HC Deb 30 July 1855 vol 139 cc1537-51

(1.) 3,858 l., University of London.


said, he wished to make some observations upon the inconvenience of laying the Civil Service Estimates before the House at so late a period of the Session, and also to complain that Members never knew when Supply was coming on. It appeared to him that periods should be fixed for discussing each class, and that they should be proceeded with from day to day until the Votes were completed. The whole of the Army, Navy, and Ordnance Estimates, should be taken before Easter, and immediately after Whitsuntide the House should have fin opportunity of discussing all the Miscellaneous Estimates. The present system of discussing them at the end of the Session was most injurious to the public interest, as by being delayed so late, a great many Members were absent; and the Government even must be inconvenienced, as a time could not be fixed for the introduction of the Appropriation Bill, which concluded the business of the Session. Some of those estimates were only delivered on the 27th of July, which had been ordered to be printed on the 27th of March. A document, which professed to be a comparison of the expenditure of the Civil Service between 1854 and 1855, and which was said to be presented in March, was only delivered three or four days ago, and as that document was of some importance, it ought to have been in the hands of Members at the commencement of the Session, or at all events at Easter. That return stated that we should save 87,000 l. upon the Civil Services the present year. Now, he had analysed those accounts, and found that, although there might be a small decrease as compared with last year, there was an enormous increase as compared to any other previous year. The Estimates for the present year amounted to 6,556,963l., and last year to 6,644,781l.; but in 1853 to 4,802,184l., and in 1851 to 3,948,102l. These were times when the greatest economy at home was necessary. It must not be forgotten that 86,339,000 l. had already been voted, and that at least 100,000,000l. would be required for the expenditure of the year. The people were prepared to carry on the war with vigour, to make large sacrifices, and to bear heavy burdens, so as to secure a successful termination to the contest in which the nation was engaged; but the strictest supervision of the public expenditure was expected, for the people now felt the pressure of increased taxes and of enormous local burdens, as well as of the great price of bread and other necessaries of life. He really thought, under such circumstances, that the Government might withdraw many of the Votes now asked for. In class No. 7, about to be discussed, there were many items that might be rejected or postponed without any injury to the public service. The Votes for special and temporary objects had greatly increased during the last few years. In 1844 the amount was 85,927l.; in 1848, 125,572l.; in 1853, 320,472 l.; in 1854, 706,575 l.; and now we were asked for 756,169 l. Some of the items were really "too bad." The British embassy at Constantinople had cost 86,650 l. after an estimate of 30,000 l. had been submitted to Parliament, and now we were asked for 4,578 l. more. Then 90,000 l. was asked for a new Foreign Office, and this was the first instalment of 585,000 l. for a new Downing Street. The present was a most unfortunate time to ask for such an outlay; and the Votes for public buildings were the more alarming when it was recollected that the Houses of Parliament had already cost 1,812,000 l., and that Mr. Barry wanted 500,000 l. more for the completion of those buildings. The year before last the House voted 177,000 l. for hind at Kensington, last year they voted 140,000 l. for Burlington House, and this year they were asked for 11,000 l. for Buckingham Palace. Very large sums had been spent in the improvement and decoration of the metropolis out of the national funds, and it appeared to him as most unjust to vote 260,000 l. for Battersea Park and 110,000 l. for Chelsea road and embankment, whilst counties were obliged to maintain their own asylums, prisons, bridges, and militia barracks. He thought there might be a great reduction in our colonial expenditure, and he hoped that the right hon. Baronet (Sir W. Molesworth), whom he congratulated upon his appointment as Secretary of State for the Colonies, would now realise his assertion that out of 4,000,000 l. expenditure, we might save at least one. But not a Vote on the paper promised an immediate change of policy. After voting 45,000 l. for the Orange River settlement, we were now asked for 40,000 l. for educational and benevolent institutions among the Kafirs, and it was proposed that that sum should be voted for ten years. He doubted very much whether education would improve the Kafirs. He thought, too, that the sum of 16,720 l. for the assistance of emigration might as well be spared in these times, when it was advisable to give as little encouragement to emigration as possible. He trusted the Government would seriously consider the Civil Service expenditure during the recess. The nation was engaged in what he believed would prove a long and serious struggle. The national debt amounted, last January, to 751,000,000 l. They had raised 16,000,000 l. by loan, this year, and had commenced the system of subsidy, which would probably go on for years, if the people could bear it, and the Parliament would support such a system of carrying on the war. He hoped the Government would do all in its power to reduce the expenditure at home, and would either allow the Estimates to be submitted to a Select Committee early in the Session, or if that course were regarded as inconvenient, that they would be laid before the House early enough in the Session to allow Members some time for the investigation of them before they came on for discussion. He wished also the accounts to be arranged so as to be understood by such persons as himself, and not to be so mystified and intricate as to give one more trouble than hunting out a cross-country journey in Bradshaw's Guide. In one department with which he was best acquainted—he meant the diplomatic and consular services—the Estimates were of so fragmentary a character as to be scattered over six classes. The diplomatic salaries were charged on the Consolidated Fund, and the consular salaries were in the Miscellaneous Estimates; and then he found in various parts of other Estimates charges for churches and chapels, for consuls and ambassadors' outfits, contingencies, superannuation, and miscellaneous, and other charges for different expenses belonging to the service. Now, all the different charges for one department should be put into one Vote, so that Members might see at once the expenses of each, service. He would conclude his observations by asking the Secretary of the Treasury four questions. First, why the two documents which had been lately delivered, and which were ordered to be printed in March, were not delivered sooner. Secondly, why the Civil Service Estimates had increased so much of late? and further, whether the Government had any intention in future Sessions to refer the Civil Service Estimates to a Select Committee, and if not, whether some arrangement could not be adopted whereby more time for consideration would be afforded.


