House in Committee. Mr. FITZROY in the Chair.
(1.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £24,728, be granted
to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Salaries of the Governors, Lieutenant Governors, and others, in the West Indies, and certain other Colonies, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
inquired whether the grant of £3,500 for the Governor of Jamaica was a new grant?
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that the grant for the salary of the Governor of Jamaica was placed upon the taxes of this country for the first time three years ago. The people of Jamaica, for a vast number of years, had always paid the salary of their Governor; but in 1854, on account of the distress in Jamaica, it was proposed that £3,500, being one-half of the salary, should be paid out of the taxes of this country for a period of three years. Since that time he had received a communication from Jamaica stating that the people there did not want this country to be taxed for their Governor. It appeared that the salary of the Governor of Jamaica had amounted originally to £7,000, and that after the Parliament of this country had agreed to pay half of that amount, the Assembly of Jamaica had reduced their contribution, first to £2,500 a year, and subsequently to £1,500 a year. It had, upon a former occasion, been distinctly stated, upon the part of the Government, that the continuance of the contribution from this country would be required only for a period of three years, in order to meet the distress under which Jamaica was then suffering. That period had elapsed, and the distress had ceased to exist, and he, therefore, saw no good reason why the payment of the amount in question should not be dispensed with. Under these circumstances, he should move that the Vote be reduced by a sum of £3,500. He perceived that there was also an item of £1,800 contained in the Vote for the payment of the annual salary of the Governor of Western Australia, which was the only one of the Australian Colonies on whose account a similar payment was made. Taking into account the fact that the state of that colony was now one of great prosperity, he saw no good reason why the item should be retained in the Vote, and, therefore, unless he heard some good reason assigned for its continuance, he should move its rejection also.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £21,228, be granted to Her Majesty, to defray the Charge of the Salaries of the Governors, Lieutenant Governors, and others, 903 in the West Indies, and certain Other Colonies, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that within his recollection it had been a frequent subject of discussion in Parliament whether the salaries of the Governors of our Colonies ought or ought not to be paid out of the funds of this country; and he had heard some of the most distinguished Member of the House—such, for instance, as the late Sir R. Peel, his noble Friend near him (Lord Palmerston), and the noble Lord the Member for London, contend that considering the Imperial position which those high functionaries filled, their relations to the Crown and the Colonies, and the importance of securing their perfect independence, the cost of their maintenance ought to be defrayed out of the Imperial Exchequer. But, perhaps, at the present moment, there existed great practical objections to carrying that principle into effect. At all events, he felt that in the case of flourishing Colonies it was only natural that the House of Commons should decline to take upon themselves such a charge. But he did not think that they ought to object to meet the moderate demands which were made on them under peculiar circumstances by that vote. It should be remembered, that almost all of this not large sum of £24,728 was to go to the payment of the salaries of the Governors of our West Indian Colonies, and that these Colonies had of late years been placed in an exceptional position by circumstances which he need not then detail. He was happy to be able to admit that they were at present recovering from their depression, and that they were in the enjoyment of a state of comparative prosperity; but he would add, that he hoped the House would not be disposed to deal harshly with them on the first return of their better fortunes. With respect to the payment of the salary of the Governor of Jamaica, his hon. Friend who had just sat down was correct in stating that the arrangement come to upon that subject was one of a provisional character, and that it had been understood that it should be open to reconsideration. When he had last addressed the House in reference to the matter he had proposed that the existing arrangement should continue throughout the period of Sir H. Barkly's tenure of office, which he had then anticipated would extend over three or four years. But it had since been suddenly brought to a close by the tranference of that able and 904 distinguished public servant to the Governorship of the Colony of Victoria. It then became a question for the consideration of himself (Mr. Labouchere) and of the Treasury whether they should place Governor Darling, the successor of Sir H. Barkly, in a position in which his first act in his new office would probably be a dispute with the Assembly of Jamaica with respect to the payment of his salary; and as he had arrived at the conviction that it was extremely desirable to avoid such a collision, he had thought it proper to ask the House to agree to the payment of that moderate charge. He had, therefore, retained the item of £3,500 in the Vote, and when it was borne in mind that the residence of the Governor of Jamaica was a very extensive building and required a large sum of money to keep it up, he was of opinion that the Committee ought not to regard the item as exorbitant. With regard to the payment of the salary of the Governor of Western Australia, he had to observe that that Colony was to some extent differently situated to the other Australian Colonies, which had received representative Governors, and were therefore bound to provide for their own expenditure. Western Australia was also used as a convict settlement for Imperial purposes; and that was, in his opinion, a sufficient reason why this country should bear a portion of the cost of its Government. Under all the circumstances of the case he hoped that his hon. Friend would not think it necessary to press his Amendment to a division.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he did not propose that there should be any diminution in that Vote. It seemed to him, on the contrary, that it was too little in amount, and that considering the cost of living in the West Indies, too small an allowance was made to those Governors. But there were one or two details in the Vote with respect to which he should be glad to receive some explanations. He found that there was set down a sum of £4,000 for the Governor of the Windward Islands. He wished to know where that functionary resided? [Sir C. WOOD: In Barbadoes.] He had always understood that Barbadoes was popularly called one of the Leeward Islands. There was also a Vote of £3,000 for the Governor of the Leeward Islands, and he had to ask where that officer resided? [Sir C. WOOD: At Antigua.] Again, upon that point, he had 905 to observe that he believed Antigua was usually considered a Windward Island, and he did not know whether it had ceased to be so named.
§ SIR JOHN TRELAWNY
said, the question was not whether the Vote was too large in amount, but who were the persons upon whom its payment should devolve. It was better he thought that the Colonies should themselves be allowed to defray the expenses of their own Government, and he certainly could not concur in the justice of the view taken by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Colonies, that because the Governor of Jamaica had a large house to maintain his salary should therefore be correspondingly increased. He saw no reason why that gentleman should not live in a smaller house, unless, indeed, the colonists, consulting their own dignity, chose to defray the charge of locating him in a more expensive establishment.
§ MR. A. MILLS
said, he did not mean to oppose the Vote; but he wished to take that opportunity of expressing a hope that the time was not distant when those payments for colonial governors would disappear from our Estimates, and the Colonies provide for their own expenses.
§ MR. BRISCOE
said, he wished to know whether the Committee was to understand that the right hon. Gentleman proposed that that payment to the Governor of Jamaica was to cease on the occasion of the next change in the office?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he could not give any pledge upon that subject. When Governor Darling was appointed, he had been told that the Vote would be proposed to the Committee, and this had been done; but as regards the future he (Mr. Labouchere) wished to leave the matter open for future consideration.
§ MR. F. CROSSLEY
remarked, that he considered that if the Colonies appointed their own governors they would be better governed than at present.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he was not surprised at what had fallen from the gallant Admiral, because he had never known him to oppose any Vote, however extravagant, since he had had a seat in that House. No doubt his constituents of Southwark would be much obliged to him. All the Colonies, except the West India Colonies, paid the expenses of their own Government, and Her Majesty's Ministers were not acting wisely in saddling the country 906 with a now charge like that of the Vote for the Governor of Jamaica; and, moreover, it was a distinct understanding that the Vote should be discontinued after the lapse of three years. Considering, however, that there were probably not forty Members present, and therefore, if he divided, that the House might be counted out, he would not press his Amendment to a division.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, the attack made upon him by the hon. Member was most unjust. He had always endeavoured to do his duty to his constituents by checking extravagant expenditure, although certainly he could not always vote with the hon. Member, who appeared to him to be in the habit, without reason of any description, to move, if a sum of £4,000 was asked for, that it be reduced to £3,000, or if £3,000, that it be reduced to £2,000. He should recommend the hon. Gentleman to look to his own line of conduct before he ventured to reprimand others.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ (2) £21,450, Stipendiary Justices in the West Indies, and the Mauritius.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he must object to the item of £7,200 for the salaries of magistrates in Jamaica. He should like to know what possible good this country derived from that expenditure. The charge had been introduced at the time of the emancipation of the slaves, but now appeared to be permanent.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
explained that at the period of the emancipation of the negroes in the West Indies an arrangement had been made for the appointment in those Colonies of stipendiary magistrates, whose services it was thought would be for some time required in the administration of justice, and whose salaries were to be paid out of the Imperial Exchequer. The charge, however, would not be permanent, unless those officials proved immortal; for when any of them died, the vacancy so created was not to be filled up, or at least was not to be filled up at the expense of this country; and in point of fact, the Vote had in that way been reduced since last year by a sum of £2,850. This was the first time he had ever heard the Vote objected to.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, he would remind the Committee and the hon. Gentleman who objected to all these small sums, 907 that a heavy blow had been inflicted on the property of the West Indies in the year 1834, and that those Colonies had since been subjected to additional disasters, in consequence of the determination of the mother country to carry out, at all hazards, the policy of free trade.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also,
§ (3.) £10,230, Civil Establishments, Western Coast of Africa.
§ (4.) £19.609, St. Helena.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, that one item in this Vote required explanation. It appeared that the Governor of that island had within a period of four years withdrawn from the commissariat chest a sum of £18,800, in consequence of some misunderstanding, as it was mildly called. He wished to know whether there was to be any further charge upon that account?
said, that until a few years ago the establishment of St. Helena was supported by a Vote of the House, but in 1846 it was resolved that it should be paid by the Colony itself. The Governor, by some mistake of his instructions, thought that he was justified in withdrawing from the commissariat chest any deficiency for the extraordinary expenses of the island. That went on for four years without its being discovered, and when it was discovered a Treasury Minute was passed, in which they very strongly repudiated their right to repay this sum. The matter had remained in abeyance since 1851. The island had been successful in paying its current expenditure, but it had not been so successful as to enable it to repay the sum thus taken from the commissariat chest. Under these circumstances he (Mr. Wilson) had thought it was useless to keep the account open, and that the best course was to repay to the commissariat chest the amount which had been drawn from it. The arrangement had, on the whole, been advantageous to this country, for no Vote had recently been taken for the expenses of the establishment at St. Helena, which were defrayed entirely from the local revenue.
