HC Deb 11 June 1852 vol 122 cc520-5

House in Committee of Supply.


said, the first Vote in Committee of Supply related to the Chapel of the Embassy at Constantinople, on which yesterday there was a discussion. He had considered that case; his attention had been drawn to it by the conversation which took place; and it appeared to the Government to be one that required considerable inquiry. The enormous expenditure which had taken place on the residence of the Ambassador at Constantinople, appeared, on the surface, indefensible. They did not wish to make any censure on the conduct of those who preceded them. He was aware that, with respect to many items of expenditure in distant places, a very injurious habit had grown up, and had not been sufficiently disturbed, which allowed the expenditure of large sums, without the inspection which in the present day was indispensable; and when an expenditure of 85,000l had taken place on the Ambassador's residence within ten years, it appeared to him that that House ought not to pass the present Vote without inquiry. The Vote now on the Paper was for an expenditure not yet incurred; had it been incurred, he should have appealed to the generosity of the Committee. It was the feeling of himself and his Colleagues that they could not but express their sense of dissatisfaction; and, under these circumstances, he should not press that Vote. He might state generally that such items, if the opportunity were afforded to the Government, would be subjected to very severe examination.


said, he was glad to hear the opinions which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. Having presided as Chairman of the Committee on Official Salaries, he remembered that the subject of the expenses of the Embassy at Constantinople had strongly pressed itself on the notice of the Committee, though he was not quite sure whether it had been mentioned in their Report.

Vote struck out.

(1.) 783l., British Ambassador's House at Madrid,

(2.) 1,595l!., late Earl of Shaftesbury.

(3.) 4.000l., Navigation of the Menai Straits.

(4.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 100,000l., be granted to Her Majesty to defray the Charge of Civil Contingencies, to the 31st day of March, 1853.


said, he rose to object to the following items in this Vote: The expense incurred by the Bishop of Barbadoes in his visitation to the islands of St. Vincent and St. Lucia, 32l. 5s. 10d.; the expense incurred by the Bishop of Antigua, for passages on his visitation to several islands within his diocese, 42l. 8s. 4d.; the expense incurred by the Bishop of Newfoundland on account of a passage from Newfoundland to Bermuda, on visiting that part of his diocese, 60l.; the expense incurred by the Rev. H. M. Blakiston, on account of his passage to Constantinople, on his appointment as chaplain to Her Majesty's Embassy at that place, 50l.; for the entertainment of the Bishop of Victoria, on several occasions, while visiting the consular cities in China, on board Her Majesty's steam ship Reynard, 92l. 10s. The rapacity of ecclesiastics was beyond all description. The Church of England, the Church of Ireland, and the Church of Scotland, all had their pull at the Exchequer. They reminded him of the three daughters of the horseleech, who continually cried out, "Give, give, give!" nor would they desist, Non mssura cutem, nisi plena cruoris hirudo.


said, he could not agree in any of the views which the hon. and learned Gentleman had taken. The word "bishop" appeared on all occasions to raise some objection in the mind of the hon. and learned Gentleman. But this was no new question. It came under the consideration of the noble Lord the Member for London (Lord John Russell), in 1840, when he was Secretary of State for the Colonies, and he had to decide whether it was fair to call on the Bishop of Newfoundland, out of the limited income for his professional exertions, to pay the expenses of visiting other parts of his diocese at a distance of 1,200 miles. It was then thought that no objection could be taken, and therefore the noble Lord decided to grant 60l. as compensation for those expenses. It was upon the principle so established that this Vote was asked, and he (Sir J. Pakington) thought these heavy expenses ought not to fall upon the bishops, and that it was not desirable those right rev. Prelates should have the temptation. from pecuniary considerations, to abstain from visits to their dioceses. He trusted the Committee would not object to the Vote.


said, these charges had been objected to every year for the last twenty years. He thought the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman had answered his hon. and learned Friend behind him (Mr. C. Anstey), was not becoming the situation he held. He had made use of remarks little calculated to produce that good understanding and good feeling which they wished to see prevail in that House. The right hon. Gentleman, as a Member of a Government advocating economy, said it was most unjust for this or that bishop to be called on to pay these expenses out of his own pocket, He (Mr. Hume) thought it more unjust for the people of England to be called on to pay them. No bishopric had been established abroad without the assurance that the expense would be borne by the Colonies; and when the Government had attempted to pay the passage out, it had never passed without remark. He really thought the time was come when the whole expenses of the Colonial Office should be revised, and the principle laid down, whether ecclesiastical charges were to be borne by this country, or those they were intended to benefit. The Government could not help seeing that the general feeling of the country was against these partial charges. If these were defensible, let them be made general. He could not sit still and allow his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. C. Anstey) to be taunted and treated as he had been by the right hon. Gentleman, and that was what induced him to rise and express his approbation of his hon. and learned Friend's proceedings. He hoped be would persevere. He (Mr. Hume) used to do his duty. He was not able to do it now; but he hoped other Members would not allow any Minister whatever to taunt any hon. Gentleman who thought it his duty to object to these Votes.


