§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE had given Notice that he would move to resolve, That the cost of Bureaucracy, and the crushing and complicated burden of compiling returns and making out forms for departmental and local government purposes, has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished; and would also move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in rising to move the Resolution which stands in my name, I wish very respectfully to ask for the indulgence of the House if I use very copious notes, because it is almost impossible, unless you have the memory of a Bonar Law, to retain in one's head the figures, returns, extracts from documents, and papers which one is obliged to use if he is going to try to make a coherent picture of the abuses which he claims exist. Therefore may I ask for the indulgence of the House if I use notes very extensively as, thereby, I shall be able to make a far better case than if I spoke entirely extempore?
§ We all know, or should know, the book by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Hewart, "The New Despotism," published some seven years ago. If your Lordships have not read it, you should read it, because it is a very fine exposition, describing how the bureaucracy entrenched in Whitehall had even then, seven years ago, usurped the functions and authority of the Government, and even those of the Justiciary. It is not my intention this afternoon—it would be outside the terms of the Resolution—to deal with that aspect of the bureaucratic system, but what I do propose to try to show, with your Lordships' patience and support, is that the system of bureaucracy has a cramping and crippling effect on individual enterprise, that it fetters freedom of action, that it subjects us to endless irritating restrictions and regulations, that it suffocates the business and trading community with showers of forms and documents, and, finally, that it is slow and cumbersome in action and financially wasteful and extravagant. It is strange in these days to think that 798 only a century ago Governments concerned themselves almost solely with taxation, defence, foreign affairs, and the maintenance of law and order at home. How different is the position to-day. There is hardly a department of human life and activity which is not the direct concern of one Government Department or another. Trade, industry, transport, the transmission of power, public health, education, insurance, pensions—all come within their purview and receive their unceasing attention.
§ This remarkable development of Government interest in the life and work of the nation has come principally since the War, and it is particularly noticeable in trade and industry. Within the past few years we have seen the introduction of marketing orders, tariffs and quotas, the establishment of boards for milk, pigs, potatoes, bacon, hops, herrings, meat, eggs and poultry, sugar and sugar beet, and still more, we are told, are coming for vegetables and even raspberries. It cannot be said, I think, de minimis non curat the bureaucracy. Nothing is too great, nothing is too small for the bureaucrat to deal with. One of our most distinguished civil servants, Sir Ernest Gowers, who once served as Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue, lectured at the Sorbonne in Paris three years ago and commented on the flood of legislation which now passed through Parliament every year. He said—you will hardly believe it—that the Acts passed in 1933 formed a volume of rather more than 1,000 pages. But he added that the regulations made by the bureaucracy under powers conferred by these Acts filled another 2,000 pages. The subjects covered were of the widest variety. Any seeker after such knowledge would find in them advice on the cultivation of gooseberries in Scotland and about the strange mysteries of the sack and bag trade.
§ Acts covering 1,000 pages, and regulations covering twice as many—3,000 pages in all—were devoted to the output of legislation for one year alone three years ago. It is surely staggering. Can all those regulations and Acts be really necessary? Our fathers and grandfathers in the Victorian era got on perfectly well without all these regulations and irritating formalities. I admit that life is more complex now than it was 799 a few years ago. You cannot expect the same laissez faire. A little of something may be good, but too much is bad for the system and bad for this country. I would like your Lordships when you go home to consider whether 3,000 pages devoted simply to recounting what is in Acts and regulations arising from them are not symptoms of a country which is too complacent and a bureaucracy that is too meddlesome. It would indeed be interesting to know the cost of printing and publishing this type of literature. A catalogue of Government publications issued during April of this year ran to sixty pages. The Government are offering now for sale sixty pages of Acts, regulations and Government publications. Can that be necessary? Can that really be for the good of the nation? We can get some idea of the expenditure of the Stationery Office by comparing the cost, £1,200,000 in 1914 with £2,200,000 in 1935—that is to say, the output of legislation appears to be, if you take the cost of publishing it to this country and the world as, a criterion, double what it was in 1914.
The regulations and restrictions imposed on tradesmen and the multitude of forms and documents which they have to fill up and return to one authority or another have been the subject of continued protests from representatives of trade organisations. Mr. Gilbert Shepherd, then President of the National Chamber of Trade, speaking at the annual meeting of the Chamber last year, said:
The multiplicity of these departmental regulations is so serious that it is becoming more and more difficult for the mere layman to avoid, quite unconsciously, committing technical offences. In fact, it will soon be impossible for the man-in-the-street to get through any week of his life without having broken some regulation or other. My main claim on behalf of retail distribution is for freedom from the shackles of unnecessary control and restriction.
That is the opinion of the President of the National Chamber of Trade, a very important person occupying a lofty position. Then let us take what Sir Ernest Benn, an expert in his own walk of life, said quite recently. Sir Ernest Benn, describing the rules and regulations to which the ordinary tradesman has to submit, said:
His scales, his hours, his wages, his premises are classified, inspected, tabulated and certified; his cash and prices recorded, regulated and taxed to such an extent that
much more of his brain power has to be applied to officials than he can spare for his customers.
In short, individual effort and enterprise are becoming more and more circumscribed by irritating restrictions and bureaucratic influence.
§ May I take another aspect of this question, the local government aspect? With your Lordships' permission, I will now proceed to describe the waste of effort and of public money that results from the unnecessary duplication by Whitehall of the machinery of local government in the counties and the chaos resulting from orders and regulations. When county councils were established nearly half a century ago their duties were limited and their staffs were small, untrained, and largely inefficient. To-day, I say it without fear of contradiction—and many of your Lordships serve on county councils—the county councils have important functions and responsibilities to discharge, and they have highly trained and competent staffs to undertake the duties assigned to them by Parliament. You would think, therefore, that Whitehall would leave the details—I stress the word "details"—of the administration of these duties to the officials and the councils themselves, exercising only a general supervision over matters of policy. It is, however, a cause of serious complaint that Whitehall does not delegate its powers to the councils but submits the councils to a constant and harassing supervision in matters of detail that is absolutely unnecessary and uneconomical.
