§ House in Committee, Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
§ (1.) £2,000, Gallery of Historical Portraits.
§ MR. SPOONER
said, the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coningham) had objected to this Vote on a previous occasion, and he (Mr. Spooner) was now prepared to support him in dividing against it, because they had no right to tax the public for such an object as that which it contemplated. It might be said this was a small sum; but it was but the beginning of a more extensive scheme. It could not be said that the object of this gallery was the promotion of art; for art was not likely to be greatly assisted by hanging up old pictures of statesmen and naval and military commanders. The Chancellor of the Exchequer gave up that view of the case the other day, and told them the gallery would be extremely valuable as an historical collection. He (Mr. Spooner) however, contended that they had no right to spend the public money to found a gallery which could only be visited and seen by a very small portion of the people of the country. We had spent on the British Museum, National Gallery, and similar institutions, 1317 in the year ending January, 1857, no less than £270,000, and under the head of art £48,000 only last year. On the Kensington estate we had spent £277,000. So that there was an expense of more than half a million of money on objects in which the public at large had little or no interest. If they agreed to this Vote an expenditure, already objectionable, would go on increasing from year to year. And for what? To get an exhibition, he had no doubt interesting in itself, but for which the poor man from one end of the kingdom to the other would be taxed without the possibility of deriving any advantage from it. He hoped, therefore, that the Committee would not only decline to sanction this Vote, but would arrest the growing expenditure on subjects of a similar character. For these reasons, if the hon. Member for Brighton declined to take the sense of the Committee on the present occasion, he should do so.
§ MR. INGRAM
said, he thought they could not spend the trifling sum now proposed in a better way than in the erection of a gallery for portraits. Notwithstanding what had fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner), the working classes took a great interest in the erection of galleries like these. Perhaps the portrait of the hon. Member himself might find a place in the proposed collection, and add not inconsiderably to the interest that would be felt in it.
said, he could not agree with the hon. Member (Mr. Spooner) on this question. He should support the proposal before them, but he must object to the establishment of a new set of officials when the present National Gallery and the officials there ought to be sufficient.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he always found it rather difficult to satisfy his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Spooner) with regard to Votes of this class. If he proposed a vote for the cultivation of art and the improvement of the public taste his hon. Friend said that was not a legitimate ground on which to tax the people of this country, who, he said, were indifferent to works of art. Then if he proposed a Vote like the present, not for the purpose of cultivating art, but to form a gallery of portraits of persons eminent in the history of the country, and whose characters and reputation were dear to the people, his hon. Friend turned round and said the Vote was objectionable, because it was not for the promotion of art, but for an object from which the people 1318 at large would derive no benefit. It was rather difficult, therefore, to know on what grounds he might hope to be fortunate enough to obtain the support of his hon. Friend; and unless he were tempted by the prospect, held out by the hon. Member for Boston, of his portrait being placed in this gallery, he should almost despair of receiving his support. This Vote originated in a Resolution of the House of Lords last Session to address the Crown in favour of the establishment of a gallery of portraits, with the intention of illustrating English History, something similar in its nature to those statues which might be seen in the corridor of that House. In consequence of that Address the Government proposed last year a Vote of £2,000. The House, after discussion, and on a division, agreed to that Vote; trustees were appointed, and the foundation of the gallery had been commenced. Some donations had been made, and among them was one from the late lamented Earl of Ellesmere of the portrait of Shakspeare of which he was the possessor. In these circumstances he hoped the House would not reverse the decision of last year and refuse to add to the grant of last year the moderate sum now proposed. With reference to what had fallen from the hon. Member (Mr. Gilpin) it was not proposed to apply any portion of the sum to the payment of officers beyond £100 given to the secretary to the trustees, and it was not contemplated to have any staff of officers for the gallery. At present the very limited space assigned to the National Gallery prevented this new collection being placed there; but when it was the pleasure of the House to carry out a plan for the enlargement of the National Gallery it would then be in the power of the Government to set aside one or two rooms in connection with that gallery for the reception of portraits. They would be under the care of the officers of the National Gallery. No attempt would be made to create any new establishment of officials, and the money voted by Parliament would be employed in the purchase of pictures for the gallery.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that £2,000 had been voted last year for the same purposes, and he wished to know what had been done with the money, what portraits had been purchased, and the sums paid for them. Some information of that kind ought to be given before any additional sum was granted.
§ MR. COX
said, the Government were now getting in the thin end of the wedge, find the sooner they were stopped the better. He thought that if the National Gallery was to be made any use of all the pictures worth seeing ought to be placed there. The proposed Gallery of Portraits appeared to him to be nothing but an absurdity, and would lead to the throwing away of the public money. It had been said that the gallery would illustrate history, but he did not understand how the exhibition of the portraits, for instance, of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and of the First Lord of the Treasury, would illustrate history. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Carlisle might be glad to see his portrait in such a collection, and probably the hon. Member for Lambeth would be gratified in viewing his as 'the successor of Mr. Hume'—but they would produce very little impression on the minds of the people.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, that if he were informed that the working classes would be admitted to view the collection of portraits on a Sunday he would vote for the sum proposed, or even a larger sum.
§ MR. BRISCOE
observed, that when the debate on this subject closed on last Wednesday he had spent half an hour or an hour in inquiries before he could ascertain where the portraits were collected; at last, with great difficulty, he found that the Government had obtained a room in the house of an engineer in Great George Street, but, on asking permission to see pictures already obtained, he was told that it was impossible he could be admitted; that not only the working classes were excluded, but everybody else, unless provided with an order from a noble Lord, Earl Stanhope. He certainly thought it important that Members of Parliament, when called on to vote public money for this Portrait Gallery, should be allowed to see what sort of pictures had been obtained. He understood from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the gallery was to be a collection of original pictures, but where were original pictures to be obtained? They were the property of private individuals, who formed galleries of their own, and he recollected on one occasion being an unsuccessful competitor for the purchase of a portrait of Blackstone, by Gainsborough, with the late Sir Robert Peel, who bought it for a portrait gallery he was forming at Tamworth. From his 1320 experience he should say it was not possible, except now and then, to obtain original portraits. He was at a loss to understand what advantage it was to be voting this sum of £2,000 yearly, and he should be glad to see the Vote withdrawn.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, he did not disapprove of the objects of the Vote; but, from the arrangements which had been made with respect to the gallery, he believed that the public could obtain no advantage from it, for there was, already, an accumulation of national pictures which could not be exhibited for want of room. Was the House to go on, year after year, voting money for a collection of portraits, without the smallest probability existing of that benefit arising which, it was supposed, might result from the contemplation by the public of the portraits of the great men belonging to the country? This proposition appeared to have originated in an idea to imitate the Palace of Versailles, and if there was a building in which the Government could hang up the pictures, then the public might get some advantage from the Vote; but the pictures already obtained could not be seen, even by an hon. Gentleman who took pains to obtain a sight of them. Under the circumstances, he, for one, should vote against the proposed grant.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he thought the complaint of the hon. Baronet not quite reasonable. It was almost impossible that, by the expenditure of the sum of £2,000, voted last year, any amount of pictures could have been obtained sufficiently large to be worth exhibiting, for original portraits were very valuable. The question for the Committee to determine was, whether they thought it worth while to lay the foundation of a gallery of national portraits in this country. He confessed he could not imagine any object of more universal or of more permanent interest to the people of this country. He agreed with the Chancellor of the Exchequer that, though the collection might possess merit, as containing works of art, yet the primary and most important object of such a gallery as that proposed was not to be a gallery of art. A collection of national portraits would illustrate history to the eye in a manner which would be interesting to all classes of the people, and must be productive of beneficial results. All the House was now asked to do was, to sanction the principle by voting a small sum for the purpose, and when a sufficient number of portraits 1321 had been accumulated, it would then be time to consider in what way they could best be exhibited. When a Gallery of Historical Portraits was formed, and had obtanined a certain degree of excellence, contributions of value and interest would be made by individuals, who would be proud to have the portraits of their relatives and ancestors placed in a national collection of this description. For himself, he must say, that he could not conceive anything more interesting, instructive, or valuable to the country, than a really good and complete collection of historical portraits. Englishmen had a great pride in collecting pictures of this description, and he believed that, in this country, which was particularly rich in historical portraits, there would be no difficulty, in a very short time, in forming the nucleus of a most valuable collection; and he should be sorry if the Committee, by rejecting this Vote, were to lead the world to believe that there was no taste in England for such a collection.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
said, that, if any association of private gentlemen set themselves to work to collect a gallery of the portraits of British statesmen, the work would soon be done. Having been interested in some such matter a few years ago, he knew that there had been found in the house of one nobleman, who was the inheritor of three great historical families, an enormous collection of portraits, which had lain on their faces in the sleeping-rooms over the stables for thirty years. Nobody knew the names of them, by whom they were painted, or anything about them; and, for all that he knew, there they were still. It was notorious, however, that whatever was undertaken by the Government was done at a greater cost than by anybody else, and what, he asked, was the use of such a dribble as £2,000 a year? At the same time, the Miscellaneous Estimates had been increasing for years past in such a manner as to excite serious disquietude; and, following the analogy of private life, if there were a year in which, owing to some calamity, the expenditure was larger than usual, that was not the year selected for purchasing expensive articles of taste and luxury. In this country the Government ought to be very cautious in incurring such expenditure, the more so as it was well known that, buy what they would, or build what they would, every soul in the country next year would find fault with what they had 1322 done. He did not much like to meddle with a Vote of £2,000 a year, as it was a small sum, and did not signify much, but he thought that this was one of the most foolish of all the foolish Votes that had been proposed in the Miscellaneous Estimates.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that the speech of the hon. Member for West Surrey answered itself, because, if in old country houses historical pictures were laid in rooms over the stables, upon their faces, what would seem to be required was, some commodious gallery where they might be hung with their backs to the walls, and where everybody might see them.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
