(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed—
That a sum, not exceeding 731,206l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Half-Pay to Officers of the Navy and of the Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1851.
§ MR. HUME
wished to know how far the recommendations of the Committee of 1848 on the Navy Estimates were to be carried out with regard to the admirals? The Committee stated that there were 150 admirals, and recommended that they should be reduced to 100; and everybody must see that so long as a dead weight like this lay on the department, relief from a heavy expenditure was impossible. He knew that a great many of the admirals were superannuated officers; but there was a far larger proportion than ought to be. What use had we for 150 admirals, when not more than 12 or 13 were employed? He would move that the vote for the admirals be reduced by 3,000l.
Whereupon Motion made, and Question put—
That a sum, not exceeding 728,206l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of Half-Pay to Officers of the Navy and of the Royal Marines, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1851.
SIR F. T. BARING
opposed the Amendment. It might be all very well for the hon. Member for Montrose to take away the amount he proposed to cut off if he 463 could scratch off the admirals with the same facility; but he could not suppose the hon. Gentleman was serious in proposing to take away the half-pay of any of those officers. He had referred to the recommendation of the Committee; but the hon. Gentleman must be aware that that recommendation was carried only by a majority of one, and that the chairman, who had made a different proposition, was not permitted to vote. The real point which they ought to have in view was to keep the service efficient; and, under all the circumstances, he thought it would be unwise to make any alteration in the present arrangement. He did not think promotion had been too rapid. Last year there were 14 promotions of captains to admirals, being one out of 38; 12 commanders were promoted to captaincies, being one out of 17; and 33 lieutenants were made captains, being one out of 70. It should be remembered that it was by means of the half-pay that the country kept the officers in the service. Not indeed for the sake of the half-pay itself, but they continued in the service in the hope of ultimately attaining those distinctions and rewards which they looked forward to and valued more than any actual amount of pay they might receive. The half-pay in the American navy was much higher than in the British Navy. Without going into details, he would admit that there might be reasons for reducing the higher class of officers as well as the lower; but he did not think it was advisable at the present moment to press any such arrangement. Since 1831 the decrease of the sum granted for half-pay had been no less than 150,000l. That he considered to be a very important reduction.
§ CAPTAIN PELHAM
looked for the remedy of the evil complained of in increased economy in naval expenditure generally, which might be secured without at all imparing the efficiency of the service; and if such economy were really carried out, the country would, he believed, enable the Government to place the retired list on a proper footing. In the last two years a saving of 800,000l. had been effected in connexion with the dockyards and the building of ships; and, if the contract system were revived, a still further saving might be effected. A great reduction might also be safely made in the number of persons employed in the fleet. He could not go with the hon. Member for the West Riding in his scheme for reducing the naval expenditure to the exact amount 464 at which it stood in 1835; but, nevertheless, he thought the number of seamen might be considerably reduced, and yet be sufficient for the service of the country. The number of men employed in 1822 was 21,000; the number asked for two years ago was 43,000, and even now it was proposed to have 39,000. If 5,000 men were struck off, there would still be 34,000, or 13,000 more than in 1822. It would not be easy to show that the country required double the number of men employed nearly thirty years ago, either on account of the extension of her commerce, or of the increased wants of her colonies. Since that period had been created the steam navy, which had made it much easier than formerly to reinforce the squadron in distant parts of the world. He did not expect to see a thorough reform in the Admiralty until the Board, with the exception at least of the First Lord, had ceased to be political, and had become permanent. He regretted that he could not vote with the hon. Member for Montrose.