§ Some remarkable instances of this were given in a memorandum submitted by an important county council to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1932, making suggestions as to how economy could be obtained in local expenditure. The conditions, however, remain to-day exactly as they were in 1932. Nothing has changed. The only result of the memorandum was that it was put into the waste paper basket, I presume. I will take three specimen cases, with your Lordships' permission. The first is the registration of electors, half the cost of which is borne by the Treasury and half by the county. The work is carried out by county officers and a considerable staff is engaged in the various registration units. Directions are given by the registration officer, a county council official, 801 who examines the accounts, disallows unnecessary or excessive charges, and forwards the claim for half the cost to the Treasury. It can hardly be believed that at the Treasury these accounts are again submitted to a minute examination and correspondence takes place over months on the veriest trifles. I suggest that if a registration officer is competent to prepare the register and to decide, subject to appeal to the County Court. Judge, the title to the franchise, he is qualified to pass accounts for disbursement. Indeed, I suggest he is far better qualified, owing to his local knowledge of the conditions under which the work is carried out, than someone in Whitehall I submit that from the point of view of justice to the county councils, economy to the ratepayers and relief to the work done in Whitehall, the county councils should be trusted to carry out the work properly. If they cannot be so trusted, it would be better to do away with county councils.
§ The next instance is in connection with road making programmes. Some years ago, as I am sure those of your Lordships who are members of county councils will remember, county councils generally undertook schemes of road improvement at the instigation of the Government for the purpose of providing work for the unemployed. It was understood from the outset that the schemes were to be completed within five years and that so far as they were not completed they would not qualify for increased grants. Surely the business-like method of tackling a large problem of that kind was to take the schemes in rotation, so that the normal staff without any large addition could cope first with the preparation of the proposals and specifications and then with the supervision of the work. But that was not so. When some of the schemes were in hand the county councils were notified that the grants would be withdrawn unless the engineering works of each scheme were started by a particular date. Protests to the Treasury regarding this uneconomical method of dealing with the matter proved unavailing. Additional staff had to be engaged with a view to expediting those schemes which were intended to be put in hand in the latter part of the fixed period, with the result that when it became necessary to call a halt one County Council—the Council of my own County 802 of Hampshire—and no doubt other county councils were left with a number of schemes which could not be completed and accordingly gave no return on the vast sums expended on them. If the county councils had been allowed to regulate the matter, half the schemes would have been carried to completion and some benefit would have been derived from the expenditure.
§ The last instance which I would quote in this respect is with regard to school building programmes under the Hadow scheme. Local authorities were urged to expedite building programmes in order to enable the reorganisation of education to be carried out, and a higher grant was promised on expenditure on new schools actually begun by a certain arbitrary date. I do not quarrel with that. This involved the engagement of considerable staff in the county architect's department and the purchase of a large number of sites. It was followed very shortly afterwards by a direction from Whitehall to discontinue the scheme. I suggest that no local authority left to their own discretion would have organised a programme in that way.
§ I consider that waste and overlapping are particularly evident in connection with education. Is it really necessary—I should like a reply to this point from the noble Marquess who I understand will speak for the Government—that the sanction of the Board of Education should be obtained for the sites of new schools? Surely this is a case where the knowledge of the local authority—namely, the county council—would be sufficient. Buildings, too, are always subject to Whitehall control and plans submitted by the experts of the local authority are altered. That generally means greater cost, and I think it is greater cost without any real addition to efficiency or amenity. Statistics of all kinds are kept by the local authorities, but these are not considered sufficient by Whitehall, which duplicates and supplements them. I would submit to your Lordships' House that this is the real point we have to decide. Either the local authorities are competent or they are incompetent. If they are competent their work should be accepted in these small matters by the authorities at Whitehall. If they are incompetent they should be dismissed and the work centralised in Whitehall, which the Government appear 803 to desire. To go on with the present system is quite hopeless and most wasteful.
§ Now, may I say a word or two about town planning? Attention was drawn to the complicated and cumbersome requirements under the Town and Country Planning Act by Mr. Ivor Jennings, Editor of the Local Government Chronicle, in an able paper read before the annual conference of the Rural District Councils' Association in 1933. I have it from Mr. Jennings that what he wrote in 1933 is exactly true in 1936. Nothing has been done to change it. In describing the procedure under a town-planning scheme, Mr. Jennings enumerated no fewer than forty-four preliminary steps which were required under the Act when a scheme for planning was about to be prepared. I hope your Lordships will allow me to trespass upon your patience. If it is boring to you to listen to these various steps, just think how much more boring it must be for the local authorities to have to put them through. There are forty-four steps preliminary to town-planning schemes which local authorities have to put through under orders from Whitehall, before they can proceed with a scheme. It is a sort of House that Jack built, as your Lordships will learn in a moment.
§ The first step to be taken is consultation with interested local authorities. No. 2, considerations of representations made under No. 1. No. 3 the resolution to prepare the scheme. No. 4, notice thereof by advertisement. No. 5, considerations of suggestions approved under No. 4. No. 6, amended resolution, if considered necessary. No. 7, submission of resolution to Minister. No. 8, notice of transmission. No. 9, local inquiry, if Minister thinks fit. No. 10, approval by Minister. No. 11, notice of advertisement and to occupiers that resolution has taken effect. No. 12, preparation of register. No. 13, preparation of preliminary statement. No. 14, notice of preliminary statement to interested local authorities. No. 15, consideration of representations received under No. 14. No. 16, modification of draft preliminary statement, if necessary. No. 17, notice of intention to adopt preliminary statement. No. 18, consideration of representations received under No. 17. No. 19, submission of preliminary statement to 804 Minister. No. 20, notice of submission. No. 21, local inquiry, if the Minister thinks fit. No. 22, approval of preliminary statement by Minister.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
I have read half only of the programme which this wretched town planning authority has to go through. I will not worry your Lordships with the other 22, but I do submit that this is farcical. How anything ever gets done, I cannot imagine, through this barbed-wire entanglement of inquiries, representations and considerations. And this is not the last of it. Even these steps which I have indicated to your Lordships were described as only a summary, which did not give an adequate idea of the complications involved or the detailed information which has to be disclosed at each stage. It did not, for example, mention the number of maps or certified copies which must be forthcoming. "I am quite sure," said Mr. Jennings—and he confirms that to-day—"that much of the cost of advertisements, notices, maps and inquiries could be dispensed with without injury to anyone."
