HC Deb 21 April 1856 vol 141 cc1342-3

said, he wished to draw attention to the fact that certain sums had been expended without the sanction of Parliament. It had been settled that the charges of collecting the revenue should be under the control of Parliament. Yet it appeared that certain charges had been paid out of growing revenues without having been voted. There was a sum of £213,000 which had been expended without the authority of Parliament, and but for the voluntary declaration of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary of the Treasury (in answer to a question from himself), would never have been disclosed to the House. How far from perfect was our system of public accounts appeared from this circumstance. The expenditure of this large sum need not have been disclosed at all, for anything in the accounts. There was nothing at all in our system of accounts to entail a disclosure of it. It appeared neither upon the accounts nor the Votes. The amount was very large to have been expended without cognisance of Parliament. The Secretary of the Treasury might have entirely suppressed it. The hon. Gentleman disclosing it had displayed the inefficiency of our system of public accounts, and to this it was he desired to call the attention of the House more particularly. This sum of £213,000 had never been issued from the Exchequer at all, for the sum never got into the Exchequer; yet it figured in an account commencing with a balance in the Exchequer. Now what had this sum to do with Exchequer accounts which never went into the Exchequer? It had nothing to do with Exchequer accounts at all. How was the "balance" made out? It was properly to be made out from moneys which had come into the Exchequer. And, therefore, the sum of £213,000 properly should not have been brought into the account at all. The Treasury had brought into the account of net income sums paid into the Exchequer and sums which had been stopped on their way to the Exchequer. It was extremely difficult to understand such a system of accounts. At all events, it was clear that our system of accounts was very imperfect, and required inquiry and improvement.


said, his right hon. Friend was in error in treating the account in which this item appeared as an Exchequer account; it was only a revenue account, including sums that never went into the Exchequer. The object of the Bill of 1854 was to remove certain charges named in the schedules from the gross revenue, part to the Consolidated Fund and part to the annual Votes; but, as stated by the right hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), a few items, consisting of some pensions granted to different families, were omitted from the schedules. It was thought better to leave these unchanged, as some had been redeemed, and negotiations were in progress for the redemption of the rest. In 1853, two pensions of Lord Cowper's charged on the Post Office and Land Revenue, were redeemed and appeared in the financial accounts for that year. If the pensions to the Duke of Grafton and to the heirs of the Duke of Schomberg had not been redeemed this year, they would have been paid out of the gross revenue, and have appeared, next year, in the usual accounts.


said, if the Government had laid the gross amount of revenue before the House instead of the net amount, it would have been more satisfactory, although it might not have removed the objection of compounding these pensions without the authority of Parliament. With regard to the holders of those pensions, he could not help thinking that there was an example which they would do themselves great credit if they were to follow. The late Marquess of Camden was entitled to a pension of £10,000 a year, and he on conscientious grounds renounced that pension for the benefit of the country. Others, he thought, might be induced to follow that example; and these facilities of compromising pensions without the sanction of Parliament ought to be strenuously opposed.