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Parliamentary. I

Important Discovery at Caerwent.

Monmouthshire Quarter Sessions.

Pontypool Rural District Council./

IMr. Hayes-Fisher's Resignation.…


I Mr. Hayes-Fisher's Resignation. I I A PERSONAL EXPLANATION. I On Tuesday, after question time in the House of Commons, Mr Hayes-Fisher rose from the first seat below the gangway, amidst loud general cheers, and, speaking with great emotion, said :— Mr Speaker, I desire, in accordance with precedent, to inform the House that I yesterday tendered to the Prime Minister my resignation of the post of Financial Secretary to the Treasury, and the right hon gentleman accepted it. As it is a matter which involves my personal character, I trust the House will give me the utmost indulgence while I shortly narrate the circumstances which have led to the termination, as I think, of my political career. (Cries of "No, no!") I will ask the House to bear with me if I do not give all the details of the case, because I am hampered by the consideration that the case is still sub judice, and from chivalrous and honourable motives, which will be understood, I am desirous not to say anything which will injure anyone else whose conduct may be the subject of criticism. (Hear, hear). I will first state the salient facts to the House, and as the defence of myself involves others, I am quite sure the House will see that it is difficulty for me to have sufficient control over myself not to be liable to say something which may injure somebody else who cannot state his case before the House, and so I have reduced my statement to writing. (" Hear, hear," and cheers.) In 1896, that ia to say seven years ago, I was approached by Mr R. Wallace, ICO., a gentleman then in very large practice at the Bar in patent cases, and asked to contribute towards a fund of L5,000 required by A PRIVATE SYNDICATE I for the development of an exceedingly ingeuious invention in which he was personally interested. The invention interested me very much, especially as so great a scientific authority as the late respected Dr Hopkinson—(cheers)—whom I consulted, told me that he thought so well of it that he was himself going to contribute £ 1000 of E5,000 required, and that he intended to give it his personal attention. Unfortunately, be was killed shortly after in an Alpine accident. There were four persons who each contributed LI,000 towards the fund required, of whom I was one. One of the essential conditions upon which I con- sented to contribute was that the syndicate should continue to be a private one, that no shares should be issued to the public or parted with to them, no prospectus and no directors' fees, and under these conditions we considered ourselves at liberty to make such arrangements among ourselves as we thought right, and to allow the capital to be allotted accordingly. To show our bona fides, we were offered a largo sum for the patent, but refused to let the public in, as we considered the patent insufficiently developed. In order to determine our share in the said invention, the chairman (Mr Roger Wallace) transferred 2,000 shares to each of us—Professor Hopkinson, myself, and Sir J. Lawrence—and when this transfer was effected every member of the syndicate was fully aware of the fact, and approved of its being done. These shares were part of a number of shares to which Mr Wallace was entitled under some arrangement with the vendor, which was not disclosed to me. I do not understand that had the syndicate remained a private one there was anything in the least degree questionable, objectionable, or unbusinesslike in the course adopted. The vendor, however, parted with some of his shates against our wish, and IN BREACH OF THE ARRANGEMENT I I have mentioned. The shares which he sold had been deposited by him with a foreign banker as security for advances, and were sold by the banker. I did not know of the transfer until some tima after it took place, and immediately protested. It now appears that in the opinion of Mr Justice Buckley when the vendor so parted with some of his shares the distribution of shares by Mr Wallace-to which, when it was done, no one could obiect—assumed in law a different complexion. Other equally eminent judges talses an opposite view. If Mr Justice Buckley is right I can only say that I was totally unconscious of that fact, and that I have been the victim of a breach of the original arrangement; but I cannot, looking back upon the course which I followed, reproach myself with having acted in any way—I would not say unworthily, but even with want of business caution. There is a sec nd matter which his lordship laid to our charge, and that was that during the last few years Sir Joseph Lawrence and myself had left the entire management of the syndicate to the chairman, Mr R. Wallace. It is true that this was done, but I should like to emphasise the fact that the syndicate was not, and never had beeu, a trading concern, and that, apart from the development of the invention (for which I believed the chairman, Mr R. Wallace, K.C., had special qualifications), there was no business to manage, and in tnis connection I would also point out that the money for such development, and, indeed, the only money in this syndicate of any sort, kind, or description, was OUR OWN MONEY. In the result, the syndicate was wound up, being indebted to only a few creditors, and for no very considerable amount. Before the liquidation and since the liquidation, and, indeed, at all times, Sir Joseph Lawrence aud myself have told the creditors that we would pay them, and this we will do but further, Mr Justice Buckley, in his judg- ment last Tuesday, has suggested that we should re- purchase at par the shares which the vendor trans- ferred in breach of the arrangement that no shares should be sold to the public. For those shares, I need scarcely point out, he (the vendor) received the whole price. I cannot myself, under the cir- cumstances, see that there is the least moral claim against us on the part of the purchasers of these snares with whose introduction into the syndicate we were in no way concerned, and from whom neither we nor the syndicate derived any betiefr, and I am advised that there is no legal claim, s that his lordship's suggestion seems to me to !