May I take an illustration from another Act: the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act, which lays down that standard widths may be adopted by a highway authority by resolution approved by the Minister? Before the resolution is submitted for approval to the Minister it must be advertised in a form to be approved by the Minister in two newspapers circulating in the locality. I want the attention of your Lordships for this: it must be advertised in a form to be approved by the Minister in two newspapers circulating in the locality; and the form prescribed by the Minister is such that every length of road has to be described in detail. In one instance—I think it was in my own county—it took eighteen feet of single column advertisements in each of the two local newspapers, or thirty-six feet in all, to do what the Minister desired should be done. The cost of that to the ratepayers was £245. There were thirty-six feet of advertisements, eighteen in each newspaper. I will show your Lordships what one newspaper had to insert. It could not be done in one edition, of course; they had to do it in two or three editions. There is the length of the advertisement, one in each of the newspapers. Well, 805 my Lords, it was hardly a laughing matter; it is not a laughing matter to the poor ratepayers who have to find the money for them.
Now may I for a moment, if you will allow me, turn to agriculture? There the increase in returns owing to bureaucratic methods is, I think, more noticeable than in any other trade or profession. I have taken one of my own farms, because one can speak with more freedom and less accuracy about one's own things than possibly one would if one took somebody else's. But in all seriousness I have done my best, if you will bear with me—because it is really of a good deal of importance, especially from the farmer's point of view—to show the immense increase in clerical burdens, even if the farmers have the ability to fill up the forms, that have come to them since the War. Take a typical farm of 390 acres—260 acres of pasture and 130 arable. What a happy time it was before 1914 in this countryx0021; The farmer then had only to fill up three forms: his Income Tax declaration, the June or midsummer agricultural return, and the sheep dipping return. He no doubt grumbled then, but he would not have grumbled if he had known how well off he was. In 1936, instead of filling up three forms, he has to fill up forty-one returns, besides the stock book.
I estimate that it takes him one night per week all the year round to fill them up. Is it fair that the farmer, who ought to be able to rest after his long day out in the fields, should have to spend one night a week filling up a lot of forms that cannot be of any use to anybody? I should like to enumerate, if you will allow me, these 38 forms, so that you will know that there has been no exaggeration in my statement. What are the forms which the farmer has to fill up in addition to the three which he had to fill up before the War? They are the agricultural supplementary return, the voters' list, a return for the Milk Marketing Board, the annual contract, the application for his motor licence, the application for his driving licence, one horticultural return, a census of output of milk, a return of horses for remount purposes, a monthly return of invoices for milk sold wholesale, monthly unemployment and labour exchange forms, four quarterly returns for the Cattle Committee, and four quarterly returns for the Potato 806 Marketing Board. In addition to these, there is the book in which are recorded the movements of stock under the Movement of Animals Order, 1925. I calculate, having consulted other people down there, that at least eighty entries have to be made in that book every year. May I take a sideline on this? Who is to see that these entries are made? The police have to come round at uncertain times and inspect the books. That I do not complain of; what I do object to is the police being taken away from their proper work to do inspector's work. The police ought to remain free to prevent crime and punish malefactors, not spend all their time looking after sheep-dipping orders and that sort of thing. If you are going to have it at all, it ought to be done by a special inspector.
Now, if you will allow me, I will tell you the woes of my own estate office, because, after all, the estate office has to bear a similar burden to that of the farmer. Before the War my estate office had to send in fourteen returns; now I have to send in eighty returns instead of fourteen. I am not giving you any of them; I have brought them here, and if any noble Lord wants to see them, he can see them after the debate. I am not going to enumerate all these eighty returns, with the stock book as an extra, but I will tell you this: that owing to these returns, half of which I am sure could perfectly well be dispensed with, I have to keep a clerk working for six weeks in the year doing nothing else but fill up these returns. I may be able to afford it, but how is the small man able to afford to get a clerk or a solicitor to fill in these forms, which are largely superfluous and unnecessary?
With your Lordships' permission I will come to quite another aspect of Government activity—namely, the War Office. May I take for your consideration the returns which have to be submitted by a regimental commanding officer? When I say "regimental" I do not mean a battalion commanding officer, but in this case I mean the officer commanding a cavalry regiment, and I am sure the return will equally apply when they are mechanised. What has he got to do? What is he responsible for, the officer commanding a cavalry regiment? He has to send in every week a return of those attending Divine Service, and of the state of the coal supplies—nothing 807 escapes the bureaucrat! Every month there is a return of sick and lame horses, of charges for shoeing, of carcases removed by contractors, of Salvationists on the strength of the unit during the month—what this means I do not know, but anyhow that is what I saw printed, "Salvationists on the strength of the unit." There are hire charges of horses used for hunting, polo and show jumping, and repairs to wireless sets. There is a quarterly return of special-sized garments for Reservists, the yearly report on the bandmaster, and the return of the number of those who have passed driving tests. May I have your Lordships' attention for these? These, with many others, amount to 1,120 returns during the year, made up of 364 weekly returns, 26 fortnightly returns, 588 monthly returns, 80 quarterly returns, 30 half-yearly returns, 28 annual returns and 4 casual returns.
Remembering this, what must happen to the brigade? I was always brought up to believe that a brigade consisted of two or more units. Assume for the purpose of argument that a brigade is three units. Three times 1,120 is 3,360. Then a Brigadier must receive 3,360 returns every year. No one will tell me that they are ever read. I do not believe that the 1,120 sent up by the regimental commanding officer to the Brigadier are ever read. I do ask the noble Lord who is going to answer if he would not go personally into some of these Army returns, which are a serious matter. They take away from the efficiency of the unit. They require that there shall be a number of officers in the orderly room doing this work when they might be much better employed in their duties as soldiers. There is one direction where I am certain there could be economy of money and effort. At present when the War Office has a bright idea it sends a letter round containing the news to each Command; then each Command sends out one copy to each of its formations, each division sends one copy to each brigade; and each brigade sends one copy to each cavalry regiment or infantry battalion. This involves a considerable waste of clerical labour, office machinery and materials. Would it not be possible for the War Office to send out at the first instance sufficient copies to cover its distribution to all those for whom it is intended? It would economise labour and time by probably one-third, and a considerable amount of money would be 808 saved in stencil sheets, paper, etc., in the offices of the lower formations.
