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|Less Surpluses on: —||£||£|
|Vote 1.||Wages, &c., of Officers, Seamen and Boys, Coast Guard, Royal Marines, Women's Royal Naval Service, and Mercantile Officers and Men||812,000|
|Vote 2.||Victualling and Clothing for the Navy||462,000|
|Vote 6.||Scientific Services||104,000|
|Vote 8.||Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, &c.:—|
|Section II. Materiel||6,269,000|
|Vote 9.||Naval Armaments and Aviation||798,000|
|Vote 10.||Works, Buildings, and Repairs at Home and Abroad||109,990|
|Net Amount||£ 10"|
This Estimate raises an old controversy with regard to the method of payment of the Law Officers of the Crown. It has been debated at great length on previous occasions, and I do not propose to detain the House for any length of time except to put one or two questions with regard to the change which is now proposed. One need hardly say to my right hon. and hon. Friends opposite, who occupy those positions of distinction in the Government, that there is nothing personal in the point which has been raised. Everyone recognises the enormous services, and one might say the extra services, which the present Law Officers are called upon to perform, not only at home, but in Paris. We are grateful for the assiduous way and the distinguished way in which they have performed those services. The real point is the question of the method of payment of the Law Officers. The House will remember that during the War certain economies were effected and were concurred in by the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General, under which the salaries which were paid to them were reduced to the sum of £6,000 in the case of the Attorney-General and to £5,000 in the case of the Solicitor-General, if I remember rightly. In June of the current year, as a result of the signatures attached to the Peace Treaty, apparently the Government had reverted to the increased salary that obtained before the War, that is, £7,000 in the case of the Attorney-General and £6,000 in the case of the Solicitor-General. I think Members of the House are probably familiar with the Debates on this point, and therefore I need waste very little time in giving as succinct a summary as I can of what has been the practice with regard to the Law Officers.
As far back as 1892 the Law Officers agreed to forego private work and their remuneration at that time was fixed on the basis of salaries, plus fees. That was abandoned in 1895, when a fixed salary for the Attorney-General of £10,000 and of £9,000 for the Solicitor-General was agreed upon. That continued up to 1897. From 1897 onwards we had progressive amounts paid to both Law Officers. In 1897 the figures were: £13,000 for the Attorney-General and £9,300 for the Solicitor-General; in 1898 £14,500 for the Attorney-General and £10,946 for the Solicitor-General; in 1899 £17,264 for the Attorney-General and £11,844 for the Solicitor-General. In 1900 the joint sum went up to £30,153 for the two Law Officers, and so on; I could give the whole list, though it would weary the House to hear the figures. As far as I can discover, the maximum was reached in 1914, when the Attorney-General drew £18,397 6s. 6d. and the Solicitor-General £19,037 16s. 6d.; in other words, both Law Officers for that year drew a total of £37,425. The House will see that that is equal to the salaries of seven Prime Ministers. The point that I think the House ought to address its attention to, when we are discussing again a change in the fixed remuneration of the Law Officers, is whether or not it is going to pay the State to fix the salaries at a definite sum, such as was fixed by the Rosebery Government when the Attorney-General got £10,000 and the Solicitor-General £9,000. The only argument ever adduced with regard to the point that the Law Officers ought to receive more than those fixed salaries in the way of fees, is the question whether, you could get sufficiently distinguished lawyers to make the sacrifice which is necessary to become Law Officers. It has been repeatedly stated in this House, and it was stated in the last Debate by the present Lord Chancellor, that there would be difficulty in securing men of very distinguished status in the legal profession to take those posts unless they were entitled to the fees which in 1914 ran up with their salaries to a combined sum of £37,425 for the two Law Officers.
On that point I think it is quite fair to say that all public men who engage in public work and who take public positions, such as those of the Law Officers of the Crown, must make a sacrifice. Everybody will agree that from the Prime Minister downwards, in any Cabinet which exists, there is not a single public man who does not make a very considerable financial sacrifice in the duty he proposes to exercise on behalf of the State. Therefore, I think the House is entitled, this afternoon at any rate, to know the views of the Government on this point, especially when we are so much concerned with the whole question of economy, and as to whether, when we are altering, as we alter by this Estimate, from the 1st of January of this year, the salaries that obtained during the War, we ought not to revert to the old system by which the Law Officers received a fixed salary. The two figures of which there is any precedent are those I have mentioned, figures which were dealt with in the days when Lord Rosebery was Primo Minister—£10,000 for the Attorney-General and £9,000 for the Solicitor-General. £10,000 is the salary which the Houses of Parliament pay to the Lord Chancellor, probably the most distinguished lawyer for the time being, and, when the Lord Chancellor resigns, he resigns, as we know, on a pension of only £5,000. It is almost impossible, if not quite impossible, for him to return to any of the methods by which lawyers make their salaries at the Bar of the United Kingdom. The point, therefore, is whether you are going to deprive the country of the services of the most distinguished lawyers by fixing their salaries and not allowing them to draw fees. My own view is that the country has a right to expect of men in the legal profession the same amount of public sacrifice for the State as other public-spirited men in this House make. Of course, the obvious comparison is with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister of this country only receives £5,000, and he does not receive any allowance when he is deprived of his office. I often think that is a blot on the financial system of this country. There is nothing more derogatory to the dignity of public life in this country than that any public-spirited man who has risen to the high office of Prime Minister, and who is subject to the exigencies of election, should have no pension, because obviously, having once been Prime Minister, he cannot return to any kind of occupation, that not being the kind of thing that we anticipate or expect in this country. Our present Prime Minister, as we all know, is a public-spirited man who has risen from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest. He is a distinguished public servant who would find it extraordinarily difficult to take any kind of ordinary work if he were deprived of his office by election. He gives his services to the country for £5,000, a most inadequate remuneration, particularly as, unlike the post of Lord Chancellor, the office carries no pension when he retires.
I respectfully submit that that kind of public spirit which brings men to that post ought to animate distinguished members of the legal profession. It is an extraordinarily high office to be Lord Chancellor, Attorney-General, or Solicitor-General of any Government in this country. Those are the plums of the profession, and it is worth our while, particularly at this moment when we are reverting to a system of fixed salaries—£7,000 for the Attorney-General and £6,000 for the Solicitor-General with fees—considering whether a real economy cannot be effected by re-establishing the system under which the Attorney-General received £10,000, after all, a very munificent sum, and the Solicitor-General £9,000, doing away altogether with the question of fees. It is wrong that the Law Officers of the Crown should make as much as between £30,000 and £40,000, as they have done in the past, when you consider the question of fees. I have taken the year 1914 in order to leave both of my right hon. and learned Friends out and to show that there is nothing personal in the matter. That would be an economy which we could effect with usefulness to ourselves, and with credit either to the present occupants of those positions or those who may have the good fortune to follow them.
We have had a very interesting speech from my hon. Friend opposite, and if and when the time comes when the salaries of Ministers of the Crown are revised, the subject of the salaries of the Law Officers may be a fit subject for discussion. I find myself in sympathy with what he said with regard to the remuneration of the Prime Minister of this country. It must seem to anyone who looks down the list of salaries of Ministers an anomaly that a man here and there, who perhaps does as much work and has as much responsibility as any other Minister, should receive half as much as some of his more fortunate colleagues. To-day, however, we are considering a Supplementary Estimate for Law Charges. Under Sub-head A there is an additional sum of £2,534, a proportion of which provides the War Bonus for the clerks in the Law Officers' Department, and the remainder for increasing the salaries of the Law Officers from the amounts at which they stood during the War to the amounts that they received before the War. My hon. Friend was perfectly correct in his statement of the case as to the fixed salaries paid to those two distinguished officers, and his history also was accurate, although I should like to remind the House that the change made under Lord Rosebery's Government was temporary. It was made by a Minute at the end of June, 1894, and in 12 months' time the salaries were placed on the same basis, with modifications, as had subsisted for very many years. The Law Officers' record during the War is one which I am sure will commend itself to the hon. Member who has spoken as to every Member of the House. Not only did they each voluntarily reliquish £1,000 per year of their fixed salary, but they accepted a reduction of the fees to which they were entitled of no less than 25 per cent. They did a vast amount of work in Paris for nothing, and that reduced the amount of work that they were able to do in this country, and for which they would have been paid. During the War they have done vastly more work even than the hard-worked Law Officers before the War for considerably less remuneration. Having regard to the fact that these reductions were agreed to for the period of hostilities, and to; the fact that each Law Officer on accepting office knew perfectly well the financial terms of his appointment, I have no hesitation in asking the House to sanction, by this Supplementary Estimate, placing them back on the pre-War terms, dating from the signing of peace at the end of January last.
The other items in the Vote call for very little comment. We have under each sub-head the increased bonus which runs through ail the Civil Service Departments. We have an Appropriation-in-Aid which we have been fortunate enough to get this year owing to the costs that have been recovered in the Prize Court and Admiralty cases being greater than we expected. We have had more litigation in the Divorce Court than was expected, and that has increased the figure under Sub-head F. We have had to ask for a small addition under Sub-head K to meet certain special and unexpected law cases in which the Government have been engaged since the main Estimates were prepared. I make no complaint against my hon. Friend for raising the question of the Law Officers' remuneration I am certain that my right hon. and learned Friends will thoroughly understand that no personal charge of any kind is involved in the remarks that he made, but I feel, after the brief explanation that I have given, that the House will be perfectly satisfied and will pass this Supplementary Vote.
I hope that every Member of this House who has the interest of public economy at heart will register a vote against this Supplementary Estimate. It is not that we on this side of the House have the slightest feeling against either of the two Law Officers of the Crown, but we do feel that this is the last moment when any official salaries should be increased.
I am sure that my hon. and gallant Friend realises that this is not an increase of salary; it is merely a question of restoring the salaries which the Law Officers have always received. We do not think that they should be asked to continue to make the surrender which they voluntarily made during hostilities.
