House Of Commons
Friday, 29th July, 1870.
MINUTES.] — SELECT COMMITTEE — Report — Kitchen and Refreshment Rooms (House of Commons) [No. 395]; Abyssinian Expedition [No. 401].
SUPPLY— considered in Committee—NAVY ESTIMATES; CIVIL SERVICE ESTIMATES.
Resolutions [July 28] reported—CIVIL SERVICE ESTIMATES.
PUBLIC BILLS— Ordered—First Reading—Truck Acts* ; Expiring Laws* ; Sanitary Act (Dublin) Amendment* .
Second Reading—Canada (Guarantee of Loan) .
Committee—Census (Scotland) —R.P.
Committee—Report—Public Schools Act (1868) Amendment* ; Petty Sessions Clerk (Ireland) Act (1858) Amendment* ; Matrimonial Causes and Marriage Law (Ireland)* ; Real Actions Abolition (Ireland)* ; Pensions Commutation Amendment* ; Norfolk Boundary* ; Census (Scotland)* .
Considered as amended — Third Reading — Brokers (City of London)* , and passed.
Third Reading—Census , and passed.
Withdrawn—Burials ( re-comm.)* .
The House met at Two of the clock.
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for War, Whether it is proposed to make a change in the principles on which the locks of our military arms have hitherto been constructed, by adopting a spiral main spring in lieu of a main spring of the usual construction; and, if so, whether that change has been recommended by the Superintendent of the Small Arms Factory, or other competent mechanical opinion, or whether it has been recommended by a Military Committee alone?
Sir, the Henry-Martini lock acts with a spiral spring. The Henry-Martini rifle has been provisionally, but not finally, adopted. The Committee took the opinion of the Superintendent of the Small Arms Factory and other competent mechanical opinions before recommending the arm, and I have determined to add to the Committee, before it makes its final Report, a civil engineer eminent for his mechanical knowledge.
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Why the money usually paid in the month of May by the Government towards the rates of the Medway Union has not been paid; and, whether he can state when such money will be paid?
said, in reply, that the time when the money would be paid depended on the period when the accounts of the Union were audited.
Prizes Of War—Question
said, he wished to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, If the Decree, a Copy of which appears in "The Times" of the 28th July, and in which Prussia renounces her rights as a belligerent to capture or seize as prizes of war French merchant vessels, except under circumstances which would render neutral vessels liable to capture, is authentic; and, if the French Government have sent to Her Majesty's Government the Instructions to their Consuls regarding French and Prussian merchant vessels, as promised to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs previous to the 21st instant?
said, in reply, that he had not a copy of The Times by him at the moment; but he saw in The Times, either yesterday or the day before, an authentic copy of the Prussian Instructions, and he presumed it was to that publication that the hon. and gallant Gentleman referred. With respect to the second part of the Question, the Foreign Office had no specific communication of the Instructions sent to French Consuls by the French Government, and had already published everything received from the French Government relating to the subject. He found in page 72 of the Papers laid before Parliament a translation from the Journal Official, and it contained a statement of the intentions of the French Government on this subject. He wished to draw the attention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to the following sentence:—
In page 73 there was another communication from the French Ambassador in London to Lord Granville, which contained a repetition of the declaration of the Congress of Paris in April, 1856."As concerns merchant-vessels belonging to the enemy which may be actually in the Ports of the Empire, or which may enter these Ports in ignorance of the state of war, His Majesty has been pleased to order that they shall have a delay of 30 days for leaving these Ports. Safe-conducts shall be delivered to them to enable them to return freely to their Ports of despatch or to the Port of their destination."
Turkey—British Embassy At Pera
said, he wished to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether a Report has been received at the Foreign Office from Major Grossman as to the probable cost of rebuilding and refitting the British Embassy at Pera; and, if so, whether he will lay a Copy of that Report upon the Table of the House?
replied that three letters had been received from Major Crossman announcing that he had arrived at Constantinople and given his attention to the state of the building at Pera, and he furnished a rough estimate of the cost of rebuilding, which was put at £50,000; but he did not think it would be fair to Major Crossman to lay that rough estimate on the Table.
said, he wanted to know whether the Government will give an assurance that they will not enter into a contract for rebuilding the Embassy at so large an expense without first laying an estimate before the House?
said, his impression was that the Government ought to have the sanction of Parliament. The difficulty was in its being a long time before they could obtain it. Perhaps his hon. Friend would repeat his Question to-morrow.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
Coal For The Navy—Observations
said, he rose to call attention to the quality of steam coal in use by Her Majesty's Steam Fleet. Experiments had been going on for some time with a view to effect economy or improvement by the mixture of north country smoky coal with the smokeless coal of South Wales, and at this period of the Session he would not have interfered, satisfied as he was that these experiments would end in failure, if the events of the last few days had not given a new aspect to the question. The present was not a time for hazardous experiments with respect to the motive power of the steam vessels of the Navy. They had got the finest steam coal in the world: let them make use of it, and keep their experiments for another time. Let them remember what Admiral Napier wrote home from the Baltic—"Send me out Welsh coal, or I cannot be responsible for the safety of the fleet." It might be thought that he was representing Merthyr Tydvil and Aberdare, the seat of this coal, and he might be thought an interested party. But the truth was that the contract with the Navy was not so important as it was supposed to be. Out of the 3,000,000 tons of coal annually raised in the district the Navy only took about 200,000. His own collieries would supply four times the amount of coal consumed by the Admiralty. He hoped, therefore, he might be acquitted of any selfish feeling in having brought forward this subject. He raised it altogether as a national question. It was a fascinating idea that great economy might be effected by the mixture of the two coals. He understood that a series of experiments with mixed coal had been carried on on board Her Majesty's ships Urgent and Lucifer, and that the conclusion drawn from these experiments was a recommendation in favour of the mixed coal, on the ground of economy. Now he had for the last 17 years devoted his attention to mixing coal, not exactly with the same object as the Admiralty, but for coking purposes. He wished to utilize the screenings of the coal, which up to that time only encumbered the banks, and he found that commercially the mixture was a great success; but with the best mechanical arrangements it was scarcely possible on a large scale to mix different kinds of coal successfully, so far as the Admiralty was concerned. If the mixture were left to stokers or engineers it could not be effectual. The result would be that a column of smoke would pour out of the funnel of a steamer and remain visible in the atmosphere for hours, acting as an unerring guide to an enemy. The Welsh coal was a steam coal mixed by nature and of a perfect character—the very best to be found in the world. The geological formation of the Welsh coal basin was a peculiar one. At the western extremity it consisted of anthracite or stone coal, a mineral very difficult to burn, and to the cast of a highly bituminous coal. It was in the intermediate district—the Merthyr and Aberdare fields—that coal best suited for steam purposes was to be found. Each lump, when in a state of combustion, opened like a cauliflower—and indeed, in the French market, it was termed the cauliflower coal—and it burned with a most remarkable fierceness and duration, owing to its being almost pure carbon. When it was remembered that we had this coal of surpassing quality, and in unlimited quantity, he ventured to think the Admiralty should be content to use it and postpone their experiments. He highly appreciated the efforts of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Baxter) to promote economy; but being convinced that the mixing of coal would be practically disadvantageous, he had thought it his duty to call the attention of the House to the subject.
said, being connected with the north country coal districts, he must protest against Parliament expressing any opinion that Welsh coal was superior to north country coal. There was no evidence to show that the Welsh coal was superior to the mixed coal. The north country and Welsh coal mixed might be burnt with less smoke than the ordinary Welsh coal. The mixture of the two kept steam very well; but the north country coal kept steam perfectly. If there was any failure of steam the service of the country could not be carried on efficiently. One great advantage of the north country coal was that it would keep much better than the Welsh coal, which soon became deteriorated and unfit for the service. A large percentage of the Welsh coal, when exposed to a hot sun, turned into dust, which was perfectly useless. That was a great disadvantage to vessels going on foreign stations; but that dust, mixed with north country coal, made a most excellent fuel. Captain Rice's Report of the trials on board the Lucifer showed that the two coals mixed in equal quantities were as good as the best Welsh coal. There was no insuperable difficulty in the mixing. It might be carried on with ordinary care, and would produce a saving of 15 per cent in the cost, and give an increased power by 7 per cent. One undisputed quality of the north country coal was that it could get up steam more quickly than the Welsh coal, and nothing was of more consequence than this to a vessel desirous of pursuing or avoiding an enemy.
said, the hon. Member (Mr. T. E. Smith) had read the results of the experiments, but not the governing clause. The savings which he attributed to the mixture of coal were due simply to the use of a particular kind of furnace. There was a positive saving of from 12 to 14 per cent upon Welsh over north country coal. The hon. Member had said that the Welsh coal disintegrated and became useless. Now, a Return which was obtained upon his (Mr. Hussey Vivian's) Motion last year of the coals burnt in Her Majesty's Navy during the six months ending June, 1869, showed that out of 700 Reports received from ships in all parts of the world, there was but one Report in which complaint was made of the Welsh coal.
said, that his remark was not that Welsh coal became unfit for use, but that a large portion of it turned to dust.
said, that it was somewhat curious that in the Returns no mention was made of that specific fact. The hon. Member appeared to think that mixing coal out of different bunks was a very easy matter. The stokers, however, were the very lowest class of persons employed on board a ship of war, and could not be expected to exercise any very nice discrimination as to the quantities in which coal ought to be mixed. Moreover, in hot climates, the mere manual labour would give them quite enough to do without thinking of mixing the coals at all. He himself had considerable experience in this matter, and attempts to mix coal had given rise to some of the greatest difficulties which he ever had to contend with. Experiments had been made at different times from 1848 to 1868 as to the relative values of Welsh and north country coal. Those made between 1848 and 1852 showed the great advantages of the Welsh coal; those made in the years 1862 and 1867 showed the superiority of the Welsh coal over the mixed coal; and, up to the time at which the present Board of Admiralty came into Office, the results of these experiments had led to the use almost exclusively of the Welsh coal. He wished to know on what the present Board of Admiralty based the change which marked its advent to power; because, unless the Board had in its possession some evidence with which he was unacquainted, he thought it conclusively proved that no such change was called for. The experiments made on board the ships Urgent and Lucifer—which, by the way, were experiments not so much upon coal as upon furnaces—clearly showed that the result of using Welsh coal alone was a freedom from smoke during three-fourths of the time over which the experiments extended, while the mixed fuel produced during two-thirds of the time a smoke so dense as to prevent the signals being seen. When first lighted it gave off for several minutes a dense black smoke, which changed afterwards to a brown smoke. It had not been shown, he would remark further, that the use of north country coal decreased the consumption; but, on the other hand, the Report stated that the amount of north country coal burnt per hour was one-eighth in excess of the consumption of Welsh coal. The saving in the use of Welsh coal over mixed coal was 17·5 per cent, and the gain in revolution was 6 per cent; so that, in effect, the loss occasioned by the use of mixed coal amounted to 17½ per cent. Then, again, Admiral Cooper Key said the annual expenditure would be increased by the use of north country coal in large proportions, while it occupied about 4 or 5 per cent more space than that taken up by Welsh coal. "I think, however," said the Admiral, "that the proportions now adopted in the service will be found very suitable." [Mr. T. E. SMITH: Hear, hear!] The hon. Member might say "Hear, hear;" but how could he show the last statement of Admiral Key to be consistent with his former ones? Certainly, the amount of smoke produced by the mixed coal had been diminished by the use of intricate and finely contrived devices applied to the furnaces; but these, he thought, would not stand, the wear, tear, and hurry of actual service. After all, he would ask, why they should struggle against nature? Nature had provided the country with the very best fuel in the world; and the Government was seeking, for some occult reason which passed his understanding, to violate the laws of Nature, and to use a fuel which was, without doubt, of a most inferior character. He had got a Return of some 700 trials, and the commanders of Her Majesty's ships invariably reported in favour of Welsh coal. It was not the consumption by the Admiralty that their constituents regarded; but it was the stamp put upon the coal which Her Majesty's Navy used. If there was a trial at all let it be a practical one. Let two ships be supplied—tho one with Welsh and the other with mixed coal or north country coal—and sent across the Atlantic, and then it would be seen which was the better; but a trial of five or six hours was not sufficient. The experience of the world showed the superiority of the Welsh coal. The great steam companies, whose vessels carried passengers and mails, never dreamt of using these mixtures; they got the best coal, and that was the Welsh. What happened at the measured mile? Had his hon. Friend over heard of a vessel taken to the measured mile to be tried and any other coal used but Welsh coal? But this was what was done—They tried a vessel at the measured mile; she made her 14 or 15 knots an hour, and then they put this inferior coal on board and immediately brought down her speed. All things being equal, and there being a saving of 12 or 15 per cent by the use of Welsh coal, there must be some very strong reasons indeed to justify the use of any other. This was a time when it was important that the ships of Her Majesty's Navy should be placed in the very best position. When this kind of unnatural alliance was forced upon them they must protest against it, and he trusted the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Childers) would grant a divorce from an alliance which they detested and abhorred.