With your Lordships' permission I want to go to quite another subject—namely, coal. I received this morning from the noble Earl, Lord Scarbrough, who is unfortunately prevented by a previous engagement from being here this afternoon, the following letter or letters which I hope your Lordships will allow me to read. He says:I see you are raising the question of the cost of bureaucracy to-morrow, and send you attached in case you care to make use of it. It is a glaring case of centralisation given to me by a very active member of the Miners' Welfare Fund in Notts and Derby.Then he says that he hopes I will bring it up. May I read this letter? It says:Dear Lord Scarbrough,I want to confirm the figures I gave you yesterday re administration cost in connection with welfare. As you know the Miners' Welfare Fund was created by Act of Parliament, 1920, under a levy of 1d. per ton on all coal raised in the country per annum. Later the Act was extended by a levy of 1d. on the royalties revenue, for installation of pithead baths, etc.… Now as to costs of administration."—that is the point I want to bring out to your Lordships—In 1921 the London total expenses were £1,920. Since then I have had the following figures got out.These figures show that in 1930 the total cost, instead of being £1,920, had risen to £25,846 in 1930, and last year had risen to £39,572. According to this correspondent of Lord Scarbrough, the expenses of the district committees, more or less local committees run by volunteers, had decreased from £12,340 in 1930 to less than £10,000 in 1935.
The writer, Mr. Mitton, goes on to say that the staff in London has now grown to 108, and that the Government now propose that there should be a superannuation scheme for their staff. He adds:On hearing of this the chairman of one of the districts wrote the Mines Secretary and asked if the scheme would apply to the district staffs, and the reply given was, No, as they are not Government officials.You see everything is done for Government officials but people who are doing the same work in the country and who are not Government officials are not to have anything. Mr. Mitton goes on to say: 809It was also stated not a single person employed at the Welfare Department has or has had any connection with the coal industry. No wonder there is unrest in the districts.If my noble friend who will answer will allow me, at the end of the proceedings, to hand him this letter, I shall be glad to do so. I take no personal responsibility for the letter except that Lord Scarbrough knows the writer as an able man. The point we have to investigate is why is there this increase in London if in the country districts there is a diminution of cost; why should not the people in the country be treated in the same way as the people in the districts; and why in the Welfare Department should there be nobody who knows anything about the coal industry?
I have produced ample proof in many cases, I submit, that there is a waste of energy and public money in administration, both national and local. We have seen that there are the same duties performed by two sets of officials where one would be sufficient. Then what are the numbers and costs of bureaucracy? The figures were recently given by Mr. W. S. Morrison in reply to a question in another place. Asked for the number of civil servants employed in Government Departments, and their cost to the Treasury in salaries and wages, in the years 1914 and 1935 respectively, Mr. Morrison gave the following reply:The approximate numbers and annual costs of the staffs employed in Government Departments (including industrial staffs) for the years in question are set out below.These show that in 1914 the numbers of civil servants was 353,000, and in 1935 471,000, an increase since the War of 33 per cent. The annual cost is startling. In 1914 the annual cost was £31,000,000 and last year the annual cost of civil servants had risen to £87,000,000, or an increase of 180 per cent. since the War. Yet in spite of that Mr. Brown, for the Clerical Association, says he is going to strike and intimidate the Government, unless he gets his demands granted. Surely, bearing in mind those figures, Mr. Brown will not have much sympathy from the public if he goes on strike. It must, of course, be remembered that the cost of living has gone up by 44 per cent., but nevertheless I submit that an investigation into the whole question is long overdue when you 810 have the numbers increased by 33 per cent. and the annual cost by 180 per cent.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
I should imagine so. I can only read out the Government answer again:The approximate numbers and annual cost of the staffs employed in Government Departments (including industrial staffs)…I should think it would include the Post Office. Anyhow I am afraid I cannot go beyond what is in the answer. Are we any happier for all these extra officials. Do we have an easier time? And what about the pledges of economy we heard so much about in 1931 and 1932? If we have to spend additional money on armaments it is all the more reason why we should be more careful of our other expenditure.
May I remind your Lordships of a Report issued by a Committee of Private Members of the House of Commons in 1932? It suggested that large economies could be made by limiting the numbers and methods of the bureaucracy. It stated:We have proceeded on the basic assumption that the size of a staff and the cost of a Department are no measure of its efficiency.That I think is a very important thing to keep in mind. They continue:Indeed, we incline to the view that the Civil Service is gravely hampered by growing circumlocutory methods, which impede the productive activity of the community with whom those Departments are brought into contact, and that many highly-placed officials tend to work too much along stereotyped lines and suffer from a lack of that great human endowment, a true sense of values. A reduction in the number of officials would, we believe, be in the best interests of the nation.We believe that a large reduction in staff could he made, without in any way reducing efficiency, by a simplification of the present procedure. The work of the Civil Service is passed through far too many hands, and minor details are considered by too many people.The number of forms used in different Departments at the present time seems altogether excessive.This Report is now four years old, and no action has been taken to implement its findings. Red-tape and routine flourish, new Acts of Parliament add to 811 the number of officials and to the orders, restrictions, regulations, notices and forms which reduce our liberty and convert us into mechanical drudges without the capacity for independent thought or action.
The civil servants of this country are both upright and able, but they must understand that the electors are their masters, and not their servants. Less legislation is needed. Every Act breeds officials and imposes further burdens on the taxpayers and ratepayers. Finally there is the power of Government Departments to make rules and regulations—a most pernicious practice as at present exercised. What did the Lord Chief Justice say of this procedure in his book? I am sorry he could not be here to-day; he wanted to come. He said:There is in existence a persistent and well-contrived system, intended to produce, and in practice producing, a despotic power which at one and the same time places Government Departments above the sovereignty of Parliament, and beyond the jurisdiction of the Courts…. The consequences, unless they are checked, must be in the highest degree formidable.Lord Hewart cites a number of Statutes, over forty, which give this Minister and that power to legislate by rules, orders and regulations. They give the Minister power to modify the provisions of Acts of Parliament at his discretion, power even to modify the provisions of the very Act which invests him with this power. Above all are the clauses which decree that the Minister's orders shall be final and that no appeal from them shall lie to any Court. In practice, as we all know, these powers are exercised, not by the Minister but by the Civil Service, and Lord Hewart draws the conclusion that the exercise of these powers is the offspring of a well-thought-out plan, the object and effect of which is to clothe the Departments with despotic powers.
