HC Deb 16 July 1857 vol 146 cc1652-7

On the bringing up of the Report of the Committee of Supply.


said, he was not aware the other night that the Civil Contingencies were coming on, and he should, therefore, avail himself of the bringing up of the Report to make a few observations. There had been a great increase in the amount of the Civil Contingencies which had been spent, and this year it had reached £94,000. But he wished to ask a question of the Secretary to the Treasury; he wished to know what was done with the balance of the Civil Contingencies, whatever it might be. In the last four years, £100,000 had been voted every year for Civil Contingencies, a large portion of which, amounting to £148,000, had not been expended. He would beg to ask, therefore, what was the practice with regard to that part of the Civil Contingencies which was not spent? Was it returned into the Exchequer, or was it retained and expended on the authority of the Treasury in loans and grants? If so, it was a most objectionable outlay of money voted for one purpose which was applied to another, as, in his opinion, all expenditure of money ought to be authorized by a vote of that House. He wished also to know if the expenditure of the Civil Contingencies was subject to any audit, and if not, why not? He also wished to know if the Treasury claimed or exercised any power to expend this money without any examination at all?


in reply to the first question, said there could be no doubt that there was an annual Vote of £100,000 for Civil Contingencies, and as the expenditure on that account had not in any year reached that amount, there was a large accumulation of balance out of the Civil Contingencies. The hon. Gentleman would recollect, that in the Committee on public moneys last year it was shown that the Treasury did not draw any of the balance of these Votes of £100,000, but that he (Mr. Wilson) had returned them into the Exchequer as a saving of £70,000, and a Return had been laid on the table, showing an account current for the last ten years of the amount voted and used for the Civil Contingencies. Last week he laid a similar Return for the past year on the table, and that practice he intended to follow every year, showing the state of the accounts for ten years. In answer to the second question, he said that the Treasury did not assume or exercise any right to appropriate the Vote for Civil Contingencies to anything which did not appear in the accounts, or to which Parliament had not given its sanction; any expenditure of the money voted for Civil Contingencies was to be found in the accounts annually presented to Parliament. With regard to the third question, the hon. Gentleman was aware that under the present system the Civil Service accounts were not audited by the Audit Board, which was a fault in the system which, he hoped would now be amended.

Resolution agreed to.