> very much a counsel of perfection. However. ii> has thought right to make it, aud, although I am not a rich man, I will not have it said that anybody has lost money through me. This is a view that Sir Joseph Lawrence also shares, and we yesterday handed to our lawyer cheques for £ 5,0;X). which is more than sufficient to pay every creditor and the shareholders in question. (Cheers.) The judge was good enough to state that, in his opinion, there was no ground for attributing to either of us ANY LACK OF PERSONAL INTEGRITY, and, may I also point out, that we made no profit of any tiort or description, that we drew no directors' fees, that we issued no prospectus of any kind, that I took up and paid for in cash over 1,100 shares, and that I have advanced the company money which I have not been repaid, so that I have lost sums in connection with the matter which to me are heavy and considerable. Now, I think, people may say, Why did you not make this statement before? Well, I was advised by the highest legal authority that I ought not to address myself to the Press, and ought not to make any statement while the case was sub judice and until I had carried out the directions of the learned judge. My own sense of right and wrong told me that the one important matter for me was to pay everyone, so that no person could say that he had lost a penny through me. I have only had a few days-I am not a rich man-and I was not in a position to make a statement to do that until to- day. I can now say that Sir Joseph Lawrence and I have lodged the money, and that every share- holder, every contributor, and every creditor can have back every single penny that is due to him. (Cheers.) I have wronged no man I have myself been greatly wronged—(Cheers)—and I bow to the full force of THE TERRIFIC PUNISHMENT which has come upon me for this error of judgment committed seven years ago. (The hon, member spoke at this point with considerable emotion.) I have resigned, not because I think I am uufitted to hold the high position I held until a day ago in the Government, but because I accept the judgment of those in whose judgment I rely, for we are not always good j udges in our own causes. The censure of a certain judge, to which wide circulation has been given, renders me open to attack inside and outside this House that, in conducting the business of the Treasury, I have become, instead of a source of strength, a source of weak- ness to the Government-(cries of No, no ")—to which I am absolutely devoted, All I will ask from the Prime Minister, to whom I know these proceedings are more painful than perhaps they are to me, is to say that whatever I may have done in my private capacity, however remiss I may have been in my own private business, during the time I have conducted the financial business of this country entrusted to me, I have not been remiss or careless, I have not shown any want of prudence or want of caution, and I have not shown any want of capacity in that matter. (Cheers.) For nearly eighteen years I have been a member of this House, and eight years a member of the Government; and if I have neglected my private affairs it is because I DEVOTED MY WROLE TIME to the Government. For seven years I only missi-d three divisions, which will show that my time and my heart were devoted to this House. I have only to say how deeply touched I have been by the kiud messages that have come to me from my political opponents, who might have said something harsh about me, and how much I shall always treasure those messages. (Cheers.) MR BALPOTTR My hon friend has made an appeal to me to which I respond, not only readily, but gladly If anything could have increased the sympathy which, I am confident, has been felt since these unfortunate transactions were known—if anything could increase the sympathy which has been felt in all quarters of the House with my hon friend, it is the statement he has jut made. (Cheers.) Everyone will admit that ho has behaved under most trying and most difficult circumstances, not merely as we should all have anticipated as a man of high integrity and honour—(cheers)—but as a man who carries scrupu- losity in dealing with those who he thinks have suffered in the transactions to a degree which must, I think, MJVE THE ADMIRATION OF ALL OF U" and of those who will have the opportunity of reading what he has said. (Cheers.) My hon friend has asked me to bear testimony to the zeal and efficiency with which he has carried out his public duties in this House and in his office. That testimony I most gladly give. My hon friend and I have been closely associated together in political work fer many long years. I first came into close political and personal relations with him so fur back as 1887, when he gave me valuable assistance at a very trying and difficult period of my public administrative work. Since then he has been actively engaged in political work. He has, in and out of office, devoted himself with zeal and ability to the labours which this House throws upon the most zealous of its sons, and though he has, necessarily, and as a matter of course—being, as he is, a strong pirtv man—found himself divided by sharp differences from many of those with whom he has sat in ths House, and whom he has addressed to-day, I do not believe my hon friend HAS ONE SINGLE ENEMY I 1 in this Houss. (Cheers.) Few things more painful I have ever happened to me than the events of the last few days, in my political life, at all events, and I can only assure my hon friend that I am quite confident the course he has taken in this House, and outside, in connection with this unfortunate iiffair, all that he has done and all that he has said, will augment the esteem in which he is held by his opponents, and even increase, if that were possihle) the affectionate confidence of his friends. (Cheers.) SIR H. CÁ.lPBEIiL-BANEItYA.N: I It is no part of the duty, nor will it be the desire, of this House to pronounce any opinion upon the legal question which way be still pending in this matter, but there will be a universal feeling in this House of svmpathy with the hon. member— (clieers)-and sympathy increased by the fact that we believe that in the difficult, delicate, and un- fortunate situation he has done the right thing. (Cheers,) The hon. member has addressed us in terms which must engage for him an I INTCREAEE OF RESPECT from everyone who has heard him. (Hear, hear.) His conduct, not only previously in tendering the resignation of his office, but to-day in the recital he has made of the steps he has taken, I think, show us all that we were not mistaken in the belief that he was, in our experience, a man deserving of our respect, regard, and esteem. (Cheers.) I will not d well on the matter it is unnecessary to go further, but, while we deeply regret the circum- stances which have lad t) the interruption of his cueer-his official career—we still hope and feel that he will continue, at all events, to be a member of this House—(cheers)—in which he is so well calculated to do useful service. (Cheers.) Mr Hayes-Fisher at this point rose, bowed to the Speaker, and left the House. MR BLAKE, speaking for the Nationalist Party, echoed the expressions that had fallen from the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. Me H lyes-Fisher, by his action, had vindicated his reputation and increased the hono r due to him as a member of the House. The subject then dropped.

I The Advantages of Poverty.



Isk & Llatigibliy Steeplechases.

I I Markets.