§ MR. COBDEN
was astonished at the conclusion at which the hon. Gentleman had arrived, after arguing in favour of a reduction of the expenditure in the Navy. Those who spoke out of doors sometimes accused the House of having an aristocratic leaning, and of almost confining themselves to proposals to cut down the weaker and humbler portions of the service. The justice of that accusation would now be tested. The report recommended that the number of admirals should be gradually reduced from 150 to 100, not by dismissing any admirals, not by depriving any existing admirals of their flag, rank, or pay, but by making only one promotion for three deaths until the desired diminution had been effected. The country would now have an opportunity of judging how far that House was disposed to treat fairly and equitably different classes of public servants. A considerable number of shipwrights had been dismissed, and meetings had been held to raise subscriptions for their relief. The Committee on the Estimates declared that only fourteen admirals could be employed. Would the House, then, reject the reasonable proposition before it? Then were told that even at present the officers of the Navy had but little chance of promotion. It must be recollected that they were living in a time of peace; and those who entered the Navy must take their chance, and not expect the same amount of promotion as during war. If they departed from, the principle of pro- 465 moting in proportion to the services required, it would follow that they must keep the people in the dockyards, and act on the principle of charity and benevolence to the service, instead of justice to the community at large. Holding that the promotion should have reference to the wants of the country, he should support the Amendment.
thought the hon. Gentleman had not put the question fairly before the House. In 1816 there were 220 admirals; there were now only 150, of which number 40 received only the pay of rearadmirals. In 1816 the number of captains was 867; it was now 511; and the number of lieutenants having been 3,999 at the former period, was now only 2,200. One half the naval officers had gone off the list since 1815, and still the hon. Gentleman: was not satisfied.
§ MR. HUME
said, that the gallant Admiral stated that in 1816 there was a certain number of admirals, and that they were reduced. Would he state how many had been promoted since that time? The fact is, they had had more promotions during the peace than ever obtained during the war. During the last year 14 admirals had been promoted. The Committee found that there were 156 admirals, and they recommended that they should be gradually reduced to 100, winch he thought was a great many. Take the list of 600 captains, and they would find that 250 of them had never served a day as captain; and 360 commanders out of 800 had never served a day as commander. The fact was they were making the service of the Navy a pension list. The United States had not one admiral, but their officers were better paid. He was perfectly ready to admit that the pay of our naval officers was small; but where there were six officers where only one was required, it did appear to him that they required a change. It was on that ground that he wanted the right hon. Gentleman to carry out the recommendation of the Committee, small as it was.
said, that the hon. Member for the West Riding was never more mistaken in his life than when he said that the Navy was kept up for the aristocracy. These men were promised this promotion for their gallantry; it was a bargain made in the time of war. [The hon. and gallant Admiral then read an account of the services of Captain Collier, who was at the head of the list who en- 466 tered the service in 1802.] This case he said was not an isolated one, but he could follow it up by others who were lower down in the list, and who had obtained promotion not through being connected with the aristocracy but through their gallant services.
§ CAPTAIN PELHAM
said, his argument was, that they required a fresh bargain, and that they ought to make a fresh bargain altogether, to put the active list on a proper footing, and, as to the rest, make a retired list of them.
§ MR. BRIGHT
thought the hon. and gallant Member for Gloucester, who spoke last on behalf of the admirals, had put this question in a very unfair and unsound view before the House. He appeared to think there was some bargain with every man that entered the Navy that at a certain period of his life he should be made an admiral. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared to agree with that. That was the strangest notion of public service that he ever heard in that House. The only contract that could be implied was that upon certain principles laid down, whether it were upon seniority or in any other way, that as the service required promotion for the efficient carrying on of that department, they should have such pre-eminence as the service could give them; but there was no contract that a proportion of officers should be raised to the rank of admiral. That would be to make the Navy subservient to the officers and not the officers to the Navy. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, because he belonged to the Navy, seemed to see nothing else; he forgot the country, and would starve the country, for the purpose of building up on a magnificent scale the profession to which he was attached. Now, there was one point in this question to which he would allude for the benefit of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Chancellor of the Exchequer found at the end of the Session great inconvenience from the votes of hon. Members to take off certain taxes. Some wanted to take off the attorneys' certificate duty, others the window duty, and they were all of them wanting to repeal some tax or other; and the Chancellor of the Exchequer thought them unjust in moving for a reduction of taxation while he had no funds to spare. Well, but if they brought forward a proposition like this to put a stop to expenditure, that was the only mode of enabling them to reduce taxation. What 467 were the facts? That they had 150 admirals, and that a Committee of that House had recommended that they should be reduced to 100. The right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty said it was only carried by a majority of one; but if he looked over the minority he would find that every one of them belonged either to the present Government or to former Governments, and they were put on the Committee on purpose to prevent reduction. He said that the vote of the Committee ought at once to receive the attention of the House, and be carried out. They had 14 admirals now in service, they had 36 in the hottest time of the war, and they were now paying 150. And when they sought to carry out the recommendation of the Committee, they were told forsooth that a contract was made with every man who entered the Navy that he would be made an admiral if he lived long enough. Then he said the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he found his colleagues supporting this unnecessary expenditure, ought not to grumble hereafter at hon. Members voting for the reduction of taxation, seeing that Government would not support economy.
