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1902.] London Water and Licensing Bills Introduced. [43 pulsory purchase was not to be allowed, and the price to be paid for the undertakings was not enhanced or diminished because the Bill had been introduced. On questions of law an appeal was to be allowed to the Court of Appeal. The Board would act for the whole area which was now administered by eight different companies. It would issue stock bearing interest at 3 per cent., and was given a power of rating in the event of the income for the year being insufficient for the expenditure. The Board would be authorised to pay the companies in water stock. With regard to money borrowed for the purchase or for the redemption of stock, a period of eighty years was allowed for repayment. Sir H. CampbellBannerman regarded the Bill as distinctly better in some respects than former schemes, and a like feeling marked several of the speeches from the Opposition side which followed, although exception was taken very particularly to the non-assignment of the duties of the new Board to the London County Council. The Bill was read a first time.
Mr. Ritchie (Croydon), Home Secretary, then brought in a Bill to amend the law relating to the sale of intoxicating liquors and to provide for the registration of clubs. The Government did not mean to embody all the recommendations of the Royal Commission in the present Bill, because the attempt to do so would prevent any measure at all being passed this session. They would not deal with the licensing authority, or the reduction of the number of public houses, or the compensation bogey, which had wrecked so many former projects of legislation. Under this Bill a person found drunk and incapable would be apprehended and, in any case, charged ; and if he happened at the time to have the custody of a child under seven years of age he would be liable to a penalty of 40s. or a month's imprisonment. If he was an habitual drunkard he might be committed to an inebriate home. The wife of an habitual drunkard was to be entitled to a protection order, and the husband of a drunken wife was to have a right to similar relief. An habitual drunkard who committed a crime was, in certain circumstances, to be prohibited from purchasing liquor for three years, and any publican who served him, knowing who he was, would be punished. If a publican was charged with permitting drunkenness on his premises, and it was proved that anybody was drunk on his premises, it would lie with the publican to prove that he took all reasonable steps to prevent it. Off retail licences were to be put under the control of the justices. Application for occasional licences would have to be made before two justices in open court. All clubs were to be registered, and where a club offended its name would be taken off the register. Anyone would have the right to appear before a magistrate and swear that a club was not properly conducted, and the police could then enter and search the premises, if the magistrate sanctioned that course. In the
case of a club which had been convicted of offence against the law (by a court of summary jurisdiction), the sale of drink in the club building might be forbidden by the court for a term of five years, and provision would also be made against the reopening of a public house, where a renewal of the licence had been refused, as a bogus club. The Bill was read a first time, after a brief and friendly discussion.
On the same day (Jan. 30) there was issued a document which caused much dissatisfaction among politicians of both parties and the public generally as bearing on the conduct of the war. This was the report of the committee appointed to examine into certain allegations which had been made by Sir J. Blundell Maple, M.P., in regard to the purchase of horses in Austria-Hungary. It was signed by Sir Charles Welby, M.P. (who had been a member of the committee which produced the important report on War Office organisation in 1901 ; see ANNUAL REGISTER for that year, p. 146), Colonel W. KenyonSlaney, M.P., Mr. C. E. Hobhouse, M.P., and the Hon. Evan Charteris. They declared their belief that there was no justification for any charge of bribery or corrupt dealing against any British officer employed in connection with the purchases in question, and expressed their regret that Sir J. B. Maple, while he repudiated all intention of conveying a charge of that description—a repudiation which they fully accepted—had committed himself to public statements which were universally understood as direct attacks on the honour and integrity of British officers. The only specific case which at first sight seemed to require explanation arose out of a misapprehension which existed in some quarters as to the position of a veterinary officer, Captain Hartigan. His position, however, it was pointed out, was explained to the satisfaction of the committee.
The committee's vindication, however, of the honour and integrity of British officers gave only the more point to their carefully weighed censures on the want of care or intelligence, or of both qualities, exhibited both in connection with the Hungarian purchases on behalf of the Imperial Yeomanry Committee and at the Remount Department over a long period.