Finally, I will read out part of the Town Planning Act, 1925, as an example of Acts of Parliament which place the Minister above the law, above the Executive, above Parliament, indeed above everybody. This is a paragraph of the Third Schedule of that Act:An order under this Schedule shall be of no force unless and until it is confirmed by the Minister, and the Minister may confirm the order either without modification or subject to such modifications as he thinks fit, and an order when so confirmed shall, 812 save as otherwise expressly provided by this Schedule, become final and have effect as if enacted in this Act;I want your Lordships to take note of this:and the confirmation by the Minister shall be conclusive evidence that the requirements of this Act have been complied with, and that the order has been duty made and is within the powers of this Act.That is to say, if the Minister makes a regulation, the Courts cannot question it because that Schedule says it shall not be questioned in any way.
In those last few words we have been handing over to the bureaucracy powers to make laws at their own sweet will as long as they can get the Minister to sign them, and of course, he will sign anything that the Chief of his Department puts before him. Parliament and the country are partly to blame. If they will go on passing so many Acts of Parliament they will increase the cost of government and the number of officials. What we should do is to go back to our older and happier ways of having less legislation. We should then have a less expensive bureaucracy and smaller numbers to deal with. I beg to move.
§ Moved to resolve, That the cost of bureaucracy, and the crushing and complicated burden of compiling returns and making out forms for departmental and local government purposes, has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.—(Lord Mount Temple.)
§ LORD SNELL
My Lords, you will probably expect that those of us who sit on this side of the House should express a general attitude towards the problem which has been raised by the noble Lord. I cannot attempt to speak in detail as to how my Party would approach the issue that he has raised. The noble Lord is in any case sure of the sympathy of everybody who has to fill up forms. We are all of us victims of that passion which Whitehall seems to have for knowledge of other people's business. But that is the vice of Government Departments, and we all of us fret and fume and feel irritated, and sometimes we are in such despair about it that we think that refuge in a gas oven is probably the only relief. But that is not the whole of the story. We have to note in passing on this side that these evils of which the noble Lord has complained are not due to the last Socialist Government. As a rule that 813 explanation is offered for your Lordships' consumption, but in this case it was obviously impossible.
Let me say that in my judgment, whilst we sometimes wish these forms and those who produce them were in the personal keeping of the father of all evil, we nevertheless have to say that most of them, though annoying, are a necessity of the life we live in association with each other. This difficulty is not limited to government. Every man who runs a business has to deal with entries and cross-entries, and checks, and references, and an elaborate mechanism of invoices, discounts, and vouchers, in order to keep himself out of the Bankruptcy Court. If all that is necessary in a small privately run business, how can any one expect that a vast and complicated machine such as a nation, or even a local authority, has to deal with can run without this system of obtaining accurate knowledge of what it has to do? This matter is irritating, but it is not a living, burning issue, as is seen by the fact that your Lordships have not turned up in numbers in order to slay this bureaucratic ogre that has been described.
What is the alternative to all this? It seems to me that whilst bureaucracy may go too far, on the other hand anarchic inefficiency is something which is very much worse. If yon get freedom from the making up of forms, you do not at the same time get freedom from the evading taxpayer or the revenue crook. Somehow it is a fault of human nature that, directly an Income Tax paper appears, people get a sort of fatty degeneration of the conscience. The nation could not be run, I submit, without these inquiries into the conditions of people. I should be very happy if the Revenue authorities did not take such a lively interest in my meagre income, but I never grumble about it. It is one of the services I render to the community—perhaps not the highest service, bat a necessary service, and I gain in return a higher freedom of security, of health, through local government and the Ministry of Health, and I profit as well as pay. The objector to filling up these forms will always arouse general interest from those who hate to give service to the State in any form whatever. I do not associate the noble Lord with that class of people, but I cannot help saying, if he will not think it rude of me to do so, that this afternoon has been an occasion 814 of infinite enjoyment to him in that he has been able to bring a theme before your Lordships' House which aroused all his devotion and enthusiasm.
He had to fill up eighty forms! If the noble Lord tried to count his blessings as well as his afflictions he might imagine what might have happened to him if he had not had these forms to fill up. How would he have used the time? He might have become president of another Anti-Socialist Union, and your Lordships will forgive me if I say that his time was better employed in filling up these necessary forms for the State. Let him reflect on how dull a thing our civic life would be if we were debarred from these patriotic exercises. We know that the psychologists tell us that the real tragedy of life is to be unnoticed, to pass through life ignored, unwanted, dismissed. Here Government notices that we exist. It recognises that we are a unit in the process of civilisation which it has to sustain, and the noble Lord should think of the joy there is in splashing through and gambolling in a sea of official papers, of struggling day by day against these waves of forms that come to be filled up. He will know that by filling them up he gains a knowledge of himself and his own affairs that he would not otherwise possess. When the noble Lord passes on to discuss this matter in relation to local authorities, which he says are subject to constant and harrowing supervision, he arouses my very special interest. I cannot find it in my heart to say that on the London County Council we should not get on quite well without the attention of the Ministry of Health and without the attention of His Majesty's Government, but there is another side even to that. When we present our Money Bill to Parliament, that provides Parliament with about the only knowledge that it has of local government, so some good is obtained after all.
It is difficult to know just what is the limit to which bureaucracy can reasonably go. That is the real problem. A certain amount of bureaucracy, as it is called, there must certainly be. It never ought to run into a riot of excess, but if it is not sufficient then other influences begin to operate. I suggest that the whole thing has not to be judged as a matter of principle, but as a matter of expediency and utility. If you become a local administrator you are in very 815 close contact with the grumbling ratepayer, and some of the advice that you receive from aggrieved people is distressing. A gentleman wrote to a local authority not long ago, saying:Thank you for your letter informing me that although I have given you a banker's reference and a private reference, all in duplicate, you cannot dispense with a monetary deposit. To be perfectly thorough, you should insist on a fidelity guarantee, a deposit of collateral security, and a doctor's examination certificate also.That is the kind of response which the administrator receives for his work.