§ Vote agreed to; as were also,
§ (5.) £960, Heligoland.
§ (6.) £3,831, Falkland Islands.
§ (7.) £5,700, Labuan.
Mr. W. WILLIAMS
said, he must complain of the expense of the Government establishments there, and thought that they ought to be given up.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
stated, that the 908 expectations which had been formed with regard to this Colony had not been realized, but he thought the Government had been fully justified in trying the experiment of establishing a colony in Labuan, where there was a magnificent harbour, and where it had been supposed that a large supply of coal might be obtained, which would have proved very beneficial in the case of a war, and with reference to steam communication with the East. He was ready to admit that the Companies which undertook to work those coal mines, had not been very successful, but at the same time he did not think the experiment ought to be prematurely abandoned, and he asked the Committee to give it a fair trial. If upon further experience it should be found inexpedient to maintain the Colony, he should not be disposed to protract the experiment.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
remarked, that he wished to inquire whether it was necessary for that experiment that the treasurer at Labuan should receive a salary of £500, which amounted to a charge of 16 per cent upon the entire amount he was called upon to distribute? He (Mr. Maguire) was not surprised that the right hon. Gentleman entertained serious misgivings with regard to the success of this Colony, and he (Mr. Maguire) was disposed to think the best course would be to abandon it altogether. In a despatch from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Labouchere) to the Governor of the colony (Mr. Edwards) the following passage occurred:—Your Report exhibits extensive sickness, calling for drainage which the Colony is too poor to execute; public buildings falling into decay for want of necessary repairs; and, finally, a landslip which has damaged the works and buried some of the coal of the Archipelago Company. You inform me that the fever is peculiarly fatal to Chinamen, so that it has driven away some of the Chinese settlers, and has kept away other native settlers whose presence would be of advantage.The island, it must be remembered, depended mainly upon the labour of Chinamen, to whom the climate appeared to be extremely fatal, and there did not seem to be any probability of the establishment of a permanent Colony.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he would state as a reply to the question of the hon. Gentleman, that if the treasurer depended solely for his salary upon a percentage on the amount of expenditure his emoluments would be almost worthless, and he did not think that £500 was too high a salary for 909 a gentleman occupying a position of so much trust and importance.
§ MR. W. EWART
said, he wished to ask if there was any prospect of the coal mines becoming productive for commercial purposes?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that very sanguine expectations had been entertained at first, with regard to the produce of the coalfields at Labuan. In consequence of accidents and other circumstances these expectations had not been realized, though, he believed, that some hopes were still entertained of success, but he did not think the experiment ought to carried on much longer. He was, however, of opinion that the experiment ought to have a fair trial, for if a really useful British settlement could be established at Labuan, it would be of the utmost importance to this country.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also,
§ (8.) £10,000, Hong Kong.
§ (9.) £13,424, Emigration Board, &c.
§ MR. ADDERLEY
said, the gradual diminution of this Vote proved the uselessness of this Board. When this Vote commenced, the Colonies took no part in the promotion of emigration; now, however, they took a very active one. At one time it was a great object with the Imperial Legislature to induce the poor to emigrate, because there was supposed to be a surplus population. The reverse was the case now. It was, however, still a great object with the Colonies, and he hoped it would long continue to be so, to encourage emigration from Great Britain in preference to emigration from any other part of the world. That being so, the Colonies should bear the expense. That they thought so themselves was evident, for they actually voted sums which were sent over to this country to be disposed of by the Board. This produced the anomaly that the funds belonged to one party, and the agency to another. The Colonies were much dissatisfied with the management of these funds, so much so that they had established an agency of their own, though it was subsidiary to the Board. He did not object to the maintenance of those officers who were entrusted with the carrying out of the Passengers Act, but he thought it more advisable that they should be placed under the control of the Colonial Office. He should not oppose the Vote at present, because he felt that the Board could not be instantly abolished, but he gave notice that when he had received the 910 returns he had moved for on the subject, he should call the attention of the House to the question with the view to the reduction of that part of the Vote which referred to the chairman, commissioner, secretary, establishment, and contingencies, when these estimates should be brought forward next year.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that the hon. Gentleman seemed to think the business of the Emigration Board had decreased. He was not prepared with the statistics at that moment, or he could show that the fact was otherwise. He had indeed been enabled to recommend that the establishment should be diminished to the amount of one Commissioner, and he believed that, notwithstanding the carrying out of that recommendation two years ago, no public department was better conducted. The Board had still very important duties to perform, in connection with passenger vessels, coolie emigration, and claims made on the Treasury, and it would, for the present at least, be quite impossible to dispense with their services. He might also state that the Bill relating to the appointment of emigration agents which had been introduced into the Legislature of the Colony of Victoria had not yet passed. He thought it of importance that the emigration offices should continue under the direction of a distinct department, which, however, was under the control of the Colonial Office. There certainly was not room at the latter department for the admission of a new branch, in fact they had hardly room for their own clerks.
§ MR. BRISCOE
said, he would not go into the question whether the population of this country was in excess, but there certainly were large numbers of persons who could not obtain employment. For instance, great difficulty in getting employment was experienced by persons discharged from prisons and reformatories. He thought it well worth the attention of the Government and the Emigration Board, whether some portion of the funds at the disposal of the latter might not be devoted to assisting those who were discharged from the reformatory at Red Hill and other similar institutions to emigrate.
§ MR. MAGUIRE
said, he should much regret if this Vote were to be diminished by a single farthing, knowing the frauds that were detected by these officers. He would beg to instance a case in which, upon overlooking the provisions of a vessel 911 in which 200 persons were going out, it was found that what had been put on board as bread was really clay made up into the form of biscuits; and another case in which, after a vessel of 1,500 tons had been three times inspected by the officer at Liverpool, and on each occasion found to have the right number of men on board—in fact a full crew—a hooker came alongside a few minutes after the officer had left, on the termination of the last inspection, and took away twelve of the crew. A storm came on soon after she had set sail; and, the crew not being sufficient to manage the vessel, the captain was obliged to put into an Irish port for repairs, and to make up the deficiency of the crew. He hoped nothing would be done to diminish the efficiency of the staff. He did not wish to encourage emigration, but if people would emigrate, they ought to be protected against the frauds of the land-sharks.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
begged to remind the hon. Gentleman who spoke last that the hon. Member for North Staffordshire (Mr. Adderley) had not objected to the continuation of the emigration offices, but only to that of the Board. And he (Mr. Kinnaird) feared that the existence of that Board prevented the Colonies from doing all that they might do to promote emigration. While he admitted that the condition of emigrant ships had been greatly improved of late, still he would urge that, if possible, a more rigid inspection of them should be kept up at the different outports.
§ MR. VANCE
remarked that he wished to know if the money granted by Government in aid of emigration was given on any particular principle. There were complaints made in Ireland, that by the exercise of political patronage in particular districts, there the peasantry were enabled to emigrate at the expense of the nation, but not in others. He should like to know on what principle, if any, the aid was granted.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
could assure the hon. Member that political influence had nothing whatever to do with the choice of emigrants. The whole of the arrangements connected with the system of emigration in this country, as well as all the appointments for carrying them out, were 912 made by a permanent officer at the head of the Emigration Department, and the Colonial Office had nothing whatever to do with those arrangements or appointments. As to the principle on which free passages were granted, the requirements of the Colony were always studied with respect to the class of emigrants sent out from time to time, as well for the interests of the Colony as of the emigrants themselves, care being taken that the latter should be of an age and condition to be useful members of the society among whom they were destined to live.
MR. W. H. G. LANGTON
said, that he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would take into consideration the claims of Bristol as a Government emigration port.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that any representation on that subject would be duly considered. The Emigration Board had no objection to place agents at any port where they could be usefully employed.
§ Vote agreed to; as was also
§ (10.) £2,175, Distressed Emigrants in Canada and New Brunswick.
§ (11.)£120.000, Holyhead Harbour.