said, he would not follow the hon. Member through all the topics he had discussed, but would simply answer the questions with which he had concluded. The hon. Gentleman must be aware that the Civil Service Estimates constituted a special and entire branch of the Estimates; and before the first class of them was laid upon the table an order was taken to print the whole, but it was not customary to lay the last, class 7, which consisted of special and temporary services, upon the table until as nearly as possible the time when the Votes were to be taken. If those Estimates had been printed in March many things now included in them could not have been inserted, and must have then constituted Supplementary Estimates, which it was very undesirable to have to a greater extent than was absolutely necessary. The other paper to which the hon. Gentleman had alluded constituted an abstract and comparison of the whole, and could not of course have been made up until class 7 was completed. With regard to the increase of the Civil Service Estimates, it should be remembered that a tendency had been manifested of late years to remove many charges from the Consolidated Fund and place them in the Estimates of the year; and in many instances fees and such other sources of direct emolument had been abolished, and salaries had been substituted for them, payable out of the money voted by the House of Commons. By one Act of Parliament alone a sum of more than 1,500,000 l. had been shifted from the Consolidated Fund to the Civil Service Estimates. The hon. Gentleman had also spoken of referring the Estimates to a Select Committee. Now, it was only three or four years ago that a Select Committee did sit upon the Civil Service Estimates, and published a very valuable Report; but an opinion had been expressed by those who were best acquainted with the subject, that if the annual Estimates were to be referred always to a Select Committee the action of the House of Commons upon them would become only nominal; the opinions of the Committee would be followed as a matter of course, and the House would lose all efficient control over that particular expenditure. As for the time at which they were brought forward the Government had endeavoured, ever since March, to get on with them as far as they could.


said, he must complain that they were now called upon to vote forty items, amounting to about 750,000 l., having had scarcely an hour to consider the matter, in consequence of the House sitting in the day time, and the Estimates having been delivered only on Friday or Saturday. He must also complain of the small attendance of Members, and so thin was the House that when the Chairman took his seat there were scarcely forty Members present. The delay in bringing on the Estimates arose entirely from mismanagement, and it sometimes occurred to him that the Estimates were brought on at inconvenient times, more from design than anything else. The Civil Service Estimates now amounted to 7,500,000l., and yet, when the Duke of Wellington was Premier, and with a boroughmongering Parliament, those Estimates were only 2,000,000l. The total amount of the Supplies now amounted to nearly 100,000,000 l., and therefore the present was not a time to increase unnecessarily the expenditure of the country.

Vote agreed to; as were also the Votes

(2.) 7,952 l., Universities, &c., in Scotland.

(3.) 2,366 l., Queen's University in Ireland.

(4.) 9,552 l., Queen's Colleges in Ireland.

(5.) 647 l., Royal Irish Academy.

(6.) 300 l., Royal Hibernian Academy.

(7.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 2,600 l., be granted to Her Majesty, to pay the Salaries of the Theological Professors of the General Assembly's College at Belfast and Retired Allowances to Professors of the Belfast Academical Institution, to the 31st day of March, 1856.


said, he should move, as an Amendment, "That the sum of 2,050 l. for theological professors at Belfast, and for incidental expenses of the General Assembly's College at Belfast, be disallowed." He did not intend to utter a single reflection upon the characters of the professors of either of the colleges in question, or to take the slightest exception to the religious faith or discipline which they taught. He treated the matter simply and solely upon the general principle that they were not fit subjects for the House of Commons to deal with, and that the same principle should be applied to all theological institutions, whatever might be the creed which was inculcated in them. As some justification for the course which he proposed, he might state that the Dublin Synod of the Presbyterian Church, to which the Vote more especially referred, had adopted a petition against the Maynooth grant. He did not think, therefore, that those Gentlemen could take exception to the step which he suggested, inasmuch as, if what they had petitioned the House to do had been carried out, it would have been but a very partial adoption of a principle which was as applicable to themselves as to Maynooth. He objected to the Votes—in the first place because Parliament did not proceed upon any intelligible principle in granting them. He could understand the House saying that it would grant money to no establishment which did not teach the tenets of religious truth, but he doubted very much that the House of Commons was a fit tribunal to decide what was religious truth. If that course were not acted upon, however, it seemed to him that the only other consistent ground on which they could proceed would be to give the money of the State to all religious denominations indifferently. But he thought that that would be equally objectionable, and that they should come to a Resolution, therefore, to disembarrass the Estimates of the whole of those Votes, not troubling themselves with the religious teaching of the different denominations, but leaving every sect to support its own institutions. Independently of his objection to the principle, he also took exception to the details of the Vote. There were six professors in the college, and the whole number of students who benefited from that large staff, in what might be called the "Orthodox Theological College," was about fifty. There were two other professors of what he supposed might be called the "Heterodox Theological College," and he found that the whole number of students among those two learned Gentlemen was three. Of the forty-two theological seminaries in America one only had as many as six professors, three had five, seven had four, fifteen had three, and so on. He thought it was quite unnecessary that there should be more than three professors, namely, one for dogmatic theology, another for biblical criticism, and a third for Hebrew and the Oriental languages. Those items might well be swept away from the Estimate, for neither the United Presbyterian Church of Ireland nor the Presbyterians of England stood in any need of assistance from the House of Commons.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 550 l., be granted to Her Majesty, to pay the Salaries of the Theological Professors of the General Assembly's College at Belfast, and Retired Allowances to Professors of the Belfast Academical Institution, to the 31st day of March, 1856.


said, that the opponents of all grants of that description ought to submit their views to the consideration of the House in the shape of some general principle, and ought not to make any particular Vote the battle-field for deciding the merits of their special convictions upon that subject. He should, therefore, decline to follow the hon. Gentleman into a discussion of the general question. He denied that the staff of professors in the college alluded to was extravagantly large, and he believed that those professors rendered very useful and important services. The number of students in the college was certainly small, but still it had increased every year since the grant was first given, and he believed there were now not less than eighty students. Six professors were not too many for eighty students, if they were to judge by the proportions observed in the colleges of the denomination to which the hon. Member belonged; for in those colleges the proportion of professors to students was as twenty-eight to 190, which was a figure much more striking than that of six to eighty.


said, he did not see why those professors should be supported at the public expense. As to the defence that the institution was established by Sir Robert Peel, they had already passed a Vote in support of that establishment.