said, that he opposed the grant upon two grounds; not because he objected to the collection of genuine portraits of celebrated personages—for he should be the last to grudge money for such an object—but, because we had ample machinery for the purpose already existing at the National Gallery, and because he absolutely objected to the appointment of a totally irresponsible body of trustees, some of whom—especially the professional trustee—had proved themselves unworthy of the public confidence. In the discussion of this Estimate they had been told that there was no room in the National Gallery, but he maintained that there was ample space in that building if the Royal Academy were turned out of that portion of it which they at present occupied—a result which the Government were almost pledged to accomplish. He complained of the tone which had been adopted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in reply to his observations, carping at him as impeaching the character of Sir C. Eastlake. He begged to say he had done nothing of the kind. Sir C. Eastlake was a public officer, receiving public pay, and he (Mr. Coningham), as a representative in Parliament, took upon himself to impugn the public administration of that officer, and he maintained that he had clearly and satisfactorily shown that he was wanting in those qualifications which fit a man to occupy a post of such serious responsibility. He was borne out in this view by a great Parliamentary authority—the late Mr. Hume—who said that he was a man who did everything, and who directed everything, and that it was no wonder, therefore, that everything was done in the strangest manner. But more than this, Sir C. East-lake had himself borne testimony to his own incompetence, when he stated before 1323 the Select Committee, in 1853, with reference to the purchase of the Holbein portrait, that it was such a mistake as he should hardly suppose that a person whom he should assume to be fit for the director of a national gallery would make. He hoped that they should hear no more about Sir Charles Eastlake being an amiable man. [The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: I did not say he was an amiable man.] Some one on the Treasury bench had met him with that argument. He (Mr. Coningham) looked upon Sir Charles Eastlake as a public man, and when he made such an error as the Holbein purchase, and as sending a Commission to Paris to purchase a spurious Titian, which had been hawked about London for years, he contended that such proceedings were open to comment and to blame, He was told that, already, a secretary had been appointed for the portrait gallery, at a salary of £100 a year, and he had no doubt that, gradually, other officers would creep in, until a considerable expense was entailed upon the country. He, therefore, would appeal to the Committee, as the guardians of the public purse to resist this grant, and to show to the Government, and to those who advised the Government in these matters, that a stop must be put to this system of irresponsible and useless expenditure.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I must say, Sir, that I think that the remarks of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down are unfounded in fact and are erroneous in theory. The truth is that the hon. Gentleman has created a peculiar theory respecting Sir C. Eastlake, which influences all his opinions and distorts the conclusions of a clear and accomplished mind, which otherwise, I am sure, upon these subjects would be most instructive to the Committee. Sir C. Eastlake has little to do with this "miserable Vote," as it has been called, beyond exercising the influence which is exercised by any other trustee—[Mr. CONINGHAM: He is the professional trustee.] We really don't inquire when we meet in that room, whether a gentleman is a duke or a picture dealer, or the regulator of a gallery; but only whether he displays such an amount of taste and knowledge as will enable us to come to a satisfactory result. Sir C. Eastlake is only one of those trustees named by the Treasury to carry into effect the decisions of Parliament. It is very easy, no doubt, at this time to raise a protest against the expenditure of any 1324 public money, even for the purposes of enlightenment and education, for we are unhappily engaged in a very great struggle. We have before us a conjuncture of a magnitude which, with our alarmed imaginations, it is not very easy to conceive, and I agree that we ought to husband our resources and to be careful how we yield to appeals for devoting the public money to any other object than to maintain the existence of our empire and the glory of our country. At the same time, however, let us look at this question in that fair common sense manner in which we view the ordinary business of life. Now what was the origin of this Vote and of this Commission? An Address was moved and carried in the other House by Earl Stanhope, and her Majesty having returned a gracious reply to it, it became the duty of the Government to carry it into effect. The object of that Address was one which all must agree will, if well carried out, be of the greatest advantage to the country. It is to gather into one collection the names of all those who have illustrated our history, and whose names have become household words with all good Englishmen. However worthy of attack the hon. Gentleman may think Sir C. Eastlake, I cannot but consider that when the Government chose the members of the Commission they very properly placed upon it his name, as he is a gentleman of great knowledge and great taste, and one who brought to the Commission the high authority of his official position. But Sir C. Eastlake has not exercised any more influence over the proceedings of the Commission than any other member; indeed, I should say less. You must recollect that we have on that Commission such men as the Marquess of Lansdowne, Mr. Macaulay, Mr. Sidney Herbert, and Sir Francis Palgrave, who bring to the discharge of their trust a very extensive knowledge of the subjects connected with the intended collection. The hon. Gentleman argues this question as if our aim was to make a collection of fine pictures, but the gallery does not pretend to be anything of the sort. Its value depends on the authenticity of the portraits, and it is necessary, therefore, that there should be on the Commission persons qualified not only by their knowledge and study of works of art, but also by their command over all those sources of information by which the authenticity of historical portraits is to be decided, to take care that the public 1325 are not deceived. Sir C. Eastlake's opinion has always been most valuable, but it has not been obtrusively put forward, nor has it been predominant. Many of the points into which we have to inquire before determining on the acquisition of pictures have been such as Sir C. East-lake would possess no more special knowledge about than any other well-educated and accomplished man. The opinions of the noble President and of Mr. Macaulay on these points would be as valuable as those of Sir C. Eastlake; and Earl Stanhope, with a sufficient knowledge of art, but with a profound historical knowledge and an acquaintance with the details of collections, has exercised a greater influence over the Commission than Sir C. East-lake. The hon. Gentleman calls this a trifling miserable Vote; but it really is not, for it is a sufficient Vote. It never was intended that the public purse was to be open suddenly to collect together a considerable number of portraits; it was always assumed that there would be so much sympathy with the objects of the Commission that many persons in possession of portraits of historical value, animated by this national idea, would present them to the nation. That calculation has been found to be perfectly correct, and though the Commission has not been long in existence, very many interesting portraits have been offered to the country by individuals and families. I don't know whether the whole of the £2,000 voted last year has been spent yet, but if it has I am sure it has been expended with the greatest care. No purchase has been made without the utmost search and reflection, and when the gallery is open the public will see that a great result has been obtained at a very small expense, not only because our limited funds have been expended with admirable judgment, but also because the public sympathy with the objects of the Commission has been excited, and valuable treasures have been offered gratuitously to the gallery by our fellow-subjects. It was with great pain that I heard the hon. Gentleman speak in a very contemptuous tone of the Chandos portrait of Shakspeare, which has lately come into the possession of the country, as not being worth £10. I won't say a word as to its value as a work of art, though others, whose opinions stand very high, have entertained a very different estimation of its value,—but the Chandos Shakspeare has for a long period of years been looked upon as 1326 a memorable and interesting picture, and no doubt, very valuable. Whether it be worth £10 or £1,000, it didn't cost the country one shilling. It was munificently presented to the country by one who was long a Member of this House, and who will always be recollected with interest as a most accomplished patron of art, and a man of most refined tastes, who purchased it at the Stowe sale for £1,000. It was in consequence of the existence of the Commission that the Earl of Ellesmere presented that portrait to the nation. We have been in existence now for about a year, and we have acquired a considerable number of portraits infinitely more valuable in the aggregate than the £2,000 which has been voted to us. I don't think that the public funds could have been spent in a more judicious manner. Knowledge, taste, and experience have been combined to form a gallery which will be of the greatest advantage to the public. We owe much to Sir C. Eastlake, but more to the devotion and assiduity of our valuable chairman, who has given up his whole time to the duties of the Commission. Although, therefore, we may have arrived at a moment of danger in the public fortunes, I hope the Committee will not give way to an appeal to blot out a Vote of this kind—moderate in amount and very effective in its results. Surely there is higher game to fly at than a Vote of this sort. I know that I speak of these subjects quite as an unlettered man. I do not pretend to decide whether the Chandos Shakspeare is worth £10 or £1,000 guineas. I know that there is no character with whom competition is more to be dreaded than an amateur dilettante. I should not venture on asserting the authenticity of a Correggio, or disputing with such an amateur the Corregiocity of a picture. I have, however, exercising such knowledge as I possess, ventured to give my humble opinion in such way as I thought would prove beneficial to the public; and when the Gallery of Portraits is exhibited, I shall appeal with confidence to the verdict of the public on the result which has been effected by the labours of the Commission. The hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Briscoe) complains that the Committee is not consulted on the pictures to be purchased. If I had had the least knowledge that the hon. Member was so profound a master of art as he has described himself to be, I would, when I was abroad, and when I was applied to to allow my name to be 1327 put on this Commission, not only have disclaimed all title to the distinction, but suggested that the hon. Member for West Surrey should be named in my place. With great respect to the hon. Member, I, however, think that the particular pictures to be purchased is a matter for the members of the Commission sitting in council, rather than for a Committee of this House. As we have only been twelve months in existence we only possess two dirty garrets in George Street, and with great deference to the taste and the profound knowledge which the hon. Member for Surrey tells us his long study has given him in matters of art, I can assure him that there was no intention on the part of the housekeeper to prevent him inspecting our collection. He might have mounted to our dusty rooms, and he would have seen there the Chandos portrait; he would have seen, too, a portrait of Dr. Mead, which I believe is of some interest; a portrait of Sir W. Wyndham in the robes of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and another of Sir Walter Raleigh, all of which have been acquired without any cost to the country. But it is totally impossible, while the collection is in its present stage, that it should be open to everybody who chooses to knock at the door, and step in to examine a picture. We have only had a year; but give us a lustrum, let us enjoy the benefit of this small Vote for five years, and then let us show you an exhibition of portraits which will prove that we have not betrayed the public trust. You will then have what you have never had yet—the foundation of a gallery of portraits in which you will see all the eminent men who have made the character of this country—of English worthies on which the youth of the country can look and become worthies in their turn. I understand the object of a National Gallery of portraits to be, not to produce fine pictures, but authentic portraits of eminent men. In that spirit it was the Commissioners commenced their deliberations. The Commission numbers among its members some of the best judges in this country, and it is only six months since we arrived at those conditions which are to regulate our acceptance and our purchase of pictures. If the hon. Member (Mr. Drummond) chooses to move for a copy of these conditions, I have no hesitation in saying that we shall offer no objection to their production. As I have just observed, our resolutions have only been come to within the last six or seven 1328 months, and the consequence has already been that you have received in public tribute—in donations from a sympathising country, infinitely more in value than you have expended in public money. I do entreat the Committee, therefore, not to be led away by the prejudices of the hon. Gentleman, excited on quite a different subject, and not rashly and precipitately to crush a project, humble in the claims it makes upon the public purse, but which in its results may be most important and highly conducive to the honour and interests of the country.
§ COLONEL FRENCH
said, that if he trusted his ears he should suppose the discussion to turn on the respective merits of the hon. Member for West Surrey (Mr. Drummond) and Sir Charles Eastlake, instead of the formation of a National Portrait Gallery. For his part he agreed with those who thought the present was no time for such trifles as these. The Chancellor of the Exchequer who now spoke in such duleet tones in favour of this Vote would, by-and-by, propose the increase of the income-tax on account of the wars in which we were engaged. He should certainly oppose the Vote.