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the enormous sum of money expended on the works at Holyhead Harbour from time to time. From £628,000, which was the original estimate for the new harbour of refuge, the total cost of the works to the present time had run up to £1,303,000, and the Committee had no guarantee that the expenditure would stop at that point. It was now proposed to extend the pier 500 feet further into the sea than was originally intended, which would of course be attended with very considerable expense. The original object of the harbour, of which he had no complaint to make, was that it should be used as a packet station between this country and Ireland; but it had since been determined to make the place a harbour of refuge. If harbours of refuge were required in St. George's Channel, he much doubted whether Holyhead was one of the places best adapted for the purpose. Then it was asked for on the ground of increase of trade, but he thought he could show by a reference to figures that the port had not increased to a very great extent. He found from a not very intelligible return made by Captain Skinner, the port commander at Holyhead, that the number of vessels entering the new harbour of Holyhead in the six months ending the 30th of June, 1852, was 255, 913 having an aggregate tonnage of 15,285, and that in the six months ending the 30th of June, 1856, the number was 1,117, having an aggregate tonnage of 83,848. Now, 255 vessels—the number which entered in the first half of the year 1852—assuming they were each of the burden of sixty tons, would have an aggregate tonnage of 15,300. Now, many a ship-owner owned 15,000 tons of shipping; he (Mr. Lindsay) himself owned as much. And if one steamer of 80 tons register entered the port of Holyhead each day, that one steamer alone would represent a tonnage of 14,600 in six months. If two, steamers of 280 tons register entered each day it would give a gross tonnage of, 83,000 tons, and therefore he did not see any reason why, upon the ground of increased trade, the Committee should be called upon to vote more money. But it was said to be the intention of the Government to make Holyhead a port of call for American packets, not only for the mails and passengers, but for their cargoes. If, however, the American packets were removed from Liverpool, they would go to some point at the extreme west, such as Milford Haven or Galway, and not to Holyhead. As long as the House went on voting money for harbours of refuge, those harbours would never he finished. The only way to get them finished was to stop the supplies.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, it was quite right that the attention of the Committee should be called to the expenditure of sums which, no doubt, in the aggregate were very large; but the hon. Gentleman had a little misunderstood the facts of this case. The hon. Gentleman said they were going to convert the packet harbour of Holyhead into a harbour of refuge. The hon. Gentleman was under an entire mistake, and had evidently not taken the trouble to refer to papers which for the last three years had been on the table of the House. As long ago as 1844, it was proposed that Holyhead should not only be the principal line of communication between this country and Ireland, but that it should be a harbour of refuge. It was so intended when first the construction commenced in 1847. Ample information had been given from time to time. There were two Commissions and a Report in 1843. In 1844, Mr. Rendell was called upon to submit a plan to the Treasury, and in consequence he laid before them a proposal for a packet station in connection with a har- 914 bour of refuge. Another Report, with estimates, was made in 1845, and on the 3rd of April, 1846, the Treasury authorized the construction of a harbour for a packet station and for a harbour of refuge at Holyhead. In 1847 there was a further Report by three naval officers, confirming former Reports, that Holyhead would be most convenient, not only for a packet station, but for a harbour of refuse. The hon. Gentleman said, one reason given for the Vote was the increasing trade of Holyhead; he begged to assure the hon. Gentleman that he would not find in any of the papers a syllable about the trade of Holyhead, the fact being that the trade there was not worth the construction of a harbour of refuge. The object was to afford shelter to the numerous vessels passing up and down the Irish Channel. The trade of Liverpool, Ireland, and America was intimately concerned in the existence of a harbour of refuge at Holyhead, which was a safe harbour, accessible at all times of tide, and sufficiently marked by lights to be easily entered. He did not know where the hon. Gentleman got his notion about the removal of the Liverpool packets, but there was not a word in any of these papers to justify it. It was hardly probable that, with the enormous commercial intercourse which existed between Liverpool and America that vessels with cargo would start from any other place than Liverpool. It had been thought by some persons that, as Liverpool was not the best port in the world, it might be convenient for the Liverpool packets to call at Holyhead to land passengers and mails, which would enable them to arrive so much the earlier and start so much the later. The hon. Gentleman said he did not understand what was the use of a harbour of refuge at Holyhead, but he would call attention to the number of vessels which had availed themselves of it. In the course of thirty years, the trade and shipping of the country had enormously increased, and the original plan was enlarged in order to increase the roadstead at Holyhead, and to afford greater accommodation. Representations were made to the Admiralty by Captain Skinner that the number of vessels taking refuge in the harbour was very greatly increasing, and on consulting with the hydrographer of the Admiralty it was determined to increase the accommodation. A return which had been laid upon the table of the House showed how great this increase had been; and here he would re- 915 mark that what the Committee ought to look to was the number of vessels and not the amount of tonnage. This return gave the number of vessels which had taken refuge in the harbour in each six months from the 1st of January, 1852, up to the present time. These numbers, in the successive half years, were 255, 259, 483, 810, 831, 840, 834, 872, 1,117, and, in the half year ending December 31, 1856, 1,325. This rapid increase was of itself a complete justification of the demand for additional accommodation. Moreover, the necessity of providing the means of rapid communication with Ireland must not be overlooked. A contract had lately been entered into for an improved communication, and the vessels which would be required to carry it out with the specified speed, would have to be of an increased size, so that additional accommodation would be requisite for them also. On a former occasion the House had called upon the Government to undertake the improvement of Holyhead Harbour, and he hoped, therefore, that they would not now sanction this proposition for stopping the works which were going on.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he wished to know whether in the 1,325 vessels quoted by the right hon. Baronet as having taken refuge in Holyhead Harbour during the last six months, were included the short passage steamers which left the harbour in the morning and came in in the evening? If so, they of themselves would be sufficient to make up the number. He was in favour of harbours of refuge, if necessary, and also in favour of rapid communication between London and Dublin; but he thought that a case was hardly made out for the proposed expenditure of £100,000 for the harbour.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the harbour under consideration was the new harbour, and if the practice had not been altered since he was last at Holyhead, the steam packets were confined to the old harbour. [Sir C. WOOD: Hear.] He had no knowledge of what was the original intention of Holyhead Harbour, but so long as he remembered, it had always been talked of as being for the double purpose of facilitating communication with Ireland and affording a place of refuge for vessels in stress of weather. The increased number of vessels which took advantage of the harbour as a place of refuge showed the necessity of additional accommodation, while he considered it as superior for that purpose to any 916 other harbour which had been suggested on that coast. But, however that might be, he certainly did not think the stopping all supplies would be the best way of remedying the general demerits of the system which now existed with reference to harbours.
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, that the words of the Vote showed that it was the intention of the Government to remove the American packet station from Liverpool to Holyhead. He would repeat, however, that if there was to be any removal of the station it ought to be removed to some port in the extreme west. The increase of vessels which appeared in the return as having taken refuge in the harbour was very great, but it was also apparent, from the tonnage of those vessels, that the majority of them must have been but fishing smacks. It was, no doubt, advisable that we should have a good harbour at Holyhead, but what he said was, that to vote a large sum of money to make the harbour a postal station for America was a great mistake.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, he could bear testimony from personal observation that the number of vessels which took refuge in Holyhead Harbour had not been exaggerated by the First Lord of the Admiralty. He would further observe, that whether the vessels taking refuge were large or small, it did not affect the value of the harbour, as the object of a harbour of refuge was to save life as well as property.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the name of Captain Skinner having been mentioned, he wished to say, that he had known that gentleman for a great many years, that he was highly distinguished in his profession, and that he knew no man whose opinion on any subject connected with that profession he would more readily take.
§ MR. O'FLAHERTY
observed, that he thought the House ought to know exactly what was the great object in view in laying out so much money on Holyhead Harbour. If it was right that, in addition to being a packet station for Ireland, it should also be a harbour of refuge and a point of communication between Liverpool and America, he had certainly no objection; but they should be exactly informed on the subject, in order that the whole question might be thoroughly considered by the House. He demanded, on the part of other ports, both of England and Ireland, 917 that there should be a fair consideration of this question, and that those places should not be checkmated by these annual grants to Holyhead. He could not help thinking that the Government had an object different from that which appeared on the face of the Vote.
§ MR. JOSEPH LOCKE
said, he thought there ought to be some expression of the opinion of the House relative to the annual increases in these Estimates. Last year there was a very large increase in the sum voted, and the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty bad told them this was done with the unanimous sanction of the House. This year there was an increase of £100,000, and if quietly agreed to, the unanimity of the House would be urged next year in favour of another large Vote for the same objects. He objected to the practice of adding to the Estimates after they had been laid before the House. If such things were allowed, it would be impossible to keep a proper guard over the public purse.
§ MR. SCHNEIDER
said, he also was able to speak of the great advantages which the shipping trade of the West of England had derived from Holyhead as a harbour of refuge. Encouragement was given to vessels to put to sea when it was known that there was a harbour of refuge for them to flee to in circumstances of distress. Last winter twenty-five vessels belonging to himself took refuge in Holyhead, and many of them would not have put to sea at the time they did but for the knowledge that they had that harbour to run into. He thought the Government had conferred a great boon upon the country in erecting Holyhead into a harbour of refuge.
§ MR. HUDSON
observed, that he did not object to a harbour of refuge at Holyhead or any other place, but he complained that nothing was done for the north of England. The Government had promised to relieve the shipping interest of the north from the payment of passing tolls—a heavy tax from which they derived no benefit whatever—but that promise had not been fulfilled. Harbours of refuge were much desired by the inhabitants of the north of England, and he confessed he did not see why Holyhead, Dovor, and a few other places should alone have public money bestowed on them for these purposes. He wished it to be understood that in future he would oppose any grant of money for harbours of refuge to other parts of the 918 country if the north of England were not included.
Vote agreed to.