I also will make it clear. The Law Officers during the War were different from the present occupants. The present Law Officers were appointed on a definite scale, and this is not a restoration but an increase in salary. That being so, I think it ill becomes people who day after day have to exhort the people of this country to economise to have a rise in salary. It is not as though it were a question of a living wage or anything of that sort. The salaries of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General, including fees, are notoriously extraordinarily high in comparison with all other official salaries, and that we should be asked now to raise these salaries to their pre-War level and far above the level of 1894 seems to me to be a mistake. It would be a mistake in ordinary times, but it is particularly a mistake now when the whole energies of the country are turned towards a reduction of expenditure and the elimination of extravagance. It will be known tomorrow throughout the length and breadth of this country that Parliament to-day has increased the salaries of the Law Officers, although it may be only to their pre-War level, and it will be known at the same time that every member of the Government is urging economy. Yesterday we were told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that we could not point to one single item which it was possible to cut down. Here is that item, and I do protest that those people who persist in preaching economy in the country had better show a good example to-day and join us in preaching economy to a Government Department, and particularly to His Majesty's Treasury.
It is not necessary for those who criticise this Supplementary Estimate to say that, of course, they do not refer to any individuals, nor that they are lacking in appreciation of the courtesy and ability of the present officers who fill these posts. It is a question whether this is a wise moment to increase these salaries. The same question arose in connection with the Ministers' (Salaries) Bill, and on that occasion the House came to the conclusion that it was not wise to vote additional money to Ministers of the Crown. I think it was recognised that a considerable hardship was inflicted by retaining these salaries at the old level. I have the figures here for 1918–19, which are the latest available, and I see that the Law Officers of the Crown are shown in that account as having received on the reduced scale, the Attorney-General £8,400 and the Solicitor-General £10,300. So that in addition to the £6,000 and £3,000 respectively, which represented the voluntary surrender of £1,000, there was this £8,400 and £10,300 supplementary, in addition to the salary. I understand that the salaries are to be raised by the £1,000, which was surrendered during the War by the Law Officers. It is also proposed to raise the fees to the old scale. I think it would be helpful if the hon. Member who has spoken for the Treasury would tell us by what amount these lees are likely to be raised; what will be the value of these fees on the increased scale. They were £8,400 and £10,300 on the reduced scale; what are they likely to amount to on the higher scale? If he could give some figure, it would enable us to judge how much they would be raised on the whole if the scale of fees was raised in addition to the £1,000; then we should know how much we are voting in the way of supplements to the salary and fees. I agree with my hon. Friend who has spoken from this Bench. Much as we may feel indebted to them for their services, this is not the moment when we should vote additional money to the Law Officers of the Crown, and we ought to know how much money we are being asked to vote.
May I reply on this one point, the reduction of 25 per cent. in the fees. It would be quite impossible to give any rough and ready calculation of what the amount might be in any particular year; they vary from one year to another. I have here the detailed account of the fees for many years, and they vary very much. The year before that which has been mentioned, it was many thousands of pounds less.
I think that some Coalition Back Bench Member should speak on this Vote, as, otherwise, what is known as the "Stunt Press" may say that a charge of excessive expenditure has been brought against the Government by hon. Members opposite, and that no supporter of the Government dares to answer the case. For that reason I
rise to speak. I should like to say that I agree with my hon. Friend when he said that hon. Members opposite were quite inaccurate and that it was simply a return to pre-War conditions. We had a very interesting dissertation from an hon. Gentleman opposite on the position of the Prime Minister in this matter. I agree with him in that. Is it not a fact, however, the non-legal Members of the Government, are in a different position from the legal Members of the Government. It seems to me that the constitutional position is this, that Ministers who hold a legal position, such as the Law Officers, are different from the Minister who simply represents his Department in this House. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General not only represent a Department, but they give their services in the Law Courts and therefore you must pay a sufficient sum of money to obtain the services of a first-class lawyer to represent the Crown adequately in the Courts. There is no comparison between such an officer and the Minister who holds a non-legal office. I have not much knowledge of the fees which are carned in the Courts, but I have one or two friends who have mentioned to me occasionally what these fees are, and I should say
that the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General, in view of their eminent position as lawyers, are not excessively paid for their services to the Crown. I imagine that it is the duty of Members of this House, as the representatives of the public, to ask themselves the question whether those who take on themselves the most onerous task of representing the Crown in the Courts should not receive a sufficient sum to enable the Crown to obtain the best possible legal advice. It is easy to make a case in the constituencies, to go down I and say, "Here is a man who was taking £10,000 or £15,000 a year and you are only getting £5 a week. That is not the point. The real point is that he has to represent the Crown in the Courts, and there is no comparison between that and the holding of a non-legal office by a Minister simply representing a Department in this House. I agree with the hon. Member's remarks about the amount which is paid to the Prime Minister. While it should be increased, it is not right to try to make an exact comparison with what has to be paid to the Law Officers.
|Division No. 61.]||AYES.||[4.22 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Falcon, Captain Michael|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Carew, Charles Robert S.||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Carr, W. Theodore||Farqharson, Major A. C.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Casey, T. W.||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Gange, E. Stanley|
|Atkey, A. R.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Gardiner, James|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Gardner, Ernest|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Clough, Robert||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Gilbert, James Daniel|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Coats, Sir Stuart||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Glyn, Major Ralph|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Goff, Sir R. Park|
|Barrie, Charles Coupar||Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Gould, James C.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Grant, James A.|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Cope, Major Wm.||Grayson, Lieut.-Colonel H. M.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)|
|Benn, Com. Ian H. (Greenwich)||Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Guinness, Lieut.-Col. Hon. W. E.|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Curzon, Commander Viscount||Gwynne, Rupert S.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hallas, Eldred|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Hanson, Sir Charles Augustin|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Harris, Sir Henry Percy|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Haslam, Lewis|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Doyle, N. G rattan||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Duncannon, Viscount||Hinds, John|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Edgar, Clifford B.||Hohier, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Edge, Captain William||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||Hope, J. D. (Berwick & Haddington)|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||Hopkins, John W. W.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)|
|Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Shortt, Rt. Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Howard, Major S. G.||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Simm, M. T.|
|Hudson, R. M.||Murchison, C. K.||Smithers, Sir Alfred W.|
|Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Murray, Lt.-Col. Hen. A. (Aberdeen)||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Neal, Arthur||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Jesson, C.||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Jodrell, Neville Paul||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.||Sugden, W. H.|
|Kidd, James||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|King, Commander Henry Douglas||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.||Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Parker, James||Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)|
|Lindsay, William Arthur||Pearce, Sir William||Thomas, Brig.-Gen. Sir O. (Anglesey)|
|Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike||Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)|
|Lloyd, George Butler||Peel, Col. Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'tingd'n)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque||Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)|
|Lorden, John William||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.||Tickler, Thomas George|
|Loseby, Captain C. E.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Townley, Maximilian G.|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.||Waddington, R.|
|Lyle-Samuel, A.||Pulley, Charles Thornton||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Lynn, R. J.||Purchase, H. G.||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)|
|M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Rankin, Captain James S.||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)|
|M'Guffin, Samuel||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler||Warren, Lieut.-Col. Sir Alfred H.|
|McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Reid, D. D.||Wason, John Cathcart|
|McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.||White, Lieut.-Col. G. D. (Southport)|
|Macmaster, Donald||Richardson, Sir Alblon (Camberwell)||Whitla, Sir William|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Wilson, Colonel Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Royden, Sir Thomas||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Mallalieu, F. W.||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Mason, Robert||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Middlebrook, Sir William||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Moles, Thomas||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Wood, Sir J. (Stalybridge & Hyde)|
|Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.||Seager, Sir William||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Moreing, Captain Algernon H.||Seddon, J. A.||Yeo, Sir Alfred William|
|Morison, Thomas Brash||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Morrison, Hugh||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Hayday, Arthur||Robertson, John|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Rose, Frank H.|
|Bonerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Hirst, G. H.||Sexton, James|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hodge, Rt. Hon. John||Smith, w. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Irving, Dan||Spencer, George A.|
|Briant, Frank||Johnstone, Joseph||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cairns, John||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kenyan, Barnet||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Lawson, John J.||Tillett, Benjamin|
|Donnelly, P.||Lunn, William||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Finney, Samuel||Malone, Lieut-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wignall, James|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Williams, Col. P. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Myers, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Stourbridge)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Guest, J. (York, W. R., Hemsworth)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hartshorn, Vernon||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Mr. Hogge and Colonel Wedgwood.|
Twenty-third Resolution read a Second time.
May I ask for information on this Vote before it is passed, seeing that it deals with a not inconsiderable sum of £19,000 odd. In Item A there is a sum of £2,569 for reorganisation and additions to staff. I understood that great and growing efforts were being made in the Government offices to reduce staffs, and it comes rather as a shock to find that we are asked to vote money on the Supplementary Estimates for an increase of staff in the Land Registry Department. I also gather from the Land Bills that are before the House that the Office of Land Registry is not very busy, that the elaborate machinery set up in the famous Budget of 1910 is not being used for the purpose of taxing land values, and, therefore, I think it is very important we should be told why this not inconsiderable sum is required for additions to staff. I am sure no Member of this House will object to increased war bonus, but the taking on of additional staff for this service requires, I think, explanation and, unless the explanation is satisfying, I shall with great reluctance vote against the sum of money asked for.
I think I shall be able to reassure my hon. and gallant Friend beside me (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) that not one penny of this money goes towards Somerset House or the valuation of land, or has anything to do with the 1910 Budget. This money that we are spending here on land registry is derived from a Bill passed about 25 years ago, the idea of the Bill being that we should establish an absolute title to land instead of the present incoherent form of title. That Bill has proved an absolute failure. It is only in operation in London. The land of London to which an absolute title has been given is almost absolutely negligible, and the whole of the money which has been spent on land registration has been thrown into the waste paper basket as far as any useful result is concerned. When, if ever, we get a proper valuation in this country it will automatically take the place of all this absolute title land, this granting of an absolute title, which has been going on during the last 25 years: but I do protest that when we are looking for every halfpenny we can save in this country, that we might begin by scrapping the whole of the Land Registry Department and thereby saving considerable sums to the Exchequer without doing the slightest damage to any vested interests in this country except the interests of solicitors engaged in conveyancing. Anybody who transfers land in the City of London—I think it is in the whole of London—has to get an absolute title. It involves the purchase of land in a far greater expense in London than it does even in purchasing land in the country, where an absolute title has to be got, and even in London, in nine cases out of ten, absolute title is not given, even after all that money has been spent, but only a provisional title which may possibly become absolute in the years to come. This is simply sheer waste of public money, and to put a Supplementary Estimate forward as regards the Land Registry demanding an increase on the normal expenditure of that Department is an example, a complete example, of the extravagance of the present Government, which simply sees the necessity of carrying on the war conditions so far as Government Departments are concerned and cannot understand that now is the time when a perfectly superfluous Department such as this should be cut out.