As to the Imperial Yeomanry purchases, the report said :“We are satisfied that Colonel St. Quintin (who had come forward reluctantly, and only at the urgent request of the Imperial Yeomanry Committee, to undertake this work) had as his only object the fulfilment of the duty assigned to him.
We realise the difficulty of his position owing to the urgency of the demands which confronted him. At the same time we regret that before giving the first contract he did not take more steps to ascertain (a) what would be a reasonable price to pay, and (b) the position and capacity of the contractors to undertake a large contract of this kind without resort to middlemen; and we must point out that, had the first contract been made on the same terms as the second, a saving of nearly 12,0001. would have resulted.”
[45 Further on the committee said: “Ought the Imperial Yeomanry Committee, and, still more, ought the Government Remount Department to have been found so ill-informed as they were ?
As regarded the Imperial Yeomanry Committee, much could be said on their behalf, as they were brought together hastily to deal with a sudden emergency-i.e., the demand for mounted troops which arose after the reverses of December, 1899.
The case of the Government Remount Department," proceeded the committee, “is different. In that case the decision to resort to Hungary as a field for obtaining remounts was not apparently come to as the result of a sudden emergency. We feel bound to express the surprise with which we have learnt that before the decision to purchase for the Government in Hungary was actually come to in April, 1900, no steps had apparently been taken since 18841 to ascertain the best sources of supply in that country, the best methods of tapping those sources, or the most reliable people to employ. The war had by that time been in progress six months, and it must have been obvious that a heavy drain on our remounting resources was inevitable. It is certainly unfortunate that after the outbreak of war no such preliminary inquiries and arrangements' were made as to avoid hurried and ill-considered measures at the last moment. ..
“We consider that even in peace time it should obviously be the business of the Remount Department to study systematically the possibilities afforded by different countries as sources of horse supply in time of war, and the best means of making use of those possibilities in the event of emergency arising. There are clearly many channels through which such information could be obtained. It is most surprising that no attempt should have been made by the Remount Department to utilise the services of the military attaché at Vienna in the case under consideration. We consider that in future the Remount Department should be held responsible for obtaining such information, and for keeping it up to date by systematic reference to the military attachés and to such other sources as may be available.'
Naturally the subject of the report just quoted received a good deal of attention in the debates connected with a Supplementary War Estimate of 5,000,0001. which Mr. Brodrick brought forward on January 31, making a total of 61,070,0001. for the current financial year, or about 2,000,0001. less than the sum voted in 1900-1. In order that the committee might form an idea of the work accomplished by the War Office the War Secretary stated that on May 1, 1901, we had in South Africa 138,000 Regulars, 58,000 Colonials, 23,000 Yeomanry, 20,000 Militia, 10,000 Volunteers-in all nearly 250,000 men. On January 1, 1902, there were 141,000 Regulars in Africa, 57,000 Colonials, 13,650 Yeomanry, 20,000 Militiamen, and 5,400 Volunteers—a total of more than 237,000 men. So the
1 The date given in the evidence on which this statement was based was afterwards corrected by the witness to 1896.
force had been maintained throughout the year at practically the same figure. As to remounts, 129,000 horses were landed in Africa in 1901, and a very large number of horses were purchased out there. The supplies of horses and men had been kept up fully and regularly from the first. Including the men employed in the remount establishment as drivers and in other capacities 280,000 men had been fed daily last year, and 208,000 horses and mules and 30,000 oxen. In addition we had in our hands 27,000 Boer prisoners and 150,000 of the Boer population. During part of the year the expenditure was 5,500,0001. a month, but now it had been reduced by 1,000,0001., and steps had been taken to secure a further reduction.
Mr. Brodrick declared that all the information in his possession showed that the blockhouse system had had excellent results. A large portion of the country had been freed from the ravages of war. In the Orange River Colony and the Transvaal the safety of the railways was now practically secured, and in Johannesburg there had been a large resumption of industry. There were in only three localities large bands of the enemy, probably of about 2,000 each, under Generals De Wet, Louis Botha and Delarey respectively, still to be dealt with. The policy of Lord Kitchener was to bring these forces into action, and the extension of the blockhouse system would make it difficult for them to avoid coming to close quarters indefinitely. He expressed great appreciation of the immense efforts made by our mounted troops, who had undertaken marches of prodigious length with unflinching spirit and perseverance. He assured the House and the country that the Government were not likely to slacken their efforts to provide Lord Kitchener with all that was necessary to finish the operations.
In the course of the subsequent debate, Sir C. Dilke (Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire) pointed out that in regard to remounts the charge against the Government was that numbers of horses sent out had died or had proved unserviceable. Our officers, he said, still complained of the quality and condition of the remounts—a statement subsequently corroborated by Mr. W. Churchill (Oldham).
Sir J. B. Maple (Dulwich, Camberwell) having denied that he had ever made allegations against the honour of British officers, Mr. C. Hobhouse (Bristol, E.), a member of the committee on horse purchase in Austria-Hungary, stated that while there was no evidence whatever that the officers concerned in the purchase of horses had accepted any bribes, the price paid for the horses was excessive, and the quality of the animals purchased was doubtful. The Remount Department, he held, was probably understaffed, and its business was managed unsatisfactorily. Later on Lord Stanley (West Houghton, Lancs) deprecated attacks which had been made on the InspectorGeneral of Remounts (Major-General Truman), as the transactions of which complaint was made had not been carried out
[47 by him, but by the Yeomanry Committee. The proposals about to be made by the War Office would, he believed, prevent the recurrence of any similar breakdown in the future. The Government were now sending out horses in advance of the actual requirements, and the animals had a month's rest before they went into the field. Several Conservative Members, by no means satisfied, expressed strong opinions as to the incompetence of the Remount Department and its head; and Mr. Brodrick subsequently admitted that General Truman's connection with the matters in question would have to be carefully considered, though there was no suggestion that he had done anything unworthy. Mr. James Lowther (Thanet, Kent) severely blamed the committee for trying to palliate the conduct of Captain Hartigan in accepting a commission of 2 per cent. on the horses which he passed, and Sir H. CampbellBannerman regretted that he should have been reinstated in the public service. Mr. Brodrick thought it possible that Captain Hartigan had been re-employed because veterinary surgeons were very much wanted at the present moment. A reduction which Mr. Labouchere (Northampton) had moved was negatived by 106 to 75, and the vote ultimately carried by 159 to 56.
On the report of the vote (Feb. 3) Mr. Brodrick laid stress on the fact that at the time when the Hungarian horse purchases were made the pressure at the War Office was very great. The department, he said, was often urged to entrust work to the hands of business men, and this was what Lord Lansdowne did when he invited six or seven gentlemen of experience to undertake the equipment of the Yeomanry and provide the necessary horses. It was the Yeomanry Committee that entered into the contract which had been condemned, and which he was not going to defend. The Yeomanry Committee, Mr. Brodrick observed, gave the contract to a Mr. Lewison, who took out with him to Hungary a veterinary surgeon, Captain Hartigan, who was to receive a commission of 2) per cent., not on each horse passed, but on the whole number. Subsequently Captain Hartigan arranged to receive a payment for his expedition to Hungary of 2 guineas per day, thus becoming Mr. Lewison's paid agent. The Yeomanry Committee sent Colonel Maclean to inspect the horses, and he discharged his duty well. When the work appeared to be nearing its end the veterinary surgeon, Captain Webb, who had gone out with Colonel Maclean, had to sail for South Africa, and Colonel Maclean had to replace him. Captain Hartigan was on the spot, and Colonel Maclean suggested that he should be engaged. He did not think Colonel Maclean was well advised to employ the man who had been in the service of the contractor. Neither was the Yeomanry Committee well advised to allow Colonel Maclean to employ Captain Hartigan.
Colonel Maclean and Colonel St. Quintin had retired from the service and could not be censured, if they deserved