the Institute and the exhibition galleries are in the future to be one. It is clear that as some of the Dominions are going to add to their contribution, this sum of money for the Institute is somewhat misleading. I understand the difficulties which might arise, and I do not therefore press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD ARNOLD moved, in the paragraph beginning "And whereas it is desirable," to leave out "galleries for the exhibition of Empire products and" and insert "in the exhibition galleries of the Imperial Institute exhibitions illustrative of the resources and development of the Empire." The noble Lord said: This Amendment, and the others which follow, incorporate the proposals which have been put forward by Lord Islington. The Amendment makes it quite clear, I think, that the galleries referred to are the galleries of the Imperial Institute. This point was raised on the Second Reading by several noble Lords— by Lord Cowdray, by Lord Shandon and also by the noble Lord who has put down an Amendment in the same sense. The latter part of the Amendment is, as I have explained before in connection with another Amendment, designed to bring the Preamble rather more into conformity with a paragraph which comes later in the Schedule. The Amendments which follow are drafting.

Amendment moved— Page 2, lines 21 and 22, leave out ("galleries for the exhibition of Empire products and") and insert ("in the exhibition galleries of the Imperial Institute exhibitions illustrative of the resources and development of the Empire ").—(Lord Arnold.)

Amendments moved—

Page 2, line 22, leave out ("such") and insert ("any ")

Page 2, line 23, leave out ("as") and insert ("and exhibitions which ")

Page 2, line 24, leave out ("as'')

Page 2, line 25, at end insert ("for that purpose, and where practicable to organise from time to time temporary exhibitions of a similar nature elsewhere ").—(Lord Arnold.)

Preamble, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2:

Imperial Institute Trustees.

2.—(1) The repeal of the Act of 1902 shall not affect the incorporation of powers of the Imperial Institute Trustees, but that body shall hereafter consist of the persons who for the time being are Lord President of the Council, the First Commissioner of His Majesty's Treasury, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Secretary of State for India, the President of the Board of Trade, and the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade (Development and Intelligence).

LORD EMMOTT moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "Lord President of the Council." The noble Lord said: The last thing I would desire would be to do anything to endanger this Rill. I do not propose this Amendment in any feeling of hostility to the Bill, but because I think it would make a general improvement in it. The Imperial Institute was erected and endowed many years ago by public subscriptions which came from individuals in all parts of the Empire. Tie present Bill places the building and endowments in the hands of trustees, all of whom are Ministers. There is no unofficial representation. I think that it is desirable that among the trustees there should be somebody representing other parts of the Empire than the United Kingdom. I think it is desirable that somebody like the noble Viscount, Lord Cowdray, who is doing so much for the Imperial Institute, should be made a trustee. This Amendment and those which follow it in my name on the Paper stand or fall together. I am proposing to leave out the Lord President, not in the least because I object to him as a trustee, but because he has nothing whatever to do with the Institute.


I beg your pardon.


What did the noble Marquess say?


I only respectfully demurred to that statement of my noble friend.


Hitherto, the Lord President of the Council has never been specially interested in the Institute, nor has he had anything particular to do with it. I suggest the omission of a name or two simply because I want to see unofficial trustees appointed, and not because I have any objection to the holders of these particular offices. I suggest the omission of the President of the Board of Trade, because the responsible Minister is to be the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, and I do not see why it should be necessary to have the President of the Board of Trade as well. Instead of the two names the omission of which I am proposing, I desire to suggest that "three other persons having colonial, financial or commercial experience who are to be appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, who should, for this purpose, take into consultation the governor of the Bank of England and the President of the Association of British Chambers of Commerce" should be appointed in their place. I do not know what line the Government intend to take, but I think I have made clear the purpose of my Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 2, line 43 to page 3, line 1, leave out ("Lord President of the Council ").—(Lord Emmott.)


I hope the noble Lord will not press this Amendment. The position is that these trustees are really holding trustees, and are not concerned with the management of the Institute. As a matter of convenience, it is a great advantage, when anything requires to be done, to have trustees who are easily accessible. I believe there was an instance of that some time ago, when the question arose of a transfer of stock or something of that sort. It may create difficulties if various gentlemen who are not easily accessible all at one time are trustees. I think that point itself is one of considerable substance. The trustees are tied down by the Act. They really have no discretion, but are simply holding trustees.