(12.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £224,000, be granted to Her Majesty, towards defraying the Expense of constructing certain Harbours of Refuge, to the 31st day of March I858.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, there could be no doubt, after the discussion that had taken place upon the last Vote, as to the importance of the subject of harbours of refuge, though, at the same time, it was not unattended with difficulties. His principal desire in rising to address them was, to call the attention of the Committee to the objects for which the Channel harbours had been commenced, the progress that had been made with them, especially Dovor harbour, and the probable period in which the works would be completed. He also wished to know whether the Government intended to carry out the works which had been recommended, or whether they had other intentions. The inquiry about Dovor commenced about seventeen or eighteen years ago, when a commission was issued—known as Sir James Gordon's Commission—to inquire into the state of the south-eastern ports. The instructions given to that commission were, to visit the coast between the mouth of the Thames and Selsea Bill, and to examine and report upon the state of the existing harbours, with a view to making them available for various objects. The first object in view was, to afford shelter for vessels passing down Channel, in case of stress of weather; next to make places of refuge for merchant ships from enemies' cruisers in time of war; and thirdly, and most especially to render them fit as stations for armed steam vessels for the protection of our trade in the Channel. Those instructions were followed, and the commission reported that they were decidedly in favour of constructing deep-water harbours by means of breakwaters detached from the main land, upon the same principle as that at Plymouth Sound, and connected with the shore, as in Kingston harbour. The Commissioners added that, in their opinion, the most eligible position for such a station was Dovor Bay. In order to prove that military and naval objects were those which Government had chiefly in view, he might mention that the commission was composed of three fighting men—an admiral, a captain, and a colonel—a Trinity-house master, and two civil engineers. 919 Nothing, however, appeared to have resulted from that commission, and about 1842, a committee, known as the Shipwreck Committee, sat, and recommended many things, but it only touched hghtly on harbours of refuge. In 1844 and 1845 another commission was appointed, in which also the fighting element largely predominated, and they recommended, in their first Report on the 7th of August, 1844, that a harbour be constructed at Dover, and that the works should be immediately commenced by carrying out that portion which communicated with Cheesman's Head. They added, that only one work should be taken at a time, giving the preference to Dovor, and in the second place to Portland, or Seaham. All the Commissioners signed that Report except one, Sir William Symonds, who protested against the adoption of Dovor, and reported in favour of Dungeness. Nothing, however, was done, although the question had been under consideration for upwards of four years. He did not, however, find fault with the delay, but he mentioned these circumstances to show that successive Governments had given the subject their most careful and deliberate attention. Mr. Walker and several other engineers were next employed to prepare plans for the harbour, and also to state their opinions as to whether the shingle and silt would destroy the works when completed. They reported in favour of beginning at Cheesman's head, but said that no safe conclusion could be arrived at with respect to the shingle and silt; and, in 1845, they recommended that the south front should be proceeded with. He now came to the second Report of the Commissioners, which was communicated to the Government in 1846. The Commissioners stated, in the first instance, that they were decidedly in favour of a harbour in Dovor Bay, adding that the chief points for consideration were the area, the outlines, the position, the entrances, and the mode of construction. They also recommended that the works should be commenced at as many points as practicable, and expressed their earnest hope that no pecuniary considerations would be allowed to delay the accomplishment of an object of such vast importance for the welfare of our shipping, and the general interests of the country. They also went at some length into the question of construction, and the consequence was two of the commissioners—Sir 920 William Symonds and Sir Howard Douglas—dissented from the Report, the former stating that a large area was unnecessary, as the harbour would be visited only by war steamers, post-office packets, and a few disabled or straggling merchant vessels, and that the evidence with regard to silting, and the mode of construction adopted by a majority of the Commissioners—namely, an upright wall —was conflicting and unsubstantial. The reasons of Sir Howard Douglas were stated at length and with great ability in a paper addressed to the Government. The impression left upon his (Mr. Henley's) own mind, after carefully reading the evidence given before the Commissioners, was, that almost any amount of respectable testimony might be obtained on behalf of the most contradictory propositions. No man, whether professional or non-professional, who looked at the list of the eminent scientific gentlemen who were examined by the Commissioners, and saw how they disagreed, would venture to give an opinion upon the subject. Hydrostatics and hydraulics, particles in motion and particles at rest, assertions of some witnesses that Plymouth was a total failure, contrasted with those of others, that it was a great success—these things, with many more, danced through the evidence in the most extraordinary manner, producing a jumble and confusion of ideas which it would be difficult to describe. His own opinion was, if he might venture to have one, that, as in many other instances, the votes went one way, and reason another. At last, however, in the autumn of 1847, after a deliberation of seven or eight years, the works were commenced, the Commissioners having decided—Sir Howard Douglas and Sir William Symonds dissenting—to build the walls nearly upright, and to enclose an area of about 520 acres. The estimated expense was stated to be about £2,500,000. He now came to the progress of the works, and here he must express the strong opinion, which he thought would be shared by the Committee, that it was very desirable the country should be informed what the Government really meant to do with these works—whether they intended to carry them out upon the original plans, or how they proposed to mod fy them. They began with taking some £30,000 or £40,000 a year, and the first contract, which was for a length of 800 feet, was concluded in 1854. A second contract was then entered 921 into for 1,000 feet, still proceeding upon the plans which accompanied the final Report of the Commissioners, and in which no material alteration was made, except as to size and the position of the entrances. Up to the present time, therefore, the progress of the works had been extremely slow. Only 800 feet out of one mile and three-quarters, which was the length of the whole plan, were completed in 1854, with some little extension of the foundations, and the contract which had been entered into since then for 1.000 feet was to extend over ten years, ending in 1864, being at the rate of 100 feet per annum. It did not seem to him that the works had progressed even at that rate, and he would presently make some observations to show the reason why they had not done so. This work had to be executed by means of the diving-bell in deep water; and here he could not help taking this opportunity of saying that he believed no praise could he too high for the skill of the engineers and the whole of the persons employed in carrying out the undertaking. It was right to state that he was not here to find fault with the workmanship, for he believed that it would be impossible to carry out a difficult and arduous work with greater skill, energy, and industry, or with greater perseverance. He was bound to bear his willing testimony to that. The work, however, was proceeding at a very slow pace. The Secretary of the Treasury, the other night, in explaining the progress made with the works at Holyhead Harbour, made some remarks so pertinent to his present subject that he could not help quoting them, especially as he was sure they had the sanction of Her Majesty's Government. He said—If important public works of this kind were to be carried out at all, the quicker they were advanced the better for the interests of the community. While the works continued unfinished a vast capital was lying idle, from which the public derived no advantage; whereas, the sooner they were brought to completion the sooner would the country reap the benefit of the expenditure.In every word of this he heartily concurred. To carry out great works of this nature in a dribbling manner was nothing less than a waste of public money. Both the Commissioners and Mr. Walker had advised that the works at Dovor should be begun simultaneously at more places than one, and completed as rapidly as possible; and they also attached greater importance to this harbour than to any of the other works which they recommended. These suggestions 922 had not, however, been practically attended to. He would now call the attention of the House to some facts to prove his assertions as to the slow progress of the works. Only 800 feet of the masonry had been finished in seven years up to 1854. Another 1,000 feet were contracted to be finished in ten years more, which would bring them to the year 1864. The former part of the work had been executed in comparatively shallow water, but now the operations had to be carried on at about forty-six feet below low water-mark. There still remained to be completed, according to the plans, 8,500 feet, which, at the present rate of progress—namely, 100 feet per annum—would take eighty-five years. If they added to this the seven years required to finish the 1,000 feet contracted to be finished up to 1864, this would give them a period of ninety-two years over which the work would extend. Surely this slow rate of progress involved a great waste of capital, upon which the hon. Gentleman whom he had quoted would dilate at some length. But taking the work done in deep water, and averaging it with that done in shallow water, they would find that between 1847 and 1855 the actual rate of progress was not 100 feet but only eighty-six feet per annum. Indeed, in 1855, only forty-six feet of the foundations had been laid, and in 1856 fifty feet more; and as it was clear the work could not proceed faster than the foundations, instead of the undertaking being completed in 100 years, if it went on at the present rate it would probably require 200 years. Surely, this was a very unsatisfactory prospect; and therefore he thought it would not be considered unreasonable if he asked the Government to state for his information and that of the country, whether they intended to carry out this work according to the recommendation of various Commissions. Sir W. Symonds apprehended some difficulty as to the foundations. Let the Committee mark the facts disclosed on this point in successive Reports from Messrs. Burgess and Walker. In April, 1855, Mr. Walker said—The progress of the works has been much delayed by the weather, and also from the chalk foundation not proving so good as in the portion nearer the shore, as stated in our special report of the 29th of July, 1854.The special Report here referred to had not been laid before the House. In July, 1855. Mr. Walker followed up his former statements in these words— 923The surface of the chalk being still of an inferior quality, it has been necessary to sink the masonry a considerable depth into it to obtain a good foundation. The foundations are forty-one feet below low water, spring tides.The Report of the 10th of October, in the same year, said the foundation was still retarded from the necessity of removing a large quantity of soft material before it could be laid. It added, "The foundations are being laid forty-three feet below low water, spring tides." In July, 1856, Mr. Walker reported that "the soft nature of the bottom still retards the progress of the works;" and on the 8th of October, of the same year, he said, "The foundations are being laid upon the same description of bottom as described in our former reports, forty-five feet below low water, spring tides." In April, 1857, the Report stated—The walls are now being placed at forty-six feet below low water, spring tides, upon a foundation of broken flints and sand. This, though not so satisfactory as the solid chalk, has shown no symptom of insufficiency.What might be the value of "broken flints" as a foundation he could not say; but to build upon "sand" was not commonly reckoned a very satisfactory process. He begged to ask the Government whether, in the face of these public Reports, they meant to go on with the execution of these works in their entirety, and when they expected them to be completed? The Commissioners distinctly recommended that means should be taken to ascertain what would be the extent of the silting. It was said that the quantity of silting deposited each year was six inches. If that were so the harbour would be filled up long before the expiration of 100 years. He therefore wished to know whether the Government had taken any measures to ascertain what silting, if any, there had been. There were other points on which no information was given in the Reports, but on which he should be glad to receive from the Government as much information as they possessed. A civil engineer named Brooks had written letters to the public journals, stating that the water had altered very much in depth at its entrance. It would be satisfactory to know whether that was correct. Another matter which bore very much upon the time at which the harbour would be completed was the interruption that the work had experienced from time to time from gales of wind. Mr. Walker's Reports, curiously enough, stated some things which certainly threw some light 924 upon those discussions which took place before the Commission, as to the manner in which the harbour should be constructed. One point discussed by learned men at that time was whether, in point of fact, there was any percussion by the sea, some maintaining that there was and others that there was not. Mr. Walker's Report, dated January, 1851, referring to the storm which took place on the 23rd of October, 1850, stated that portions of the new works were thrown down during the storm, as they were unable to withstand the continued shocks. Now he (Mr. Henley) apprehended that shocks meant something like percussions. The successive gales and continued shocks washed upwards of 200 tons of stones out of their beds. He had been told by persons conversant with the subject that these stones were of very large size, and that they had been fastened to each other by cramps, in the strongest manner known to engineers. On another occasion the same thing took place. In 1853 many stones were replaced, and it became necessary to take up many other stones in order to replace them. Again, in 1854 a portion of the stones was displaced, and 240 feet of the staging was carried away. These accidents had no doubt occasioned great delay, but it was a matter of great importance to the House to be informed whether the Government really intended to complete the work as recommended by the Commissioners, and whether they intended to proceed at a more rapid rate with it than at the rate of forty or fifty feet a year, for if not, it would occupy from 150 to 200 years in construction, and be like the works at Cherbourg, and other places, portions of which were, up and down, and up and down again, before the whole was completed. The Government ought to state distinctly whether they intended to make a harbour of refuge at all at Dovor, or whether they thought they had gone far enough, and that sufficient shelter for the ordinary class of vessels was afforded by the present pier. It was quite clear that the harbour was at present a defence against enemies rather than against storms. The Government had, of course, been occupied by other matters during the last two or three years, and that might be a reason for the dilatoriness with which the work had been proceeded with. He did not intend to oppose the Vote, because he thought the House was not in possession of sufficient information, to warrant him in taking that course. 925 He had no objection to make against the, manner in which the works were being proceeded with at other harbours; but, as the Government had taken about eight years to consider the question as to Dovor Harbour, they ought to tell the House what decision they had arrived at.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, the right hon. Gentleman had misapprehended what his hon. Friend (Mr. Lindsay) had said with regard to Holyhead Harbour. He did not deny that small vessels required as much protection as large ones, but he maintained that they required a different sort of protection. Not more than six or seven vessels of ninety tons had entered the harbour, and, notwithstanding the accommodation already provided, it was proposed to add 100 additional feet to it.
