Order for Committee read.
Motion made and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
said, he rose to ask the First Lord of the Treasury what steps Her Majesty's Government have taken to obtain compensation for the British subjects residing at Greytown, whose property was destroyed when that town was bombarded in 1854; and if he will lay upon the table of the House copies of the communications that have taken place on that subject with the Government of the United States? The town of Greytown, possessing from its situation peculiar advantages for commercial purposes, had become the residence of numerous merchants—French, Spanish, and English, and after the wonderful increase of trade and population that ensued in California from the discovery of gold, it became so important a position as to excite the cupidity of a certain very active and not very scrupulous party in the United States, who had frequently evinced a disposition to outrage the territory of their neighbours, and who manifested a strong desire to possess themselves of Greytown. Amongst the other parties carrying on business in this place were two rival transit companies, one com- posed of the people of different countries, including natives of England; the other the New York and Nicaraguan Transit Company, consisting, for the most part, of Americans. This latter company, whose agents were, for the most part, connected with the party in America to which he had referred, had obtained from the local Government on certain conditions a large grant of land near the port. This land was speedily covered with buildings, and the company then evinced a systematic spirit of encroachment, endeavouring to extend their possessions without regard to the terms of the covenant upon which they obtained the original grant. The consequence was, that constant collisions, attended with violence, took place between the servants of the Transit Company and the local authorities. It appeared that, unfortunately, the Government at Washington appointed a gentleman as representative of the United States at Nicaragua, who was a strong partisan of the Transit Company. The consequence of the appointment of that gentleman had been, that the local authorities of Greytown had been systematically insulted by the Americans, and on one occasion an attempt was made to withdraw from the hands of the authorities a person who had committed a murder. There were in the town extensive warehouses and other buildings belonging to the parties engaged in the other company, and the object of those who assumed this attitude of hostility towards the local authorities seemed from an early period to be to obtain by force possession of the town. But as the authorities had no force sufficient to resist the partisans of the Transit company who were constantly receiving reinforcements, they never attempted to assert their rights by force, but sought by remonstrance and conciliation to avert the threatened encroachments: on one occasion they resigned their trust, and invited the British consul to act for them. This arrangement, however, was not carried out. The Americans having failed to provoke the local authorities into a resistance by force, began to proclaim that they were most oppressive in their conduct, and had recourse to the expedient of making fictitious claims against them for injuries said to have been done to American interests and property. The ipse dixit of the Americans was always taken as sufficient in those cases, and any appeal to refer the points in dis- pute to arbitration had always been rejected. The local authorities could only remonstrate, and it had at length been announced by the American Consul that the Government at Washington should be consulted upon the questions at issue, but nothing had been heard in relation to the result of any such appeal until the 12th of July, 1854, when a large corvette belonging to the United States had arrived in front of Greytown, the captain of which vessel had immediately sent a formal intimation to the authorities to the effect that if they did not at once consent to pay 24,000 dollars by way of compensation for injuries alleged to have been inflicted upon the Americans, the town would forthwith be bombarded. Upon the receipt of that intimation the local authorities drew up a strong protest against the outrage about to be committed upon them. The English Consul happened to be absent at the time, but he had ably been represented by our Vice-consul (Mr. J. Geddes), who also drew up a protest against the meditated bombardment, which protest was duly forwarded to Captain Hollins, Commander of the United States' corvette. Now, he might add that it was perfectly well known that the local authorities could not raise the sum which had been demanded of them; but, notwithstanding that fact, and despite the protest to which he had just adverted, the town had, after a lapse of a period of only twenty-four hours from the time of the arrival of the vessel been bombarded by the American captain, shells to the number of 250 or 300 having been thrown among its unarmed inhabitants. Finding, however, that the shells had not succeeded in destroying the whole of the houses in the town, Captain Hollins had given orders to his men to proceed systematically from house to house, with torches in their hands, and to set fire to every species of valuable property as they passed upon their way. The result had been, that all the houses in the town had been destroyed, and among them the residence of the British Vice-Consul, which had been deliberately set fire to while the English flag was flying from its roof. The disgraceful outrage which had thus been committed upon defenceless citizens had, he might further observe, taken place in the middle of a most inclement season, had deprived the inhabitants of Greytown of all shelter, and had resulted in driving forth aged women and children without a roof to cover them amid all the severity of those tropical torrents by which the period of the year at which the melancholy disaster in question occurred in Nicaragua was characterized. This version of the facts was not taken from the British residents only, but was concurred in by the French, Spanish, and other residents, and testified to by the Consuls of several nations; and he should ask the House not to lose sight of the fact that the alleged grievances of the Americans were of such a fictitious nature, that no attempt had ever been made by them to submit them to arbitration. These shameful occurrences had taken place three years ago, and yet no attempt had hitherto been made upon the part of Her Majesty's Government to obtain any explanation of a proceeding, in the dreadful consequences of which no less than thirteen British families were involved, and by which a direct insult had been offered to the English flag. In the meantime a document fell into the bands of the sufferers which showed how inexcusable were these proceedings, and that the design of the Americans was to gain possession of the town. This document was a letter written by a Mr. White, the agent of the New York and Nicaraguan Transit Company at New York, to Mr. Fabers, the American agent at Greytown. In this document the people of the town were styled scoundrels. It stated, that if these scoundrels were soundly punished, possession could be taken, a business place built up, and the jurisdiction transferred. The writer observed, "You know the rest;" and added, "It is of the last importance that the people of the town should be made to fear." This was the letter:—
"Office of the New York and California
Steam Ship Line, via Nicaragua,
No. 5, Bowling-green, New York,
June 16, 1854.
"Dear Sir,—Captain Hollins leaves here next Monday. You will see from his instructions that much discretion is given to you, and it is to be hoped that it will be so exercised as not to show any mercy to the town or people. If the scoundrels are soundly punished we can take possession and build it up as a business place, put in our own officers, transfer the jurisdiction, and you know the rest. It is of the last importance that the people of the town should be taught to fear us. Punishment will teach them, after which you must agree with them as to the organization of a new Government, and the officers of it. Everything now depends on you and Hollins. The latter is all right.—Yours, &c.,
He thought, after this, that the House had a right to some explanation from the noble Lord at the head of the Government as to what steps had been taken to obtain compensation for those British subjects whose property had been destroyed by this unjustifiable bombardment. The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) held high language some time since when he repudiated the insinuation of an hon. Member that the resistance of the British Government to acts of oppression was to be measured by the strength of the aggressor. The noble Lord repelled that idea with indignation. Hon. Members who remembered the way in which the noble Lord exercised all the power of England in the case of Don Pacifico, knew with how high a hand he carried British authority on such occasions. The House knew, also, the manner in which the noble Lord had declared it necessary to vindicate the honour of the British flag in the Chinese waters, in a case in which the right to hoist that flag had been exceeded. In the Chinese case there was a doubt if the flag of England was flying, and it had been clearly proved that the vessel in question had no legal right to hoist the British flag, but in the case of Greytown there could be no doubt, for the house of the British consul, over which the British flag was flying, was deliberately and wantonly set fire to, and destruction entailed on thirteen British families, one British subject losing property to the value of many thousand pounds sterling. He (Lord C. Hamilton) was aware that it was said by the American Government that they were not originally conscious of the proceedings that were carried on in their name; but, unfortunately, since that time, they had involved themselves in the transaction by not punishing the perpetrators as they might have done, the agents in the outrage being citizens of the United States. Still, in justice to the inhabitants of the United States, he must observe that public opinion among them had strongly manifested itself on numerous occasions by condemning the whole transaction, and by stigmatizing it as a marked violation of the law of nations. The public press has also most honourably denounced the whole proceeding. In conclusion, he begged to ask the Prime Minister for the information sought by the terms of his notice, and trusted that the noble Lord would be able to show that some steps had been taken by the Government in this case to obtain justice for British subjects who had been grossly outraged, and whose property had been destroyed."J. L. WHITE."
, before the speech of the noble Lord who had just spoken was replied to, wished to draw the attention of the noble Lord at the head of the Government to a Bill which had been brought from another place, and was now upon the table of the House, relating to testamentary jurisdiction. The measure was a very important one. During the last four years they had had not less than eight Bills brought before them on the subject, and the present Bill had undergone the consideration of some of the ablest lawyers, here and elsewhere, that the country ever possessed. The Bill had already appeared once in the paper, but so low down that it had to be postponed. It now stood for Monday next, and unless the noble Lord lent it his powerful support, he feared it would continue in the "slough of despond," and the country would despair of the power of the House to remedy the evils it was intended to cure. He begged to ask whether it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to press the Probates and Letters of Administration Bill to a successful issue in the present Session.
said, I can assure my hon. Friend that it is the full intention of Her Majesty's Ministers to press the Bill to which he has referred, as they hope a favourable decision in this present Session. The Bill was brought in by the Lord Chancellor in the other House of Parliament. It is one of the measures of the Government, and therefore I am exceedingly anxious for its progress, in which I am very glad to find we shall have the assistance of my hon. Friend. The Bill having come down from the House of Lords, is not so pressing as other Bills which have to go up to that House. Therefore, if the Bill is postponed for other Bills of more pressing importance, my hon. Friend must not suppose the Government will at all shrink from doing their utmost to carry it. With regard to the matter to which the noble Lord has called the attention of the House, I am bound to say that the transaction to which his question refers was one which it is impossible not to characterize as a very violent and a very cruel proceeding. It was, however, authorized and ordered by the Government of the United States. Whether they meant it to be carried out with such severity, or whether the officer—and who is, I believe, a very distinguished and honourable officer in the United States service—mistook his instructions, I cannot say. But I am bound to observe that the manner and degree of severity which was exercised, reflect no credit either upon the Government which ordered, or upon the officer who executed those orders. But the question which Her Majesty's Government had to consider was the bearing of international law upon that question. Now, it is undoubtedly a principle of international law, that when one Government deems it right to exercise acts of hostility against the territory of another Power, the subjects and citizens of third Powers, who may happen to be resident in the place attacked, have no claim whatever upon the Government which, in the exercise of its national rights, commits these acts of hostility. For instance it was deemed necessary for us to destroy the town of Sebastopol. There may have been in that town Germans, Italians, Portuguese, and Americans, but none of those parties had any ground upon which to claim from the British and French Governments compensation for losses sustained in consequence of those hostilities. Those who go and settle in a foreign country must abide the chances which may befall that country, and if they have any claim, it must be upon the Government of the country in which they reside; but they certainly can have no claim whatever upon the Government which thinks right to commit acts of hostility against that State. Therefore, we were advised, and I think rightly, that British subjects in Greytown had no ground upon which they could call upon the Government of this country to demand from the Government of the United States compensation for the injuries which they suffered in the attack upon that town. We may think that the attack was not justified by the cause which was assigned. But, as an independent State, we have no right to judge the motives which actuated another State in asserting their rights and vindicating wrongs which it supposed its citizens or subjects had sustained, and there was nothing in the relations between Great Britain and Greytown which gave us a right exceptional to the application of that general rule of international law. Grey-town certainly was part of the Mosquito territory, and under the general protectorship of Great Britain, but that protectorship was of a nature which carried with it the obligation merely of protecting it against foreign aggression, but did not go to the extent of interfering in disputes between that and another State. There are two kinds of protectorship. In the Ionian Islands the British Government directs the action of the Government of the protected State. Nothing is done in that State except by the counsel and advice and the actual action of the British representative. We are consequently responsible for everything which the Government may do, and therefore entitled to require redress for wrongs or to vindicate any attack upon the place. Not so with regard to Greytown. Government is there administered by a self-elected, self-constituted municipality of Americans, English, French, Spaniards, and Germans. They are acting upon their own responsibility, and they, and not England, must be responsible for the consequences of everything they may do. I believe the real state of the case was that there was a dispute between two rival American transit companies, the one patronized by the self-constituted Government of Greytown, the other protected by the Government of the United States; and that out of the rivalship and quarrels of those two companies arose the transaction to which the noble Lord has adverted. Undoubtedly communications have passed between the British and American Governments, with a view to ascertain what the intentions of the American Government were; but we found that they rested upon the rule of international law to which I have referred, and the right which the law of nations gave them to take measures which they, in their own judgment, deemed necessary. The American Government have determined not to give compensation to any parties. They have refused, I believe, to give compensation to their own citizens who suffered by the bombardment. When I say refused, I do not know whether the demand was made, but I know they do not intend to give compensation to Germans, French, Spaniards, or any subjects of other Governments settled at Greytown at the time. Her Majesty's Government, therefore, acting under the advice of those who are most competent to give an opinion upon the subject, and deeming the advice in accordance with international practice, have foregone demanding any compensation of the United States for those subjects of Great Britain who have been so unfortunate as to have been injured by the bombardment of Greytown. I have now to appeal to my hon. Friend the Member for Mallow (Sir D. Norreys) who has a Motion on the paper with regard to proceedings in Committee of Supply. The embarrassment to which the Motion relates has in the present instance arisen very much from the anxiety of the Government to afford to the House the most detailed information possible with regard to the Estimates which they proposed. We felt, however, that there was a great deal of force in the objection made that one Vote ought not to cover such a multitude of items, and we intend to divide the Estimate into three, so that the classification will be more in accordance with the nature of the expenditure. W c may, in a future year, endeavour to alter the form of the Estimates so as to obviate in a greater degree the difficulties which have arisen; but no change can be made in the course of proceeding in this House without altering those forms of the House which have existed, I believe, from the memory of man. It is matter well deserving the consideration of the House whether those forms of proceeding ought to be altered. They rest upon reasons which have appeared to be good for a long course of time. At all events they ought not to be altered hastily and on a sudden by a Motion for an instruction to the Committee of Supply, but after a full consideration of their bearing upon the general character and nature of the proceedings of the House. I therefore hope that my hon. Friend will not call on the House to decide upon the Motion which he has announced his attention of making, but that he will allow Her Majesty's Government to endeavour, in the next Session of Parliament, to frame the Estimates in some manner that may be more calculated to afford facilities to hon. Gentlemen to urge objections which may occur to them. Then, if it should appear that we have not succeeded in that, this House may, on full deliberation and consideration, determine whether it will be worth while to alter forms of proceeding which are of long standing, and which are part and parcel of its general system of conducting business.
said, he could not refrain from making one or two observations relative to the manner in which the noble Viscount had treated the question brought forward by his noble Friend. The noble Viscount might, perhaps, be right in the legal view which he took of that question; but he believed it was the first time in the history of civilized nations—at all events he (Lord Lovaine) could not recall to mint any instance of a nation in a time of pro found peace, not only sending out an armed force to destroy a town, but to destroy property which belonged—and notoriously belonged—to the citizens and subjects of a power with which they were at peace. Now, so far as our vice consul at Grey-town was concerned, it appeared that the English flag was flying on his house, and that the house was destroyed with the perfect consciousness and knowledge that it did belong to the English consul, and was under the protection of the English flag. Moreover, it was not destroyed by the fire of the American ships, but deliberately by the party who were sent on shore. Now, he could not help thinking that if one-half the energy and vigour which had been shown by the British Government in the affair of China had been exhibited in the present instance, something might have been secured in the way of compensation for the wretched sufferers at Greytown. The case was an entirely exceptional one. It was not like any other that he knew of as having occurred within his memory; and when he recollected that the noble Lord had out of the House, in places where there was no opportunity of contradicting him, indulged in language which was not very complimentary to hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, and stated that his opponents on the question of the Chinese war were indifferent to the honour of the British flag, he (Lord Lovaine) thought it was as well that it should go forth to the world that there had been other opportunities of vindicating the outraged honour of the British flag and the rights of British subjects which had not received that attention from the noble Viscount to which they were entitled. It was a remarkable circumstance that when a power was weak and feeble the noble Viscount could display plenty of determination to vindicate those rights; but where the power was one to be respected by reason of its strength, somehow or other no remonstrance was made, and no effort employed to obtain anything like redress for those English subjects who happened to be the sufferers.
