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Supply—Considered In Committee

Volume 221: debated on Monday 27 July 1874

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(In the Committee.)

(1.) £170,000, Supplementary sum, Rating of certain Government Property, &c.

said, he hoped that before the Vote was agreed to, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give some explanation with respect to the Supplemental Estimates. The Committee were called upon to vote something like £600,000 on those Estimates, and yet, according to what he had said in the course of his Financial Statement, the right hon. Gentleman had estimated the surplus for the year at £350,000, and since that statement had been made, the Revenue Returns, according to his own admission, had not exceeded his expectations. He therefore wished to know from the right hon. Gentleman what he had in the shape of additional Revenue to set against these Supplemental Estimates, so as to prevent the country having to face a deficiency in its finances at the end of the year? As he understood the matter, the Committee was to be called upon to vote £350,000 towards the local expenses for the police, and £250,000 towards the local expenses for lunatics; but next year those sums would be doubled, and the result would be that unless the Revenue far exceeded their expectations, a very serious and important deficit would have to be met. It seemed to him that in calling upon the Committee to vote these Supplementary Estimates, the right hon. Gentleman was adopting the dangerous principle of promising certain remissions of taxation, the full effect of which would not come into operation during the present financial year. He wished it to be distinctly understood, however, that in voting the present Estimates he (Mr. Fawcett) was not pledged to the practice of making grants from the Imperial funds to local purposes. He looked upon such a practice as mischievous, and he believed it was fraught with future evils to the country. Further, he thought they were about to vote money which in the present state of the Revenue they could not properly afford.

thought that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had given a perfectly satisfactory expla- nation of the point raised by the hon. Member for Hackney on a previous occasion, when he showed that there was no probability of their being any excess of expenditure over revenue, even after these Supplementary Estimates had been taken into account. He must, however, enter his protest against the general idea that all Government property should be rated, without their knowing exactly what they were about. They had no Papers before them to show in what way the local taxation was to be relieved; they only knew that £170,000 was to be paid in aid of that taxation. It was clear that that money was paid by the whole nation; but who was to receive the benefit of this expenditure? His own opinion was that, in most instances, the benefit derived from the presence of Government property in a locality outweighed any injury sustained by reason of its exemption from rating.

said, the question of the taxation of Government property having been decided last year, the hon. Member for Hackney ought not to attempt to re-open the question now. He (Mr. Boord) could assure the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Hankey) that in his borough, the neighbourhood of Government property was a disadvantage rather than au advantage to the locality, the rates being enormously increased by the wear and tear of the roads caused by the transit of heavy guns and materials, by injury to the drains, and by the increase of pauperism consequent upon the number of persons employed in the Government works. He suggested that by taking a percentage on the cost of construction, a basis of assessment might be easily obtained for rating such public property. On a previous occasion, when the question was before the Committee, he understood the Government to have pledged themselves to place the matter on a permanent footing at the first opportunity.

said, before the Vote was taken, the Committee ought to know what the Government were going to do with the money. Here was a large sum of £170,000 to be voted by the House, and yet nothing had been stated as to its disposal. There might be Gentlemen on that (the Opposition) side who had made themselves obnoxious and whose constituents would get very little, while those of other Gentlemen would get a good deal. It was a very-dangerous precedent to vote money in this way en bloc, without being told on what principle it was to be distributed.

said, that the hon. Member had forgotten that the Budget speech distinctly provided for this Vote.

The hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) has put a Question which he would hardly have put had he been a Member of this House at the time the Budget was brought forward, because then he would have remembered that the financial arrangements were founded on the proposals to which the Committee is now asked to give effect. We included in the calculations for the year a certain amount of expenditure for purposes embraced in these Estimates which are called, and which, to a certain extent are, Supplementary; but as far as they relate to the Vote in aid of local contributions for police and lunatics now under consideration, they are not truly Supplementary Estimates, but are part of the regular financial arrangements. Therefore, when the hon. Gentleman says we are asking for a large sum which goes beyond the margin provided for in the Budget, and that he does not see how that large sum is to be found, he is mistaking the character of the arrangements for the year. Now, those hon. Gentlemen who were present when the Financial Statement was made are aware that the Statement was of this character. Certain taxes were remitted and certain arrangements made, and then it was stated that it was the intention of the Government to propose that various sums should be voted in aid of local taxation. These sums were to be applied partly to the expense of the police, partly of pauper lunatics, and partly in the nature of an addition to the contributions made for Government property; and the amount it was proposed to take for these purposes came to £1,010,000. Taking the Revenue and Expenditure as then estimated, and calculating that part of the Expenditure to which I have just referred at £1,010,000, I reckoned there would remain a surplus of £462,000. Of course, if the Revenue falls short, that surplus will not be realized. I have no reason to fear that the Revenue will fall short. At all events, that is a ques- tion which I do not discuss, and the hon. Gentleman does not raise it. Well, then, how are we to meet the expenditure which we are called upon to defray? With regard to this expenditure, if we called upon the Committee to vote £1,010,000, the surplus would remain as it was estimated, £462,000. But we are not asking the Committee to vote so largo a sum. Instead of £1,010,000 we are asking the Committee only for £706,000 for the three items which I have mentioned. The amount in aid of local rates for Government property is £170,000, the same as the Budget Estimate. The amount for police, instead of being £600,000 as at first estimated, is only £315,000; and the amount for lunatics, which I estimated at £240,000, is now £221,692. We are therefore asking only £706,692 instead of £1,010,000, being a difference of £304,000 in our favour. Instead, therefore, of the surplus being £462,000, as was anticipated, we have a margin of £766,000 for the present year to go upon. But out of that we have had to ask for some strictly Supplementary Estimates—£150,000 for the Navy; in fact, about £369,000 altogether in the way of additional Estimates. So that out of our margin of £766,000 we are going to take £369,000, which will leave us still with an anticipated surplus for the present year of £397,000, or within £3,000 of £400,000. That can hardly be considered an unsatisfactory provision for a Session like the present. We have noticed in former years that the surplus estimated at the time of the Budget has been materially diminished by Supplementary Estimates, and if we are able to close the year with an anticipated surplus of some £400,000, I think we are not in an unsatisfactory position as far as this year is concerned. The hon. Gentleman, however, very truly says—" Though you are levying a surplus for the present year, you are making a very heavy draught on the next year." I admit that is an observation to a great extent justified. On the last occasion of a financial discussion in this House a week or two ago, the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt) made a remark about my having asked in the Budget Statement for £600,000 for the police, whereas I expected that a considerable portion of that sum would not be required until next year. That is true; but I was not sure at the time how much would be required; and I was anxious that the House should bear in mind that in asking for those Votes we were asking for something which would not only exhaust the money at our command this year, but would make a demand on next year. Now, I am not afraid, as far as I can judge, if everything goes on reasonably, and we are fairly prosperous, that the surplus of next year will be insufficient to meet the charge which we are throwing upon it. But, at the same time, I frankly own that it may be necessary next year to consider our position, and to see whether any further arrangements may be required with a view to make the finances of that year entirely satisfactory. If there should be any grounds for an increase of expenditure; if we should see any reason to expect a declining Revenue; if we should think it desirable to make any change in taxation, with a view to the relief of local burdens, or take any other steps, the Government would be prepared to make the necessary proposals. But, supposing we make no change at all next year, that our expenditure continues as it is at present, and that there is the normal increase of Revenue, we may fairly expect that what we ask the House to do this year and to undertake for next year will be easily done. My hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Hankey) has made some remarks with which I cordially coincide. I think the House ought very carefully to consider how far it ought to go in the way of making contributions to local taxation and local rates in places where the Government has property. The question, however, is one of very great difficulty. The hon. Member for Hythe (Sir Edward Watkin) says—"I cannot trust the Government. I don't know what they may do with this money, and it would be better to leave the matter to the ordinary rating authorities." I do not know that. I feel sure that if the ordinary rating authorities in places to which the Government property gives their value, were called upon to say what the Government property should contribute, they would take care to make it pay, as the saying is, "both in meal and in malt." They would get their own property enhanced by the presence of Government property, and a good slice besides from the public in aid of their rates. Therefore, it is exceedingly difficult to lay down any such general rule as the hon. Gentleman suggested. We are, therefore, obliged to ask the Committee to do for this year certain things done in former years. We are not in this matter proposing anything new, for the principle is the same as that upon which the sum of £63,000 has, for several years, been applied with certain limitations to contributions in regard to Government property. The limitations were, in effect, that the contributions were only to be made in the case of the Government property amounting to about one-sixth in value of the whole property of the parish, and that the contributions should only be made in proportion to that one-sixth, in respect of that portion of the rates which is expended in the bonâ fide relief of the poor. We propose to do two things. In the first place, we propose to do away with the limit of one-sixth, and to say that the Government contributions shall be given in all cases where the Government have any property in a parish; and next, we propose that they shall be given not only in aid of the poor rate proper, but in aid of the local rates generally. Then, the mode in which the payments are to be made will not be according to the discretion of the Treasury as heretofore. A Minute has been passed by the Treasury, and laid upon the Table of the House about a month ago in reference to this subject. It proposes that the payments should be made in the manner therein described, and that as soon as possible, a Return shall be completed and laid before Parliament, setting forth the name of every parish in which the Government occupies property, the rateable value of the parish, exclusive of such property, the value and character of such property, and any special Acts of Parliament which may be applicable to each case. With such a Return as that before them, Parliament will be able to exercise a sufficient control, and to hold the balance fairly between the two parties. Let the hon. Gentleman remember there are two parties in this case. There is, in point of fact, always a possible danger of what the hon. Gentleman is afraid of—namely, something in the nature of a job or of unfair expenditure of public money on the part of the Government. But, on the other hand, there is a much greater danger of the application of public money by local authorities unduly and unfairly; and what Parliament ought to be especially jealous of is, the application of this money, which is entrusted to the Treasury, in undue proportion in aid of any particular locality. However, with such lie-turns as those, and with the control which the Auditor General and hon. Members who take an interest in finance may exercise, there will really be little fear of the Government going astray. I think I have now answered all the questions that were put to me, and I can assure the hon. Member for Hackney, there is no fear that in voting this money we are going beyond the amount which Parliament has placed at our disposal in the present year.

said, that in order that there might be no misunderstanding on the subject, he wished to know whether he was correct in saying that the new Supplementary Estimates which it was proposed to discuss to-night amounted to £219,000 or £220,000? In other words, did the total of £220,000 now submitted to the Committee represent the new Supplementary Estimates in addition to the Supplementary Estimates which were voted before, and which amounted to about £160,000?

said, the only Supplementary Estimate already voted was for the Navy, and it amounted to £150,000. Another Estimate of £170,000 was proposed to the House, but it was withdrawn. That was the Vote which was now under discussion.

said, that therefore the total Supplementary Estimate amounted to £150,000 for the Navy and £220,000 to be proposed that evening, exclusive of what might be termed the Budget Supplementary Estimates—namely, those which were indicated to the Committee by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Speech. As he understood the matter, while there was on the one hand about £370,000 of additional expenditure of an Imperial character; on the other, there was a saving, if it could be called a saving, of about £330,000, which would be paid less in relief of local taxation than was anticipated at the time of the Budget. The ratepayers would receive £350,000 less than they were led to expect by the Budget Speech in respect of the police, and £20,000 less in respect of pauper lunatics. On the one hand, there was a certain increase in the Supplementary Estimates for Imperial purposes; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer had, from causes which he explained on a previous occasion, been able to save £350,000 of the sum which was to be devoted to the relief of local taxation. This saving had been effected by postponing the time when the relief would be given.

understood that the ratepayers would receive so much more in the next year. This was the point on which he required information.

said, the ratepayers would neither lose anything nor would they get next year a larger sum than was promised them this year. His right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in making his Financial Statement, endeavoured to make it clear that the intention of the Government was, that these additional contributions should be contributions for the financial year ending the 31st of March, 1875. It must be perfectly well known to his right hon. Friend opposite, that the amounts paid during a financial year did not necessarily represent the whole cost of that year. In point of fact, the police and the lunatics, to the expense of whose maintenance the Government intended to contribute, would be chargeable as from the 1st of April, 1874, but the whole of the accounts could not be paid during the financial year which ended on the 31st of March, 1875. The Government would pay as much as they could according to the arrangements of the local bodies. Nine months' accounts would be paid for the metropolis, and six months for the counties and boroughs. Of course, the Government could only ask for the amount which would come in course of payment during the current financial year.

wished that the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer would give some explanation on certain points in the Votes affecting Scotland? The Committee were called upon to vote £166,000 for the maintenance of pauper lunatics in England, and £56,000 for a similar purpose in Ireland. He did not perceive that there was any sum put down for the maintenance of pauper lunatics in Scotland. He feared that if some explanation was not given on this point, a misapprehension might arise in the North. As they were now discussing general matters in connection with the Votes, he thought that the most convenient time to ask for information.