said, he should move to reduce the Vote by 300l. The right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) had not told them why a selection from the members of the Established Church was made; why the Rev. Mr. Blakiston, the rich chaplain at Constantinople, and the Bishop of Victoria, had this gratification; and why all the bishops, all the clergymen, and all the chaplains of the favoured Church were not similarly gratified.


said, the question about Mr. Blackiston was not in his department. The case of the Bishop of Victoria came within the principle he had explained.


said, an attack had been directed by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Youghal against the Established Church. [Mr. C. ANSTEY: No!] He was for supporting the Established Church, though he entertained liberal opinions towards the Church of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He must condemn the pettifogging and mean spirit which dictated objections to paltry votes; and he called upon these hon. Members, if they were true economists, to support his Amendment, namely, "to omit the sum of 1,505l. 7s. 6d. for salaries of secretaries and clerks, and messengers for the Commission for the Promotion of the Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations."


said, he had objections to several other items. He objected to 600l. 13s. 8d. for the Commission for inquiring into the Episcopal and Capitular Revenues; to 360l. for triennial and other allowances to the serjeant-trum-peter, and to the household trumpeters and kettle-drummers; to 220l. for clothing for household drummers; to 109l. 9s. 4d. for marshal of the ceremonies; to 76l. 5s. for robes, collars, badges, &c, for knights of the several orders; to 2l. 2s. for the attendance of watermen at the House of Lords; to 20l. for the furniture for Whitehall chapel; and the 282l. 14s. for entertainments on board the Sphynx and the Nemesis, of Sir James Brooke—that fortunate individual—who received 1,500l. a year as Governor of Labuan, and 500l. a year as Consul at Sarawak, and yet contrived to spend the greater part of his time in this country. He should move their disallowance.


said, he was quite willing to add to the Motion of the hon. Member for Lambeth the 300l. he objected to.


said, he would beg to suggest that they would save valuable time by being more methodical in their proceedings. They had begun with the expenses of bishops. In speaking on that, the hon. and gallant Member for Lincoln had been carried away in spite of himself to the Crystal Palace; and now, with a flourish of drums and trumpets, the hon. Member for Lambeth had come back to the Rajah of Sarawak. He really believed half the Members did not know the question before them.


hoped this would be the last time the expenses of the bishops would appear in the Estimates. If no other plan could be devised to save them from the pain of these discussions, he would suggest that the expenses should be paid out of the secret service money. But seriously he considered that any expenses incurred by the bishops going to and fro from island to island ought to be defrayed from the Colonial Fund.


said, he felt obliged to the hon. and learned Member for Youghal for having brought this question before the notice of the Committee. He really thought the country ought not to be saddled with the payment of these sums. One of the complaints of his hon. and learned Friend was, that the Government did not go methodically to work, because he, with great justice said, if they paid the bishops for one visit, why not pay them for all? Many visits were paid for, and many visits under exactly similar circumstances were not paid for. He thought the Government ought to give some explanation.


said, these payments were only made by the Treasury on the authority of a Secretary of State, who regulated them. For instance, the 50l. paid to Mr. Blakiston, was paid upon the authority of the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton (Viscount Palmerston). He thought hon. Members were taking advantage of the Vote to call attention to the expenditure during the past year comprised in upwards of one hundred items. He was anxious to give explanations, but it was impossible to follow when explanations were asked upon half-a-dozen or more items at the same time.


said, there was an item of 819l. 3s. for the funeral of his Royal Highness the late Duke of Cambridge. The charge for this funeral was last year objected to, and he had hoped it would not have appeared. The allowance to his Royal Highness was amply sufficient, and provision had been made for the whole of his family.


said, as they voted a round sum for these purposes, the only opportunity of finding fault was when the account was rendered. The best mode for preserving the funds of the Established Church was to take care they were applied properly, and not to call on the country to pay charges with which they had nothing to do. The late Duke of Cambridge left upwards of 5,000l. a year real property. His daughter had been pensioned off with 3,000l. a year; and his son had been pensioned off with 30,000l. a year; and now the country were called upon to pay the expenses of the funeral. He believed it would turn out the claims of the canons of Windsor swelled the charge. He did not throw the blame on the present Government, but upon the party who sanctioned such a charge. There was one circumstance connected with this subject which he was always glad to mention. William IV. did not draw upon the public public purse, but left sufficient to pay the expenses of his funeral. He was the only sovereign within the memory of man for whose funeral the public wore not put to any expense. He could admit the charge for the funeral of the Sovereign, but the Government ought to withdraw this item for the funeral of the late Duke of Cambridge.

Motion made, and Question put— That a sum not exceeding 97,410l. be granted to Her Majesty to defray the Charge of Civil Contingencies, to the 31st day of March, 1853.

The Committee divided;—Ayes 40; Noes 97: Majority 57.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

House resumed; Committee report progress.