I cannot help being reminded by this discussion of the sort of castigation, as I may almost call it, to which I was recently subjected by the noble Lord, because I had presumed to say the conduct pursued by our Government would lead the world to think that England was a bully to the weak and a coward to the strong. On the occasion to which I refer, the noble Lord was, as he always is, exceedingly adroit in diverting attention by his sarcasms from the point to which my remarks were directed. But what has he done in this case? He has brought forward a sort of solution which, in its very essence, is a degradation to the country. Greytown, says the noble Lord, was under the protection of England. What is the meaning of that phrase? "Oh!" says the noble Lord, "we are to protect Greytown against occupation or conquest by a foreign nation;" but he would allow a foreign nation to bombard it. How was Greytown originally peopled? Subjects of this country went out, carrying with them, as they thought, the name of Englishmen and the protection of England, and colonized that town. This place, says the noble Lord, was a part of the Mosquito territory? I will bind him to that. What, then, have we always said and done in respect of the Mosquito territory? Have we not held that we were the protectors of the Indians there? and did we not, on a late occasion, make a treaty by which we vindicated to ourselves the right to protect them, and also declared it a part of the honour of England not to desert tribes which have been for centuries under our protection? But if this were true as regards the Indians of Mosquito, how much more true is it as regards those Englishmen who have gone out and colonized that country, believing that the œgis of England was extended over them? If there ever was a flagrant case in which we have been subservient to the strong this is it. The noble Lord himself calls this a cruel proceeding. It was more than that; it was dishonest as well as cruel, on the part of the United States' Government; but were we to stand by and allow our subjects to be ill-treated by a strong Power? Supposing this had been done by China, or by Brazil? Why, we should have had one hon. Gentleman after another on that (the Treasury) bench rampant at the outrage offered to the British flag, and indignantly insisting that the national honour should be vindicated. We should have had this sort of language mouthed here from twelve o'clock in the day to twelve o'clock at night, and the war cry would have been sent through the country by the newspapers of the next morning. We all know what happened when the lorcha was boarded in the Canton river. We heard of the insult to the British flag. Did we ever hear of the insult to the British flag at Greytown? A British consul was there, and protested against the proceedings. The British flag was flying over his house when the bombardment began, and he and his family were obliged to leave the place on account of the danger to which they were exposed. The town was, in fact, blown to atoms by the strong Government of America; and we stood by while we saw our people ruined, their property destroyed, and our flag disgraced. Yet, an occasion is taken, forsooth, to vilify hon. Gentlemen in this House who are really anxious to vindicate the honour of England, but who do not wish to vindicate that honour by becoming bullies to the weak and trucklers to the strong. An honest, just, and merciful bearing towards all nations is the attitude worthy of England. Let her protect the weak if they are in the right, and see that justice is done to Englishmen wherever they reside.
said, they had that night heard two remarkable statements from the noble Lord at the head of the Government; one of these was an opinion in favour of non-intervention in the affairs of other countries, and by that opinion he trusted the noble Lord would henceforward be guided. There was something remarkable, too, about the description which the noble Lord had given of the whole transaction at Greytown as connected with the Government of the United States. He had told the House that a quarrel took place between two rival transit companies and that the mode of settlement—he could hardly term it arbitration—adopted by the United States Government was to bombard the town which was the scene of the dispute. That was one of the most singular proceedings on the part of the Government of a great country that he (Mr. Bentinck) had ever heard of; yet they had the authority of the noble Lord that that course was taken by the United States Government in order to determine the dispute between the two rival companies. He trusted the Government of the United States would be satisfied with the version of the proceedings which had been given by the noble Lord. He (Mr. Bentinck) would not now go into the question of international law. The noble Lord himself was high authority upon that subject; therefore, although it appeared to be somewhat extraordinary that the British flag should, under any circumstances, be insulted and disgraced without this country being possessed of the power of requiring an indemnity or apology for such conduct, he would waive the question of international law. With his noble Friend (Lord Lovaine), however, he must say that it was rather singular that by some chance or other it always happened that whenever any such outrages were committed by countries which had not the power to defend themselves, we insisted upon immediate reparation; but when the outrage was committed by a power that was able to take its own part, or with which it was not thought expedient to have an altercation, we allowed ourselves to submit to the grossest insults without exacting redress or even demanding apology for what had been done. This reminded him of what had been a subject of discussion in that House time out of mind; for the present was not the first, second, or third occasion on which they had had discussions as to the want of, he would not say common courage, for nobody doubted that, but of determination on the part of this country to resist the outrages and insults which were offered it by the United States. He was not one of those who for one moment undervalued the importance and the enormous misfortunes which a war between this country and the United States of America would inevitably entail on both. He begged to be distinctly understood as entertaining the strongest sense of the importance of that question, and the necessity of never allowing ourselves to commit any unjustifiable act that would lead to such a result. But the course pursued by this country with regard to the United States on more than one occasion—not particularly the present, though that, he thought, was a case which should have been dealt with differently—had been such as was more likely to lead to hostilities than to avert them. He believed the real cause of that which had led so justly to the numerous complaints, both in this House and in the country, of the sort of degradation to which we had at various times submitted under outrages and insults from the Government of the United States, had arisen out of a painful necessity—namely, that a great portion of the commerce of this country was dependant for its supply of raw material upon the United States, and there had always been a dominant party in this House who had, in so many words, told the Government, "If you go to war with America we will turn you out." The consequence was, that no Government had dared to take a straightforward or manly part when a dispute had arisen between this country and the United States. Now such a policy as that was, in his opinion, much more calculated to lead to hostilities than to insure the continuance of peace. The practice, so often repeated by the Government of the United States, of offering insult to this country under circumstances in which they would not from policy venture to do so, did they not know that we were hampered by commercial considerations, was one very likely to lead to a repetition of such proceedings, and to the inevitable consequences of a repetition, namely, that one of these days an outrage of such magnitude would be offered that the spirit of the country would revolt at it, and we should be forced into that very war which we now sought to avert by improper and untimely concession. There was a limit, no doubt, at which conciliation and cowardice became convertible terms, and he believed there was nothing so calculated to precipitate a war with America as forgetfulness of what was due to our own honour.
assured the hon. and learned member for Sheffield (Mr. Roebuck) and the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down that if the law advisers of the Crown had found that, compatibly with the international law of Europe, satisfaction could have been demanded from America for the losses sustained by British subjects at Greytown, they would unquestionably have pressed upon the Government advice to that effect. The opinion they arrived at was arrived at unwillingly and reluctantly by the law advisers of the Crown. But France also was concerned in this affair, and was she to be accused of truckling to America? In France they were obliged to come to the same conclusion, and France therefore as well as England had abstained from pressing any demand for satisfaction that could not legally be obtained. The experience of the proceedings between this country and America which he had had as law adviser of the Crown led him to a conclusion the reverse of that arrived at by the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. If America were asked her opinion, she would say that she had reason to complain again and again of the strictness with which the law of this country and the principles of international law had been enforced against her. He defied the hon. Gentleman to point to a single instance in which England had given up a legal claim to satisfaction. Every jurist admitted that in a case like that of the Greytown bombardment no compensation could be enforced for the losses sustained. The principle which governed such cases was, that the citizens of foreign States who resided within the arena of war had no right to demand compensation from either of the belligerents, for the losses or injuries they sustained. As an instance of this doctrine he would beg the hon. Gentleman to call to mind the case of Copenhagen and the bombardments of other places.
I am not surprised, though the interval since this outrage was committed has been not inconsiderable, that the affair at Greytown has at last been brought to the attention of the House. I think we should have been wanting in our duty to the people whom we represent as well as to that honour which has been appealed to, if such a subject had been permanently passed over in silence. It must be recollected, that shortly after the bombardment of Greytown, this country became involved in a war of almost unsurpassed magnitude and importance, which demanded all its attention and energies, and that may be offered as some reason, if not a sufficient excuse, for our not having before this discussed the question now under our consideration. I think we are much indebted to the noble Lord for having, even at this late moment, recalled to us that we had left a duty unfulfilled, and, if I had any doubt of the great expediency of the Motion of my noble Friend, that doubt would have been removed by the observations which we have heard this evening from the noble Lord the First Minister of the Crown. Those remarks appear to me, to say the least, unsatisfactory and unsound, and, if they indicate the spirit in which our relations with the United States are in future to be managed, I do not think that the prospect is one of which this country has any reason to be proud. The noble Lord has laid down tonight the same exposition of the principles of international law as he gave us during a former discussion, and the learned Attorney General has endeavoured to enforce and establish a view which I cannot help suspecting, from the strong similarity it bears to the observations of the noble Lord, he himself must have inspired. I cannot pretend to contend with the learned Attorney upon a question of international law, but at the same time I may make some remarks which will at least indicate the reasons why I receive with some hesitation the conclusions at which he has arrived. The learned Attorney stated his view of the principles of international law as they are established in Europe, but we have to consider to-night the application of those principles to America. The noble Lord, also, full of the same view, adduced the case of Sebastopol as being similar to the blockade of Greytown. Copenhagen and Sebastopol are, according to the noble Lord, two precedents for this infamous and ineffable outrage. But Copenhagen and Sebastopol were fortified towns. Greytown was not a fortified town. I always thought it was a principle of international law that it was not legal to bombard towns which were not fortified, and where authorities are established who by treaty are bound to have neither military nor naval resources. Under such circumstances I doubt whether it is legal for any other State to make a foray of the description which we have now under consideration. But even if that view cannot be established, are there no other circumstances of difference between the case of Greytowu and those of Sebastopol and Copenhagen? Why, Sir, Greytown is under the protection of the English authorities; and I cannot believe that the House will accept for a moment the hair-splitting distinction which the noble Lord made between inert and active protection. But if the law in this ease is so clear, as the learned Attorney maintains, how is it that not only Her Majesty's Government but the Governments of other countries took at the origin of these affairs a totally different view of it? Why did they make representations to the Government of the United States, assuming that this was an outrage on the law of nations? If the law was so very clear, every power of obtaining redress was as closed to them then as they say it now is. The learned Attorney General endeavours to defend himself by instancing France. He says, could France, that high spirited nation, which is so prone and proud to interfere under any circumstances in which the rights of her subjects or her own honour are concerned,—could she have been silent if there had been an infraction of international law? But, in the first place, let me observe that France was not the protector of the Mosquito territory, and in the second place that France has interfered; that France has represented this outrage to the Government of the United States, and that France has demanded, and is at this moment demanding, reparation for the outrage. What, then, becomes of the precedents of the learned Attorney General? Now, let us remember that it is exactly three years since the bombardment of Greytown took place. I will not long trespass upon the attention of the House, though I fancy there are few hon. Members present who do not feel that this is a question which demands our earnest sympathy. Three years after this event took place—namely, on the 16th day of February, 1857, through the kindness of Captain Erskine, an officer in command of the British fleet, a memorial, of which I will read a paragraph, was addressed to the Secretary of State (Lord Clarendon). It is written in very temperate language, and, while it shows confidence in Her Majesty's Government, it impresses upon them the necessity of obtaining redress. The memorialists say,—
Now, I ask the House whether it is possible under the circumstances that an appeal more temperate and more forbearing could have been made? Conscious of the great events which were occurring in Europe, cognizant of the mighty struggle we were making, and of the necessity which existed that our Government should bend all its energies for the accomplishment of one great end, these unfortunate Englishmen forbore to press their sufferings upon the Government, or, at all events, did not urge the Government to attempt a solution of the difficulty, because they did not desire to add to its embarrassment. But now that peace has returned they naturally ask for some reparation and redress. We are told that the United States' Government, adopting the conduct of their officer, haughtily refused to listen to such an appeal; but I say, let us see upon the table of this House an answer from the United States on the subject. Sir, I have too much confidence in the good qualities of the people of the United States and their Government to believe for a moment that they would adopt without demur the acts of the commander of this corvette. I believe that they do share the feeling which the memorial of the sufferers generously and properly attributes to them—a feeling of disapprobation and disgust, which pervades every part of the United States, as well as this country, with reference to these transactions. Well, after all this forbearance, and after patiently waiting during three years of neglect, what is the answer received by the sufferers from the Secretary of State? I have here the original of the letter which is addressed to Mr. Bell, one of the memorialists—"May it please your Lordship,—We, the subscribers, British subjects presently resident in Greytown, take the liberty of addressing your Lordship in reference to that disastrous and well-known catastrophe of the 13th of July, 1854, when, in a time of profound peace, and without any provocation whatever on our part, Captain Hollins, of the United States' corvette Cyane, after making unavailingly a fictitious claim and utterly unjust demand upon the community of this city to an amount in money, also, which, at the time, it would have been utterly impossible for it to have furnished, proceeded to bombard our homesteads, our warehouses, and shops; and then, not satisfied with the mischief thus wrought us, gave orders to his men to proceed systematically from house to house, from one end of the town to the other, setting them on fire, to the utter destruction of our shelter, our clothing, our furniture, our merchandise, and everything moveable we possessed; and this, too, in the middle of the most inclement month of this climate, when the forest that closely environs this town had become an impassable marsh. The mere statement of so sudden and awful a calamity befalling, under such circumstancs, an entire community; the knowledge that the aged, the women, the children, the sick were, within a quarter of an hour, driven forth shelterless amid the tropical torrents which characterize that month, appears to us to render entirely superfluous and misplaced any attempt to describe, not only the sufferings thus occasioned to the inhabitants, but the atrocity also of those who caused them. We are aware, moreover, that this frightful act has become known throughout Christendom; and that on every occasion on which reference has been made to it in public prints or public addresses, it America as well as in Europe, such reference has unanimously been made in terms of the severest reprobation and the strongest disgust. We should be at a loss, therefore, to conceive why the representations we have formerly been constrained by the deplorable straits to which most of us have been reduced, to address to your Lordship have hitherto remained fruitless, were it not that we are well aware, not only of the gigantic efforts our country and her allies had to exert to bring the late war to a successful conclusion, but that since that fortunate event affairs, both in Europe and America, have been so situated—international questions of such deep import have arisen for discussion, as to have called for the exercise of the mental energies of your Lordship and all other statesmen in distinguished positions, in a degree almost unprecedented. But now that peace again prevails in Europe, and that a solution of those international questions has happily been attained, the time appears propitious for our again venturing to recall to your Lordship's consideration the afflicting predicament to which we were reduced—and from no fault of ours—by the atrocious act of an officer of the United States, and in which, during the last two years and a half and more, we and our families have remained struggling and almost despairing. It is in this view, your Lordship, that we once more entreat you to take into consideration the great and longendured hardships of our case, and to procure us such relief and redress as to your Lordship may appear most suitable."