called the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact, that the Vote before the Committee did not touch upon the question of pauper lunatics, and suggested that it would be better to postpone the question till the Vote relating to that matter came on for consideration.

said, he was obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his statement, and could assure him that though he had not the happiness to be in the House when the Financial Statement was made, he had carefully studied it since, and had understood from that study, that certain of these payments had been provided for. This year the Supplementary Estimates not mentioned in the Budget amounted to £370,000. Suppose, then, that everything connected with the financial condition of the country remained the same, what was the position in which we were placed? Everything had been run so extremely fine, that, taking into account these Supplementary Estimates, the surplus would be reduced to nothing. The Secretary of the Treasury had explained that we should not have to make all the payments for local charges in the present year, but all the responsibilities would be incurred. We should owe the money, and therefore he thought his contention was just—that in considering these Supplementary Estimates, we must bear in mind that our financial position was such that we should commence the financial year with a surplus of not more than £50,000 or £60,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in order to get his surplus of £450,000, had taken from his account Telegraph expenditure amounting to about £350,000. As he understood, the revenue from the Telegraphs would be £1,230,000, and the expenditure £930,000, leaving a surplus of £300,000, which, with another £100,000, would make a total of £400,000. When the revenue and the expenditure were so finely balanced it seemed to him that the proceedings of the Government were characterized by want of caution. They had credited themselves with a certain amount of revenue on Telegraphs account, and he (Mr. Fawcett) was informed that there were claims of between £4,000,000 and £5,000,000 under arbitration, which were made by the railway companies in consequence of extraordinary blunders committed when the telegraphs were bought by the Government. A considerable amount had been paid by the Government upon these claims, and he believed it was admitted a certain amount more would inevitably have to be paid; the arbitrators had not to consider whether anything should be paid, but only to assess the sums that should be paid. That being the case, there seemed to him to be a want of caution in not reserving a single sixpence in order to meet the possible results of that claim. In voting large sums of money in aid of local rates from Imperial funds, he felt they were doing an extremely perilous thing, not only on financial grounds, but also on the grounds which influenced those who were now represented by the Government in rejecting the rating Bill of last year because the whole subject of local Government had not been considered. They were now making grants from Imperial funds to local rates, and common prudence required that they should take additional security for the economical expenditure of the money which was thus given. He would not trouble the Committee to divide; but he trusted the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not think he had occupied time unnecessarily.

said, it was desirable that some one should recall the exact figures. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, estimated that the expenditure on account of local rates would be £1,010,000, and he now found it would be £704,000, leaving a balance of £306,000. Therefore, with that Supplemental Estimate, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was still within a few thousand pounds of his original Estimate; and according to these figures the hon. Member for Hackney was wrong. [Mr. FAWCETT said, he spoke of next year.] They had to do with this; the statement made was, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had reduced his estimated surplus to a sum of £50,000; that was not the case, and the estimated surplus still remained. The claims of the railway companies with regard to telegraphs had been known for years; they had been before the Committee on Public Accounts; and when the money was paid, it would go to capital, and not to revenue account. By the first Telegraphs Act, the expenditure was limited; by a second, an additional £1,000,000 was granted; and it might be necessary by another Act, still further to increase the capital; but the amount of the claims named by the hon. Member for Hackney was higher than he had before heard it stated. The question of local taxation had been fully considered and discussed. The principle of relieving it had been debated ever since 1839; and it was adopted in the Police Bill of 1856, on the unanimous recommendation of the Committee of 1853. The allocation now proposed did not affect the surplus which was estimated in the Budget speech—they were dealing with savings realized, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer had to the good what covered the Supplemental Estimates.

said, the claims of the railway companies respecting telegraphs were transmitted to the late Government by their Predecessors, and therefore he was surprised to have heard that these claims had arisen suddenly. He pointed out to the Committee, at the time of purchase, that the same right of telegraphy was being paid for four times over; but such was the excessive desire to acquire the telegraphs at any cost, that there appeared to be perfect blindness on this point, and he divided the Committee several times only to find himself in a minority of 1. As regarded the aid to local rates, he wished to know what the ratepayers would have to pay this year, whether the same rates, less £600,000, or less £300,000?

The intention of the Government in the proposal made was this—that relief should be given to the local ratepayers from the commencement of the Imperial financial year—the 1st of April, 1874, for a certain amount. That relief would, of course, be given in the form in which the Government subsidies have been always paid. Taking the case of the police as an example, where in former periods we paid one-fourth, we now propose to pay one-half. That one-half will be paid in respect of expenditure incurred by the locality in the year commencing the 1st of April, 1874. But the time when these payments are made varies in different cases. In some cases they are paid twice in the year. In these cases—those of counties and boroughs—the first payment will fall within the financial year ending 1874–75; the second payment will fall just after the termination of the financial year 1874–75. The amount which the ratepayers will receive will be precisely the amount which was intended to be given them by the Government when the Financial Statement was made; and as to the effect upon the Imperial finances of the year, it will not affect to the full extent the financial year ending the 31st of March, 1875. The amount which will be paid to the ratepayers will be precisely what was promised; it will be paid at the time at which they are accustomed to receive it; and the charge upon the Imperial revenue will be precisely the same in the end. The hon. Member for Hackney says—"We are told you will leave a surplus; but remember you are drawing a bill upon next year." Exactly; that is just what we are doing, but to what extent? According to the calculations I have given to the House—which are moderate, for I have omitted something I expect to receive from another direction—we estimate a surplus for the present year of £400,000. Supposing, therefore, there is no improvement in the Revenue, we shall next year have a surplus of £400,000 to start with, against claims to the amount of £540,000; and I think I am justified in relying on the normal increase of the Revenue to make up the deficiency. With regard to the Telegraphs, that subject certainly seems to be, with some hon. Gentlemen, a skeleton in the closet. We really know very little about it; but a decision lately given in the Court of Exchequer, with regard to what is known as the Isle of Wight case, has very materially relieved the Government, and when the net result is arrived at, I believe the apprehensions entertained will be found very much exaggerated. At all events, it would be absurd, and quite out of the question, to ask the Committee to reserve a of millions with a view to meet such a contingency. I believe the Government has taken a wise course in considering what the expenditure ought to be, and what the income of the country is likely to be, and then remitting as much taxation as they could. That course, I believe, will be found to be, on the whole, beneficial to the taxpayers of the country.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £15,000, Supplementary sum, Post Office and Inland Revenue Buildings.