could not help supporting the Member for Manchester in the opinion, that there could be no such thing as officers of any description having a right to claim promotion beyond what the necessity or convenience of the country should authorise. He was sure there was no such principle in the service to which he had belonged. The cornet made no claim to being a lieutenant till a lieutenancy was vacant, and the lieutenant did not expect to have a troop till there was a troop for him to have.
§ ADMIRAL BOWLES
supported the vote, and said it would be a great misfortune to the country if the system of promotion were stopped.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, his conviction was, that if all the recommendations of the Committee were carried out, it would lead to increased expense.
said, that in 1845 it was stated in a minute by the Earl of Haddington, then First Lord of the Admiralty, that the list of flag officers was to be reduced to 150, and maintained at that number; and every officer who was called on to retire argued the question on the supposition that the faith of Parliament had been pledged to him that he was to succeed to the flag list if a vacancy oc- 468 curred. If, therefore, they told him now that instead of every vacancy being filled up, it should be only one in three, he should consider that the faith of Parliament had been broken.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, the question which, substantially, the hon. Member for Montrose sought to raise was the question which had obtained much attention in the Committee on the Naval Estimates, wherein a proposition was made, for which he was responsible, for reducing the number of admirals from 150 to 100. So far as pecuniary considerations went, this reduction, perhaps, might not be very important; but, if there was to be a reduction of establishments, they must begin at some point; and, as he conceived, the point at which to begin was the highest rank in the service, if it could be shown that the extent of that highest rank was redundant, and the expense more than was necessary. The gradual reduction of officers on half-pay in the lower ranks of the service, had been carried into effect by only promoting one officer upon three vacancies. The real question was, whether it was not expedient to carry this rule, which pervaded all the other ranks, into the rank of admirals? At no time during the last war—the greatest naval war in which the country was ever engaged—was there a greater number of admirals employed than 32; and in this time of peace the number employed did not exceed 12. Now, though the admirals' list might be considered more or less a retirement, or reward for past services, yet it was still a question of degree, and the House must bear in mind, with reference to it, what the real wants of the service were in relation to the country. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not going to be misled by the pamphlet published the other day by a Bank Director, who wanted to make out that this country was the lightest taxed country in world; that taxation, direct or indirect, had not attained anything like its maximum; and that the people were, in fact, ready and competent for a great deal more taxation. He begged to demur altogether to those positions, and to express the conviction that no Government could be found which, in time of peace, could impose a greater weight of taxation, direct or indirect, than that now borne by the people of this country, the difficulty being, in fact, to maintain the burden already existing. The time had arrived when every practica- 469 ble economy in every branch of the public service must be rigidly carried out. In the Navy as in the Army there were points at which economy must commence; and it was his opinion that it was not in the lower ranks of either profession that this commencement must be made, he would be the last man in the House to desire to carry this principle into effect harshly or suddenly, to the injury of men who had already just claims for promotion: but gradually, he would say, you must introduce greater economy into the higher ranks of both services. In times of peace, 150 admirals and 270 generals were clearly more than the service of the country required. What was the proposition of the Committee? That you should gradually reduce the number of admirals from 150 to 100, in this way—that whereas on the death of three captains you only promoted one; of three commanders, only one: so with admirals, till the number was reduced to 100, upon three deaths you should only make one promotion. It might be said that, considering the age of the post captains at the top of the list, this rule of promotion would work so slowly that there would be, in a short time, no admirals sufficiently young and active to fulfil the important duties of naval command. He admitted it; and it was with reference to this precise point that the Committee made the