I should like, before I close, to say that our country is not alone in this evil. If I want to go to a friendly country I have to fill up a form stating whether I am a polygamist or whether my grandfather was properly vaccinated or not. I cannot say that these things are not necessary—it all depends—but I am quite sure that the noble Lord is wrong when he attempts to belittle the information which must reside in central offices if our country is to be governed efficiently. I would like to comfort the noble Lord by saying that the London County Council prints fifty million forms every year. If he will add that little fact to his collection of horrors I am sure it will be comforting to him. It is astonishing how willing people are to fill up forms if they are not for the common good. A gentleman, in The Times of yesterday, boasted that he had filled up 2,000 crossword puzzles. There is never any puzzle about my cross words; they are usually quite direct and clear; but I have a feeling in my bones that this same retired officer who has filled up 2,000 crossword forms would grumble terribly if he had to fill up six forms for the country in which he lives. What is the way out? I say we must have efficiency at all costs, even at the cost of filling up forms for the Government. We must have simplicity if we can get it, and we must not bother people for needless information. There may be a case for a general inquiry as to whether the matter has gone too far; but speaking for myself, and myself alone, I shall never personally grumble at the effort that is required of me to fill up these few forms in return for the citizenship and the freedom of citizenship that I enjoy.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, I am only moved to address you briefly by the remarks which have just been 816 made by the noble Lord opposite to whom your Lordships always listen with attention. I think that he made a most unworthy jest of what is a really serious public matter. Nobody questions that such forms as are necessary should be filled up, but I honestly believe that the number of forms of all descriptions, and the Parliamentary Papers founded on the information in those forms, together constitute something that every member of your Lordships' House who has studied the actual facts must resent. The cost is enormous and so also is the waste of time that is involved. The Motion before the House only speaks of departmental purposes, but I will give your Lordships one instance which came into my mind while the noble Lord was speaking of the way in which checks and counter-checks are made.
I remember that when we had a very large Army brought together thirty years ago for operations in the Transvaal, I found that the whole of the War Office staff was being kept all day on Saturday and three-quarters of Sunday carrying out the usual investigations and the usual checks and counter-checks, following a system that had been adopted in time of peace. I do not want to go into details, but I know that we made in the course of one afternoon an audit of 320,000 different weekly figures which had already been audited in two places. I am certain that if the Government would appoint two or three people to go into the question of the needless returns which are issued perhaps as the result of an order of Parliament made in consequence of the Motion of some enthusiastic Member thirty years ago, a vast number of these returns could be stopped. Many of these returns, I have been assured, are never opened. They are distributed very often to every member of both Houses of Parliament and they are never opened. They consume an inordinate amount of time and cost a very large sum of money. I am just as keen as the noble Lord, Lord Snell, for efficiency in every department, but I believe there is a strong case for examination by some independent authority into this question of the great mass of information which is given either, as the noble Lord who introduced this Motion suggests, by an order from local authorities or, still more, by the orders of Parliament given thirty or forty years 817 ago. This sort of thing is being carried out at great cost to the country when the money could be better spent in other ways.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND)
My Lords, the noble Lord who has introduced this matter to your Lordships this afternoon has certainly laid before you a very wide subject touching upon every branch of the administration. With all the skill of a lightning artist he has selected a feature here and a feature there, he has put them together, and the result has been that he has presented to your Lordships a somewhat lurid picture of the system of government under which we all live.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
May I interrupt the noble Marquess for a moment? He says that I have presented a lurid picture, but does he question so far any of my facts?
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
The noble Lord has not given me very much time. The noble Lord spoke, if I remember aright, for some fifty minutes; so far I have spoken for one minute; perhaps if he will allow me a few more minutes I shall be able to deal with some of his facts. Let me now proceed to say that as a taxpayer I naturally have great sympathy with the noble Lord at the increasing cost of the administration. I am prepared to go further than that and to say that in the matter of filling up forms I have myself often experienced something of the irritation amounting, I admit sometimes, almost to the exasperation which the noble Lord himself has experienced when he has been filling up some of the many forms with which we all of us in the course of the year are expected to deal.
But let us ask ourselves: After all, who is responsible for all this? Who is responsible for the existence of bureaucracy? Who is responsible for these millions of forms? Why, of course, Parliament itself, Parliament directly, and public opinion indirectly. Public opinion in the country is always demanding of Parliament that it should legislate on this subject or that, and sooner or later Parliament has to respond, and whenever the noble Lord himself has either voted for or acquiesced in some measure dealing with social or industrial conditions of the people of this country he 818 has himself played a part in increasing both the size and the cost of the bureaucracy. These things are the penalty which we have to pay for living in a highly organised state of society. There are still parts of the world, in the dim recesses of Central Asia, for example, of which I have myself had some experience, where the noble Lord would find, if he cares to go there, that primitive simplicity which appears to appeal so strongly to him. There he will find no returns to fill up, he will find no organised sanitation, he will find no organised fight against disease, no organised education, and so on. But I think that after the noble Lord had lived there for a short time he would be quite willing to exchange the delights of the primitive simplicity of those parts of the world for the more highly organised complexity of this country, in spite of all the disadvantages of bureaucrats and forms.
It was suggested that some inquiry might be held into the extent to which the bureaucracy is superfluous and the expense of bureaucracy too great. Inquiries have been held into these very questions. Let me remind the noble Lord of the Inquiry which was held in 1923 by the Committee under Sir Alan Garrett Anderson into all these questions. What was the main and final conclusion to which Sir Alan Garrett Anderson and his colleagues came upon these matters? Why, the very conclusion which I have just laid before your Lordships. Let me quote this from the Report:The immense increase in the Civil Service pay roll has been imposed on the taxpayer for reasons which commended themselves to various Parliaments before and since 1914, and the conclusion we reach is that no power except Parliament can materially reduce the load.Industrial and social legislation, however good it may be, means more staff and more taxes. Parliament, then, is responsible.
But we have had a further inquiry in more recent time, an inquiry which was conducted with great skill and great efficiency by the Committee under the Chairmanship of Sir George May. The conclusions to which Sir George May's Committee came were not altogether in agreement with the conclusions which the noble Lord has placed before your Lordships this afternoon. The noble Lord suggested that bureaucracy was always increasing and that no steps were ever 819 taken to exercise any control over the numbers of the civil servants or the cost of the Civil Service. This is what Sir George May's Committee said:But we are satisfied that the method of control adopted is well calculated to maintain a high standard of administration, and that such economies as are from time to time possible will be secured as opportunities arise and will not be accelerated by any recommendations we could make.Sir George May and his colleagues go on to give examples of reductions which have been made from time to time in the numbers of civil servants in different Departments and of the different methods employed to reduce cost.
Let me give to your Lordships only one example. The Committee say:Reference should be made here to one particular form of staff economy, viz., the substitution of mechanical devices for routine labour. In this respect, we believe the Civil Service to compare favourably with the best organisations in British industry. During the last five years, as much as nearly £500,000 has been saved annually in some twelve of the largest Departments by the introduction of labour-saving machines.Then they go on to say:That is not to say that the total of the Civil Service has been reduced. On the contrary, new duties are constantly being imposed on the Civil Service and the reductions carefully and laboriously achieved year by year are frequently undone by a single Act of Parliament…That being so, it is Parliament itself which is responsible and Parliament itself which, if it desires to do so, can make a change in the system.