said, he wished to say a few words on the subject of Post Office telegraphs, which was the next Vote proposed. They were asked to vote about £50,000 for the maintenance of Post Office telegraphs and constructions. He was desirous of knowing how much of these allowances was chargeable to capital and how much to revenue? After quoting certain figures, the hon. Gentleman declared that the whole accounts were in a state of chaos, and that there was no means of ascertaining what was capital and what was revenue. In the present Vote, £7,000 was charged for ordinary maintenance and repairs that were plainly chargeable against revenue. He believed that the telegraph service, if the accounts were properly stated, as between revenue and capital, never did pay one shilling of revenue, and would not do so for some years.

said, the hon. Gentleman was perfectly correct when he said the sum of £7,000 should be charged against revenue. By the Re-solution of the late Government, all new works and all charges of whatever description were to be charged against revenue. That particular Vote, however, had been omitted in the preparation of the Estimates for the current year. It was decided by the late Government that the new works, alterations, and maintenance of Telegraph buildings should be undertaken by the Office of Works, and they made the present estimate; but owing to some misconception, it was not presented in March, and was not included in the charges for the year. The Telegraph account was not now before the Committee; but when the Vote was in the Chairman's hands, he should be happy to give any explanation that might be required.

Vote agreed to.

(3.) £35,600, Supplementary sum, New Buildings for County Courts, &c.

said, he would like to ask the hon. Gentleman, if it were a fact that in England, the whole cost of the County Courts was paid by the Government; and, if that were so, if he could explain how it was that in Scotland the County Courts had to be paid for by the localities? One-half was allowed by the Government, and the other half had to be paid by the localities. Surely, there ought not to be such disparity in such a matter as that.

said, that undoubtedly in England the whole charge for County Court buildings, whore these were Government property, fell on the Government; but, on the other hand, all fees paid in County Courts wont to the Imperial Exchequer. In Scotland the County Courts were not of the same character as in England. County Courts in England were for purely judicial business. The Courts were Courts of Justice where trials where conducted under the direction of a Judge appointed by the Lord Chancellor. County Courts in Scotland were places where the business of the county was conducted. [Mr. ANDERSON: Sheriff Courts.] The cost is borne in England by the Imperial Exchequer but all the fees are paid in there.

The hon. Gentleman is not aware that the Sheriff Courts in Scotland have a wider jurisdiction than the County Courts in England. They have criminal jurisdiction, which the County Courts have not, and that is an additional reason why the cost should be paid by the State.

said, the hon. Gentleman had answered himself. The Sheriff Courts were used for local at well as Imperial purposes. These were analogous to the quarter sessions and petty sessions in England, the costs of which were borne by the localities. He would add that an Act of Parliament laid down the proportion to be paid out of Imperial and local funds for the Sheriff Courts which were used for both purposes.

repeated that the Sheriff Courts had criminal jurisdiction as well as civil, which the County Courts had not.

said, that the counties in England defrayed the expense of the petty session and quarter session buildings.

Vote agreed to.

(4.) £13,800, Supplementary sum, Constructing certain Harbours, &c.

inquired what steps the Government proposed to take with regard to Dover Harbour?

said, that the only sum asked for this year for Dover Harbour was £2,050 to pay the salaries of certain officials. That sum had no connection with the harbour works. When the present Government came into office they found a scheme for extending the harbour, which had been approved by the late Government, involving an expenditure of £970,000. The Government did not think it right to adopt so considerable a plan without due consideration. A vote of £10,000 on account had been taken last year, but no portion of it had been expended by the present Government, and the money had been surrendered to the Exchequer. The Government had under its consideration a similar scheme to that of the late Government, and although no decision had been come to, it was very possible some similar measure would be proposed next year. But nothing would be done without giving the House an opportunity of coming to a decision.

Vote agreed to.

(5.) £2,225, Supplementary sum, Lighthouses Abroad.

(6.) £166,000, Supplementary sum, Local Government Board.

said, he would like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for an explanation of the fact that there was no Vote for Scotland? They were asked to vote a sum of £166,000 as a contribution for the maintenance of pauper lunatics in England, and £56,000 for Ireland, and he feared that, unless some explanation were given of the cause which induced the Government to refrain from asking a Vote for Scotland, there would be some misapprehension in the North, and he desired to avoid that. He understood it was intended that a Vote should be allowed for Scotland, calculated on the same principle as that for England, and dating from the same time. If that were the case, the half-year's payment for pauper lunatics would be due to the parochial authorities in Scotland at the same time as in England. But he had understood from remarks by the right hon. Gentleman, that it was not usual to pay contributions of this kind to Scotland more than once in a year. He could see no good reason why Scotland in that instance should be an exception, seeing that contributions of this kind were altogether new. He asked therefore that the payment should be made to Scotland at the same time as to England. Another inquiry, and one which he regarded as of greater importance than the date at which the contribution would become due, was this—the right hon. Gentleman was quite aware that there was considerable diversity in the practice as to the mode of treatment of pauper lunatics in England and Scotland; and the practice as established in Scotland was deemed by eminent medical authorities in Scotland, and by most eminent psychologists, to be the best for promoting the recovery and comfort of patients. It was therefore desirable that this mode of practice should not be disturbed or interfered with in any way. Those who administered the statutes regarding the maintenance of pauper lunatics in Scotland wished to be allowed to follow hereafter that course of treatment which they had hitherto followed. They desired that the sums allocated to Scotland should be granted without interfering with that mode. It was therefore proposed that instead of paying the sum as in England, that paid in Scotland should be handed over to the Lunacy Boards of the several counties, in order that the parochial authorities might receive each their share without reference to the place in which the lunatics might be maintained. He could bring abundant evidence to support this application, but he did not believe anything he could do would alter the decision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He merely wished now that the matter should be explained.

cordially agreed in supporting the application. He ventured to hope that time would be given to allow the people of Scotland to express an opinion on the subject. It was desirable to allow patients to remain in poor-houses or at farm-houses, where the mode of treatment was preferable to that in largo asylums.

agreed that there was a strong feeling in Scotland on the subject, and was quite sure from the attention which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had always given to Scotch subjects, that the remarks of the hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. Ramsay) on that head were uncalled for, and might be liable to misconstruction.

explained that what he meant was, he could add nothing here to what he had told the Chancellor of the Exchequer privately.

said, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that he did not put any adverse construction on the remarks of the hon. Member for Falkirk (Mr. Ramsay). With reference to the first question, the hon. Member had himself supplied the answer. There was no Vote proposed for Scotland in this Estimate, the reason being that his right hon. Friend at the head of the Local Government Board having made inquiries, was informed that the proper and convenient time would be to pay at the period when the Scotch make up their accounts, and that was on the 15th of May, and therefore the sum would not come in the course of payment in the present financial year. There was no question that the Vote would be submitted next year, and that payment would be made on the same principle as in Ireland. Whether there might be a change made in the future as to that time—the time of payment to Scotland—was a subject he could not venture on now. In the present arrangements, which were of a temporary character, they had desired to disturb as little as possible the ordinary course of things as they found them, and they had made their arrangements accordingly. A sum of about £35,000 would, however, have to be provided for Scotland to put it on the same footing as England and Ireland. With regard to distributing the grant in Scotland on a somewhat different principle from that adopted in England, as desired by the hon. Gentleman, the arguments adduced on that point by many of the Scotch Representatives whom he had seen were not without weight, and it might be well worthy of consideration whether in future some different arrangements could not be made regarding it; but for the present year, he was not disposed to encourage the introduction of that system. Anything that they did in that matter involved consequences and laid down precedents of which it was not easy to see the ulti- mate result, and it would be time enough to consider the matter when they came to the Vote next year. In Scotland, no doubt, they had to consider the different classes of lunatic asylums, and make provision for a class which did not come within the category of the English asylums—namely, the parochial asylums, which came properly within the scope of that Vote. But when they were asked to go beyond that, and make provision for lunatics in fatuous wards and also in private residences, very difficult questions arose. Questions might arise between one locality and another; and if they distributed the grant through the Commissioners in Lunacy according to principles they might adopt, which included paupers in fatuous wards and other places, those counties which were now reckoning on getting the whole would only get a portion of that Vote. The questions involved were difficult and delicate, and required to be carefully considered before they adopted a final system with regard to the matter. No doubt, a simple plan could be devised to meet the case. It must be borne in mind that the rates of contribution ought not to be the same, because in some cases there was a much lower weekly payment than in others. Boards of Guardians with regard to some of these institutions were responsible for the control and expenditure; whereas in other cases, the patients were taken entirely out of their hands, and they had nothing at all to do with the expenditure. The House might adopt the principle of paying a certain proportion—half, or what they pleased—of the cost of a lunatic; but that principle the Government were loth to adopt, as they were afraid it might lead to extravagance. They preferred the principle of the capitation grant to it. He trusted that the Committee would agree at the present moment to the view of the matter taken by the Government.

found that, from an excessive desire not to detain the Committee, he had not made himself properly understood. He did not intend to ask that the Vote for Scotland should be made upon any other principle than that which the right hon. Gentleman had laid down as applicable to England. His object was to secure that the system of treatment which was adopted, and which was considered the best, should not be interfered with by any decision the right hon. Gentleman might come to regarding the mode of payment in Scotland. He begged to state that the Board of Lunacy in Scotland had a record, or rather a register, of the names of all the pauper lunatics, and the number of days they were maintained by the parish, and they had therefore a complete control over the expenditure which was incurred on account of each pauper lunatic—as to his dietary and mode of treatment.

pointed out that the principle on which lunatics of different classes should be dealt with was equally important in England and Scotland, and hoped that no system would be adopted in either country which would militate against the adoption of the most perfect form of treatment.

said, he would have liked to know whether the experiment of the Government was to be confined to the mere apportionment of the grants; because, if so, as far as he could see, the scheme could not be carried out consistently with the curative treatment which had been so successful in Scotland.

Vote agreed to.

(7.) £4,500, Supplementary sum, Mint.

(8.) £55,692, Pauper Lunatics, Ireland.

(9.) £155,200, Supplementary sum, Metropolitan Police.

asked, why the metropolitan police was dealt with differently to the county and borough police, by giving a quarter of the actual expenditure incurred? The Vote was for nine months, and was equal to £206,000 for the year. The county and borough Vote was for £160,000, or £320,000 for the year. The Government was about to give £206,000 for a population of about 3,000,000, and only £320,000 for a population of 20,000,000. It was giving an immense advantage to the metropolis, that had already got so many advantages over the country generally.

complained that, as there were three periods for making up the police accounts for the country, Scotland would be a great loser on this occasion.

said, that the principle on which the metropolitan police were paid had long since been laid down by law. They were much more under the immediate control of the Home Office than the county or borough police were.

Vote agreed to.

(10.) £160,000, Supplementary sum, Police in Counties and Boroughs (England and Wales).

said, that unless in Scotland they received some contribution in aid of the police in respect of the period between 26th March and the 15th May, they certainly would not get a contribution of equal amount to that which would be given for England, and he would therefore suggest that the same allowance ought to be made for Scotland in respect of those 50 clays which was made for this country. He could see no reason why one country should be treated differently to the other. In Scotland they paid the same taxes as in England, and in all other respects contributed in an equal degree to the national Exchequer; and if his present demand was not acceded to, he should feel inclined to resist the Vote.

said, the matter should receive the fullest consideration on the part of the Government, and that any practicable concession that the justice of the case might be found to require, would be granted.

said, there should be a detailed statement of the amounts to be contributed out of the Consolidated Fund to the local rates.

said, it would be contained in the elaborate Returns that had been moved for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract.

considered the statement of the hon. Member (Mr. W. H. Smith) conveyed an unsatisfactory assurance. They ought to have an assurance that the money would be paid, and unless it were given, he must again say he should resist the Vote.

said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would probably be able to give a more distinct answer on the Report.

thought it would be impossible to make the arrangement proposed this year, as it would interfere with the Esti- mates, but next year the question could be more fully considered.

was of opinion that the same rule ought to apply to the whole of the United Kingdom.

said, England was to be paid in this Vote for four extra days, and why should not Scotland be paid for the 50 days?

Vote agreed to.

(11.) £7,523, Supplementary sum, Miscellaneous Legal Charges, Ireland.

complained that the county of Cork, which was the largest in Ireland, was not placed in the list in the appointment of its chairman of quarter sessions as a first-class county, and that the chairmen of other smaller counties, such as Kilkenny, Monaghan, and Armagh had larger salaries, which was, he thought, a great injustice. He also wished to draw attention especially to the meagre payment vouchsafed to clerks of the peace in the county, the result of which was that when an able man was found there, he was generally removed from the county as a reward for his merits.

agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman as to the chairman of quarter sessions in the West Riding of the county of Cork being entitled to rank in the first class, but the present was not the time to raise the question. It could not fail, however, to be taken into consideration hereafter.

