HC Deb 20 April 1849 vol 104 cc537-40

moved— That 350,000l. be granted on account towards defraying the charge for Wages to Artificers, Labourers, and others, employed in Her Majesty's establishments at home.


objected to the principle of obtaining votes on account, believing it to be unconstitutional to do so. There was no plea for the adoption of such a course as there was last year, when a Committee on the Navy Estimates was sitting. It was peculiarly desirable at present that they should have a discussion on these items, as they would now have the advantage of an explanation from the hon. Secretary for the Admiralty, which would not be the case in a short time, as it was understood that he had accepted a high colonial appointment. Under these circumstances, he should protest against their taking this vote on account.


wished to know what proportion of the whole vote was now proposed to be taken? He agreed with the hon. Member for Lewes, that the system of taking votes on account was most objectionable, and he trusted that this would be the last occasion of resorting to anything of the kind. As he understood the matter, the present vote on account was asked for, as it was extremely desirable that the question before the House last night should be settled.


said, that it was not proposed to take one half of the estimate on account in any case. He did not wish to shrink' from any discussion, and should be very happy to give every explanation.


did not object to the vote on account on the ground urged, but he did so because he believed some of the estimates wore capable of very considerable reduction. His own opinion was, that in Votes 8 and 10 reductions might be made to the extent of one half.


did not believe that those votes could be reduced that amount without great detriment to the public service.


observed, that the real meaning of taking these votes on account was the adjourned debate of last night, and the arrangement of business which had been made for next week. Early in the Session the House voted a portion of the Exchequer-bills on the Committee on Ways and Means. He was very unwilling to pursue any other than the ordinary course; and that they should, as soon as possible, vote the remainder of the Exchequer-bills, as was the usual proceeding. If the debate of last night had not been adjourned, it was intended to have taken the discus- sion on the Navy estimates, as it was necessary that some money should be advanced.


said, that he felt imperatively called upon to observe that there never was a time at which, on many accounts—especially considering how the eyes of other nations were upon us, and also considering the distress that existed among us—it was incumbent on the House to exert their most earnest endeavours in order to effect every possible reduction of expenditure in every department. He said this, as would be easily conceived, not from any sympathy with the sentiments of "liberal" agitators or political economists, or from any desire to advance their extravagant demands, but he thought the House were more than ordinarily bound to avail themselves of every opportunity of sifting to the utmost each item of expenditure. Surely, under such circumstances, it was unfortunate that these votes should be proposed at a conjuncture when they could not be discussed; and it would have been far better to have taken such a course as would permit a proper consideration of them, more particularly as the debate, to promote which the discussion of these votes was to be waved, had a close connexion with the subject of reductions on expenditure, seeing that an extraordinary measure was to be proposed for supplying the deficiencies in our revenue. He was unwilling to do anything to impede the public business, but he believed that it was unnecessary to press these votes in the way proposed; if, therefore, his hon. Friend the Member for Lewes persisted in pressing his objection to the proposal of Her Majesty's Government, he should feel compelled to support him.


remarked, that it would have been far more convenient for the Government to have gone on with the Navy estimates that evening, and his hon. Friend the Secretary of the Admiralty had been quite ready to do so, but this could not be done in consequence of the adjourned debate. The right hon. Gentleman himself admitted that some of these particular votes would have led to considerable discussion. The question, then, which they had to consider was, whether they should be able to resume the debate, and divide on it that night if they had taken the Navy Estimates first. If they had taken the discussion on the estimates, the probability was that there would be another adjournment of the debate, which could not be resumed for a week; this would have been attended with much inconvenience. Although he agreed in the principle of the objections as a general practice, still peculiar circumstances, such as existed in the present case, might justify them in resorting to such a course.


suggested, whether it would not be a more judicious course for the Government to take a vote of Exchequer-bills in Committee of Supply.


said, that would not put off the evil day. He admitted the course they now proposed was inconvenient, but it was the least inconvenient of any open to the Government.


considered the whole course of voting money on account was an extremely inconvenient and objectionable one. Why should not the estimates have been brought forward at an early period of the Session? The Government might have done so before Easter, when they had plenty of opportunity of doing so. They were getting into the system of postponing the consideration of the estimates to August, when they were smuggled through the House. If the hon. Member for Lewes should persist in resisting this course of proceeding, the Government would find that the present would be the last time that it would be allowed to take place.


had no wish to impede public business after the explanation of the noble Lord at the head of the Government; he, therefore, would not press his objection.

The vote was then agreed to, as were the following votes on account:—

350,000l. for Naval Stores for the building, repair, and outfit of the fleet, &c.

500,000l. for Half-pay to Officers of the Navy and Royal Marines.

200,000l. for Military Pensions and Allowances.

100,000l. for Civil Pensions and Allowances.

House resumed. Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.