"Foreign Office, June 3, 1857.
"Sir: I am directed by the Earl of Clarendon to acquaint you, in reply to your letter of the 29th ult., that his Lordship has received and has had under his consideration the memorial which you drew up on the 16th of February last, and which was forwarded to this department by Captain Erskine, of Her Majesty's ship Orion, on behalf of British subjects inhabiting Greytown who sustained losses when that port was bombarded by the United States' ship of war Cyane in 1854; and I am to state to you that, judging from the answer which the United States Secretary of State returned on the 26th of February last to a note of the French Minister at Washington, urging similar claims of French subjects for compensation, Lord Clarendon is of opinion that an application to the United States' Government on behalf of British claimants would not at present be of any avail.
"I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
So it appears that at the end of last February the French Government, which, according to the learned Attorney General, did not interfere on this subject, were at that time urging on the American Government the claims of French subjects to compensation and redress."J. S. Bell, Esq. "E. HAMMOND."
What I said was that the French Government did not insist on reparation.
Did not "insist" on it, but "urged it." Where is the difference? I infer from this letter that the French Government are exercising their influence and are using all the pacific means at their disposal to obtain some redress for the subjects of the Emperor who were among the sufferers at Greytown. I am only asking Her Majesty's Government to do the same. And now let me recall the attention of the House to the character of the despatch I have read. If it be the opinion of the Government that they are justified neither by law nor by policy in interfering in this case for the vindication of English honour and the maintenance of English interests, why not have answered the temperate memorial I have read to the House in a statesmanlike despatch which should have frankly, clearly, and concisely (I had almost added, honourably) expressed the reasons for the course pursued? Nothing of the kind. The Government shelter themselves under the gabardine of the French Ministry and the policy of France, and held themselves excused from exertion because that Government had failed to produce any effect. The despatch contains no denial of the claims of the memorialists. There is nothing on the face of it to show that Her Majesty's Government deem that, however great may be the misfortune of the sufferers at Greytown, their claims are illegal or impolitic. On the contrary, the only inference to be fairly drawn from this despatch is, that the Secretary of State conceives these claims to be such as might be urged and ought to be redressed; but, says he, after the answer given on the 26th of February last by the United States' Secretary to the note of the French Minister at Washington urging similar claims for compensation, I am of opinion that an application on my part would not be at present of any avail. Well, Sir, I say that that is a shabby mode of meeting this question. The memorialists who receive this answer have not the satisfaction of knowing that their case, after all their patience and forbearance, has been examined and considered by the Government of their own country, and that, though sympathy is felt for their losses and regret for the calamities to which they have been subjected, still the stern front of international law prevents redress. If they knew this, they might reconcile themselves to their lot with the conviction that, had not the law been against them, the proud policy of this country would have gained for them ample reparation. But, Sir, I deny the assertion of the Secretary of State, that the subjects of the French Government are in the same position with regard to redress as the English settlers in Greytown. There is a broad distinction between the position of the English and of the French sufferers from the bombardment, and I defy the most adroit diplomatist to persuade the inhabitants of England or of France, whether by speech or by writing, that that position is the same. The protectorate claimed by England over the Mosquito territory renders the difference between the French and English claims one of immense proportions. But, although such a difference exists and is so much in favour of English subjects, it appears from the despatch of the Secretary of State himself that the French Government are at this moment urging the claims of the sufferers belonging to that nation, while the English Government, not coining forward and frankly laying down the grounds upon which they resolve upon non-interference, absolutely refuse to make even a remonstrance to the authorities of the United States, because, forsooth, the French Minister applied last February and has received an unfavourable answer. I say that in all our annals such an answer was never yet given by an English Secretary of State to English subjects. Sir, notwithstanding the tone of the noble Lord, I do not despair of redress being even yet obtained, at least by the subjects of England. But, now, when the tumult of war has ceased, and the struggle in which we were engaged is over, this question will come to be fairly discussed and whether reparation is accorded upon the application of the English Government, or, as I hope will be the case after reflection, by the generous and spontaneous Motion of the United States' Government, I am convinced it is impossible that such an outrage as this can go unredressed in the nineteenth century, simply because redress is not compatible with the interpretation put upon international law.
I rather expected that one of the occupants of the Treasury bench would have got up to answer the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I certainly do not feel that I can enter upon a complete vindication of the course pursued by Her Majesty's Government, because I do not agree with them upon all the points of this case. I think, however, it is clear that they could not have acted to any good purpose in the way the right hon. Gentleman seems to think they ought to have acted. The bombardment of Grey town was a proceeding which, as I understand, the American Government authorized, and have openly avowed. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that the American Government would not avow it; but, as far as I recollect the circumstances, that Government, without, perhaps, vindicating every part of his proceedings, have declared that the instructions they gave to their naval officer authorized him to proceed to the bombardment in the event of the satisfaction demanded not being accorded. Well, now, if that is the case, and there seems to be no doubt that it is so, I do not see that Her Majesty's Government could do otherwise than apply, as they did, to the law officers of the Crown, for the purpose of ascertaining what redress could be obtained for British subjects whose property has been destroyed, and who have been, no doubt, cruelly treated in this matter. The law officers of the Crown—the Attorney General, the Solicitor General, and the Queen's Advocate—have, as I am given to understand, expressed their opinion that these belligerent proceedings having been authorized by the American Government, it is not competent for the British Government to demand or obtain satisfaction or reparation for the injuries done to British subjects at the hands of the American Government. As I understand it, they compare it with the bombardment of Copenhagen, which took place in 1807, and they would maintain, no doubt, that if an American citizen, then resident in Denmark, had come to the British Government, and had demanded reparation for the losses which he had sustained, and the damage done to his goods and warehouses at the bombardment of Copenhagen, the British Government would have been fully justified in refusing that reparation. I take it that that is the version of the law of nations, upon the authority of the law officers of the Crown; and I confess I see no reason to doubt its accuracy, or its application; but, that opinion being given, I do not well see how the Government of this country could proceed to make a demand for redress and reparation, because they could hardly do so and accept a total denial of such redress without taking further proceedings; and how would they have been justified in taking further proceedings when they had in their portfolio the opinion of the law officers of the Crown that they were not justified by the law of nations in demand-reparation? If that be the case, a mere representation to the American Government that we expected redress from them, while we were content at the same time to accept a refusal of the application, would hardly have been consistent with the dignity of the Government, and it certainly would not have raised their position in the eyes of America. Such being the state of the case, I think, with regard to the sufferings that these persons represent, and the damages and losses which they have sustained, that the Government can hardly do more than express the opinion which I believe the whole civilized world entertains of that proceeding of the American Government—namely, that their demands were exorbitant and unfounded, and that they proceeded to carry those demands into effect by a cruel and outrageous action. But there is one part of this affair on which I think the Government ought to have demanded some explanation from the United States, It is that which refers to the insult to the British flag, which was hoisted on the house of the Vice Consul. Let it be admitted, according to the opinion of the law officers, that no pecuniary compensation could be made to those who suffered loss; but here was the Vice Consul, in a State which is nominally under the protection of Great Britain, and with the British flag flying from his house. The American captain might have said that he was ordered to bombard the town, that he could not distinguish one house from another, that the shots could not be so aimed as to spare that particular house, and that the house suffered like the rest in the bombardment. But such cannot be the allegation of the American captain, because, as stated in the memorial which was read by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, after the bombardment—in itself a wanton and cruel proceeding, as I think—the sailors of the American corvette landed, and actually set fire to different parts of the town, and I believe, among others, to the very house of the Vice Consul, from which the British flag was flying. If that be the fact, as I believe it to have been, I think that the Government might have said, "Setting aside the question of pecuniary compensation, which the law of nations will not allow us to demand, we must be satisfied that no insult was intended to the British flag by the proceedings that were taken by the American captain, because there is every appearance of a wanton insult to that flag having been intended." I will not put in any competition with this case the example of China, which has been so often referred to in the course of this discussion, because I hold that, in the case of China, our conduct has been so flagitious, so totally wanting in every regard to justice, that, so far from being a precedent to be followed on any other occasion, I hope that it will be a precedent which the British Government and the British nation will never again adopt. With regard to the Motion of the hon. Baronet the Member for Mallow (Sir D. Norreys) with respect to the mode of discussing the items of the Estimates, I wish to observe, that we have now arrived at a state with regard to the Votes in Supply when I think that it will be incumbent on us to make some change in our rules. I do not think it desirable in a hurried manner, upon the occurrence of a difficulty which may turn out to be temporary, to concur in a Resolution for altering the rules and orders under which the House has so long acted; but I shall be glad to Lear from the Government that they intend in the present Session, to propose the appointment of a Committee to consider the question. I admit that the Votes are better divided now than they were formerly, but still divide the items in a Vote as much as may be, there will always be great difficulties involved in the present system. For example, suppose a Vote of £120,000 to be asked by the Government; one hon. Member proposes to reduce it perhaps to £110,000, and another to reduce it to £100,000; if the Motion for reducing it to £100,000 is carried, there is at once an end to the question of the £110,000. Or suppose that there are ten or twelve items included in one Vote, and one hon. Member proposes to reduce an item by £5,000, while two other hon. Members propose to reduce two other items by £1,000 each, if once the Vote is reduced by the smaller sum it is not competent afterwards to propose the larger reduction, although the Committee may desire possibly to make all the reductions.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
said, that having given notice of a Motion for that evening with respect to the Estimates, he had endeavoured to render himself deaf to all that was passing around him, and to shut his ears to the discussions upon the multifarious topics which had sprung up since the meeting of the House, when the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) roused him from the state in which he was by appealing to him to postpone his Motion, He did not wish to become a bore, or to trouble the House with disagreeable propositions, but he believed that the subject of which he had given notice had long attracted the attention of every hon. Member who attended to the proceedings of that House, and that in placing his Motion upon the paper he was pointing out an evil the inconvenience of which was very generally recognized. He was quite ready to leave his Resolution in the hands of the House to adopt it if they thought there was common sense in it, or to reject it if there was not; but if he might be allowed to express an opinion upon his own Motion he should say that it was of more importance to the people of tins country, so far as their pockets were concerned, than any Reform Bill that could be introduced. He believed that all their great speeches about retrenchment went for nothing, and that the really practical way in which to introduce economy in the finances was by attacking the Estimates in detail. Probably no official man, nor any man who had been or expected to be in office, would agree to his proposition, but, if it were adopted, the Estimates would henceforward be examined in such a manner as they had never been examined before. Under the present rule one hon. Gentleman started one hare, and twenty other hon. Gentlemen started twenty other different hares, and the result was that hon. Members' minds became so thoroughly confused that not a single hare was run down. Every job and every extravagance which a Government proposed was sure to pass because the Committee had not by its own forms the power of deciding on each item of a Vote. If each item were separately considered and separately decided, the Estimates would be very different to what they were now. He respected the ancient forms of proceeding, but those in respect to Votes in Supply were no longer applicable to the times. He should very much prefer that the matter should he referred to a Committee, but he would propose his Resolution and leave the House to deal with it as it thought fit. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving that it be an instruction to the Chairman in Committee of Supply that if a Member raises a discussion on any item of the Estimates, by proposing that it be omitted or modified, the Chairman shall confine the discussion to that item until it shall have been disposed of by the House, and that the Question shall be put to the House on the item under discussion separately and apart from the other items comprising the total amount to be voted.
seconded the Motion.