, although he usually distrusted any proposal to increase the salaries of officials in Ireland, thought that it would only be an act of justice to place the chairman of the division in question in the first class.

Vote agreed to.

(12.) £3,068, Supplementary sum, British Museum.

(13.) Supplementary sum, National Gallery.

said, he had understood the Prime Minister to promise a statement on this Vote, as to the purchase of a picture to which he (Mr. Hankey) called attention some time ago. He wished now to ask, under what circumstances pictures were bought? Although the Director had a duty to perform in bringing under the notice of the Government such pictures as it was desirable the nation should acquire, yet it was very properly on the responsibility of the Prime Minister that the pictures were bought. It would be well, however, that the right hon. Gentleman should consult the Trustees, comprising as they did men of eminence in society, such as Lord Overstone, Sir William James, Mr. Gregory, and others. A statement had been published that the picture to which he had referred was trash, but the right hon. Gentleman said it was one of rare merit, and congratulated the country on its possession. In fact, the opinion of Mr. Robertson did not appear to be generally shared, and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman was correct in his view. That was the only opportunity afforded to hon. Members for considering the condition of national pictures, and therefore he desired to call attention to the disgraceful state of two great works of art in the long gallery of the House of Lords, painted by Mr. Maclise, which were now rotting away and peeling off the walls.

pointed out that in a Vote of that kind the hon. Gentleman was out of Order in alluding to the condition of pictures in the House of Lords.

said, he was sorry if he was out of Order, as he could not on any other occasion allude to the matter. He hoped that some means would be adopted for stopping the further progress of decay, and in that view would request the Commissioner of Works to take the opinion, during the Recess, of men of taste as to the condition of those pictures.

again called the hon. Member to Order, and informed him that the subject under consideration was the pictures in the National Gallery, and not those in the Houses of Parliament.

My hon. Friend opposite is labouring under several misconceptions. In the first place, he is labouring under a misconception, when he supposes I said I would make a statement with respect to the purchase of these pictures. A statement was made by my hon. Friend, to the effect that one of the pictures out of several was worthless, and I expressed a contrary opinion. No doubt, when the sub- ject comes before us, it is the duty of the Government to give any information I that may be required. The next misconception is to suppose that the pictures are bought on the responsibility and under the direction of the Chief Minister. Nothing of the kind. The House allows £10,000 a-year for the purchase of pictures, and that sum is expended according to the judgment of the Director of the National Gallery—a post which has been filled by very eminent men and is now filled by a gentleman only recently promoted to it by the late Government, but who is in every way fitted to discharge its duties. The Director has the advantage of consulting the Trustees of the National Gallery; they are his council, and whenever he has an opportunity of purchasing pictures it is his duty to consult his council, which consists of gentlemen appointed by the Government of the day. The Director, however, is not bound by their advice, any more than the Secretary of State for India is bound by the advice of his Council. He has usually the power of purchasing up to £10,000 a-year on his own responsibility. Some four or five years ago, however, the National Gallery purchased the collection of the late Sir Robert Peel for £75,000. It was a most valuable collection—a most desirable purchase for the Government to make. I believe, if sold by public auction, it would have fetched, I will not say double that sum, but a sum much more considerable than that paid for it. The pictures are all of the highest class of the school to which they belong, and are a great addition to the national collection. But then the Government who wisely made that purchase, made an arrangement which I did not approve at the time. They did not quite make up their minds to buy this collection at once for £75,000, which I humbly submit it was their duty to have done, but said they would mortgage the £10,000 a-year which is given to the Trustees of the National Gallery for the purchase of pictures, until the £75,000 was paid off. The consequence was, that of late years the Trustees of the National Gallery and their Director have made very few purchases for the nation, and whenever they do, they have to come to Parliament. Of course, when they come to Parliament, the Prime Minister is responsible, for it is upon his judgment and decision that they determine whether they shall make the purchase or not. This year and last year the National Gallery was denuded of funds. Then there came to the hammer a collection well known to the curious, the collection of Mr. Barker, containing pictures of a peculiar character, and an opportunity was given to the nation of obtaining specimens of art of a rare character, such as probably would never occur again. Under these circumstances, the Director of the National Gallery, feeling the responsibility of allowing such an opportunity to be lost to the country, made strong representations to the Government that, notwithstanding the arrangement made at the time of the purchase of Sir Robert Peel's collection, they ought to consider the circumstances and come to a decision in favour of purchasing. Of course, the Government adopted every possible means of making themselves acquainted with the circumstances of the case, and they came to the resolution that it was their duty to take the responsibility of purchasing a certain number of the pictures before the public. These were all pictures by early Italian masters—the great masters of the "Renaissance;" they were fine specimens of masters very difficult to obtain. I think there were 12 pictures—some say 14, for one was in three compartments; but they were all specimens, as I have said, of very early Italian masters, and, I think, specimens of the highest class. One of these pictures, by Piero della Francesca, fetched a considerable sum, and the country purchased it with the full consent of the Government, under the advice of the Director, who is quite competent to fill the responsible post he occupies. The House is acquainted with the fact that there were attacks in the public journals, by an individual, very much decrying that picture, saying that it was of no value, that it was entirely repainted, and that the country had made a bad purchase. It was in consequence of that, that my hon. Friend addressed a Question to me in this House to which I responded by expressing what was my opinion, and what still is the opinion of Her Majesty's Government on the subject. There is a story, which is quite authentic, of the Great Napoleon, who was always thinking of fame and posterity. He one day asked Baron Denon how long a picture would last, for at the time, he was speculating on all the ways by which a man's name and fame might be best perpetuated. Baron Denon said a picture might last for 500 years, at which the great Emperor scoffed, expressed his contempt for a fame which would last only 500 years, and would not entrust his recollection to that branch of Art. But I would remind the Committee that the picture which has been called in question is a picture of nearly 500 years. It was painted at the beginning of the 15th century, and we are now near the end of the 19th. Of course, in paintings of this kind you do not expect technical perfection. You purchase them for their sentiment, their design, their powerful expression, and for their originality. This picture is described as a corpus vile—I will not say by an anonymous writer, for his name was always signed, but by a volunteer critic. It was described as a corpus vile, void of all feeling, and was denounced as a picture which had been entirely re-painted, and it was said that no portion of the original was extant. The answer could be given by many hon. Gentlemen present, for it has been now for some time exhibited in the National Gallery, and before that, many hon. Gentlemen must have seen it in the rooms of Messrs. Christie and Manson. It is one of those pictures so peculiar that there is no one who sees it for the first time, whether he be artist, connoisseur, or one of the uncultured crowd, but must feel involuntary admiration and even enthusiasm for its Idyllic grace, delicacy, and beauty. It so happened when these attacks were made upon this picture—as the truth always comes out—that there was furnished to the Government by a most accomplished lady, a memorandum made by Sir Charles Eastlake when he was in Italy, and saw this picture on its being offered for sale. Sir Charles Eastlake admired it so much that he intended to purchase it, and, thinking he had done so, he pursued his journey in Italy. When he returned to Florence he claimed the picture, but found that Mr. Barker had seen it in the meantime and tempted the owner with a higher price, who we must charitably suppose misconceived the nature of the contract, and parted with it to Mr. Barker. But we have the description of the picture by Sir Charles Eastlake in 1861. It was painted on vertical panels; the panels were warped and greatly disjointed; and so it would have been totally impossible to re-paint the picture. Therefore, all that had been done to the picture in the way of modern restoration must have been during the 12 or 13 years which have elapsed since 1861. The fact is that the vertical panels have been put again in form, joined together, and what is called "masked," and that a portion of no great importance has been painted over, the same portion that has been restored. But I believe the great body of the picture has been painted by Piero della Francesca. Indeed, that, I think, can be proved. I may add that the description I have given of this picture as being a picture painted upon panels is applicable to some of the chefs d'æuvre of the galleries of Europe, and many of them have been treated in the same manner as this. Allowing for the natural result of time, the picture is really in excellent condition. It must be that many hon. Gentlemen who hear me have seen it, and can speak of it for themselves; and all those whose opinions on such subjects ought to influence us must, I am sure, regard it as one of the most exquisite specimens of one of the rarest artists that exists. As to the price, I would merely observe that, although it cost £2,400, it must be borne in mind that when we buy works of art we must consider whether they be first-rate works, and not consider price. The country ought to purchase all the best works of art, as far as possible, whether they be pictures, statues, or gems. No private collectors would hesitate to take that course, knowing that the prices which they give for such works would, in the long run, more than remunerate them. It was quite impossible, therefore, for the Government, when they made up their mind that the picture should be purchased, to hesitate about giving a sum of £1,500 or £1,600 more or less. And how was it purchased? It was purchased under all the strictness of competition with the agents of many foreign galleries, and with only an advance of £50 on the sum which had been offered by a competitor. The purchase has, therefore, been made by the country under the most legitimate circumstances. It includes specimens of Benvenuto di San Georgio, Carlo Crivelli, the great name of Piero della Fran- cesca, Luca Signorelli, who was one of his pupils; Pinturiechio, and Botticelli. Those are masters whose works it must be admitted will he a great addition to our Gallery, which was not sufficiently strong in specimens of their style. I have only further to add that, although fierce attacks have been made on the national collection—a very reckless assertion was made on the subject in The Times newspaper (I do not say by The Times itself) as to its being unequal and being vamped up in a very illegitimate manner—I have the highest authority for saying that no other collection in Europe containing so many pictures as the National Gallery of England is characterized by so much intactness. I hope, therefore, the House will sanction the course which, under the circumstances, the Government have deemed it to be their duty to take, the National Gallery having no funds. We made the purchase believing it was made wisely and discreetly, and in the belief that the mere value of these pictures will be found to exceed the price which has been given for them.