further proposition, that, to give greater vigour and activity to the higher ranks of the service, one out of every three promotions to the rank of admiral should go, not by seniority, but, on the responsibility of the Admiralty, by distinguished merit, without reference to mere seniority. These were the propositions which he had submitted to the Committee, which he had much reflected upon since, and which he was now fully prepared to support, both by his speech and by his vote. He was decidedly of opinion that, with reference to the efficiency of the service, these measures might be safely adopted. The case of the Army stood on better grounds in this respect; though the number of generals was 270, yet such large reductions had been made, that while in the Navy the non effective charge now, as compared with 1846, had actually increased 88,000l., the non-effective charge of the Army had been reduced by 91,100l. for the same period. Since the close of the war, the dead weight of the Navy had remained stationary, whereas that of the Army had materially diminished. He had understood that the state 470 of the admiral's list was so little satisfactory, that when, lately, the admiral's command of the Eastern and China Seas was vacant, there was very great difficulty in filling it up; that three or four rear-admirals in succession refused it; that the officer who had accepted the command was upwards of 70; and that, moreover, in order to induce him to go out, arrangements of a very objectionable nature were made in the way of appointments of relations to posts under him. [Sir F. BARING: No!] Well, at all events, was not the post refused by three or four rear-admirals, and was not the officer who accepted it more than seventy years old? If such was the condition of the admirals' list in time of peace, what would be the state of things, if, unhappily, we should become involved in war?
SIR F. T. BARING
wished that his right hon. Friend would show, rather by figures than by general phrases, what he meant by enforcing economy. He did not regard this as a question of economy at all. The entire saving, even if you could reduce the number of admirals from 150 to 100, would scarcely exceed 10,000l.; and it was no question with him whether this would be a real saving to the country, while it would be a great injustice to a noble service. Even if the Government were to adopt the principle of appointing admirals on the ground of merit alone, those officers would grow old, and they did not require merit only in their admirals, but also youth and activity. If, however, the Government were to pass over the senior officers, and select as admirals officers low in the list and young in the service, they might disregard merit to obtain the services of youth; and he feared such a course would occasion great dissatisfaction and discontent. That was not a new suggestion, for on one occasion the power of the Crown had been exercised, and with great impartiality, in favour of a young officer; but that step created great dissatisfaction, and if his recollection was correct, the House interfered so harshly that the practice was abandoned. He begged to say, in reply to the right hon. Baronet the Member for Ripon, that no arrangement of the nature he had alluded to had been made with the gallant admiral in command on the East India station. The right hon. Baronet had also asked whether it was true that that command had been offered to two or three officers before it was accepted by the gallant admiral by whom it was now held? It was perfectly true that 471 the appointment had been declined by two admirals, on the ground that their health would not enable them to undertake the duties; and he (Sir F. Baring) thought those gallant officers had acted most conscientiously in declining the offer on that ground. He was far from saying that if the present arrangement did not work well, the whole subject ought not to be considered; but he did not think it would be advisable to consider the case of the admirals apart from that of the service generally.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, that the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, called upon him to state the precise amount of saving he proposed to effect by reducing the list of admirals from 150 to 100. He could only say that if the reduction of one-third in the number of admirals would effect no material saving in the half-pay of admirals, it was a case of despair. The right hon. Baronet appeared to think that it would not be possible to add any fresh youth, vigour, and activity to the list by means of selection. If then they could neither reduce the expense, nor render this class of officers more efficient by infusing health and vigour into it, he (Sir J. Graham) thought the case of the admirals was desperate.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, this was a very important question, for it appeared that while the amount expended in pay and wages for the effective force of the Navy was 1,322,000l., the cost of the non-effective service was 1,221,000l. He was satisfied this was a state of things the country would not allow to be continued. For thirty-five years, since the Peace, the system had gone on without alteration, and they were now paying the same number of officers for doing nothing, that they were maintaining when they had a large naval force afloat. He was glad this question had been raised, for he considered the non-effective force of the Navy ought to be kept within more reasonable bounds, and he would cordially support the Amendment.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
