HC Deb 06 December 1852 vol 123 cc997-1000

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."


said, he understood the object of going into Committee of Supply, to be to propose Votes amounting to 435,000l.—namely, 113,000l. for the Navy, 92,000l. for the Ordnance, 150,000l. for the National Gallery, and 80,000l. for the expense of the funeral of the Duke of Wellington. The first two Votes related to the defences of the country, and the House had been told that the Government desired to place those defences in a proper and secure state; hut it had not been intimated in what way that was to he done, except that the House was informed the force was to be increased. No one was more anxious than he (Mr. Hume) to see the defences of the country in the most efficient state; but he thought, before the House proceeded to vote an additional number of men, the Government should give some intimation of what they meant to do with the men, and why they were not disposed to resort to that administrative reform of which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke the other night. There had been a Committee sitting for three years on the Army, Navy, and Ordnance Expenditure; but the abuses, waste, and extravagant expenditure which the Committee pointed out still continued. Ships were still built one month, and altered the next; and such a system was maintained that you would not find half the malversation or mistakes in any of the establishments of the great steampacket companies, that you would in any one of our dockyards. A very large proportion of the money voted for the Navy and Army was unnecessary expenditure. The outlay now to be voted was to be provided for by the additional House tax. That was a part of the Government plan, by which, as a whole, they said they would stand or fall; Members could not agree to this Vote without making up their minds to that proposal. The Government ought to lay before the House something satisfactory as to what their purpose was. Some time ago it was thought that 2,000,000l, must be laid out to put Canada in a proper state of defence, and the money was voted, and forts built: but they were not manned. In 1844, there was an alarm here about invasion, and forts were ordered; let any man say whether they were not useless now, and whether nearly 2,000,000l. were not uselessly spent on these defences. The Committee considered 100 admirals enough, but we had 150, and superannuated admirals were being created every day. There was always a mania for an increase of expenditure; every Administration seized any occasion for it; but even when the occasion was over, the expenditure still continued. He did not believe the Navy was more efficient now than when the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Graham) was at the head of the Admiralty; and it would be remembered that a sum of 1,000,000l. was struck off the Estimates at that period. Were we bound to keep up vessels of war on distant stations when we were told we were in imminent danger from a neighbouring country? He (Mr. Hume) had no belief but that the Emperor Napoleon III. would find that the strength of his Government was peace, and that the stability of France would lie in promoting free trade, and he hoped the Emperor would adopt that course. As to the vote for the National Gallery, the House had no papers as yet before it. A certain clique had got up a plan to carry the pictures out of the town to a spot where they would be of little use to the public generally; but there was a great difference of opinion on the project, and the House had a right to more information and time for consideration. With regard to the Duke of Wellington's funeral, everything that would show honour and respect for that individual, he (Mr. Hume) would be perfectly ready to concur in; but the House ought to know whether the money was properly expended, and they ought to have had an estimate of the expense.


said, that there was no vote before the House for building a National Gallery; the only vote before the House was the purchase of land under rather peculiar circumstances, part of which land might certainly be devoted subsequently to the erection of a National Gallery, but really that had nothing to do with the question now before the House. When it came on, he should lay before the House the reasons which induced the Government to ask the House to vote a sum equal to that which was to be contributed by the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition for purposes of great national interest and importance. There was no specific Vote for a National Gallery, and the only object of this Vote was the purchase of land which otherwise could never probably be obtained by the public. With regard to the funeral of the great personage whom we had lost, he would beg to remind the House that they were told in a taunting manner that probably 250,000l. would be expended. The sum was very far short of that; and it was of importance to vote the necessary supply at once; it would save the public treasury no inconsiderable amount if the accounts were closed at once. Of course, a detailed account would be laid on the table, showing how every shilling was expended. He hoped the hon. Member would not oppose the going into Committee of Supply on the general grounds he stated at first. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had said that he should be prepared, on a fitting occasion, to offer to the House some views of Her Majesty's Government on the subject of administrative reform, and that they were prepared to bring the whole income of the country under the control of Parliament; but he particularly said that it would be impossible to bring forward any measure of that kind—to embark in subjects of such importance—till after the financial measures had passed. The measure to be proceeded with now was totally irrespective of administrative reform; and if it should be the opinion of the House, as he was confident it was of the nation, that the country should be placed in a complete state of defence, he hoped the House would lose no time in passing the Votes requisite for that purpose, and that they would allow his hon. Friend the Secretary to the Admiralty now to make his statement.

Motion agreed to.

House in Committee of Supply; Mr. Wilson Patten in the Chair.