HC Deb 01 May 1855 vol 137 cc2111-2

said, he would now beg to move the Address of which he had given notice for Returns of the expenses of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with regard to his Lordship's mission to Vienna. He understood that the number of individuals attending upon the noble Lord upon his mission amounted to thirty-two—male and female. He certainly had never heard that it was the custom for ladies to be sent on foreign missions. He had no wish whatever to stint the noble Lord of anything which could conduce to his comfort, but the people, from whose pockets the money came, had a right to know what the cost of this mission was, the more especially as it had been a total failure. He hoped, therefore, that the whole expenses would be stated fairly and without concealment, whether they referred to luxuries, comforts, or recreation, or whether they were for purposes connected with the public service.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that She will be graciously pleased to give directions that there be laid before this House, Returns of the Expenses of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, with regard to his Lordship's Mission to Vienna and Conference with the other Missionaries of France, Austria, and the Sublime Porte, there assembled for Negotiation and Treaty with Russia for the restoration of Peace.


said, he could not agree to this Motion, the object of which clearly was to cast an imputation on his noble Friend of which he was not deserving. [Colonel SIBTHORP: No, no!] The Motion was totally without precedent. If the hon. and gallant Colonel could state any reason why Parliament should inquire into the expenses of this mission, that would be a ground for departing from the usual course. The expenses of missions of this kind were always stated in the return of Civil Contingencies laid before the House, and a sum was usually taken to cover them in the Estimate for Civil Contingencies. His noble Friend had only just returned from his mission, and the accounts were not yet sent in, but, when they were sent in and presented in the return to Parliament in the usual way, he would undertake to say that they would be found to be in no way beyond the ordinary and usual amount of expenses of the same kind. It must be remembered that in the case of extraordinary missions such as this the bare expenses only were allowed, and no salary or emolument whatever was paid to the Minister or Ambassador performing the duties. The Motion could only be intended as a vote of censure upon the noble Lord; it was a total departure from precedent, for which no Parliamentary reason whatever had been assigned, and he should therefore not consent to the production of any such return.


said, he was convinced from the noble Viscount's refusal to grant this return that the Government were afraid to lay an account of the expense of this mission before the House. He would leave the public to draw their own inferences, but for his part he looked upon it as an underhand, low piece of business, and he washed his hand of it altogether.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

The House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.