wished to say a few words on this subject, as it was one with regard to which he had had some Admiralty experience. He must say he deprecated more than anything the interference of the House of Commons in these matters. ["Oh, oh!"] He did not mean as to what was to be done, but as to how it was to be done. When he became Secretary to the Admiralty a system of reduction was in active operation. It was going on rapidly, and 472 what stopped it? What was the cause of that increase of dead weight in the Navy, of which hon. Gentlemen now complained? It was the interference of the House of Commons. [A cry of "No!"] Yes, it was the interference of the House with the reductions then in progress. Several Motions, as the hon. Member for Montrose might remember, were made and carried with a view to accelerate the promotions, which the House thought were not rapid enough; and the consequence was a great addition to the retired list. It must not be said, then, that the Government had been anxious to continue the present system. He conscientiously believed that the Government was far better able than the House of Commons to form a judgment as to the mode in which reductions might be effected.
said, that officers, whether admirals, captains, or lieutenants, were not made in a day, and it was necessary to keep up the half-pay system that they might have efficient men upon the list who would be available in case of emergency. He did not concur in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the Executive Government could conduct changes in these matters most advantageously without the interference of that House, for the House of Commons was bound to take care that there was no extravagant outlay of the public money.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 72; Noes 128: Majority 56.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ CAPTAIN BOLDERO
would remind the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty that this vote included surgeons and assistant surgeons, with respect to whom there was a recent vote of the House; he believed some regulation was to be made for their benefit.
SIR F. T. BARING
had already explained to the hon. and gallant Member the course intended to be pursued; a memorandum had been drawn up, and the arrangement would be carried into effect.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also the following votes:—
§ (2.) 490,345l. Military Pensions and Allowances.
§ (3.) 167,086l. Civil Pensions and Allowances.
§ (4.) 135,700l. Freight, &c., on account of the Army and Ordnance Department.
§ (5.) 21,131l. Arctic Expedition.
§ (6.) 8,480l. for Extra Provisions for Arctic Expedition.473
§ (7.) 211,159l. 3s. 7d. Excess of Naval Expenditure.
§ SIR H. WILLOUGHBY
rose to call attention to a sum of 29,534l. expended upon iron steamers. They did not derive that sum from any surplus, nor had they expended it with the consent of the Treasury Further, it was in clear violation of the Appropriation Act. At the same time he was bound to admit that the Board of Audit had exercised all fitting vigilance upon the occasion. Upon these grounds he should propose that the proposed grant be reduced by the sum of 29,534l.
SIR F. T. BARING
explained the circumstances under which the payment on account of the iron steamers was made. The year before last money was taken to pay for these iron steamers. The estimates of the expenditure for the next year were framed in the month of October, and presented in 1849. But he found that the contracts, which were expected to terminate before the termination of the financial year, did not fall within the financial year, and, therefore, the payments ran actually a few weeks beyond the financial year. He made a payment on account, though not legally compellable; and he had stated the excess, on the principle that Parliament ought to know how it had occurred.
§ MR. HENLEY
thought the matter was not yet clearly before the House. The right hon. Baronet seemed to say he had committed the fault of having an excess, but had shown it to Parliament, arid that he might have carried it to another year, without their knowing anything of it. There was a third alternative—that of not spending in excess at all. The statement was not satisfactory as to how the excess arose.
