§ (11.) 80,000l. for defraying the charge of the Funeral of the late Duke of Wellington.
said, he thought that before this money was voted there ought to be an account rendered, if not a Committee to inquire respecting alleged mismanage- 1037 ment in regard to some of the items, if report was true.
§ MR. G. A. HAMILTON
said, that it had been already explained by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that it was desirable to close the accounts as early as possible. He could assure the hon. Member for Montrose (Mr. Hume) that immediately after the Funeral took place, means were taken to collect the various accounts, and he held in his hand an abstract of those accounts so far as be had been able to obtain them. The principal items were as follows: The accounts in the Department of Public Works, including all that was done in the Cathedral, amounted to 25,000l.; the Lord Chamberlain's and Earl Marshal's were not fully rendered yet, but were estimated at 33,000l.; the expenses connected with the removal of the troops were 8,500l.; and there were expenses connected with their lodging, which might make the amount something more. The accounts received at present exceeded 70,000l, but he believed the whole expenses would not be 80,000l. All care should be taken to exercise the most rigid and stern economy in the settlement of the accounts, and as soon as they had been got in and examined a statement should be laid before the House.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, that he thought this a very unsatisfactory mode of proceeding. A gentleman in private life would not act thus; and hon. Members must expect to be told by their constituents that they were not doing their duty. ["Oh, oh!"] No doubt it was a very invidious thing to make any objection, however slight, to this Vote, and in some degree he rejoiced at that, because it showed the universal desire to do honour to the memory of the illustrious hero whom we had lost; and, for himself, he was second to none in veneration of a man whom he looked upon as the greatest man this country had ever produced. It would, however, have been more respectful to the people, more decent, and more constitutional, to put off asking for the money till the Government had their estimate ready. With respect to the sum, he was not prepared to say that it was excessive; but 80,000l. appeared a large sum; he would not say it was not justifiable, and he should be disposed to act liberally on such an occasion. When it was stated that the funeral of Nelson cost 14,000l., he could not avoid calling attention to the wide difference between the sums. He did not 1038 know whether in the expenses of the Lord Chamberlain were included the charges on account of those foreign officers who had attended; and information was also wanted as to whether the 80,000l. included all the charges which might be made. It was with great pain that he reverted to a circumstance connected with the funeral, which he thought it his duty, as a Member of Parliament, to take that opportunity of mentioning. He believed that the arrangements at the funeral were such as to command general approbation, and that to all it was a source of honourable delight to see a great man's life, which bad carried with it the admiration of the country and of the world, closed by a magnificent and spontaneous effusion of popular feeling which did credit to all concerned. The arrangements of the day were most excellent; but there was an arrangement which was of another character; and it was a deplorable fact, that an accident occurred a few days before, when the people of the metropolis and of the whole country were paying their testimony of respect to the late Duke of Wellington by going to see him lie in state at Chelsea Hospital. [Cries of "Oh!"] He heard expressions of surprise. Was it a matter for surprise that one should allude to an occurrence which cost the lives of at least three of his fellow creatures? It was but just to say that those lives might have been preserved had greater precautions been taken and better arrangements made by those who had the responsibility on that occasion? He did not wish to say more than that he regretted the success of everything connected with the solemnity should have been marred by that most deplorable event to which he had alluded.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, he was responsible for a certain share of the Vote to which the noble Lord objected; and as he was one of those who gave his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the, Exchequer to understand that it was impossible to place before the House of Commons any reliable estimate before the funeral took place, he thought it right to say a few words in answer to the noble Lord's observations. He could assure the noble Lord and the Committee that from the moment when he heard that the funeral was to take place, he was most anxious that estimates should be prepared; but he found on inquiry that, owing to the limited time given for making such great preparations, the novel nature of the service re- 1039 quired, and the changes which were taking place from day to day, it was impossible to arrive at any estimate on which reliance could be placed; and he thought it far better to give no estimate at all than one which might afterwards lead to disappointment. As far as his department was concerned, the heads of all the expenditure had, he believed, been collected, and hon. Members would have an opportunity of testing the accuracy of the accounts. Every person in his department had toiled most assiduously and honestly, not only, he believed, with the view of carrying out the arrangements effectively, but also with a desire that everything should be done as economically as was consistent with the solemnity of the occasion.
said, he wished to remind the Committee of a very good rule which had been hitherto observed, that when a Minister undertook expenditure, he always laid an estimate on the table, and assumed the responsibility; but when an estimate could not be supplied, no money was paid till an account was produced. Why not wait in the present instance till all the accounts were collected?
§ MR. S. CARTER
rose to address the Committee, but was received with loud cries of "Oh, oh!" from the Ministerial benches.
said, he commended the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. S. Carter) as having, on a former occasion, done his duty. He (Mr. Hume) considered that the Committee were acting in the most disorderly manner. If the Government would not keep their followers in better order, and the Chairman could not obtain that order which was necessary to let the hon. Gentleman speak, business could not be proceeded with. He (Mr. Hume) should, therefore, propose that the Chairman should report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ MR. HUDSON
said, he regretted that the hon. Member for Montrose should have been the party who moved that progress be reported. It was his wish that this Vote should have been passed unanimously and without observation, expressing the conviction that, whatever the sum bestowed on the solemnity, it would not be grudged after the satisfaction which had been afforded to every Englishman who beheld the scene. The hon. Member for Montrose would have acted more in accordance with the universal feeling of the country had he agreed to pass the Vote, and con- 1040 curred in the opinion that Parliament and the country had not paid too much for witnessing an exhibition of feeling of which any Englishman might be proud.
§ MR. S. CARTER
again rose to address the House. He said he was entitled to a hearing, and he was determined to exercise his privilege. [Loud cries of "Divide, divide!"] They could not put him down by uproar—he was of a different kind of metal. The question before them was, whether they should vote away 80,000l. of the public money? The sum was greatly too much. And he complained of it as a breach of public faith. Hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House did not intend to give their sanction to the expenditure of an unlimited sum; but only that a sum should be expended bearing some relation to precedents of cases before the House. Now, he was making a serious charge, and he had a right to state his grounds for doing so. Really it was only by the grace and favour of Government that they were not voting more. The Government had had all they had asked for granted them almost without a word, and he was really much obliged to them for not asking 10,000 men and 160,000l. This Vote was five times that required for the funeral of the great Lord Nelson. He called that unjust, and a fraud upon the confidence of Members on that side of the House. What was the good of precedents if they were to multiply them by five? It had been said that this was a Vote that could never occur again. That was as good as saying that they would never have a great man in future. Well, perhaps, that was true, and the people would be too wise to spend their money on the splendour of war. If, however, they should be unfortunate enough to have a great man again, or another great funeral, they would have Government multiplying this precedent by five, and asking for 400,000l.
§ COLONEL SIBTHORP
said, he had one remark to make relative to the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He had heard little or nothing of what fell from him, but he did hear the word "metal" escape from him. Now, from the specimen they had had of the hon. Gentleman, he thought they were likely to find a great deal of "dross" in him. Sure he was that, whatever circulation might take place of the hon. Gentleman's metal, it would never be circulated through the United Kingdom. Prom all that he (Col. 1041 Sibthorp) had witnessed, heard, and read, he did not believe there was a poor man or a poor woman in the country who would not willingly give their mite to testify their veneration for the memory of one of the greatest men who ever lived.
§ LORD DUDLEY STUART
said, he wished to repeat the question he had previously put as to whether the estimate of 80,000l. included the expenses of the foreign officers of distinction?
§ MR. G. A. HAMILTON
said, he believed that the sum in question would more than cover every possible expense of the funeral.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.