« ForrigeFortsett »
mercial and agricultural interests had, (our Colonies would not have estaby means of Chambers, for years past blished hostile Tariffs against the Mother organized themselves and adopted repre- Country; we should have made more sentative institutions, that there should favourable terms for our manufactures also be a separate Department of the when we repealed the Sugar Duties Government to which they might com- in 1864. But these would not have municate their wants and wishes, and been all the advantages. We would that, by this means, & more ready inter- not have had the Bankruptcy Laws, course and interchange of opinion might which were a scandal to this country, be effected, which would be conducive so long unsettled. Because no one Deto the interests of all concerned ; that if partment was individually responsible such a Department had existed, it would for these matters our national intehave been able to have given valuable rests had severely suffered; nay, more, assistance to the Royal Commission now they had been seriously imperilled. sitting, by collecting and forwarding Ho wished to say something as to the evidence and giving its opinion respect- anomalies of the present system. Those ing the causes of the present depression. anomalies were palpable and patent to Why was England the only important all. The various duties of the different country that had not a responsible Mi- Departments connected with Agriculture nister and a distinct Department to super- and Commerce were absurdly inconvize these two important interests? Other gruous. Their affairs were distributed countries had adopted the system which over so many Departments of the Go. he advocated; it had been found satis- vernment—which had no relation with factory and successful; and he was at a one another--that it was impossible to loss to know why they should be the get information without great incononly country in the world to neglect venience and loss of time. For instance, taking this prudent step. France, Aus- if one wanted to get any information tria, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Holland, about the Diseases of Cattle, he was realmost every civilized State, and even ferred to the Minister who looked after Japan, had a Minister whose duty it was Art and Science, Education, and Reto attend to these great Departments; ligion; if one wished to hear something and the United States, our chief com- about Agricultural Statistics or Corn Repetitor in all agricultural produce, had turns, he was referred to the Minister a separate Department for Agriculture. whose main duty it was to look after RailHis hon. Friend the Member for Mid ways and Ships; while the right hon. Somerset (Mr. R. H. Paget) had asked Gentleman the President of the Local Goa Question with regard to certain inte- vernment Board (Mr. Dodson), to whom resting documents relating to Agricul- they looked for information with regard ture in the United States; and some to Public Highways, Roads, and Bridges, of those Papers were now in the Library, had for his main duty to look after and they were most interesting. This Paupers. The result was that they never Department in the United States super- knew from what Member of the Governintended everything connected with Agri- ment agricultural legislation was to culture; it diffused the most useful in- come. The Agricultural Holdings Act formation respecting seeds, plants, and was introduced in the last Government manures; it reported annually to Con- by his lato lamented Friend the First gress, not only with reference to its Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Hunt). But own agriculture, but of that of all the greatest anomaly of all was the Board other foreign countries. Surely we, of Trade. The Board of Trade was a who are suffering so severely from this mythical body. It contained no Departcompetition, needed equal facilities ment of Trade at all. It was no Board. and opportunities. There was plenty It never met as a Board. He believed the of information to be got; but in this Lord Chancellor was a member of the country it was no one's business to Board, and also the Speaker; but he procure it. The Reports sent home hy i would not venture to ask the right hon. our Consuls were seldom tabulated or Gentleman whether he ever attended the utilized. Had responsibility attached Board. He contended that the designato one Department, greater attention tion was obsolete, and that it ought to be would have been paid to our foreign abolished. The Board of Trade, as it Tariffs; our Commercial Treaties would at present existod, had neither the nehave been more carefully considered ; cessary organization, nor did it possess the requisite power, to carry out its im- | tinct Departments, each Department posportant functions.
In the Board of sessing separate and permanent ofiTrade they had no Commercial Depart- cial Staffs ; one Department dealing erment to look after the Indian or Colo-clusively with agricultural subjects, the nial Trade, or Commercial Treaties, or other with commercial matters; and their Tariffs at home or abroad. If under the Minister he would like to any illustrious foreigner were to ask any see a Parliamentary Secretary attached Member of the House the simple ques to each Department. The Agricultural tion, What Department of the Govern- Department might include-(1.) Super, ment in this country directed our com- vision of traffic, transit, and diseases of mercial policy; or what provision was Stock, now under the Privy Council made with respect to our agricultural Office; (2.) the duties now discharged interests ? he thought there would be by the Copyhold Tithe and Inclosure considerable difficulty in giving any commissioners, and also agricultural satisfactory response. The answer might legislation, now under the Home Office
; be, “No one; or " the Executive;" or(3.) the classification and circulation of "the Governmentgenerally,"or, perhaps, all'information received from Consular “the Cabinet." If the latter were the cor- Agents, as well as the collection, tabu, rect answer, it might be thought to be an. lation, and publication of Agricultural other illustration of the truth of the old Statistics and Corn Returns, now under adage, that what was "everybody's busi- the Board of Trade ; and (4.) the adness was nobody's.” If the responsibility ministration of roads, highways, and was distributed among the 12 or 14 Gen- bridges, now under the Local Governtlemen who generally composed a Cabi- ment Board, might properly be transnet, each of whom had specific duties in ferred to this Department. All these his own Department, and more than Departments were at present heavily sufficient to monopolize his entire time weighted; and their duties would be and attention, it would only be natural somewhat diminished, with benefit to that they would postpone and neglect themselves and with great advantage the consideration of those duties for to the public.
His hon. Friend the which they were not individually re- Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk
) sponsible, and that, at all events, they would be more competent, as President would be inefficiently discharged. But he of the Chambers of Commerce, to define might be told that it was easy to criticize. the duties which should be transferred What remedy did he suggest? It was to the Commercial Department; but all not his duty to propose a remedy for an would agree that they should include acknowledged grievance. His only ob- Tariff regulations at home and abroad, ject was to persuade the Government Treaties of Commerce, factory labour, that the difficulty of arranging those &c. These new Departments should not matters was not insuperable ; and if he be overburdened at first ; they should ventured to suggest what duties might grow gradually, and work should be be transferred to a new Department, it transferred to them tentatively and by must be understood that he was not degrees. It had been said that at preattempting to lay down any hard-and-sent the different Commercial and Agrifast line, or desiring to dictate to those cultural Societies furnished more informa. in authority. To carry out his object, tion of statistical and other kinds to the he did noť consider it would be
neces- Board of Trade than the latter did to sary to re-organize all the other Depart. them. The Royal Agricultural Society ments, or to re-adjust their duties. It had been of great use in that respect
. would not even be necessary to create Questions were often submitted by the a new Department; but it would be Board of Trade to Agricultural Societies. absolutely necessary that all the func- He thought in those matters reciprocity tions relating to Agriculture and Com- should be established. There was only merce, which at present were so irregu- one industry in the country which was larly and unsystematically administered, to any considerable extent supported by should be concentrated in one and the the Government, and that was mining:
It was not neces. We wanted, in short, all matters con sary to create new work, but only to re- į nected with these two interests conceuone Minister with two separate or dis- legislative and administrative questions
Sir Massey Lopes
connected with them would be dealt | £500,000. It was found that our exports with. We wanted one recognized au- steadily diminished, and our imports inthority, who would institute inquiries creased. He did not feel so sanguine as and initiate measures calculated to pro- some did with reference to any general mote their welfare. We wanted to fix revival of trade. He would ask what and concentrate responsibility. If the manufacturing industry was at present functions of the Executive Government prospering? Was it the woollen trade were collected into one group, instead of of Bradford, where thousands of workbeing scattered over so many Depart- people were weekly leaving these shores ments, they could be more easily and to seek their fortunes elsewhere? Was efficiently managed. At present, there it the sugar, or the silk trade? Was it was no system or symmetry. There was the cotton trade ? If the production had a total absence of homogeneous classi- not diminished, one thing was certain, fication. The affairs of Agriculture and that the profits were considerably less. Commerce were divided between the Formerly, English Commerce had a moHome Office, Foreign Office, Board of nopoly ; it was without a rival. Now, Trade, Privy Council Office, and Local owing to Free Trade, and facilities of Government Board. We had separate intercourse by sea and by land, foreign Departments for Foreign, Colonial, and competition was pressing hard on home Indian affairs, for our Army and Navy; producers in their home markets. He why should not the same care and distinc- did not wish to substitute State protection be given to these two important in- tion for private energy and enterprize; dustries? It might, no doubt, be said but he was of opinion that every reasonthat our Agriculture and Commerce had able facility and opportunity must be prospered without the interference of Go-given, every impediment must be revernment agency ; but never, in recent moved, if they were to hold their own in times, had there been so great an agri- the unequal race in which Agriculture cultural depression as existed now. He and Commerce were now embarked. He did not think that the mere recurrence hoped that he should not receive from of bad seasons was a sufficient explana- the Government the usual stereotyped tion of that depression. Foreign com- answer,or a mere vague assurance that the petition, which every year was becoming question should be carefully considered. more keen and severe, and of which they It had been taken up by the majority of could scarcely predicate the extent or the Chambers of Commerce throughout result, was, no doubt, the chief cause of the country, and “carefully considered” our suffering. All classes interested in by successive Governments for the last the land were looking forward to the 20 years; and in 1879 a majority of that future with intense anxiety, and with House declared in favour of the prinno very sanguine expectations. Few ciples which he attempted to advocate; farmers had made any profits the last and outside those walls this proposal four or five years; too many had been had the sanction of public opinion. In living on their capital, which was well 1869, the then President of tħe Board of nigh exhausted ; and, to the great Trade (Mr. John Bright) said that he majority, another bad season would would strongly recommend a considerabring absolute ruin. In every county tion of the question now before the they heard of farms untenanted, but, House by the separate Departments, what was worse, uncultivated, of insol. and he promised some reforms. Novent tenants, and reduced landlords, and thing, however, had been done, though on many estates reduced rents barely 12 years had elapsed. In the absence, paid the interests of mortgages and of therefore, of a very clear and sufficient charges settled upon them. Nor were the statement from the First Lord of the accounts received of the state of trade Treasury, he should consider it his duty at all more encouraging. The Board of to divide the House at the conclusion of Trade Returns for the month of April the debate. It was no good to attempt showed a deficit of £1,500,000 of exports to patch up the present system. That of British and Irish produce and manu- had been tried in 1864, and had failed. factures, compared with the correspond- They could not afford to wait any longer. ing period of last year; and the Returns Foreign politics had necessarily of late for the last four months were equally years monopolized their time and attendiscouraging, showing a deficit of tion. It was now time to look at home, and after their own interests. Those | Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, and, important industries, Agriculture, Trade, he believed, the Lord Chancellor, with and Commerce the source of all our the Law Officers of the Crown, sharel national greatness-were unanimously the cares and responsibilities of watchof opinion that by such means only as he ing over the interests of Trade and Comhad attempted to indicate could a satis- merce in this country. The services of so factory consideration of their interests many Departments being called in, the be secured, and they asked the Go- results were not likely to be satisfactory. vernment, the Executive of the British His hon. Friend had shown that this House of Commons and of the country, was not the case in other countries. Ia to grant them a boon which they con France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and fidently believe would not only tend to Belgium, the interests of Commerce and further their interests, but also tend to Agriculture were considered of sufficient promote the welfare and prosperity of importance to be confided to a special all classes in the United Kingdom. Department of the State. Some years The hon. Baronet concluded by moving ago-in 1864—the relations between the the Resolution of which he had given Board of Trade and the Foreign Office Notice.
with reference to Commercial Treaties MR. MONK said, he had much plea were considered by a Committee presure in seconding the Resolution. He sided over by his (Mr. Monk's) right should, however, have preferred a Re- hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the solution stating the expediency of giving Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Mr. W. E. Cabinet rank to a Minister of Agriculture Forster); and in consequence of their and Commerce. His hon. Friend (Sir Report a Commercial Department was Massy Lopes) had referred to the sanc-established in the Foreign Office. To tion given by the late House of Com- some extent that had proved an immons to a similar proposal in 1879, which provement. No one, he was sure, was brought forward by Mr. Sampson whose duties had brought him into Lloyd, and adopted after a long discus. contact with the Under Secretary of sion. It had become his (Mr. Monk's) State (Sir Charles W. Dilke) could fail duty in February last to transmit to the to give him credit for zeal, courtesy, Prime Minister à Memorial from the As- and singular ability. The same might sociation of Chambers of Commerce in be said of Mr. Kennedy, at the Foreign favour of the appointment of a Minister Office. But, in spite of all that, the of Commerce and Agriculture. At the arrangement had not proved quite sucsame time, he pointed out to the Prime cessful. If he (Mr. Monk) were asked Minister that the Resolution of 1879 had why, he should say there was too much remained for nearly two years unchal- mystery about thë Foreign Office. A lenged in the Journals of the House, and diplomatic atmosphere pervaded it which reminded him that it had been supported commercial men found absolutely chilby the right hon. Gentleman the present ling. They had an instinctive dread of Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. W. E. the Foreign Office, and preferred resortForster), by the right hon. Gentleman ing for counsel to the Board of Trade; the present Vice President of the Privy but the duties of that Department had Council (Mr. Mundella), and by the hon. been so largely increased by recent and learned Gentleman the present Soli- legislation in reference to Merchant citor General (Sir Farrer Herschell), Shipping, Railways, and other matters, while no single Member of the present that it would be impossible to convert Govornment voted against it. The hon. it into a Ministry of Commerce and Member for South Devon had made out | Agriculture. There was amplo room for an excellent case in favour of entrusting a new Department. If ho might be agricultural interests to a separate De- | allowed to throw out a hint, he would partment of the State. He pointed out venture to suggest that the noble Lord, the strong objections that existed to the so long and honourably connected with interests of Agriculturo being confided the Board of Trade, who had recently to three or four separate Departments. received the appointment of Lord Privy If that were so with regard to Agri-Seal (Lord Carlingford), must feel a culturo, how much moro was it the case thirst for work, and feel humiliated by with regard to the commercial interests occupying a sinecure Office, or, at all of the country? The Board of Trado, the events, at the prospect of doing the
Sir Massey Lopes
work of odd man in the Cabinet. In hon. Member may be as to the very conclusion, he would remind the Prime rapid and early accumulation of those Minister that legislation was hanging functions; but it is a perfectly fair statefire, that the Bankruptcy Bill had made ment. Then, again, the hon. Gentleman no progress, that the Law of Partner- has very judiciously said that this is to ship required consolidation and amend be a union, “as far as possible," of the ment, that the Patent Laws required functions relating to Commerce and to revision, while Bills of Sale were a Agriculture by a distinct Department scandal and a disgrace under the pre- under a responsible Minister of the sent law; and last-not least—the ques-Crown. I think that we have advanced tion of a new Anglo-French Commercial a little further in this direction-a little Treaty must be decided within a very further than the hon. Gentleman is, perfow weeks. Under these circumstances, haps, aware of. There is certainly nohe expressed a hope that the Prime thing unreasonable in the general proMinister would give his sanction to a position that those functions of Trade Motion which had received the support and Commerce should be associated toof a Member of the Cabinet and of gether in the same Department. To other Members of the Government. that general proposition, qualified as it Amendment proposed,
is by the practical consideration involved
in the words “as far as possible," we To leave out from the word “That" to the
are ready to assent. Let me, in passing, end of the Question, in order to add the words “it is desirable that the functions of the Execu. express regret that the hon. Gentleman tive Government which especially relate to Agri- should, as is not unnatural for him to culture and Commerce should, as far as possible, do, have imported into this discussion be administered by a distinct department, and references to the present state of Agribe presided over by a responsible Minister of culture, which I agree with him in dethe Crown," -(Sir Massey Lopes,) -instead thereof.
ploring. I am only sorry for it on this
ground, that I fear lest it should lead to Question proposed, " That the words expectations in connection with his Moproposed to be left out stand part of the tion, which expectations, if they presume Question."
that any great and rapid improvement
will be brought about by any adminisMR. GLADSTONE: Sir, when I heard trative change we could make, would be the proposal of the hon. Member op- soon turned to bitter disappointment. I posite (Sir Massey Lopes) described to do not know whether the hon. Member me at the outset in general terms, I was is quite accurate in all his references to afraid it was of a character similar to foreign countries. I am informed, for that of 1879, which undoubtedly it would example, that there is nothing in the have been my duty to resist. I could United States like a Minister of Agrinot, in any circumstances, consent to any culture, and that the Agricultural Bureau Parliamentary Resolution going to do is simply statistical. I am also informed termine by a vote of this House who that they have no legislation whatever should be, under all circumstances, con in the United States, even upon such stituent Members of the Cabinet. I shall important subjects as the contagious not trouble the House with my reasons; diseases of animals. Passing from that but they are grave and serious. How- subject, I cannot quite admit that there ever, I am perfectly satisfied with the has been a want of attention to the submanner in which the hon. Member op: ject of foreign Tariffs owing to the want posite has framed the Resolution and of a formal recognition of a Minister of stated his case. What the hon. Member Agriculture and Commerce. It was my states is—“I am satisfied that there will fato to be Vice President, and afterbe such a dovelopment of these functions, wards President, of the Board of Trado if you will only allow it, that the impor- during a period when this country was tance of the Minister will bring about endeavouring to enter into foreign Tariff a state of public opinion which will in. Treatios, and I say without hesitation volve a suro corollary that the man whc that the machinery of the Government has such functions to discharge must be was perfectly adequate for the purpose. a Member of the Cabinet." Upon that The failure of our attempts was footing I am perfectly ready to leave the doubtedly on account of the difficulties matter. I am not so sanguine as the inherent in the case, and was by no VOL. CCLXI.
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