SIR F. T. BARING
had stated, in opening the estimates, the ground of that excess, which occurred before he came into office. A good deal of it arose from the number of men being carried beyond the vote, and from the pay of the men being-taken on a wrong calculation.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
said, that the excess was not incurred under the administration of the First Lord of the Admiralty, and no one more agreed with the position laid 474 down by the hon. Member for Montrose than the First Lord himself, that these excesses were to be carefully avoided. It might be confidently anticipated that under his administration, though it was difficult to know how excesses could always he avoided. Parliament would to the utmost see an end put to these grants. There was one principle to which the right hon. Baronet had not adverted, that when any such unexpected expenditure was incurred, it was most desirable to have it brought under the cognisance of the Treasury.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
complained that, while 700,000 gallons of rum were consumed in the Royal Navy, home-made spirits were not advertised to be taken under the contracts, though there was no Parliamentary resolution giving a preference to rum.
§ MR. FRENCH
said, that at the Admiralty the interests of Ireland were not represented. There was no Irish Lord of the Admiralty. Such was not the case in the late Administration, which was supposed to be more adverse to the interests of Ireland. The right hon. Member for Tyrone was then Secretary for the Admiralty.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
would vote with the two hon. Gentlemen who had just spoken in favour of consuming Irish whisky in the Royal Navy rather than rum; hut he could not understand how, with their views, they supported Her Majesty's Ministers, of whom no man entertained a worse opinion in their public capacity than he did. He advised the hon. Gentlemen to leave the bad company in which they were placed. They should remember that evil communications corrupted good manners; and, if they remained longer amongst their present associates, they would become inoculated with their virus.
§ MR. REYNOLDS
said, that although he disapproved of many of the acts of the Government, he did not believe that another Administration would pursue a different policy. Only a choice of evils was before him, and he took the least. If, however, the hon. and gallant Colonel would form an Administration which would take Ireland under its protection, it should receive his support.
SIR F. BARING
said, in reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Member for Ripon, communications should be made to the Treasury with respect to every case of excess.
§ SIR H. WILLOUGHBY
said, that in consequence of the right hon. Baronet's explanation, he would withdraw his Amendment.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (8.) 764,236l. Post Office Packet Service.
§ MR. SCOTT moved to reduce the vote by 50,000l, charged for the conveyance of the India mails by the East India Company's vessels.
SIR F. T. BARING
reminded the hon. Member that the payment must be made as long as the contract with the Company subsisted.
§ LORD NAAS
thought, that after the contradictory statements they had heard from the right hon. Chancellor of the Exchequer and the hon. Member for Honiton, it was understood the vote for the Indian mail service would be postponed till the House had had an opportunity of judging what was the real state of the case by the production of the correspondence between the Government and the East India Company.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the production of the correspondence could have no effect on a contract which had been already completed. Whatever opinion the House might have as to any future arrangement, it was evident that what had been entered into by the Government must be carried out.
§ MR. HUME
suggested, that in future an account should be laid before Parliament of the several contracts, of the number of ships, of the distances, and of the expense, on one side; and of the profits, by passengers and from other sources, on the other. No vote required a closer scrutiny, and the opinion of competent persons out of doors was, that many of our mail contracts were extremely extravagant. The House ought to have some intimation when new contracts were to be made.
§ MR. SCOTT
quite agreed with the hon. Member for Montrose that the votes for the mail service required very close observation. It was rumoured that a certain company, who were disappointed in getting the contract for the mails to the Brazils, were likely to obtain the contract for the Cape mails, by way of making up for their disappointment. The vote ought not to be passed without some explanation, though no hon. Member connected with Government had yet condescended to give any.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, that the state- 476 ments to which the hon. Member for Berwickshire referred, were, like many others brought against the Admiralty, quite without foundation. There was no truth in them; and it could not be expected that the time of the House was to be taken up in noticing every story that might be rumoured abroad. The hon. Member for Montrose could have every information he desired as to the mail contracts.
§ SIR J. GRAHAM
inquired what arrangements had been made for the conveyance of the mails between Holyhead and Dublin? It had been strongly recommended by the Committee that the same company who had carried the mails between Liverpool and Dublin should become the lessees of the establishment, which cost the country a very considerable sum; and he observed that the expenses had increased since 1849.
SIR F. T. BARING
said, that arrangements had been made for carrying the mails by contract, which would be carried into effect as soon as possible. There were charges against the Admiralty on this point also, but they referred not to the Admiralty having done badly to the public, but to their having taken the lowest contract, which was said to be so low that it could not be worked. The tenders for the mail contracts to the Cape would be returnable on the 13th of August; and, the service would be taken by screw steamers.
§ In reply to Mr. T. EGERTON,
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that Government intended to make the inner harbour at Holyhead at the public expense. It would be, he considered, rather hard, under all the circumstances, to call on the railway company to contribute 200,000l., as originally agreed upon; but they would be deprived of any exclusive advantages which were contingent on that contribution.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said, he regretted to be obliged by the conduct of Her Majesty's Government to move that the Chairman report progress, and ask leave to sit again. It was necessary for him to call the attention of the House to the course pursued by hon. Gentlemen opposite in a matter personal to himself. About three o'clock in the day he had crossed over to the Ministerial benches and asked the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade when he would take the third reading of the Mercantile Marine Bill? The right hon. Gentleman informed him, at Twelve o'clock to-morrow; when the right 477 hon. Baronet the Secretary of State, who was sitting beside him, said, "You must mistake—the Amendments on the Irish Franchise Bill are to come on at Twelve o'clock to-morrow, to which their consideration is adjourned—you mean Twelve o'clock to-night." To which the President of the Board of Trade replied. "Yes, I mean Twelve o'clock to-night; and I hope you (Lord J. Manners) will have no objection to the third reading of the Mercantile Marine Bill being moved after all the other orders." He replied, "Certainly not; and that, having an amendment to move, he would offer no obstruction to the third reading, whenever it came on." Both the right hon. Gentlemen seemed perfectly satisfied with that arrangement, and expressed themselves more or less pleased at the cooperation he gave to them in proceeding with the Bill. With that understanding-he left the House; and, on his return, he found the third reading of the Mercantile Marine Bill had actually been moved—whether by either of the right hon. Gentlemen he did not know—at half-past Seven o'clock that evening, and had been carried. All he knew was, the engagement entered into by those right hon. Gentlemen, as Members of Government, had not been kept.—[Sir G. GREY: There was not the smallest approach to an engagement.] The right hon. Baronet might say so; but if that sort of quibbling was allowed, no engagement would be entered upon between hon. Members and the Government. He would ask the right hon. President of the Board of Trade whether, in all the transactions relating to the Bill, he had not shown the greatest anxiety to consult his convenience, and whether he had exhibited the least wish to offer to it a factious opposition? He had then a right to complain, and he did complain, of that sort of conduct; and all those arrangements which tended so much to the mutual convenience of the Members and of the Government must in future he disregarded; and it would be the duty of hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House to exert every sort of opposition to Government, and to disregard all statements of Ministers except those made publicly in their places. Had it not been for the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman, he (Lord J. Manners) would have been in his place ready to propose the Amendment which stood in his name on the paper; and he appealed to the House whether the right hon. Gentleman had acted on this oc- 478 casion in the way in which he had acted hitherto, or if his conduct had been what he (Lord J. Manners) had a right to expect.