I listened with amazement to my hon. Friend, because he generally has some rudimentary knowledge on his subject. To speak about these Estimates being a heavy cost on the country, is really quite beside the question. This is one of the few Departments that not only pays for itself, but in normal years produces a surplus.
Yes. If my hon. Friend had noticed the extra estimated receipts it might have suggested something to him, and if he had looked up the original Estimates he would have found that there was there a sum of £50,000 provided for fee stamps. The total amount we have received this year for fee stamps is £118,000, and the total cost of the Land Registry Office is about £84,000, so that a larger surplus goes to revenue than has ever been shown before. It has only shown a deficit during the four years of the War, when the course of business was reduced to a minimum. The reason the staff is slightly increased is that the business has enormously increased, and when I remind the hon. Member that the amount received from the office during the several years before the War averaged £50,000 a year, and that this year it is going to amount to £118,000, he will see at once how the business has increased, and that will itself justify an increased staff and, incidentally, answer the questions he first submitted.
I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not put the House to a Division on this matter. I would like to point out that there are very few lawyers who would not be glad to get rid of the Land Registry. Of course, I do not say that I share that view. I do not. But I am only appealing to my hon. and gallant Friend on that ground. The view that a very large number of the profession take is this: that if you make this Land Registry really successful it will sweep away a very large amount of the emoluments which they now derive for the conveyance of land. It is perfectly true, as my hon Friend (Mr. Baldwin) has said, that the total cost is paid by the fees which are received, and whatever objections are being alleged against the Land Registry—cumberous as it is in its working, and I quite agree it is an added inconvenience to the transfer of land at present in London—the principle, to my mind, is a perfectly sound one, and in course of time, when the difficulties are removed, as they may be under the new Conveyancing Bill which is at present before a Joint Committee of both Houses, I have not the slightest doubt that it will be found that this Government Department may be brought into much more effective development and may tend not only to speed up conveyancing but very much to cheapen it.
No doubt this Land Registry does at the present time meet with a great deal of criticism. But the principle of it which causes the establishment, is a good one. The principle that the transfer of land should be registered in a public register is a principle which has not been put in operation, as it should have been, for the whole country, and when we can simplify, as we hope to do, the difficult and complicated titles of land, there is no reason why, with certain alterations in the existing law, it should not be just as easy here as it is in Scotland, where it is most effective. It will conduce to people knowing what their rights are in regard to the land, whereas now it is extremely difficult without' very minute investigation of title to do that. In London, it is true, there are objections from another branch of the profession, but the House should be careful in doing anything which would at all infringe the principles of the Act now on the Statute Book.
I hope my non. Friend in charge of this Estimate will give us some particulars as to the cause of the increase. I see we have the inevitable item of the increased cost of war bonus. But is it not probable that some of the increase is also caused by the fact that the Public Trustee has a very large number of enemy estates for realisation? If so, can my hon. Friend tell us how much of this increase might properly be allocated to that, and whether that increase might be regarded as temporary only?
I am glad my right hon. Friend has given me an opportunity to answer that question. There can be no question of reducing the cost here, because the Public Trustee's office is an office in which the fees are calculated at such a figure as will pay for the expense of the office. With regard to what my right Hon. Friend said, I am sorry I have not picked out for him whatever work the Public Trustee may be doing in the direction of which he spoke. It may be of interest to know that the volume of work which the Public Trustee is doing for the people of this country is increasing steadily year by year and in very large proportions I have had taken out with some care some figures to show the progress the Department is making. The amount of property administered in 1914 was about £43,000,000 and the annual income administered something under £2,500,000. That has increased year by year, and to-day the amount of property administered is about £110,000,000, and the annual income about £6,000,000. What the cause of this increasing demand on the office of Public Trustee may be I cannot say, but in my experience, and probably in that of other Members, I find there is a growing tendency, certainly among the small estates, to make the Public Trustee the executor and administrator of the estate. The increases here have been on a very modest scale. The bonus is awarded by the Conciliation and Arbitration Board, and we cannot get out of that. We believe that the office is very efficiently managed. It is an office that pays for itself by the fees charged for the work done.
I should like to know if the increased charges have tended to check the amount of work or this office. Those increases have been considerable, and we ought to know as soon as possible whether they have tended to check the movement which we welcomed before of a continual increase in the placing of work of this kind in the hands of the Public Trustee. I should like also to know how far the Public Trustee selects securities in which the funds are, or may be, invested. He is not confined to trustees' securities, and what is there to guide him as to the investments? This is particularly important at present when there is such a burst of almost gambling on the Stock Exchange in certain securities, and when the financial position is so particularly unsound that there should be the greatest possible care and scrutiny of any investments which are not of a Trustee character. I would like to be assured in the case of any fall in values that there will not be involved any loss upon the people who have entrusted their money to the Public Trustee.
We have been told twice that because the fees charged meet the expenses of the particular office concerned that, therefore, criticism on the part of the House of Commons is not called for. I think that should not go without a word of protest. It is quite an unsound principle, apart from the merits of the work done. The fees charged might, for instance, be made extortionate in order to avoid any Parliamentary criticism, though I do not say this is so in this case. If the work is done in the private interest, then the private interest pays for it, but where the general taxpayer is concerned, it is our duty to see that the work is properly done.
There is here a very remarkable increase of £88,000, and I should like to know the reason. There is an item for travelling and expenses, and an increased number of officers drawing subsistence allowance in consequence of the shortage of houses. There is also a large item for repairs and I would ask is that due to the very regrettable increase in crime and the further use of the prison establishments of the country. During the War happily there was a great reduction in crime.
I mentioned last night on another matter that I regretted the Home Secretary was not here to answer questions. I know the Financial Secretary to the Treasury will answer with his usual courtesy and ability. I notice that the Under-Secretary to the Home Department is hero, but I think the Home Secretary ought to be in his place. Before I became a Member I used to attend a great deal as a spectator and I notice a great difference now in the attendance on the Treasury Bench from what it was in previous Parliaments. When the whole system of control over finance has been challenged I think it right to make a protest on this point.
Mr. T. THOMSON:
With regard to the huge increase for buildings and repairs is it not desirable that the Government should not utilise labour and materials at the present time? The Minister of Health has circularised local authorities and asked them to veto luxury buildings. I do not suggest that prisons are luxury buildings in that sense, but I submit that building materials or labour should not be used by the State which might otherwise be used for the building of houses. The clamant demand for houses is infinitely greater than for repairs to existing buildings.
May I ask if the item for repairs involves anything in the nature of extensions? I do not know whether any strain has been placed on the prison accommodation of this country on account of the steady stream of deportees from Ireland. Does this item include any extension at Wormwood Scrubs, which must be overflowing at present with Irish prisoners? A great many of those prisoners are hon. Members of this House and it may be that special provision has been made for them.
The increase in respect of repairs to buildings is owing to normal repairs which had to be held over during the War. They do not represent any extension of accommodation. There were considerable arrears of repairs. Provision is also made as to the accommodation for prison officers which was very bad, and the charge is a necessary one on the State. The increase in the travelling and removal expenses is due to the fact that accommodation has been extraordinarily difficult to get for prison officers, and in the absence of adequate provision of the kind it has been necessary to give travelling allowances to a large number of men.
The Estimate covers the cost of industrial schools, and the additional sum required under that heading is no less than £24,250. I am glad to see the Secretary for Scotland is present, and I must apologise to him for my remissness in not having given him notice of the point I wish to raise, but I know it has been familiar to him for some time. In the chief burgh which I have the honour to represent, there has been for many years past an extremely efficiently run industrial school, and that school is managed by a board of eminent citizens of Kilmarnock, and has been from year to year reported on most favourably by Government inspectors. It is an old building with very historic associations, and it was visited some time ago by a new inspector, who, unlike his predecessors, reported unfavourably, his unfavourable report being based on the ancient character of the building, and partly upon the fact that there was not within the confines of the grounds sufficient space for recreation by the boys. That report has been the subject of a good deal of comment and a very great deal of heartburning and dissatisfaction by those who have rendered eminent public service to Kilmarnock and the county of Ayr in making that institution so successful in the past. The point made by the inspector, that there was not sufficient ground for the boys to play on is sufficiently disposed of by this fact, that almost exactly opposite the institution there is a very large public park, extending for many acres, to which these boys have full access.
I myself had the privilege of being conducted round the institution, and I made a very close investigation into all the arrangements, and I was struck by the energy and ability with which the institution was managed, and by the bright and intelligent appearance of the boys. That institution has rendered signally excellent service during a long period of years, and the question which I wish to put to my right hon. Friend is this. Why is that institution to be closed and scrapped at a time when the financial stringency of the country is greater than ever before? Surely this is a time when we ought to be getting along with the existing institutions which we have, provided they are reasonably efficient, and this institution, with its excellent management and long record of satisfactory reports by Government inspectors, is to be scrapped on the strength of a single adverse recommendation by an entirely new man. I know my right hon. Friend is in sympathy with the splendid work done by the managers in the past, and I should be obliged if he could give to the House an adequate explanation of a course which appears to involve a very great and very unnecessary expenditure of public money.
I wish to preface my remarks once again by protesting against the absence of the Home Secretary. This money which we are being asked to Vote is in my opinion being largely wasted. A number of children in my constituency were taken up by the Government and placed in reformatory schools while their fathers were at the front. They were out of control because of the absence of the fathers, but now that the fathers are back some of the children are still being kept in these schools, although the fathers have stated that they are quite capable of disciplining and looking after these young people. That being the case, I think it is a grave waste of public money that these children should be kept on in the reformatory schools. I have protested about this, and I have received very courteous replies, but—
The hon. and gallant Member is challenging the general principle of the Vote, but on Supplementary Estimates discussion must be limited to the amount of the Supplementary Estimate.
I will leave that point, Sir, in deference to your ruling, and draw attention to the Items D to G and K to N, in which it states that the maximum cost of maintenance in any school will be 19s. a week for ordinary cases and 21s. a week for special cases. This sum is found by the Exchequer to the extent of £64,250. Might I inquire of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Office whether his Department have had brought to their notice an experiment in industrial schools in which the children were maintained for practically nothing at all. I refer to an industrial school known as "The Little - Commonwealth," established by a Mr. Homer Lane in Dorsetshire. To this school were sent young people whom the ordinary industrial schools failed to deal with successfully, and they came from the East End of London and from Harpenden—only those two places, because the initial expenses were put down by philanthropic men of means in London and Harpenden. The results were in every case excellent, and the school was practically self-supporting. It had to be closed early in 1918, during the War, but the lessons learned as testified to by people like Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the Bishop of London, and many other men very much respected in the public life of this country who visited the school, showed that simply wonderful results had been obtained there from cases which the police and police court missionaries and other reformatory schools had given up as hopeless. If those methods could be introduced into the Government reformatory schools, the results of which are in too many cases, I am afraid, nil as regards reform, I think a great sum of money could be saved to the State, both in regard to the direct sum which we are asked to vote for the maintenance of these unfortunate children, and in the future gain to the community by turning wayward and possibly criminal children into self-respecting citizens. I regret that under your ruling, Sir, I cannot examine the policy of these industrial schools, as last year the Estimate was guillotined, and we had no opportunity, therefore, of discussing the policy, but as we are asked to vote this extra sum of £64,000 when money is so scarce, I thought I would like to draw attention to this extraordinary experiment in Dorsetshire.
The work of industrial schools is not only important, but it is very difficult. It is to be hoped, therefore, in the interests of the children, that every care will be taken to see that the staff is of the very best. I would like to ask the Secretary for Scotland whether it is the case that all due care is taken to secure that the teachers in these schools are fully qualified, not only as regards the ordinary academic qualifications, but so far as is possible, by some special training for the work; also whether care is taken to secure that the terms of remuneration are at least equal to those given in ordinary day schools, and whether there is put into operation the minimum national scale recently issued by the Scottish Education Department.
A great deal of interest is taken in the country in the question of the behaviour of our young people, and I would like to ask whether the increase in the Estimate is due to an increase in the number of children sent to these reformatory schools, or whether the increase is simply due to the ordinary rise in prices. It is stated in the White Paper that the contributions from the parents of children in the schools have proved recoverable in a greater number of cases than was estimated. Is that due to the fact that these children are coming from a better class, or to what is it attributed?
There was a committee appointed last year to report on the salaries and conditions of service of officers in industrial schools and reformatories. I understand that that committee reported in April, 1919, and I should like to know from the Secretary for Scotland whether the recommendations of that committee have been generally applied to Scotland or not. Another point to which I wish to refer is this: Some of these industrial schools are employed in training boys for the sea service, and those particular schools are in a very difficult position at the present time, because they do not know what their future is to be, largely because of a report which was issued nearly nine months ago by the Parliamentary Committee which inquired into the question of national training for the sea service. The Committee made certain recommendations, and no action has been taken on it so far as the Government is concerned. Therefore, these particular schools which are engaged in training those boys do not know what their position is to be, and they are prevented from improving their ships or improving their methods by laying out any money until they know what their future is to be. I do not know whether it would be possible for the Under-Secretary for Home Affairs to give me any information on that point.
I wish to call attention to a case which has been taken up by some of my constituents who have been in communication with the Home Department. I at present am in communication with that Department, and I would ask that sympathetic consideration be given to the case. It concerns a girl who was sentenced, I think, to two years in one of these institutions, and the sentence came to an end on 3rd January of this year; but, for some reason or other, the girl is being detained in the institution against the wishes of the parents. I believe the plea given by the authorities is that this girl during those two years developed a kind of mental deficiency, and is not capable of taking care of herself. I understand the girl is doing in this institution all forms of manual work regularly, and if there is any need to keep this child in an institution, the parents are quite prepared to pay for the child being sent to an institution, and they wish to have her examined by some authority. It does seem to the parents that, the sentence having expired, the child should be allowed to come home. My point is that the authorities should give consideration to a case of this character. If it is essential, I will give the name. It is very unfortunate at the present time that the State should be burdened by an expenditure of this character which would be willingly borne by the parents themselves, and, although not a very large amount, it is, so far as the State is concerned, an unnecessary expenditure.
The case brought up by the last hon. Gentleman who addressed the House is one with which, I am afraid, I am not familiar, and I hope the House will believe that a single case of that kind is extremely difficult to deal with. If the hon. Member will be kind enough to furnish me with details, of course the matter will be looked into at once, because the case cannot be left as it is left here. I hope therefore he will find it convenient to let me have the facts of the case so that it may be investigated. With reference to the question of salaries raised by the hon. Member for Tradeston (Major Henderson), as the hon. and gallant Member is aware, the local authorities were recommended to raise the salaries in consequence of a report made by a committee that was set up by the Home Secretary last year, and we have altered the basis of our contribution, which accounts for the increased sum. The increase to which the House has already assented will enable a great improvement to be effected in the work of this Department. If I may be allowed to say so, I have personally taken great interest in this particular problem of the work of the Home Office since I have been there, and it has been most satisfactory to note the immense pleasure afforded to these devoted and self-sacrificing men and women who run these industrial schools from the knowledge that their work has been sufficiently appreciated to enable them to obtain adequate salaries and to attract the right people to do the work. That has been the difficulty in the past, and, as the hon. and gallant Member said, it is essential that men and women who are asked to do work which requires a special kind of training and special mentality, different from the ordinary school teachers throughout the country, should be remunerated at least on the same scale. That we are able to do owing to the new Regulations.
It has hitherto applied. The industrial and reformatory schools which have hitherto been under the Home Office will be handed over to the Scottish Office on the 1st April, and I have no reason to anticipate that my right hon. Friend will act in any other way than to leave well alone. If he finds, as I think he will find, that on the whole the system is working well and showing undoubted improvement, I have no reason to suppose that my right hon. Friend will disturb that system. With regard to the experiment to which the hon. and gallant Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) referred, obviously if all this work could be done for nothing it would be an advantage to the taxpayer. The school he mentioned was a very interesting experiment, but I am afraid that, although the experience gained is extremely useful, it is not of a nature that would render the system applicable, or, at any rate, possible to substitute for the system now in force. As regards the increased number about which the hon. and gallant Member (Major Barnes) asked, there is nothing abnormal in that; they fluctuate and they vary. Perhaps it is due to the fact that children's courts have been developed in different parts of the country, and children—for they are little more than that, after all—who previously might have been dealt with differently are now sent to industrial schools. I can say, from first-hand experience; the education that they receive there is in a great number of cases perfectly admirable, and children who would get a poor chance, through no fault of their own, but owing to the environment in which they have, unfortunately, to grow up, and who have to go through these industrial schools for some little offence, such as our own children commit without being punished, so far from being penalised, it is very often the best thing that could have happened to them. I think the House will agree that, so long as schools are run on those lines, they are rendering great service to the country They depend on voluntary contributions, on the local authorities, and increasingly, as they must., on the contributions which this House votes. So long as they continue to do the work, which any hon. Member can satisfy himself they are doing—and we welcome the visit of any hon. Member who wishes to see for himself—I think we can be satisfied that the money is well spent. I regret that, not having had warning, I am unable to answer in detail the question which my hon. Friend (Mr. A. Shaw) put. If he will allow me to do so afterwards, I will, of course, have the greatest possible pleasure in doing so. I am not familiar with the particular school to which he refers, and therefore I cannot give him the detailed answer to which he would certainly be entitled
There is no difference in the treatment of schools as such. There is a difference between the training given to the children, and I think there is also a difference of opinion in the Mercantile Marine as to the suitability of the boys who go from these schools. It frequently happens that a boy wants to go to sea, but when he has gone to sea, and he finds it does not consist in standing on the bridge, he gets off his ship at the first port, and I am afraid we are bound to admit that we have not been as successful in training boys for the sea as we should like. But those schools are precisely on the same footing as all the other industrial schools if they show a good record, and if the inspector is satisfied that the tone, the atmosphere, and the training of the school are satisfactory.
Can the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Scotland, tell me whether the request of the old clerks engaged in Register House, Edinburgh, is likely to receive consideration? Under the new régime the new men get a salary and a pension, whereas those under the old system get no pension.
I may assure my hon. Friend that the matter has been the subject of much consideration between my Office and the Treasury. A decision has not yet been reached on the subject, but in arriving at it we shall certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend desires.
Replying to the question of the hon. Gentleman opposite, the case of the clerks has been investigated by a gentleman appointed, and he has advised us that a certain number of them should be put upon the establishment. That will be done. I am sorry I cannot give my hon. Friend further details at this moment; the question of terms is now under consideration.
I suppose this only refers to charges for County Court work, and not for any new procedure? Can we be assured that the word "magistrate" only covers officers of the County Courts who deal with civil eases? If we found it was for magistrates such as resident magistrates, and that it covers criminal cases, that, of course, would be a much bigger point, and we should desire to make some effective protest.
I understand I am only allowed to speak against the, increased sum of money which is being paid to these officers? But I presume part of the reason for the increase is on account of the duties which they are called upon to perform. I am not prepared again to rehearse the shocking story of Irish administration, but I do not know that it would be out of Order to ask the Chief Secretary or the Attorney-General for Ireland, who are present, whether they can tell us of the activities of these resident magistrates? For example, one might ask: Are they going to appeal against the conviction of the Executive in the Courts for the abduction of the boy Connors? Might I—
I shall certainly support the hon. and gallant Gentleman in voting against this sum of money. It is an insult to the House to ask for this money. Look at Item A: "Increased Salaries to Process Servers and Increased War Bonus—£18,690" — the whole sum being nearly £26,000, and this in maintaining law and order! I do not wish in any way to transgress your ruling, but there is no law and order in Ireland to-day. There is no attempt to bring people to trial. Such trials as there are are usually military courts-martial, and they are charged upon the military Vote. The whole thing is a crying scandal before God.
I quite appreciate your reproof, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and apologise. In the heat of my not unnatural indignation I was led astray. I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will divide. I shall support him if he does. I think all lovers of fair play and justice, and, in fact, anyone with a sense of humour will support us in the Lobby.
Mr. T. WILSON:
May I inquire as to Item B. (Allowances)? If the salaries and allowances for revising the voting lists come under this head I shall protest against this expenditure. Every week almost I get letters from people who actually do the work, and complain that the allowances made to the persons responsible for doing the work is so small that it is an absolute waste of money.
What is included in the term, "Process Servers" under Subhead A? Is it part of the general administration of the police service in Ireland? If so, are we not in order in raising the general question? Is it not embodied in these terms?
On a point of Order. Are we not in order in referring to the action of the Courts in Ireland and the action of the magistrates, without in any way dealing with administration? May we not criticise the administration of the Courts, or the lack of it, in Ireland to-day?
Ave we not to get some answer to the questions which have just been put? We want to know, for instance, how much of the £18,000 under Sub-head A is in respect of the increased salaries of process servers and how much is for increased war bonuses There is a great difference between the two. We can understand the second, but scarcely the first. It suggests that there are either more process servers doing duty in Ireland, or that they are getting more money than they got before, apart altogether from the increases due to the War.
I am glad one of my hon. Friends opposite has asked what a "process server" is, because that was exactly the question I put when I first saw this Vote. I had not the slightest idea. I am advised, that a process server in Ireland is a gentleman appointed by the Chairman of Sessions to serve processes. He is probably equivalent to the gentleman who collects debts in this country. The remuneration of these gentlemen is very small. Apparently they have been in receipt of £10 a year. Two or three years ago they petitioned for a bonus, but this was declined, my Department, as hon. Members opposite will realise with sympathy, with a desire always for economy, saying, "No bonuses for process servers." They continued to ask for more remuneration. The Lord Chancellor of Ireland approached us on the matter and asked for further consideration. It was decided to raise the emolument from £10 to £20. That amount is small out of this total. The term "County Court Officers" is a wide one. Although I can perfectly understand my hon. Friend, holding the views he does on Ireland, objecting to any extra money being paid to magistrates there, yet I would ask him, and the House, if it seems quite fair that war bonuses should be given all through the Civil Service to men of moderate fixed income who are doing work for the State and withheld from one class of persons because they happen to be doing a work of which some of us do not approve?
It may be conceded that both magistrates and process-servers in Ireland to-day are entitled to all the money they can get for the services they render. But the general impression is that civil administration has been very largely suspended and curtailed, and that martial law has taken its place. Even if it is contended that general civic administration still obtains, it does not obtain to the same extent as hitherto. Yet in spite of that fact we have accounts presented to us under the various heads for a larger expenditure than has been required under normal conditions.
|Division No. 62.]||AYES.||[5.45 p.m.|
|Adair, Rear-Admiral Thomas B. S.||Edwards, John H. (Glam., Neath)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Allen, Lieut.-Colonel William James||Eyres-Monsell, Commander B. M.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Falcon, Captain Michael||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Colonel Martin||Falle, Major Sir Bertram G.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Ashley, Colonel Wilfrid W.||Farqharson, Major A. C.||Mallalieu, F. W.|
|Atkey, A. R.||Fell, Sir Arthur||Manville, Edward|
|Baird, John Lawrence||FitzRoy, Captain Hon. E. A.||Martin, Captain A. E.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Flannery, Sir James Fortescue||Mason, Robert|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Foreman, Henry||Middlebrook, Sir William|
|Barker, Major Robert H.||Forestier-Walker, L.||Moles, Thomas|
|Barnett, Major R. W.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred M.|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Gange, E. Stanley||Morison, Thomas Brash|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Gardiner, James||Morris, Richard|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Gardner, Ernest||Morrison, Hugh|
|Benn, Com, Ian H. (Greenwich)||Geddes, Rt. Hon. Sir E. (Camb'dge)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Bennett, Thomas Jewell||Gibbs, Colonel George Abraham||Mosley, Oswald|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Gilbert, James Daniel||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Gilmour, Lieut.-Colonel John||Murchison, C. K.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Glyn, Major Ralph||Murray, Major William (Dumfries)|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Gould, James C.||Neal, Arthur|
|Bird, Sir A. (Wolverhampton, West)||Grant, James A.||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Blades, Capt. Sir George Rowland||Green, Joseph F. (Leicester, W.)||Nicholson, Reginald (Doncaster)|
|Blair, Major Reginald||Greene, Lieut.-Col. W. (Hackney, N.)||Nield, Sir Herbert|
|Borwick, Major G. O.||Greenwood, Colonel Sir Hamar||Norris, Colonel Sir Henry G.|
|Boscawen, Rt. Hon. Sir A. Griffith.||Greer, Harry||Oman, Charles William C.|
|Bowles, Colonel H. F.||Greig, Colonel James William||O'Neill, Major Hon. Robert W. H.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Ormsby-Gore, Captain Hon. W.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Palmer, Major Godfrey Mark|
|Brassey, Major H. L. C.||Hambro, Captain Angus Valdemar||Palmer, Brigadier-General G. L.|
|Breese, Major Charles E.||Harris, Sir Henry Percy||Parker, James|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Haslam, Lewis||Parkinson, Albert L. (Blackpool)|
|Buchanan, Lieut.-Colonel A. L. H.||Henderson, Major V. L. (Tradeston)||Pearce, Sir William|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Herbert Pike|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)||Peel, Col, Hn. S. (Uxbridge, Mddx.)|
|Burdon, Colonel Rowland||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Pennefather, De Fonblanque|
|Burn, Col. C. R. (Devon, Torquay)||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Perring, William George|
|Burn, T. H. (Belfast, St. Anne's)||Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon||Pickering, Lieut.-Colonel Emil W.|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Hinds, John||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Campbell, J. D. G.||Hohier, Gerald Fitzroy||Pollock, Sir Ernest M.|
|Campion, Lieut-Colonel W. R.||Hood, Joseph||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Carew, Charles Robert S.||Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. A. (Midlothian)||Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest G.|
|Carr, W. Theodore||Hopkins, John W. W||Pulley, Charles Thornton|
|Casey, T. W.||Home, Sir R. S. (Glasgow, Hillhead)||Purchase, H. G.|
|Cayzer, Major Herbert Robin||Hotchkin, Captain Stafford Vere||Ratcliffe, Henry Butler|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Howard, Major S. G.||Raw, Lieutenant-Colonel N.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord R. (Hitchin)||Hudson, R. M.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Chadwick, R. Burton||Hunter, General Sir A. (Lancaster)||Rees, Capt. J. Tudor (Barnstaple)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Birm., W.)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.||Reid, D. D.|
|Chamberlain, N. (Birm., Ladywood)||Illingworth, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Remnant, Colonel Sir James F.|
|Cheyne, Sir William Watson||Inskip, Thomas Walker H.||Renwick, George|
|Chilcot, Lieut.-Com. Harry W.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Richardson, Sir Albion (Camberwell)|
|Clay, Lieut.-Colonel H. H. Spender||Jephcott, A. R.||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)|
|Clough, Robert||Jesson, C.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jodrell, Neville Paul||Roberts, Sir S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Jones, Sir Evan (Pembroke)||Robinson, S. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Calvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Jones, J. T. (Carmarthen, Llanelly)||Rodger, A. K.|
|Coote, Colin Reith (Isle of Ely)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Rogers, Sir Hallewell|
|Cope, Major Wm.||Kelly, Major Fred (Rotherham)||Roundell, Colonel R. F.|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr||Royden, Sir Thomas|
|Courthope, Major George L.||Kidd, James||Royds, Lieut.-Colonel Edmund|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||King, Commander Henry Douglas||Rutherford, Sir W. W. (Edge Hill)|
|Cowan, Sir H. (Aberdeen and Kinc.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Law, Alfred J. (Rochdale)||Sanders, Colonel Sir Robert A|
|Craig, Colonel Sir J. (Down, Mld)||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lewis, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Univ., Wales)||Scott, A. M. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Lewis, T. A. (Glam., Pontypridd)||Scott, Sir Samuel (St. Marylebone)|
|Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Lindsay, William Arthur||Seager, Sir William|
|Davies, Major D. (Montgomery)||Lister, Sir R. Ashton||Seely, Major-General Rt. Hon. John|
|Davies, Sir David Sanders (Denbigh)||Lloyd, George Butler||Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)|
|Davies, Sir Joseph (Chester, Crewe)||Looker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Shaw, William T. (Forfar)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Lorden, John William||Shortt, Rt Hon. E. (N'castle-on-T.)|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Lort-Williams, J.||Simm, M. T.|
|Denison-Pender, John C.||Loseby, Captain C. E.||Sprot, Colonel Sir Alexander|
|Denniss, Edmund R. B. (Oldham)||Lyle-Samuel, Alexander||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. G. F.|
|Dewhurst, Lieut.-Commander Harry||Lynn, R. J.||Steel, Major S. Strang|
|Donald, Thompson||Lyon, Laurance||Stephenson, Colonel H. K.|
|Doyle, N. Grattan||M'Donald, Dr. Bouverie F. P.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Macdonald, Rt. Hon. John Murray||Strauss, Edward Anthony|
|Edgar, Clifford B.||M'Guffin, Samuel||Sturrock, J. Leng|
|Edge, Captain William||Mackinder, Sir H. J. (Camlachie)||Sugden, W. H.|
|Edwards, Allen C. (East Ham, S.)||McLaren, Hon. H. D. (Leicester)||Surtees, Brigadier-General H. C.|
|Edwards, Major J. (Aberavon)||McLaren, Robert (Lanark, Northern)||Sykes, Sir Charles (Huddersfield)|
|Talbot, G. A. (Hemel Hempstead)||Walton, J. (York, W. R., Don Valley)||Wilson, Lieut.-Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Taylor, J.||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)||Wilson-Fox, Henry|
|Terrell, George (Wilts, Chippenham)||Ward, William Dudley (Southampton)||Winterton, Major Earl|
|Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henley)||Watson, Captain John Bertrand||Wood, Hon. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Thomas, Sir Robert J. (Wrexham)||Whitla, Sir William||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||Williams, Lt.-Com. C. (Tavistock)||Wood, Sir J. (Staiybridge & Hyde)|
|Thomson, Sir W. Mitchell- (Maryhill)||Williams, Col. Sir R. (Dorset, W.)||Wood, Major S. Hill- (High Peak)|
|Tickler, Thomas George||Williamson, Rt. Hon. Sir Archibald||Yea, Sir Alfred William|
|Townley, Maximillan G.||Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud||Younger, Sir George|
|Waddington, R.||Wills, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Gilbert|
|Wallace, J.||Wilson, Capt. A. S. (Holderness)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Lord E. Talbot and Captain Guest.|
|Acland, Rt. Hon. F. D.||Hirst, G. H.||Robertson, John|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Hodge, Rt. Hon John||Rose, Frank H.|
|Brace, Rt. Hon. William||Hogge, James Myles||Royce, William Stapleton|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Irving, Dan||Sexton, James|
|Briant, Frank||Johnstone, Joseph||Smith, W. R. (Wellingborough)|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Spencer, George A.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lieut.-Commander J. M.||Swan, J. E. C.|
|Cairns, John||Kenyon, Barnet||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)|
|Cape, Thomas||Kiley, James D.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Carter, W. (Nottingham, Mansfield)||Lawson, John J.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Clynes Rt. Hon. J. R.||Lunn, William||Tootill, Robert|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Entwistle, Major C. F.||Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (Midlothian)||Waterson, A. E.|
|Finney, Samuel||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Wedgwood, Colonel J. C.|
|Galbraith, Samuel||Malone, Lieut.-Col. C. L. (Leyton, E.)||Wignall, James|
|Glanville, Harold James||Morgan, Major D. Watts||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Murray, Dr. D. (Inverness & Ross)||Wilson, W. Tyson (Westhoughton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Myers, Thomas||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hallas, Eldred||Newbould, Alfred Ernest|
|Hayday, Arthur||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hayward, Major Evan||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Major Barnes and Major McKenzie|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Widnes)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wood.|
I rise to ask whether any representative here of the responsible Department can give us information as to the policy of the Government in respect of releasing from Government occupation the various museums for the purposes for which they were intended—whether, in fact, they will be released from use by temporary Government servants.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir S. Hoare), who is, unfortunately, unable to be present, takes great interest in this subject, and has on more than one occasion raised the question of the release of the museums. Those hon. Members who are familiar with the course of the Debates will agree in saying that the replies received have been very unsatisfactory. I want to endeavour to obtain from the First Commissioner of Works, to-day, information as to how the matter stands at present. About a month ago a considerable portion of the museums was still unreleased. There never has been a time in which it has been more necessary that the exhibits of the British Museum should be seen, in view of the fact that we are likely very soon to have an enormous number of visitors to this country. I am afraid the Government have taken up a very unwise attitude in regard to this question. It is a standing joke in the country that the museums are never going to be released. But I say it is no laughing matter. It is a very serious thing indeed that what is, perhaps, the best museum in the world should be occupied by Government staffs even now. I hope the Minister for Education will assure us that, before the 1st May, when the tourist season begins, at least this institution will be evacuated by the Government servants who now occupy it.