said, that the colleges of the denomination to which the hon. Member (Mr. Miall) belonged were scattered all over the country, for the convenience of the young men attending them, and that they had three professors each. They could scarcely do with less than three each. The proportion of twenty-eight to 190, therefore, was not really so correct as if there were only one college instead of several.


said, he thought it unjust to charge the opponents of the Vote with not bringing forward the abstract question of voluntaryism, for every one knew how indisposed that House was to discuss abstract principles. If a Member brought forward an abstract question, he was asked why not urge upon the House something more practical? and then, when he took that course, he was charged with taking up mere matters of detail. He thought it inconsistent that so powerful and wealthy a body as the General Assembly's College at Belfast should claim and receive aid from the State.


said, that was the only class of Nonconformist Protestants in the United Kingdom who received one single shilling from the State, and yet, what made it all the more objectionable, they were, according to their numbers, the most wealthy of any sect of Dissenters. He thought it scarcely honourable for them to come to the House of Commons for the support of their ministers, while for the State in that way to maintain Trinitarians and Unitarians alike, whose religious opinions were as diverse as it was possible to be, made good men bow their heads in shame.

Question put,

The Committee divided:—Ayes 29; Noes 77: Majority 48.

Vote agreed to.

(8.) 56,180 l., British Museum.


said he had given notice of his intention to move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of 12,000 l. He considered he was justified in complaining that the Museum was open to the public only for three days during the week, and country visitors to the metropolis were therefore frequently unable to gain access to the establishment. Many of the continental museums were not open to the public generally on certain days, but he believed that even on those days strangers were admitted on payment of a trifling fee, and he did not see why the same system should not be adopted in the case of the British Museum. He trusted arrangements might be made for opening the Museum to the public during five days of the week, and, in the hope that such arrangements might be adopted, he would not press his Motion.


said, he would ask the hon. Gentleman to remain satisfied with the assurance given him last year, that every effort would be made by the Trustees to find increased accommodation both for pupils and the public in the new building.


said, he should be glad to have some information regarding the new catalogue.


The hon. Gentleman must be aware that its preparation was indeed a herculean task; and therefore its arrangement must necessarily occupy a long time.


said, that in reference to what fell from the hon. Member for Southwark (Mr. Pellat)) he would have the Committee remember that the British Museum was a repository of scientific specimens, and therefore it was of the first importance that every opportunity should be afforded to students of examining them.

Vote agreed to.

(9.) 4,000 l., British Museum (Purchases).


said, he would beg to remind the Committee of what was said to have taken place at the time of the sale of the Bernal Collection. He had been informed that three Government agents attended there—namely, one for the Tower, one for Marlborough House, and one for the British Museum. The consequence was, these three gentlemen bid against each other, and the prices of the different articles were thereby very much enhanced. Now he begged leave to ask how was it proposed that the sum expended at that sale, reaching altogether to about 16,000 l. was to be made good?


said, it was totally contrary to the fact to say that the various agents employed at the sale bid against each other, and thus raised the prices of the articles; and in order to avoid even the possibility of such an occurrence, each department, before entering upon the sale was called upon to state what each of them wished to purchase; each at the same time giving in an estimate as to the value of the various articles, and where the same; article was marked for purchase by two departments one of them had to yield its claim. In consequence, therefore, of being bound down by those regulations, the sum total of the outlay at the sale only I exceeded by 50 l. that which the Commissioners were authorised to make.


said, he wished to know whether the report was true, that each of the agents employed received a percentage upon the value of each article? for, if so, it was very evident that Government did not manage such matters as economically as private individuals.


said, he would have the noble Lord remember that private individuals were invariably obliged to adopt the same course.

Vote agreed to, as were also the following Votes.

(10.) 27,520 l., British Museum (Buildings).

(11.) 500 l., Royal Geographical Society.

(12.) 6,409 l., Scientific Works and Experiments.

(13.) 2,985 l., Public Infirmaries (Ireland).

(14.) 1,295 l., Foundling Hospital.