interrupted the hon. Gentleman by reminding him that the Vote with respect to Holyhead Harbour had been agreed to.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, he did not think it was necessary for him to follow the right hon. Gentleman opposite throughout the lengthy details into which he had entered. If any hon. Gentleman had any desire for more detailed information on the subject, he might refer to the evidence given before the Committee of 1848 on Miscellaneous Estimates, before which he (Sir C. Wood) was examined at very great length as to the origin of these harbours of refuge. The right hon. Gentleman had correctly stated, that two Commissions had sat upon the subject, and that it had been considered for a long time by different Governments. The result was the commencement of the works at Dovor to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred. He had also correctly stated, that several gentlemen, learned in such matters, gave very discordant opinions about these works, and he (Sir C. Wood) was not sure that a much more satisfactory result could be arrived at by the House, if the question of construction were again discussed by them. So far as he understood the drift of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, they were directed first to ascertain the plan which the Government proposed to carry into execution at Dovor; and next to complain, that the progress of the works was not quite so rapid as was desirable. As regarded the great question, whether the Government had made up its mind to construct the whole harbour as recommended by the Commission, he was afraid ho could not give the right hon. 926 Gentleman any satisfactory explanation, for the simple reason that, as far as he knew, the subject had never seriously been considered by any Government. The two Commissions which had reported, differed as to the area which should be included in that harbour, as well as upon other points, the estimate in the one case being £2,000,000, and in the other £2,500,000. One of these Commissions, in their Report, said—Entertaining the strong opinion we have expressed of the necessity of providing, without delay, a sheltered anchorage in Dovor bay, we venture to urge upon your Lordships' attention the advantage of immediately beginning the works by carrying out the portion which is to commence at Cheesman's-head. Whatever may he finally decided as to the form and extent of the works in Dovor bay, the pier from Cheesman's-head, run out into seven fathoms water, appears to be indispensable as a commencement, and it will afford both facility and shelter to the works to be subsequently carried on for their completion. This will give sheltered access to the present harbour during south-west gales, and protect it from the entrance of shingle from the westward; it will afford time, also, for observation on the movement of the shingle within the bay, and for further inquiry as to the tendency which harbours of large area on this part of the coast may have to silt up.That which was recommended as the indispensable commencement of the larger harbour was to carry out the pier from Cheesman's-head into seven fathoms water, and this was all which the Government, up to the present time, had decided upon doing. In 1847, as the right hon. Gentleman had stated, a contract was entered into for carrying out a pier to the extent of 800 feet, beginning from Cheesman's-head, seven years being the time within which that portion of the work was to be executed. In 1853, a further contract was entered into for the extension of this work 1,000 feet further, which would accomplish the original design of carrying out the pier to the westward of the existing harbour into six and a half or seven fathoms of water. This was the extent of work at present contracted for. If the ultimate decision of the Government should be not to construct the larger harbour, a most valuable work would still have been completed, capable of sheltering vessels and of holding a steamer at any state of the tides. The importance of a place of this kind, into which a steamer stationed in the Channel for the protection of our trade could run at any time for the purpose of coaling, would at once be appreciated by the hon. and gallant Admiral 927 (Sir C. Napier). The right hon. Gentleman asked, what had been the effect of the pier upon the present harbour. He was happy to say, that the erection of that pier had entirely prevented the accumulation of shingle within the old harbour. The right hon. Gentleman had then referred to a recommendation from the Commissioners, that the work should be commenced in various places at once. The Government, however, thought it much more wise to act upon the other recommendation which he had alluded to, and to commence only so much of the work as was likely to be of immediate use, and to afford a permanent shelter for vessels, whatever might be the decision of the Government with respect to carrying out the entire scheme. As far as it had gone, the erection of the pier was found, as he had said, to have prevented the accumulation of shingle in the harbour, while it afforded great protection from the south-west gales. He quite agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that the work was one which reflected the highest credit upon the engineers and upon all engaged in it. As to its progress, that depended upon the amount of money voted. No doubt, the work might he proceeded with much more rapidly—he was speaking now on the authority of the engineer—if a larger sum were appropriated to carry it on. There were, however, certain economic conditions which interfered. So long as a number of these works were in course of construction, the amount expended on each must be kept within certain bounds, so that the gross amount expended in this way might not be too large. He agreed with the right hon. Gentleman, that it would be desirable to make more rapid progress; but at the same time it was not true that the works already erected were of no service, and that the money as yet expended was thrown away. On the contrary, he had shown that these works, as far as they had gone, were of the greatest possible advantage to the harbour. This was not a case in which the work was valueless until the whole was completed. Of course, when the whole plan was executed a greater amount of shelter would be afforded, but every successive fifty feet added to that shelter. With regard to the silting, the mere erection of a break water running out at right angles from the shore was not calculated to have any effect on the silting-up of the harbour. That question would arise only in the event of an enclosed harbour, and no perceptible effect 928 had been produced one way or the other by the construction of this breakwater.
§ SIR CHARLES NAPIER
said, he did not believe that Dover harbour would ever, properly speaking, be a harbour of refuge. If they turned to a chart they would at once see that, with a westerly or southwesterly wind, the whole of the trade coming up the Channel would pass the North Foreland and run to the Downs, where they would be perfectly safe. For vessels coming from the westward, therefore, Dover would be perfectly useless; and masters of ships navigating the Channel would tell them that they would no sooner think of running into Dover than they would of getting to the moon. He believed that the construction of a harbour of refuge at Dovor was a hobby of the late Duke of Wellington; but he (Sir C. Napier) was certain that it was utterly valueless for such a purpose. If, however, the work did not proceed more rapidly than at present, it would not he finished for 200 years. So they had better give up all idea of making it on a grand scale, and maintain it, not as a harbour of refuge, but as a place to which our steam ships might resort for the protection of trade in the event of war. In his opinion, if a harbour of refuge was made anywhere, it ought to be either at Sandwich, or in proximity to the Goodwin Sands.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, that what the House had heard from the right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley) and the hon. and gallant Member for Southwark (Sir C. Napier), showed pretty clearly that the best thing to do was to stick to the original plan of 1,800 feet from Cheesman's-head. The point they had now to consider was, who was the responsible party to originate these harbours, to decide upon the locality, and also upon the manner in which the works should be carried out. That was a point which ought to be clearly understood before they came to a decision. A Committee had recently been appointed to inquire into the subject of harbours of refuge, and it was not his intention to offer the slightest disrespect to those hon. Gentlemen; but he must say that to submit to such a Committee questions like these he had just mentioned, was simply ridiculous. It was utterly impossible for the ablest men in that House to deal with these subjects, for this reason—that the evidence they had to examine was such that they must be able to test from practical personal knowledge the value of 929 that evidence before they could arrive at a decision. Every hon. Gentleman who was conversant with inquiries before Committees of this House knew that local engineers would often express the strongest opinions in favour of their own particular locality, no doubt in good faith, but still influenced by local prejudices. Now, unless the Committee was composed entirely of engineers, he defied them to test the value of such evidence, and ascertain which was the man who was giving fair evidence, and which was trying to impose upon the Committee. When they came to decide as to the best localities for harbours of refuge they came to a still more difficult question; and this Committee, on which he believed there was only one naval man, would have to decide which was the best locality, say on the east coast of England, for a harbour of refuge, upon the evidence of North Sea pilots and masters of coasters. In a case like that what possible chance had a Committee of this House, unless practically conversant with the subject, of cross-questioning with any advantage men of that description? The thing was useless. The fact was that they were going on in the dark, and unless they knew the authority upon which those works were to be carried out, the sooner they were put a stop to the better. He trusted, then, that the House would be informed what were the questions referred to the Committee just appointed, and how far it was intended the inquiries of that Committee should extend. With regard to the Vote for the harbour at Alderney, it was not his own opinion only, but that of men of the highest authority, that every shilling laid out there had been wasted, and that the money might as well have been thrown into the sea. The great difficulty was for a sailing vessel to get in there at all. And as to supposing that in time of war it would be of any use in watching Cherbourg, the harbours of Portland and Spithead were much better adapted for that purpose, and were within almost as convenient a distance. With regard to Portland, the work there was, in many respects, a most useful one. It was a great national work, and he trusted it would be persevered in.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
observed, that he had always understood that Dovor Harbour had been created in deference to the wishes of the Duke of Wellington, as a harbour of aggression rather than a harbour of refuge, his Grace's opinion being that it was absolutely essential that something 930 should be done to protect the coasts of this country, especially about that spot. The Dovor Harbour might be a valuable resort to our steamers and other vessels in the English Channel, but he should rejoice if anything were done to relieve the mercantile marine from the gross impositions called "passing tolls," which were now levied upon vessels sailing through the Straits of Dovor.
§ MR. LIDDELL
remarked, that he did not rise to offer any opposition to the Vote, but he believed that the harbours of Dovor, Portland, and Alderney, as now proposed, were the basis of a great system of national defence, which had received the sanction, approval, and recommendation of the late Duke of Wellington. He objected, however, to works in the nature of national defences being placed on the Estimates as harbours of refuge for shipping. He also thought that the country should be fairly informed of their ultimate expense. The harbour of refuge at Dovor would cost not much less than £5,000,000; the works at Alderney about £1,300,000; and those at Jersey about £600,000 or £700,000. Now he wished to point out to the Government that the coast extending from the Humber to the Forth was unprovided with a single place of refuge into which during north-easterly gales vessels could run with safety. Remembering the proportion which the trade of the Tyne and the Wear bore to the coasting trade of the entire country—the amount of shipping and the number of wrecks, which was greater within a given radius of this coast than on all the rest of the English coast—it was no wonder that the ship-owners of the north-east coast felt a little aggrieved at the vast cost of the works now forming at Dovor and elsewhere, while their own claims met with no recognition.
§ MR. LINDSAY
said, he believed that the subject of a harbour of refuge on the north-east coast had better be left to the Select Committee appointed a few days ago to consider the subject of harbours of refuge. He also doubted whether the House of Commons was warranted in spending so much money at Dovor and Alderney, seeing that there were various parts of the coast where harbours were more required. He should move the reduction of the Vote by £134,000 in order that the question of Dovor Harbour and Alderney Harbour might be referred to the Committee just appointed. The reference 931 need not delay the progress of the works more than a few months.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £90,000, be granted to Her Majesty, towards defraying the Expense of constructing certain Harbours of Refuge, to the 31st day of March 1858.
SIR JOHN JOHNSTONE
observed, he could corroborate the statement of the hon. Member for Northumberland, and could testify to the strong opinion upon the north-east coast that a harbour of refuge ought to be constructed there. He believed that during the last sixteen years a sum of £3,500,000 had been laid out in connection with harbours of refuge throughout the kingdom, while not a penny had been laid out upon the north-east coast for that purpose. He hailed with great satisfaction the circumstance that a Select Committee had been appointed to investigate the subject, because he felt assured that it would be found that, owing to the number of shipwrecks which took place on the north-east coast, the establishment of harbours of refuge there would be found to be a work of pressing necessity.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, it was to be inferred, from what had fallen from the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, that Dovor ought to be struck out of the category of harbours of refuge, and that the breakwater there ought to be regarded as being constructed merely with the view of facilitating the entrance of packets into the harbour, and providing for the coaling of steamers. In future the charge for this purpose ought to form part of the Post Office and Naval Estimates. Still, it became worthy of the consideration of the Committee whether so large a sum as was proposed should be expended simply for the attainment of that object. But, while such was his opinion, he could not vote that the sum be struck out, inasmuch as if the underground works of the breakwater were not completed, the money which had already been expended upon them might be perfectly thrown away.
§ SIR CHARLES WOOD
said, that the title of "harbours of refuge," under which head the Vote for Dovor and Alderney had for some years been taken, was, perhaps, 932 not very appropriate. The fact was, that they were not aggressive harbours, as some hon. Gentlemen had stated, but harbours of military defence. At the time at which a Vote had been taken for them, it had been deemed desirable not to attract the attention of neighbouring nations, whose susceptibility might have been awakened by their formation, and consequently their real purpose had been veiled under the more pacific designation of harbours of refuge, for which purpose they had to some extent been made available. The real object of their construction had, however, been the defence of our coasts and the protection of our trade. In corroboration of that statement, he should read to the Committee the opinion of the Duke of Wellington upon the subject. It was as follows:—I should say that, considering the want of protection from the weather or from military attacks in the Channel, the trade of the port of London will be in a very precarious situation, and will be a very losing one in a variety of ways in time of war, if something is not done beforehand, if anybody will just consider the advantage the French coast enjoys over the coast of this country in the observation of what is passing at sea. It is to the southward; they have the sun at their back, they see everything quite clear, and it is very possible from the coast of France to calculate to a moment at what period a vessel coming up Channel will arrive at particular points, and they may be in readiness to seize her at any point which may happen to be unguarded, supposing the vessel to be without convoy, and supposing that there should be no naval succour at that point to take cave of her.It was clear, then, he thought, that the principle upon which the harbours in question had been constructed was that of providing stations of military defence on the south-eastern coast, but the time had now passed when it was possible or necessary to attempt to delude anybody, for every one must know the object of such works as those at Alderney. When the breakwater at Dovor was completed, by carrying it out into seven fathoms water, as recommended by the Commissioners, the harbour would be found a most valuable station for steamers, where they might lie in safety, and take in coal; but, as the Committee would perceive, the right hon. Gentleman opposite was wrong in supposing that that was the sole object of its construction. He could not concur in the opinion that an efficient watch could not be kept on the French coast from those harbours, inasmuch as he believed it impossible that a vessel could leave the port of Cherbourg without being seen from Alderney. With respect 933 to harbours of refuge on the north-east coast, they stood on a perfectly difficult footing, for they must be looked on as mere commercial harbours of refuge for the preservation of trading vessels.
§ MR. BENTINCK
said, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman proved that a Committee of the House was not the proper place to discuss those questions. If Alderney were intended to watch Cherbourg, it could not fulfil that intention, as 500 vessels might leave Cherbourg without a single vessel in Alderney seeing them. He thought that a Commission properly constituted would be the proper tribunal to which to refer the whole subject, and he could not but regard the work, so far, as having led to an expense which would ultimately prove quite useless.
§ MR. PEASE
did not think that the dignity of the House could be maintained by commencing these works, and then not carrying them out to any useful purpose. He deplored what he considered a serious waste of money in respect to one or two of the harbours in question, but he wished that the Committee about to be appointed should be encouraged in considering the question of such harbours of refuge as might be wanted for the purpose of commerce and humanity.
§ Amendment put, and negatived.
§ Original question put, and agreed to.
§ (13.) £12,000, Captured Negroes, &c.
§ SIR GEORGE PECHELL
said, he rose to express his opinion that the time had arrived when the Government must change the policy they had hitherto pursued. He thought that either a treaty should be concluded with Spain, or that the Government should take the matter into their own hands, and station a great number of cruisers off the coast of Cuba, instead of the coast of Africa. Keeping up insufficient naval establishments on the coast of Cuba was a positive waste of money. He should like to hear some statement of the number of negroes captured of late, and also of the grants of money, amounting to £1,291, to ex-King Pepple. There was a grant of £1,200 to Mrs. Backhouse, widow of the Commissary Judge at the Havannah, who was murdered in consequence of his zeal and activity in the cause in which he was employed. He did not think that the widow of a man who had lost his life in the service of his country should have been placed on that list.
§ MR. GREGORY
remarked, that he should be sorry to make invidious allusions 934 to oppressed potentates, but he thought, before the Committee voted a grant of £1,200 to King Pepple, they should know something of the good he had done. He had heard something of this ex-King, and he believed that since his fallen fortunes the monarch incurred but a moderate expenditure, his chief luxuries being rum and tobacco. He had seen a picture of Pepple sitting in a very unkingly position on a puncheon of rum, with a pipe in his mouth, his costume being a cocked hot and a laced coat, while all the rest of his person was in a primitive state of nature. The rest of the kings and chiefs in the list had only received £190 altogether, while King Pepple had got more than six times that amount.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he had seen King Pepple the other night, and if every item in the Vote was as justifiable as the amount paid to that individual, he would pass it over without objection. That unfortunate person had been the King of Bonny, and made a treaty with the British Government, whereby he agreed to suppress the slave trade in his country for a very small sum. That treaty was, he believed, in strict accordance with the policy which the Government had for many years pursued, and the item in the Vote was for the payment of the balance of the subsidy due under that treaty. He could conceive no better way of putting down the slave trade than by entering into treaties with the chieftains on the coast; but those treaties once made should be scrupulously observed. It seemed unfortunate, however, that the end of all treaties between native chiefs and this country was the dethronement of those chiefs and the annexation of their territory, and that had been the case with this unfortunate ex-King. He trusted, however, that the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs would inquire into the circumstances, and that justice would be done to him. As to the ludicrous picture which had been drawn by the hon. Member for Galway, he could only say that when he saw the ex-King he was as well dressed as the hon. Member himself.
said, that he begged to remind the Committee that what was before the Committee was a mere memorandum of the expense incurred during the past year, and not an Estimate for the expenses of the year following. With regard to the two items to which reference had been made, he was sure that no one who was acquainted with the eminent services 935 of Mr. Backhouse would grudge the small pension to his widow. With regard to the item for the ex-King Pepple, part of it referred to the sum which was furnished to him under the treaty which had been entered into with him for the suppression of the slave trade.
§ Vote agreed to, as was also—
(14.) £11,050 Mixed Commissions for the Suppression of the Slave Trade.
(15.) Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £125,089, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expense of the Consular Establishments Abroad, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, that the hon. Gentleman was aware that last year the Government gave a pledge to the House that such a Committee should be appointed this year. The reason for not appointing that Committee last year was, that certain returns called for by the Foreign Office, which were essential for the information of the Committee, could not be obtained in time. During the present year the circumstances which had led to the dissolution of Parliament, and the interval which had elapsed before the meeting of the new Parliament, had rendered it impossible that such a Committee could be appointed with any prospect of bringing its labours to a satisfactory conclusion, but he was prepared to assure the House that the Government would take the earliest opportunity next Session to appoint such a Committee, and to lay all the information they could before it.
§ MR. A. W. KINGLAKE
said, he wished to ask the first Lord of the Treasury, in accordance with the terms of his notice, whether Her Majesty's Government is in possession of any information respecting the present condition of the Tartar inhabitants of those parts of the Crimea which were occupied during the late war by the troops of the Allies; and also when, and at what places, British consuls are to be appointed, pursuant to the Twelfth Article of the Treaty of Paris. The Committee would recollect, that when the Western Powers made good their landing in the Crimea, very much depended upon their obtaining means of land transport, and an immense number of arabas or country carts 936 and bullocks were collected. They were, however, useless without drivers, the Crimean bullocks not understanding either English or French imprecations, and therefore a great number of the native population were pressed into the service against their own will, and those men accompanied the army to the Alma and then to Balaklava, and remained with them through all the subsequent operations, and during all the sufferings of the winter of 1854, At Eupatoria, also, the Tartars, who had no very strong sympathy for the expedition, were pressed into the service, and thus the native population became committed with their own Government. Under these circumstances the Committee would agree with him, that it became a solemn duty on the part of the Allies to take care, when the invaded country was ceded back again to the Russians, that no harm should happen to those persons on account of the services which they had rendered to the Allies. Now, there were three things which it was necessary to do for the protection of these people, and the first two of these things had been done by the Allies. The first was, that they had succeeded in holding the country until the conclusion of peace, and in the second place they had obtained in the treaty a guarantee that no harm should befall them. The third thing which was now left to do was, to see to the execution of that treaty; and the best way to effect that was, by instituting consular establishments in the neighbourhood of Sebastopol or Eupatoria. A rumour had reached this country that a large portion of the Tartar population of the Crimea had emigrated into the territories of the Porte. It might be that that emigration was a voluntary one, and he trusted that it was so, but it might also have arisen from another cause. One of the most important advantages gained by the treaty with Russia was considered to be the stipulation with regard to the appointment of consuls. Before the war, Russia declined to receive consuls at Sebastopol and on the western coast of the Crimea; but the preliminaries of peace provided that the Black Sea should be opened, and that every facility should be afforded for commercial intercourse, and the treaty of peace declared in terms that Russia should be bound to receive consuls in all the ports of the Black Sea. He found, however, from the Estimates, that the ports at which provision was to be made for consulates were the same places where consuls were stationed 937 previously to the war. He wished, therefore, to take this opportunity of asking, whether it was intended that consuls should he appointed at Eupatoria and Sebastopol, in pursuance of the Twelfth Article of the treaty? He did not put the question in any spirit of distrust, but with a confident belief that the answer of the noble Lord would redound to the honour of this country, as the firm protector of all our Allies, however humble they might be.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, his hon. Friend had given a very correct statement of the transactions which occurred during the war, and of the stipulations inserted in the treaty of peace, with respect to the appointment of consuls. In answer to his question, therefore, he begged to inform the hon. Gentleman that his noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Department (Lord Clarendon) was at present occupied in making arrangements for the appointment of consuls in those places in the Black Sea in which it was considered desirable that, under the stipulations of the treaty, such officers should be stationed. The rumour which his hon. Friend had heard was also perfectly correct, as to the fact, though the transaction took place at a somewhat different time. When the Allies quitted the Crimea, a great number of Tartar families who had been more or less engaged in their service did not feel satisfied with the security promised them after the retirement of the allied troops. Tartar families, numbering 10,000 persons, applied to the Allies to be removed to the Turkish territory, and they were accordingly transported by the Turkish Government to Turkish territory, and were settled in the northern part of Bulgaria. The Turkish Government had acted with great liberality towards these Tartars, had settled them upon lands, and had supplied them with the means of subsistence until they were enabled to support themselves by their own industry. He had not heard from our ambassador at Constantinople, any complaint on the part of the Tartars, that the engagements entered into with them had not been strictly fulfilled, and he had therefore reason to suppose that they were contented with their lot.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he wished to call the attention of the Committee to the Estimate for Hong Kong, and to ask for some explanation of the particulars of the Vote. He could not, of course, object to the salary of £4,000, which was received 938 by Sir John Bowring as chief superintendent of trade; nor would it be possible for a gentleman of his high station to transact the important duties of his office without a secretary and registrar at a salary of £700; neither would it be right to deprive the registrar, whose duty it was to register the licences of lorchas and vessels of that class, of the aid of a "first assistant and keeper of records." He (Mr. Whiteside) was, however, surprised to find that this first assistant and keeper of records required a second assistant, that he required a third assistant, and that he again was helped by a fourth assistant, each receiving considerable salaries out of the public funds. In asking now the hon. Secretary opposite for some information as to what those individuals were doing, he did not expect to receive a very satisfactory reply, but rather an official answer. He (Mr. Whiteside) was free to admit that he should be glad to be paid for doing nothing, and why should he object to others being treated in the same manner? Then there was a Chinese secretary receiving £1,000 a year, who, he dared say, was a most important and dignified official; but, as it was impossible for any man in that part of the world to do his duty without assistance, he had an assistant secretary at £600 a year, which, no doubt, was a moderate salary for the services he performed; and there was, besides, a corps of no less than thirteen supernumerary interpreters, who received £200 a year each. Considering, however, that our diplomatic relations with China were at an end, it might not be unreasonable to ask, what they wanted with thirteen supernumerary interpreters. This, however, was not all, for these interpreters were assisted by "four Chinese writers or linguists," who received among them £187 10s. He supposed that these linguists were employed to teach the interpreters the language which they themselves, though interpreters, knew nothing about. The total expenditure for Hong Kong was £10,424, and he hoped the Committee would require some official explanation as to the application of this amount. If that explanation was not satisfactory, he would propose to reduce the Chinese writers or linguists from four to two, the thirteen supernumerary interpreters to six and a half, and to get rid of the third and fourth assistants, leaving the first and second assistants to amuse and assist the secretary and 939 registrar. The arrangements at Canton were on an equally liberal scale. Then the consul—Mr. Parkes, he believed, the gentleman with whom they had lately become historically acquainted for the good service he had done this country—received £1,800 a year. Of course, he required a vice-consul, who received £750 a year; and there was besides a vice-consul at Whampoa, who received the same amount. These gentlemen could not speak Chinese, and therefore they required the assistance of an interpreter, who was paid £700 a Year, and he had a first assistant, who again required a second assistant, and, as if they could not get on without further aid, they had three Chinese writers or linguists. The whole cost of the consulate at Canton was £4879 a year, and he hoped some explanation of the expenditure would be afforded to the Committee.
said, he would first observe that the word "assistant" was in the East synonymous with the term "clerk." In most merchants' offices in London there were first clerks, second clerks, third clerks, and so on; and the consular officers mentioned in the Estimate, although called "assistants" were really clerks. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in referring to the "first assistant and keeper of records," seemed to assume that the other assistants aided in keeping the records. The fact was, however, that the first clerk alone kept the records, and the other assistants or clerks had nothing whatever to do with them, but were engaged in the general business of the consulate. With regard to the interpreters, about four years ago Lord Clarendon considered it most important, that Englishmen who held Important offices in the principal ports of China should be thoroughly acquainted with the Chinese language. The consequence was, that a number of young Englishmen were sent out at the low salaries of £200 a year, to learn the language, with a view of qualifying themselves for appointments, and the large number of supernumerary interpreters was thus accounted for. The Committee were aware that our trade with China had recently increased most rapidly, and he hoped they would not think that the sum included in this Estimate was a large amount to spend, not upon one port alone, but upon five or six ports. The amounts were:—for Hong Kong, £10,424; for Canton, £4879; for Amoy, £3,320; for Foochowfoo, £2,820; 940 for Ningpo, £1,650; and for Shanghai, £4,082.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, that he knew the hon. Secretary would be in a difficulty in giving the required information. He had listened very attentively to his brief explanation, but he was just as wise as he was before. The hon. Gentleman had complained of the manner in which he had read this Estimate. He had read it as he found it. Seeing in it "first assistant keeper of the records" and then "second assistant," he concluded that he was a second assistant in keeping the records. The hon. Gentleman now said that the latter was a clerk, and when asked what he and the third and fourth assistants did he answered in a very satisfactory manner, "the general business of the office." What was the general business of the department? There was a superintendent capable of doing the business, and very effectually he had done it. The thirteen supernumerary interpreters he supposed were men intimate with the Chinese language, and able to explain now to Sir J. Bowring what it was the Chinese at Canton meant to say to him, of which he had himself not the least idea. Now, however, the Secretary of the Treasury had informed the Committee, with his usual lucidity, that they were not interpreters, but young men who were learning the language, and that at some time, perhaps when Canton had been blown to atoms, they would be able to speak to the Emperor if they should ever arrive at His Majesty's presence. If the Estimate had stated that this was a sum of money for instructing young Englishmen to speak Chinese it would have been intelligible, but as the matter stood this was one of the most extraordinary explanations that he had ever heard. He thought that his original proposition to reduce the number of these young men from thirteen to six and a half was a good one. The hon. Gentleman had said nothing about the four Chinese writers or linguists. He said that our trade with China was very lucrative, but he might reflect that that trade would very soon be reduced to nothing, and therefore that argument would no longer avail. The best man of business on the Treasury Bench having given an explanation of this matter which left the Committee as much in the dark as it was before, he should move to reduce the Vote by a sum of £2,533—a reduction which 941 he proposed to effect by doing away with one-half of the supernumerary interpreters, and abolishing the offices of the assistant Chinese secretary, the third and fourth assistants and two of the Chinese linguists. After this reduction the amount of the Vote would be £125,089—a very ample margin for doing nothing in Canton, and therefore he thought that the reduction which he now proposed was a very safe and proper one.Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £122,556, be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Expense of the Consular Establishments Abroad, to the 31st day of March 1858.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite does not, I think, present himself to the House as a guide in this matter under very clear colours. He professes himself to be entirely in the dark, and to know nothing of the matter upon which he proposes that we should come to a vote. I fully believe that statement of the hon. and learned Gentleman, because the manner in which he has treated the subject fully bears out the description which he has given of himself. I think that in general when hon. Gentlemen undertake to discuss Estimates it would be convenient to the House and advantageous to themselves that they should make themselves a little acquainted with the matter with which they are dealing. The hon. and learned Gentleman has been very pleasant upon the notion that nothing is done by any of these officers at Hong Kong, that the whole of our trade with China is confined to the port of Canton, and that, as the communication with that port is cut off, there is no longer any trade, there is no business to be done, and all these gentlemen are sitting with their hands before them and doing nothing but receive their salaries. That is a very pretty flourish, of imagination. There is no man who is more capable than is the hon. Member of painting a picture which has no foundation in reality, and amusing the House with little flourishes of genius, eloquence, and the inventive faculty, and if we were assembled simply for amuse- 942 ment, and to witness exercitations of intellect, I am sure that we should at all times be happy to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman at even greater length than that at which he sometimes favours us with his views upon public affairs. On the present occasion, however, he has not, in making a great many observations which are not founded in fact, paid sufficient regard to the lateness of the hour (twenty minutes after Twelve o'clock). He might have known that the duties of Sir John Bowring, the Superintendent of Trade, and of the clerks and officers under him are not confined to Canton, but that he receives reports from and communicates with all the other ports. The correspondence is of considerable extent, and involves a great deal of labour. The hon. And learned Gentleman is, I dare say, a very good linguist, but I doubt whether he has among his various attainments acquired any knowledge, even a rudimental one, of the Chinese language; although perhaps some of the things which he says here are as unintelligible to the House as if they were spoken in Chinese. If he were acquainted with even the rudiments of that language he would know that it is very difficult to acquire, and that even the life of a professional gentleman would not be long enough to enable him to master it sufficiently for even the most ordinary purposes of communication. Unless the tongue can express sounds which are intelligible to the hearers—the hon. and learned Gentleman is perhaps not always aware of that difficulty—it is impossible to make oneself intelligible—perhaps I am not making myself intelligible. But unless that be done communications are useless. For the purposes of trade it is very necessary that those who communicate together should fully understand each other. For that purpose it is essential that our staff should understand the Chinese language, and, as the attainment of a knowledge of that language is a work of great difficulty, the hon. and learned Gentleman must not be surprised if a large number of young men are sent out to learn it, and if it is a long time before they become sufficiently masters of it to be useful in communication. It is not desirable to rely upon natives, because you cannot place so much confidence in them as you can in British interpreters. My noble Friend at the head of the Foreign Office has sent out these young men to gain a knowledge of the Chinese language, and I venture to say that no 943 money is better employed than that which is spent upon their education. The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has stated from his own knowledge that those who are conversant with these matters are of opinion that this establishment is by no means more extensive than the public service requires. The climate is one which very severely affects British constitutions. While I was at the Foreign-office many very valuable men either came home on account of ill-health or fell victims on the spot to the severity of the climate. Therefore I can assure the House that whatever the hon. and learned Gentleman may think of the extent of this establishment it is by no means greater than is required to meet the wants of the public service—wants which come out of an increasing trade of the utmost value to this country, and which cannot be extended unless there are proper public servants on the spot. I am quite sure that no one who knows anything of China will be of opinion that this is too large an establishment, or that the amount of the salaries and expenses at all exceeds what is required by the necessities of the case.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, the noble Lord at the head of the Government would admit that if it was necessary in verbal communications between the natives of two different countries that they should be able to make themselves mutually intelligible, it was quite as important that written or printed documents should be readily understood. In this case the Government had put before the Committee a document framed in such a manner that they themselves did not appear to understand it, nor could any one else, and that was exactly what his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Whiteside) had complained of. It was the ambiguity with which the estimate in reference to the Vote under consideration was drawn up that had given rise to the discussion which had taken place; and if the Government in framing it had called assistants, clerks, and the thirteen supernumerary interpreters, young gentlemen who were learning the Chinese language, the paper would have been understood by everybody. He (Mr. Henley) observed £4,000 or £5,000 put down for the Chinese mission. He took it the members of that mission could not be at Canton now, and he wished to know what was to be done with them in the event of the continuance of hostilities?
reminded the right hon. 944 Gentleman that this was an Estimate for next year, and that it was necessary for the Committee to provide the salaries for the next year. Mr. Parkes and his staff would, of course, be called into requisition to assist Lord Elgin on his arrival in China; and, besides, it was not desirable to drop public servants in that remote part of the world in an abrupt manner, and without providing for the payment of their annual salaries.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
The noble Lord is of opinion that it is not quite becoming in a Member of Parliament to ask for an explanation of an unintelligible Vote under the consideration of the House. The noble Lord may possibly understand all the details of this Vote as perfectly as he affects to do. Of course the noble Lord understands everything, or, at all events, he talks as if he did, which with some is much the same thing, and a very valuable quality in a Prime Minister. But the Committee cannot have failed to notice that the noble Lord never touched a single item of the Estimates under consideration, and that is an adroit and often a most successful mode of dealing with a subject—to attack your adversary, ask what business he has to intermeddle with a question on which he desires an explanation, and then assume that everybody else understands the whole matter except himself. By "interpreters," then, on this occasion, it appears I am to understand thirteen young Englishmen, who are learning the Chinese tongue. The noble Lord is pleased with that explanation, and has been happy in turning on me the whole force of his wit. Sir, nobody speaks with half the effect of a Prime Minister. There are always plenty to laugh with him. But if the noble Lord, who has been accustomed during the greater part of his public life to speak from the Treasury bench, had, sat to-night on this side of the House, and had—as I have ventured to do—asked for an explanation of an unintelligible Vote, he would have turned the whole subject into the happiest ridicule, and made a far better speech than he has done in reply to my humble observations. It comes to this, that Lord Clarendon, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has told the noble Lord that it is necessary to make all these appointments, and to send out the young friends of official men to fill these places. This fact remains, that whereas the House voted £33,000 for this purpose last year, they are now asked to vote 945 £39,000 this year. The noble Lord has given what he thinks an explanation of the matter, which may perhaps be satisfactory to some hon. Gentlemen who sit on the same side of the House with him; but I am sure the reason of the thing is with me, and I have only to say that I shall not press the Motion which I ventured to make to the Committee, and I shall be sincerely glad if the House do not have to divide on any more serious matter connected with the state of our relations with the Chinese nation.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he begged to move that the Chairman report progress, on the ground that the next Vote contained several objectionable items which could not be satisfactorily discussed at that hour of the night (a quarter to One o'clock).
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report progress, and ask leave to sit again."
§ MR. BLACK
remarked, that he hoped the hon. Member for Lambeth would divide in favour of reporting progress. He had to complain that the Reformatory Institutions Bill was kept on the Orders of the Day, when it was not intended to proceed with it on the evenings for which it stood. He really thought such a course extremely discourteous on the part of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for the Home Department.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
explained that if the hon. Gentleman had done what several other hon. Gentlemen had done, and asked him at what hour he intended to bring on the Reformatory Institutions Bill, he would have learned that it was not his intention to do so at anything like a late hour. At the same time he must add that the hon. Gentleman ought to remember that it was exceedingly difficult to avoid placing orders on the paper when there was a chance of bringing them on.
§ MR. CROSSLEY
said, this was just one of the many occasions which made him the more keenly regret the absence of the late Mr. Brotherton, who was accustomed to interfere to prevent the House continuing its discussions after Twelve o'clock at night. It was now nearly One o'clock, and he would therefore support the Motion that the Chairman report pro- 946 gress. He contended, also, that it would be for the public interest, as well as the individual welfare of every hon. Member of the House, that in future all business which was likely to give rise to discussion, and which was undisposed of after midnight, should stand over.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
repeated that there were many objectionable items in the next Vote, which it would be unreasonable to ask the Committee to discuss at that time of night.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said, it would take as much time to divide as to discuss the Vote, which was the only remaining one on the paper. He hoped, therefore, that the Amendment would be withdrawn.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (16.) £22,500, Extraordinary Expenses, Ministers at Foreign Courts.
MR. W. WILLIAMS
said, he wished to draw attention to the great expense of the embassy at Constantinople; they had already voted £1,500 for six paid attachés, but in this Vote was an item of £1,120 for interpreters, attachés, and clerks; he would also wish for some explanation of the item £1,605 for extra couriers.
said, the printed details applied to the expenditure last year. The circumstance of the war being just concluded caused the expenses with respect to Turkey to be heavy. Extraordinary expenses were caused by the coronation at Moscow and the ordinary expenses of the Russian mission, recommenced in consequence of the war being terminated.
§ MR. BLACKBURN
asked for explanation of an item of £l,284 loss on exchanges. For the Two Sicilies it was £449. He imagined draughts on England would be at a premium abroad. He could find no credit for any gains on exchanges.
said, that this allowance was only made for loss of exchange on the disbursements made by the Ambassadors for the public service and not on their salaries. For many years it had been the practice not to give credit for gains on 947 exchange, but within the last eighteen months an arrangement had been made with the Foreign Office, by which loss would be charged against and gain paid to the Treasury.
said, that in consequence of the exceptional state of things, an allowance had been, made to the Consul in that particular instance.
§ MR. HENLEY
understood the loss on exchange applied only to extraordinary expenses. What was the nature of those expenses?
§ MR. HENLEY
wished to have some explanation of one item. The extraordinary expenses of the Two Sicilies were £1,060, and the loss on exchange was £449. As the extraordinary expenses included the loss on exchange, the £449 must be charged with respect to expenses of £600.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ House resumed.
§ Resolutions to be reported on Monday next.
§ Committee to sit again on Monday next.
§ House adjourned at half-after One o'clock till Monday next.