Vote agreed to.

(14.) £1,000, Sub-Wealden Exploration.

asked what were the special circumstances which had induced the Government to give this sum?

said, that while he was of opinion that great caution should be exercised in such matters, he thought the House would approve the course which had been taken by the Government in the present instance. In the course of the inquiry of the Royal Commission which had been appointed to examine into the supply of coals, it had been ascertained that there was reason to suppose that a vein of coal which was found in Belgium might probably underlie the Weald of the South-east of England. The Commission therefore recommended that some investigation should be made into the subject. One of the associations had consequently visited Sussex, and a spot was selected at Netherfield, near Battle, for the purpose of proving the question. At that place, boring had taken place, and had been carried on to the depth of 1,000 feet, at a cost of £3,000, provided by private subscription. The work however had proved to be heavier and more costly than was anticipated, and far advanced as it was, would have to be abandoned, unless it was assisted in some way. It had at the same time been reported to the Government that all that had been done was consistent with the theory on which the work had originally been undertaken, and that coal might be found at a lower stratum. The Government having communicated with several gentlemen of high scientific knowledge on the matter, and deeming the experiment to be worth trying, and that it had a national character, had thought it their duty to make the present proposal. The amount of the Vote was to be applied in the proportion of £100 for every 100 feet advanced.

said, he also supported the Vote as being a national experiment which might be productive of the best possible results. It appeared probable that when the boring had been carried 100 or 200 feet further, it being now already pushed below the Oxford clay, the object which scientific men had in making it would be ascertained. Those men, however, out of whose pockets the £3,000 already expended had come, had exhausted their resources, and the experiment would have to be abandoned, if the Government did not come, to the rescue. The expenditure of the public money proposed was, therefore, in his opinion, under the circumstances, a good one, and it would be a pity if the enterprize were relinquished for want of funds.

thanked the Government for making the grant. The exploration had been started and carried on partly by a very public spirited man in Brighton—Mr. Willett—who had not the smallest pecuniary interest in the matter, aided by others, who had done everything they could to avoid such an appeal as the present, and whose efforts must cease unless they received assistance. The experiment was of the utmost scientific value, although no coal might be discovered. He did not think the most ardent friend of economy could blame the Government for carrying out the experiment.

said, he did not make any objection to the Vote, but had thought it desirable that the Govern- ment should have an opportunity of stating the circumstances.

Vote agreed to.

(15.) £5,000, Supplementary sum, Temporary Commissions.