I ought to point out to the hon. Baronet that the only mode in which he can put his Motion is in the form of an Amendment on the Motion that I do now leave the Chair. That is the Motion at present before the House, and no other Motion can be now made except as an Amendment to that Question. It will be necessary, too, for the hon. Baronet to make a change in the wording of his Resolution before I can with propriety put it, because the instruction ought to be to the Committee, and not to the Chairman.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "it be an Instruction to the Committee, That if a Member raises a discussion on any item of the Estimates, by proposing that it be omitted or modified, the Chairman shall confine the discussion to that item, until it shall have been disposed of by the Committee; and that the Question shall be put to the Committee on the item under discussion separately and apart from the other items comprising the total amount to be voted," instead thereof.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, he agreed with the noble Lord the Member for London and the noble Lord at the head of the Government, in thinking that it would be well that this subject should be referred to a Committee, but if the Motion were now persisted in it would be necessary to give an opinion on the subject at once. An idea seemed to have suddenly struck a great many hon. Gentlemen, from the proceedings of Friday night, that the rules of the House needed amendment, so that it might he possible for hon. Members to vote in two lobbies at one time. The confusion consequent upon discussing two or three questions at one time arose, not so much from the form of proceedings in the House of Commons, as from the desire of the Government to submit the Estimates in detail, and to give every information which hon. Members might desire in reference to them. If the hon. Baronet's proposition were adopted he was afraid it would only make confusion worse confounded. Supposing an Estimate of fifty items were under discussion, the first question to be put would be, "That a sum not exceeding—whatever the amount might be—be granted to Her Majesty." An hon. Member might take exception to the last item, say, of the fifty; if the discussion was to turn and the votes to be taken on that item, as the hon. Baronet proposed, the first step would be to withdraw the original question by leave, and to put the item objected to as the main question. After that was disposed of the original question would again have to be put, when some other hon. Member might drop down upon some other item, and the same process would have to be gone through, and so on throughout all the fifty items of the Estimate. The true remedy was in the hands of the Government. They had not these difficulties heretofore, because the items were kept more together, if he might use such a phrase, and he could not help expressing his opinion, that with respect to a Vote containing a number of small items, if the House were to attempt to give a separate decision on each of those different items, it would not be able to exercise economy in reference to them so effectually as the Government could who had considered them. He did not think it right to allow the Minister to shelter himself under the authority of that House in respect to every one of these little details, for he would have no difficulty in making out a case for each, which the House could not resist, as the House would not know anything about the items but what he chose to tell them. Such a course of proceeding, so far from leading to a beneficial result, would have quite a contrary tendency. If the Government thought fit to have the matter inquired into by a Committee, he (Mr. Henley) was not inclined to object to that proceeding; but, as the existing forms had lasted so long, he had a strong opinion that it would be difficult to alter them with advantage to the public.
said, that the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had on the whole taken so sound a view of the matter that he should have had but little disposition to add anything to his statement, had he not thought that it might be expected that something would be said on the part of the Government. According to the 206th section of the printed Rules and Forms of Proceeding of the House it was settled that where there arose a question between a greater and lesser sum, or a shorter or longer time, the least sum and the longest time were first to be put to the question; and that was stated to be an ancient order observed in November, 1675. Consequently, that rule had the merit of prescription on its side, and had stood the test of long experience. That was a point deserving consideration before an alteration was hastily adopted; and he recollected it to have been remarked by the late Speaker, than whom no one could speak with greater authority on such matters, that the more he considered the rules of procedure in that House the more he was convinced that they were founded on good sense. He would, therefore, strongly advise the House not, without good and solid reasons, to alter the present simple rule. He was willing to admit that when that rule was first introduced, and for very many years afterwards, the forms of the Votes were much simpler than at present. Some years ago the Votes proposed in the Estimates simply stated certain services with scarcely any detail, and, whenever detail was required it was furnished by some member of the Government, who orally, and while a Vote was under discussion, furnished the requisite explanations to satisfy the House of its propriety; but in consequence of the repeated demands of the House, and particularly of the Committees on the Estimates which sat in 1848, the Estimates were now really loaded with an amount of details which almost defeated the purpose which that detailed information was sought for, and prevented hon. Members from reading and studying the Estimates to the extent to which they might attend to them if less information were given. He doubted, without meaning improperly to remark on the industry of hon. Members, whether they all took the trouble to go in detail through the immense quantity of matter in small print now submitted to them. If hon. Members looked to the Army and Navy Estimates of the present year they would see under the head of Public Works and Fortifications a great succession of items, many of them of considerable importance, and if they had been inclined to deal with them in the same manner as the Civil Service Estimates had been dealt with the other night, they would have met with precisely the same embarrassment. If the Committee of Supply really undertook to go through the Estimates on the plan according to which a Bill was considered in Committee, and if the Estimates were to be read line by line, and each item put separately, he really did not know how many nights would be required for Supply in the course of the Session. The hon. Baronet who moved the Amendment had said that no person in office, or who desired to be in office, would ever assent to it; but he assured the hon. Baronet that no official Member had any wish to promote any rule of procedure other than that which should create the greatest clearness in the Committee of Supply, and enable the question to be put with the least confusion. He, however, entirely agreed in what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) with his usual shrewdness, had remarked, that the course now suggested would not tend to substantial economy. A vast deal of time would be consumed in discussing minute items of expenditure while the practical result, undoubtedly would be that the responsibility of the Government would be diminished, and the House by attempting to go through a mass of details, would really limit the control it otherwise exercised. He thought the more convenient and advantageous course would be to throw the responsibility of the details of expenditure on the executive, and to leave the decison of great and important principles of expenditure to the House. Let not the hon. Baronet suppose that the mode of proceeding suggested by him would increase the trouble of the Executive Government. Their trouble consisted in mating the Estimates and studying them, but not in explaining them, since they were in possession of all the facts. If the House should on consideration find that the present rule was insufficient there would be no difficulty on the part of the Government to agree to the appointment of a Select Committee whenever it should be thought fit to appoint such Committee. He should not have the smallest objection to that course, but he had considerable doubt whether the present rule would not be found sufficient. When there were several items in a Vote the question was put upon the total Vote, and if single items were objected to it would be easy for hon. Gentlemen to state their different objections and add the several items objected to together ["Oh, oh!"] He was only stating the course actually adopted, and such cases would not occur frequently. If that course should be found unsatisfactory the House would have to consider whether some other course of procedure should be adopted, such as that sketched out by the hon. Baronet; but as far as the Government were concerned, they had no objection to the appointment of a Committee and to the substitution of any simple rule for the existing one. Unquestionably they had the strongest wish and interest for the promotion of that course of procedure which tended to the greatest clearness, and was most calculated to obviate confusion in the discussion of the different Votes.
said, he believed that it was true that more detailed information was now given than formerly with respect to items in the Votes of Supply, but it amounted to nothing more than waste paper if, when it was laid before the House, hon. Members could not object to separate items. It was quite impossible to follow the advice of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that hon. Members objecting to different items, should add the sums together, and then move that the total amount be deducted from the Vote proposed, because with respect to those several items some hon. Members might concur in a portion, objecting only to one or two, and therefore they could not possibly amalgamate their objection with the objections of others. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), thought matters went on very well because they had never met with a difficulty before, but the reason of that was that the Government was always too strong for them, and able to push the Votes through; but when they became too strong for the Government they might be able to strike out from the Estimates items that ought not to be there. As the Government did not seem to object to the appointment of a Committee, the best course for the hon. Member for Mallow to pursue would be to withdraw his Motion and leave the matter in the hands of Government.
said, it seemed to be the general opinion, that if the forms of the House were to be considered at all, they had better be considered by a Select Committee than in the House itself. He had been a member several times of Committees appointed to confer on subjects like these, and he knew that after that process very different results were obtained from what could have been arrived at in the heat of debate in that House. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, based his argument on a ground that rather astonished him. He said, the difficulty now complained of never occurred before, because we had always strong Governments to deal with. Now, he had always thought, till now, that the general subject of congratulation was, that we had a strong Government, and he certainly had expected that the new Parliament would have given the noble Lord a trial for at least one Session. His opinion was, that the more they altered the forms of the House in respect to matters like these, the more they were increasing the power of the Members of the House and proportionally diminishing the responsibility of Ministers, and this was a course to which he could not give his approbation. He knew that no Motion was more popular than to move, that the Estimates should be referred to a Select Committee. Now, to refer the Estimates to a Select Committee was, in effect, saying to the Ministers that they should not exercise their intellect or incur any responsibility in reference to these Estimates. Under our Parliamentary constitution the Ministers of the Crown were the Select Committee of the House of Commons, and those who would refer such questions to a Select Committee were only endeavouring to take the work out of the hands of the Government. With regard to the Estimates, a very great change had taken place within the last two or three years in the form of drawing them up. There was the appearance of a great deal more information being imparted to the House of Commons, and the House accepted that as an evidence of its increased authority. Now, he thought the House should view that information with considerable suspicion. In old days a Vote was asked, say, for £100,000 for palaces; the Minister who proposed the Vote was supposed to be master of his subject. He explained it, if necessary; and the House, if satisfied, granted the £100,000 on his responsibility. If any details required explanation, he could be reckoned upon in his place to give it. He was prepared with a statement on the subject of the Estimate; and the Committee, after hearing his statement, with the advantage of cross-examination, were able to form an opinion; and if they were satisfied that his general and aggregate Estimate ought to be sustained, then they passed it. Now the fault of the present system was, that they had in one Vote too many items. It was perfectly absurd to fill up the Vote with the details of every miserable item, as if the Ministers could not, for example, be charged without the interference of the House with the responsibility of a water-closet. But, under the present system, the matter might become serious as regarded the public business. Any four men might, by the forms of the House, bring its business to a close. Any four men could, by the forms of the House, make a dissolution of Parliament absolutely necessary. And if there was not sufficient good sense in the country to insure that these four men would never be returned again, they might soon have such a dissolution of Parliament brought upon them. Why, they might destroy the British constitution at any time. Suppose they were to lay down, as one of the great principles of the Parliamentary constitution, that they should go into the minute details of every Vote. Every one would, of course, be entitled to require an explanation of the most minute particulars, and in such a case he wanted to know how business was to be carried on. The Minister who ought to be responsible, required a certain amount to maintain Her Majesty's palaces, and if he was a Minister who deserved their confidence—and his position implied that he did—they must suppose that he would not propose a sum for that purpose without making himself master of the business. With him, then, ought to rest the responsibility; but, if the Members of that House were to analyze the Estimate in detail, they would introduce into public business and into the conduct of the affairs of this great nation principles which they did not adopt in the management of their own establishments, and which, if they did, they would get no servant to carry out, or, at the best, such a servant as would not be worth keeping in any establishment.
said, he wished to ask, how it was possible for the House to deal satisfactorily with thirty or forty different items, all lumped together in one Vote. Within the last few years, a sum of £9,882,000 had been taken as one Vote, and in a Vote of this year (No. 12) thirty-four different items had been lumped together. The consequence of such a system was, that they could only address themselves effectively to some one leading topic, while numerous other objectionable matters escaped notice. The first thing to be done was, to have well-devised and well-considered Estimates, and have the items so classified, that discussion could take place on any item with something like effect. It was impossible in a House of 654 Members to discuss any small matter, but if the Votes were properly classified, the opinions of the House could be brought to bear upon any great particular grievance. He hoped some practical result would flow from this debate. The great difficulty they had to remove was, that after the first objection to a Vote, all other hon. Members were shut out from objecting. He hoped the Government would consent to the appointment of a Select Committee to consider the subject.
said, it appeared to him that the difficulty which was complained of, might be removed by a very simple process. Under the present system the Government proposed a Vote—say, of £39,691, that Vote being composed of a large number of items. He would suppose that four of those items were objected to by different Members. If, upon a division the reduction proposed by one of these hon. Members was carried, no further reduction of the Vote could take place. That appeared to him—and, he believed, to every hon. Member of the House—a most unwise arrangement, because a Vote might contain 100 or 200 items, and he thought an opportunity ought to be given to hon. Members to object to every item which they deemed exceptionable. He was aware that the objection to increase the power of the House in this matter would have the effect of diminishing the responsibility of the Ministry was a favourite objection; but he must say, that he regarded with a good deal of suspicion the disinclination which existed to afford too much information to the House. He knew that Ministers, and those who expected to be Ministers, were not anxious to afford such information; but, as the great majority of Members of that House never expected to be Ministers, and only sought to promote the interests of their constituents, he would advise them to require the fullest information with regard to every item of expenditure. He thought that the best course would be, that the Chairman of the Committee of Supply should begin by announcing the total amount of a Vote—say, £39,691—and should then proceed to read the items which constituted the Vote. The first item, for instance, might be "Buckingham Palace, £2,450." Well, nobody took any objection to that. Then the Chairman passed to the next item, which was not opposed; but when he came to the third item an objection was raised. He (Mr. Roebuck) thought all the items which had been read without objection should be taken as passed; but that when exception was taken to a particular item, a division, if it were called for, should take place upon that item. He recollected that when an alteration in the mode of taking divisions was suggested, and it was proposed to take down the names of hon. Members, it was objected that the change would only tend to waste the time of the House, but he would put it to the hon. Members who were acquainted with the old system whether that had been the result. He believed that if his suggestion were adopted, the Estimates would be passed very rapidly. Under the present system, scenes of contention occasionally occurred which were disgraceful to the House. Why, only on Friday they were engaged in discussion from five o'clock in the afternoon until one o'clock in the morning without passing a single Vote, and the Estimates were now precisely in the same position in which they were when that debate commenced. In his opinion, if an objection was raised to a particular item in a Vote, a division should be taken, and the Committee should then proceed to consider the subsequent items. This would ensure a discussion pertinent and consecutive, and they would not then have to complain of every one starting a hare and nobody catching it. He believed that if a Select Committee, consisting of experienced Members, were appointed to consider this question, they would speedily arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.
suggested, that if a Select Committee was to be appointed, it was an unnecessary waste of the time of the House to proceed with this discussion. He, therefore, would advise the hon. Member to withdraw his Motion.
said, if the Government were prepared to state that they would appoint a fairly selected Committee, to consider in what manner the Estimates could be most conveniently discussed, he would withdraw his Amendment.
observed that, as it seemed to be the wish of the majority of the House that a Select Committee should be appointed to consider, whether any and what alteration could be made in Parliamentary forms, with the view of expediting proceedings in Committee of the whole House, he was prepared to state that he would move for the appointment of such a Committee.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
wished to ask the First Commissioner of Works, whether the Estimates of his Department were submitted to an audit, and if not, whether it was intended to submit them to the same audit as the Army and Navy Estimates?
said, in reply to a question from Mr. Stafford, that the accounts of the Board of Works were regularly audited; the mode of keeping those accounts would probably be brought under the consideration of the Committee on public moneys, and that when the report of that Committee was presented, the accounts of the Board would be made out in a different form from that in which they were now prepared under the provisions of an Act of Parliament. He was glad to have the opportunity of stating that those accounts were now subject to audit, under the provisions of the 14 & 15 Vict.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
House in Committee; Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £39,691, be granted to Her Majesty, for the maintenance and repair of the Royal Palaces for one year, from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1868."
said, he should divide the Committee on the item of £4,500 for the erection of a residence for the Royal Equerry, unless he received some satisfactory explanation of the necessity for such a building.
said, that before he inserted this item in the Estimates he visited the Royal Mews, and satisfied himself that the proposed changes were necessary.
observed that this item included a charge for "a schoolroom for the children of Her Majesty's servants." He considered the promotion of education a very praiseworthy object, but he did not wish to see education promoted by these means. The House of Commons did not provide a place of education for its servants, why, then, should there be a school for those of the Queen? He thought the whole item ought to be struck out. It was—
If the public money were to be spent in that way, the sooner the House of Commons ceased to call itself the guardian of the public purse the better. He really thought the Government should have been ashamed to submit such items to the House."For the erection of a residence for the Crown Equerry, including a waiting-room, porter's-room, and store-rooms, and for the appropriation of the present residence of the equerry as apartments for the second clerk, and for an office and waitingroom for the Master of the Horse; for the removal of the third clerk from the rooms he at present occupies in the east wing to the apartments to be vacated by the second clerk; and for adapting the rooms of the third clerk as a schoolroom for the children of Her Majesty's servants, and as a residence for the schoolmistress, also for new carriage and foot gates to the principal entrance."
asked why St. James's Palace could not be adapted for public offices? Buckingham Palace ought to be sufficient for court purposes, and St. James's would make a very good War Office.
thought the Vote for filling up the spot of ground at Pimlico was most reasonable, and with regard to the item for the erection of a schoolroom he should most cordially concur in supporting it, believing it to be a most praiseworthy application of money.
said, he thought that the Committee ought not to pass such Estimates. The question was, not whether the amount was large or small, but whether the Vote was right or wrong. It was very right for Her Majesty to erect a school for these children, but then the public ought not to be called on to pay it. He found, also, that it was proposed that there should be expended on the repairs of those portions of St. James's Palace, occupied by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge and His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, a sum of £2,689. But it seemed to him that if residences were provided for those Royal personages they ought themselves to defray the cost of keeping them in proper condition; at any rate, he should like to reduce that item by half. He had also to object to the proposed outlay of £6,218 on Hampton Court Palace. It appeared that during the last ten years there had been expended on that building not less than £70,000. That was, he maintained, an extravagant outlay; and in page 14 he found another Vote, Hampton Court Park. The different items were so scattered about that it was almost impossible to tell what any one building really cost. Hampton Court Park was put down at £961. The pleasure grounds of Longford River, £2,525, and the roads £833, making together over £4,000; and during the last ten years these items had amounted to £40,000 or £50,000. Let it be remembered, too, that Hampton Court Palace was never used by Her Majesty, but was occupied principally by indigent members of the aristocracy. He might be told that apartments had been provided there for the widows of two distinguished officers who had fallen on the field of battle; but he would venture to say that if the proper inquiry were made it would be found that worse accommodation was given to those ladies than to other persons who had no similar claims on the gratitude of the country. He did not complain that a provision had been made for those two widows, but he thought it would be better if it were furnished in the shape of an annuity. It appeared that there was a stud at Hampton Court, for in page 4 there was a Vote on account of it, and that young horses from that stud were annually sold. He wished to know to whom the proceeds of those sales went? And he would also ask what Members of the Royal Family occupied Bushy Park and Frogmore House and grounds, for the maintenance of which a sum of over £2,000 was set down in these Estimates?
replied, that Bushy Park was unoccupied, and Frogmore House was occupied by the Duchess of Kent. He had stated on a previous evening, in reference to the Vote for Hampton Court paddocks, that the young stock which were sold last week were the property of Her Majesty, who of course received the proceeds; and at the same time he explained that none of the stock had been bred in the paddocks for which the Vote was asked.
said, he did not wish to withdraw at once the whole amount for the Royal Palaces, but there were several which were not occupied by any Members of the Royal Family. He must also beg again to express his disapproval of the Vote for the repairs of those portions of St. James's Palace occupied by their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. He also objected to the charge for Kensington Palace, which was at present, he believed, occupied by no person except the Duchess of Inverness. He wished to see the Votes for St. James's Palace, Kensington Palace, and Hampton Court, reduced by one-half; and in order to obtain that object, he moved that the Vote should be reduced by a sum of £4,926, so that it should stand at £34,765 instead of £39,691.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £34,765, be granted to Her Majesty, for the maintenance and repair of the Royal Palaces for one year, from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1858."
said, he understood the hon. Member for Lambeth to say that he would allow one-half of the sum for the repair of the Royal palaces to be voted that evening. What would be the consequence? They would be able to effect one-half of the repairs, and next year or the year after they would have to vote an additional sum for the purpose of making at a higher cost those repairs which, if taken in time, might be done for a moderate sum. He could assure the hon. Gentleman that these Estimates had not been inserted in the Votes without the most careful consideration. He had attended to most of them himself, so far as he could do so. The hon. Member for Lambeth always let fly, especially at Hampton Court Palace, saying that the people took no interest in it. He wished that the hon. Gentleman would go down some Sunday, and see the number of people that flocked thither. A few Sundays ago between 13,000 and 14,000 persons passed through the apartments of Hampton Court Palace, thoroughly enjoying themselves. What would the people say to the House if they allowed the palace to fall into decay? He had therefore felt it his duty to produce these Estimates for the purpose of keeping in repair that structure, which was one of the decorations—if he might use the expression—of this country. Let him call the attention of the Committee to the manner in which the apartments of Hampton Court Palace were appropriated by the Queen. Formerly the Lord Chamberlain had the appropriation of the apartments, and it was charged against him that he divided them among his friends and relations. All that had been changed. The Queen had now taken them under her own supervision, and nothing could be more admirable than the way in which Her Majesty had appropriated them to the widows of men who had distinguished themselves in the wars of the country. [Mr. W. WILLIAMS: Who are they?] He might mention the names of Shadforth, of Boxer, of Strangways, of Cureton, and of many other distinguished officers, whose widows had been accommodated with apartments in Hampton Court Palace. It was now proposed to keep that and other palaces in order, so that they might not get worse than they were; and he would venture to say that if they had been put in a proper state of repair in time, they would have been much less expensive than the Committee now found them to be.
said, that the population of 70,000 which he represented was for true economy, but not parsimony. These debates were, to a great extent, time wasted, and he was sure that a great majority of hon. Members would agree with the poet that they are—
"Petty quarrels about petty things."
observed that the hon. Member for Lambeth had blamed the Government for having distributed the Votes under so many different heads; but it was not too much to say that when he sat down the Committee had not the faintest conception what Vote he was speaking about, or to what palaces or buildings his remarks were applied. He hoped that the hon. Gentleman would not act in the same way in future, but would remember the difficulty in which the Committee was placed when Votes were placed before it in such a way as to render systematic or regular discussion altogether impossible. The hon. Member, to whom the Chief Commissioner had given an admirable answer, so far as any answer could be given, seemed to propose either to make those palaces which were not in the personal occupation of Her Majesty perfectly useless by allowing nobody to inhabit them, or to permit them to fall into decay, and become a perpetual monument of his absurd economy. The Committee would act far more wisely if it followed the advice of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Biggs), and discussed all these questions with a view to true economy. Wholesale reductions of Votes indicated no principle, and could lead to no result except to enable hon. Members who had not the courage to face real extravagance to say to their constituents, "See what bold fellows we are! In a Committee of the whole House of Commons, and in opposition to Government, we proposed to cut down one-half of the Votes for the Royal palaces."
hoped the hon. Member for Lambeth would withdraw his Amendment, and allow the Committee to discuss the proposition of the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir J. Trelawny) with respect to the Crown equerries. The Royal palaces ought either to be kept up in a proper manner or not at all. It was of no manner of use to keep nibbling at the Votes in this way.
could not agree with the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire (Lord J. Manners) that the observations of the hon. Member for Lambeth were either unnecessary or ill-timed. They had, at all events, effected one good object, for they had drawn forth some excellent advice from the noble Lord, and a very satisfactory explanation from the Chief Commissioner. He believed that the discussion of these Votes was both necessary and useful.
observed that the noble Lord the Member for Leicestershire had not deprecated the discussion of these estimates, but had simply found fault with the mode in which they had been dealt with by the hon. Member for Lambeth as being based on no intelligible principle. He must say, for his own part, that the hon. Gentleman was so confused, so little to the purpose, and so rapid in his transitions from one portion of the Votes to another, that he found it impossible to follow him through his statement. There could be no doubt that Hampton Court Palace afforded immense gratification to the hard-worked, middle, and lower classes of this great metropolis; and if anything could lessen his regret at knowing that they flocked thither in large numbers on Sunday, which was the last day that ought to be devoted to such a purpose, it would be the fact that they spent their time there in a reasonable and happy manner. He hoped the Committee would maintain the Vote in its integrity. The hon. Member for Lambeth proposed to reduce it by a round sum, but he stated no reason why the Committee should lop off that particular amount.
said, that he agreed that the House ought to express its opinion upon some principle with regard to these Votes, and not upon the pounds, shillings, and pence alone involved. A very important question might be raised on the present Vote. A large sum had been spent by the nation in providing a splendid palace for the Sovereign, and if Buckingham Palace were not everything that could be wished, it was not because the House of Commons had voted the money wanted with a grudging hand. The question to which he referred was, what ought to become of the old palaces which the Sovereign had vacated? He contended that they ought to be surrendered to the country, in order that they might be made available for national purposes. The proper mode of carrying out this principle would be by disallowing all the money proposed to be voted for St. James's Palace, and thus declaring that the House would not recognize the keeping up of St. James's Palace for the Sovereign. He had not had time to consider this matter maturely, but upon a future occasion he would not allow the Vote to pass without raising the question. He therefore gave the Government twelve month's notice to quit St. James's Palace.
said, he knew the alacrity with which the House voted away the public money. Was it necessary for the maintenance of Hampton Court Palace and grounds to expend every year £12,000 upon it? Still he was not for doing away with Hampton Court. He would beg to withdraw his Motion.
Motion by leave withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
said, he must protest against the imputation which his hon. Friend (Mr. W. Williams) was always ready to cast upon those who differed with him,—that they voted away the public money with alacrity. He was just as ready as his hon. Friend to be economical, but he hoped he showed more common sense in his economy than his hon. Friend. If his hon. Friend declared that those who lived in these palaces, and paid no rent for them, ought to keep them in repair, that would be a definite proposition; but to come down, as his hon. Friend did, and detain the House for an hour on a Motion to withdraw half a Vote, so that the palace might be half painted and half cleansed, passed his comprehension. That was about as sensible as for his hon. Friend to come home from a public meeting with his face dusty and dirty, and to wash one side of his face to-day and the other half to-morrow.
said, in page 2 of the Estimates it was stated that the sum voted on account last Session was deducted at the head of each estimate; but, it appeared to him that the sum of £39,961, now asked for, was the total expenditure for the year. He wished to know what had become of the sum voted on account.
explained that last Session a Vote of £60,000 had been taken on account of the sum of £196,000, required for royal palaces and public buildings. The estimates for these purposes were now divided under three separate heads; the full amount was asked on each of the two first, and credit for the whole amount of £60,000 would be found under the third head, at page 5. In answer to a question from Sir H. WILLOUGHBY,
explained that the Return for 1856 placed in the margin of these Estimates, showed the amount that had actually been expended in the twelve months ending September last. The present Estimates gave the sum which it was considered would be required for the various objects during the present year, but from the nature of these objects the money was not always expended during the year, as the objects could not be carried out in a given time. That was a distinction between the Civil Service Estimates and those voted for the army and navy, the amount voted for which was always expended during the year. The Chairman was about to put the question, when
said, that the hon. Baronet (Sir J. Trelawny) had not withdrawn his Amendment.
said, he had received only one Amendment.
said, that in that case he would move that the Vote be reduced by £4,500, the item for the alterations in the equerries' house.
Original Question put, and agreed to.Motion made, and Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £35,191, be granted to Her Majesty, for the maintenance and repair of the Royal Palaces for one year, from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1858," put, and negatived.
(2.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £60,386, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary for maintenance and repair of Public Buildings, for providing the necessary supply of Water for the same, for Rents of Houses for the temporary accommodation of Public Departments and charges attendant thereon, for one year, from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1858."
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the British Museum was not opened in the evenings, by which working men after the cessation of the day's labour were precluded from visiting it. At present the privilege of seeing the Museum might be said to be exclusively enjoyed by the higher and middle classes only, and he could not see why an arrangement might not be made for admitting the humbler classes in the evening.
reminded the hon. Baronet that the British Museum was under the management of the Board of Trustees, and that the proper time for raising the question which he had just brought under consideration would be when the separate Vote for the Museum was proposed. He might state that the suggestion of the hon. Baronet was a matter which had been much discussed at different times by the Trustees of the Museum. It also became a question with the Trustees whether the reading-room should be open at nights. The objection to lights in the reading-room in the evenings was considerable, and, notwithstanding the earnest wish of the Trustees to make the Museum as extensively available as possible, they had come to the conclusion that, charged as they were with the public duty of guarding so valuable a collection of books and manuscripts, they would not be justified in opening the reading-room at nights. They were fortified in that conclusion by the fact that their present practice of only opening the Museum and reading-room in the daytime was in unison with that adopted in similar institutions on the Continent.
said, the difficulty might be got over by opening the Museum on Sundays. ("No, no!") Some hon. Members might differ with him on that point, but Hampton Court Palace and Kew Gardens were open on Sundays, and no one ventured to say that any harm had ensued from that practice. He did not see why after, or between, the hours of divine service on Sundays the Museum might not be opened to the public. He knew that the result of such an arrangement would be that thousands of the working classes would gladly avail themselves of seeing the antiquities and works of art collected within the building, instead of spending their leisure on Sundays in public-houses. He had another suggestion to make, and that was that the ugly screen in front of Burlington House might be taken down with advantage to the public and to the appearance of the building itself.
said, he could not suppose the hon. Baronet had been inside the courtyard of Burlington House, otherwise he would have been convinced that if the wall or screen were taken down the public would see very little more worth looking at than they now saw through the centre gates, for, except the house itself, a great part of the courtyard only communicated with stables and back premises which were not very agreeable objects to look at.
said, there was a considerable Vote taken for furnishing accommodation to certain learned societies in Burlington House, but he had always understood that the occupation there of those societies was only to be a temporary one; and he should wish to hear from some Member of the Government what was to be the ultimate destination of Burlington House.
said, no decision had been come to by the Government as to the permanent occupation of Burlington House, but certainly the want of room felt in Somerset House occasioned by the necessity of providing offices for the collection of the succession duty and for other public departments rendered it necessary that they should make arrangements for the removal of the learned societies in question from the premises where they had been located for so many years, and providing other accommodation for them elsewhere. They had consequently been transferred to Burlington House, which they were to occupy for a time. He believed, however, the present arrangement in respect of those societies was a convenient and economical one.
wished to know whether there had been a specific agreement with those learned societies that apartments were to be found for them in any of the public buildings. Undoubtedly, office room was wanted for the Department of the Succession Duty, but he had never understood it to be necessary that if those learned societies, some of whom were wealthy bodies, were removed from Burlington House, the Government were to provide lodgings for them elsewhere. The time had come, he thought, when they should be called on to furnish accommodation for themselves. He did not agree with the right hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall) that there would be no public advantage in taking down the wall in front of Burlington House. On the contrary, as a matter of taste, he submitted it ought to be taken down, and that if the view of the house were thrown open to the public they might expect to get something for their money. But at present the public only knew that certain learned societies had lodgings in Burlington House.
said, he should be very glad that the public should be enabled to see all that was worth looking at in Burlington House. It appeared to him, however, that with the exception of the view of the building which was to be obtained from the central gateway, it would present no feature of particular interest, unless the stables which were behind the walls at each side of the gateway were taken down, and in order to accomplish that the Committee must be prepared to vote an additional sum of money.
said, the statement to the effect that when Burlington House was first purchased no agreement had been entered into to give it up to the learned societies was perfectly correct. It was, however, a very natural arrangement to make, that as those societies had been deprived of the rooms which, owing to the beneficence of King George III., had been allotted to them at Somerset House, apartments at Burlington House should be placed at their disposal. He should be sorry, however, to find that the temporary occupation of those apartments should be converted into a permanent title to their possession. If Burlington House were to be allowed to remain as it at present stood, he thought an iron railing in front might with great advantage be constructed, but he was at the same time of opinion that the whole plan in connection with it might be reconsidered, with the view of turning the three acres which composed its site to the best possible account.
observed, that the learned societies in question were entitled to the possession of rooms by royal grant, and therefore that, upon their removal from Somerset House, it became necessary to procure apartments for them elsewhere. They had consequently been located in Burlington House, but only upon the distinct understanding that they should leave it the moment the Government might deem it expedient to turn its site to some other use.
said, that the Royal Society was the only Society which had been removed from Somerset House to Burlington House. The Linnæan Society had removed, at a great expense to themselves, from their house in Soho Square, and he should maintain that that Society ought not to be turned out of its present quarters, unless the Government were prepared to make some compensation for the outlay to which he had referred.
objected to the item for the buildings for the War Department, which were dispersed over various streets. He could not understand why the War Department should be spread over so many offices. There was a house next door to the Ordnance Office which might be advantageously added to the buildings of the War Department. The same offices appeared to be charged twice. They were found in two items.
said one item was for rent, and the other for repairs.
said, he observed an item for the expenses attendant on the bringing of these learned bodies into Burlington House. He had no doubt, how- ever, that when the time came for their removal, the country would be called upon to pay the cost of getting them out; he should move as an Amendment, therefore, that the sum of £4,725, which the Committee was asked to grant for the purpose of converting the buildings of the west wing of Burlington House into lecture and examination rooms for scientific societies be deducted from the Vote.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £55,661, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary for maintenance and repair of Public Buildings, for providing the necessary supply of Water for the same, for Rents of Houses for the temporary accommodation of Public Departments and charges attendant thereon, for one year, from the 1st day of April 1857 to the 31st day of March 1858."
said, that the Royal Society, the Geographical Society, and the Antiquarian Society, were formerly located in Somerset House, and they were asked by the Government to go to Burlington House. The Antiquarian and Geological Societies declined; the Royal Society, and the Linnæan and Chemical Societies went there, and this charge was for the improving and decorating the hall for their meetings. These societies were not wealthy, and they understood that their location in Burlington House was to be permanent, and they had gone to expense on the faith of that understanding. As the Society accommodated the Government in leaving Somerset House, the Government were bound to provide other accommodation for them if they could not retain Burlington House. The money and some time had been spent, and it would have been wrong of the Government if they had not provided accommodation for the discharge of public duties at Somerset House, by providing another place for the assemblage of the learned societies. It was idle, thereford, to talk of reducing the Vote.
observed that the Government had, some time since, been charged with neglect for not having provided a sufficient staff of clerks for the purpose of collecting the succession duty, and that, the matter having early last autumn been brought under the notice of the Treasury, they had made a proposal to these learned societies to the effect that, if they were prepared to give up the apartments in Somerset House, which had been allotted to them by Royal grant, the Government would place at their disposal rooms in Burlington House. Now, if the Government had taken a contrary course, it was quite clear that they would have been obliged to pay a considerable rent for rooms in which to accommodate the staff of clerks to which he had just alluded. The Government never contemplated that, by putting Burlington House to this purpose, they infringed the right of these public societies to permanent accommodation. The societies were good enough to go out of rooms in Somerset House which they were perfectly entitled to retain, in order to accommodate the Government, and it was only reasonable that, in the event of leaving Burlington House, when it was wanted for other purposes, they should be furnished with a new building. He quite agreed in the proposition that the Government were bound to furnish other rooms in the event of these societies not being able to retain the rooms they now used in Burlington House, and he thought that great blame would have attached to the Government if they had neglected to make this arrangement.
said, he was glad that Government had purchased the garden of Burlington House. It was, however, useless to anybody except the sparrows, and he thought Government ought to produce a proper plan for utilizing it, and making it available to the public. Still, under all the circumstances, he was not sorry to see it applied to its present purpose. So much public feeling attached to these literary and scientific societies, that they ought to be fostered and encouraged by the Government. He would suggest that the house, being very low, should be raised two or three stories, that the unoccupied grounds behind should, if necessary, be built over, and that the collections, which used to be visited by so many thousands when in Marlborough House, should be recalled from their honourable exile, in what had been irreverently styled "The Brompton Boilers." It was obvious that the public offices must be concentrated, but they could find better sites than Burlington House in the neighbourhood of the Houses of Parliament, which was in fact the official and Government quarter of the town.
observed, that the discussion had been productive of great good, and he was glad that it had been elicited that these societies had a claim on the Government. It was said, however, that the money was all spent, but he believed that the property might be sold at a profit. Burlington House stood on only a small portion of the ground which had been purchased, and it was wasting money to allow those three or four acres in the heart of the town to be unoccupied. Nothing could be more unsightly than the wall, and a light railing, in substitution of it, would be a great improvement.
said, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) had thrown new and important light upon the subject under discussion. It was from the statement of that hon. Gentleman, who was no Member of the Government, that the Committee had first obtained any real information, and from that it now appeared that Her Majesty's Government made offers to many learned societies, some of which were, and some were not found in Somerset House, to give accommodation—and, as they thought, permanent accommodation—in Burlington House. Some one or two of them accepted; some declined; and there was a third class, which had no right to accommodation in Somerset House, which accepted, and now claimed permanent habitation at the hands of Her Majesty's Government. It was said by the hon. Member himself, an "administrative reformer," that it was useless to inquire into the matter, because the expense had been incurred—the societies were there, and would think themselves very ill-used if they were not allowed to remain there. Although, in other instances of small amounts, a note was appended that the money had been spent, this was a most improper exception to the general rule, and he wished to ask the Secretary of the Treasury whether he had any objection to furnish the House with a copy of the document under the authority of which the money had been expended?
said, the hon. Member for Maidstone (Mr. B. Hope) had declared the general feeling to be, that these learned societies ought to be fostered and encouraged by the Government. Now, fostering and encouraging meant giving public money. If that were the feeling of gentlemen on both sides of the House, and if that were the feeling of the country, for goodness' sake let there be no more nonsense heard about administrative reform, or declamations upon hustings about retrenchment and economy. It was all stuff. Now, with respect to these societies—or, as they really are, clubs—one set of gentlemen, who were travellers, called themselves the Geographical Society; another set of gentlemen, who caught butterflies, called them- selves the Linnæan Society. Those were the learned bodies which should be fostered and encouraged. Then there was a Geological Society: but what on earth was the use of a Geological Society? Could not the gentlemen who were fond of discussing questions of strata meet in their own houses? Why should the House go on year after year, providing out of the public taxes, for all these clubs, which they chose to dignify with the name of scientific societies? He protested against this as not only a useless expenditure, but as being no part of the proper business of the State.
must protest against the doctrine of his hon. Friend who had just sat down, which was founded on views of the duties of a Government which were exceedingly narrow, and quite unworthy of a great nation. Parliament and the country had for years deemed it right to contribute largely from the public revenues for the promotion of art, not simply on account of the credit which a country derived from its successful cultivation, but from a feeling that the development of art added to the creative power of a nation's industry. Yet we had altogether neglected the promotion of science, while other States had devoted great means to its encouragement. Would any man say that science was of less importance to a country than art? The progress of science obviously contributed more directly to the prosperity and power of a country than any ornamental pursuits, however estimable in themselves: therefore, in rendering to these scientific bodies the slight assistance, afforded by facilities for meeting and communicating together, as they did in Burlington House, the Government were guilty of no lavish expenditure of the public resources. Indeed, if the Government were liable to any reproach in the matter, it was for not having sufficiently attended to the claims of science, which was so intimately bound up with the wealth and greatness of the country, and was the spring of so many important improvements. He trusted, then, that the country would not be run away with by any declamation such as that in which his hon. Friend had just indulged, but would continue to feel that, by giving to these societies the small assistance, which enabled them to conduct their valuable pursuits in contiguous apartments, they were doing that which was mainly for the advantage of the country.
, said, he also hoped that the country would not be run away with by declamation—not even by that of the noble Lord. This item had no comment of any kind attached to it, and the acute, practised eye of the right hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir F. Baring) was perhaps not aware that it came in the same category as the Vote of £11,000, to which he had called the attention of the Committee on a former occasion. That great Administrative Reformer, the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Tite) exultingly proclaimed that the money was all spent. No doubt the Committee would be curious to hear the explanation of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury. The Chief Commissioner of Works had told them that he had the authority of the Treasury for the outlay of £14,000 on the ornamental water in St. James's Park; so that the Treasury were the actual offenders themselves in one case and the authority for the offence in another. "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes." Let the Secretary to the Treasury leave all disquisition on the comparative merits of science and art to the noble Viscount, and tell the Committee distinctly by what authority the funds already spent had been drawn.
asked what had become of the two societies which, it was alleged, had a right to public buildings, and would not consent to remove to Burlington House.
could assure the noble Lord opposite (Lord J. Manners) that the Treasury did not execute these works, but had only sanctioned them. They were carried out by the Board of Works. Their execution was not a matter of choice, but one of public necessity. A great revenue department, charged with the collection of millions of money, absolutely required more accommodation; and, if they had hired additional buildings to meet their pressing wants, the rent they would have had to pay would have cost as much per annum as the alterations made at Somerset House. The two societies to which the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) referred, still remained at Somerset House, and could not be turned out without their own consent. Another body, for which the Government was obliged to furnish accommodation, was the Senate of London University, who used to conduct their examinations in Somerset House; but they now occupied one of the wings of Burlington House. These works had been executed under the authority of the Board of Works. It was true the money had been spent without the sanction of Parliament, but it was impossible that the Government could have allowed the operations of a great department like that of the Inland Revenue to be brought to a complete stand still for eight or perhaps even twelve months until the pleasure of Parliament could be taken on a Vote of £4,700. Burlington House having been unoccupied it was thought the most economical arrangement to remove the learned societies thither from Somerset House. No absolute cession of the buildings had been made to these bodies, as some hon. Members seemed to suppose; but when they were turned out of the apartments to which they were entitled, the Government undertook to provide them with other rooms. The Royal Society thought these various bodies ought to be located together. One condition of the arrangement was, that the public should have access to their conjoint library.
said, that this sum of £4,700, did not include all the expenses incurred about providing accommodation for these societies, for the hon. Gentleman had forgotten the capital sum of £140,000 which had been expended in the purchase of the building itself. He also believed that one of these learned societies at least—namely, the Senate of the University of London—had no right to be established there, as that college was originally established by private subscriptions.
observed that he did not think the explanation of the hon. Gentleman very satisfactory, for he had not answered the question. If the act was done, why was it not stated in the Estimates? It was quite possible that in the course of the year an expenditure might become necessary that was not contemplated when the Estimates were voted; but in that case the first duty of the Government in the next year's Estimates was to call attention to the fact by a special note in the Estimates themselves, stating the circumstances under which such excess of expenditure had occurred. The hon. Secretary for the Treasury must have calculated largely on the inexperience of the young Members of the House, he thought, when he talked of the difficulty of meeting such unexpected charges white Parliament was not sitting, for it was well known that there was £100,000 voted for civil contingencies, besides which he had the surplus arising from former years to draw upon in any emergency such as he referred to. It was quite clear that this sum had been paid out of money voted by Parliament for other purposes, and was consequently a most improper proceeding, which it was the duty of the Committee to notice.
remarked, that being a fellow of the Royal Society and also of the Society of Antiquaries, he was able to assure the Committee that the distinct understanding on which they removed from Somerset House to Burlington House was that their abode in the latter building should be permanent.
said, that as another fellow of the Royal Society, he could corroborate Mr. Morgan's statement, and would add that the change of residence was consented to on the part of the societies in order to meet the wishes and convenience of the Government. He had been misunderstood with regard to the Vote for Burlington House. He approved the sum proposed for repairs, but not the sum of £4,000 for alterations. He regretted to say that hon. Members were in the habit of twitting him with supporting the Government whether right or wrong. There was no ground for that uncourteous insinuation. He should support the Government when he thought they were right, and reprehend, and probably vote against them, when in the wrong.
said, no large outlay should have been expended upon Burlington House at the mere will of the Government. The purpose to which that building should be put ought to have been left to the decision of Parliament.
said, he wished to know whether the sum of £5,205 represented the whole amount of liabilities and expenses in regard of Burlington House, or whether there was anything due beyond?
replied that it included the whole cost except the purchase-money. And with regard to the interest on that sum the Committee should recollect it would have been the same whether Burlington House were left empty or occupied as now. There was a general Vote for works, out of which the First Commissioner paid wages and other items during the year. If the amount was short at the end of the year he applied to the Treasury, and they, if they saw fit, authorised an advance to meet the deficiency, charging it in the next year's Estimates. He quite agreed with his right hon. Friend that it would be better if a note of such payments were made in the Estimates, and in the next year's Estimates he would take care if any expenditure beyond the sum voted was incurred during the year the fact should be noted and the circumstances explained. The course, however, which had been taken in the present instance was one which had been pursued from time immemorial.
inquired whether it was intended to purchase the houses next to the old Ordnance Office, in Pall Mall, in order to bring all the offices connected with the War Department into one building? He wished also to know whether any Vote was to be taken for the new buildings near Waterloo Bridge, connected with Somerset House?
replied that a charge had appeared each year in the Estimates for the Board of Inland Revenue for the new buildings at Somerset House, as they belonged to that Department. With regard to the houses in Pall Mall they had only been attainable within the last two or three months, and after other arrangements had been made; and it being in contemplation to concentrate all the public offices in one spot, it was not thought advisable to make the purchase.
said, that as it appeared that in one case the money now asked for had already been expended, he should like to know if there were any other items in the same condition.
said, he was not aware that there were any other items in the same condition, although he could not say positively that in no case a portion of the money now asked for had been spent on account. Care would, however, be taken in future that no money should, except under circumstances of necessity, be expended without the previous knowledge of the House; and, if it should be necessary that money should be expended, that a clear statement with regard to it should appear in the Estimates.
remarked, that he considered the promise of the Secretary of the Treasury as to the future satisfactory; but his explanation as to the past by no means so. He recommended his hon. Friend, Mr. Spooner, however, to be content with the promise, and withdraw the Amendment.
undertook that for the future there should be an ex- planation given of any excess of expenditure in his department.
said, that on the understanding alluded to, he would withdraw his Amendment.
said, that he did not consider that the declaration of the Government went far enough. The Board of Works and the Treasury together had no right to spend the public money without the sanction of that House, and he trusted that the Committee would receive an assurance from the Government that no money should be expended upon any work without a distinct grant being voted for the purpose.
said, he could not make any such general promise. It might happen that while Parliament was not sitting the building occupied by one of the departments might get into such a state as to require expenditure to prevent further dilapidation, and surely it could not be expected that the Government should not have the power of expending money in such a case. If, however, a case should arise in which any expenditure became a matter of necessity, an explanatory note would be affixed to the item in the Estimates of the following year.
said, he wished to call attention to the lodging of the London University in Burlington House, and to ask if it was to be a permanent or local occupation?
stated that the University of London was a public institution, established by Royal charter, and apartments for purposes connected with that University had always been provided at the public expense.