There is another point to which, I think, perhaps the noble Lord has not given sufficient weight, and that is that in the Second Schedule the unofficial element, if I may use that term, in the governing body has been very considerably increased, and I suggest that the objects which the noble Lord has in view will really be met in this way, and met much better for his purpose, because the governing body will, of course, have powers in connection with the Institute, and will be much more than merely holding trastees. It seems to me, if I may say so with respect, that the noble Lord has provided no sufficient reason for his Amendment, having regard to all the circumstances. Elaborate machinery is here set up, and I hope very much that the noble Lord will not press his Amendment.


I cannot pretend for a moment that the passage of this Amendment will prejudice this Bill in the eyes of the Dominions. That would be absurd. But I rather regret, I must confess, that my noble friend should think that the Lord President of the Council has nothing to do with the Imperial Institute. He probably has not realised that a great Department of Research has grown up in the Council Office. It really is becoming one of the most important offices in the State, and all the research work of the Government, to whatever Department it belongs, is gradually crystallising around the Council Office. I need not say that the future work of the Imperial Institute will consist very largely of research, or of activities allied to research, and therefore it is appropriate that the Lord President of the Council should be a trustee.

But the noble Lord opposite is quite correct in saying that it does not very much matter who the trustees are. The governors are the people who are going to run the show, and the trustees will not have anything to do with it. The trustees will, I believe, be very little more than persons having a legal existence, whose signature, or the signatures of a certain number of them, will be required in certain cases. For my part, if I were sitting in the place of the noble Lord opposite, I should make a concession to my noble friend on this Amendment. I should be much better pleased if he did not press the case of the Lord President. I have been both President of the Board of Trade and Lord President of the Council, and consequently I know both offices.

I would certainly have surrendered the President of the Board of Trade—whom it is proposed by another Amendment on the Paper to omit—because I think he is sufficiently represented by the Secretary of the Department of Overseas Trade, but I would venture to suggest to the noble Lord, even if the point is not pressed now but is considered between now and the Report stage, that there can be no objection to adding the three extra persons to whom the noble Lord refers in a later Amendment, without cutting out the Lord President. I do not think that they will do any good, but I do not think that they will do any harm, and if my noble friend, who is such an authority on these matters, thought it of any use, and if I were sitting in the noble Lord's place, I should make a concession and, at any rate, consider between now and Report whether it would not be possible to insert these extra gentlemen to whom the noble Lord refers.


May I say one word of appeal to the noble Lord to consider whether this Amendment cannot be brought up again, I hope in an amended form, on Report? It is a very large body of officials to be trustees in an Institute of this character, which, if it is to be successful in the future, must be freed from the trammels of too much bureaucratic control—an evil of which undoubtedly it has had too much experience in the past to be of effective use, as I can speak from ten long years of experience. If it is to be in the future really an effective force for the Empire, in the direction we want it to be, it must have the full advantage of outside vision. In practice, these officials will advise the governing body as to what course they will take, and I can see very important questions arising with regard to the future of the Institute, especially under that clause which gives, by Order in Council, plenary powers of every sort to the Government. I can conceive very important decisions being come to which may vary the future of the Institute either one way or the other, and I think it certainly would be an advantage to the Institute, in every way, that there should be that outside element represented on the board of trustees, instead of the official element as it is now being universally represented. Therefore, I ask the noble Lord seriously to consider the matter, with a view to meeting my noble friend's very reasonable request.


Before the noble Lord answers, perhaps I may say that I entirely accept Lord Salisbury's suggestion as to retaining the Lord President of the Council. I certainly had forgotten how much the Lord President of the Council now has to do with certain work. I accept that, but I would press on Lord Arnold to consider this matter. If the noble Lord does not want to settle the matter tonight, I will put my Amendment down again on Report in the form suggested by Lord Salisbury, if he will promise to take it into serious consideration and not merely promise to consider it with a view of saying "No" next time.


In view of the speeches made, and the words of the noble Marquess, I certainly will take the matter into serious consideration and not merely with a view of giving a negative reply next time, but I am sure that your Lordships do not expect me to settle the matter now, because there are a great many matters to be considered with regard to this particular proposal.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clauses 3 to 7 agreed to.

