HC Deb 03 August 1857 vol 147 cc930-1

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of the Treasury what is the total amount of the money advanced to Mr. Ouseley on account of the Monte Videan Government, by whose authority the advances were made from the Civil Contingencies Fund, and what prospect there is of the repayment of the £37,395 stated to be the balance now due to this country; whether it is the practice of the Foreign Office to draw on the Treasury for payments of this character to Foreign Governments without the consent and knowledge of Parliament?


said, the total amount due to Her Majesty's Government from the Monte Videan Government was £50,909, of which £37,395 had been advanced from Civil Contingencies and the rest by votes of that House. With regard to the prospect of repayment, all he could say was that Her Majesty's Government were doing their best to induce the Monte Videan Government to repay what the English Government believed to be a just debt due to them from the Government of Monte Video. The money was advanced by the English Consul General some years ago for the benefit of the community of Monte Video during a time of disturbance, and his noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office was doing what he could to procure the liquidation of the debt. With regard to the last question, he thought if the hon. Member would consider what the nature of the Civil Contingencies Fund was he would see that it was a sum of money voted by that House annually for the purpose of meeting unforeseen emergencies, and that if any emergency arose, whether at home or abroad, it was to that Fund that the Ministry looted for the payment of the expense. The Foreign Office did not draw on the Treasury, but, on an emergency arising, the Foreign Office applied to the Treasury, and if the latter department thought the expenditure fitting they made an advance for the purpose on their own responsibility.


said, he wished to know how it was that Parliament had been kept in total ignorance of this Vote since 1851?


said, Parliament had not been kept in total ignorance of the Vote. It was not a Vote; the money was advanced from the Civil Contingencies Fund.


said, he wished to ask what authority the Consul had to expend the money?


said, when Sir William Ouseley was acting as agent for this Government at Monte Video he was acting under the general power given to him by the Foreign Office for the purpose of protecting British interests in those parts, the same as every other Foreign Minister must do when abroad serving his country, and he must be presumed to have exercised a certain amount of discretion in the matter.