Let me now come to one or two of the particular points which the noble Lord brought to the attention of your Lordships. He spoke about the burden which was imposed upon the farmer in filling up an ever-increasing number of forms. Only last week I listened with great interest to a debate on a Motion moved in this House by my noble friend Lord Phillimore and widely supported by members of your Lordships' House. The noble Lord, Lord Phillimore, asked the Government what steps they were taking to make provision for adequate food supplies in time of war. Is it suggested that unless the Government had information with regard to the extent and the nature of production in this country they could possibly take any useful steps to provide for an adequate food supply in time of war? It was the late Lord Kelvin 820 who said that we know very little about anything until we have contrived to measure it. The measuring rod in cases of this kind is, of course, statistics and statistics cannot be compiled unless information is obtained from those who are in a position to give it—in the case of agriculture, necessarily the farmer himself.
After all, agricultural statistics have been compiled in this country for a great number of years. I think the system of calling for certain agricultural returns was first introduced in the year 1866 and it has been in force ever since. For the greater part of that time—not for the whole of that time, but for the greater part—the supplying of the information required was voluntary. Yet at no time have more than 3 per cent. of those who have been asked to provide the information declined to do so, even when the completion of these statistics was voluntary. Therefore I cannot help thinking that the noble Lord is perhaps a little inclined to exaggerate when he tells us of the vast burden imposed upon the farmer by the necessity of supplying essential information of that kind.
It is quite true, as the noble Lord said, that the number of forms and the amount of information required has in recent years largely increased. That is admitted. Until quite recently the charge against the Government has been that they have done nothing for agriculture. During the past few years, the Government, through my right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, have done a great deal for agriculture. They have established marketing boards and so on. The noble Lord complains that under these marketing boards forms have to be filled in. Of course they have to be filled in. You cannot possibly run boards of that kind unless you have the necessary information from the producer. I do not know whether the noble Lord—he told us he is a farmer—is a producer of live stock. I happen to be myself, and I welcomed very warmly the passage not long ago of an Act for the licensing of bulls, a measure which is certainly calculated to improve the standard of live stock in this country. It is quite true that under that Act further information has to be given and further forms have to be filled in, but I have never heard any complaints from any raiser of live stock on that ground.
821 The noble Lord spoke rather, I think, as if not only the tenant-farmer but the landowner was called upon in connection with agricultural statistics to fill in a large number of forms. That, of course, is not so. It is the occupier in every case. No doubt in the case of a home farm the landlord is the occupier and it is as occupier that he is asked to fill in forms. Under the Rating and Valuation Act, of course, the landowner and the tenant have to fill in forms, but I would venture to point out that there the agricultural landowner and the agricultural tenant are in a better position than most people, because under the Derating Act they have only to make returns in respect of the actual dwelling house and not in respect of the farm land or farm buildings.
Now let me say a word about another department of Government to which the noble Lord referred, that of Education. I do not know whether the noble Lord is familiar with the record of the Board of Education in the matter of economies and reducing its staff. If he is, I should have thought he would have been pleased with what they have done, for the Board of Education during the past ten years have reduced their staff considerably; from 1,402 persons on the administrative side in 1925 to 971 in 1936, and on the inspection side from 400 in 1925 to 337 in 1936. The cost during the same period has been reduced from £456,000 in the case of the administrative side in 1925 to £332,000 in 1936, and from £359,000 on the inspection side to £335,000 in 1936, and that in spite of the fact that during the past ten years additional duties have been laid upon the Board of Education, including duties arising from the School Teachers Superannuation Act, 1925, itself. Moreover, the Board have had constantly under review all the annual forms and—this will appeal to the noble Lord—the returns which they require to be submitted. In the two years following 1926 an all-over reduction of between 30 and 40 per cent. was made in the number of the forms, and many of the current forms have been greatly simplified.
May I say that I agree profoundly with the noble Lord in his view that these forms, where they are necessary, should be as simple as possible, so that they are suited to the intelligence of the persons who are expected to fill them up? If they are not as simple as possible, you 822 are very likely to get replies which you do not expect. I will give your Lordships an example of what I mean. When the Indian Military Academy was established in India a few years ago, certain information was required from those who desired admission to it, and one of the questions which was submitted to the applicants was as follows: "Kindly supply by post the following measurements: (1) What is your size in hats? and (2) What is your size in boots?" These were very proper questions, since military headpieces and boots were to be supplied by the Academy. One cadet gave the not very helpful answer to both those questions of "Six feet." He had first measured his size in his hat but without his shoes and found that he was six feet in a hat, and he had then taken off his hat and measured his size in his shoes, and that had also come to six feet. So, as we can see, it is very important that forms asking for information should be simple and as easily intelligible as possible.
I only want to say one word about the War Office, to which the noble Lord referred. The War Office, naturally, are responsible for what may certainly be described as vast numbers of forms, but they have to administer a very vast organisation and one with respect to which it is essential that expenditure should be as rigidly checked as possible. The question of the Army forms was, however, specially reviewed by a committee under the head of the Department, and it is continually reviewed by a committee which exists for that sole purpose. As a result the number of Army forms in use, so I am informed, has been reduced between the year 1920 and the year 1936 from about 3,400 to some 2,100, a very considerable reduction. I give your Lordships these figures to show you that it is not true to suggest that the Departments themselves are not conscious of the necessity of doing what is possible, day by day, both to reduce the cost of their establishments and to reduce unnecessary and redundant demands for information.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
Would the noble Marquess mind, as he has alluded to the matter, giving us the numbers of the establishment of the War Office at the beginning of that period and at the end, and stating what the cost was?
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
I am afraid that, without notice, I am not in a position to give the noble Earl those figures.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
That may be so. The noble Lord who moved this Motion brought another matter to the attention of your Lordships, and that was what he described as the existence of two staffs—largely superfluous, as I gathered from him—in the administrative system of the country, namely, the staffs of the local authorities, the municipalities and county councils, on the one hand, and the central staff on the other. He rather suggested also, I thought, that there was considerable friction between the two, and a good deal of suspicion in the central staff as to the capacity of the local staffs for discharging their duties efficiently. My Lords, I do not think that is really at all a fair picture. Your Lordships will be aware that very large sums are contributed every year from central revenues to services which are administered by the local authorities, and Parliament itself lays down that it is essential that, where that happens, a due system of inspection should be maintained to see that the funds provided by Parliament are efficiently and properly administered.