I see the First Commissioner of Works is now in his place, and I may very briefly mention the points raised in his absence. I am sure the whole public interested in education and in the development of knowledge is anxious to know how matters stand, especially with regard to the British Museum. We want the whole of that magnificent institution released at once and put to its pre-war uses. We all agree, I am certain, that, owing to the unfortunate five years of war, there never was a greater need of every possible educational institution and of every kind of organisation, no matter what it may be, which will tend to extend knowledge and create scientific interest. Anything which stimulates the mind after the atrophy of war should be brought into immediate operation. I should be very glad, therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman will tell us how matters stand with regard to the British Museum.
Can the First Commissioner of Works tell us what steps have been taken to replace any damage done or any serious loss which may have been incurred through the removal of objects of interest from the occupied parts of the British Museum, and can he assure both sides of the House that, at the earliest possible moment, all the galleries and institutions will be re-opened to the public.
Of course, the British Museum Vote is not one of the Votes for which I am responsible. But as appeals have been made to me I propose to say a few words in reply. There seems to be a curious delusion in the minds of a great many people that the whole of the British Museum has been occupied by Government staffs. That is not the case. Only a very small part is so occupied, and, as I have stated in reply to questions in this House on one or two occasions, I hope to have the Government staffs cleared out before Easter. I can assure hon. Members that this question has given me personally a good deal of anxiety. I have from time to time endeavoured to find alternative accommodation for the Departments concerned. As is well known, there is great difficulty in finding accommodation at the present time, but it has been found, and the institution will, as I have said, be released before very long. In reply to the hon. Member's question as to any possible damage done to articles removed during the War, I have no official information; but I am told that apparently no harm has arisen either in the removal or in the storage of these articles.
I am really at a loss to understand why this objection has been raised to the presence of Government Departments in Museums. To my mind it is the right place, for some of them are decided curiosities.
This Vote includes a sum of £250,000 under the heading of "Grants for assistance towards the higher education of ex-officers and men of like standing," and the supplementary Vote indicates that the numbers have been very largely exceeded compared with the original Estimate. For that we must all be, of course, exceedingly grateful, and I am not complaining in any way of the increase from that point of view; but we desire, as Scottish representatives, some information as to what exactly is meant by the phrase, "men of like standing," and as to the manner in which this money is being used as between men who served as officers and men who have served in the ranks. I understand the definition which is adopted is substantially this, that a man of like standing is one who might have served as an officer, out chose to serve in the ranks. Some of us are curious as to the manner in which these grants have been given in the Scottish Universities, and the point I should be personally very grateful to have cleared up is that as far as possible the money is broadly and generously applied, and that no distinction is drawn between rankers and officers in admission to the University and the use of these funds. I recognise that, of course, a certain amount of preliminary training is necessary for entrance to even a Scottish University. I am not forgetting that point, but I should like to be assured on the others.
There is no doubt considerable evidence that the Scottish Education Department has not been nearly so liberal in their later grants as they were when they first started to be made. The result is that many of the officers and men who have remained longest in the Forces are not getting exactly the same treatment as they would have got had they been released immediately after the Armistice. Many men who were kept in places like Mesopotamia during the whole of the War deserve even greater consideration than those who came out immediately after the Armistice. I cannot help thinking these men are going to suffer for the longer time they gave to the Forces than others, and I should like an assurance that these men will be remembered, and that the fund will be administered in such a way as not to prejudice the men who have given the longest period of service to the State.
The increase in this Vote is, I am sure, a matter of general satisfaction. It is expenditure which is sure to be reproductive, not only as giving a chance to the individual to make up for much that he was in danger of having lost, but it will bring back a rich reward to the nation itself for the expenditure. I should like, however, to be reassured on one or two points. The first is whether the number of recipients depends upon a definite sum at the disposal of the Department, or whether there is sufficient money to meet the case of all qualified applicants. It would be a very great hardship indeed for anyone who lost his opportunity in life of doing real service and being rewarded for what he has already done if there was any parsimony on the part of the Department. I should also like to refer to the question of the adequacy of the grant. I know that in many cases applicants have received the amount for which they asked, but they have found, in entering on their career, that that sum has not been sufficient and I should like to ask whether or not there is an opportunity for revision, so that matters in that respect may be put right. Then again I should like to know whether the sum depends on the number of fully qualified applicants, or whether it is regulated by this ll/80ths. I think every opportunity should be taken to make this scheme known. I should like to know who was responsible for its origination, because whoever it was deserves the thanks of the House and of the country as a whole.
I should like to ask how the right hon. Gentleman came to make such a very bad Estimate. The original Estimate was £68,700 and the revised Estimate is £318,750, or very nearly five times the amount of the original. That seems to me to be a very bad Estimate, especially if it was made in Scotland, where one looks for accuracy. I should also like to know what is the meaning of "men of like standing." Is the reason of this enormous increase that the number of "men of like standing" have been very much larger than was expected? I should also like to know what is the ago of these ex-officers and what it is that actually is done for them? Are they taught something useful? Perhaps the Minister for Education will enlighten us as to what good all this money is going to do to these people.
I rise to ask for an assurance on one or two points. At the beginning of the War many most patriotic people joined in the ranks because they wanted to get to the Front as soon as they possibly could. It was a very great credit to them. In the Yeomanry a number of men who joined in the ranks were qualified in every way to command, but, naturally, the commanding officers did not like to get rid of such good material, and it would be very hard if, after having served under the hard and unpleasant conditions of the ranks, that prejudiced their chance in the slightest degree. So if there is an increased elasticity in the application of this rule we should be the very first people to welcome it. But my point goes rather further than this. I do not like these words, "men of like standing." I want to make perfectly certain that there is no attempt to apply any social distinction or restriction. We should like to know that there is no social barrier. There are qualifications which it may be very necessary to enforce before allowing a man to go to a university, because a man can only profit by the training on a certain substratum of education; but apart from that necessary qualification we should like to be reassured that there is no attempt whatever to exclude people who are what may be called "not nice people," or that there is no social barrier imposed between men who have served in the Army and the benefit which the nation intended them to enjoy.
I should like to ask whether it is not the case that in the earlier days grants were refused to some eligible applicants on the ground that the fund available was limited, and now that this much larger amount of money is going to be placed at the disposal of the Department for this purpose, can these cases be reviewed?
The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Mr. Cowan) asked me who devised this scheme. The scheme of assistance was initiated in December, 1918, under the Director-General of Civil Demobilisation and the Ministry of Labour, and the Scottish Education Department accepts the administration of the scheme only in so far as it is concerned with the attendance of ex-Service students at courses of higher education at the Scottish University, at central institutions, theological colleges, medical and dental institutions, and so forth. The right hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury) asked how such a bad Estimate came to be framed. For the financial year 1919–20 a sum of £68,750 was voted in the first instance. That was a purely provisional arrangement in the absence of any data which would enable one to form any sort of clear or definite idea as to the number of applicants who would come upon the fund. The sum I have mentioned was selected on the familiar basis of being eleven-eightieths of the amount which was voted for the same purpose in England and Wales, that amount being £500,000. The number of applicants for State grants from this fund turned out to be very largely in excess of our highest expectations. The Board of Education for England and Wales took an initial Vote of £500,000, and their Vote was increased on the 14th December, 1919, by a supplemental Vote of £1,500,000, making a total Vote of £2,000,000 for the current financial year. A supplemental Vote is now asked for the Scottish Board for Scotland, bringing the total Vote for the financial year to £318,750. An increase, however, will probably be sought in the financial year 1919–20, and in so far as it is possible to look ahead to the completion of operations under the scheme, it is estimated that the total cost to the Scottish Education Department will amount to something like £1,400,000.