said, his hon. Friend (Mr. Hussey Vivian) had asked—"Why struggle against nature? What has induced you to take one kind of coal when you can get another?" The answer was very simple. The particular district which his hon. Friend represented produced only about 1–50th of our coal, and the policy he advocated would exclude the rest of the country, which produced 49–50ths. Unless, therefore, it was shown to be absolutely necessary to go to this small district exclusively, he was not prepared to establish such a monopoly. The debate, however, was premature. Certain experiments had been made, and immediately on their completion he laid upon the Table an abstract of the Reports, with a note stating that they had been presented without tables or sketches, as these would take some time to print; but in the course of a few days the tables and sketches would also be produced. Subsequently his right hon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) gave notice that he would move for Returns for the last six months showing the opinion of officers on the two classes of coal. Returns would be made up to the end of June; and his right hon. Friend saw it was impossible to bring on the subject this year, so he postponed doing so until next Session. But now the hon. Member for Merthyr (Mr. Fothergill) challenged the Admiralty to prove their case upon Returns which were not before the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr and his hon. Friend who had last spoken had been good enough to say that in the orders the Admiralty had given about the coal they had endeavoured to carry out those pledges of economy which Her Majesty's Government had given on coming into Office, but they had not done so in a wise manner. It was satisfactory, at any rate, to know that the Admiralty were trying to do the best for the public; but he hoped to show, when the subject could be fully discussed, that they had succeeded. But at present he hardly knew what to answer. The class of naval stokers had been spoken of somewhat disparagingly; but his hon. Friend was entirely mistaken as to their position in the service. The chief stokers were well-educated and intelligent men, and the ordinary stokers were by no means of the class described by him. Again as to the experiments to which the hon. Member for Glamorganshire (Mr. Hussey Vivian) had alluded, these were only two single experiments conducted by Captain Rice in May 1869, when the changes in the furnaces had not been made; whereas if he would refer to the subsequent Papers he would see that the experiments carried on under Mr. Murdock, the Chief Inspector of Machinery Afloat, were 114 in number, and extended over 14 months, from May, 1869, to July last. As far as their experience up to the present time went, the Reports were conclusively in favour of the course which had been provisionally taken of using one-third of north country coal and two-thirds of Welsh coal. He might say generally, according to the accounts they were receiving from foreign stations, Welsh coal deteriorated more rapidly than north country or mixed coal, and with Welsh coal unmixed it was often more difficult to get up and keep up steam than with the mixture in those proportions. The Government had not the smallest objection to lay on the Table all those most valuable half-yearly Returns, and would be perfectly prepared next year, when the House would have more information in its possession, to discuss that question fully. The hon. Member for Merthyr had observed that at the present time—for reasons which he hinted at rather than named—it was particularly important that they should have the best coal they could get, and which produced the smallest amount of smoke. All he could say on the part of the Government was that they were quite alive to that consideration, and would be very cautious not to be led astray by temporary experiments in a matter of that kind into doing anything which would be prejudicial to the Navy. Of course, he did not intend by that that the policy recently adopted on this subject would be lightly reversed. He merely meant that the Admiralty had no object in view but the public interest and the efficiency of the Navy.
Navy—The "Captain" And The "Monarch"—Question
said, he wished to ask, Whether it was the intention of the Admiralty to continue the experiments between the Captain and the Monarch? He believed that the Captain had been sent out alone.
said, that the Monarch and the Captain went out together for trials with the Channel Fleet, which was under the command of Sir Thomas Symonds, and some of these trials were made in June last. As an exception to the rule which was deemed very valuable, but for reasons which he need not then discuss, the Admiralty did not object to lay on the Table Sir Thomas Symonds's Report of those preliminary trials. The Captain since then had been to sea by herself, and therefore had not been under the eye of any superior officer. It was always customary for ships of that class to go on a few weeks' cruise by themselves; but it would be unnecessary to lay any Report of this cruise on the Table. The Captain and the Monarch would both shortly go to sea again under Sir Hastings Yelverton to join Sir Alexander Milne, who would carry further these trials; and, on their return, they would probably be again sent to sea together before their trials could be deemed completed. When the Admiralty had received the final and complete Reports on their comparative merits and performances, they would consider them very carefully. After arriving at their conclusions the Admiralty would communicate them to Parliament, with such information and extracts from the Reports as might be necessary to elucidate their views. At the present moment he could not lay on the Table any special Report.
Question "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
SUPPLY— considered, in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
(1.) £73,150, Medicines and Medical Stores, Naval Service.
said, in the absence of the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright), he rose to propose the Motion of which the hon. Member had given Notice, which was to reduce the Vote by £3,700, in respect of the expense of carrying out the Contagious Diseases Act. He took no objection to the Vote generally, and he agreed that, whatever opinion there might be about these Acts, as long as they were in force it was necessary that money should be voted for carrying them out. But it had been arranged this Session that there should be an inquiry into the effects of these Acts, and he thought the Government ought to have held their hands, and not to have extended the operation of the Acts until the result of the inquiry was known. This had not been the policy pursued, for with respect to Southampton he was able to say that while up to the time that the arrangement named was come to no single step had been taken to carry out the Acts, since the arrangement was come to, they had been put into operation, notices had been issued, and ground had been purchased for the building of a hospital. He, therefore, moved the reduction of the Vote.
said, the Act of 1869 imposed upon the Government the obligation of extending the Acts to Southampton, and all the arrangements for so extending them were made before the arrangement for an inquiry was come to. Of course, with an inquiry pending it would be unreasonable to proceed with the erection of a permanent hospital. The purchase of the land had been virtually settled previously to the recent debate, but no further steps had been taken, and arrangements had been made for sending away any who required hospital treatment to Portsmouth.
said, he understood that no steps would be taken to extend the operation of these Acts to places where they were not now in force. With or without the wish of the Government all discussion upon the subject had been stifled in that House. A Commission of Inquiry had been promised. It was of the greatest importance that the public should believe in the honesty of the inquiry, and that the Government should not do anything which would indicate a foregone conclusion, as it would do if they extended the operation of the Acts to now places. He, therefore, hoped the Government would give an assurance that the operation of the Acts would not be extended until the Report was made.
said, the Government had steered clear equally of the two foregone conclusions that were possible; they had done no more than they had made arrangements to do, under the Act of 1869, before the conclusion arrived at as to a Commission; and at some inconvenience they had made arrangements to suspend for the present the building of a hospital for Southampton.
said, that, of course, he was satisfied with the assurance of his right hon. Friend that the hospital would not be built; but that he still thought that as notices had been issued in Southampton when the inquiry was conceded, the Act should not have been put in force until the result of that inquiry was known. No notices had been sent out in Southampton before the inquiry was conceded.
said, they were on the point of being issued, and it would have indicated a foregone conclusion to have withdrawn them, all other steps having been completed.
said, he wished to know when the Returns of the expenditure incurred under the Act, which he had moved for a few months ago, would be laid on the Table?
said, the Returns were extraordinarily minute; but they would be laid on the Table as soon as possible.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Vote agreed to.
(2.) £237,340, Army Department (Conveyance of Troops).
said, he wished to call attention to the change made in the mode of engaging transports. During the last few months the old system of putting up the transport of stores to tender had been abandoned, and the engagement placed in the hands of agents in the City. He held that the transport service of the country was too important to be placed entirely in the hands of any single firm, however eminent or respectable they might be. Such a procedure did great injustice to shipowners, who were thus unable to compete for the discharge of the duty, and who not unnaturally complained of their exclusion. An influential memorial had been presented to the Admiralty on the subject, signed by nearly 100 firms of the highest importance in the City of London, which stated that the old system of engaging transport was essentially the best, and prayed the Admiralty to revert to it as soon as possible. The only answer given to that requisition was that their Lordships did not see any reason for departing from the new system which they had established. He cast no imputation either on the firm selected or on the Board of Admiralty; but the question was a very grave one, for the system was operating prejudicially to the public service. It undoubtedly did away with some of the abuses of the old system, but it substituted others in its stead, and could not fail in the end of being productive of much mischief. One bad result which it had was the creation of a number of intermediate brokers, who preyed upon the shipowners, and screwed large percentages out of them. Shipowners in towns like Hull naturally complained very loudly, because they were precluded from embarking in a trade which they held ought to be open to public competition. There ought to be no secret about the freight required by the Government, and notice should be given that the Government would receive tenders from all shipowners willing to take the stores which the Government desired to ship. Besides the objections he had urged, there was a grave constitutional question involved in the proceeding, and that was, whether it was right that the Admiralty or any Government Department should have the power of creating new offices which were not included in the Estimates. Three gentlemen had already been appointed to new berths under the Admiralty—namely, for engagement of transport, the purchase of coals, and the purchase and sale of timber—and were receiving large commissions for duties which were not specified in the Estimates. That was a system which was very much to be deprecated. Should the system prevail of the contracts being given to a single firm according to favour, there would be nothing to prevent a Conservative Secretary, when he came into Office, taking the contract from a Whig firm and giving it to a Tory one. The present Admiralty policy of private purchases was, in his opinion, entirety wrong. Doubtless it might work well under careful supervision; but they might not always have sharp, business men at the Admiralty, and then jobbery and corruption would inevitably creep in. Such a system altogether depended upon the aptitude of the officials who had to administer it, and it could only be successful where they were zealous and able. His belief was, that ultimately the now system would prove much more injurious to the public interests than the old system, objectionable as that old system had been in many respects. With regard to the outfit of ships, freight, and all such matters, there should, be an Executive officer to ascertain what was necessary for the Government, and then the supply should be thrown open to public tender. He maintained that an open system of tender was the best for all parties, and that there ought to be nothing to conceal in a transaction between the Government and the merchants it employed. He hoped the Secretary of the Admiralty (Mr. Baxter) would meet the question in a straightforward way, and would not evade the issue by raising the cry of want of confidence. At all events, he felt bound to record his opinion that the system of private purchase was a bad one, and that although it might effect a temporary saving, it would in the long run be productive of a system of jobbery more pernicious than anything that had yet existed.
said, the question raised by his hon. Friend (Mr. Norwood) was one of great importance. He thought the open system of tender, which placed everybody upon a fair and equitable footing, was the best for all concerned. He did not regard the question so much from a shipping as from a public point of view. The great objection in his mind to the present system was the favouritism which might spring out of it, and though possibly some small saving might occasionally be secured, yet, upon the whole, it was more satisfactory that things should be done openly. In that light he must condemn the system of private purchase. What he wished, however, particularly to impress on the Committee was that what should be aimed at should be, whilst exercising economy, to preserve the Public Departments in such a state of normal efficiency during peace as would allow of their ready extension and expansion whenever necessity should arise. Such, however, would by no means be the result of the policy now being pursued at the Admiralty. They were throwing overboard the entire Transport Department, which had proved so serviceable to the State, and were employing instead outside firms, who had no connection with that Department at all. Emergencies might suddenly arise when it would be impossible for any one private firm to undertake the duties that might be demanded of them, and he therefore thought it was unwise, for the sake of a mere temporary saving, to throw out of gear what used to be considered a most valuable and efficient State Department. He thought the sooner the old system of transport was reverted to the better. With respect to the private purchase system, it was very unsatisfactory, and could not, in his opinion, go on long. Though it was not now a source of jobbing, it was liable to be so. His belief was that the best course to take would be for the Admiralty to adopt a kind of medium system, which would get rid of the defects of the old and embody any advantages of the new. That could be achieved by a limited system of tender—allowing free tenders and appointing a Committee to examine them, and report which ought to be accepted. The question of steam machinery had been referred to; and with respect to that, he regretted that the lowest tenders were not always accepted, even although the firms who offered lowest were quite as capable of executing the orders as those who received perhaps £10,000 more. He would strongly urge upon the Government the necessity of reviewing at once their position in this matter, for he thought that the sooner they adopted a limited system of tender, confined to respectable parties, the better.
said, he agreed with much that had been said by his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Graves); but he hoped that much misapprehension would be avoided if he informed the Committee what were the arrangements made by the Admiralty, why they had been made, and on what footing they stood. He would say at once that the Admiralty would be prepared, if these arrangements should be found not to work satisfactorily, to make such improvements in them as experience might suggest. He could assure hon. Gentlemen that the Admiralty had adopted the new system merely because they thought it would be beneficial to the public service. On coming into Office at the end of 1868, it was his anxious desire, as he had served on the Committee relating to Admiralty Contracts and Purchases, to examine those questions thoroughly, to ascertain in what respects they might get rid of anomalous, inconvenient, and unbusiness-like arrangements, and how far they could follow out the principle advocated by Mr. Cobden, that the Government should carry on their business upon the same footing as merchants and other business men. His hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) advised them not to part altogether with the tender system, but to introduce a system of limited tender, and to be very chary of direct purchase. Now, what were the facts? He held in his hand the official figures. Two-thirds of all purchases were made by open tender, one-sixth was made by limited tender, and the remaining one-sixth represented the whole amount that was purchased directly, whether through the intervention of brokers, or in any other manner. If anybody would say that that indicated a mode of proceeding different from what would be experienced by men of business, he should be very much surprised.
said, he wished to ask whether coals were included in the proportions just given by the right hon. Gentleman?