§ MR. CONINGHAM
, in explanation, denied that it had been his intention to make a personal attack on the Commission; he only wished to expose the system.
Motion made, and Question put,—
That a sum, not exceeding £2,000, be granted to Her Majesty, towards the formation, in the year ending the 31st day of March, 1858, of the Gallery of Portraits of the most Eminent Persons in British History.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 85; Noes 31: Majority 54.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (2.) £2,000, Cholera in the West Indies.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished to ask how long these Votes were to continue? The present was the fourth during the last six years. He thought it high time this inquiry should cease.
replied, that the inquiry was now drawing to a close, and that this Vote would probably be the last.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (3.) £500, Works at Spurn Point, River Humber.
§ MR. A. SMITH
said, he wished to ask whether, if the claims put forward to the fore shore on the part of the Woods and Forests were to be established, that Department 1329 ought not to take upon itself the repairs of the shore in return for the pecuniary advantage they expected to derive?
§ MR. ADAMS
asked whether there was in existence any report upon these works subsequent to the letter from the Government Engineer to the Secretary of the Admiralty dated the 6th of May last, which appeared in the Estimates, and from which it seemed to him that the works already erected at a cost of £22,000 were about to be abandoned, and that the authorities were going to trust to the action of the wind and the currents for the formation of a bank of shingle or sand. He also was desirous of calling attention to the fact that the letter to which he had referred stated that if no breach occurred £500 would be sufficient to meet the current expenses. If, however, a gale occurred it was not unlikely that the whole island and lighthouse would be swept away, and therefore he wished to know what sum would be needed supposing that a breach did occur?
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
stated that no further report had been received, and he could not give any very satisfactory or conclusive opinion as to the security of the works. It was at present a matter of the greatest uncertainty. No portion of the Vote had reference to any works on the Island on which Spurn Lighthouse stood; that was under the superintendence of the Trinity House; and the works undertaken by the Government were intended to fill up two breaches in the bank which connected the island with the main land. These breaches were made three or four years ago. The smaller of them was completely filled up, and the larger one was also pretty effectually stopped, when it was found that the sea was throwing up a new bank of sand directly in front of it, and it was now thought that the Humber would be more effectually separated from the sea by this new bank than by any work that could be undertaken short of the formation of a breakwater, which would be a very costly work indeed. It moreover appeared by the old reports of Mr. Smeaton that the same thing had occurred many years ago. He did not, however, think that there was any great prospect of a breach occurring in the existing works, and would remind the hon. Member that it was not usual to present estimates for such contingencies.
§ LORD HOTHAM
said, he would give no opinion as to the probability or improbability of a new breach being made in these works, 1330 but he recommended the right hon. Baronet to take such precautions as, if adopted in the first instance, would have saved a large part of the £22,000 which had been expended upon these works. Had any one competent to deal with such matters been upon the spot when these breaches were first made by the sea, he believed that they could have been stopped at a cost of as many hundreds as there had now been expended thousands. A great deal of damage was done by the delay which took place before the breach was repaired.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (4.) £10,000, Additional Churches and Parsonage Houses.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, be would divide the Committee against this Vote. The Government very wisely withdrew last year the Vote which they had intended to ask on this subject, and he thought that such a Vote would never have made its appearance again in the Estimates. It was stated that this Vote was a contribution on the part of the Crown. Why, it was a contribution from taxes levied on the people at large. The Crown had nothing whatever to do with it. The Crown did not even contribute any part of those taxes. He was told, however, that the Secretary to the Treasury meant to make this pretence—that the money was to be given out of the proceeds of Crown property, commonly called the Woods and Forests. Well, that property no more belonged to the Crown than it did to the hon. Gentleman himself. The Crown had surrendered that property in consideration of receiving the allowance of the Civil List, and a very good bargain the Crown made by the exchange. Since Her Majesty's accession to the throne the annual rental of the Woods and Forests had not exceeded, on an average of years, £150,000, whereas the Civil List amounted to £385,000 a year. He did not find fault with the exchange made by the Crown. He wished every prosperity to the Church, and he was glad at all times to hear of the building of additional churches and the formation of additional congregations, but he contended that no greater injury could be inflicted on the Church than the building of new churches out of the public taxes. The Dissenters never came to that House to ask for the public money for building new chapels or churches. Neither the Established Church of Scotland, nor the Free Church of Scotland, nor even the Roman Catholics of Ireland, who were all without 1331 property, relied on voluntary efforts alone for the support of their churches and were never found coming to that House for the public money for the building of their places of worship. The property of the Church of England was enormous in amount. No complete return had been made out of the many millions of money annually received from the property of the Church. Was it just, then, to ask that House to tax the people of this country for building churches and parsonage houses in, above all other places, this wealthy metropolis? He was acquainted with many parts of the metropolis which had built churches at their own expense, and provided sufficient church accommodation for the whole of the population. Even the Church in Ireland, which was in a declining state, never came to that House to ask for money for the building of new churches. He therefore hoped that the Committee would resist this Vote, especially when, as he had already observed in an earlier part of the evening, this country would have plenty to do with its money without building new churches with it. The noble Lord the Member for the City of London and the hon. Member for Surrey had that evening remarked upon the vast increase in the Civil Service Estimates. The noble Lord had told them that during the Premiership of the late Sir R. Peel those Estimates amounted to £4,000,000, and that a few years before, while the Duke of Wellington was Premier, and in the last Session of an unreformed Parliament, they wore only £2,000,000. The Committee would be astonished to hear that the Civil Service Estimates for this year amounted to £7,465,878, and that those for this year exceeded those for 1856 by £741,000.
said, he would at once state the ground on which the Government had thought it their duty to propose this Vote. There might be differences of opinion as to the policy of Government holding such a property as that of the Woods and Forests, but he thought there would be no difference at all—at least the principle had been acknowledged by the House on several occasions—that if the Government or the Crown held property, the Government or the Crown was bound to discharge the duties attached to property. The hon. Gentleman appeared to have altogether lost sight of the fact that within the precints of the Metropolis the Government possessed property the net 1332 annual rental of which was £150,000. Besides that property the Government owned property which, when the leases fell in, would yield a clear annual income of £500,000. The Government also possessed a variety of buildings—not less than 147—used for public purposes, including the Customs and Inland Revenue, which brought about the Metropolis a large population, and therefore rendered necessary additional church accommodation in the Metropolis. The origin of this Vote was this:—There had been a great want of accommodation in the new parts of London within the last few years. [Mr. W. WILLIAMS: In what part?] In the new parts of London; he could not exactly say where. But it was a notorious fact that in the north-western and in the new parts of London there was a great want of church accommodation. Under these circumstances the large proprietors in London were appealed to for donations for the building of new churches. The Marquess of Westminster was applied to, and he put his name down for £10,000. The Duke of Bedford was applied to, and he put his name down for £10,000. Now, as the Executive Government was also a large, and, in fact, the largest proprietor in the Metropolis, it was thought but fitting that it should contribute £10,000 for the building of new churches, which it was to the interest not only of the inhabitants, but to the holders of property and to the public generally, should be built where there was no church accommodation. The Executive Government felt that as they were landlords it was their duty to fulfil the ordinary duties of landlords. This was not the first occasion on which the House was asked to grant money for the building of churches on Crown property. Votes had often been asked for the building of new churches to accommodate those employed in the Customs as well as those engaged in the Coastguard service. The only ground on which this Vote was asked for was, that within the Metropolis the Crown was a large owner of property, and that it was to the interest of the Crown that it should faithfully discharge the duty of a proprietor by providing for the spiritual wants of those who dwelt upon its property.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, he begged to tender his thanks to the Government for having included this Vote in the Estimates, as it was one which, after the statement of the hon. Gentleman, the Secretary to the Treasury, every one must feel 1333 impossible to be resisted. The hon. Member for Lambeth seemed to think that the Secretary to the Treasury was very much taken by surprise because he could not at once answer in what part of the Metropolis the proposed church accommodation was needed; but he suspected that the hon. Member himself would have been far more perplexed if the Secretary to the Treasury had reversed the question, and had asked him to say in what part of the Metropolis additional church accommodation was not needed. He believed that the population of this Metropolis was increasing at the rate of 60,000 a year, and not only outgrowing all the existing church accommodation, but also all the means of supplying new. For his own part, he thought that the Government were only performing an act of duty in asking for this Vote, and he should not object in future years to see the sum increased.
said, that the Secretary for the Treasury had stated that the Government held property for the Crown. Now, that property was not hold for the Crown, but it was public property, and the hon. Gentleman went on to say that it was only proper to do with respect to that property what was done by the large landholders in London. Now, the two cases appeared to him to be entirely distinct from each other. Those landholders held their property to their own use, and were responsible to themselves alone; but the property to which the hon. Gentleman had referred was held on behalf of the nation, which contained persons of many different religions persuasions, and that being so it appeared to him to be inconsistent with the true principle of religious liberty to apply any of the money which arose from that property to the furtherance of any particular sect. Therefore, regarding the Vote as an infringement of the principles of religious liberty, he should give it his most strenuous opposition.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that the hon. Member for Lambeth had stated that the Church of Ireland, although in a declining condition, never came to Parliament for assistance. It was true that they never asked for a grant; but one reason for that was, that they were well aware that it would not be given to them. Not only practically was nothing given to them, but, acting upon the principle laid down by Lord Melbourne, that Protestantism was to get heavy blows and great discouragement, attempts were constantly made to 1334 take away from her that which she already possessed. During the present Session no less than £12,000 a year had been taken from the property of the Church in Ireland, and Parliament had done this at a moment when there were applications to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for grants in aid of new churches to thrice that amount. It was not true that the Church in Ireland was declining, for in his own neighbourhood six or seven churches had been built. As to the Vote itself, he considered it a virtuous and proper Vote, and he was surprised, therefore, at its being proposed by the Treasury, because many of the Votes proposed by them had been most improper Votes. He could not agree that it was an infringement of any principle of religious liberty; but, on the contrary, it was very desirable that facilities should be afforded to the inhabitants of the metropolis for worshipping on the Sabbath day.
§ MR. MONCKTON MILNES
said, he should support the Vote on grounds of social economy. It was most natural that in making any addition to the population of a parish, and after building a certain number of houses, a church should also be built. It appeared to him to be a simple case of the owner of property using that property to the best advantage.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he looked upon the Vote as being objectionable. The question depended upon whether that House was or was not a trustee of this property for the benefit of the whole nation, and if they were, then they had no right to apply any portion of it to build churches for any particular place. It was, moreover, a very important question whether there was any necessity to grant any money at all, and he was satisfied that if the Church property in the Metropolis itself were properly managed, there would be more than enough to provide accommodation for all persons belonging to the Established Church. He might point to the churches empty, and the clergy without employment in the City, and ask why both were not removed to the newer parts of the Metropolis, whither the population had gone? Again, there were large estates in London, such for instance as the Finsbury estate, which would be shortly worth £30,000 a year, and which had been rendered valuable solely by the increase of population, and yet the proceeds of that property were taken possession of by a body which Parliament had thought 1335 proper to appoint, and distributed in every part of the country from which applications for assistance might come. If Parliament were to lay down the principle of withholding all such grants as the present, the abuses which existed in the present management of Church property would be forced upon the notice of Parliament and the attention of the country, and then they might be redressed; but there was no hope of that being done so long as Parliament continued to vote these grants.
SIR FRANCIS BARING
said, he wished to state the reasons which induced him to vote in favour of this grant. There had been great voluntary efforts and large subscriptions on the part of landed proprietors in London. The largest proprietor, however, was the Crown. If the hereditary revenue existed the Crown would be, no doubt, called upon for a contribution. The question was, did the compact made with the Crown by Parliament release Parliament from the obligation in this respect, which rested with the Crown? He (Sir F. Baring) believed it did not. Was property relieved from its duties and liabilities because it was in the hands of the Crown? This was a contribution on the part of the nation and the Crown, and in former times the Woods and Forests would have granted this money without coming to Parliament. The present was much the better mode, and he trusted that Parliament would enable the Woods and Forests to perform those duties which, as a great landed proprietor, the Crown could not be relieved from the duty of discharging.
§ MR. BRISCOE
said, he thought that the application might fairly be made to the large amount of property belonging to the see of London without coming to the public Exchequer for money for church accommodation. There was in Surrey a Diocesan Building Society, to which he was a contributor, and the House might next be asked to subscribe to that fund. But, was there this want of church accommodation? He sometimes attended churches in the east of London, where the congregations were very small, and yet, although there were Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's, it had been thought advisable to have recourse to Exeter Hall. He entertained great doubts of the justice and policy of this Vote.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he felt bound to state, as reference had been made to the property of the see of London, that Bishop Blomfield subscribed to this very fund no less a sum than £5,000.
§ MR. BEALE
said, that landowners frequently subscribed towards the erection of churches, in the hope that the value of their lands would be thereby enhanced. If it were said that the value of the property of the State would be also enhanced by the building of new churches, that was an intelligible ground for voting this money. But the Secretary to the Treasury did not know where this property was situated, and unless he heard better reasons for this Vote he should divide against it.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he believed it would be difficult to define the position of the very extensive property belonging to the Crown; but in the neighbourhood of the Regent's Park and in the suburbs of the Metropolis, the Crown was a large proprietor. In these suburbs a large population was growing up, and it was most desirable that new churches should be built in these districts.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
remarked, that he was strongly of opinion that this was not the best way of considering the spiritual destitution of the people. For the convenience of the clergy and the rich a very bad custom had been adopted by lumping a great many services together, instead of separating the morning prayer from the Litany, and both from the Eucharist. The present morning prayer consisted, in fact, of three distinct services, which ought to be celebrated at different periods of the day. Toleration at present was confounded with the support of the Church of England alone; but he would rather see a grant to other churches, in addition to this Vote of £10,000 for the Established Church. There could be no doubt there was great spiritual destitution in London. The Crown was the owner of a great deal of property in London, much of it situated in the worst and most depraved districts. He believed that a great increase of spiritual accommodation was necessary, and, although the present Vote was not the best way of supplying the want, he would not oppose the grant.
§ MR. COX
said, that the noble Lord at the head of the Government had announced his intention to bring in a Bill for the abolition of church rates. The noble 1337 Lord said he would bring in a Bill in a short time, and when he was asked what a short time' meant, he said 'during the present Session.' The Session was now nearly at an end, and there was at present no proof that it was the noble Lord's intention to bring in such a Bill. The present Vote, on the contrary, looked very like a church rate in a different form, and though he was a member of the Established Church he should oppose it. If the Committee voted this £10,000 for churches for one sect they would make other sects pay for it. Why should not Dissenters and Roman Catholics come to Parliament for money wherewith to build churches? He had been for two years churchwarden of a church which would hold 800 or 900 persons, and he could assure the Committee that the largest congregation consisted of seventy-five persons at the morning and twenty-five at the afternoon service. Could it be said that there was a want of church accommodation when in the city of London there were scores of churches that would hold thousands and were only frequented by hundreds, and scores of rectors who got £1,000 a year for preaching in empty churches? It was said that as the Crown possessed properly it ought to contribute like other landowners. But every one would admit that a Roman Catholic proprietor would have a right to contribute towards Roman Catholic places of worship alone and so of proprietors of other sects. If the Roman Catholics or the Baptists came to that House and asked for £4,000 or £5,000 for new churches, would they get it? The property belonged to the nation, for the benefit of all sects, and it could not be properly appropriated towards any one sect unless Parliament was prepared to make similar contributions towards other Churches.
§ MR. HADFIELD
said, he would contend that, in proportion as Parliament made provision for the building of churches throughout the country, in the same proportion would a check be placed upon the liberality of individual members of the community in promoting that object. There were in the United Kingdom between 25,000 and 30,000 places of religious worship, in the erection and maintenance of which no assistance had been derived from the State, and he could not help thinking that it was in the highest degree mean and shabby, that that which was the wealthiest denomination of Christians in 1338 this country should come to ask the House of Commons for a grant of £10,000 to be paid out of the public taxes for the purpose of church extension. Did the Committee believe that the Marquess of Westminster and the Duke of Bedford were the only churchmen who would contribute their £10,000 each? Let the Church beware of placing itself in the position of a favoured sect, or they would soon have a controversy of another sort—a controversy which would shake the Church to its very basis.
Motion made, and Question put,—
That a sum, not exceeding £10,000, be granted to Her Majesty, as a contribution, in the year ending the 31st day of March, 1858, on the part of the Crown, towards the Fund of the London Diocesan Church Building Society, for building additional Churches and Parsonage Houses.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 97; Noes 56: Majority 41.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ (5.) £10,300, Fortifications at Corfu.
§ MR. WISE
said, he would take that occasion of asking in what the nature of our relations with the Ionian Islands consisted; whether they were to be regarded as an English colony, or simply as a republic under British protection. He should also like to hear from the Government some explanation of the Vote before the Committee, inasmuch as he was not quite aware whether the fortifications, for the repair of which it was to be granted, were to be maintained for the purpose of protecting the Corfuites against us, or us against the Corfuites.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he hardly need inform his hon. Friend that the Ionian Islands constituted a separate State, under British protection, or that it was looked upon as a great advantage in a national point of view that we should continue to occupy the important military position which those Islands afforded. The maintenance of the necessary military establishment consequent upon our occupation of that position necessarily entailed a considerable amount of expenditure, but it had not been deemed just, inasmuch as that expenditure was incurred for Imperial objects, to impose the entire of it as a burden upon the inhabitants of those Islands. An arrangement had, however, been entered into with them some years ago, in accordance with which they had guaranteed the annual payment of a sum of £25,000 into the British Exchequer towards defraying the charges incident to our outlay in that quarter for military purposes. 1339 The money was required for clearing away a number of old rubbishy fortifications, which were not only no longer necessary now, but were so many absolute impediments to sanitary arrangements and commercial facilities. The state in which those crowded fortifications remained in the Ionian Islands was really a disgrace to this country, and their removal had been recommended by our engineers as essentially necessary for maintaining the strength of the really useful portions of the fortifications at Corfu, and for the sanitary improvement of the town.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he thought that the right hon. Gentleman in suggesting the necessity of these works in a sanitary point of view, had adduced the best possible reason why the inhabitants of Corfu should pay for them. He thought it most probable that the fortifications were erected to protect us against the Ionians, as it was impossible to have more deadly foes than the Ionian Islanders had shown themselves to this country. He thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) was the only person in the House who believed that it was any great advantage to this country to have possession of those islands. We were pledged to maintain a large military force there, and of what value was the place to us? At the treaty of Vienna, most, if not all, of the European Powers refused to have anything to do with the protectorate of the Ionian Islands, and they went a-begging, as it were, until at last this country generously took them under its protection.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would beg to reiterate the statement that the removal of the old and useless part of the fortifications was absolutely necessary for sanitary purposes and for maintaining the strength of Corfu as a military position, and he would at the same time remind the hon. Member for Lambeth that a much higher authority than either he or himself (Mr. Lubouchere) had declared how important it was that we should continue to hold possession of Corfu.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he would also take leave to controvert the statement made by the hon. Member for Lambeth that this country had no more deadly foes than the inhabitants of Corfu. [Mr. WILLIAMS: Than the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands.] He believed there never was a more complete misapprehension than that under which the hon. Member appeared to labour, for the people of Corfu were in a remarkable 1340 degree peaceable and well disposed to this country, and what had led to disturbances there were the mischievous efforts made by a few English malcontents and grumblers to engraft the English constitution on a garrison town.