Clause 8:


8. Nothing in this Act or in any such Order in Council shall affect—

  1. (1) any existing rights of the University of London in or to any part of the Imperial Institute building;
  2. (2) any provision which may have been made in pursuance of Section five of the Act of 1902 for giving to life members of the corporation dissolved by that Act privileges similar to those enjoyed by them under the Charter revoked by that Act.

LORD CLWYD moved, at the end of the clause, to insert the following new paragraph: (3) Any privileges granted by the existing agreement (of 1922) made by the Imperial Institute with the Northbrook Society, in pursuance of the intention of subsection (3) of Section six of the Act of 1902, to use certain rooms in the Imperial Institute building provided from Indian revenues or the use of such rooms for any other appropriate Indian purpose.

The noble Lord said: I will very shortly state the ground on which I move this Amendment. The object of it is to safeguard any privileges already granted through the existing agreement with the Northbrook Society, in regard to space allotted to India at the Institute. It is not necessary for me to point out the direct interest of India, but I do not think it is sufficiently realised that the interest of India in the Institute rests upon very special consideration, for, apart from the natural interest which India takes in the Institute, the princes and people of India have made very large contributions towards the Institute. I may mention the fact that the princes and people of India have contributed, in various sums, a total of not less than £114,000, of which £80,000 has been spent upon the buildings, and £34,000 invested in the endowment fund. In addition to this sum, about £33,000 was at a later date contributed for the India Pavilion, erected with a further contribution of £17,000 given by the Maharajah of Bhaunuger, supplemented by gifts from other distinguished friends of India.

I base the case for my Amendment upon that fact that these very large contributions, coming not from official but from private sources, have been made to the Institute, and that they have been made for the specific purpose of providing accommodation within the Institute for Indian purposes. I feel sure that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will have every sympathy with the Indian interest in the Imperial Institute, but it is possible that, on behalf of the Government, he may suggest that the governing body to be set up under this Bill will do what is right in the matter. A further point may be taken that the agreement with the Northbrook Society to which I have referred, though capable of being terminated in two years' time, is not likely to be terminated, and the view may be taken that upon the whole this House and Parliament may safely leave the matter in the hands of the governing body responsible for the working of the Act when it is passed.

I venture to express a strong opinion that the interest of India in the Institute, measured as it is by the very special considerations of finance to which I have referred, does give India a right to special treatment in the matter. The two things that have to be remembered are that these contributions have been made from India, and that certain space accommodation in the Institute has for many years been allotted for Indian purposes. It seems to me on all grounds desirable, if in any way possible, having regard to these facts, that some words should be inserted in the Bill which will make it impossible for the arrangements which now exist to be interfered with in the future by any development that may take place. Having regard to these facts, I hope that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill will be able to give the principle at any rate of my Amendment favourable consideration, and may be able to make some statement which will at all events safeguard the essential interests of India.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 19, at end insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Clwyd.)


This Amendment presents many difficulties. The noble Lord himself suggested that it might be argued that the Amendment was unnecessary, and in a certain sense I think that is true. The position is that the Northbrook Society has an agreement at the present time which has about two years to run, and its various privileges are, as I understand, safeguarded under that agreement. Therefore, under the clauses of this Bill as it stands—Clause 3, for instance—the Northbrook Society is protected, at any rate during that time. The noble Lord desires that words shall be inserted which will practically ensure to the Northbrook Society rooms in the Imperial Institute in perpetuity, or, if he does not go quite so far as that, at any rate that some kind of special recognition along these lines shall be made of the very handsome contributions which in the past were given towards the Institute from Indian sources.

I should like to take the same course with this Amendment that was taken with the Amendment moved by Lord Emmott, and that is to have time to consider the matter, although I am bound to say I think it is a very difficult one. There is one point I should like to put to the House, which I am sure the noble Lord will appreciate. If you give this exceptional treatment to this Society, it might create difficulties in regard to other arrangements at the present time. That is a point of some substance. However, I will consider the matter between now and the Report stage, and see whether anything can be done, if not going the whole way, at any rate going part of the way, to meet the views of the noble Lord.


In view of the statement of the noble Lord, I will, of course, withdraw my Amendment. I feel sure the noble Lord will give adequate consideration to the matter.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Remaining clause agreed to.

First Schedule: