HC Deb 11 December 1857 vol 148 cc558-9

In rising to postpone the Order of the Day that the House should resolve itself into a Committee of Supply, I beg permission to make a short statement with respect to a Vote of money for a particular object for which I do not wish that a Vote should be now agreed to, inasmuch as I have already stated that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to ask for any Vote of Supply before the holidays. There is an object, however, which we think is of importance to the public, and which it would be improper to attempt to accomplish without some notice to the House. It is doubtless within the knowledge of the majority of the Members of this House that important discoveries have been lately made in Africa by Dr. Livingstone, and places which had hitherto been undiscovered have been described in the account of his travels lately published. That account has deservedly attracted much attention. It was not within the power of Her Majesty's Government during last Session, owing to no decision having been then arrived at, to propose any Vote for the renewal of his enterprise in the following year; but it is now desired to furnish him with the means requisite for a voyage of discovery upon the river Zambesi. It is stated that such an exploration might lead to important commercial consequences, and that it is a district which is well fitted, among other things, for the cultivation of cotton. There is a ship now ready of such construction as is necessary for ascending that river—that is to say, a ship that will draw but a small quantity of water. If this voyage of discovery be made this year, from circumstances with which I need not now trouble the House, it would be necessary that the ship should leave this country in January, that it might arrive at the mouth of the river in the month of March. Unless that can be accomplished the voyage must necessarily be postponed to another year. The cost of the expedition we understand is not likely to exceed £5,000. The intention of the Government is to make an advance of that sum from the Civil Contingencies, and to ask for the repayment by a Vote taken in a regular Committee of Supply during this Session. That course having been stated to the House, it appears clear to me that the amount will not be objected to, and that the Government may consider themselves authorised to take that amount.

Question put, That the Order of the Day for the House to go into Committee of Supply, be postponed.