§ MR. STAFFORD
said, he thought if any fault was to be found with the Vote it was that it was rather too small than otherwise. The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Williams) had obviously taken his opinion of the Ionian Islands from certain statements—erroneous, as he (Mr. Stafford) believed—which recently appeared in some of the public prints. He would avail himself of that opportunity of paying a tribute of admiration and gratitude to one whom he did not think that House or the country had appreciated as he deserved to be. He alluded to Sir H. Ward, the former Lord High Commissioner. He thought the manner in which that gentleman had maintained the perfect tranquillity of the islands in the defenceless state in which they were left during the last war, with Athens on the one hand and Albania on the other, proved him to be a man who deserved well of his country. If during so extremely difficult a period he had been instrumental in mitigating or quelling any disturbances that might have taken place, he would have been the subject of eulogy in that House. But he deserved the higher credit of having prevented all disturbances whatever, and maintained complete tranquillity and obedience to the law throughout a very serious crisis. He (Mr. Stafford) had stated these facts of his own knowledge, he having been twice in the Ionian Islands during the war; and, though he hold political opinions different from those of Sir H. Ward, he could not help paying that tribute of admiration and gratitude to him.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he entirely concurred with the hon. Member for Northamptonshire (Mr. Stafford) in feeling that a debt of gratitude was due from this country to Sir H. Ward for the ability displayed by him under very trying circumstances in the Ionian Islands. Something had been said in that House as to the present state of feeling in the Ionian Islands, which he thought was exaggerated, for he had received from his right hon. Friend Sir J. Young, the present Lord High Commissioner, a despatch apprising him of the termination of the legislative Session, and he (Mr. Labouchere) believed it was the first time since the constitution 1341 was established there that it had not been found necessary to cut the Session short by a prorogation. Some very useful measures had been passed, and the Session had terminated in a peaceable and satisfactory way. It was true that some violent language had been used in the course of a debate, but he believed that was much exaggerated by the reports in some of the newspapers. He certainly thought the Assembly had behaved better during the past Session than it had done for some years, and that great credit was due to Sir John Young for the manner in which he had discharged the functions of his office.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also,
§ (6.) £2,000, Testimonial to the Duke of Wellington, Phœnix Park.
§ £10,500 for the purchase of a Chapel in the Rue d' Aguesseau, at Paris, for the use of the British residents and visitors in that city.
§ MR. WISE
said, he was desirous of calling the attention of the Committee to the fact that the chapel had been already purchased and £2,000 advanced from the civil contingencies on account of its purchase. He must enter his objection to the principle upon which that had been done. A contract had been entered into, and money paid on account, without the sanction of Parliament having been first obtained. The facts, he said, connected with the chapel in question were these: It was erected some years ago by Bishop Luscombe, at a cost of £6,000, and it was distinctly understood at the time, that after he had repaid himself that sum he was to transfer the building to the British Embassy. The bishop, on becoming an old man, changed his mind, and offered to let the British Government have the chapel in consideration of his receiving an annuity of £1,000. The British Government having declined that offer, a gentleman in Paris accepted it, and, Bishop Luscombe dying six months after the transaction had been completed, the gentleman in question got the chapel for £500. The Bishop of London applied to the Earl of Aberdeen to make this purchase in 1846, and a Treasury Minute, dated February 4, 1846, stated that their Lordships were of opinion that strong objections existed as to the propriety of the Government buying the property on any terms, and that if a suitable building for divine service was necessary the funds should be provided under the 12th section of the 6th of Geo. IV., 1342 c. 47. The former Lord Cowley and the Earl of Aberdeen both pressed the late Sir Robert Peel to reconsider that Minute, and there was a second Minute to the effect that the Treasury saw no reason to modify the opinion previously expressed. In 1849 the Marquess of Normanby communicated with the noble Lord at the head of the Government of the subject, and a long correspondence passed between them. On May 7, 1849, the Marquess of Normanby wrote that as M. Chamnier, the purchaser of the chapel, had asked the exorbitant sum of £10,000, the possibility of treating was at an end. On the 28th of October, 1850, the Marquess of Normanby wrote that as the Rev. M. Chamnier required £10,000, he did not pursue the matter further. He had shown the opinions of the Treasury in 1846 and of the Marquess of Normanby in 1850 as to the principle and the price. Her Majesty's Government, in taking the course which they had adopted, had in reality superseded a well-known Act of Parliament. The Act provided that if any English subjects in any city, town, or port, desired a chapel, hospital, or cemetery, they should show their desire by subscribing a certain amount, and Her Majesty's Government would then advance the other moiety. That was a principle which he could understand, and a few years ago the English at Paris understood it. They had a meeting, and suggested that if Her Majesty's Government would advance £3,000 they would find £3,000. If that had been done the Act of Geo. IV. would have come into operation, and the House of Commons would have had nothing to say upon the subject. Since the Act of Geo. IV. they had paid £218,820 in these foreign chapels. From 1844 to 1857 the Vote had increased from £4,000 to £8,000 for consular chapels, exclusive of special Votes for chapels at Constantinople. He must say conscientiously that the present system of having the service at one time in the drawing-room and at another time in the dining-room must be a source of constant annoyance to the embassy and of discomfort to the English residents. But then came the question whether they were bound to provide church accommodation for all the English who chose to go abroad. At the chapel now contracted for there had been a custom of charging a frane, or some small sum, for admission of the English nobility and gentry. It was no more than was done in London. Seats which were free were generally attached to mansions, or farm-houses, 1343 or other dwellings in the country, but he apprehended the great mass of the population of the metropolis rented their seats, and contributed voluntarily to the support of their churches. It seemed very unfair to ask the Committee to vote £10,500 for the specific accommodation of the most wealthy, the most elegant, and the most accomplished of our countrymen who went to live at Paris. When they considered what an embassy chapel was, that some of those who attended attached less importance than ordinary to religious duties, that many others went there, to his knowledge, to make assignations, they ought to pause before they voted away the public money. He would answer for it that the religious of the English community did not go to the English Embassy chapel, but to other places where the religious instruction was of a very different character. It was high time that they should look after these sort of Votes. The house expenses at Paris were £2,725; the salaries of the embassy came to about £20,000; and they had already paid £89,000 for the ambassador's house. There was a chapel already in the Champs Elysées capable of holding 600 or 700 persons, and yet they were called upon to pay the large sum of £10,500 for another chapel at Paris. He wished to ask why the opinion of the House was not taken last year? He happened to know that in March, 1856, the owners of the chapel were asked by the Government to sell it, and the price was then £9,000. He wanted to know why it was now £10,500? He was also informed that the chapel was sold to an American, and after the purchase the pressure on the British Ambassador was so great that legal proceedings were threatened. Some old projet de loi, or something of that sort, was brought into operation, by which the person who held the chapel was put into great difficulties. Some ancient will or agreement of Bishop Luscombe was brought against him, and the American gentleman was obliged to give up his purchase. He should like to hear further details of this little story which he had picked up in Paris. The Government might make contracts and payments out of civil contingencies in cases of emergency and sudden calamity, and the House would meet them generously and liberally; but this question had been hovering over them for ten years. He had been on the watch five or six years, and he deemed himself specially "done" when he found the money was paid, the bargain 1344 made, and the Bill presented for payment. The Treasury ought to be the great check upon the public expenditure, and proceedings of this kind must have a tendency to diminish, if not to destroy, confidence in the Treasury. They were told by high authority that the notion of confidence did not exist in the British constitution, that they must not have confidence in any one, and that it was the business of everybody to look to details. But he found that that was almost impossible. Perhaps the only way was to adopt the views of some of the Members of the Public Moneys Committee which had lately sat, and impose the wholesome and salutary checks upon the public accounts which were recommended by a Commission as far back as 1831. If the Committee sanctioned this Vote he thought that Estimates and Committees of Supply would be a delusion and a snare. In this case a contract had been made, £2,000 had been advanced from the Civil Contingency Fund, and the House of Commons was expected to register with blind subserviency the will of a Minister. He should resist such a proposition, and divide the Committee against the whole Vote.
said, the hon. Gentleman had described very accurately the various attempts which had been made to procure an English chapel in Paris. It was a fact, that in every metropolis where there was an English Embassy there were a chapel and a chaplain. The House had recently voted a considerable sum for repairing the Embassy chapel in Constantinople. The hon. Gentleman had stated that, in 1849, the Marquess of Normanby recommended the purchase of the chapel in Paris, but thought that £10,000 was too large a sum to pay for it. The hon. Gentleman did not deny that there had always been a chapel at Paris; and he had also proved to the Committee the inconvenient character of the one which had existed, by stating that on one Sunday the dining-room, and on another the drawing-room, of the Embassy were used for the purposes of Divine worship. No doubt such had been the case, and it was that very circumstance which had induced successive Governments to endeavour to find a suitable chapel. It was proposed at first that the Government should build a chapel on the site of an old stable-yard attached to the Embassy; but it was soon ascertained that, owing to the great increase in the value of property in Paris since 1849, the erection of a chapel upon that spot 1345 would cost far more than what had been paid for the chapel now under discussion. The necessity of having a chapel being admitted, what the Government had to consider was, the best and most economical mode by which one could be obtained. In 1849, the Marquess of Normanby thought the price asked for the chapel in the Rue d'Aguesseau too high, and, until the present year, no opportunity presented itself for making the purchase. Now, seeing that the House had voted £300, £400, and £500, annually, for converting one of the rooms of the Embassy into an inconvenient chapel, he thought that the purchase of a commodious chapel for £9,000 could not be called an extravagant arrangement. The circumstances under which the purchase was made might be stated in a few words. In January last, Lord Cowley wrote to the Earl of Clarendon that the chapel in the Rue d'Aguessean was at last for sale, and that he hoped the Government would consent to its purchase. Subsequently it was ascertained that the chapel had been sold to some American gentlemen for the use of an American congregation. The English residents in Paris were anxious to possess the chapel, not only because it was much required, but also because it had been built and always occupied as an English chapel. After considerable negotiation, the American gentlemen consented to give up the purchase, and allow Lord Cowley to get possession of the chapel on behalf of the English Government. The purchase money was £9,000—the difference between that sum and the amount of the Vote being required for repairs and various other expenses. The hon. Gentleman had said that it was not the duty of the House of Commons to provide a chapel for the rich English people who chose to reside in Paris, and so far he (Mr. Wilson) agreed with him; but such was not the intention of the Vote. A number of free seats had been retained for the use of the poor English residents in Paris; but it was calculated that a sufficient number would be let to pay all the musical and other expenses of the chapel; so that, in point of fact, the Government had secured a chapel attached to the Embassy, in which the chaplain of the Embassy would officiate, and the annual cost of which would be paid by the congregation. The hon. Gentleman had referred to an Act which provided for the erection of chapels, hospitals, and burial-grounds abroad, upon the English residents 1346 paying part of the cost; but the present was not an analogous case at all. If the Government had thought it was, they need not have come to Parliament for a Vote; and it was only because the chapel in Paris was an Embassy chapel that they had felt themselves bound to make an application to that House.
§ MR. HANKEY
asked the Secretary of the Treasury whether he knew of another instance in which an Embassy chapel was supported by pew rents?
said, there were a great number of chapels where the pews were let. He did not know whether that was the case in Constantinople; but he hoped his hon. Friend did not mean to say that, after a considerable number of pews had been retained for the English poor in Paris, the rich persons who used the chapel in the Rue d'Aguesseau should not pay a moderate sum for the accommodation they found there.