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he should him very sorry indeed if any conduct on his part could have rendered him justly liable to the imputation of having acted in any way but with the most scrupulous fidelity in any engagements he might have made with any hon. Member. He felt very deeply the important character of those engagements, and how much the convenience of the House and the despatch of business depended on their being adhered to with the most inviolable fidelity. But be hoped, before he sat down, to remove from the mind of the noble Lord the false impression under which he seemed to labour. It was quite true both as to the noble Lord, and as to other Members, that he (Mr. Labouchere) had stated, if the discussion which had occupied the greater part of the day should be brought to a close at any time before twelve o'clock at night, that he should move the third reading of the Mercantile Marine Bill, for he felt it to be of great importance that that measure should be sent up to the other House of Parliament with as little delay as possible; but he never for a single moment contemplated anything so very extraordinary as letting the most convenient opportunity pass by and keeping back that or any other measure till twelve o'clock. Every one knew that the discussion respecting the Baron de Rothschild had ended much sooner than was expected; and if the noble Lord had been taken by surprise, so also was he (Mr. Labouchere), for he was himself not in the House when the Bill was read a third time, his noble Friend at the head of the Government being the Member who then took charge of it, and by whom it was successfully passed through its last stage, at which time the Amendment that the noble Lord had intended to propose was moved by another Member. Having made this short statement, he trusted the House would do him the justice to believe that he never intended to take the noble Lord by surprise. He hoped during the ten years that he had bad a seat in that House he never pursued any course which could justify an imputation of any unfairness, he was sorry that any misapprehension should have occurred; but he begged the House to observe that not only the noble Lord, but the hon. Member for Liverpool, was also absent when the Bill was read a 479 third time. There could not he a greater mistake than to suppose that he had ever made any such arrangement as the noble Lord had supposed him to make, for it would be so manifestly against the course of order in that House, that the Speaker would have interfered to prevent its being carried into effect. He should conclude by repeating an expression of regret that any misapprehension had arisen, and by hoping that the House would acquit him of intending to take any one by surprise.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said, that no doubt the right hon. Gentleman did not mean to take him by surprise, but he must be permitted to say that the right hon. Gentleman had distinctly told him that he intended to take the Mercantile Marine Bill at twelve o'clock, after the other Orders of the Day were disposed of; and he distinctly remembered the Home Secretary observing that they could not proceed with the Bill at twelve o'clock to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade might have meant that he would proceed with the measure before twelve, but he said that he should not do so till twelve—he certainly fell into some mistake, and deceived not only himself but him (Lord J. Manners).
§ SIR G. GREY
said, that as he had been appealed to, he felt it due to himself to say, that he had entered into no engagement whatever, but contented himself with observing that twelve o'clock to-morrow was a time already occupied. Beyond that he had not opened his lips, but he was bound now to state, that he certainly understood his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to say, that after the debate which then occupied the attention of the House was concluded, he should move the third reading of the Mercantile Marine Bill; but certainly no one expected that that debate would have been so soon over.
§ ADMIRAL BOWLES
said, that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade told him, not that he would wait till twelve o'clock, but that he would proceed with the Mercantile Marine Bill, even if no opportunity of moving it occurred before twelve o'clock; that, if necessary, he should go on with it as late as twelve o'clock.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
said, that if the right hon. Gentleman had told that to him, he should not have been taken by surprise, but he never said anything of the sort.
§ MR. ANDERSON
rose to say, that he had spoken to the right hon. President of 480 the Board of Trade in the lobby on the subject, when his reply to an inquiry was, that it would probably be late that night, and as he intended to second the clause of the noble Lord, he took the liberty of moving it in his absence.
§ Vote agreed to; as were the following:—
§ (9.) 453,891l. Commissariat Department.
§ (10.) 45,791l. Half-pay, Pensions, &c.
§ (11.) 5,250l. Monument to Sir Robert Peel.
§ LORD J. MANNERS
thought nothing could be more becoming a great nation than to place memorials of individuals who had distinguished themselves by the good done to their country in a suitable building. An opinion, however, prevailed, and was extending itself, that Westminster Abbey was not a proper place for containing such memorials. No one would for a moment think of objecting to the monument to the memory of Sir Robert Peel being erected in the Abbey; but he gave notice that, if a similar proposition should be made hereafter, he should oppose it.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
said, that there was no building more suitable than Westminster Abbey for containing public monuments.
§ Vote agreed to; as was one of
§ (12.) 50,000l. for Civil Contingencies.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow, at Twelve o'clock.