Then again, take the case of the Ministry of Health, which I suppose comes into contact with the local authorities over a wider area than any other central Government Department. The Ministry of Health is called upon by the Act of 1919 to secure the preparation, effective carrying out and coordination of measures conducive to the health of the people, including measures for the prevention and cure of disease. Epidemic disease cannot be shut up in watertight compartments within the jurisdiction of particular county councils or particular municipalities. It spreads widely across all boundaries of that kind, and in these circumstances it is surely only reasonable that the central co-ordinating authority should have wide powers of supervision in dealing with outbreaks of disease of that kind. Then it may be said: "Oh, but all the by-laws made by these local authorities require the sanction of the Minister of Health." 824 That is also quite true, but the reason for that is that you require, in a highly organised State, a certain measure of uniformity in your by-laws throughout the country, and it would be particularly embarrassing let us say, for example, in the case of the building trade, if they were controlled by one set of by-laws in one county and by a different set of by-laws in another county.
One word about what the noble Lord described as the cumbersome and complicated procedure of the Town and Country Planning Act. I should not have thought that the noble Lord would have had grounds for complaint in this particular instance. It is quite true that the procedure under the Town and Country Planning Act is a somewhat complicated one; but what are the reasons? The reasons are that Parliament, when considering both the original Act and the more recent Act, desired to safeguard the interests of the individual, and it was because so much care was required in the case of an Act of that kind, to safeguard and protect the interests of the individual citizen, that the procedure under the Act is so complicated. After all, it is not complicated for the individual. The noble Lord read out a very long list of the things which had to be done when a town planning scheme was being drawn up, but it is surely the bureaucracy which is entitled to complain, for it is the bureaucracy which has to undertake all these complicated measures, and not the individual himself. I think that those were the main specific points which the noble Lord raised in the course of his speech.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
So also do the advertisements have to be placed in the newspapers not by the individual but by the local bodies.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
May I interrupt? What I complained of was that owing to the instructions from Whitehall much too complicated advertisements have to be given out, when a simpler procedure would have sufficed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
It is conceivable, of course, that that may be so, and I have no doubt that those concerned will give careful attention to the points made by the noble Lord in that 825 respect, but may I, in conclusion, say just a few words form a rather broader point of view? Under modern systems of government a Civil Service, or bureaucracy as my noble friend calls it, is essential. You cannot work the modern system of government without a large staff of civil servants. What is the ideal at which we should aim? The ideal, I think, was very well put by the noble Lord himself—that the Civil Service should be the servants and not the masters of the people. The dangers of the system are, of course, that the civil servants, or the bureaucracy, may become the masters of the people. A further danger is that they may occupy offices which become sinecures, and there is also, no doubt, a danger of corruption. My Lords, I would venture to say that in this country—and the noble Lord himself very properly, I think, said that—the reputation of the Civil Service for efficiency and for honesty stands as high as that of any Civil Service in the world.
§ THE MARQUESS OF ZETLAND
There are no sinecures, or if there are I in my modest experience of Government Departments have not discovered them. This, of course, is not to say that that was always the case. About 150 years ago Edmund Burke took grave exception to some of the Departments of State, and in 1780 he brought in a Bill the object of which was "The better regulation of His Majesty's Civil Establishments and of certain Public Offices, etc." The Department which excited his particular animosity was apparently the Department which in those days corresponded to the Board of Trade. He said:We want no instructions from Boards of Trade or from any other board; and God forbid we should give the least attention to their reports.The Board of Trade of those days had been first established in 1668, and it had not survived very long, but it was re-established in 1696, and Burke, in speaking with regard to the re-established board, used these words:Perhaps it is the only instance of a public body which has never degenerated.He hastened to explain that it had not degenerated because it could not possibly have been worse than it was at the beginning. He said:This board has had both its original formation, and its regeneration, in a job. In 826 a job it was conceived, and in a job its mother brought it forth.I think it is quite possible that in those days the office of the Board of Trade was something of a sinecure, because I notice that one of its members was a gentleman by the name of Gibbon, whom your Lordships will recognise as a well-known author, and Gibbon appeared to have resented some of the observations of Burke, for he said:The fancy of a hostile orator may paint in the strong colours of ridicule 'the perpetual virtual adjournment and the unbroken vacation of the Board of Trade'; but it must be allowed that our duty was not intolerably severe and that I enjoyed many days and weeks of repose without being called away from my library to the office.Happily, there has been great improvement in matters of that kind since the days of Burke.
And, after all, the attitude which you should adopt towards the Civil Service of a country has for centuries been a problem which has exercised the minds of public men. It is sometimes interesting to see ourselves as others see us. May I quote to your Lordships a short extract from an interesting and entertaining description of things in China which has recently been published by Mr. Lin Yutang. He writes upon this very subject—upon the attitude which a country should adopt towards its bureaucracy. This is what he says:The plain, inexorable, political and historical truth is that when you treat officials like gentlemen, as we have been doing in China, one-tenth of them will be gentlemen and nine-tenths of them will turn out to be crooks; but when you treat them like crooks, with prisons and threats of prisons, as they do in the West, considerably less than one-tenth succeed in being crooks and fully nine-tenths of them succeed in pretending that they are gentlemen. As a result, you have at least the semblance of a clean government. That semblance is worth having. That is what China should have done long ago, and that was Hanfeitse's advice"—Hanfeitse being a public man in China some time, I think, before the Christian era—two thousand years ago, before he was made to quaff poison.I am happy to think, as I said, that to-day in this country it is not even necessary to treat our civil servants as crooks in order to secure that standard of efficiency and honesty which we require. And I am happy to think also 827 that, whereas the critic of the Chinese bureaucracy two thousands years ago was made to quaff poison, the critic of the British bureaucracy in this year of grace, 1936, may continue with complete confidence and, so far as any risk of poison is concerned, I would venture to add with complete impunity, to eat and drink as he desires.
§ LORD MOUNT TEMPLE
My Lords, after the very charming speech of the noble Marquess I should not dream of pressing my Motion to a Division, and therefore I ask leave to withdraw it.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.