(16.) £800, Supplementary sum, Miscellaneous expenses.

said, he thought this was an extraordinary charge and required further explanation than was given in the Parliamentary Papers. It appeared that the Duke of Abercorn on his appointment to his present office had to pay a stamp duty of £1,000, whereas his Predecessor had to pay a stamp duty only of £200, and the Government proposed to pay the difference of £800. He should like to know why the Puke of Abercorn was to be treated differently from other persons who received a valuable appointment, and who had to pay a stamp duty in proportion to the value of their appointment.

said, that under the old Stamp Duties Act certain duties were charged upon various public appointments, and at the time the last Lord Lieutenant of Ireland was appointed the amount of stamp duties payable in respect of that office was about £200. In 1870, the Stamp Acts were revised and a duty at the rate of 5 per cent upon the salary attached to an office was imposed upon the person who was appointed to the office. That enactment came rather suddenly upon certain classes of appointments. As to the case of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and perhaps he might add that of the Governor General of India, though their nominal salaries were very considerable, yet in point of fact, the amount of remuneration which they actually received was by no means in proportion to the amount of their salaries. It appeared to be an oversight of Parliament, that the full gross salaries in these cases were taken as the units of taxation, and as a practical injustice seemed to be committed in the case of the stamp duty pabable by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Government felt that a sum of £800 should be voted to defray the amount of stamp duty which had become payable under the new Stamp Act by the Lord Lieutenant in excess of the amount payable by his Predecessor.

said, he did not object to the Vote, but he thought it would be better if the matter were placed on a legal footing. A great many of the fines, under the disguise of fees and stamps, imposed on the acceptance of office seemed to him to be a mistake. Some years ago, a Committee, of which his right hon. Friend the Member for the City (Mr. Goschen) was Chairman, was appointed to consider the matter; but owing to a change of Government nothing was done, and he suggested whether the inquiry might not be taken up now and carried out.

said, that it was unjust that persons when appointed to an office which they might hold for a short time should have to pay a large stamp duty. When he was appointed on a previous occasion to the office he now held, he had to pay in stamp duty the same amount as if he had been appointed to an office which he could hold for life, and he held office only for a few days, the Government having within that time after, resigned.

thought that military officers ought to be exempted from such a tax.

said, that was a subject well worthy of the attention of the Government. He had long been of opinion that nothing could be more unworthy of a great country than to levy fines upon persons who received offices of dignity or emolument, or titles of honour.

was of opinion that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not shown why the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland should be treated exceptionally with reference to this stamp duty.

warned the Committee against believing that the Viceroys of Ireland invariably spent their £20,000 a-year in that country. There was a considerable amount of poetry in that statement; but he felt it due to the present Lord Lieutenant to say that public opinion did not point to him as one of those to whom these remarks applied.

said, it was the intention of the Government to institute a departmental inquiry, or an inquiry by Committee of the House of Commons, into this subject, as it affected all classes of public servants.

Vote agreed to.

(17.) £5,883, Marriage of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.

said, he perceived that the grant included the sum of £300 as a contribution towards illuminating Edinburgh. He should like to know why money for such a purpose was asked for in the case of Edinburgh, any more than in the cases of other large towns?

said, the item referred to was in no sense a contribution to Edinburgh on the marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh. The inhabitants agreed to illuminate all the public buildings belonging to the town. They asked the Government to illuminate all the public buildings belonging to the country, and accordingly £300 was expended for that purpose. He repeated that that was not a contribution to the City of Edinburgh, and he might add that as the £300 did not suffice to pay the cost of illuminating the Government buildings, it was supplemented from local sources.

Vote agreed to.

(18.) £4,404, Family of the late Dr. Livingstone, &c.

inquired, whether that Vote would supersede the necessity of granting £100 a-year to members of Dr. Livingstone's family? adding that he saw the proposal of that grant with pleasure.

replied that the present proposal was an addition to that grant.

asked, whether it was true that Dr. Livingstone had been buried at the expense of a wealthy merchant of the City of London?

said, the Treasury had at first promised to grant £250 for the funeral of Dr. Livingtone, that sum having been estimated to cover all expenses. It was afterwards found that a larger amount was required, and in informing the Government of the circumstance, the Geographical Society added that a wealthy merchant in the City offered to make up the difference, but the Treasury felt that to accept the offer would not be in accordance with the wishes of the country.

believed the Treasury had exercised a wise discretion in making an allowance to Dr. Living- stone's family. He was only sorry the sum was not larger.

Vote agreed to.

(19.) £71,500, Supplementary sum, Post Office Services, &c.

called attention to the various offices now included in the Post Office, and amongst them those of the Savings Banks and Telegraph, the latter of which, he was informed, was not productive of any profit. He considered that reform in the management of the Post Office departments ought to be effected, and that a Bill ought to be brought in to place them all under a Board with one head.

made an appeal to the Postmaster General on behalf of the provincial letter-carriers, whose salaries were very small, and totally inadequate as remuneration for their very laborious duties.

said, the position of the provincial letter-carriers would be taken into consideration with a view to a revision of the rate of pay.

asked if the same scale of increase would be applied to the letter-carriers of Edinburgh and Dublin as of London?

said, the amount asked for the salaries for suburban letter-carriers in London was £46,270 for the year, against £43,606 last year; and that the new scale of pay applied to Edinburgh and Dublin. In reply to Mr. GUILDERS,

said, it had been the practice that the sum paid for the acquisition of freehold land for the purpose of the Post Office should be carried to the account of that Department, while the cost of erecting the actual building should be carried to the account of the Office of Works.

Vote agreed to.

(20.) £37,687, Supplementary sum, Post Office Telegraph Service.

said, the sum was a very large one, and he wished to know why it had not been included in the original Estimate?

said, it was owing to a change in the system of accounts, which had only recently been introduced, and which he thought was a very desirable one. Until that year it had been the custom to charge the amount of the annuities payable to the servants of the late telegraph companies to capital account; but as that was thought an objectionable arrangement, it was necessary that a Supplementary Estimate should be prepared.

wished to know how much the Chancellor of the Exchequer had taken credit for under the head of telegraph revenue in his Financial statement?

could not give the precise figures, but he was informed that the amount of business that was being done was largely in excess of that done last year, and that there was at present no reason to fear that the estimate which was given to him for the telegraph revenues for this year would not be realized.

said, that taking last month, there were 200,000 more telegrams despatched and received than were despatched and received during the corresponding month of 1873, a gratifying proof of the immense development of this particular branch of the Post Office system.

said, that in 1873–4 there were 268 officers of the old companies in receipt of annuities, whereas in 1874–5 there were only 185, the amount asked for in the former year being £25,000, as against £12,500 asked for in the present year. He wished to know whether that difference in the number of officers was owing to their having been absorbed into the service, or to their having commuted?

said, the difference in the numbers was chiefly owing to the persons referred to having commuted, and the cost of such commutation had been charged to capital account.

Vote agreed to.

On Motion, "That the Chairman report the Resolutions to the House,"

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to state what portion of the remission of taxation which had been made in the course of the Session would take effect this year?

said, he scarcely understood the question of the hon. Member. The remission of the sugar duties and of the licence duty on horses came into operation at once, and that of the income tax of course covered the whole of the financial year.

Motion agreed to.

House resumed; Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.