(15.) 11,790 l., House of Industry.


said, he could not avoid remarking on what had been the conduct of the Government in reference to the Vote now before the Committee. The Committee would remember that some time ago an intention was announced on behalf of the Government to reduce the annual Vote by 10 per cent. each year, with a view to its gradual extinction. In consequence of that, on his (Mr. Grogan's) Motion a Select Committee was appointed last year, mainly consisting of gentlemen who usually supported the Government, to consider the justness of that decision. The consequence was, that after fully inquiring into the question, and after having gone into the minutest details, the Committee recommended that the grant ought to be continued in its integrity. Instead, however, of acting upon the recommendation of the Committee the Government actually appointed a Commission to revise and re-consider a subject which had been already referred for investigation to a select Committee of that House. Now he really believed that such conduct on the part of the Government involved almost a breach of privilege, and he thought it was the bounden duty of the Government to offer some explanation of the circumstances. He hoped that the hon. Secretary of the Treasury would be able to explain why the Government refused the recommendation of the Committee.


said, he was not at all surprised to hear the hon. Members from Ireland complain of not getting more of the public money. He thought that the people of the United Kingdom had every right to complain of the Vote of 20,000 l. for the hospitals of Dublin. There would be some reason for it if it was for the benefit of Ireland generally; but it was only for the benefit of Dublin. At such a time as the present it was monstrous to pass such a Vote.


said, that the Vote was not asked for as a matter of humanity or commiseration—it was demanded as a simple act of justice. The Votes now under consideration were upon the Irish establishment before the Union took place, and was part of the contract that was then entered into when both countries were united. It would be nothing short of great injustice and robbery to deprive the city of Dublin of those Votes. The hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams), was wrong in saying the Vote was 20,000 l., it was only 12,000 l.; but the Committee of that House recommended that it should be raised to 16,000 l. The Vote, too, was not to benefit Dublin alone, but to benefit every part of Ireland; for it was to maintain a medical school which was perhaps the first in the world.


said he must confess that he was one of those Irish Members who did not feel the slightest gratitude to the British Government for the money—simply because of the right of his country to have it. It was indeed but a small boon for a country that was so unequally and unjustly taxed as Ireland. The Schools of Medicine in Dublin were a benefit to the whole country, inasmuch as they raised a class of physicians far superior, generally speaking, to any in that country. The Government sent over a Commission of English physicians—who cared for them? The Irish people did not care for them. Well, they made a Report—and a precious Report it was—for they decided in directly the opposite way to the Committee of that House. So long as they required the gallantry of the Irish soldiers to fight their battles for them, they had no right to grumble at such trifling demands for the country.


said, he was surprised at the hon. Member for Lambeth's opposition, to the Vote, for if he took the trouble to look at the Report of the Committee last year he would have found that every one of his assertions were amply contradicted by all the witnesses that had been examined. There was one point to which he felt he might allude in connection with the subject—the amount of private charity practised in Dublin. Looking at its resources, and comparing its valuation with other towns, it would be found that the sums received from private charity exceeded any other town in the Empire. With regard to the matter of hospitals, there were 1616 persons in hospitals there, supported by private subscriptions, not in any way assisted by the State—being a far greater number than were supported in Edinburgh. He must express his regret at the course taken by the Government upon the subject. The Committee, which was composed of a large majority of English Members recommended an increase of the grant. The Government, finding it almost impossible to get over that Report, appointed a Commission, and endeavoured by a side wind to get rid of that Report. He maintained that it was an insult to their Committee to appoint a Commission. Such a course had never before been taken, and he hoped would never be again followed, as it had created great dissatisfaction and confusion.


said, having been a Member of the Committee which sat to inquire into those hospitals, he felt he would not be justified in letting pass unnoticed the observations of the hon. Member for Lambeth. The witnesses examined did not consist of surgeons and physicians, but of those who were connected with the schools of medicine in England; who were known to be men of first-rate attainments, and who had a perfect knowledge of those institutions in Ireland from having visited them, and from having pupils who had been transferred from those schools. One of them was Mr. Guthrie, who gave evidence strongly in favour of the maintenance of those schools. He had some knowledge of the Members of the Commission. One of them, no doubt, was a man rendered illustrious in respect to his knowledge of surgery, and whose virtues and honourable character no one could have a doubt of. He (Mr. Brady) had had an interview with Mr. South since his appointment to that Commission, and he had at all times admitted that the schools of medicine in Ireland had contributed greatly to the advancement of science and to the improvement of the medical profession. Mr. South was now a strong advocate for those institutions. He (Mr. Brady), therefore, contended that it was the duty of the Government to retain them.


said, he thought he would be able to show that the Government had acted not only in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee, but also in the interest of those institutions. The Commission was appointed not to determine the amount of the grant, but to inquire generally into the institutions, with a view to their consolidation, if possible. The former Committee had recommended a gradual reduction of the grant; but when the Committee of last year had reported the reduction was arrested. The great object of the Commission was to show that the Schools of Medicine could be made more effective.


said, he could bear testimony to the value of the Dublin hospitals as places of medical education. They were vastly superior to the hospitals in England. The Dublin surgeons were far beyond the English surgeons in skill and science.


said, he must maintain that the Government had no right to stifle the Report of the Committee by a side wind. He felt he had only done his duty in submitting the matter to the Committee.

Vote agreed to; as were also the following Votes.

(16.) 500 l., Female Orphan House.

(17.) 1,215 l., Westmorland Lock Hospital.

(18.) 500 l., Lying-in Hospital.

(19.) 795 l., Dr. Stevens' Hospital.

(20.) 1,900 l., Fever Hospital, Cork Street.

(21.) 250 l., Hospital for Incurables.

(22.) Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 38,953 l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1856.


said, he objected to the Vote. He was informed that the ministers of the Free Church of Scotland were a great deal better paid than those ministers in Ireland for whom the Vote was given; and he had no doubt if the Vote were withdrawn, judging from the ability of the congregations, that those ministers would be better paid. He should, therefore, move that the Vote of 38,953 l. for nonconforming clergy be reduced to 366 l.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 366 l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1856.


said, he should support the Amendment. While the Nonconformists of Ireland had raised, in fifty years, by voluntary contributions, 3,500,000 l. for charitable purposes, they had been receiving from the public taxes between 400,000 l. and 500,000 l. Many of the congregations in Ireland paid their ministers less than 30, or even as little as 20 l. a year. It was impossible to look upon, those ministers without feelings of the greatest sympathy, while the scorn of the country would rest upon the congregations.


said, that as the only Irish Presbyterian in the House, he must protest against such gross imputations. He denied that the conduct of the Irish Nonconformist was beggarly. Their claim to the Vote rested on a positive contract with the Crown in 1673; and the present Vote was actually less in amount than the value of the glebe lands which were then given up. The fact was, the opposition to the grant was brought forward by a society in London for the liberation of the Church from State control. He denied, however, that there was anything like State patronage or control involved in the grant. He found, from the Congregational Year-book of 1855, that out of 2,760 chapels belonging to that body, 1,400 of them were without ministers; while in Wales, out of 484 chapels, 150 were in a similar situation.

Question put,

The Committee divided:—Ayes 32; Noes 96: Majority 64.

Original Question again proposed.


said, he objected to the proposed addition to the number of ministers, and should move the reduction of the Vote by the sum of 415 l. It was one thing to maintain the existing number of ministers; but it involved a new principle to add to them.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That a sum, not exceeding 38,538 l., be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Expense of Non-conforming, Seceding, and Protestant Dissenting Ministers in Ireland, to the 31st day of March, 1856.


said, he should oppose the Amendment, as calculated to interfere with the formation of new congregations. The Committee had already rejected the previous Amendment by a large majority, and in consistency it ought to support the Vote as it stood.


said, if the donation was necessary in the case of full-grown long-established congregations, it was ten times more necessary to young congregations.He should, therefore, oppose the reduction.


said, he objected to the amount paid to clergymen for attending Presbyterian prisoners.


said, he must explain that the clergymen were bound to attend prisoners, and their duties extended beyond the performance of their spritual duties. It was greatly to the credit of Presbyterians that the number of prisoners was so inconsiderable.

Question put,

The Committee divided:—Ayes 36; Noes 86: Majority 50.

Vote agreed to; as was also

(23.) 6,384 l., Concordatum Fund.

The House resumed,