The reason for the great excess in the total number of applicants above that which was originally contemplated was explained by the President of the Board of Education when he presented his Supplementary Estimates for this year, and his statement applies, so far as it goes, to the case of Scotland as well as of England and Wales. There is, however, another reason for the large amount of the Supplemental Estimate which is now asked for Scotland, representing relatively a larger excess above the original estimate than the excess above the original estimate presented by the President of the Board of Education. The amount of the original Vote in Scotland was, as I have pointed out, based upon the Vote for England on the familiar basis of eleven-eightieths, being the proportion of the population of Scotland to the population of England. But I must point out that the number of students who normally pursue a course of higher education in Scotland is far higher relatively to population than is the case in England. Consequently, we find that the number of applicants for grants from the Scottish Education Department under this scheme, instead of being eleven-eightieths, as was contemplated, has been more than twenty-one-eightieths, or nearly double the population ratio. The number of applicants for England and Wales and for Scotland, up to the end of January, was 23,850 and 6,460 respectively. The number of students approved for grants up to that date per 10,000 of the population was in England and Wales, 5.9, and in Scotland, 10.2. The House will agree with me that that explains, if it does not justify, the disparity between my original Estimate and the Supplemental Estimates which I now present.
The House may be interested to hear the latest figures relative to the operation of this scheme in Scotland. The number of applications received was 6,649, the number of condidates approved for grants 4,995, and the number in training under the Scottish Education Department at the present time 4,347. The adminstration of the scheme rests very largely with the authorities of the universities and colleges which are attended by the students, and grants are awarded by the Department on the recommendation of a committee which considers the application and assesses the amount of grant with reference to the financial circumstances of those who apply. I should like to pay a tribute to the work of that committee. The reliance of the Department upon it has justified their trust in the most admirable way, and the committee deserves the thanks of the country as well as the thanks of the Department. I have dealt incidentally with several of the questions put to me, but I should like now to deal with one or two other questions which I have not answered. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. W. Graham) put a very important question to me with regard to the qualifications for these grants, and he and other hon. Members expressed the hope that there was no social distinction drawn between the applicants for the grants. I can assure my hon. Friends and the House that no such distinction is attempted to be drawn, or has been drawn, or will be drawn. The qualification for these grants is a purely educational one, and, subject to the eligibility of those who have served in the military forces of the Crown, the grants are awarded on a certificate from the authorities of the university or the central institution, that the applicant's scholastic attainments are sufficient to justify his admission to a university course. Social status is not considered at all. Certain objection has been taken to the phrase "other ranks." Therefore it may be interesting to give the proportion of grants made to officers and to those of other ranks. The figures are as follows:—Approved for grants: other ranks, 3,018; officers, 1,977. On that particular matter I think the House need have no apprehension that considerations other than those which ought to obtain, namely, purely educational ones, do obtain. I have very great sympathy with what was said by the hon. and gallant Member for Aberdeen (Major Mackenzie Wood) with regard to men who have served from the outset or nearly from the outset of the War. I agree with him that special consideration ought to be given, and I think will be given to all cases of that kind. The House will be disposed to agree that those men should not only not be prejudiced, but, if possible, should be advantaged by their patriotic service extending over a long term of years. I was also asked by another hon. Member (Sir H. Cowan) whether there was sufficient money to meet all applications, or whether a fixed sum had been set apart for the purpose. According to my information, there is no sum fixed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, so far as I am aware, there is sufficient money to meet all the applications which have been made, or are likely to be made in the future. I hope I am not too optimistic in my last statement. At any rate, no grant has up to now been refused on the ground of lack of funds. I was also asked what was meant by the words "men of like standing." I think I have inferentially answered that in dealing with the educational qualification. If I have omitted to answer any questions, I apologise. I have endeavoured to reply to all of them to the best of my ability.
Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question as to whether a certain number of qualified applications have been turned down because sufficient funds have not been available, and will that matter be considered?
I was under the impression that I had answered that. I said that, according to my information, no application had been refused on the ground of lack of funds.
Sir J. D. REES:
The right hon. Gentleman has been at considerable pains to prove that there is no social or class distinction in this matter. He has also tried to prove that the words "of like standing" mean "of like educational attainments." If the words "officers and men of like standing" do not mean men "of like standing to officers," and do not mean that the officers are of a higher standing, then my efforts to understand the English language have been quite unsuccessful. In spite of what the right hon. Gentleman says, I believe that in Scotland, as in England, these grants have been given to persons of a certain social standing who either ought to have provided university education for themselves or should have gone without it., The explanation of the right hon. Gentleman is so totally at variance with the ordinary meaning of the words he has tried to explain as to leave me in very serious doubt as to what has really been done in distributing these funds, which are a very unfair drain upon the pockets of people who cannot afford to give a higher education to their own children, on account of the weight of cruel taxation. Under these circumstances, the House ought to be perfectly clear as to the class of persons who are assisted. This extra sum of £250,000 does not come out of the pockets of Scotsmen, who are so proud about education, and who are so anxious to give gratuitous education in their universities, but it comes out of the Consolidated Fund, which in turn comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers in England. That seems to me to be an additional injustice.
It is not clear to me at all that there is any limit to this charge. The Secretary for Scotland said he did not think that anybody had been refused a grant on account of there being no money. What he mentioned as a merit seems to me to be a great fault. So far as I can make out, there is no limit of the amount of money Here we have a Vote for 500 per cent. move than the amount originally estimated, and, so far as I can make out, there is no limit to the excess that may occur or may be occurring at the present time Is there no limit to the number of gentlemen who may be sent to enjoy the advantages and amenities of a university education at the cost of the taxpayers? The right hon. Gentleman did not say so. He spoke of "qualified applicants." Who is a qualified applicant? Anybody who wants the grant? A university course is the most enjoyable time in anybody's life. The children of the rich long for and enjoy it more than anything else in their lives, and surely when the original Estimate is exceeded by 500 per cent. everybody might be considered as a qualified applicant. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us who is a qualified applicant, how it is decided that a person is a qualified applicant for a university education at the public expense, and whether there is any limit to the number of people who may enjoy these amenities at the expense of people who are ground down at the present time by excessive taxation and cannot afford to send their own son to college?
I cannot accept the views of the hon. Member. I can, however, answer his question, though I thought I had done so already. So far from its being the case that everybody can receive these grants who ask for them, there is a 'Committee which considers every application. They assess the amount of grant, having reference to the financial circumstances and the provisional requirements of the applicant, the educational qualification of the applicant who is to be benefited, the course he desires to pursue, and their ability to admit him. I cannot tell the hon. Member the composition of the Committee which makes the recommendations, but they are academic persons whom he would admire. I trust I may now get the Vote.
I beg to move, "That the Vote be reduced by £10."
I desire to cut out the cost of a declaration given last year for which we are now asked to pay. I refer to the Knight Commandership of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, which is one of the finest orders of chivalry, and which was borne with honour by many of my forebears when it was not quite so cheap a decoration as it has become in recent times. The bestowal of that coveted distinction—which ought to be the blue ribbon and the highest order to which a commoner who is a fighting man can aspire—on a foreign general, a hetman of Cossacks, whose methods of warfare have disgusted all right-minded people with whom he has come in contact, whose conduct—
I do not know why the hon. and gallant Gentleman should be surprised. It does not rest with the persons whose salary is borne on this Vote to grant these honours. They are only the instruments by which the honours are granted.
I at once apologise for my use of the word "surprised". I do not wish in any way to challenge your ruling. It was owing to my want of familiarity with the method of voting money.
I am not finding fault with the hon. and gallant Member. I am only trying to explain that the principle of the bestowal of honours does not arise on this Vote and that the gentlemen here concerned were only carrying out instructions which were received from higher quarters.
I am very much obliged. I thought that I might possibly convey the impression that I challenged your ruling, which I did not wish to do. I understand that this includes the cost of providing the insignia and I believe that the average value of the insignia of the Order of the Bath is approximately £7. Perhaps the Financial Secretary to the Treasury or other Knights of the Noble Order of the Bath who may be present will correct me if I am wrong. For that reason I propose to reduce the Vote by £10 in order that we should not pay for this decoration, which was well described by a great daily paper in this country as an insult to democracy—a decoration conferred on a gentleman who the right hon. Member for Paisley described as an adventurer. As I understand your ruling, that this Vote only applies to wages, might I have your ruling as to whether we are to be allowed to protest, not against the action of the head of the Department or the Government which advises His Majesty to bestow this decoration, but against being asked to pay for the collar and star and ribbon of this Order out of public funds? I do not wish after your ruling to question the head of certain Departments for advising His Majesty to bestow this decoration, but I do protest most emphatically against the public having to pay for it. My protest is against paying for this decoration bestowed on a foreign general for no known services. The list of decorations in war time has swollen out of all recognition, and that we should have to pay for these decorations is most objectionable. I hope that I shall receive support from those who have some respect for this ancient Order of chivalry in protesting against such an episode.
I have already pointed out that that is not a question which can be discussed. The question which the hon. Member is asking the House to decide is whether, His Majesty having been pleased to grant a particular Order to a particular individual, the House is going to pay for the insignia or not.
Might we know the name of the person to whom he is referring, because it is an indignity to this House, His Majesty having conferred a distinction upon a particular individual, to have it discussed in this House?
Those who object to this insignia being paid for in no way mean to criticise the action of His Majesty Needless to say, we take it that His Majesty simply acted, as he always does—and I regret even to have to make the point clear—on the advice of his Minister, but we consider that this is a case where we should protest in the only way that is open to us, by refusing to pay for the insignia. I had intended to ask a question with reference to the Order of the British Empire, if it is in Order. Might we be informed how many Orders are paid for out of public moneys under this Vote? Is the amount under sub-head B only to pay for the insignia presented to foreign officers and statesmen? If so, I have no doubt that the House, with the one exception which I have indicated, will be only too pleased to pay for this compliment, much prized as it is, because on the Continent a ribbon or British decoration is highly prized, in spite of the recent event which I have indicated, and will continue to be prized by our Allies and distinguished statesmen and officers who performed good services to our Empire; but, while we in no way object to paying for these marks of appreciation of services rendered to us by foreigners, we think that the recipients of the Order here should at least pay for it. We do not think that in many cases they are people who are not well blessed with this world's goods, and we think that they could well afford to pay for this honour, which so many of them prize.
I suppose I shall have the general agreement of every Member of the House when I say that we are glad His Royal Highness is making the trip to Australia and New Zealand, and, from the same point of view, that we hope the trip will prove enjoyable and that he will benefit in every possible way from it. I want to make my emphatic protest against this House and the country voting this sum of money for that undertaking. If the trip is required let it be taken, but not at the expense of the community, many of whom cannot afford to find their way to the end of their own streets. With all the strength and emphasis of which I am capable I tender my protest against this expenditure.