Motion by leave withdrawn.
Original question put, and agreed to.
(3.) £36,069, Furniture Public Departments.
asked whether any portion of this sum had already been expended.
said that there was an item of £9,157 expended under the authority of the Lords of the Treasury. A portion of this expenditure had been rendered necessary by the re-arrangement of the Treasury Chambers, and other portions had been incurred in taking premises for various commissions appointed to inquire into particular matters.
complained that in this and the preceding Votes there were items for furniture required in the military departments to the amount of £16,000, and which, therefore, ought to have appeared in the Army Estimates. Putting them into the Civil Service Estimates was not dealing fairly with the public.
said that the Vote also included £2,000 for the Commissariat.
Vote agreed to.
(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £75,781, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray, to the 31st day of March 1858, the Expense of maintaining and keeping in repair the Royal Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c., and other Charges connected therewith."
said, he fully concurred in what had been said as to the impropriety of cutting off portions of a Vote unless there was some good reason for such a course, but he trusted the Committee would understand, that in the objection he was going to raise to an item in this Vote his wish was to vindicate a distinct and positive principle. He was not going to revive the discussion that had taken place as to the authority of the Government to make certain expenditures without the previous sanction of Parliament. There might be expenses that would properly come under the head "emergencies," but he could not understand how it was possible that the portion of the Vote which he was about to object to could come under that head. He could not see how payment for the clearing out and paving a fish-pond could be called an emergency. The principle which he wanted to assert was, that the public money should not be applied with a niggard hand for useful works while it was lavishly expended on works which were comparatively useless. He found in the Vote now before the Committee a sum of £11,985 for removing the mud in the lake in St. James's Park, levelling and concreting the bottom, intercepting the land drainage, sinking a well, and refilling the lake with pure water. He did not think it could be contended that this expenditure was for a sanitary purpose. He thought it should be considered that it was for an ornamental purpose, and what he complained of was the lavish manner in which money was laid out for purposes of, as he might call them, amusement, while grants for objects of national importance were doled forth in the most niggardly manner. A handsome sheet of water in St. James's Park might be a very agreeable sight; but what was the improvement of that lake as compared with the works which were required to save the lives and property that were annually sacrificed for want of harbours of refuge and other coast works? Another objection he had to this item for the Park was, that it was a sum charged on the entire country for beautifying the metropolis. If it was desirable to adorn the metropolis the people of London should pay for it, and not the population of Great Britain at large, many of whom never visited London, and therefore never saw those works for which they were charged. On these grounds he should move the reduction of the Vote by the item of £11,985—the money spent on the lake in St. James's Park.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £63,796, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray, to the 31st day of March 1858, the Expense of maintaining and keeping in repair the Royal Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c., and other charges connected therewith."
assured the hon. Member for West Norfolk that his real object in carrying out this improvement was a sanitary one, though undoubtedly it would at the same time have an ornamental effect. In his communication with the Treasury on the subject it would be seen that he did not say one word in relation to the ornamental, but he had felt it absolutely necessary in a sanitary point of view that this work should be undertaken. There was not an hon. Gentleman present who, if he had in his park a piece of water like those in St. James's Park and Kensington Gardens, would allow it to remain in so filthy a state for a single day if he had the means of cleansing it. As to the charge of spending money which had not been voted by Parliament, he hope the Committee would not think him so arrogant or so presumptuous as to desire to override the privileges of that House in checking the public expenditure. The fact was, he believed it to be necessary that this work should be undertaken; an opportunity offered to carry it out at a much cheaper rate than it could afterwards have been executed for; nobody, he believed, could object to the manner in which the work had been performed, for it had hitherto been entirely successful; and he hoped the Committee would think that he had done wisely in taking advantage of a favourable moment to begin it.
wished to call the attention of the Committee to the fact that the Vote for parks and pleasure grounds was in 1855, £69,100; that in 1856 it had risen to £89,000; and that for the present year, including the portion of the Vote already taken and that now before the Committee, it amounted to £116,000. A sum of no less than £42,000 had been spent on the London parks this year. There was in the Estimates now before the Committee a sum of £3,400 for the formation of a sewer from the lake in St. James's Park to the Horse Guards, and thence on some further distance. That sum was placed under the head "emergencies." Now, he altogether objected to this proceeding. A sum of £850 was voted for this sewer in 1855, and the work having been thus recognised by the House in 1855, he was at a loss to know why it should have been left out of last year's Estimates and made this year to figure as an emergency at a sum so much larger than that voted for it two years ago.
had already referred to the condition of his office about the time in question, and could only say that the omission of the item from the Estimates of last year was occasioned by the state of confusion into which that office was thrown owing to the unfortunate circumstances of which he had apprised the House on a former occasion.
thought that his right hon. Friend spent rather too much money in one year, and that it would be better if he distributed his outlay over a longer period. He hoped that next year the expenditure on the parks would not be so heavy.
said, he wished to express his thanks to his right hon. Friend for his sanitary measures in the parks, which had been attacked by the hon. Member for Norfolk. No one who reflected upon that muddy lake, under the very nose of Royalty, who knew the unhealthy state of the houses in Carlton Gardens at certain seasons from the foul state of the water, and who had seen the number of children congregated by that dirty pond, which his right hon. Friend had now cleaned out, but must be thankful to him for the good that he had accomplished.
said, that he was not quite happy yet about the cows in Hyde Park. They were told the other day that the cows were desirable on account of the milk that they supplied; but so long as the railways brought in good milk and the water companies laid on plenty of water there was no fear of a deficiency of milk in London. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would make some proposition to the Ranger by which the public might have the benefit of a close sward in Hyde Park instead of long grass and the other inconveniences which resulted from the depasturing of cows. The country paid £40,000 a year for the keeping up of the three parks, but there seemed to be doubts as to who had control over the pasturage. He believed that if sheep were placed in Hyde Park instead of cows the change would be found to be a matter of profit.
thanked his right hon. Friend for the improvements which he had effected in the parks, which had greatly increased their healthfulness and beauty, and stated that so far from grudging the Vote he thought that it was exceedingly well bestowed.
said, that these thanks were justly due, for the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works certainly had shown very great taste and judgment in the improvements which he had carried out in the parks, but he could not help thinking that more money was expended upon them than was necessary. For example, the new lodge at Cumberland Gate was estimated to cost £1,281, and it appeared to him that it was just such a lodge as a gentleman would put up on his own estate for about £300 or £400. He thought that the entrance to the park at Marlborough House also had cost a great deal more than such a work would have cost under the inspection of private individuals.
said, that he took great interest in the parks, and that he was there nearly every day watching what was going on, and endeavouring to curtail the expenditure as much as possible. Almost every piece of work that was done was put up to tender, and it was in pursuance of this system that he had been enabled to accomplish so much with so little money. The lodge at Cumberland Gate had been submitted to five or six eminent builders, and the sum of £1,281 for it in the Estimates was the amount of the lowest tender that had been sent in. It must be remembered that the whole of the money voted for a work was not always expended upon it, and the new road and entrance at Marlborough House afforded an instance of this. The sum voted for those improvements was £4,500, but the sum actually expended had been only £2,631, being, £1,630 for forming the road and walls, paving, and gasworks, and £1,001 for the lodge, walls, and paving, which lodge was not included in the original Estimate, but was erected in consequence of a desire very generally expressed by the House that there should be such a building.
hoped that the hon. Member for West Norfolk would not press his Amendment to a division. Connected as he was with what might be called an aquatic county (Lincolnshire), he had some experience in waterworks, and having inspected the works in the park, he felt bound to say that they were well conceived and well executed. As a sanitary matter the improvement was greatly needed. The miasma from the old water was like to be very injurious to all who had to live near. For instance, the valuable lives of many of Her Majesty's Ministers were in danger, and though, of course, as a Member of the Opposition, he could not be expected to say that it would be difficult to find as good men to fill their places, yet his opposition was to their measures in Parliament, rather than to their health. The water which had been put in was clear and limpid, and any one who would compare it with that which was there before must confess that the improvement which had been effected was very great.
said, he also hoped the Amendment would be withdrawn. At the same time he would beg to call the attention of the Committee to the large amount of money voted. Any amount they gave would be spent, but they ought to give a limited amount, and not allow it to be exceeded. The sum was increasing at a rate that they could not afford if they reduced the taxation next year. In 1851 the sum asked for this purpose was only £41,000; in the first year of the right hon. Gentleman's accession to office it had risen to £115,000. Let them take the average of a series of years and fix it at that amount. There was an increase of 66 per cent within five years. He had a great mind to propose an Amendment to reduce the amount in accordance with that Vote. An hon. Gentleman opposite had an Amendment against the Vote for Battersea Park, and here the forms of the House stood very much in the way. If he proposed such an Amendment as he was suggesting what was to become of the bon. Member opposite? He did not object to the maintenance of the existing parks, but he did think the whole country ought not to be taxed for these parks for London. There was a talk of the formation of a new park in the north of London, but he trusted that the expense of its creation would not be thrown on the public at large. All other towns paid for their own parks, and so ought London.
said, that the principle he had to contend for was that money ought not to be spent in ornamental and useless purposes, when it was required for more urgent purposes. As the feeling of the Committee seemed to be against him he should withdraw his Amendment.
Motion by leave withdrawn.
Original Question again proposed.
said, that seeing an item of £8,069 in the Estimate for Battersea Park, he wished to ask if it was intended to charge a toll for passing over the bridge which led to that Park?
replied that the toll was imposed by a clause in the Act of 1847, under the sanction of which the bridge from Chelsea to Battersea was erected, and it was impossible to forego that toll unless Parliament should pass an Act to repeal that clause.
said, he should move, for the reasons he had already stated to reduce the Vote by £17,916, which sum being deducted from the Vote proposed (£75,781) would leave the Vote £57,865.
said, that if the hon. Member's Motion should be rejected he should then move to reduce the Vote by the sum proposed to be granted for Battersea Park.
said, he thought it right and just, as there were parks in other parts of London, that there should also be one at Battersea for South London; but he objected to placing a toll bar at Chelsea Bridge to impede the peoples' enjoyment of the new park. If care were not taken, there would be excited in the metropolis as violent a feeling against these tollbars as had been manifested in the Rebecca riots of South Wales some years ago. Besides, the imposition of the toll would be a financial mistake, as it would injure the neighbouring property to a greater amount than would be gained by the impost.
reminded the Committee that the question involved in the Vote on which a division was about to be taken was, whether or not the whole of Great Britain and Ireland was to be taxed for the luxuries of the city of London.
wished to know whether this expenditure for the parks was to be continuous? He thought this expenditure, which was to be defrayed by Ireland, Scotland, and the various counties of England, extremely extravagant, and he would call upon the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. Williams), as peculiarly the guardian of the public purse in that House, to say whether he was prepared to consent to an annual expenditure of £8,000 for a park which nobody cared anything about, and which was in fact useless.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £57,865, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray, to the 31st day of March 1858, the Expense of maintaining and keeping in repair the Royal Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c., and other Charges connected therewith."
The Committee divided:—Ayes 66; Noes 210: Majority 144.
Original Question again proposed.
said, he should now move that the Vote be reduced by £8,069 14s., being a Vote for the maintenance of Battersea Park. The question was whether the country was or was not to be saddled with the maintenance of a park which ought to be kept up by the inhabitants of the district in which it was situated.
said, Battersea Park was purchased and laid out under an Act of Parliament, and he had done all in his power to get it brought into a state in which it would be available for the purposes intended. It would soon be in a condition to receive the population of that part of the metropolis, and now his hon. Friend stepped forward and proposed to strike out the Vote necessary for its maintenance. The inhabitants in the neighbourhood could not be asked to keep up the park. It was a property belonging to the State, having been purchased by the authority of Parliament, and the State must of course maintain it.
said, that he hoped measures would be taken to remove the toll on the bridge at Battersea, so as to enable the inhabitants on the north side of the river to go over to the park free. What Parliament had done Parliament could undo. It was absurd to keep the people out of a park which had been expressly formed for them.
said, that, upon the ge- neral principle, he was disposed to agree with the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn); still, as the park was the property of the public, and not under the control of the Metropolitan Board of Works, he could not see how otherwise it was to be given up. As for throwing open Battersea Bridge, while he had no doubt that ought to be done, he would remind hon. Gentlemen that they must be prepared simultaneously to open the bridges on either sides of it, for they were equally toll bridges. They should also remember that if it were opened to the public all the traffic from both sides of the river would pass through the park, and the roads would consequently be completely cut up. He was opposed to tolls, but if this bridge were thrown open to the public he considered that it ought to be maintained by the counties of Surrey and Middlesex.
asked whether the proceeds of the surplus property connected with the new park, a portion of which had recently been sold to a railway company, could not be applied to the reduction of the charge upon the public, with the view of rendering the bridge toll free?
replied that certain portions of the property at Battersea Park were to be thrown open to the public, but about 125 acres, forming a most valuable estate, would be sold or let, and he had within the last few days disposed of about thirty acres upon terms most advantageous to the public.
said, he must object to the poor taxpayers of the country being called upon to contribute to the establishment and maintenance of metropolitan parks, and also express his belief that such proposals as that under consideration were attributable to the fact that the President of the Board of Works was a metropolitan Member.
Motion made, and Question, "That a sum, not exceeding £67,711 6s., be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray, to the 31st day of March 1858, the Expense of maintaining and keeping in repair the Royal Parks, Pleasure Grounds, &c., and other Charges connected therewith," put, and negatived.
begged once more to impress upon the right hon. Baronet (Sir B. Hall) the necessity of excluding cows from Hyde Park as had been already done in Regent's Park.
(Rye) called attentention to a petition which he had recently presented from 200 persons residing near the Marble Arch, Hyde Park, complaining of the erection of another lodge in that park; and urged the right hon. Baronet at the head of the Board of Works to comply with the request of the petitioners that such a building might not be erected.
observed that he lived in the neighbourhood of the Marble Arch, and he considered that the opposition of the petitioners was most ridiculous.
said, that when the petitioners complained that the Commissioners of Public Works were about to erect in a public lodge certain public conveniences of various descriptions, and that they begged to be protected against this outrage upon public decency, as such accommodation was not required in the locality—they spoke only for themselves.
Vote agreed to.
House resumed. Resolutions to be reported on Monday next; Committee to sit again on Monday next.
reported that Peter Johnson and John Lord had been served with the Order of the House; that John Lord was in attendance, but that Peter Johnson was not in attendance, pursuant to the said Order.
wished, before the person in attendance was called in, to ask a question of the Speaker upon a point of form. He found, from the Rules and Regulations of the House, that no Member could examine witnesses except through the medium of the Speaker, and he wished to know whether that regulation was to be adhered to?
In answer to the question of the hon. Member, I have to say that he has correctly stated the effect of the rule in question; but it has been the custom to allow a degree of latitude for the convenience of the House, and questions put directly by Members have been supposed to be put through the Speaker.
I understand that your order, Sir, has been served upon John Lord, who is in attendance, although Johnson is not. I have, therefore, to move that you, Sir, do issue your warrant that Peter Johnson be taken into custody.
Motion put, and agreed to.
Ordered, That Peter Johnson, having been served with the Order of this House to attend the House forthwith, and having neglected to attend, be taken into the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms attending this House, and that Mr. Speaker do issue his warrant accordingly.
As John Lord is in attendance, I beg to move that he be now called in, and that the Speaker do explain to him the nature of the charge which has been made against him, and which, if proved, will amount to a breach of the privileges of this House, and that the said John Lord be informed he is at liberty to make any statement.
Motion put, and agreed to.
Ordered, That John Lord be called in.
Then the said John Lord being called in, was examined at the bar, as follows:—
John Lord, a statement has been made to this House that yesterday one Peter Johnson offered to one Abraham Rothwell the sum of £50 to induce him to go to New Orleans in order to avoid giving evidence before the Rochdale Election Committee, and that you, John Lord, were present when such offer was made, and endeavoured to induce Abraham Rothwell to accept it. Have you anything to say in answer to such statement? Witness: I never attempted to induce him to go.
Have you anything further to say in answer to the statement that has been made? Witness: I did hear him say if he wished to go away he would pay his outfit as far as £50. That was all I heard him say.
Whom did you hear say so?
Witness: Peter Johnson.
The witness was then ordered to withdraw, but to remain in attendance until the pleasure of the House should be made known.
I understand the person in attendance, John Lord, to have said in substance that he never did induce nor attempt to induce Abraham Rothwell to accept any money; but that he heard Peter Johnson offer to Rothwell the sum of £50 to go abroad to New Orleans. I beg to suggest to the House that the question now occurs whether any further inquiry shall be pursued by the House Itself or adopted in some other form. If the House undertakes the duty of pursuing such an inquiry, I think it must be aware of the difficulty of managing such an investigation. As to the party now in attendance, I should deprecate any further questions being put to him, because, to a certain extent, he appears to be a party to the charge. He has in some degree denied that charge; but if the House shall determine itself to continue the inquiry, I think the person in attendance should be cautioned that he may decline to answer questions that may tend to criminate himself. But, upon the whole, I would humbly suggest to the House, that if it thinks fit to pursue this matter further, the whole subject should be referred to a Select Committee for investigation. That was the course adopted on former similar occasions when statements had been made to this House of conduct amounting to a contempt and breach of the privileges of this House, and I believe that is the only manner in which inquiries of this description can be satisfactorily conducted. I therefore move that further inquiry into the subject of the charge preferred by Abraham Rothwell against John Lord and Peter Johnson, contained in the petition of John Newall, be referred to a Select Committee, with the usual directions to examine witnesses as to the truth of such charge.
I think the course suggested by the hon. and learned Gentleman is the most convenient one that can be adopted. It would certainly be very inconvenient to pursue the inquiry by this House.
said that, as a matter of justice to the absent, a full inquiry should take place, and he thought the course proposed would be by far the most convenient.
also supported the Motion.
begged the Speaker to inform the House, whether the course which had been recommended by the Attorney General was or was not according to precedent? No doubt in ordinary criminal proceedings it was right that an accused person should be cautioned; but he contended that it had never been the practice of the House to caution persons called to its bar against replying to questions the answers to which might criminate themselves. It would be narrowing the powers and privileges of the House to subject it to the same strict rules which prevailed in the ordinary courts of justice.
stated that the course proposed by the Attorney General was in accordance with what took place upon a former occasion somewhat similar to the present.
reminded the House, that in the case of the Duke of York certain persons called to the bar were undoubtedly asked questions the answers to which might have criminated themselves, and yet, if his memory served him, no caution was addressed to those witnesses how they replied to such questions. Home Tooke, also, when he was called to the bar, was asked whether he was the author of an alleged libel; but no caution was addressed to him upon that occasion. By an ingenious device, however, he certainly did baffle the House. He said, "Do you ask me that question as a party or as a witness?" The Speaker replied, "As a party;" upon which Home Tooke said, "Then, Sir, I plead 'not guilty,' and put myself upon my country." Thus he baffled the inquiry; but still no caution was addressed to him not to criminate himself. If the House were to adopt the proposition of the Attorney General, and hold itself bound by the same strict rules which prevailed in ordinary judicial proceedings, it would to a considerable extent narrow its powers and privileges; and to narrow the powers of that House, which was the great inquest of the nation, would be a very dangerous course, and one which ought not to be taken without the most mature deliberation. He would suggest, therefore, that an inquiry should be instituted into the precedents, and that in the meantime no step should be taken in the direction indicated by the Attorney General.
asked, whether the witness who had left the bar was in custody?
said, he conceived that in all matters touching its privileges the House was not bound to abstain from instituting any examination which it might be pleased to undertake, or from requiring an answer to any question which it might think proper to put. But when there was an inquiry touching a matter which not only involved a breach of the privileges of the House, but which might also amount to a crime at common law, the House out of indulgence, as it were, and from compassionate consideration for the persons called to its bar—not recognizing any right or claim on their part—had been in the habit of telling them that they were under no obligation to reply to any questions the answer to which might criminate themselves. He entirely agreed with the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Bowyer), that the powers and prerogatives of that House should be preserved inviolate. With respect to the question of the hon. Member for Lancashire (Mr. Cheetham), it was unquestionably desirable that some steps should be taken to ensure that the person who had left the bar should attend before the Select Committee; but he was not prepared to say that the House was in a position at present to order him into custody.
MR. BOWYER rose to address the House, but he was received with cries of "Spoke," and
said, the hon. and learned Gentleman was not at liberty to make a second speech.
then moved the adjournment of the House, with the view of putting himself in order; but
said, that the hon. and learned Gentleman, having already addressed the House, could not be permitted, according to the usage of the House, himself to move the adjournment.
Motion agreed to.
Select Committee appointed "to inquire into the matter of the Petition of John Newall, and to report their opinion thereupon to the House."
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That John Lord do attend the said Committee." ( Mr. Attorney General.)
said that, from information he had received, it appeared to be of the utmost importance that John Lord should be detained in custody.
intimated his intention to move that the proceedings in this case should be entered upon the journals of the House, in order that it might not be drawn into a precedent, and that the powers of the House with respect to the examination of witnesses might not be narrowed.
thought it might be dangerous to allow Lord to go at large until the meeting of the Select Committee. He was to some extent implicated in the transaction of which complaint had been made to the House.
then moved an Amendment, to leave out from the words "John Lord" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "be taken into the custody of the Serjeant-at-Arms attending this House."
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
doubted whether the statements before the House would justify it in ordering Lord into custody. That person himself had not pleaded guilty to a breach of the privileges of the House. It might, therefore, be desirable to call him again and interrogate him upon the allegation of the witness Abraham Rothwell, that he was the person who requested him to meet Johnson, and endeavoured to induce him to accept the bribe. If his answers were not satisfactory upon that point, there might possibly then be grounds for taking him into custody. At present there were none.
said, that before they could agree to the Amendment, they must decide that John Lord had been guilty of a breach of privilege; otherwise they would be placed in the anomalous position of ordering a man into custody against whom there was no charge.
suggested that Lord should be heard again, and if, by his answers, it appeared that he had been the medium of communication between Johnson and Rothwell, he would be guilty of breach of privilege, and might be taken into custody.
said, that when a person was charged with a contempt in a court of law, the court examined him for the purpose of ascertaining whether he had been guilty of the contempt or not; and he apprehended that that House was armed with no higher powers than a court of law. The first thing that would be necessary was, to ascertain the fact, and if the hon. Member (Mr. Cheetham) would withdraw his Amendment, he would move that John Lord be recalled.
reminded the House that this man was not a witness, but an accused party. Having determined that a Committee should be appointed, it would be rather inconsistent in the House now to take the inquiry into its own hands. The question was, whether the House had sufficient grounds for ordering the accused person into custody on the statement of Abraham Rothwell. That statement had been denied by the individual at the bar, and he did not think there was a necessity for any further measures at present besides ordering him to attend the Committee.
said he was willing to withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
said, the question now before the House was, that John Lord attend before the Select Committee.
MR. BUTT moved that John Lord be recalled to the bar. Every step the House was then taking would be made a precedent which might affect the rights and privileges of the House. It was most important to maintain their rights to examine any person called to the bar, and as the hon. Member for Lancashire had expressed a desire to put a question, he should either be allowed to do so, or the House resolve not to do so out of consideration to the witness, at the same time securing its rights. He begged to move as an Amendment, that John Lord be recalled to the bar.
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the words "John Lord" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "be recalled to the bar."
had been anxious to put a question which might criminate the individual; but, after the opinion of the Attorney General, he scarcely felt himself justified in so doing. There was a suspicion that Johnson had got out of the way, never to be seen again, and that Lord would follow a similar course.
thought it better, upon the whole, to let the man be examined before the Select Committee.
said, that a grave charge of breach of the privileges of the House had been made against two persons; and it would be absurd if both these offenders got out of the way. Lord ought, he thought, to be again put to the bar; but, before the question was put to him, it would only be fair, either that he should hear the charge repeated by the man who made it, or else that the evidence against him should be read from the shorthand writer's notes.
thought it inexpedient, as the House had appointed a Committee, to enter into a partial inquiry of the person accused, whether he were guilty or not.
asked the Attorney General how he proposed to secure the attendance of this witness? It struck him (Mr. Dillwyn) that he would not be forthcoming when the Committee met.
said, he proposed to secure his attendance by the Order of the House to attend; and if he did not attend, he would be guilty of a breach of privilege, and be taken into custody. Hon. Members talked about sending the man to prison, but he (the Attorney General) wanted to know what offence had been proved against him, and in what manner, to justify the House in ordering him into custody?
apprehended no man could be taken into custody by that House except for a breach of privilege; and before the House issued their warrant for taking him into custody, they must find him guilty of a breach of privilege.
said, it was true a person who had not been shown to have committed an offence could not be taken into custody for a breach of privilege; but, if he was accused of a breach of privilege, there must be some means taken to secure his appearance before the Committee; otherwise he might not be forthcoming when he was wanted.
said, the only object of recalling the man was to enable the hon. Member for Lancashire to put a question: but the hon. Gentleman now declined to put it, and there was therefore no use in recalling the man.
Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question."
The House divided:—Ayes, 97; Noes 42: Majority, 55.
Original Question again proposed.
Another Amendment proposed, to add at the end of the Question the words, "upon Monday next, at One of the Clock."
Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
submitted that, as it was not at all unlikely that the witness would keep out of the way, means should be immediately taken to prevent his absconding.
said, if the witness disobeyed the order of the House he would be guilty of contempt, and the House would order him into custody.
said, the Motion before the House was, that John Lord be ordered to attend the Committee on Monday next, but he (Mr. Butt) must remind the House that they had not yet nominated the Committee; and unless they at once agreed to suspend the Standing Orders, he apprehended they could not proceed to nominate the Committee that night. If they could that night suspend the Standing Orders he (Mr. Butt) should move that the Committee meet to-morrow. He thought if they gave the witness two days' liberty, after the warning which he would no doubt take from the discussion that night, the result would be that the whole of this proceeding before the House would be a mockery. He would, therefore, move that the Committee meet to-morrow at One o'clock, and that John Lord be ordered to attend at that hour.
should like to know what was to prevent Lord from leaving London within a few hours by a railway train, and immediately afterwards sailing for America. The Attorney General would under those circumstances find it difficult to secure his attendance before the Committee.
thought that, as Lord was an accomplice in the transaction in question, he must be looked upon in the light of an accused person, and not of a witness.
was strongly of opinion that Lord could not be taken into custody for contempt until he had been found guilty of that offence.
said, in reply to the hon. Member for Youghal (Mr. Butt), that the House having agreed to refer the case under their notice to a Select Committee, it was not competent for them to enter upon any inquiry with respect to it themselves while that order remained. To the proposition of the hon. and learned Member that the Committee should sit that day at One o'clock he was disposed to assent, and he should, with that view, beg leave to withdraw his original Motion.
Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Ordered, That the Committee do consist of the following Members:—Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL, Lord JOHN RUSSELL, Mr. HENLEY, Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND, Mr. HORSMAN, Mr. EDWARD EGERTON, Sir HENRY WILLOUGHBY, Mr. ROEBUCK, Mr. MACAULAY, and Mr. SERJEANT O'BRIEN: Power to send for persons, papers, and records; Five to be the quorum.
Ordered, That the Committee do meet this day at One of the clock.
Ordered, That John Lord do attend the Committee at its meeting at One of the clock this day.
Ordered, That Abraham Rothwell do attend the Committee at its meeting at One of the clock this day.
Ordered, That the Petition of John Newall, and the Evidence taken at the Bar, be referred to the Committee.
Ways And Means—Committee
Order for Committee read.
House in Committee.
Resolved, That, towards making good the Supply granted to Her Majesty, the sum of £8,000,000 be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Resolution to be reported on Monday next.
Committee to sit again on Monday next.