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, the Committee ought to proceed on some intelligible principle. If they were unable to vote more than £10,000 for providing religious instruction to the poor at home—although there was an immense mass of spiritual destitution in this Metropolis which they confessed themselves unable to overtake—they would not be justified in voting £10,500 for the benefit of a single congregation, the wealthiest that could be found in Paris. He really thought the last class that ought to ask for public money was that most wealthy and most aristocratic class who visited the most luxurious capital of the Continent for purposes of pleasure. The negotiations for this chapel had been going on for years, and the purchase had been declined years since by the late Sir Robert Peel, on the ground that the price was enormous. Was it lower now, or were our means more abundant than in former years? For himself, he could not but protest against such a lavish expenditure of public money; and he hoped the Committee would agree with him that it ought not to be sanctioned.
§ LORD HARRY VANE
remarked, that he thought that most forcible objections had been urged against the Vote, which had not been satisfactorily answered by the hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Treasury. In the first place, the hon. Gentleman had not fairly stated the case. As far as his (Lord H. Vane's) knowledge extended, there had never, except under 1347 the particular Act of Parliament which had been referred to, been any grant of public money for chapels abroad. He believed there were chaplains attached to embassies and to missions, but there were no chapels except in the single case of Constantinople. The chaplain was intended to be the personal chaplain of the Ambassador and those connected with the mission. It had never been intended to grant public money to build churches abroad; but, in order to assist the efforts of those who wished for them, the particular Act had been passed, by which, upon one-half of the amount required being subscribed, the Government were authorized to grant the remainder from the Consolidated Fund. That was a very proper arrangement, and why it had been departed from he could not comprehend. He remembered Bishop Luscombe taking the chapel, but he did it as a speculation, and his successor did the same. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) that the wealthy persons who attended that chapel were able to provide for it; and he thought, if the Government had refused to grant the money, a sufficient sum would have been raised to warrant the Government in applying the provisions of the Act of Parliament. He could not see that any ground for the Vote had been established; but, on the contrary, he was of opinion that it was a departure from the general rule to which he hoped the Committee would not give its consent.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I cannot understand the force of my right hon. Friend's argument, that so long as there are any poor unprovided for no expenditure is to be incurred except for their relief, because, if that argument is pushed to its legitimate conclusion, we must apply the whole public revenue in the shape of poor-rates. That argument, however plausible and ad captandum, will not bear investigation, and therefore does not tell much against this or any other proposal. It is asserted that the British residents in Paris are entirely an aristocratical body and ought to find their own chapel. That is not the fact. There are 10,000 British residents in Paris—a fluctuating population—while of those who are established in Paris many are of the lower classes, who have gone there to exercise their industry, and persons far from being in affluent circumstances and not capable of contributing to the purchase of a chapel. 1348 It has long been a reproach to the British nation that there has been no place of public worship in Paris available for all British subjects. There has been the dining-room of the Embassy for a few, and it could not hold many, who went there on Sundays for religious purposes. My noble Friend (Lord H. Vane) says chaplains are appointed to embassies for the private use of the ambassador and his family,—in short as their domestic chaplains. That is by no means the case, and Parliament would never have voted the salaries of chaplains upon any such footing. The chaplains attached to embassies are appointed to minister to all British subjects who may resort to the capital where the embassy is placed. This has been argued as an exceptional case, as if Parliament had not been in the habit of finding funds for the purpose of providing places of Divine worship for British subjects abroad; but that statement is refuted by the arguments of those who make it. In point of fact, sums of money are available from the Consolidated Fund in aid of public worship at every consular establishment. The whole amount is not given, only the half, but in principle it makes no difference whether one-half or the whole amount be given. It may be a question of amount; but it is not a question of principle. At all places where consuls are established the Consular Act enables the Government to give a sum equal to that which may be subscribed by the residents. The British residents in consular towns—seaport towns—are persons whose residence there is fixed; they have permanent interests in the place, and may therefore fairly be called upon to subscribe for the purchase of a permanent place of worship. But the majority of those affluent persons, British subjects, in Paris, who have been referred to, are those who go there for six weeks or two months, and you cannot expect persons whose residence is so temporary to contribute largely for a permanent chapel in a place which they may not revisit for three or four years. My hon. Friend the Secretary for the Treasury has stated, nevertheless, that there will be payments made for a certain number of seats, and those payments will furnish funds for all current expenses for the maintenance of the chapel. I am sure none of those whom I am addressing, who have been in Paris during the last few years, can fail to be aware that there has been a general feeling of shame that British subjects had no 1349 decent place of worship wherein the chaplain of the Embassy could minister to them. I should really hope that this Vote, which is calculated to supply a deficiency that has long been felt, will be agreed to. It is said that there was an understanding that Parliament would not vote and the Government would not propose any sum for the purpose of this chapel, but that the British residents there should raise the means, and that was being done. The fact is that the British residents in Paris never have, and never would, supply a sum sufficient to build a suitable chapel. I do hope the Committee will agree that this is not a matter depending on a principle of established practice, but is a Vote intended to supply a want that has been grievously felt by British subjects in Paris, and to remedy what has long been called a disgrace to the country.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the noble Lord had complained that an argument which had been used against the Vote would, if pushed to its legitimate conclusion, lead to an absurdity, but what the noble Lord's argument would lead to be (Lord John Manners) could not tell. The noble Lord said because there was an Act of Parliament which enabled sums in aid to be voted from the Consolidated Fund if certain amounts were otherwise raised, that therefore no principle was at stake in the present instance, and that it made no difference whether the whole sum was voted by the House or only a portion. Such an argument, if it were tenable, would relieve the friends of education from all responsibility, and they might leave the whole burden of providing for national education upon the shoulders of the Government. He felt great difficulty as to how he should vote upon this occasion. Having listened to the statements of the hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury, he entertained doubts whether that statement was satisfactory. The hon. Gentleman had said that a most unseemly practice had prevailed of making a chapel alternately in the drawing-room and the dining-room of the Embassy. He could not help thinking that, when there was no such Vote as that now proposed, this chapel was the chapel of the British Embassy. It was true that for the last three or four years the House had been called on to vote small sums for the purpose of increasing the accommodation; but some time before that no such Vote at all had been required, and he wished to know why 1350 that slate of things had ceased to exist, He thought no satisfactory reasons had been assigned for the change. It had been urged that the Committee ought not to hesitate in passing this Vote, inasmuch as a certain tax would be levied upon the wealthier class of English people who frequented the chapel; but he entertained a very strong objection to the system of pew rents, and to making people pay for the performance of Divine service. It had been said that the tax would only be levied upon the rich, and that sufficient space would be assigned to the poor; but who was to determine the sufficiency of that space? The noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston) had stated that the great body of English residents in Paris were poor. The chapel, then, ought to be intended for their benefit, and why was it that only a limited portion of the edifice was to be appropriated to their use? He thought it unworthy of the dignity of this great nation that in the chapel of the Embassy in such a city as Paris the best portion of the seats should be let out, and that a payment should be required from every stranger who attended. The chapel should be free to Englishmen, and to all other persons who chose to go there. He wished to know why it was that the proposition, which had been made some two years ago, to raise a subscription in Paris and in this country, in order to provide an English chapel, had been allowed to drop. He believed the subscription list had been headed by Her Majesty, and that a large sum had been subscribed to carry out the project. Numbers of comparatively wealthy English people resided in Paris during some months of the year, and many others made that city their permanent residence, and he thought therefore it could not be a difficult matter to raise £3,000 or £4,000 by subscription towards the erection of a chapel.
said, the noble Lord was quite right in stating that some years back a subscription was entered into for the purpose of erecting a church in Paris. The late Bishop of London had made great efforts in the cause, and Her Majesty the Queen had given a subscription of 100 guineas to promote the scheme. Nevertheless, the whole thing came to nothing, for notwithstanding all the exertions which had been made, not more than £500 could be collected. The noble Lord (Lord John Manners) had also asked whether the chapel did not, at one time, 1351 belong to the Embassy. Well, he must venture in reply to state that the chapel had never belonged to the Embassy at all. It had been built by Bishop Luscombe, and afterwards sold to the late proprietor. He must also say that it was not intended strangers should pay at all for seats; there need be no collection at the doors, and ample provision would be made in the main body of the building for the accommodation of the poor, who it was said had been in the habit of crowding round the doors of the existing chapel for some time before service commenced. About two years ago it was proposed to build a chapel in the yard of the Embassy, but not only was the project renounced because of the expense, but likewise because it was likely to interfere with the building generally.
§ MR. HORSMAN
observed, that the Secretary to the Treasury had called upon them to remember that this was a chapel specially for the Embassy, and in that character the Vote was pressed upon the Committee. With reference to that statement he (Mr. Horsman) had said that the English residents and visitors in Paris who frequented the Embassy chapel were usually of the aristocratic classes, and to that assertion he adhered. He certainly thought that when a small sum was asked to provide for the religious instruction of our poor at home, while a larger sum was asked to make similar provision for our wealthier countrymen in Paris, hon. Members might fairly and justly protest against such, a Vote.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, his right hon. Friend was doubtless perfectly accurate in stating that when he had attended Divine service in the drawing-room of the embassy-house at Paris he met none but members of the aristocratic classes, and that was the very reason for proposing the purchase of the chapel in the Rue d'Aguesseau. When his right hon. Friend next visited Paris, and went to that chapel, he would meet the poor, who would be admitted gratis; but in the drawing-room of a private house it was impossible his right hon. Friend should meet the poor, because they could not get in.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
observed, that he must declare this to be the most extraordinary Vote which had ever been submitted to Parliament, He could not conceive why this chapel in the Rue d'Aguesseau was to be converted into a national 1352 church. He had attended that chapel for many years, and had always paid on entering, and he could discover no reason why he should complain for having to do so. What had he to do in London? It was true, perhaps, he might get a seat in St. Margaret's without payment; but, then, what had he to do with his family? He had always had to pay for the accommodation of public worship in London, and why should he not do so in Paris? He recollected, perfectly well, the Earl Granville, when ambassador, used to have a pew in the chapel for the benefit of the embassy, and he paid for it. Well, and why was not that arrangement continued? Why need they fit up a drawing-room or a dining-room at the Embassy, when a pew was available outside the house? Certainly, as far as his recollection went, the majority of the attendants at the chapel were dressed out in a manner almost exceeding anything which was to be seen in London. He must repeat, he thought this would be one of the most extraordinary Votes ever submitted to Parliament, and he felt he should be deserting his duty if he did not protest against it.
§ MR. HANKEY
said, as he understood the matter his proposal, instead of increasing would diminish the amount of accommodation. Hitherto, there had always been service at the Embassy, and the chapel about to be purchased had been open at least twenty years. After this purchase was made, only one of these places of worship would be open. How, then, could the amount of accommodation for the poorer English in Paris be increased by the change?
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, the way in which the purchase would give greater accommodation was this. At present, nobody could get into the chapel, except by payment, and the pending arrangement was, that the greater portion of it should consist of free sittings, open gratuitously to those who wish to go there.
§ MR. PEASE
said, that the perseverance of the Ministry in pressing these expensive schemes upon the House caused him no small alarm. [A laugh.] Gentlemen might laugh, and he would be glad if he could join in the laugh too, but the matter was, really, too serious. He believed there would be, sooner or later, a day of reckoning in this country, for the lavish way in which they were spending the public money. Was it not for the imperturbability of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1353 he might well be alarmed at the disintegration of the Consolidated Fund that was going on. They had had before them a Vote of £10,000, for building churches in London, and that sum, well laid out, would erect, at least, five churches; but, having come to that Vote, they were immediately taken across the Channel, and asked to give a larger sum for the few British residents that might be in Paris, and for the use of the Embassy. He presumed the noblemen and gentlemen who resided in Paris, for their amusement and pleasure, would be found, if they were at home, liberal supporters of the churches which they might attend, and why should they not support their church abroad? There was not one of those noblemen or squires who did not draw large revenues from this country, and live in palaces at Paris; and why should they not contribute to the maintenance of the place of worship which they attended? He felt himself bound by all the evidence he had heard, to vote against this application of the public money.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he wished to hear, distinctly, from the Secretary to the Treasury, whether any contract had been entered into for the purchase of the chapel, and whether it was true that £2,000 had been paid.
said, that there was no room in the present chapel for those who wished to go there, and he thought there certainly ought to be a place at Paris capable of holding all the English who wished to attend Divine worship. He thought a new chapel was required, and, if the Vote was merely for the appropriation of the old chapel, he should be inclined to oppose it.
§ MR. KER
said, he believed that people were unable to effect an entry into the chapel, not because they were required to pay an entrance fee of 1s., but, because there was not sufficient room. He had been under the impression that they were to have two chapels in Paris, so that British residents, and people passing through that city, would have no difficulty in being able to attend public worship; but it appeared this was not to be the case. It was his intention to have supported the Vote, but, if it was only for an appropriation of the old chapel which had so long existed in the Rue d'Aguesseau, he would be inclined to vote against it.
§ MR. WISE
said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government spoke of the chapels 1354 attached to our embassies having a national character. He would reply to that by an anecdote. We had at Vienna a chaplain with a salary of £300 a year. On a recent occasion, when it suited the convenience of the Ambassador to leave Vienna for a villa some six miles off, the chaplain gave notice that service would be conducted at that distance from Vienna, in order to accommodate the ambassador, and the consequence was, that the British inhabitants of that city had to pay 15s. to go to church.
§ MR. SPOONER
hoped an answer would be given to the inquiry put by the hon. Member for Evesham (Sir Henry Willoughby), as to whether there had been any contract for the purchase of this chapel.
said, he could only repeat the statement he had made at the commencement of the discussion, that a sum of £2,000 had been paid, in January last, on account of the purchase of the chapel; and further, that in the same month Earl Cowley had written to the Earl of Clarendon, to say that the chapel had been purchased by some American gentlemen for a different purpose. However, Earl Cowley had succeeded in inducing them to resign their purchase, having been solicited to do so by the British inhabitants. The consequence was, Earl Cowley had entered into a contract to purchase the chapel, and a certain sum had been paid out of the Civil Contingency Fund, on account.
§ MR. M'CANN
remarked, that he thought that those Gentlemen who went to reside in Paris ought to pay for their own place of worship.
Motion made, and Question put,—
That a sum, not exceeding £10,500, be granted to Her Majesty, for the purchase, in the year ending the 31st day of March, 1858, of a Chapel in the Rue D'Aguesseau at Paris, for the use of the British Residents and Visitors in that City.
§ The Committee divided:—Ayes 47; Noes 135: Majority 88.
§ Motion negatived.
§ (7.) £1,500. Boundaries of Counties, Baronies, and Parishes in Ireland, for 1857–58, agreed to.
Motion made, and Question proposed,—
That a sum, not exceeding £10,000, be granted to Her Majesty, towards defraying the Expense of the Erection of the Industrial Museum at Edinburgh, in the year ending the 31st day of March, 1858.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
observed, that he thought the Committee ought not, without some good reason, incur, 1355 by agreeing to this Vote, an expense of £40,000 (the estimated cost of the building).
said, that, four years ago, when the right hon. Gentleman, the Member fof Oxford (Mr. Cardwell), had been at the head of the Board of Trade, a sum of £40,000 had been voted by the House for the purchase of a piece of land in Edinburgh, on which a museum was to be built; and the present proposed Vote of £10,000 was brought forward for the purpose of commencing the building. The museum would be in connection with the Department of Science and Art, and a similar edifice was to be constructed in Dublin.
MR. LOCKE KING
asked whether the building had been commenced, or whether any contract had been made for its construction?
said, that the land had been purchased in conformity with the decision of the House. He was not aware that any contract had been entered into in the case, but plans had been made, and estimates had been furnished.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that, as he had been alluded to in reference to this matter, he wished to state what he understood to be the exact position of the case. In consequence of what had been sanctioned, three or four years ago, by the House, the land was purchased for the purpose of building on it an industrial museum, and an arrangement was made with the Town Council of Edinburgh, by which a considerable sacrifice was made by them, on the understanding that, at a future period, the museum would be erected; but no agreement was made as to the precise time when the museum would be built. It appeared to him that the only point the Committee had then to consider was, whether the present moment would be a favourable one for undertaking such a work.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
said, he wished that some information, founded on positive documents, could be furnished to them in reference to that subject. He had no recollection that so large a sum as £40,000 had been proposed for building an industrial museum at Edinburgh. He could not help thinking that his nerves would have been a good deal shaken by such a proposal.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he thought the Vote might be postponed to a more favourable opportunity. At present, the Government had no great command of funds, for, to-morrow, the Chancellor of 1356 the Exchequer was going to move an increase in the tea and sugar duties.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that this was a very considerable Vote, and, as it was a first instalment, and they had never voted anything yet in pursuance of the general project, he suggested that the Government might, with perfect propriety, not press it upon the Committee. No doubt, the object would be an extremely laudable one in sunshiny weather, but he thought, under existing circumstances, that the Government would act wisely to withdraw the Vote for the present.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, that the site of the museum in Edinburgh had been acquired by the Government, and paid for; and every year that the space remained unbuilt upon it was, pro tanto, a loss to the country. However, he recognized the feeling which pervaded the Committee to avoid any expenditure which was not absolutely necessary, and, as this was an item, probably, which came within that category, he should not oppose it.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he hoped that, whenever an opportunity should arise, the Government would state what had been actually done for the construction of a similar museum in Dublin.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said he regretted the decision at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had arrived. This was one of the means for instructing the people; and although they had voted hundreds of thousands for the British Museum, and a large sum for a kindred institution in Dublin, they refused to carry out the same laudable object in Edinburgh.
§ MR. CARDWELL
said, that the sum actually voted in the Estimates of 1854 was £8.500, being £7,000 for the purchase of the proposed site, and £1,500 for other incidental purposes.
§ Motion by leave withdrawn.
§ (8.) £8,970, Repository for Public Records; agreed to.
§ (9.) £24,000, Chelsea Bridge.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, he was anxious to direct attention to this case, as showing the utter worthlessness of estimates; instead of being guides to Parliament in voting money, they were positively traps and delusions. In the case of this bridge there had been no less than six estimates already, and he did not believe that that would be the last. The first estimate was £60,000, the second was £70,500, the third was £75,000, the 1357 fourth £88,000, the fifth £91,000, and the sixth was £94,266. It was too clear that the last estimate was not complete as it did not include the formidable items of compensations, purchases, legal charges, and so on. It was but justice to the right hon. Gentleman opposite to state that he gathered these facts from the correspondence which he had laid on the table, but he asked what was the good of these estimates unless they compelled those who made them to adhere to them? He contended that this was a monstrous case, and that nothing could be more ridiculous than the position in which they stood will regard to it. He wished to know what sum had been actually expended on the bridge at present, how much more would be required to complete it, and to what extent the public were likely to be reimbursed by the tolls?
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Gentleman in reference to the fallacy observable in these estimates. He thought it his duty to inquire into the whole of that case, and he had laid before the House, in as clear a manner as possible, all the correspondence which had passed upon the subject. The number of estimates for that work had been correctly stated by the hon. Gentleman, but in justice to himself he (Sir B. Hall) had to observe that they had been furnished before he had been appointed to his present office. He was anxious to reduce the expenditure in all such matters within definite limits, so that the House might be aware from the commencement what was the cost they should have to defray. The sum already paid for work done with regard to the Chelsea Bridge was £59,762; and there remained to be paid £33,003 under one head, and £1,500 under another head; so that the total expenditure would be £94,265. Of that sum £70,500 had been already voted by the House; and he had every reason to believe that the Vote of £24,000 then under the consideration of the Committee would suffice for the completion of the work.
§ MR. BENTINCK,
said, he did not think that this was a time for taxing the community at large for the purpose of mere local improvements. He thought that the Committee should not assent to this Vote unless they had a distinct assurance that the tolls of this bridge would be sufficient to reimburse the country for the outlay proposed to be made. There was another 1358 point to be considered. They had recently a proposal submitted to the House for doing away with the tolls generally in the Metropolis. If they were to vote this money he hoped it would be upon the distinct pledge from the Government that at no time, or under no circumstances, should an attempt be made to do away with these tolls. He hoped that they would receive this assurance.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
remarked, that he thought that the difference between estimates and the actual cost, which was not unusual in these cases, was susceptible of explanation without casting any blame on the professional gentlemen who had originally prepared the estimates. An estimate was called for and it was calculated at the current price of labour and materials. Something occurred which prevented the work being immediately carried out, and in the interval the prices of labour and materials increased; the landowners, too, finding that the neighbourhood was likely to be benefited, raised the price of their land, and thus it became impossible to complete the work for the original sum named.