I want to ask a question as to Sub-heading A, Salaries and Wages. This is a sum of £470,000 to pay for the expenses of the emergency transport that was put into service during the railway strike. I do not intend in any way to bring up the question of the railway strike. Neither my doing so, nor the interruptions of my hon. Friends from the North of Ireland, or those of the hon. Member for Holderness, would be in order. I do not want to question the Government's policy; I did that in Committee. The question I wish to ask is: How much of the sum I have mentioned is due to salaries and wages, and how much to hire of vehicles? We were told these services were voluntarily given. No doubt many of them were. I understand that very high wages were paid to many so-called volunteers, more money than they would be earning in the ordinary course of their work. I am told that the payments were as high as 30s. a day for girl motor drivers, and £2 a day for amateur men motor drivers and the like. By amateurs I mean people who do not ordinarily ply for hire, private car owners and chauffeurs employed by private persons. To begin with, I think the amount spent is much too high. The Government was full of self-congratulation on the breaking of the strike and all the rest of it, although we know now that it was settled by agreement. We were led at a time to believe that the whole community rose in their wrath and saved us from the wicked strikers. Let it not be forgotten that about 40 per cent. of the wicked strikers had served in the War as private soldiers. Now we are asked to foot the Bill. Payment for the cost of petrol I would never for a moment cavil at. If people send their cars, petrol ought to be supplied, but that they should be paid for the vehicle and that their driver should be paid, I think is most questionable. I understand that one of the leaders of the National party, the hon. Baronet who represents Walsall (Sir R. Cooper) sent the money which he received for driving a railway engine, first to the railwaymen's hospital, and, when that institution would not have it, he returned it to the State. That was very patriotic of him and very wise. Why should not other people have done the same thing? I admit that people should be paid their out-of-pocket expenses, but there was a lot of money thrown about in a most unnecessary way on this service, and if we are to have more strikes, as we may have, I think we should be prepared to see that the money expended is spent economically. After all, the people who volunteered for service in the War got a shilling a day. Why, then, should girl motor drivers get 30s. a day for this service?
I associate myself entirety with what has been said by my hon. and gallant Friend. I think it is lamentable that when such a question as this is raised we should not have the privilege of seeing the Minister of Transport on the Government Bench. He is neither sick nor absent, for he is within the precincts of the House. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport was not in power when the strike took place. It is quite true that it was necessary to keep going the supply of the necessaries of life during the strike. But the way in which money was thrown about during the strike to people who are usually not in the ranks of labour, was a positive scandal. We have a right to an answer from the Ministry of Transport as to whether this money was expended economically or otherwise.
Sir J. D. REES:
When the Home Secretary answers I hope he will kindly explain to the House what would have been the loss to the country if this expenditure had not been incurred. Will he explain also what would have been the result of adopting the characteristically Bolshevik attitude of hon. Members towards trade, commerce, industry and the prosperity of the country? Of all things in this book of Estimates that might have been objected to, to object to expenditure which saved the country at a time of unparalleled difficulty, when everyone remotely connected with business knew that everything was hung up and that an immense disaster was impending, seems to me astounding.
I wish to associate myself with the observations made by the two hon. and gallant Gentlemen who have spoken. It has been said that most extravagant prices were paid for the hire of motor vehicles. I should like my right hon. Friend to tell me, if he can, what was the price paid.
As I understand it, what hon. Members require is to get information rather than to make any direct objection to the Vote. It is quite a mistake to suppose that any girl drivers or any others were paid at the extravagant rate suggested. Where any payment was made at all, it was made at trade union rates of wages, no more and no less. If everyone who drove a motor or assisted voluntarily in that strike had been paid, the figures in this Vote would have been very much larger. There were many of the class who cannot afford to give their services for nothing, and who are in the habit of receiving trade union rates of wages, and very properly when they came to the rescue of the babies, as my hon. Friend has put it, they deserved to be paid the trade union rate of wages as a return for what they did.
I cannot say. There was no flat rate of £1 a day. How much any individual who went down, say, to Gloucestershire or Dorsetshire, or a distant place like that, got, and properly got, I cannot say. I hope it is not the suggestion that there was any attempt to pay outrageous rates to people as a bribe to them to help us. There were certainly no such attempts. With regard to the hire of vehicles, I am sorry that I cannot give definite information. The figures vary, of course, very much. They were paid as cheaply as possible at the time, but I cannot give detailed information. With regard to the question of the hon. Baronet (Sir J. D. Rees), I am not able to give any estimate of what the strike might have cost the community had it lasted as many weeks as it lasted days. It was stated that directly and indirectly the strike cost something like £10,000,000. How much it cost the railways, how much it cost the country by delay in demobilisation and other matters, it is extremely difficult to say. I have no doubt that I shall have the House with me when I say that, having regard to the gigantic nature of the task, the importance to the community that they should be paid, and that this absolutely essential service should be maintained, the cost is as cheap as it could possibly have been in the circumstances.
May I ask the Home Secretary whether he can tell us why the Minister of Trans port is not here to answer these questions? At the time of the Division he was here for some moments previous to the Vote being taken. I saw him not only in the precincts of the House, but in the Chamber. While many of us do not wish to question the propriety of the Vote, we think he should be here, if possible, when his Department is concerned.
Mr. TYSON WILSON:
I would like to ask a question with regard to these discharged and disabled men for whom the grant is required, and particularly with regard to those who have been attending technical schools. Will they be paid the unemployment donation? Is this simply a Supplementary Estimate to meet expenditure upon this ground? Some time ago a circular was issued at the public expense—at least I gathered so from the references in it to the Department—telling those men that they would receive six or twelve months' training in a technical school, and that then they would be placed in an instructional factory where they would get work of some kind. Now the majority of these men are in a difficulty. Quite a large number of the disabled service men have been given this six months' or twelve months' training in a technical school, and they find they are now thrown out into the street because employment cannot be found for them, and the Department is not able to give further instruction to them. Therefore they cannot finish their course, and they are turned out without employment by the Advisory Committee, which ought to obtain employment for them, and still it is placing more men in the technical schools. Is the right hon. Gentleman (the Minister of Labour) going to see that when they leave the technical schools they will continue to be paid the out-of-work donation? Is he going to see that they get this out-of-work donation until they find employment in the ordinary labour market? It is a gross injustice to these men that, having served for twelve months, receiving this training, the further years of instruction under the technical scheme cannot be given to them because employment cannot be found. They must do the best they can in the open market. I am going to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. Quito a number of these men are only entitled to small pensions and a great number of them were disabled during the War. I think that greater efforts should be made to find the employment for them which was promised, and in the meantime to give them full unemployment donation and let it continue until they can get work in the open labour market. An opportunity should be given to these men, and they should not be thrown upon the streets without moans of earning a livelihood.
Some of this Estimate is intended to cover up to the end of this month, the close of the financial year, the expense of unemployment donation to the discharged ex-service men. The reason for that is that we underestimated the amount which would be required for the current year, and there is an extra sum needed owing to special circumstances upon which we have not calculated. A large amount of the Estimate is owing to unemployment following upon the moulders' strike which turned out to be larger than was originally expected. On the question raised by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Tyson Wilson) the position is this: the amount which is included in this Estimate covers all the cost of the disabled men who fall within the rules.
Yes, and if the man at the time when he took this technical instruction or when it finished had exhausted previously all the amount of donation to which he was entitled, then when he came out from that technical instruction he would not be able to draw any more unemployment donation, but if his unemployment donation was not exhausted he would be able to claim his allowance, and he would be entitled to go into technical institution. The hon. Member has made an appeal, as I understand it, on behalf of these men. He has said that having taken this course and gone through the process of training in a technical institution, they find that there is a gap between the technical training and the training in a factory or workshop. That puts the man necessarily in an unfortunate position, and he suggests that if the man has exhausted his unemployment donation something should be done for him. I am glad to be able to inform the House that the matter is at present under the consideration of the Government. We are now going into the possibility of doing something in special cases of hardship to help these men. The hon. Member has made an appeal to me, and I cannot help going an to make an appeal to him. The Local Technical Advisory Committees are the people who are placed in charge of the task of finding vacancies for these men who have been trained. What has happened, I regret very much to say, is that the Trade Unions in many instances prevent these men from getting any of the vacancies at all. I will give some illustrations of that. At the present time in London people who have been trained as plumbers cannot get any of the vacancies, because the Plumbers' Society will not allow them into that trade. The same thing has occurred at Bristol. Men who have got instruction as bricklayers are not allowed to continue their course in the ordinary work of the industry, because the bricklayers will not allow them. In the furniture trade the same difficulty is being found; they will not allow the men to go into the trade unless they are counted among the number of apprenticeships allowed. The employers in the engineering trade are perfectly willing to give the vacancies to these men, but they cannot do so because of the trouble caused by the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite to make an effort to deal with this situation. They have often come to me with the general claim of the right to work, and I hope they will listen to this appeal.
On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman has made an appeal, and an appeal has been made to us to allow the Debate to finish at a quarter past Seven o'clock.
When the point of Order was raised I was making this appeal. This right to work, if it exists for anybody, ought to exist for those people who served their country so well. I am certain that the appeal I now make will be responded to and that the matter will be considered seriously in view of the circumstances of the men who are deprived of the opportunity to work which we all wish to give them.
I have only half a minute in which to speak, and, as I did not take part in the previous Debate, hon. Members have not heard the arguments that I should have put before them, [Interruption.] I protest against the general attack made by the right hon. Gentleman, which may or may not be justified from a Parliamentary point of view. I am not dealing now with the rights of the ease. [Interruption.] I do not think it is entirely English on the part of the hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Captain Stanley Wilson), who is always so disorderly when he comes into this House. I do not think it is in accordance with the traditions of this House and of Parliament, as I understand them, to make an attack like this at the last minute, when we are precluded by our bargain from making any reply. [Interruption.]
I desire to meet the right hon. Baronet, and I wish more hon. Members followed his example in this House. I do not mind hon. Members interrupting me—it is a great compliment in this House—but on this particular occasion I had one minute in which to speak, and was interrupted in a most unparliamentary way. Now the right hon. Baronet appeals to me to keep a bargain, but this sort of treatment strains my loyalty to that bargain considerably.