said, that coals were also purchased very largely by tender. They set the system of purchase, in fact, against the system of tender, and they found this to answer very well. The very fact of its being known that the Admiralty acted upon such a principle had a satisfactory influence for the public service. The hon. Member for Liverpool had alluded to the purchase of engines in a particular case, where the lowest tender had not been adopted. As a general principle he (Mr. Childers) maintained that the lowest tender ought to be accepted; but it was impossible to apply that principle without any limit. There were certain classes of engines, made usually by two or three firms, in which, if application were made only to them and the lowest tenders were invariably adopted, those firms would have an absolute monopoly. The proper course, therefore, was to apply to these firms, but at the same time to include others in the list, and not to bind themselves under all circumstances to take the lowest tender. That was what every man of business would do, and it was the course the Government had adopted; though he fully admitted the propriety of the general principle. The question of transport had been the subject of some remark, and when the present Admiralty came into Office they naturally looked into the whole matter, though it was not one of the largest questions they had to deal with, and they had leisurely introduced what he believed to be very great improvements. At the same time there was not the smallest intention of abolishing the Transport Department; their operations had merely been shortened and rendered more businesslike than they were before. The Department formerly had no business advice whatever in the arrangements which they were called upon to make. They had simply to rely upon the knowledge of the very gallant Admiral at the head of the Department and the staff of Civil Service clerks appointed to carry out his orders. The question now in debate was one with regard to the shipment of small quantities of stores, amounting in value to about £40,000 a year. With regard to that matter there had been in existence a set of regulations, perfectly honest and straightforward no doubt, but not the sort of regulations that men of business would have adopted in transactions of the kind. These regulations, for instance, required that in all shipments, down to those of very small parcels, there should be public advertisements, tenders, and surveys of the ships in which the stores were to be conveyed; and the form of tender included conditions which were very inconvenient and onerous, and such as merchants and men of business had never heard of. He would give an instance of the working of this system, mentioning the facts, but not the names of the parties concerned. It became necessary, rather hurriedly, to take up a ship to convey a regiment to Malta, and to proceed thence to North America. It was an urgent matter, near the end of the season, and admitting of no delay. The Transport Department were suddenly called on to find a ship and to make the best arrangement they could. Had a similar crisis occurred in a merchant's office he would have taken advice in the City—he would have known where to look for ships. The matter would have been transacted promptly, and in a day or a second day the whole thing would have been over. But the Directors of the Transport Service had no persons with whom they could consult, and the gentleman upon whom the responsibility of acting devolved was obliged to make the best arrangement in his power. He had heard some time before of a person whom he believed to be a competent adviser, and to him he went, told his story, and said—"The whole thing has been thrown upon me; make the best arrangement you can." The result was that the Government had to pay for the performance of this special service £26,000 in all, which was quite £12,000 over the amount that it ought to have cost. As another illustration of the working of the system, he might mention a case in which a small quantity of naval stores, about 50 tons, was reported not to have arrived at the place where it was expected for three months after it was due. Eventually the stores were sent out, and he had carefully investigated the whole transaction so as to get to the bottom of it. He found that, owing to the routine arrangements of the Department, an advertisement for tenders was inserted for the first time on the 8th of March, again on the 15th, and again on the 22nd. On the 25th the cheapest tender was accepted; but the ship was not ready to be surveyed until the 14th of April, on the 15th of April she was surveyed, and on the 23rd she began to load, but did not sail until the 25th of May. So that, in connection with one shipment of 50 tons, more than two months elapsed from the time when orders were given for forwarding the stores. He need not name the station to which the stores were sent; but vessels were constantly going there, and, in a private firm, and under ordinary circumstances, such a delay, he believed, would be altogether impossible. He had been charged with being precipitate in making alterations; but, in this matter, he had taken more than a year to arrange the proceedings which were ultimately adopted. In the first place, a Committee was appointed to go into the details connected with the Transport Department, and that Committee made its Report last autumn; since which time the various departments of the service had been consulted with regard to the arrangement that was contemplated. The arrangement was that the Government should have at its disposal the advice of a very competent firm in the City, who were not themselves interested in shipping, but who did a good deal of business in connection with shipments, and were able to give very sound advice. They came once a week or oftener to the office of the Director of Transports, and went carefully through all the small shipments, taking instructions as to the times at which these should be forwarded, and, if necessary, as to the insertion of advertisements. Therefore, these gentlemen advised the Admiralty with regard to their shipping business generally, and arranged on their account such small business as might require attention. He appealed with confidence to the House whether this was not a business-like arrangement. Before adopting the plan objected to he consulted with persons of great eminence in the City, and in particular with one gentleman, an eminent authority and Member of that House, but sitting on the opposite side, all of whom agreed as to the advantages possessed by the scheme. He thought the plan was one which any ordinary man of business, with a large number of small parcels to despatch, would adopt in preference to the tedious process of advertisements, tenders, and consequent delay. His hon. Friend the Member for Hull (Mr. Norwood) said this Amendment was not satisfactory—that several firms in the City had presented a memorial to the Board of Admiralty against it. This was the fact, and he could not deny that the memorial was signed by many persons eminent in the City; but he was bound to say that of the whole number only 27 ever had transactions with the Government, and two had themselves urged upon the Government the adoption of improved arrangements similar to those adopted. One of the number had actually offered some time ago to give assistance in carrying out the new system. That firm had not got the appointment, however; and possibly he ought not to have been surprised that they had taken an active part in getting up the protest. But, however eminent the memorialists might be, it was not clear that their interests and the public's were identical. The proof of the pudding being in the eating, he might inform the Committee how the plan had worked up to the present time, merely remarking that he did not give the results as final. During the first quarter of a year in which the plan was in operation the sum paid had reached £4,960 against £6,380, which would have had to be paid under the old system. Therefore, he thought the tendency of what had been done was satisfactory. The hon. Member for Hull on a former occasion had given several instances in support of his case, one of which was somewhat unfortunate. The hon. Member said that in one case the Government paid 26s. freight to Bermuda, while the public rate of freight was 17s.; but the fact was, that the current public rates for the class of goods forming the greater part of the shipment at the time in question were 21s. and 22s., and the Government only paid 19s. [Mr. NORWOOD: Was that the case of the Elizabeth?] It was. In conclusion, he would say again that the Government had no preference for one system over another. The present system, with all its improvements, required more trouble and responsibility than the former one of lowest tender; and if the Government considered their own comfort they would revert to it; but they wished to adopt the scheme which would prove best for the economical conduct of the public service. He hoped that confidence would be reposed in the Government until time had been given fairly to test the working of what he had distinctly stated was an experiment for a year only, and he would promise the House that whichever system proved the best after trial should be adopted.
said, he need not enter upon a discussion of the abstract merits of the two systems after the satisfactory statement of the First Lord of the Admiralty that the present proceeding was only an experiment, to be abandoned if it did not work advantageously. It might be conceded that the present system was more economical than the former one; but a mere saving of money was not a sufficient advantage to cover the suspicion that might arise in the public mind in reference to a system of private arrangement as compared with the more open one of advertisement and tender. The right hon. Gentleman was mistaken in his supposition that those who had the management of the transport service in former times did not seek advice outside the Office, for when he was at the Admiralty he sought and obtained valuable advice outside. From certain circumstances and figures mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, he thought himself right in supposing that of the two cases referred to one was a case which occurred when he (Sir John Hay) was at the Admiralty, and far from admitting that the case showed loss to the public or want of information and business-like arrangement, on that occasion, as he should show, the public obtained good service at a cheap rate. On the 21st of September, 1866, news reached this country of the Fenian raid on Canada, and he (Sir John Hay) was requested by his Colleagues to see Lord Carnarvon, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, who informed him that it was necessary to send troops there at once—first, because of the urgency of the case; and, second, because the time was close at hand when the St. Lawrence River would be closed by the ice. There was at that time a very gallant regiment stationed at Belfast, whose turn it was to proceed on this service; but His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief, with that humanity which distinguishes him, did not think it advisable to send it to repel Irish Fenians, as it had in its ranks many Irishmen, and, however loyal and honourable they might be, and no one doubted it, yet it was not wise to send them fresh from Ireland to come possibly into collision with Irishmen, more especially as another arrangement could at once be made. There was a regiment in Malta—the 100th—which had been raised in Canada, and formed the most desirable force for the purpose. This being so, and the time being short, he had either to engage two sets of transports, one to convey the regiment from Belfast to Malta, and another to convey the 100th from Malta to Quebec without waiting for its relief, an expensive and unsatisfactory process; or to undertake to carry out the two services in one transport and before the ice closed the navigation of the St. Lawrence. To fit a transport for the service would have taken too long a time; but having good information—which he must say Admiral Mends and the Transport Office in his time were always able to afford him—he secured a ship, called the Pennsylvania, ready fitted, which took the Belfast regiment to Malta and conveyed the 100th Regiment to Canada, performing the whole service in time to reach her destination before the closing of the river. This was done at a cost for transport of £2 17s. 1d. per mile, while sums of £6 18s. 2d. and £5 16s. 4d. per mile were paid for transport at the time of what was called "the Trent affair." The advice under which he acted on this occasion was obtained outside the Office, but was good, as it obtained for the country efficient and, at the same time, cheap service. With regard to tenders for engines, the system pursued at the Admiralty when he was in Office was to ascertain what firms had the machinery, plant, and capital requisite for turning out first-class engines, second-class engines, and third-class engines, and to these different groups of engine-makers tenders were sent. There were occasions when the builder or designer of a ship of a special class was allowed to apply to a particular firm which he thought would be able to carry out his views; but the general rule was to send out tenders to those different groups of firms and to accept the lowest offer. That was a safe plan, and he did not think there was any necessity for changing it. It would be quite wrong to allow persons who had not the necessary plant to compete with those who had.
said, he thought the Committee would be of opinion that, as a rule, the correct and business-like way of purchasing was by competition; but there were many cases in which an exceptional process might advantageously be adopted. Where the number of those who could enter into the competition was few, better arrangements might be made by private negotiation than by public competition, and there was nothing in which private negotiation could be more fitly introduced than in the conveyance of small parcels of goods to particular ports, advertising, as a rule, leading to exorbitant demands, far above the market price of freights. By the plan at present in use the Admiralty might always rely on normal charges for all the freight they required. He hoped, therefore, the right hon. Gentleman would be guided by experience—would not permit himself to be driven from his course by external pressure, but would work the two systems in competition with one another.
said, he must complain of the tendency of the present Administration to create offices which were not provided for in the Estimates. The system of paying percentages to persons for buying commodities was entirely unconstitutional, and no Administration should be allowed to put it in practice. The percentage on the purchase of coal this year must have been considerably above £2,000, and in case of war it would be a fortune to the gentleman who received it. With regard to the sale of stores by the Admiralty there had been very great abuse. The stores had been thrown away, and our dockyards had been left in such a state of destitution that if war broke out we could hardly fit out five ships of the line. The cloud of which he had spoken early in the year was in the East, and we must be prepared upon our Eastern and our Southern coasts. He looked upon the opening of the Suez Canal as one of the most important events that had occurred in the history of the world; it entirely altered our relations with our Eastern Dominions, and it was through that route we ought to convey our troops to India and bring them back again. The country was greatly indebted to his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) for having sent out very early two most able officers to report upon that great work. Their Report was in the hands of Members, and it was not only most useful to the public, but most creditable to the officers who had drawn it up. It was important to consider what effect the opening of the Suez Canal would have on our East Indian trade, and what measures it was necessary to take under the circumstances. The distance from England to Bombay by that route was about 7,000 miles, and to Calcutta about 8,500; whereas the distance round by the Cape to Bombay was about 14,000 miles, and to Calcutta about 16,000, and there were many ships which, if their logs were examined, would be found to have run from 17,000 to 18,000 miles in going from this country to Calcutta. By means of the Suez Canal ships would be enabled to make three trips from England to India in the course of the year; whereas few ships going round by the Cape could perform more than one voyage and a half at the very outside in a year. The effect of the Suez Canal would be to throw the whole, or by far the greater part, of our Indian trade into that channel of communication, and also to make it entirely a steam trade, because sailing vessels could not make the passage up and down the Red Sea with any degree of economy, and, in fact, it would be almost impracticable for them. Moreover, the trade by that canal would doubtless be carried on by a class of ships specially adapted for it, and owners were already in every direction laying down a class of commodious and roomy ships constructed for that purpose, which would be navigated by officers who would soon acquire sufficient knowledge of the canal to be able to take their vessels through it without the aid of a pilot. It was a serious and mournful thing to think that the magnificent and beautiful ships which he had seen in the harbours of India would thus, as it were, have the bread taken out of their mouths. But that canal was situate at the extreme end of a sea which at any moment might become a foreign lake, and he was therefore anxious through the Committee to direct public attention to the grave political considerations involved in that matter. Supposing a war to occur when our present ships had been broken up or had been diverted to some other trade, what would happen if by any means we were cut off from communications with our Indian possessions by the Suez route? In that case a convulsion would be created in this country hardly inferior to that which would be produced by a civil war. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) must be in a condition to vindicate the neutrality of that strait. He wished, therefore, to impress on the House and the Government the expediency of addressing Her Majesty, praying Her to take steps for setting on foot negotiations with a view to bring about such European arrangements for maintaining the neutrality of the Suez Canal as would prevent our ever being deprived of an advantage which had been gained for commerce and civilization by the genius and indomitable perseverance of one of the greatest of living engineers.
said, he dissented from the opinion stated by the hon. Member who had last spoken as to the practice of employing agents and paying them a per centage for the purchase of stores. He hoped that the new system in that respect would receive a fair trial. But he must warn the Admiralty against seeking to drive contractors too hard by what was called "decimating" their contracts—a process which would ruin the best contractors in England.
said, he rose to call attention to the circumstances connected with the return of the 23rd Regiment from India in Her Majesty's ship "Crocodile" in November 1869. They embarked at Alexandria, and their destination being Devonport they applied by telegram to the Government on arrival at Malta for permission to be landed at Plymouth as the Crocodile was before her time, but they were sent on to Portsmouth. Disembarking on the 16th, the regiment was detained at Portsmouth fully seven days, at great inconvenience and expense to officers and to married men, who had with them their wives and children, and who were unable to get at their baggage, which was stored in a shed. The Crocodile, meanwhile, lying idle in Portsmouth Harbour—why was not the regiment permitted to be landed at Plymouth? Why was not this regiment sent on at once by sea to Devonport; and if that were impracticable, why was it not sent on by train? it was calculated to bring discredit upon our system of moving troops, that a regiment should be left at one place for seven or eight days in a disorganized state and without any means of keeping the regiment together. If it were deemed impossible to forward troops at once to their destination, would it not be well to have barracks reserved at Portsmouth, Winchester, or Aldershot, for their reception? He wished further to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what use he intended to make of the Suez Canal, which, he understood, would shortly have a uniform depth throughout of from 25 to 26 feet? It was of great importance that our troopships should be sent through it.
said, Government need have no fear of injuring contractors. They were a class who were generally capable of taking care of themselves. He hoped the Government would not discontinue the system of public tenders where anything in large quantities was wanted. As to freights, there were plenty of vessels to be had either to Bombay, Calcutta or China, and shipowners were ready to take cheap freights from the Government for the credit of carrying for the Government.
said, the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty appeared to speak slightingly of the memorial signed by a vast majority of shipowners and brokers, and containing, perhaps, every name of importance. He should feel it his duty to move for copies of all memorials on the subject, in order that hon. Members might form their own impressions of the importance of the document.
said, he had been misunderstood, for he spoke of the memorial as being most respectably signed, although he added that the interests of the memorialists and of the public were not always to be reconciled. If after this it was thought worth while to move for the document he would produce it. He entirely concurred with the remarks of the hon. Baronet (Sir James Elphinstone) with reference to the Suez Canal; and what he had said would be well pondered. The Government were fully alive to all questions connected with the canal, and had been since it was apparent that it would be a success; they had made most particular inquiries as to the extent to which it was likely to be used by Government and by merchant shipping, and the House might trust to the Government dealing with the subject in the way that the interests of the Empire required. With respect to the case of the Crocodile the facts were that the Admiralty undertook to take out and bring home to and from India troops, at the expense and under the arrangements of the Indian Government, according to a programme settled at the beginning of the season, and which left the smallest possible margin for the repairs of the vessels at either end of the season; or for their coaling or casual requirements during the season. To deviate from that programme would disorganize the service, which was based upon precise calculations as to the time occupied by each voyage; and the late Admiralty, after careful inquiry, had settled the point that the programme could not be departed from. In this case the Crocodile, happening to make a very good passage, arrived two days before her time, and the Orontes, which was ordered to take the regiment from Portsmouth to Plymouth, having experienced bad weather in the North Sea, was two days too late, and the unfortunate result was the detention of the regiment; but it was no fault of the Admiralty, and it was one of those occurrences for which no one could be held entirely responsible. If the regiment had been sent on to Devonport by rail, it would have cost £500; whereas sending them by sea cost nothing, as the Orontes had to go to Plymouth.
said, he was bound to say that the explanation was satisfactory, and that he anticipated some such answer. But he would again urge that the Secretary of State for War ought to make arrangements to prevent the detention of a regiment under such circumstances.
Sir, I desire to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr. A. Guest) on the interesting discussion he has raised. I wish, however, to corroborate what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, which is accurate except in so far as his statement that the expenses of the five Indian transports are borne entirely by India. [Mr. CHILDERS: Yes, for Indian service.] I think he will find in the Estimate he is now proposing that two-fifths of the expenditure on the transports on this side of the Isthmus of Suez are borne by Imperial funds. The arrangements for the Indian transport were, as he states, completed when I was in Office. His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief was very anxious to arrange that regiments arriving from India should be landed at the port nearest to their destination, and the Admiralty were anxious to carry this arrangement out if it had been found practicable, having regard to other considerations. But with five transports, only and no Suez Canal, this was quite impossible, as the Committee will see. For sanitary reasons, all the medical authorities concur in deciding that the Indian reliefs shall be completed in the five winter months. 18,000 men have to be moved. Three transports conduct this service on the Indian side and two on the Mediterranean side of the Isthmus of Suez. The steamers must perform their work with the regularity of clock-work, or troops might be detained in Egypt or on board ship at great expense, besides totally disarranging the whole system of reliefs. It has been found best, as only one English port can be used, to make all arrangements for the speedy landing of the troops and for refitting and replenishing the transports at Portsmouth. A day lost in going to Plymouth or Cork would throw everything out both in India and in Egypt, unless, indeed, duplicate arrangements for refitting the transports were kept at Plymouth. But such duplication would entail a greater expense than the occasional conveyance of troops by rail. Under these circumstances, until the Suez Canal is so open as to enable us to make the whole transit in one ship, and so save the time of transfer in Egypt, I think the Committee will see that it is better to adhere to present arrangements. I quite concur in believing that very shortly the Suez Canal will considerably increase our facilities and relieve our troops from the inconvenience of which my hon. Friend the Member for Poole has not without reason complained.
Vote agreed to.
(3.) £120,000, Half and Retired Pay, Officers of Navy and Royal Marines. Monthly instead of Quarterly Payments.
said, he must ask why the necessity for this Supplemental Vote had not been foreseen when the Estimates were prepared?
said, that the course of the Government in this matter had been tentative, and the change as to half-pay had not been determined upon when the Estimates were prepared. The alterations could not be made without bringing 14 months' pay into the first 12 months, and the new system would be very advantageous to half-pay officers.
Supply — Civil Service Estimates
(4.) £153,919, to complete the sum for Embassies and Missions Abroad.
said, that last year, it would be in the recollection of the Committee, he proposed to reduce the Vote for Diplomatic Services by £10,000, and his Motion was only defeated by the casting vote of the Chairman. On that occasion his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Otway) strongly urged that a reduction to that extent would be detrimental to the public service; but, notwithstanding that opinion, the Foreign Office had managed to reduce the Estimates this year by £12,448, which was, no doubt, to their credit. At the same time, he was compelled to observe that the reduction had not been made in the permanent charges. It was true that the item of salaries of Ambassadors, &c., had been diminished to the extent of £1,410; but, on the other hand, the salaries of second and third Secretaries, &c., had been increased £1,436, so that he had a right to complain that there was no actual decrease in the personal staff under the Foreign Office. The saving had been effected by squeezing down some incidental items, chiefly on account of journeys on the public service, special missions, and outfits, all of which might probably be advanced to their former amount in another year. As the Committee on the Diplomatic Service, upon which he had had the honour of serving, had not yet reported, he felt precluded from proposing any reduction of this Vote; but he did not feel precluded from urging on the Government the expediency of not filling up any vacancy that might occur in the smaller missions, and that no addition should be made in the number of Secretaries and Under Secretaries of Legation; but that, if possible, they should be diminished. His hon. Friend (Mr. Otway) was as well acquainted as he was with the evidence which had been given before the Diplomatic Committee, and must be perfectly aware that the number of the junior members of our Legation was unnecessarily large. As regarded the smaller missions, he (Mr. Rylands) was of opinion that most of those scattered over Europe might be dispensed with. They had been represented as the eyes and ears of the Foreign Office, and that they were the watch-dogs of the Continent. If so, the eyes were blind, the ears were stopped, and the watch-dogs were dumb dogs that could not bark. These missions were regarded as political barometers—we had planted them throughout Europe in order to give us early intimation of a coming storm; but for several years these political barometers had stood at "Set Fair," and remained so to the very moment when the storm suddenly burst over us. They gave not the slightest warning to the Foreign Office of the great event that had recently startled Europe. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had admitted that two hours before the alarming telegram from France was received, he had been told by the Under Secretary at the Foreign Office that there was a perfect lull in Continental politics. Nothing could have shown in a more striking manner the uselessness of these means of obtaining early information from abroad, and which were maintained at so great an expense. He did not wish, however, to imply that if the Foreign Office had obtained earlier information they would have been able to avert the war between France and Prussia. His hon. Friend the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs was under the pleasing delusion that the Foreign Office had for the last four years kept the peace of Europe. His hon. Friend had told him on more than one occasion, in a solemn, important manner, that by the tact, the conciliatory influence, and the exceeding wisdom of the Foreign Office, wars had been prevented that might have jeopardized the highest interest of this country. A year or two ago, there was the question of the refusal of Belgium to sell the Luxembourg Railway to France, which threatened a serious complication that might have led, in the opinion of his hon. Friend, to war, unless the influence of the Foreign Office had prevailed over the Emperor of the French in favour of peace. And no doubt if war had not now been declared, his hon. Friend the Under Secretary would have met any Motion for the reduction of diplomatic expenditure, by claiming credit for the continued preservation of peace. But only the other day M. Rouher let the world into the secret of the Emperor's policy. He said, in addressing the Emperor—"Your Majesty was able to wait, but has occupied the last four years in perfecting the armament and the organization of the country." So long as the Emperor was not ready to go to war, no doubt the Foreign Office might flatter themselves that they had preserved peace; but it was now seen how utterly futile were their endeavours when events were ripe for the impending struggle. And in the midst of the evils and losses of this war, which might possibly be one of the most disastrous on record, it was to be hoped that it might startle the Foreign Office out of their self-complacency, and might teach them how utterly unable they were to act the part of a second Providence in controlling and guiding the destinies of Europe. They were deficient in the first attribute of a Providence—for they could not tell what would happen to-morrow; no, nor what would occur within two hours. In fact, the Foreign Office was frequently the last to obtain intelligence, and during the past few days most important pieces of information had been first received through other channels, and it was fortunate that whilst the Foreign Office had been slumbering there were other and better sources of intelligence. He did not contend that we should have no representatives abroad; but what he said was, that the events now in progress showed that the small German missions were not of any importance, and he hoped that the Government would take into their serious consideration the necessity of reducing these small missions at the earliest possible date.
said, he wished to know whether there was any probability of the five large Commissions abroad coming soon to an end?
said, he was willing to give the Government credit for the fulfilment of its promise in the way of reductions, although that reduction was not very large. He must, however, call attention to the large sum charged for couriers, and he should be glad to know how many couriers had been reduced. He observed a satisfactory reduction in the item of special missions abroad to the amount of £5,000. In China very distressing events had occurred, of which intelligence had been received not from our Minister at Pekin, but through private channels and viâ St. Petersburg—an occurrence not creditable to our Minister at Pekin or consular agents. It was said, however, that our Minister had now sent a tardy telegram on the subject, and he hoped it would be produced.
said, he wished for information in respect to the charge in the Vote for the Registrar?
said, he trusted the Government would not adopt the views of the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands). If the reductions he urged were made it would be difficult to get men of education and position to enter into the Diplomatic Service.
said, he did not think the country desired that gentlemen in the Diplomatic Service should be underpaid. He should be much surprised if the Committee on the Diplomatic Service recommended any decrease in their salaries. There was a reduction of no less than £72,000 in Class V of those Estimates. He, however, never expected a material reduction in the Diplomatic Service.
said, that his hon. Friend the Member for Warrington had not recommended reductions in the salaries of the Diplomatic Service, but in the number of small missions abroad.
said, he gave his hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs credit, and he thought the House should do so also, for having so far fulfilled his promise of last year by effecting a reduction of £12,000 in this Vote, and he hoped he would persevere in the same direction.
said, he believed there was no desire to reduce the payment of really effective missions; but he thought such missions as those to Darmstadt, Coburg, and Stuttgart might be dispensed with.
said, he must point out that the expenses of living abroad had increased to such an extent of late years that no one would be wise in entering the Diplomatic Service unless he had a fortune, for it was impossible to live upon the salary that was granted by Parliament. As compared with the other Ambassadors of great Powers, ours were very poorly paid. While the French Ambassador at Turkey received £12,000 a year, the English Ambassador there received only £8,000. It was impossible to reduce the staff at most of the missions, and he must complain of the inadequate number of our attachés in some places. For example, during the recent lamentable events in Greece, Mr. Erskine at Athens was unable to procure from Constantinople a single person to assist him in the discharge of the very difficult and onerous duties which had suddenly devolved upon him.
said, he could not join the hon. Member for Warrington (Mr. Rylands) in anticipating the discussion which he understood was to be held next Monday about those important events which were now occurring in Europe. But he thought the hon. Gentleman was singularly unhappy in his illustration, for if ever there was a time when diplomacy had evinced its usefulness it was during that period which preceded the untoward incident that led to the outbreak of war. But for that untoward incident peace would have been secured; and diplomacy had actually succeeded in averting from Europe for several days the horrors of war. As to the smaller missions of Europe, they had nothing to do with the matter, which was restricted to France and Prussia, in both of which countries there were Ambassadors of the first rank. The small missions to German Courts had, however, been gradually reduced. With respect to the diplomatic profession, the hon. Gentleman had had an opportunity, as a Member of a Select Committee, of testing the opinions of those who were examined, and when the Committee reported, and the evidence was circulated, hon. Members would have an opportunity of judging whether the service deserved the remarks that had been made about it. With respect to the Commissions which had been issued on various matters, such as the settlement of the Turco-Persian frontier, Hudson's Bay Commission, United States Commission, and others, for which charges had been made in the Estimates, he was happy to say, in reply to the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Holms), that most of their duties had terminated by the settlement of the questions at issue. The expenses of the Commissions were decreasing, and would soon vanish. The couriers had been reduced by two. There had also been a reduction on the expenses of the journeys for the public service of £900. It was expected that the messengers would die out; but, looking at the present state of Europe, he could not say that there would be any reduction in the present number. It was only just to the late Lord Clarendon, to whom the country owed so much, and whose decease was so sincerely deplored, to say that while he wished the service to be maintained with thorough efficiency, he was always ready to avail himself of any opportunity to economize, and the result of his policy was a considerable decrease of diplomatic expenses this year.
said, that the Reports as to the condition of foreign countries which had recently been sent home were creditable to both the industry and the ability of the diplomatic agents who prepared them.
said, he had no desire or intention to cast any reflection on the members of the Diplomatic Service, nor did he suggest any reduction in their salaries. What he advocated was a reduction of those officials who were maintained at small Courts, like those of Wurtemburg and Dresden, where there was little or nothing for them to do. He looked upon the statement that our Ministers at small Courts obtained intelligence which could not be obtained at larger ones as an entire fallacy, and he begged to give Notice of his intention next Session, after the evidence taken before the Diplomatic Service Committee had been published, to call the attention of the House to the whole subject.
said, he wished to ask whether Mr. Wade received the full salary of £6,000 a year, as Ambassador, at Pekin; and whether he had been regularly appointed to that office?
said, he did not think full justice had been done to the exertions of the second Secretary of Legation at Berlin, who in six weeks' uninterrupted work had prepared the information with regard to the tenure of land in Prussia which had been found so valuable in the course of the debates on the Irish Land Bill.
Vote agreed to.
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;
Committee to sit again this day.
Census Bill—Bill 211
( Mr. Secretary Bruce, Mr. Knatchbull-Hugessen.)
Order for Third Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—( Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
said, he would move the re-committal of the Bill, in order to insert a new clause (Statistics of occupation and organization of labour). Had there been a full debate upon the measure, he felt sure the House would never have given its sanction to a Bill involving an expenditure of £180,000 for results of the most incomplete and unsatisfactory character. Gentlemen of the highest authority had informed him that there was scarcely a detail of the information obtained under the last Bill to be absolutely relied upon, and this was a measure almost identical in character. All the most intelligent officers connected with the Registrar General's Department were in favour of a much more extended scheme of inquiry, and if £180,000 were to be spent for Returns which few people cared for, why not spend a few thousands extra and obtain something really valuable, for the Home Secretary's only objection was on the score of expense? He wished the right hon. Gentleman would authorize him to contract with the Statistical Society for the obtaining of the information which was desired as to the position of the various classes of the people, their employment, the wages which they received, and other matters throwing light upon the moral and physical condition of the country; and he would undertake to say that they would do it for one-tenth of what it would cost the Home Secretary. In the Census Bill of 1851 some words were introduced of this nature—
If the right hon. Gentleman would consent to introduce some words of this kind they might be found very useful next year, when the time actually came, if there were a demand for more extensive information. He moved that the Bill be re-committed, in order to insert a new clause."And shall also take account of all such other particulars as by the terms of the instructions which may be issued under this Act they shall be directed to inquire into."
Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "be" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "re-committed, in order to insert a new Clause,"—( Mr. Bass,)—instead thereof.
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, the inquiries which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. T. Bass) was anxious to institute were of a kind totally different from those usually made under the Census. The practice had always been for the 30,000 enumerators to distribute Census papers on a particular Saturday and to call for them again on the Monday following. The papers contained very clear instructions, and it was only in the case of persons who could not read that it was necessary for the enumerators themselves to spend any time in filling up the Returns. But what his hon. Friend required would necessitate the employment of a totally different class of officers; it could not be effected in one day; and the inquiries themselves might be conducted just as naturally in the year 1872 or 1873 as at any other time. Then, again, his hon. Friend wished to have a Return of the rate of wages paid to the persons enumerated in the Census; he proposed to obtain—
He (Mr. Bruce) believed it would be quite impossible to procure such information from the employers of labour, and especially to obtain accurate Returns of the wages paid. His hon. Friend, who was brewer, cooper, Member of Parliament, landed proprietor, and Heaven knew what beside, complained that the last Census was inaccurate because he was only described as a brewer; but this was scarcely fair criticism. So far from admitting that the last Census was an useless one, he contended—and he had the highest authority in support of his contention—that, though in some respects it might have been better, it was, on the whole, productive of much good."An account of the establishments, factories' works, shops, or other properties or promises occupied for, and in connection with, each branch of industry, commerce, or manufacture, and of every farm or holding in occupation for agricultural purposes, the number of persons employed in them, whether resident or non-resident therein, with their sex and ages, distinguishing the employers from the employed, the rates of wages paid in the week preceding such enumeration to every class of labourers or artizans so employed, the agents used in the several processes of production by animals, tools, machines, or vessels, and such other particulars as, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, may exhibit the occupation of the people, and the organization of labour in England."
said, he would withdraw his Amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read the third time, and passed.
Order for Committee read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."
said, he rose to put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government on the subject of legislation in regard to Inventions. Inquiries had been conducted by a Committee of the House of Lords in 1851, and a Royal Commission in 1863. The results were very instructive and suggestive; but the investigation had not been so thorough as many persons expected. Obstacles had stood in the way of legislating for the reward of inventors up to the present time. At the beginning of last Session he had the honour of bringing the subject before the House, and the Attorney General then said that an investigation by a Committee would be expedient. A difficulty afterwards arose about getting a Committee, and about this time 12 months he asked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade, whose absence from the House was universally regretted, whether the Government had any intention of proposing a Committee this Session. The reply of the right hon. Gentleman was this—
At the beginning of the present Session he renewed his application to the Board of Trade, but the absence of his right hon. Friend and the pressure of work in the public offices and the House had been such that his hopes and those of the public had been sorely disappointed. A Paper was ordered to be printed at the close of last Session in which hon. Members would find testimonies to the progress of public opinion on this question on the Continent of Europe. It would be seen that since they had discussed the question last year Holland had abolished patents altogether, and Count Bismarck, as Chancellor of the North German Confederation, had presented a State Paper in which he urged their abolition. He (Mr. Macfie) occupied a medium place between the two parties—the one contending that rewards for inventions should be continued in the shape of monopolies, and the other that patents should be abolished altogether and free trade introduced. He believed it was possible to take a middle course, beneficial to the nation and to inventors, by establishing a system of rewards, but in such a way that there should be no exclusive privilege. He wished to ask, Whether the Government were prepared next Session to propose the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the operation of the Law of Patents for inventions, or, if not disposed themselves to do so, whether they would assist any private Member who wished to move for such a Committee?"If my hon. Friend were to propose a Committee in this House, it would be a very reasonable proposition, to which the Members of the Government and this House would probably agree."
said, the Government did not find themselves prepared to shift materially the ground they took last Session. They admitted at once the difficulties and disadvantages connected with the present state of the law in regard to patents, but they had not been able, as a body, to arrive — nor did he think the public had arrived — at any such clear conviction as to the mode of dealing with that law as would justify them in introducing a measure for remedying its defects or substituting for it a better system. Though his hon. Friend (Mr. Macfie) entertained a decided opinion as to the practicability of substituting State reward for the present system of public reward, yet he (Mr. Gladstone) doubted whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer had been able to see his way to the working of such a system, which must involve a heavy demand upon the public purse. The experience of Government Departments was that there was the extremest difficulty in dealing with inventions or with claims to them; and if once inventions came to be made the subject of premiums to be drawn out of the public purse, he was afraid that universal confusion would result. The Government were under an obligation, as a general rule, not to move for a Committee on a particular branch of the law, unless they were prepared to take the lead in directing its investigations, and make proposals which, in the main and in principle, they thought adequate to the solution of the question. The Government did not feel themselves to be in a position to do that; but if his hon. Friend (Mr. Macfie), or any other hon. Gentleman, was desirous of conducting such an inquiry, they certainly would not throw any obstacle in his way, but would heartily wish him well in his endeavour.
Greece — Murder Of British Subjects By Brigands
, who had given Notice to call the attention of the House to the case of the Englishmen who were barbarously massacred in Greece on the 21st of April last; and to inquire from Her Majesty's Government what satisfaction it has obtained, or means to obtain, from the Greek Government, in consequence of its conduct on that occasion, said, he did not think it would be well for the House to separate for the Recess without some further notice being taken of the melancholy occurrence in Greece which had come under its consideration at an earlier period of the Session; but having reason to believe that, by deferring that question for a few days, the Government would be more able to give those explanations which it was desirable they should give as fully as they could before the Prorogation, than if he were to bring it forward that evening, he therefore intended to postpone his Motion until another day, of which he would give Notice. He only hoped that his example would be followed by other hon. Gentlemen who felt the same concern as himself in that matter; but, of course, if they chose to bring it forward, he should hold himself at liberty to make some observations upon it.
said, he had not very distinctly caught the reasons which induced his right hon. Friend (Sir Henry Bulwer) to postpone that question; but must say, with all deference to him, that he thought his right hon. Friend was rather trifling with a very important matter. For a month his right hon. Friend had had his Notice on the Paper, and after Questions had been put to him on two occasions, he had a few days ago placed on the Table the distinct terms of his Motion, and fixed that day for its discussion. It was a very proper subject for discussion; it had never yet been fairly discussed, and they were now near the close of the Session. A few day ago he had told his right hon. Friend that if he withdrew his Motion he would himself bring the matter on that evening; but his right hon. Friend assured him he meant then to proceed with it. He had the Papers with him, and had come down to the House prepared to discuss the question. His right hon. Friend was in his place, and he (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) received a note saying that his right hon. Friend, for various reasons, would not bring his Motion forward. Holding somewhat different views on that subject from those of his right hon. Friend, and having some facts to adduce in relation to it on behalf of an honourable and gallant man who had had injustice done him in the matter, he must say he thought it improper that this Motion should be treated in that manner. He could hardly hear what the right hon. Gentleman said, but he gathered that the question was to be deferred indefinitely. Would his right hon. Friend say distinctly whether he would bring it forward this Session or give it up altogether?—for if his right hon. Friend gave it up, he would himself call attention to the question on going into Supply.
said, his hon. Friend, if he had not distinctly heard his reasons for postponing his Motion, might have waited until he had heard them before he impugned them, and accused him of trifling with the question. He had reason to think the Government would be in a better position to give the explanations which they might be expected to give before the close of the Session at a future day than they were at present; and therefore it was because he wished when the question came on that it should be dealt with in a serious and satisfactory manner, and because he did not wish to trifle with the time of the House, that he desired to postpone his Motion till Friday next. However, he had no wish to make a personal affair of it, and if his hon. Friend thought the question would be safer in his hands, and less likely to be trifled with, he certainly had no objection to his hon. Friend taking it up.
said, he thought the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) had reason to complain of the conduct of the right hon. Baronet the Member for Tamworth (Sir Henry Bulwer), who placed the Notice of his Motion on the Paper a month ago, and thereby prevented the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight or any other Member giving Notice of a Motion on the subject; and not only that, but within the last two or three days the terms of the Motion had been accurately defined by the right hon. Baronet; and on these grounds it would have been only courteous to the House that the right hon. Baronet should have given earlier intimation of his intention to postpone the Motion, so as to have prevented hon. Members coming up from the country in order to discuss the question, which was one the country wished to be discussed in order to strengthen the hands of the Government.
said, he thought that the course proposed to be pursued was that which was dictated by common sense, and as to hon. Gentlemen coming up from the country for this discussion, this House, and not the country, was the place for them at present.
Motion For Correspondence
I rise, Sir, to move for Copy of the Correspondence between the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Secretary of State for War, relating to calling out for training the Irish Militia Regiments in 1870, the re-enrolment of their men, or the reduction of their Staff. Under ordinary circumstances, any person conversant with the usages of the House would take it for granted that such correspondence as I have asked for would be laid before Parliament in accordance with the terms of my Motion. However, I have heard from the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the War Department that it is his intention to refuse the Papers. It certainly appears strange to me that a Minister of such a specially cautious temperament as my right hon. Friend should commit himself in writing to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, or to any other person, by a statement which he is either afraid or ashamed to submit to the House of Commons and the inspection of independent Members. Ireland is supposed to be governed by a Lord Lieutenant responsible to his Sovereign for the tranquillity of that country, and there exists no reason why he should be either crippled or fettered by political expediency or red-tape interference. It was the custom—as the Secretary for War very well knows, having himself served as Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant in Ireland—that, before any steps were taken from the War Office to interfere with either the Militia or other military arrangements, a communication to that effect should be made to the Lord Lieutenant. It also was the custom, until the precedent afforded by the present Secretary of State for War, to attend to the objections and to follow the advice of the Queen's representative in Ireland. I feel perfectly persuaded that, from the knowledge possessed by Earl Spencer as to the necessity for continued training and an efficient service, he would be about the last man to sanction either the non-calling out of the Irish Militia, or the steps taken by the Secretary for War to render their Staff ineffective. For what could be more absurd than, as the War Office proposes, to take men out of the Line, who are incapable of teaching the troops their duty, and to set them at the head of drilling operations. Those, of course, who are competent will be kept by the commanding officers of the regiments to which they are attached. Now, all these matters are within the knowledge of Earl Spencer, a man of considerable experience in military administration, possessed of no ordinary amount of sound common sense, remarkable for his administrative ability, and distinguished for that boundless hospitality and manly character so well calculated to conciliate the people of Ireland. Still, the Irish Militia Regiments have not been called out for the last five years—a bad return, let me say, for their conduct when England stood sadly in need of their services. You hesitated to call out the Irish Militia. Why? Was it this? You doubted the loyalty and the fidelity of the nation, and yet you lacked the manliness to say so. The conduct of the Administration almost tempts one, in the words of the poet, to exclaim—
"Those tyrants teasing, tempting to rebel,
You have cast an imputation of distrust upon a body of men who furnished some of your best soldiers for the Crimean War and the suppression of the Indian Mutiny. No less than 13 Regiments of Militia volunteered for the Crimea—Antrim, Armagh, North and South Cork, Down, Dublin City, Fermanagh, Limerick City, Longford, South Mayo, Roscommon, South Tipperary, and Westmeath. For service in India—Antrim, North Cork, Donegal, Donegal Artillery, Armagh, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary Artillery, and Londonderry, every man of whom, from the colonel to the humblest private, declared his willingness to embark for the seat of war. Under your cheese-paring system of economy you have allowed the Irish Militia force, which supplied the casualties of the Line during the Crimean War, to dwindle down from an efficient strength of 30,000 men to 14,000 men on paper. Ireland has a right to be treated, at least, as well in all respects as England and Scotland. On that equality we are resolutely determined to insist to the utmost. I am not without hope that those hon. Gentlemen who plume themselves on their economic principles, and who profess to mean well towards the sister country, will do all they honestly can to support the claims of Ireland to be treated as a portion of the United Empire. But to the Administration, and I speak in the presence of the Premier, and several other Advisers of the Crown, I offer this advice—be warned in time. The Militia in Ireland, in common with the mass of the people, distrust you. The first step towards dislike has been taken, and the next move is not far distant. You could have an attached and contented people; but bungling and gross mismanagement has, unfortunately, made it far otherwise.But well deserve the fate their fretting lips foretell."
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, a Copy of the Correspondence between the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and the Secretary of State for War, relating to calling out for training the Irish Militia Regiments in 1870, the re-enrolment of their men, or the reduction of their staff,"—(Colonel French,)
Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
said, he would venture to say that his right hon. Friend (Colonel French) in the course of his experience, which was very great—he believed greater than his own — never know departmental correspondence of this kind, between the Secretary of State for War and the Lord Lieutenant as to the policy of calling out the Irish Militia, to be laid on the Table of the House; and he (Mr. Cardwell) must, on the present occasion, ask to be excused from producing it. Neither should he feel it his duty to state what share of the correspondence was his own; but he agreed with his right hon. Friend that the responsibility for the calling out the Irish Militia constitutionally devolved upon the Irish Government and the Lord Lieutenant. It was not from any want of confidence in the loyalty of the Irish people generally, and certainly not from the smallest distrust of the gallantry of those enrolled in the Irish Militia, that it had not been called out. It was not thought necessary by the Irish Government, even in the early part of the year, to call out the Irish Militia. Then the question was, whether it was right to go to any expense in the matter of enrolment; and with respect to the new enrolment the right hon. Gentleman said that he (Mr. Cardwell) had introduced a new regulation, though in the next sentence he said that the regulation had been in existence for the last five years. Therefore, the responsibility for the regulation must belong, not only to himself, but to many of his predecessors in Office. The enrolments were continued till the present year; but they involved an absolute waste of money, because there had been no training since 1865, and it was not intended that there should be any training in the present year. With regard to new recruits the Government were perfectly confident that the gallantry and loyalty of the Irish people would furnish abundance of them whenever it should be thought proper to call out the Irish Militia. As for the permanent Staff, they were very useful for certain purposes when the Militia were not called out; but there was no necessity for the number to be so great, and, with the concurrence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Government had determined not to reduce the permanent Staff; but when a certain number of vacancies occurred those vacancies would not be filled up. That this process had not been carried to a very great extent would be admitted, when he stated the number had been 1,208 and it was now 1,177. With respect to the quartermasters, his right hon. Friend said that Ireland should be treated with the same equality as England and Scotland. Well, they had been treated in exactly the same manner. The quartermasters were not satisfied with their position, and wished for a retiring allowance. In consequence, the circumstances of their position were reviewed, and the Government and the House agreed that they should have a retiring allowance, and that in future the office of quartermaster should cease. He believed he must now have have satisfied his right hon. Friend that he had acted constitutionally by acting in concurrence with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and that he had treated Ireland in a perfectly equal way with England and Scotland; and his right hon. Friend, if he acted in conformity with his experience in that House, would not insist on the production of departmental correspondence.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Navy—The Flying Squadron
said, he had intended to call attention to the great loss of men which had resulted from the employment of the Flying Squadron, but he would now condense his observations into the form of a Question. Last year he took the opportunity of objecting to the employment of six ships and 2,800 men of the Navy in a way he thought not advantageous to the public service. He admitted that the assembling of the squadron and the practice of the men in evolutions were likely to be advantageous, and it was not to the assembling of the squadron that he in common with the right hon. Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) objected; but they thought it wrong that the ships and men, the former being extremely scarce, should be sent to a distant part of the world, as should circumstances arise in Europe requiring their aid, the Government would not have the power to employ them. Such squadrons of evolution or exercise should be employed in the Mediterranean or Atlantic, where their services would be available at short notice. Moreover, the part of the world to which they were sent was likely to be injurious to the health of the crews, and the temptations there to desert were considerable. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty stated the other night that 58 men had deserted during the short time the squadron was at the Colonies. It had been stated that the squadron had been telegraphed to return, but the only mode of telegraphing to Valparaiso, the next port of call, was by telegraphing through North America to Cuba and thence viâ ship to Panama and Chili, or by packet to Rio do Janeiro and thence by wire to Valparaiso. Telegraphing, therefore, was no use, and he could not see how the squadron, though telegraphed to return immediately, could reach this country before November, and though men were scarce, yet, if the statement in the newspapers were true, the right hon. Gentleman was about to send out another Flying Squadron. He thought such a proceeding would have the effect of weakening the national force near home in a way disadvantageous to the country, and he, therefore, wished to know, Whether the right hon. Gentleman purposed to commission another squadron for particular service, for that was the technical expression, and to keep it in distant seas, so that the Government would be deprived of the opportunity of availing themselves of its services if they should be required?
said, that last year the hon. and gallant Baronet (Sir John Hay) objected to the squadron being sent to New Zealand, which he said was in a disturbed state. [Sir JOHN HAY: And it was not sent in consequence.] Yes it was sent there, and to three ports instead of two, and the Government had received despatches from that Colony stating that its visit had conferred great benefit there, and expressing a hope that the Government would send another squadron to New Zealand. The Flying Squadron had visited Japan; but there had not been the smallest objection made to its presence there, as the hon. and gallant Baronet had prophesied. On the contrary, Admiral Hornby had been requested by Her Majesty's Minister there, at the desire of the Japanese Government, to receive a certain number of Japanese students on board, and the result of the visit had been in every way satisfactory. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had now raised a fresh set of objections to the Flying Squadron. One was that the parts of the world to which it had been sent were not favourable to health or discipline; but there was not the smallest foundation for that prophecy after the events. The health of the squadron, instead of being so much injured by its movements, had been improved. A report had appeared in the newspapers that the squadron was in an unsatisfactory state owing to the short supply of water; but, on inquiry, it was found that a mistake had been committed by the newspaper's correspondent, the supply per man being stated at a quart and a-half per diem, whereas it ought to have been a gallon and a-half. Then as to the alleged number of deserters, the fact was that in one of our Colonies the men had been granted free tickets over all the railways, and in consequence some were "stragglers" when the Fleet went to sea, and among them 80 or 90 blue-jackets. Some of these had since been recovered, but the desertion had been greatly exaggerated. It was said he had telegraphed to Valparaiso to order the squadron to return; but the fact was there was no telegraph to Valparaiso, and the squadron was not ordered to alter any of its movements, but only to use a little more coal. The hon. and gallant Member asked whether it was intended that there should be a second Flying Squadron. He had stated, earlier in the Session, that a squadron of seven frigates and corvettes would be ready to sail in October or November next. Of course it would be impossible for him in the month of July to say—and the House would appreciate the reasons why he should not say—where that squadron would be sent. All he could say was that there was abundance of men and stores for the purpose, and when the time came the Government would take care that it was properly equipped and sent to the proper place.
Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
Supply—Civil Service Estimates
SUPPLY considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
(5.) £208,520, to complete the sum for Consular Services.
said, he had given Notice of his intention to move a reduction in the Vote of £7,850. As the Committee on the Diplomatic and Consular Service would not report before the end of next Session, and as it was quite clear that before the Estimates of 1872–3 their recommendations could not fully come into effect, he deemed it his duty to place that Motion on the Paper; but though he had studied the subject most carefully he found that he could not do justice to it without occupying too much time at that late period of the Session. He hoped that next year a desire would be shown to make a reduction in this extravagant expenditure; he believed that there was no Department of the State which more required the vigilant scrutiny of the House of Commons than the Consular Department. Unless the Estimates of next year showed a very marked decrease it would be his duty to call the attention of the House to the subject, with the view of its requesting the Government to reconsider the Vote. It was also his intention to have illustrated the manner in which the public money was thus wasted by referring to such Consulates as Venice, Corunna, Seville, Leipsic, Warsaw, and Janina, which were either of minor importance or altogether useless; but he trusted that there would be a large reduction on this Vote by another year. He wished the Consuls to be well paid; but there were dozens of Consuls more than were required.
said, he agreed with his hon. Friend (Mr. Holms) that some of the Consuls might be reduced, and a practical proof of the soundness of that opinion lay in the fact that some of them had been already reduced, and that one or two others would not again appear in the Estimates. Although he could not accept the statement that Venice was no longer an important port—for Gentlemen who were keen reformers sometimes allowed themselves to be led into exaggerations on these matters—it certainly was not as important as before the Italian War. And, accordingly, the present Consul General Perry, one of the best of our civil servants, had been informed that he would be relieved next year, and in future our consular representative there would be an official with a comparatively small salary. Corunna was a station of considerable importance, owing to the trade of the district with Great Britain, and the pay, £650, was not large, remembering that it included the allowance for office, &c. Seville was one of the stations which would require consideration; but with regard to the determination of this or other questions, it must be remembered that just at present the time of our own Foreign Minister was occupied by pressing questions of much greater magnitude. The Consulship at Leipsic was established at the time when the Zollverein acquired importance, and it was still a valuable centre of information; at least, if it were terminated some other Consulship would have to be established. Some posts might be considered semi-political. For instance, from the nature of things, the Consul at Warsaw discharged functions quite as much of a diplomatic as of a consular character. That post was not one which would be maintained for purposes of commerce, but we were obliged to have a representative there, who could only be of consular rank, owing to the relations of the place to the Russian Government. He had now touched on most of the points to which his attention had been called. But he might add that a Commission was going to Constantinople next year, which would take the opportunity of inquiring as to some of the consular stations in the East. He might also point out that upon the China Consular Estimates this year there was a saving of £9,903 as compared with last year, which had been effected mainly through the zeal and knowledge of one gentleman, Lord Tenterden, who was a clerk in the Foreign Office.
said, he hoped the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would seriously consider the very great and, in his (Mr. Monk's) opinion, unnecessary cost attaching to the Consulships in the Ionian Islands.
said, while believing that there were Consulships which should be dispensed with, and some where the salaries should be reduced, he was of opinion that there were others in which the remuneration was inadequate. The British Consul in New York occupied a position which was hardly second to any Minister in any country. Yet his salary was a very moderate one, and he was not dignified with the rank of Consul General. He returned fees to the amount of £3,000 a year. Why should he be placed in a second position, and why should not his services be more appreciated? While reducing where services were not required, he hoped they would not act in a manner which would lead to the inference that they were not prepared to reward liberally good service when rendered.
said, having been recently in New York he thought it right to add his testimony in support of what had been advanced by the hon. Member who had just sat down. He had been in communication with our Consul in New York, and he knew how valuable were the services he rendered to this country.
said, he did not think that a general and indiscriminate onslaught should be made on the Consuls, who had often much to endure in the discharge of their duties. Some distinction should be made, and a Consulate like that of New York, which promoted commerce was one which was worthy of the consideration suggested by the hon. Member (Mr. Chadwick).
said, he thought the action of the Committee which had been appointed should not relieve the Government from the responsibility which properly pressed on them to see whether a considerable reduction could not be made in this Department. He was afraid that there was a disposition on the part of the Government when a Committee was appointed to throw off the responsibility which was proper to them, and not to take any steps in the direction of economy. He believed reductions might be made in various parts of the globe, and he should be glad if the Foreign Office would assist the Diplomatic Salaries Committee which would sit next year by making independent inquiries with a view to the same result for which that Committee was appointed.
said, he entirely concurred in what had been said in regard to the Consul at New York. The expense of living in New York was enormous, and, although the salary of the Consul was high, he was bound to say they had most satisfactory evidence for concluding that it was hardly possible for a gentleman to live on the salary assigned to him. There was also a consular officer at Monte Video, to whom an allowance was assigned of £150 per year for a clerk, which he was obliged to keep, though it was clearly established that no suitable clerk could be engaged there for a less sum than £200 per annum. He did not believe that it was the desire of this country that those who served it should be put to expenses out of their privy purse, and that they should not be able to discharge their duties unless they had private means. The hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) complained of the expensiveness of the Consulates in the Ionian Islands. But in these consular establishments there had been a reduction from £3,475 to £2,010, and further reductions were in progress. In time most of these Consulates would be done away with. He was not aware that there was any officer extravagantly paid, although he was not prepared to say that every consular office which now existed was necessary.
In answer to Mr. CHADWICK ,
said, he had no authority to promise that the Consul at New York should be made Consul General. That question rested with the Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He (Mr. Otway) knew of no reason why the Consul should not be advanced in rank.
Vote agreed to.
(6.) £38,116, to complete the sum for Colonies, Grants in Aid.
said, he wished to call attention to the painful position of Colonial Governors while waiting for a new appointment. During intervals of that kind no provision was made for them, and he wished to suggest that they should either have larger salaries which would enable them to save competences, or, in lieu of that, should be entitled, after serving, say, six or seven years, to a certain amount of pension, which would place them in positions similar to those of half-pay officers. If the Colonial Office did not agree to the proposition, he should bring in a Bill to carry out some arrangement of the kind.
said, he thought the salaries of Colonial Governors were quite large enough, especially when compared with the payment received by the President of the United States.
said, he feared that he could not hold out any hope to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) that the Government could comply with his request. He believed there was no difficulty in getting men of high rank and standing to accept the office of Colonial Governor; and he had heard no complaints on the subject to which the hon. Member had referred.
said, that the Vote this year was less by £16,000 than that of last year; but this reduction was merely in respect of an accidental circumstance. The fact that many of the Colonies now paid their Governors was a sufficient answer to the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Baillie Cochrane). He wished to have an explanation of the item of £1,000 for the Gambia, and to point out that from two other items it appeared that our West Coast of Africa possessions, which were of little use to us now that the slave trade had ceased, cost us £14,000 a year. He desired to know also whether a fort on a small island in the Gambia had been abandoned, in accordance with a recommendation made some years ago in anticipating tribal disturbances? He would ask further, how far the principle of consolidation of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Bodies in the West India Islands had been carried out? These islands would, he believed, be better governed if there were fewer Governors. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Monsell) would also give some explanation of the items relating to Heligoland and the Falkland Islands.
said, he wished to know if £1,800 had been granted for a new house to the Governor of Heligoland?
said, that there was no medium between giving up Heligoland altogether and maintaining the present establishment. The Government having, after consultation with the Admiralty, determined to retain it, the expenditure set down in the Estimates was absolutely necessary. With reference to the Governor's house at Heligoland, it was necessary for the Governor to have some place to live in. As to the Falkland Islands, the expenditure had been much reduced, the Estimate now being only £3,400, and these islands afforded a secure station to which vessels passing round Cape Horn might resort in their course through those stormy seas. With respect to the West Coast of Africa, the expenditure was greater than his right hon. Friend (Sir Charles Adderley) had stated. There was a very strong feeling in regard to abandoning any possession there; but, if it were considered politic to maintain those possessions, the cost of them must be maintained. He hoped part of the cost of Gambia would in future be borne by the colonists. The M'Carthy Island had the military withdrawn already, and he hoped it might be possible to do away with the establishment there altogether. In consequence of recent political occurrences, the negotiations for handing the Gambia over to France had been suspended. Looking to the prosperous state of the finances on the Gold Coast and at Sierra Leone, he hoped that in future years they would be able to greatly reduce the Estimate. As regarded the West Indies, the consolidation of the Government and judicial staff of the Leeward Islands was proceeding very rapidly, and that policy would be pursued to a greater extent as opportunity offered. When the different local Governments had agreed to a Resolution on the subject, it was proposed that one single Governor only should be appointed for these islands.
said, he thought that in the present juncture of affairs it was necessary to consider what protection should be afforded to our more distant Colonies. He must insist on the duty of this country to protect the Colonies, and on the propriety of a confederation embracing them and the mother country.
Vote agreed to.
(7.) £2,869, to complete the sum for Orange River Territory and St. Helena.
(8.) £2,930, to complete the sum for Slave Trade, Commissioners for Suppression of.
(9.) £19,785, to complete the sum for Tonnage Bounties, &c.
(10.) £8,545, to complete the sum for Emigration.
said, he thought that two Commissioners for migration were not required, and he hoped that it might be arranged that there should be only one in future. He also hoped that room would be found for the Emigration Office in the new Colonial Office.
said, that the Emigration Office would be placed with the new Colonial Office. They were absorbing the clerks of the Emigration Office into the Colonial Office as rapidly as possible; but he did not think it was advisable to do away with one of the two Commissioners. That would be hardly any saving to the country, as théir superannuation would nearly equal their salary.
Vote agreed to.
(11.) £600, to complete the sum for Coolie Emigration.
(12.) £12,759, to complete the sum for Treasury Chest.
(13.) £264,783, to complete the sum for Superannuation and Retired Allowances.
complained that there had been an enormous increase in this Vote, and that the whole sum the country now paid for superannuation was more than £1,000,000. If the Government proceeded on the principle that all officers should retire compulsorily at a certain age they might get rid of this charge, though perhaps at an increased salary. There was no reason why the various public servants should not, by means of assurance societies, or by devoting a portion of their pay to the formation of a superannuation fund, provide for their old age, without putting the country to such a heavy expense.
said, that the increase on this particular vote was this year £59,000, which was more than accounted for by the Bankruptcy and Chancery compensations, given in consequence of recent legislation. He admitted that the charge for superannuation was heavy, but he did not think that the suggestion of a compulsory retirement at a certain age would meet the evil; and he would remind the House that the system of superannuation by deduction from the salaries had been already tried and failed. There were some elements of hope. Many of the superannuations were the result of recent arrangements in the direction of economy, and there would be a gradual diminution of the total amount. The Civil Service was now on a better footing, and he hoped that in the course of the next year or two a scheme would be developed which would still further promote economy and efficiency by diminishing the number of established clerks, and introducing clerks on the ordinary footing of commercial clerks.
Vote agreed to.
(14.) £31,550, to complete the sum for Merchant Seamen's Fund Pensions, &c.
(15.) £24,000, to complete the sum for Relief of Distressed British Seamen.
(16.) £13,545, to complete the sum for Hospitals and Infirmaries, Ireland.
(17.) £4,714, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Charitable Allowances, &c. Great Britain.
(18.) £4,324, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Charitable Allowances, &c. Ireland.
(19.) £23,090, to complete the sum for Temporary Commissions.
(20.) £31,147, to complete the sum for Local Dues on Shipping.
(21.) £480, to complete the sum for Malta and Alexandria Telegraph, &c.
(22.) £1,300, to complete the sum for Flax Cultivation, Ireland.
said, he would beg to ask whether it was the intention of the Government to continue that Vote?
replied that the Vote was last year £3,000. This year it was only £2,000. The Government had determined on reducing it £1,000 a year until it ceased altogether.
Vote agreed to.
(23.) £3,465, to complete the sum for Miscellaneous Expenses.
(24.) £989,837, for Customs Department.
said, he would remind the Committee that both the late and the present Government had made certain promises leading the officers of the Customs Department to anticipate an increase to their wretched salaries. Now, the Government ought to keep good faith with the small people as well as the great. The time had long gone by since those pledges were given, and he could not understand why the officers should be kept so long in this painful suspense. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick," and the officers of Customs he believed were now realizing that saying.
said, he was not sorry that the hon. Alderman had called attention to this subject, because it was quite true that the clerks in the Customs were led to expect more than two years ago an increase of salary, and especially that the disproportion between their salaries and those of the officers of the Inland Revenue would be taken into consideration. It was very well known that the right hon. Gentleman had been asked on several occasions why the Minute of the late Board of Treasury had not been acted upon. The reply given by the right hon. Gentleman was to the effect that the decision of the late Government had not been rescinded by the present Board. It was only suspended. He agreed with the hon. Gentleman opposite, that "hope deferred maketh the heart sick." When the present Government had suspended the recommendation of the late one upon this subject for more than one and a-half years, it appeared to him (Mr. Sclater-Booth) that their conduct amounted to something like a rescinding of it altogether. He thought that the time had arrived when it behoved the Government to state really what their views were on the matter. He had no wish to say anything to encourage complaints on the part of the Civil Service; but it was most unreasonable to expect that those officers would remain contented under the extraordinary treatment they had received.
said, he wished to know whether any progress had been made, or was likely to be made, in regard to the consolidation or amalgamation of the Customs and Inland Revenue?
said, he would beg to ask when the inquiry which had been going on in relation to the grievances in the Customs in London would be extended to the principal outports?
said, that when the present Government came into Office they took into their consideration the Treasury Minute of the late Government, but thought they would not be justified in acting upon it without further investigation. With reference to the question of increased pay, they came to the conclusion that they would not be justified in making any such proposal, unless they could succeed in devising some scheme which would enable them to do so without making a materially increased charge on the Revenue. The inquiry, which extended to every branch of the Customs in London, had lasted longer than had been expected. The Reports on each branch, after being submitted to the Board of Customs, had to be considered and decided upon by the Treasury. The last of the Reports—that on the Statistical Department—had not yet been received, but he would give the Committee some earnest of his desire to come to as rapid a conclusion as possible when he stated that to-day he had written a letter to Sir Thomas Fremantle, the Chairman of the Board of Customs, expressing regret that the final Report had not yet been submitted, and informing him and his Colleagues that he should be prepared to remain in town after the close of the Session in order to consider the Report of the Board, and would not leave the subject till he had arrived at a conclusion in regard to it. In reply to his hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. Macfie) he might state that they had not as yet entered on the question of the amalgamation of the Customs and Inland Revenue.
said, he did not think the revision of salaries ought to be delayed on account of the want of the Report referred to. It ought to be in no way dependent on the condition of the Statistical Department.
said, that for the last two or three months he had had a Notice on the Paper with reference to the Statistical Returns of the Board of Trade, and had put down his Motion for Friday next. He hoped that some final Report from the Customs would then be forthcoming, so that the Secretary to the Board of Trade might be enabled to state the plans which the Government had in contemplation for the improvement of the Office.
said, he hoped, after the promises which had been held out for the improvement of the position of the Customs' officers, faith would be kept with them. He also hoped that a public saving might be effected by abolishing some of the minor bonding estabments.
said, he did not entertain the slightest hope that the House and the commercial community would tolerate the abolition of the bonding system. If the suggestion that whenever Customs ports did not pay their expenses they should be abandoned were acted on, an enormous stimulus would be given to smuggling. They were endeavouring to reduce the establishments in small ports.
Vote agreed to.
(25.) £1,592,751, for Inland Revenue Department.
said, he wished to ask whether there was any hope that next year the Government would allow the superannuations and pensions granted to officers in this Department to be commuted, as in the case of pensions granted to officers in the Army and Navy?
said, the system had been introduced experimentally in the case of officers in the Army and Navy, and the Government did not think that a sufficient time had elapsed to enable a judgment to be formed conclusively as to the propriety of extending the principle.
said, he hoped that in future the sub-heads under this Vote would be made more intelligible, as at present they were perfectly useless.
Vote agreed to.
(26.) £2,376,979, for Post Office.
said, a Notice upon this subject had been standing in his name upon the Paper for months; but he would now compress what he had to say into the form of a Question. In every civilized country except our own great facilities were afforded for the posting of letters at railway stations and in railway letter-vans. In July last his noble Friend the Postmaster General gave an undertaking that an efficient service of this kind should be established; but four months later he had personal experience of the fact that this order, if given, had not been carried out. Perhaps his noble Friend would be able to say whether any and what orders had been given to all officers in railway vans to accept letters on the conditions stated last year. It would be more convenient if boxes were placed in the vans for the reception of letters. There were also very few railway stations where boxes for posting letters were to be found; and he could state that four or five months ago there was on the Great Western Railway only one post office at a station between London and Exeter. A few months ago he was honoured with an interview by the Postmaster General in France, who kindly prepared and gave him a report of the system which was adopted in that country. As time did not allow him to make the quotations from that report which he had intended, he would hand it over to his noble Friend for his information. He might state, however, that each of the communes into which France was divided might obtain permission to place a letter-box at their own railway station, on condition that they established this box at their own cost, which was very trifling. He knew the Post Office officials feared that difficulties would arise in sorting the letters; but if these had been got over in France, why not in this country?
said, the public had already the privilege of posting letters in the travelling mail vans; but they had not made use of it to any great extent. In June last directions were given that letters should be received in all travelling post-offices, on condition that they were delivered by hand to a sorter, and that an extra fee of 2d. was paid. The first condition was considered necessary on account of the difficulty that was apprehended of making the public aware of what letters could advantageously be posted in this manner. He believed that in some instances the directions had been misunderstood by the Post Office authorities; but he would take care that their memories were refreshed on the subject, and that it was made generally known to the public that there did exist this facility for posting letters in travelling post-offices under the conditions he had named. If there was any desire on the part of the House that these facilities should be more widely extended, he would take care that the necessary directions were given. There were already a considerable number of letter-boxes in railway stations, and the number was being continually increased. He could only say generally that his Department was anxious to give all facilities which might be considered beneficial to the public.
said, he would suggest that Bills should be placarded at the district post-offices and railway stations throughout the country, so that the public might be made aware of the existence of the postal facilities which the noble Marquess had described.
said, he thought means should be taken to enable persons to post letters from London to the country up to 9 or 10 o'clock at night.
Vote agreed to.
(27.) £807,153, to complete the sum for Post Office Packet Service.
said, he rose to ask a Question of which he had given Notice. He believed a provision had been inserted in the contracts, providing, in accordance with the recommendation of a Committee, for the conveyance of mails by way of Brindisi. He wished to know whether the Peninsular and Oriental Company had been notified that the time was at hand when they would be called upon to make arrangements for the conveyance of the Indian mails from Brindisi to Alexandria? The works were rapidly progressing at the Mont Cenis tunnel, and the headings were expected to be carried through early next year; and it was important for the interests of commerce that advantage should be taken of that route as soon as possible. He wished also to call attention to the high rate of postage charged between India and England. Letters from India were charged 1s. 3d., whilst those from Australia paid only 8d. He hoped that means would be taken to reduce the present rate of postage to India.
said, he wished to ask if the accounts of the Peninsular and Oriental Company had been so kept as to enable the Postal Department to make satisfactory arrangements with them for each year's working of the contract?
said, he must complain that much of the advantage accruing from the Fell Railway was neutralized by the delay of the trains at Susa.
said, the trains were also delayed on the French side owing to the jealousy on the part of the French authorities.
thought it could hardly be assumed that the service through the Mont Cenis tunnel could be as regular as by way of Marseilles. He wished to know whether the Vote now under consideration would meet all the requirements for the year's service?
said, notice had been given to the Peninsular and Oriental Company that they would in a given time be required to establish a service by Brindisi. No Vote was necessary at present for the route by Brindisi instead of by Marseilles. Information had been received by the Post Office that the tunnel under Mont Cenis would be completed in the autumn of the next year, and when it was he did not know why that route should be subject to greater uncertainty than any other. The examination of the accounts of the Peninsular and Oriental had led to a considerable difference of opinion between the Post Office and the company as to the mode in which those accounts ought to be kept. The question was still under consideration, and, as it was possible the accounts might be referred to arbitration, it would not be right that he should say more on the subject at present. It would be impossible for him to give any assurance to the Committee that the Vote which they were now asked to pass would be a complete Vote for the purpose for which it was intended. He must remind the Committee that the contract was not entered into by the present Government, but by the Government of which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Sclater-Booth) was a Member, and which allowed the payment to the Peninsular and Oriental to vary from £500,000 to £400,000. It would not be wise to take a Vote for the larger sum. It was not yet settled what they should have to pay the company for the last year; much less was it possible to say what they should have to pay for this year. It was true that the postage to India was very high; but even with the present high rate the service was not a profitable one, nor could he hold out any hope at present that the rates could be reduced.
said, he thought it was time to report Progress. The Prime Minister himself had stated that measures which had not been discussed would not be taken after half-past 12.
said, they were now on the last Vote but one of the regular list, and he hoped the Committee would be allowed to go on. He admitted that he had said what the hon. Member had stated, but that applied to the business several weeks ago, and when they were come to within 10 days or a fortnight of the end of the Session, such a rule could not be adhered to.
hoped that an endeavour would be made to expedite the mails to Italy, so that a morning mail might be sent by the French Government.
Vote agreed to.
(28.) £270,000, to complete the sum for Post Office Telegraph Service.
said, he wished to inquire whether, in the re-arrangement of the Post Office Telegraph Department, it was intended to re-absorb those who had been thrown out of employment in consequence of the transfer of the telegraphs from the companies to the Government?
said, he desired to to know whether anything had been done to facilitate communication with Ireland by laying down new cables? A most important Question had been lately asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and answered by the First Minister of the Crown at six in the evening, and every newspaper in Dublin came out next morning without having a single portion of that answer given. It had been stated on a former occasion by the noble Marquess that the number of messages was now so great between England and Ireland that there was not adequate provision for sending them. But that was not a sufficient answer, because it was foreseen that the decrease in the cost of transmission would lead to a very large increase in the number of messages. Another complaint was that the city of Cork was cut off after seven o'clock in the evening from telegraphic communication with Dublin.
said, he wanted to know whether in the event of loss occurring from the miscarriage, faulty delivery, or blundering transmission of messages, there were no means by which the persons sustaining that loss could be reimbursed?
said, the telegraphic system was now worse than it used to be when performed by the private companies, and he wished to know whether the Vote now asked for it was less than the expenditure formerly incurred by those companies? If the Vote was not less, they ought to have the service conducted at least as efficiently as the companies had done it. He understood that the employés were now paid so much per message instead of per day.
said, in answer to the question put by the hon. Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse), with respect to retiring allowances, he had to state that that matter, which was rather complicated, was still under consideration. None of the pensions which had to be given under the Telegraphs Act had yet been awarded. The principle on which the Government proceeded was to employ, as far as was possible, every person who had been in the service of the companies. As far as he could form an opinion at present, the revenue from the telegraphs would be fully equal to that which was anticipated. In answer to the hon. Member for Kilkenny (Sir John Gray), he could not state that any new cable had actually been laid down, but tenders had been advertised for and received, and he expected that in a very few days the contract would be entered into for laying down that cable. The increased business arising from the diminished charge came upon them before they had the opportunity of making the necessary arrangements to meet it; and it was impossible for them to make the requisite preparations for extensions until the lines came into their possession. The complaint with regard to the city of Cork should be carefully inquired into. The Post Office held (subject to legal correction) that it was not liable for loss caused by delay in the delivery or the miscarriage of messages. The hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Gourley) asked whether their expenditure exceeded or was less than that of the late companies. His own impression was that, taking into account the total expenditure of all the companies, the Post Office had, by concentration of the offices, succeeded in considerably diminishing the expenses. The hon. Member had complained that they paid their servants so much per message instead of per day, but exactly the opposite complaint was made when that subject was last under discussion. They had adopted the principle of paying partly according to the number of messages, and he did not think it was a bad arrangement for securing the proper delivery of messages.
Vote agreed to.
(29.) £1,300,000, to pay off and discharge Exchequer Bonds.
Resolutions to be reported upon Monday next;
Committee to sit again upon Monday next.
Canada (Guarantee Of Loan) Bill
( Mr. Dodson, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Stansfeld.)
Bill 225 Second Reading
Order for Second Reading read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
said, he denied the expediency of guaranteeing such loans, except under circumstances which did not exist in the case of Canada, which surely "came of age" long ago. Travellers who passed from the States into Canada were struck by the signs of its retrogression. We were helping it to build legislative halls in the backwoods, to construct railroads which were not likely to pay their working expenses, and to construct fortifications which would be a futile menace, for the people of the United States expected some day to add Canada to their number, and to do it peaceably, and would pay any reasonable sum for its acquisition, and they had no idea of invading it by force, although they knew that the Canadians, with or without fortifications, were practically defenceless. Our own experience of fortifications elsewhere was not encouraging. It might be said we enabled the Canadians to borrow money at 4 per cent instead of 6 per cent, but in proportion as we raised their credit we depressed our own. Believing that the general system of colonial guarantees was pernicious and dangerous, if not futile, he begged to move that the Bill be read a second time upon that day three months.
Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—( Sir David Wedderburn.)
said, that the best answer he could give to his hon. Friend was to state that the Bill was introduced in fulfilment of an agreement binding on the honour of this country. In 1865 four Canadian Ministers visited this country, and the two principal subjects discussed by them and the authorities in this country were the Confederation of the North American Provinces and the defences of Canada. The understanding come to was that if the Provinces undertook the work of defence Her Majesty's Government would apply to Parliament for the amount of the present loan. In 1868 the Legislature of Canada passed an Act authorizing the raising of a loan of £1,100,000 under Imperial guarantee for the erection of fortifications in Canada, and had, therefore, fulfilled her part of the agreement.
said, as that agreement had not received the sanction of Parliament he contended it was not binding on that House. He found on the back of the Bill the name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who, in 1867, objected to a measure identical with the present Bill. The right hon. Gentleman then said—
He should be glad to hear what the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to say with regard to the Bill now before the House."I do not see why, because we are assenting to the Colonies adopting any form of government they may choose, we are to take upon ourselves to find the money for them to undertake this scheme. I think that by bribing them to enter into this Confederation by guaranteeing this sum, we are taking upon ourselves a responsibility which we shall one day deeply rue.…. This plan of inducing the Colonies by persuasion and by the influence of a loan of public money, to enter into a particular form of government is fraught with this evil, that we represent ourselves to them and to the world as taking a peculiar interest in the manner in which they choose to regulate their internal affairs and their relations with the United States. Now that we have given them self-government, let them manage their affairs their own way, and do not let us make ourselves responsible for the manner in which they regulate their internal or foreign relations. The management of our own affairs is quite sufficient for us without our mixing ourselves up in matters with which we have no concern, and over which we do not for a moment profess to exercise the slightest control."—[3 Hansard, clxxxvi. 760–1.]
rose. [Cries of "The Chancellor of the Exchequer."] He said that it was contrary to the rules of the House that a Member should speak twice on the same Motion, and, in consequence of the lengthy extract just read by the hon. Member, the Chancellor of the Exchequer might be taken to have already spoken once. He thought that the doctrine of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in respect to the particular point in dispute when his speech was delivered a very sound doctrine, and with regard to the present Bill he admitted that the House was free to consider the agreement come to with Canada as one merely of the Executive Government, and not of itself binding on the House. He maintained, however, that the House had, to a considerable extent, bound itself by its own act. The engagement made was that this country should bear the expense of the fortifications of Quebec, and Canada should bear the greater portion of the expense of the fortifications of Montreal. The scheme for the fortifications of Quebec and Montreal was one scheme; and when Parliament voted for the fortifications of Quebec it substantially approved the entire scheme, and so far promised the loan under consideration. The measure was no menace to the United States, as some had urged. The disparity between the resources and population of the two countries would not permit this idea to be encouraged, any more than the Belgian fortresses could be construed into a menace to France. This guarantee was a part of the price England paid for being relieved of the obligation to protect Canada by military. England had now arrived at that state of things in which Canada was to undertake almost entirely its own defence, and the pernicious system of the past was no longer to be encouraged. Canada would be relieved, in a great measure, from all control, and England would be relieved from demands upon her Exchequer on account of Canada. The impression that the construction of this fortress was being forced on Canada had no foundation. It was from no pressure on England's part, real or supposed, that Canada built these fortifications; it was her own spontaneous wish that they should be constructed, and that England should fulfil her engagements respecting them. England had undertaken to make the guarantee, and he would urge the acceptance of the Bill as a means of getting rid of that demoralizing system, the burden of supporting troops in our Colonies.
said, he must express his surprise that a large crop of loans should be brought forward at a period of the Session when they could not be fully discussed. The same thing occurred last year and the year before; and no one had expressed himself more strongly against such loans than the Prime Minister, unless it were the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As to the supposed pledge, the sums granted to Quebec were a free gift voted in Committee of Supply. The present Government had undertaken to carry out a pledge given by his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War in 1865, but it certainly was not the opinion of the late Government that any pledge had been given to Canada that the loan should be guaranteed; and, in proof of the latter assertion, he might mention a speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Staffordshire (Sir Charles Adderley) when Colonial Secretary. He should cordially support the Amendment of the Member for Ayrshire (Sir David Wedderburn).
Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
The House divided:—Ayes 65; Noes 17: Majority 48.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Bill read a second time, and committed for Monday next.
Census (Scotland) Bill—Bill 234
( The Lord Advocate, Mr. Secretary Bruce.)
Order for Committee read.
Bill considered in Committee.
(In the Committee.)
Clauses 1 to 4, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 5 (Householders' schedules to be left at dwelling houses).
said, he rose in the absence of his hon. Friend the Member for Peeblesshire (Sir Graham Montgomery) to move the insertion of the words of which he had given Notice. He would not detain the Committee at that hour of the morning by stating the reasons why he, in common with a very large number of the people of Scotland, desired that the Census about to be taken should contain this information. But he might say that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had expressed its strong desire that the religious profession of the people should be recorded, and he might express his regret that his right hon. Friend (Mr. Bruce), representing as he did a large and influential Scotch constituency, should not have adhered to the views which he believed he held, that this information should be recorded.
Amendment proposed, after the word "condition," to insert the words "religious profession,"—( Sir John Hay.)
said, he must oppose the Amendment.
Remaining clauses agreed to.
Bill reported; as amended, to be considered upon Monday next.
Viscount Gough (Gun Metal For Statue)
Her Majesty's Answer To Address
reported Her Majesty's Answer to Address [27th July] as follows:—
I have received your Address praying that I will direct that sufficient Gun Metal be issued for the construction of the Statue about to be erected in Dublin to commemorate the services of the late Field Marshal Viscount Gough, and assuring me that you will make good the cost of the same:
And I have given directions in accordance with the purpose of your Address.
Truck Acts Bill
On Motion of Mr. Secretary BRUCE, Bill for facilitating in certain cases the proceedings of Commissioners to be appointed to make inquiry respecting the operation of the Truck Acts and alleged offences against those Acts, ordered to be brought in by Mr. Secretary BRUCE and Mr. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 252.]
Expiring Laws Bill
On Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Bill to continue various Expiring Laws, ordered to be brought in by Mr. STANSFELD and Mr. ATTORNEY GENERAL.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 253.]
Sanitary Act (Dublin) Amendment Bill
On Motion of Mr. STANSFELD, Bill amending the Sanitary Act (1866) so far as relates to the City of Dublin, ordered to be brought in by Mr. STANSFELD and Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL for IRELAND.
Bill presented, and read the first time. [Bill 254.]
House adjourned at a quarter after Two o'clock, till Monday next.