§ SIR DENHAM NORREYS
observed, that he differed from the noble Lord as to the care alleged to be bestowed on those estimates. He thought, on the contrary, that the way in which those estimates were framed betrayed a great ignorance on the subject.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, the question of tolls raised was an important matter to be considered as regarded the metropolitan bridges. The proposed bridge was being built between two toll-bridges, which were the result of private enterprise. The Government had some short time ago entertained the proposition that this bridge should be a toll-free bridge. If that were to be the case he could not view their conduct in any other light than as an infringement on the understanding that, those works of private enterprise should not be interfered with. This bridge, if it were to be toll free, would have the effect of ruining the other bridges built by private enterprise. If the Government wanted to carry out the principle of toll-free bridges they should first pay off the debts due by the toll-paying bridges, and then open them all to the public.
§ MR. BRADY
said, that this was a question in which the people of the Metropolis took a great interest. He had given the subject for some years much consideration, 1359 and had reason to know that the proposed toll on Chelsea Bridge had created great dissatisfaction. If the Committee were to know how much the tolls on bridges depreciated the neighbouring property and affected the health and welfare of the community at large, he was sure that they would not sanction any Government bringing forward a proposition to build a bridge, and then to tax the people that passed thereon. A greater mistake he believed was never made. At that moment great dissatisfaction was felt at the conduct, of the First Lord of the Treasury, who, having promised that he would do his best to carry out a measure to relieve the passengers at the south end of the Metropolis from paying tolls, had subsequently given the weight of his authority in favour of an opposite principle. He (Mr. Brady) would oppose this grant, because no promise had been given that the bridge would ultimately become a free bridge.
§ LORD CLAUD HAMILTON
remarked, that the Committee should be in possession of the evidence of the Committee that had been recently sitting upon this question before they decided upon this Vote. The right hon. Baronet appeared to favour the proposition of building a bridge, and of depriving the public of any chance of the repayment of the money. The Government had agreed to the appointment of a Committee to discuss this matter. The evidence brought before it against the proposition of a toll-free bridge was so strong that the Government withdrew their Bill. Before the Government asked for another grant for this bridge, he thought that the Committee should have the details of the evidence before them. They had received no pledge from the Government that they intended to carry out the recommendations contained in the Report of the Committee, the substance of which was that faith should be kept with the public on this question. He hoped that before they pressed this Vote the Government would state whether they meant to abide by the original terms.
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, what took place in the Committee referred to by the noble Lord was this:—A Bill had been introduced by the Government not to abolish tolls, but to abolish that portion of the tolls that were levied on foot passengers crossing the bridge. That Bill was referred to a Select Committee, who had heard evidence on the subject. The first question raised before the Committee 1360 was this, whether, if the passengers' toll were taken off, the value of property would not be so increased as to make it advisable to abolish the tolls altogether? The Committee did not think that they had any proof of such a result, and they, therefore, did not think it advisable to recommend that the toll should be taken off. Of course under such circumstances it could not be the intention of the Government to deviate from the original understanding, which was this—that tolls should be taken on the bridge when it was finished. No income could accrue from the bridge for the purpose of defraying its primary cost until it was complete and opened for traffic, and it was for the purpose of completing it that this Vote of £24,000 was asked.
§ SIR HENRY WILLOUGHBY
said, any doubt as to the intentions of the Governors had arisen solely from their own conduct; as they had been guilty of the inconsistency of asking for so much money for the building of this bridge, and at the same time entertaining an application to get rid of those tolls. He wished to know what new light had been shed upon the Government to induce them to change their opinion upon the subject? Would the Government stick to the principle of the toll?
§ SIR BENJAMIN HALL
said, the Committee had decided that no alteration whatever ought to take place in the Act. It was not, therefore, his intention to propose any measure for the abolition of the tolls after that decision.
§ MR. INGRAM
expressed a wish to make one or two remarks upon the important question involved in the proposed Vote. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir H. Willoughby) wished the Government to pledge themselves that those bridge tolls should be kept up. He (Mr. Ingram) hoped that Her Majesty's Ministers had too much regard for the interests of the people, as well as those of property generally, to give any such assurance. They should recollect that there was a large surplus amount of land adjoining the new Battersea Park which was to be disposed of. If the Government were to establish a toll upon this bridge they might rest assured that they would be unable to sell the land in question to any advantage. If, on the other hand, they made this bridge toll-free, he was satisfied that that property would be sold at a price amply sufficient to meet the cost of the bridge. What miserable economy was it for the Government to 1361 make a park and build a bridge, apparently for the convenience of the poorer; classes on the northern side of the river, and then to place a toll upon the bridge, which would have the effect of depriving the public of many of its advantages, and of depreciating the property in its neighbourhood! He hoped that the Committee would not countenance such short-sighted economy as this, or allow the Government to adopt so mischievous a course.
§ MR. TITE
said, he had been a member of the Select Committee. The excess in the estimate was partly owing to the failure of two contractors. As to the tolls, from the evidence taken by the Committee it appeared that £6,000 a year would be produced by the tolls, which would give a fair interest upon the original outlay. It was then suggested that if the foot-toll were removed an income of £3,000 a year would still accrue, and that this, together with the increased value of the surplus land at Battersea Park, would be sufficient to recoup the country. The proof was not very distinct as to the value of the land, or the amount of carriage toll—and the majority of the Committee agreed that it had not been shown that the country would be repaid the money spent for the bridge unless there was a toll. He thought they would, but he was in a minority. He concurred in what his hon. Friend the Member for Boston (Mr. Ingram) had said in respect to the injury that would be done to property and inconvenience to the public generally, by making this a toll bridge, He regretted that the population of 60,000 residing in the parish of Chelsea, who would be greatly benefited by being enabled to cross over into the Park with their children, could not now do so except on payment of a foot-toll. He understood, however, that the matter was settled, and that the bridge must be opened as a toll-paying bridge. Suggestions had, however, been made that the bridge might be thrown open by means of the Metropolitan Board or of a railway company whose terminus it was expected would be brought there. As to the Vote now before the Committee, the bridge must be finished, and there was therefore no alternative but to grant the money asked for.
said, he was in a minority on the question of toll in the Committee, but he agreed with the majority that localities ought to pay for local improvements. What he wanted, however, 1362 to impress on the Committee was that some of the Select Committee were actuated in their decision by the arguments of counsel, who appeared for the vested interests of Battersea and Vauxhall bridges; for these arguments were most puerile.
MR. P. O' BRIEN
, as a member of the Committee, said, that the Committee had come to the determination of supporting the views of the right hon. Baronet opposite from no regard to the interests of Battersea Bridge or Vauxhall Bridge. They considered that when a question of this character was presented to them, they were bound to look to the circumstance of the original Vote taken for this bridge, and to see whether faith was kept with the public and the country which paid for it; and they thought that they could not take away the tolls which were to repay the public outlay. When the question of Battersea Park was brought before the House, they were told that a large sum of money would be created by means of improvements on the Surrey side, and on that assurance the money for that Park was voted. He thought that local improvements out to be carried out by localities themselves.
§ SIR WILLIAM JOLLIFFE
said, he must disclaim being an advocate of tolls on the metropolitan bridges, as he thought there could be no more objectionable mode of raising money.
§ MR. PLATT
said, that the public money was contributed from all parts of the country, and in the case of Battersea Park and the bridge it was spent on local objects. If they were to spend the public money in that manner, it should be done on some equitable principle. Now, there were many towns in the north where parks were required, and he should have no objection to see grants of public money for parks all over the country.
§ In reply to MR. LYGON,
§ Vote agreed to.
§ MR. W. WILLIAMS moved that the Chairman do report progress.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
hoped the hon. Gentleman and the Committee would allow the two remaining Votes to be taken, although he admitted the hour was somewhat late. There were still the Militia Estimates and the Vote for the Ordnance Survey to be taken besides, which he proposed to take in Committee 1363 of Supply at six o'clock to-morrow. The principal Vote that remained was that for the Public Offices, and he could state that he proposed not to ask the Committee to agree to the entire amount of the Vote. He had stated in the beginning of the Session that he proposed to ask £80,000 to complete the purchase of land for public offices, for which the House was engaged under a recent statute. Since then a Bill had been introduced to enable the Government to purchase additional land. He would, however, confine the Vote to £80,000, and that would render it unnecessary to proceed with that Bill. All he asked was that the Committee would consider the 47th Vote as it stood.
§ MR. DISRAELI
It would be convenient to the Committee to know what business will be taken at six o'clock to-morrow. According to previous arrangements the Divorce Bill was to be taken to-morrow.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
To-morrow at six o'clock we propose to take Supply; and, if there is time we will go on with the Divorce Bill afterwards.
§ MR. DISRAELI
With reference to the Vote for the Militia, I beg to give notice that I shall take that opportunity of making an inquiry of the noble Lord at the head of the Government respecting the late transactions which have occurred at Constantinople on the subject of the Danubian Principalities.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
There was a distinct understanding repeated over and over again by the hon. and learned Attorney General that at six o'clock to-morrow we should proceed with the Divorce Bill.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
I should like to know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke just now in ignorance of the arrangement which has been made?
§ MR. GLADSTONE
It is most inconvenient that arrangements of this kind should be made and then broken up. There is a large number of hon. Members waiting in town on account of the Divorce Bill.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
When will the Divorce Bill be taken?
§ MR. BENTINCK
There ought to be some explanation of the extraordinary conduct of the Government. It was distinctly understood that the Divorce Bill would come on at six o'clock to-morrow, and I appeal to the House as to whether it is customary to make such alterations in the arrangements of the business of the House after an understanding has been come to with regard to them?
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
It is quite usual at the end of the Session. I had hoped to have finished Supply to-night, but it has occupied much longer time than was expected.
I must remind hon. Gentlemen that it is quite irregular to discuss the business of the House on this Motion. The question is, that I report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ MR. DRUMMOND
Then we will object to your reporting progress until we have an explanation from the Attorney General. This is a most gross breach of faith.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
asked the noble Lord to give him Friday morning next, in redemption of a promise to afford him an opportunity of bringing before the House a Motion of which he had given notice. He had no reason to think it would occupy much time.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, he was afraid to promise. If progress were made in the business before the House, perhaps he might give the hon. Baronet Friday morning.
LORD JOHN MANNERS
observed, he hoped that it was not the determination of the Government to go on with that Bill the whole day.
§ Several hon. MEMBERS answered, "both at twelve and six."
§ Motion agreed to. House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported To-morrow.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow.